Sea of Knowledge

Exploring Opportunity-Based Inquiry Management for HubSpot and Salesforce

Can I create multiple Contacts with the same email address in HubSpot? The short answer is no. But there’s a better way to manage lead intake. Let’s explore why teams use multiple records for the same contact, interrogate that approach, and explore a new one.

Why Would Multiple Records Exist for One Contact in a CRM?

First, let’s address why a company would want to create multiple contacts with the same email address. Typically, companies looking to create multiple records with the same email address in HubSpot use a different CRM - like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In HubSpot, you cannot have multiple records with the same email address. But, in many CRMs, two objects store contact information - Contacts and Leads.

The Lead object in Salesforce and Dynamics CRM represents a new interest in the company. This interest could be the first time a record enters your database or the third or fifth time they’ve expressed interest in working with your company. Let’s walk through a scenario.

See how W-House, a warehousing company using Salesforce as their CRM, manages inquiries from Susan, a Beam, Inc. procurement manager.


Benefits of Creating New Leads for Each Inquiry

W-House creates a new Lead in Salesforce each time Susan reaches out to request a quote. Even after Susan is a W-House customer, a new lead is created when Susan submits a request for a quote.

One Process to Learn and Execute

For each new inquiry, a lead is created in the CRM. The sales representative then works their lead list and identifies opportunities. Then, they convert the lead and work the deal until it’s closed. Only using the lead object to represent new inquiries allows the sales team to go to one place in the CRM to manage all their assigned leads.

Because sales teams lead the revenue generation for an organization, leadership is wary of assigning too many steps in a process or creating too many spaces for a salesperson to manage. They’d rather focus their sales efforts on working deals than optimizing processes. Which, to be fair, makes sense!

Consistent Reporting for Sales Leadership

Sales teams are held accountable for several key metrics. These include leads generated, leads converted to opportunities, and revenue generated. Most sales leaders use a dashboard in their CRM to monitor these key metrics. 

Using leads as the metric to monitor every new interest expressed makes it easy to consolidate reporting on new opportunities, the % of closed opportunities, and the revenue generated by representatives.

Cautions of Creating New Leads for Each Inquiry

Inflexible Process

While sales reps should spend their time selling, we live in a buyer-centric world, all of the focus should be on the customer experience to make sales in today’s buying landscape. And, as unfortunate as it is, buyers have free will. (Rats!) Buyers will not follow the beautiful sales process we’ve built for them. Expecting buyers to submit a form on the website each time they want to speak with a sales representative doesn’t work today. Instead, they might engage with the chatbot on your website, email your customer service address, speak with a team member at a conference, or tweet about your company’s services.

Not to mention, potential buyers that are already customers at your organization will likely submit forms for additional products. So why don’t they contact their account manager? We will never know. Buyers are unpredictable. And we, as sellers, need to meet them where they are.

Data Quality Nightmares

Now, let’s address our CRM managers. The sales leaders may have been reading this and nodding along in agreement. Yes, we love our consistent process! Lead management is the easiest way to get this done. And, while they’re thinking that, you’re thinking about all the duplicate leads in the system. These duplicates threaten your data quality management, run up costs in your additional software (dedicated just to deduplicating records created by this mess), and lead to the complex workarounds you’ve built to accommodate this “great” process. We see you. We are you.

Gaps in Reporting

We’ve discussed how great it is to report on all new buyer interest using the Lead object. That converted lead percentage metric is a great one to roll up to the executives. But what about what you do not see in those reports? And, yes, there are things you’re not seeing.


Let’s go back to Susan from Beam, Inc. for a moment. 

Susan has been using W-House for warehousing space for years. She’s one of their best customers! But, when Susan submits the form on the website looking for space in Phoenix, AZ, Ryan is assigned the lead. Ryan is a new sales representative ready to prove his worth to W-House. He opens up the new Lead in Salesforce, does a quick Google Search, and sees that W-House has $10B in annual revenue. Woo-hoo! A super sales-qualified Lead. Ryan picks up the call and leaves Susan the perfect voicemail - using the script your marketing team created for him, no less.

“Hey, Susan - it’s Ryan from W-House. We’re a warehousing company based out of Chicago, IL, and I’d love to see how I can earn your business. You probably work with a lot of warehousing companies, but I assure you if you give us a shot, you’ll see why we’re the best in the biz, and you’ll never look elsewhere. So give me a call; I’ll be waiting.”

Susan listens to her voicemail and emails her account manager. She laughs it off and lets them know she’s looking for additional space in Arizona to add to the $50M contract she’s maintained with W-House for years. Ryan did his job exactly as he was trained. And he created a terrible customer experience for Susan. Luckily, she’s understanding and not insulted by the lack of personalized service from W-House, her favorite provider.

Phew, that was a long tangent. So now that we’re back from this customer experience spiral that highlights a clear issue with this process, how does this impact reporting?

In this example, Susan’s account manager will find the Lead record in Salesforce and convert Susan to an opportunity in their name. Ryan is not going to get credit for this Lead. He worked through the process and created a negative experience for Susan. And he didn’t get credit! What a waste. The report will show a converted Lead, but it wasn’t really a Lead. Not for Ryan, anyway.

