Three warning signs in your salesforce org to watch out for if you are an university using salesforce.

If you are an university using salesforce crm for your enrollments and if you are not using apps like Targetx  or enrollment RX, you might have customized salesforce to track your prospective and registered students using the native salesforce objects like contacts, accounts and leads. With my experience in implementing salesforce for more than 25 universities, I have seen potential bombshells on these customizations which would impact you sooner or later. This blog highlights 3 potential factors which you can check now and fix so that it does not become a huge issue later.

  1. Storing all your student records in one account record.


Since salesforce does not handle B2C student records cleanly, some of the universities use one account record and put all the student records as contacts under that account. Now the decision to do this would have been done for ease of use and not create multiple accounts or not leveraging the non profit starter pack or person accounts to handle this. This would certainly help you in the short run but once you get to more than 10,000 contacts , there is a serious issue which is about to impact you. Here are the major impacts.

a. If you build summary reports for your student record which involve both accounts and contacts, salesforce does not display all the student records on the screen. This would mean that you have to export in excel and do any custom filtering to meet your criteria.

b. If you use data loader or any import wizard to mass update student records which are contacts, you are going to experience time out issues or record lock error messages. This happens because salesforce does re calculation on permissions on the parent record every time a child record is updated and so every contact record updated would impact the single account record and cause issues.

The solution is to use Non profit starter pack or person accounts or the latest HEDA package where you can migrate your current contact in one account to one account one contact model using the 3 packages. This would ensure that you never get impacted in the future if you do any mass updates or inserts of the student records.

2.  Using custom objects in the place of  leads.

Another classic problem I have seen universities use is using custom objects like prospects, prospective students instead of leads. The reason is to avoid the crazy conversion scenario of leads where you have to manually convert a lead to an account or contact or if you have an intergration with your student information system like Banner, it is easy to deal with custom objects than leads or do any automatic conversion. Now this would work in the interim as long as the prospective student record is imported into salesforce . Here are the major impacts on using the custom object model compared to leads.

a. If you want to have your prospective students fill up your RFI forms, then the custom object does not work with the out of the box web to lead feature. So you have to use tools like form builder or custom code to import to your custom object on your website. Now if you have multiple RFI forms with different program of interest, this becomes a huge maintenance problem and takes too much time to integrate the RFI forms.

b. You would lose the ability to track your campaigns which is offered from out of the box. If you are sending mass emails using mass email tools like marketing cloud, constant contact, mail chimp or any other marketing automation tool, the marketing tools do not integrate with your custom objects very well . This means you have to do more customization to fit the custom object model.

The solution is to move to Leads and slowly phase out the custom object so that it does not impact the current integration and your RFI forms on your website.Using leads, all the marketing tools integrate with it and you can easily run campaign reports out of the box to track the ROI on your email campaigns quickly.

3.Not capturing touch points and all programs of interest of prospective Students.

Once you have the student record stored as a contact, most of the prospective students continue to use the forms on your website to show interest on various programs of interest. Students also continue to respond to the emails sent  on future courses which end up no where. Now the multiple touch points which your student has with your university in the form of RFI forms, web forms, emails are poorly tracked in salesforce.

If the student uses different emails on different forms or if the student applies for different programs,  universities tend to update the current contact record and lose the key programs of interest which the students were interested in and also the different touch points which the student interacts with your university. This is a great loss of key data which would offer a gold mine opportunity to cross or upsell student records and  interact with them on the channel of the student choice. So here is the solution.

a. If you are using contact records for storing your student record, using  a custom object called program of interest which has a master detail record with the contact would help to capture all the programs of interest which the student was interested in through out his life cycle.

b. Using a custom object called touch point which would be a master detail relationship to the contact record would help to track all the touch points which the student has with your university. So every inquiry, email and social media interaction would be  a record in the touch point record. This would help to identify the most profitable students, effective channels and measure your campaign ROI effectively.

By evaluating these 3 critical issues, you would be saving significant time in the future on maintenance issues. So here are the 3 key take away for you if you have these 3 warning signs in your current salesforce org.

  1. Use Non profit starter pack, person accounts or HEDA architecture to migrate your current one account multiple student model to one account, one contact model.
  2. Use leads to capture prospective students and phase out your custom object.
  3. Capture all your progams of interest and touch points of your students and never overwrite the student information

If you have these 3 issues, feel free to reach out to me at and I would be glad to help you out on these issues. We have automated solutions which can quickly  migrate your current structure to the new model within weeks rather than manually updating records to fit the new models.

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Author: buyan47

Hi there! My name is Buyan Thyagarajan. I am a Salesforce consultant specializing in Higher Education, Manufacturing and Marketing Automation. My blogs will help you to maximize your Salesforce CRM investments, prevent problems beforehand and make the right decisions. If you need to talk to me right away, you can email me at or call me at 302-438-4097

One thought on “%1$s”

  1. Hello Buyan do you happen to know if Pardot supports the HEDA format for contacts and accounts?

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