Accounts vs. Opportunities vs. Leads - Answers - Salesforce Trailblazer Community
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Andrew MacraeAndrew Macrae 

Accounts vs. Opportunities vs. Leads

I am brand new to Salesforce and in the process of setting up my sales cloud to suit my practice of mortgage brokering. I have a very basic logistical question I am hoping someone can help with:

I assume that any new prospect should be entered as a "lead" however once I engage that lead and begin a live deal, how do I progress them in my system. Intuitively I would think this should convert to an "opportunity" and if that closes they would become an "Account". However, it appears that as soon as I convert a lead they are an Account which doesn't make sense to me because I am still just in the "opportunity" stage. I assume I am missing something obvious?



Syed Y. TalhaSyed Y. Talha has provided a way to efficiently manage the information about your organization's leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities. However, it is important to keep in mind that each organization's sales methodology is unique.  You is worth to think that how following definition fits in your business model.


As a general guideline, use Leads to store and track "untouched" people and/or companies. A good example of how Leads are typically used is to capture the interest of a prospect, like someone who comes to your website for information or someone that you met at a trade show. In this scenario an individual may appear in the system as multiple leads if that individual requested information from your web site and spoke with someone at a tradeshow.

Accounts and Contacts

Accounts and Contacts are active, working or closed relationships. As a general rule Accounts represent the company and Contacts represent the employee/person from that company. 

The application is designed to hold Leads in an accessible and marketable database, until they are further converted into working relationships such as Accounts and Contacts.

Opportunities are the sales and pending deals that you want to track. By adding opportunities, you are also building your “pipeline,” which will contribute to your forecast. You can also link opportunities to campaigns to help measure the ROI of your marketing programs. In addition, you can create quotes, which show proposed prices for products and services, from an opportunity.

Andrew MacraeAndrew Macrae
Hi Syed,

Thanks very much for your email. So do I understand you correctly that until someone is actually a Client (in my case this would mean I have facilitated their mortgage) - they don't become a contact or an account? To be honest this doesn't seem too great as the tracking of opportunities is one of the key features that I like about the application however it doesn't seem as though I can use this without first converting them to an Account, which they aren't yet? Also, is there no way to just add business and personal contacts without linking them to accounts? I tried to enter a referral source as a "contact" and it will not allow me to proceed without linking them to an Account. I'm wondering if Salesforce is more of a corporate tool - not as much for the sole proprietor? Sorry if I seem frustrated - I was very excited to try the application but it seems like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole at this point? 
Matt BertuzziMatt Bertuzzi
Hi Andrew,

My take is a little different.

1) If you don't need a bucket to DISqualify prospects, don't use leads. Just use Contacts & Accounts.  I think of Leads as a threshold to cross (and to measure the rate of crossing).

2) You are right that for finserv the contact/account isn't always perfect. That is why we have Person Accounts (depending on which edition you are using)

What is a Person Account?

Business accounts available in: All Editions except

Person accounts available in: EnterpriseUnlimited, and Developer Editions

Person accounts are not enabled by default in Salesforce. To quickly
verify whether your organization uses person accounts, see if you have
an option to select Person Account as the record type when you create
a new account. To request person accounts, check with your administrator or contact

person account is an individual consumer with whom you do business, such as a financial

services client, an online shopper, or a vacation traveler. Person accounts are applicable to organizations that operate on a business-to-consumer model as opposed to a business-to-business model 

Steve MolisSteve Molis
Hi Andrew,

Syed and Matt are dead on, this Process Map from the Learning Center might help with the SFDC :  Lead>Account>Opportunity flow.

Adam SaundersAdam Saunders
Whatever you do, don't implement Person Accounts. If you don't know the company/account name, just add the contact to a default bucket account named something like "Individual". Voila, now you have a B2C data model without destroying your Org. Person Accounts are a horrible legacy that should have been eliminated a long time ago. If you implement Person Accounts, you will loose significant functionality within your Org and likely have to kill the Org completely and create a new instance from scratch.

I agree that most prospects should be added as contacts unless they are completely unqualified or are missing key information such as email addresss, etc..
Bob EmbreyBob Embrey
My logic flows just like Andrew's.  I would go from Lead to Opportunity to Account.  To me it's counterintuitive to jump from Lead to Account then back to Opportunity.  I'm having to rethink how we'll use this, too.
Linkesh DiwanLinkesh Diwan
I think this can work for Bob and Andrew as well:

From your website contact form, business cards you've collected, etc, build a database of leads.  

Once you've contacted them and need to start making a deal with them:
  • Convert their COMPANY to an Account (or, in case of dealing directly with a person, either add them to a catch-all company, or create a company account for the person - they don't have to have a company, but it preserves the option going forward and maintains your data structure integrity)
  • Make the PERSON the "contact person" on the account.
  • Create an OPPORTUNITY related to that account that details whatever you are trying to sell them.
If, in the future, you need to negotiate another deal with them, that would be another OPPORTUNITY to sell to them!  

Perhaps a clear definition would be:
  • LEAD (untouched contacts)
  • ACCOUNT (an entity that you will deal with)
  • CONTACT (a human associated with the entity - may even be that entity in real life)
  • OPPORTUNITY (a chance to sell to the entity by dealing with your contact there)
And a logical progression would be:
  • Lead
  • Account with a Contact Person and an Opportunity
  • After the first sale, just an Account with a Contact Person
  • Maybe they come back?  You've got another Opportunity related to the same Account and Contact Person.
  • Maybe your contact changes jobs?  You can associate them with a new Account.
  • Their replacement at their old job comes back for more: you add another Contact Person and a new Opportunity.
  • Etc.
Joanna AnspachJoanna Anspach
Hi Andrew, 

I am new to Salesforce and we are also in the mortgage industry. We are having the same problem understanding this from a mortgage perspective. What did you end up doing for you company? Did you set up an individual account and put all your clients in that account? 
Andrew EmilAndrew Emil
@steve molis you are my hero, been looking for this map for ages with no hope to find it 
Steve MolisSteve Molis
no problem Andrew, you owe me a beer!