What is difference between a lead, contact, account and opportunity specifically - Answers - Salesforce Trailblazer Community
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Karen MellonKaren Mellon 

What is difference between a lead, contact, account and opportunity specifically

Using this example, please explain who is lead, who is contact, who is account and who is opportunity?

Salesforce user is Karen - sales agent
She will sell insurance to Sarah, who is John's client.  John is an investment advisor with XYZ Firm.  He has contacted Karen to work with Sarah on insurance needs.    Sarah is just one of several clients that John will need Karen's help with.

Is Sarah the lead?
Is John the contact?
Is XYZ Firm the account?
Is Sarah the opportunity?

How do I tie all of these together in salesforce?

Matthew LambMatthew Lamb
Your breakdown sounds reasonable to me. XYZ Firm is definitely an Account, and John the Contact. When you get the note about Sarah, she would be a Lead, and then when you determine she's qualified, she would be converted into a Contact and Opportunity.

Generally speaking...

Leads - People who you could potential do business yet, but have not qualified them. Unsure if they're going to buy from you. People you don't have a relationship with yet.

Contact - Someone you have a business relationship with, someone you know. Possibly has bought from you in the past.

Account - A business entity. Contacts work for Accounts.

Opportunities - Sales events related to an Account and one or more Contacts.
Shell BlackShell Black
This is how I define a Lead:


This is how I define Accounts and Contacts to my clients:


Hope that helps!

Steve MolisSteve Molis
Lead = Raw Prospect (company/person you've never pursued in the past)
Account = Company 
Contact = Person at Comany(Account)
Opportunity = Potential Sale of Product/Services to Account and Contact  

This should help ->http://www.salesforce.com/community/assets/docs/sales_and_marketing_process_maps_sales_process_and_methodology.pdf
Charlie CowanCharlie Cowan
 Hi Karen,

Just to support earlier answers with your specific example, you might want to look at the Partners related list.  In that Karen is managing a number of partner Accounts and Contacts (i.e. John at XYZ, and Brian at ABC).  They in turn are helping you to sell to individuals like Sarah.  Sarah herself (if she doesn't work at a Company) might need to be a Person Account (check out Help and Training, and be wary, once you've enabled Person Accounts you can't turn them off).  

You can then use the Partners related list to link two Accounts together.  That way you will be able to see all the Accounts that John at XYZ has referred you in to, and track the open opportunities he is working on with Karen.

Hope that helps!  Enjoy,

Manisha RchhariyaManisha Rchhariya
Leads - People who youcould potential do business yet, but have not qualified them. Unsure

if they're going to buy from you. People you don't have a relationship with yet.

Contact - Person at company

Account - A business entity. or a company.
Opportunities - Sales events related to an Account and one or more Contacts.
Balan S PBalan S P
XYZ is the account, Sarah  and John are leads and may conver to contacts, if insurance is sold to them.  this particular insurance or any other insurance product is the opportunity. There may be many opportunity like health insurance, life insurance, vehicle insurance etc.
Venkatesan SundaramVenkatesan Sundaram
Great Discussion ....If I deal with a contact and the same contact has expressed interest on a different product / service over a period of time, would I create a Lead for this new "interest" by the contact or it makes sense to create an opportunity ...To complicate it further let us assume the "interest" is understood through one of the marketing campaign initiatives to the same contact ...
Florian HuttererFlorian Hutterer

Hi all,

the discussion above has already answered some questions I had, could you help me with the following case?

We are a Business Development agency working for several brands to build up their business in specific regions. So we are selling products from different brands to numerous customers.

On the one hand, the brands are my clients. On the other hand, the distributors & retailers I am selling to are my customers. So the structure would be as follows:

Brand A (Account with Contacts)
Brand B (Account with Contacts)
Brand C (Account with Contacts)

Our company (Salesforce user)

Customer A (Account with Contacts)
Customer B (Account with Contacts)
Customer C (Account with Contacts)
Customer D (Account with Contacts)

The important thing now is that one customer can purchase from one or more brands.
Is there any way I can link Customer C to Brand A and / or Brand B in my database?

Creating an opportunity would mean working on a deal with e.g. Customer C. Customer C buys 1000 products from Brand A. In the opportunity however I can only select one account. How can I link customers to brands and vice versa?

Thanks for your ideas, 


Gary SmithGary Smith
Hi Florian
The answer - in part - to your questions depends on the level of detail you need in your opportunities about the relationship between the various parties. 
For example it might be possible to meet your needs using Partner Roles. This allows multiple Accounts to be associated with a single Opportunity. You can modify the picklist values that defines the roles (the chances are that the standard values won't meet your needs). Here's a blog post that I wrote recently about Contact Roles - these work in pretty much the same way so you'll get the idea 

Another alternative is to use Products. The brand information is stored at the Product level and you can add multiple Products to a single opportunity. If you're not already familiar with products this this blog post will help http://garysmithpartnership.com/products/

I'm running webinar on 8th June 2016 about products - if you sign up for our email registration then I'll add you to the invite list http://garysmithpartnership.com/funnel-guru-blog/

Good luck, Gary
Fadi AnatiFadi Anati
Sarah' and John are leads for Karen, Sarah is John's contact, XYZ is the account and the insurance is the opportunity.
Ajay DubediAjay Dubedi
Hi Karen,

Leads are people who have shown some level of interest in your product or service. Examples include signing up on the site, filling out a form, downloading a buyer’s guide, giving their information at a trade show booth, etc. Leads can remain a lead for 5 minutes or for 5 years. Every individual should be entered into the system as a lead. In a perfect world, your marketing automation client is syncing with SFDC.

Contacts are created as soon as a lead expresses interest in doing business. The lead is converted into a contact. Contacts are people who are attached to accounts (companies) and are considering going through a transaction.

Opportunities are transactions. When an opportunity is created (converted) it’s to signal the start of a sales cycle. There can be many opportunities in a company but a specific contact can only be attached to one account.

A lead and a contact are the only two objects in the system that describe a person. A lead cannot evolve in an opportunity.

Once the conversion from lead to contact has occurred the sales rep should interact mainly with the opportunity record. From there, let your sales process drive it to a close!

I hope you find the above solution helpful. If it does, please mark as Best Answer to help others too.
Ajay Dubedi
Gil LotanGil Lotan
Hi Ajay,
Your answer was indeed a very good one, but I wonder (I'm new to SF), since Karen posted her question on March 6, 2011, is it still worthwhile (or effective) to respond to her in June 2019?
Thank you,
Lucas SahmLucas Sahm
It appears that Ajay borrowed this answer verbatim from another author. The original post is located here: https://wideangle.com/leads-accounts-opportunities-and-contacts-in-salesforce-the-basics/

Perhaps Jon Birdsong would appricate some level of credit being given for his answer.