Manage Repeat Customers with Salesforce + Pardot

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We’ve been thinking about how some businesses don’t fit the mold that’s typical for Pardot/Salesforce customers. How you treat existing customers depends entirely on how your business runs.

There are different lead lifecycles that could kick in when an existing customer submits a Pardot form, ones that Andrew and I have worked in organisations implementing these unconventional approaches.

When an existing customer submits a Pardot form:

  • Restart qualification: this approach means that any new form enquiries should go back through as lead records. This is typical of large B2B organisations, with separate business development and sales teams.
  • Accelerated through the funnel: this approach means that a new opportunity should be launched from the form submission. The result? You will respond faster to repeat customers, as this is pushed into your sales pipeline.

The second scenario is what I will show you in this post. But first, I wanted to give you the background.

You want to action requests that come through your Pardot forms appropriately and efficiently. The ideal Lead Management process channels leads through a ‘funnel’ that typically looks something like this:

  • Captured in Pardot,
  • Assigned to a user or a queue,
  • New inbound lead gets created in Salesforce,
  • Sales reps manage incoming leads using a queue or list view.

But, the reality is not as clear-cut. In reality, businesses receive enquiries, such as ‘contact us’ or demo requests, that may come from people who do not exist as leads any longer. This could be either:

  • Prospects you have previously converted from Salesforce Leads to a Contact,
  • or, repeat customers that have come back through a Pardot form (as you can’t assume they will contact their point of contact directly).

These outliers don’t slot nicely into our lead funnel. Without accommodating contacts in a secondary funnel, we run the risk of these enquiries going unnoticed.

How can we ensure that we are responding faster to repeat customer enquiries that come through Pardot forms? This tutorial will teach you how to spark an opportunity to be created when someone who is not a new lead makes an enquiry. I’ve chosen to show you opportunity creation, as this has helped clients streamline their processes; however, I have also seen this done with Salesforce task records, so it’s worth investigating if a new opportunity per enquiry makes sense for your business and isn’t going to skew metrics.

Step 1: Add “Most Recent Enquiry Date” Field

Add a new date field called “Most Recent Enquiry Date” (or similar) in 3 places: Salesforce Leads and Contacts, and Pardot prospects.

! Top tip: don’t forget to map the Lead and Contact fields in Salesforce, and the Pardot prospect custom field to the Salesforce field.

In Pardot, set the Sync Behaviour to: “If Pardot and Salesforce values differ when data sync occurs: Use Pardot’s value” – the behaviour and mapping is shown in the image below:

Step 2: Add Completion Actions

First, you may need to first ask yourself:

  • Which website forms are considered the most valuable for leads captured?
  • Which submissions are likely to spark a sales opportunity?

Add a Completion Actions to these Pardot forms you’ve singled out – here’s how:

Edit the Pardot form, and go to Step 4: Completion Actions.

Scroll down, and add a completion action to: “Change prospect custom field value to” — “Most Recent Enquiry Date” — to “Submission Date”. Use the screenshot below as a guide:

Step 3: Process Builder Criteria

heightWhat we are about to build in Salesforce Process Builder is a fairly simple process. If you are new to Process Builder, there’s plenty of information online – but before you dive in, always consult your Salesforce Admin, and test any automation inside a Sandbox first!

This process will:

  • Kick off when a Contact’s most recent enquiry date changes to today.
  • Then, will create a Salesforce Opportunity

First, we start with the criteria by selecting the first box which will open the ‘Choose Object and Specify When to Start the Process’ in the sidebar.

  • Object = Contacts
  • Start the process = ‘when a record is created or edited’

Next, click on the blue diamond, known as an ‘Action Group’. This opens the ‘Define Criteria for this Action Group’ sidebar.

  • Criteria Name = it’s your choice, but keep it descriptive, like: “When Contact Most Recent Enquiry Date = Today”
  • Criteria for Executing Actions = “Conditions are met”

Set the Conditions for ‘Most Recent Enquiry’ like in the screenshot below. The formula editor box will appear when you click on the greyed-out ‘Build a formula box’. Ensure you click ‘Use this formula’ each time you are done with typing the formula.

That’s the first line. You will see a second line that checks the created date is greater than 5 days ago. Why should we include created date too?

The first time I built this, duplicate opportunities were mysteriously getting launched if the lead was converted the same day they had submitted the Pardot form. Gotcha! I had to go back and revise my logic here.

This also works as an opportunity de-duplication. The number of days you choose (5 days in my example), is the period where you would consider an enquiry to be a genuine new enquiry, and not an annoying prospect submitting the form over and over.

! Top tip: TODAY() vs. NOW () formulas are an important Salesforce thing to know, but deserves a dedicated post to itself!

! Beware: Make sure the ‘Advanced’ section checkbox is checked, so that the actions (which we build in Step 4) happen only if and when the “Most Recent Enquiry Date” field is changed.

Step 4: Process Builder Actions

Moving our attention to the right. In the ‘Immediate Actions’ box, click “+ Add Action”.

  • Action Type = Create a record
  • Name = it’s your choice, again keep it descriptive, like: “Create New Enquiry Opportunity”.
  • Record Type = Opportunity
  • Account ID = Contact’s Account ID

The ‘Set field values” section appears. Use this section to pre-populate fields on the opportunity that will be automatically, to take out some of the leg work for your sales users too!

As I mentioned, this is a great introduction to Salesforce Process Builder, because you will get familiar with the following ‘Types’:

  • Strings: populate a field with a defined line of text
  • Picklists: populate a field with specific dropdown value
  • Formulas: populate a field with a value based on conditions, eg. 30 days from today
  • Field References: populate a field with a value from another field, eg. the account name the contact belongs to.

Let’s start with the opportunity fields that appear automatically.

  • Close date = I used a formula to have the close date default to 1 month from now, which is: TODAY()+30
  • Name = I used a field reference to insert the name of the account the contact belongs to. When you select ‘Field Reference’ and click in the ‘Value’ box, the popup (below) appears, where you search and select the field you want:

  • Stage = As this is a new opportunity, so you should select the first stage in your pipeline; if you are using the out-of-the-box stages, this will be the picklist value ‘Prospecting’.
  • Forecast category = select the picklist value ‘Pipeline’

I’ve streamlined data entry within my power, by taking this opportunity to fill in the opportunity’s owner and primary contact (adds this contact as a Contact Role to the opportunity – very important for Pardot segmentation).

! Beware of any required fields you have on opportunities! Amongst this list, there are some required fields that I have had to fill in with neutral values, such as “Event type” = “Other”. You can set a validation rule later, to ensure that users cannot edit and save the record with the value “Other” once they have started working the opportunity.

Step 5: Activate!

After you have done the necessary level of testing, go ahead and activate your process builder flow.


This tutorial has taught you how to spark an opportunity when someone who is not a new lead makes an enquiry, to ensure that your team are responding faster to repeat customer enquiries – and certainly no one slips through the net! Aside from the main objective, building the automation featured is a great introduction to Salesforce Process Builder, because you get to try out all different types of options, including formulas and field references.

Remember, it’s worth investigating if a new opportunity per enquiry makes sense for your business – and after what period of time should pass in between for it to be classified as a new opportunity.

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