If you are an university and using salesforce, one of the challenges we face is converting lead to contact without creating duplicate contacts in salesforce which causes night mare situations. The scenario could be that your prospective students could be registering from your website on a course and it is populated as lead in your salesforce org. Your student information system integration process like Banner, Eulecian might be creating contacts for the same lead on the batch uploads. At some point, your recruiters try to convert the lead to the account and contact and at that point, if they do not choose an existing account or contact, a duplicate contact gets created. How do we minimize the duplicate creation of the contact and still allow conversion to take place without any issues?
1. Create and populate unique identifiers on the lead object.
Before you plan to convert a lead, you need to plan for fields on the lead which would help you to identify the duplicate contact. You can start with first name, last name, email id or date of birth if you store them as one of the key fields but this would cause some records to be not matching because of the name fields which is always entered wrongly or changed in your Student information system.
So in this case, if the lead gets created first because the student registered on your website and then at some point, your student information system creates a student record, you can create the unique identifier like the PIDM for banner or any other unique id from the Student information system on the lead record. This would ensure the correct matching of leads to contacts.
2. Verify and allow minimal fields to be populated before lead conversion.
Once the lead is entered in salesforce and at the point where the recruiter is about to convert the lead , creating an intermediate visual force page would help to check for minimal fields to be entered on the lead so that the converted lead would have relevant data. Fields like interested program, course, graduation year, high school name are examples of these lead fields. The visual force solution would make sure that all these minimal fields are filled and required and once the data is filled in, the conversion solution can be triggered to convert the lead to account and contact.
3. Plan for overwriting contact fields or not to overwrite contact fields.
If you have already enabled integration with your student information system, there is a possibility that the student record (contact) has been created already prior to conversion happening. So in that scenario, you can create the lead conversion solution to check for existing contact record and only update the lead fields on the contact. Here are simple things which you need to be aware of.
1. You should avoid over write of the contact records from the lead and your lead conversion solution should handle it.
2. The default lead conversion solution will overwrite the contact with lead information on standard fields and so a trigger which should copy the old contact information and reupdate the contact should be considered.
3. Also plan for which fields you want the conversion solution to update and which not to update.
4. Batch mode automatic lead conversion.
This might be a great solution where once the lead is updated with the minimal lead conversion solution, a batch process can be created which would read each lead and automatically convert the lead to account and contact. The batch solution would also create error reports on conversion failures and leads which are not converted as well.
We have a solution which can automatically convert a lead , prevent duplicate contacts from getting created by looking for unique identifiers and also create opportunities on courses which can help in ROI reports on campaigns. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and post your comments on how you are using lead conversion at the moment..