Salesforce Best Practices – Person Account Object

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Accounts are typically used to store static information related to a company – but, what if your customers are individuals? This is where Salesforce Person Accounts come in.

Previously in the series, I wrote about which best practices you should follow when using the Account object in Salesforce. As the Account object is designed to represent a business with multiple related Contacts, Person Accounts differ – essentially, they are an Account and Contact combined, that enable you to store clients as individuals.

If your clients are individuals you should definitely consider enabling Person Accounts in your org. In this article, I will cover the characteristics of this special type of Account, outlining certain particularities of Person Accounts that are worth noting.

1. Salesforce Person Accounts are for Individual-Related Attributes

Architecturally speaking, a Person Account is a hybrid of an Account and a Contact. Of course, you can always use a custom object to store your customer information; however, I don’t recommend you to do it, as most standard Account and Contact features are also available for Person Accounts. A very basic example for this would be that you can also select Person Accounts also in standard lookup fields to the Account or the Contact objects.

2. Converting a Lead to a Person Account is very simple

If you are using different record types in your org, you will want leads to get converted to the right account type. This can actually be achieved by creating a process with the Process Builder as demonstrated in the article about Account Best Practices; however, if you are planning on having one record type for Person Accounts in your org, you can convert certain leads to Person Accounts as easily as follows:

Once you have enabled Person Accounts in your org and arranged the Person Account record type and layout, Leads with a blank standard Company field will automatically be converted to Person Accounts, whereas Leads with a value in the standard Company field will be converted to business Accounts as usual. Best is that, to ensure your Salesforce process is as user-friendly as possible, you separate Leads to be converted to Person Accounts and Leads to be converted to business Accounts with different record types and page layouts. Once you have done this, you will be able to mark Company on the business Lead layout as required and hide the Company field from the Lead layout associated to the Lead record type to be converted to a Person Account.

3. Business Accounts can be easily transformed into Person Accounts

If you were not familiar with Person Accounts until now and you have realised that some of the business Accounts you have in your org should actually be Person Accounts, you can follow the steps below to migrate business Accounts to Person Accounts:

  • You will have to adjust your Organization-Wide Sharing settings so that Contacts are Controlled by Parent, i.e. controlled by the related Account, and you will have to ensure that all profiles with Account read permission also have Contact read permission. If you do not have any Account record types in your org yet, you will need to create one. If you are going to use both business Accounts and Person Accounts, use that first record type for business Accounts, as a record type for Person accounts will appear in your org once Person Accounts are enabled.
  • The second step is logging a case in the Salesforce Customer Support portal. You can also do this later on in the process, but it is better that you do it sooner than later, as Salesforce will take some time to activate Person Accounts in your org.

  • Before starting this step, I recommend you to do an Account and Contact Data Backup, so that you can revert the process if you make a mistake. You will then need to ensure that all the Accounts you want to convert into Person Accounts have one Contact. If you have Accounts with no Contacts, you will have to create one Contact for each of them. If you have Accounts with more than one Contact, you will have to create one Account for each extra Contact of an Account and relate each Contact with the right Account.
  • Finally, you will need to mass update the Account record type to the Person Account record type. Something to keep in mind is that the Account Name field will disappear once the Account record type is updated, so make sure you have not left any relevant information there. If you have not given any profiles access to the Person Account record type, remember to do so as well.

Wrap-Up

Salesforce comes with a predefined number of standard features you can take advantage of to build efficient and scalable Salesforce processes. Setting up standard functionalities is also way easier than building custom solutions. As a best practice, you should always ensure you do not build anything custom when there is a standard functionality you can use.

Check out the rest of the Salesforce Object Best Practice series to learn more about how to use standard objects optimally.

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