4 Ways to Create Salesforce Contact Roles (and Get Accurate Campaign Influence Reporting)

By Andrea Tarrell

Campaign Influence is arguably one of the most underutilized parts of Salesforce. When leveraged effectively, it helps marketing demonstrate ROI and show exactly which campaigns are influencing pipeline.

But often when marketers and Admins go through the process of enabling this, they find that they don’t have the data they need to fuel these reports.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Why Campaign Influence Reporting is a Gamechanger

Revenue attribution is the holy grail that B2B marketers have doggedly pursued since the dawn of time. The old adage that “I know half of my marketing spend is wasted, I just don’t know which half,” doesn’t fly in an era where we have more data at our fingertips than ever before.

Campaign Influence reporting gives marketers the tools to demonstrate exactly how their efforts contribute to revenue.  At the Opportunity level, it allows you to view every single Campaign touchpoint that contributed to a deal:

And at the Campaign level, you can see both sourced and influenced Opportunities – counts, dollars, and the links to view the Opportunities in their full glorious detail:

But wait, there’s more!

There are four attribution models available out-of-the-box for Pardot + Salesforce customers that allow marketers to get a really complete picture of ROI and marketing engagement:

  • First Touch – 100% revenue credit assigned to the Campaign that a visitor first interacted with.
  • Last Touch – 100% revenue credit assigned to the final thing someone did before an Opportunity closed.
  • Even Distribution – Equal revenue credit spread across the multiple Campaign interactions a prospect has with your marketing.
  • Salesforce Model – 100% revenue credit assigned to the final Campaign before lead convert.

You can build stunning reports and dashboards with these models that look something like this:

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast.

Where Campaign Influence Reporting Breaks Down

9 times out of 10, when Admins go through the process of enabling Campaign Influence reporting, they see nothing on the out-of-the-box reports – or worse, wildly inaccurate information.

The issue is this: missing data.

And the usual culprit is missing Contact Roles.

Campaign Influence works by linking Contacts to Campaigns (via Campaign Member records) and Contacts to Opportunities (via Contact Roles). You can read about Contact Roles in full in this guide.

If any of that data is missing, your reports won’t show anything meaningful.

Why Contact Roles Are Needed

The Campaign Member association can usually be automated with Pardot and/or Process Builder when admins define logic to say “this action indicates engagement in this Campaign.”

Contact Roles are a bit more tricky. They’re used to indicate that “this person was involved in this deal” – but sales rarely takes the time to enter them.

You can add it to the page layout, but it often becomes another section on the Opportunity Record sales never scrolls down far enough to see.

Sadly, without consistent use of Opportunity Contact Roles, your hopes of creating stellar campaign influence dashboards are squashed from the start.

4 Ways to Populate Contact Roles

So how can we get the data needed to fuel this reporting? Here are 4 strategies:

1. Lots & Lots of Training

In a perfect world, sales would take the time to add Contact Roles to all of their opportunities. They’re the ones that know the contacts at their accounts the best, and they’re in the strongest position to get this data entered accurately in the system.

You can try to reinforce this with training, help text, and coaching in Sales Path.  You can send out automated reports looking for Opportunities with no Contact Roles.  You can get sales leadership to help beat this drum for you.

I’ve gone down this road, and let me tell you – it’s exhausting. Most admins who try this option first find themselves looking for a Plan B really quickly.

2. Use a Validation Rule to Require a Contact

Another approach is to create a lookup field to the Contact for the Opportunity, and then have a validation rule that enforces that a Contact is picked at the appropriate time.

With the validation rule in place, we can use Process Builder to create the Contact Role when this field is populated:

3. Force Sales to Create Opportunities Only from Leads & Contacts

A Contact Role is automatically set up if your reps:

  • Create Opportunities from a Contact record, or
  • Create Opportunities on Lead conversion

I’ve seen some organizations take the approach of hiding the “New Opportunity” button from the Account page layout and list views to enforce this behavior.

A key benefit of this is that you’ll almost always get one Contact Role populated.  But in B2B sales, there are usually multiple parties involved in a deal – so this is far from complete information.

4. Automatically Create Opportunity Contact Role Records on Behalf of Sales

After seeing so many organizations struggle with options 1-3, my team at Sercante built a new option: an app for Automated Opportunity Contact Roles.

The app lets you define the business logic for how many Contact Roles you want added, what criteria it should use to pick them, and what role picklist value should be assigned.

You can also set the logic for WHEN this takes place – upon hitting a certain stage, on record create/update, or for certain record types, for example.

Then once your criteria is set, the app auto-magically creates the Opportunity Contact Role records for all Opportunities across your Salesforce org.  Every time.  With no sales involvement.

Summary: You Need Contact Roles to Make the Magic Happen

Whatever strategy you go with, linking Contacts to Opportunities is key to being able to unlock Campaign Influence reporting and the ability to measure marketing ROI.

This reporting can be transformational for your sales and marketing departments.  If this isn’t something you’ve ventured into yet, there’s no time like the present!

The Author

Andrea Tarrell

Andrea Tarrell is a 12X Certified Salesforce MVP, the CEO of Sercante, and the founder of The Spot for Pardot.


    Becky S
    January 12, 2022 7:14 am
    Hi! Thanks for the info about automating contact roles with validation+Process Builder. Any way to get around it when the lead conversion creates a contact role but it will ask again to add primary contact on opp page to prevent validation before save? It is a deal breaker if they have to add it there as well. Any advice appreciated!
    Andreea D
    January 12, 2022 1:19 pm
    Hey Becky! Thank you for going through the article. Luckily, when it comes to Contact Roles generated as a result of Lead Conversion, the Primary Boolean is automatically set to true (in Lightning, for example, when looking at the Opportunity Contact Roles related list you will see the Primary label right after the conversion). Only in case someone wants to manually have another Contact as Primary, will they have to go there. Feel free to test this out and let me know how it goes.

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