As announced in my last article, I have started a new series of articles, where I outline best practices for the main Salesforce standard objects. It is very recommendable that you use as many Standard objects as possible in your Salesforce setup, as they come with a predefined number of features you can leverage to build scalable Salesforce processes. Of course, you should also make active use of custom objects, but, in general, it is best practice to create a custom object only when a standard object does not fit with the purpose of the object.
This month I have selected some best practices for the Account object:
1. Convert Lead to the right Account Record Type without Apex
You might be using record types to separate different business processes in your Salesforce org and you need to ensure that your leads are converted to the right account type. While Apex can solve this problem, there are a couple of simpler and quicker ways to solve this:
If no user in your org needs to convert into more than one type of Accounts because separate teams deal with each business process you have built, you can simply solve this by creating one Profile for each group of users and assigning them just the Lead record type and the Account record type they will be using. Leads are always converted to the default Account record type indicated in the user’s Profile.
On the other hand, if some or all users in your org need to convert different types of Leads and Accounts, Process Builder can help you solve this. First, create a Text Formula Field in the Lead object where you save the value in the standard Lead Record Type field. Then, map this field to a custom Text Field in the Account object and do not forget to make it ready only for all profiles in your Org. Last, create a Process Builder to fire when Accounts are created. Select as criteria the Account Text field with the name of one of the Lead Record Types. Create an immediate action to update the Account Record Type to the one you want to map it to. Repeat this process as many times as needed until you have mapped all your Record Types.
Note: You can create two more processes to fire when Contacts and Opportunities are created to also select the right Contact and Opportunity record types upon Lead conversion.
2. Use the Account object mainly for static data
The most common use of the Account object is representing businesses having a number of related objects. The purpose of the Account object is, then, storing static data about the business: business name, address, website, etc.
It is often helpful to create a few other fields too to display highlights from Account-related objects, i.e., fields that could help a new Account Owner quickly understand what type of Account she/he has been assigned. However, I advise you to restrain from creating a very long list of fields for this purpose. If you are going to save most of the information of your Sales process in the Account object, what do you need other objects for? And if you end up using just the Account object, what do you need a CRM system for?
3. Businesses or Individuals?
As a rule of thumb, Accounts are used for Businesses (B2B), which can have multiple related Contacts. However, if your customers are individuals (B2C), you should consider using Person Accounts. A Person Account is a combination of an Account and a Contact, so, for example, it can be selected in any lookup field to the Account or the Contact objects. The key benefit of using Person Accounts instead of creating a custom solution for your B2C customers is that many Account and Contact features can also be used with Person Accounts.
4. Tag your Accounts
One of those fields highlighting information from Account-related objects can be the standard Type field. A good use for this field is making it read-only and using the Process Builder to update it whenever certain milestones are achieved in other objects. For instance, Account Type can automatically get updated to “Active Customer” when a Contract is activated.
In addition, you can improve the user experience by making the Account Type tag more visual by creating a formula field to display a different image depending on the type of Account the user is looking at.
5. Set up a more customised access to Accounts
Some companies require that more than one person deals with a customer during the same period of time. If that is the case of your company, Account Teams allow you to grant several users access to a specific Account record. You can also specify the level of access you want each Account Team Member to have to related Cases and Opportunities.
Other companies assign users to specific territories, so that, for example, they can be more efficient when visiting customers or potential customers. In this case, you can set up Territory Management to grant account access based on certain account attributes, such as postcodes. Territory Management allows you to set up different territories for which you can create a number of assignment rules based on different account attributes. Once set up, accounts are automatically assigned to the respective territory so that users in that territory can have access to them.
Standard objects include a predefined number of features you can take advantage of to build efficient and scalable Salesforce processes. Before thinking of building custom solutions for a specific part of your Salesforce process, make sure you have always double-checked first that no standard functionalities can be used for it.