Cases for Leads. What is the best option? - Answers - Salesforce Trailblazer Community
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Julie CurryJulie Curry 

Cases for Leads. What is the best option?

My organization has a well defined sales process that has us converting leads when we start heading towards a pilot project.  Compared to the way many others use Salesforce, this is later in the sales process than most but we like it this way.

One problem that comes with this though is that since we offer our product on a trial basis.  Trial users can submit cases that are just floating around in Salesforce unrelated to any lead or contact record.  Currently we are considering the below 3 options. Before I lay them out, I must say that 95% (maybe more) of those who sign up for a trial of our product never convert to paying customers.

Option #1: Create a lookup field for leads on the case page layout.  This was initially my favorite option, but the more I find out the more I dislike it.  Here are the cons (1) when a case is submitted the system will not automatically associate the case with the lead.  We would have to do this manually. (2) when we convert the lead, the system will not automatically associate the case (or the activities associated with the case) to the contact, account, etc.  This would have to be done manually.  (3) We have Cirrus Insight for integrating our gmail with Salesforce and when adding an activity/email to Salesforce we would not be relate the activity to the lead AND the case even with the custom lookup field for leads on cases.  For Acitivities, if they are related to a lead then you can't relate it to any other record.  Overall, I think this option would be time consuming and confusing to my end users...and this doesn't even factor in that there would still be some people using our product that we have identified as non-viable leads and currently those aren't even added to Salesforce at all.

Option #2: Convert all of those who signup for our product to contacts.  Maybe add a check mark to tag those that have been identified as non-viable prospects so that they are filtered out of reports.  I really don't like this option since sooooo many of those that sign up for a free trial will never be paying customers.  If we add them as contacts without doing any kind of vetting then what is the point of using lead records?  We would have a bunch of junk contacts.

Option #3: Keep the out of the box set up and keep our current sales process. Allow cases for those that aren't contacts to float around in Salesforce unrelated to any records.  This is my favorite option so far.

I'm really bummed I don't see even an okay option and I have to figure out which will suck the least.  
I was wondering if others have experienced something similar.  If so, I would love to hear about what you have done.  Thank you in advance for your comments!

adam marksadam marks
Leads are always a hot button topic and the way to deal with Leads seems to be all the rage right now. When I do an implementation I tend to lean towards the approach that Lead data should exist for as long as it takes to determine what the first opportunity is. Might be months, but it also might be minutes. When someone uses your trial that is in my mind the first opportunity. At that point the Lead should be converted, if for no other reason to track the opportunity.  I have done it myself, and seen it implemented many places where Accounts and Contacts are broken down into sub categories, often using Record Types, that account for your full paying customer, and everyone else. It's fundamentally no different to have data in Lead than it is to have it in Account and Contact. The reason you still want to use Leads is to have a "dumping ground" or "farming spot" for people/companies that have yet to engage you with an Opportunity.

I think you and your business have a great opportunity here and are sitting on some valuable data that you should be able to mine better. If it were me and the vast majority of people who using my trial are not in fact becoming paying customers, I would want to know why and have that captured in a meaningful way.

Hope this helped some!
Julie CurryJulie Curry
Hi Adam,

Thanks for your response.  I like your approach for differentiating between a lead and an opportunity.  

For us, it is more complicated because we have a number of academic users. Users can sign up for our product and get free credit.  They can do some school work with the free credit or poke around and then just drop off...or they never do anything.  Many never do anything, so then I would have all of these opportunities that I have to tag as closed lost and I have these useless contacts in our system...and by all I mean like 75-100 per week and growing.  For every 75 that are a dead end we might have one that actually is a viable prospect.  I can't justify adding that much data to our system when I know that 95%+ is a dead end.  Some contacts never give their real info cuz they just want to test the product and be left alone.  As an example, we were contacted by a professor the other day that wants to have his students use our product for class projects.  So all of his students are going to sign up for a free trial so they can do their school work.  I don't see any point in adding this information to Salesforce.  I'd say that a very large percent of our trial users are students doing school work.  They don't have the money or the need to ever become paying customers. 

Again, I think your approach is a good one but I don't know if it's the right one for us. 
adam marksadam marks
That's fair. Out of curiosity what are the cases about for the trials? If most of the data coming in for that case type is dead end as well it may be worth revisiting the whole process to see what you really need to capture in order to maintain your data quality. 
Julie CurryJulie Curry
My company provides platform as a service for DNA sequencing.  It's super technical, so often our end users have to ask questions...and since many of them are students they are learning.  Also, since we are a start up we need to provide the support to work out our own bugs and keep our users happy regardless of whether or not they are paying.  It's a very niche market for us and we can't risk having a bad rep if we don't respond to someone who might not end up becoming a paying customer.  AND in our world you never know who you are dealing with.  We could be dealing with the grad student of an extremely important academic who is working on a major study or an undergrad doing some homework.  

For those that we have identified as non-viable prospects, I'm leaning towards continuing to not add them as leads.  BUT we would still capture and manage their cases in Salesforce.  Currently, our support team does not have a real system.  They have an email that goes to a group and from that main email someone decides who should take it or they grab it themselves.  It isn't a solid system.  We are trying to figure out how to create a real system in Salesforce with assignment and escalation rules, etc.  That's what has prompted me to post here.  Our sales processes and theoretical support process don't work well together.  If I go with something that works well for sales, it doesn't work well for support and vice versa.  :/

So far I'm feeling that keeping our current sales process and creating a support process that allows leads to float around by themselves is looking like the option that sucks the least. 

I really appreciate your thought on this, Mark.  It's helping to make sure that I've covered all of the possibilities :)
Ruud GisbertzRuud Gisbertz

Hi Julie,
did you figure out a good process for this? We have something the same:

A webvisitor can order a sample request, but this webvisitor is in 90% of the request no new paying csutomer. In our proces we handle the email manualy and convert them as a contact under a dummy account. In case of a existing contact, that contact is searched for in Salesforce.
The fulfillment of this request, picking and delivering the sample, can proceed in this way.
But now we want to automate the manual step by automaticaly recording the request in Salesforce with the correct contact. (or lead?)

BTW: the usage of a opportunity to facilitate this proces is interesting

Jack MichelJack Michel
Interesting discussion from a while ago that appears to still not have a clear answer. Here is a relevant idea I came across:
Analy MedinaAnaly Medina
Im going with the 3er option, have the same issue!
"Option #3: Keep the out of the box set up and keep our current sales process. Allow cases for those that aren't contacts to float around in Salesforce unrelated to any records."

Becausa create everything in service related to lead is a lot of work! (chats, transcripts, surveys, email) and then make sure that in the conversion everything changes the relationship