Understanding Salesforce Data Flow

Salesforce is a fantastic CRM system. But, for those businesses which are new to Salesforce, how do you relate the Salesforce terminology with your sales process. I hope this will help you cross that bridge.

Let’s look at the definitions and then we will delve into process flow shown here.

Salesforce Data Process Flow


Campaigns are marketing efforts made by any business which includes mass mailing, email campaigns, trade shows, seminars, networking events, etc.


Every contact you get from these campaigns is added to the system as a lead. A lead is basically a business card with a name, address and phone number that could potentially be interested in your product. You either acquire this card in person, mail or lists. You have activities related to the lead development which will include calls, sending materials and possible meetings. A lead has a life cycle with lead stages and status. As a lead moves through the life cycle you can capture the time it took to move from one stage to another. Lead scoring also plays a huge part in prioritizing lead management.
There is a lot of debate on when is it right to convert a lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity. I always advise on converting a lead when there is even a 10% chance of getting business from that lead.

An account is a place of business. It has a building, a door that you walk into, company name, address and a main phone number. You can capture demographic information about the account which can help with reporting on accounts by regions, industries etc. When you convert a lead, all the company information is transferred over to the account.


A contact is anyone that you are dealing with at that place of business. An account can have multiple contacts associated with it. When you convert a lead, all the information about the lead is transferred over to the contact record.


An opportunity is when there is potential for dollars from the account that you have developed. Opportunities have different stages through the sales life cycle. Based on your sales process, you will define the stages and probability of that opportunity closing. Here is an example of a few that are provided by Salesforce out of the box.

Opportunities have Sales Teams and Contact Roles. Contact Roles define the role a contact at the company plays e.g. Decision Maker, Executive Sponsor, Influencer, etc.


Tasks are your ToDo list. It needs to get done but is not date and time dependent. Consider task as a list that you put on your refrigerator that needs to get done and check things off as they are done. Tasks are an essential part of every step of the sales process starting from lead nurturing to post-sales support. In Salesforce, tasks follow with you every day until you mark them done.


Events are things that dependent on a date and time. Events are your calendar book that you carry around. Once the date and time is gone, the event is done. Unlike in your calendar book you scratch out the event that is not happening and add a new one to the day when it is happening, in Salesforce all you have to do is reschedule the same event to another date and time so you have the history.


In Salesforce, activities are a combination of tasks, events, call logs and emails. Very simple.

Most businesses run some sort of marketing campaign and leads are generated from those campaigns. Leads are nurtured by Sales reps with calls, following up with marketing materials and meetings to get the potential client interested.

A lead usually turns into a suspect before they become a prospect. A suspect is someone who is interested but not ready to spend dollars on your product or services. Salesforce does not have a specific process designed for a suspect. Ideally, when a lead reaches a prospect phase, the lead is converted to an account (prospect) and a contact. The system will prompt you to create an account, contact and optionally an opportunity. As the sales rep starts working with the suspect account, he/she can add related contacts at that business and associate them to the account. They can add all activities related to this account for each contact and that will be visible on the account.

Once there is an opportunity where the prospect is ready to start talking about purchasing your products or services, you can then create an opportunity and start tracking the opportunity dollars through its life cycle until that opportunity is closed. All activities related to this opportunity can be tracked in the opportunity and relate it with the particular contact that the rep is working with. Once again all these activities are visible on the account.

The pipeline report shows all open opportunities. Once the opportunity is closed/won or closed/lost, it falls off the pipe line report and then you can run reports to show how much business you have closed with different time frames.

This is a very basic overview of Salesforce CRM. Salesforce can be extended beyond the basics to fit your specific business needs.


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