This blog post was written by Sales Ops Strategist Kris Parise. It was last updated on 02/14/22.

Considerations For Disabling the Lead Object

For most organizations, Salesforce utilizes leads as the entry point for new prospects. However, for some organizations, leads can turn into more of an operational burden and become unnecessary in their go-to-market approach, such as with an Account Based Marketing (ABM) approach. Some of the more common operational issues involving leads include:

  • Managing duplicate fields in lead and contact objects and syncing fields across conversion
  • Duplicates across leads and contacts and arranging duplicate rules
  • Reporting across leads and contacts

Due to these issues, some organizations opt to disable leads as a function in their organization and move to an account and contact-based system. This approach works well for some organizations, but there are a few things to consider before making the switch.

A version of this post was sent out in the July '21 Kicksaw email newsletter. To make sure you get access to content like this in advance, sign up to get our monthly newsletter in your inbox!

Leads vs Contacts

Leads serve an important purpose for most organizations and serve key purposes for how Sales qualifies a prospect and, hopefully, a sales opportunity. Several important functions with leads are:

  • Web-to-Lead forms
  • Keeping bad data out of the accounts and contacts
  • Lead queues
  • Lead assignment rules
  • Lead conversion reporting

Fortunately, you can still derive most of these benefits using contacts. However, a key function of leads is that they separate known and qualified prospects from prospects who have been disqualified or have bad data. Data governance, then, becomes increasingly important considering when disabling the lead object.  

Data Governance Policy & Data Enrichment

One of the biggest obstacles to disabling leads is that, when you do so, you need a new method of ensuring that new prospects entering your system as contacts are associated with the proper account. This can be accomplished with a clearly established data governance policy and/or with a data enrichment platform.

A data governance policy helps establish the "rules of the road" for data integrity within an organization. Usually, the policy is written and agreed to by the cross-functional parties who are involved with entry and exit points of data into Salesforce, and it typically consists of technical aspects that help control the data framework by setting rules and automation within Salesforce, such as validation rules, form fill requirements, etc.  

Data enrichment helps with those additional use cases in which incomplete data enters Salesforce. When important data is missing, it needs to be enriched in order to be utilized properly. Many platforms, such as Clearbit, exist to enrich such contact records, allowing you to now rely on the information to help bridge the gap between the known and unknown.

Maintaining data integrity when disabling lead objects is crucial, as this lays the foundation for the most critical component to disabling leads: lead-to-account matching.

Lead-to-Account Matching & Account Assignments

Once you've established consistency with your data integrity from a data governance and data enrichment standpoint, you should now have enough confidence to find a process to automate the association between leads and contacts to accounts. Typical lead-to-account matching relies on removing the email's domain and matching the domain to existing account information. Kicksaw has helped many customers with this problem, and so have many other vendors in this space, such as LeanData, RingLead, and Lane Four.

Once you have all of these processes in place, leads can be safely disabled within an organization and successfully managed by automation. Make sure that there are internal processes in place to review account assignments on a regular cadence going forward, though. This will ensure that any new prospects are being assigned and actioned on by the appropriate sales representative and that you aren't losing opportunities to convert your prospects.

Other key considerations include:  

  • Certain marketing tools, such as Marketo, leverage leads out-of-the-box. So, while you may not use leads, you may need to have leads enabled and monitored for your marketing platform of choice.
  • Similarly to lead status, contact status should be customized to represent the desired path a contact would take in the buying process. The use and automation of an account’s Type field (Prospect, Customer, Partner, etc.) will become increasingly important for helping sales representatives filter through the list of accounts they are assigned to manage.

How to Disable the Lead Object

If you're convinced that disabling the lead object is the right move for your company, simply follow these instructions:

To disable the lead object in Salesforce, turn the object setting to Private in the org-wide defaults and ensure that all leads have been converted prior to removing access. The System Administrator profile will continue to have access to the lead object, but update all other profiles to not have access to it.

If you will continue to utilize leads for your marketing platform or a similar reason, make sure that you set up an automated lead conversion upon lead creation so that your leads aren’t stuck in limbo. We recommend that you set up a process to review recently created accounts and contacts and look to merge duplicates, if that is not already part of your automated lead conversion process.

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