Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Data Quality

business partnersMany CRM applications have the concepts of leads, accounts and contacts for registering customers or other parties with roles in sales and customer service.

Most CRM systems have a data model suited for business-to-business (B2B) operations. In a B2B environment:

  • A lead is someone who might become your customer some day
  • An account is a legal entity who has or seems to become your customer
  • A contact is a person that works at or in other ways represent an account

In business-to-consumer (B2C) environments there are different ways of making that model work.

The general perception is that data about a lead can be so and so while it of course is important to have optimal data quality for accounts and contacts.

However, this approach works against the essential data quality rule of getting things right the first time.

Converting a lead into an account and/or a contact is a basic CRM process and the data quality pitfalls in that process are many. To name a few:

  • Is the lead a new account or did we already have that account in the database?
  • Is the contact new or did we know that person maybe at another account?
  • How do we align the known data about the lead with external reference data during the conversion process?

In other words, the promise of having a 360-degree customer view is jeopardized by the concept of most CRM systems.

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2 thoughts on “Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Data Quality

  1. John Owens 30th July 2014 / 09:31

    Hi Henrik

    Just addressed this at the MDM and Data Governance Summit in Sydney.

    This type of structure is essentially flawed model used by too many CRMs. Lead, account and contact are essentially the same thing Party. In reality ‘Lead’, ‘Account’ and ‘Contact’ are merely Roles that are played by Party.

    Party can be sub-typed as Organisation and Individual to make the CRM suitable for both B2B and B2C use.

    Putting Party at the centre enables all of the various Roles played by one Party to be easily seen and analysed.

    Kind regards
    John

    • Mike Boracci 5th August 2014 / 14:30

      John,
      Your idea makes a lot of sense. I have always struggled with the way CRM has created confusion for those who are entering data. Too many companies strong-arm their sales people into entering data into the CRM system because they think they will be able to immediately use that data to win more business. The reality of the situation is that the data is garbage and can’t be effectively mined. Fields are often mis-used. This is an inexcusable situation considering we live a very mature software world. If CRM took your approach and graphically created the environment so that there would never be confusion, things would be grand.

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