As a side note, you may think that Ryan should have searched Salesforce for Susan’s email address or phone number to see if she existed in the database. I’m a huge advocate that sales teams can learn new processes and use CRMs in really cool ways. But searching the database to see if a record already exists is one of the MOST skipped steps in the sales process. Don’t build a lack of trust in your CRM quality into your sales outreach process. This is the fastest way to get your sales team to use a spreadsheet and ignore your CRM. If they can’t trust it, why use it?

How to Manage Inquiries in Your CRM

We’ve identified a few gaps in creating new leads for each inquiry and established this isn’t the best way to manage this. Using the Lead object for each new inquiry creates more problems than it solves. And simply put, it’s not the most customer-centric way to manage new business opportunities.

So, what is?

Understanding the HubSpot Contact Data Model

Let’s look at the HubSpot data model for a moment. When the HubSpot team designed their CRM, they chose not to use the Lead object. No, this wasn’t an oversight. They used Salesforce themselves when they were just starting out. They knew about the Lead object and chose not to use it.

HubSpot chose to break the mold and use just one object to store contact information in their CRM platform - Contacts. The Contact object in HubSpot holds all the information about a person that a company collects during their relationship. The email address is entered once in the database, and every action that person takes in the future is attributed to this singular Contact record.

But how are they managing conversion? What are companies doing without the Converted Lead %?

HubSpot uses the Lifecycle Stage property to track a person’s progression throughout their sales and account management process. Using this property, reporting shows how many Contacts converted from a Lead to a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead and beyond. This method of reporting is reliable and ensures all teams are on the same page when communicating with customers and prospects.

Leveraging Opportunities for New Inquiries

Whether you’re integrating HubSpot with Salesforce or you’re just interested in a better way to manage new sales inquiries, take a moment to consider using Opportunities instead of Leads for all new sales opportunities. This is what we’d call a paradigm shift, so please keep an open mind.

How to Use Opportunities Instead of Leads in Salesforce

This new process removes Leads from Salesforce entirely. Therefore, leads will no longer be available in Salesforce if this process is followed. Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities will be the only objects used to manage customer and prospect relationships. 

New inquiries will create a Contact, Account, and Opportunities in Salesforce using this process. If an existing Contact exists for the inquiry, a new Opportunity will be created and assigned to either a sales representative or the assigned account manager.

Here’s how the previous example with Susan would work following this process.

Susan submits a form on the website looking for warehousing space in Phoenix, AZ. As a result, a new Opportunity is created in Salesforce and assigned to Susan’s account manager, notifying them that Susan wants to expand their relationship. The account manager reaches out and secures the contract with Susan. 

Following this process, the sales team is never involved. The account manager can quickly respond to their customers and provide them with the needed services. No one’s time is wasted, and the reporting integrity is maintained.

Okay, this clearly works better than the Lead method for existing customers, but what about net new prospects that do not have an existing relationship?

This process works for both new and existing customers. This process works better than using Leads. This process truly enables sales and account management to work on potential sales opportunities in the same place without creating a poor customer experience, negatively impacting data quality, or threatening reporting integrity.

Benefits of Using Opportunities Instead of Leads in Salesforce

Simplify Process Maintenance

Leveraging the same sales process for the sales and account management team simplifies training, process maintenance, and the sales-to-account management handoff.

Improve Reporting Reliability

We’re trained to be self-centric. Meaning we’re always thinking about ourselves and our contribution. But, if you look at the business from an executive perspective, the amount of revenue sales contributes v marketing v account management isn’t super important. What’s important is how much revenue the company generates. So, yes, sales and marketing managers need to know how their team is performing against others, but the overall goal of reporting is for the business to understand where growth is happening so they can better fuel it.

In this new method, executives can view opportunity-based reports to see the holistic performance of sales, marketing, and account management efforts. If implemented correctly, this method will show the following broken down by team, source, industry, product segment, and more:

  • Conversion %
  • Revenue Generated
  • Missed Revenue
  • Response Time
  • Lead Quality
  • Churn

Improved Customer Experience

Your CRM is your relationship with your customers. If your CRM is cluttered, mismanaged, and unreliable, so is your customer relationship. Optimizing your processes to align with your customers will pay dividends via referrals, renewals, and reviews.

How to Implement Opportunity-Based Inquiry Management in the HubSpot Salesforce Integration

Change is never easy. But then again, anything worth having is rarely easy to achieve. Implementing opportunity-based inquiry management will take time, change management, and resources. The gains will be worth it, but you’ll need to get a few things in place first.

  1. Buy-In. This will be the most challenging step by far. Your sales, marketing, account management, and executive leadership must agree that this is the right decision. This article is a good start, but you might need an expert to sell the idea. Feel free to loop us into that discussion.
  2. Change Management. Once the team at the top is on board, it’s time to plan for change. Change is hard. Change impacts productivity. Change takes time. Don’t inform your internal teams that these changes are coming on Monday at the end of the day on Friday. Not if you want it to work. Inform the teams that this is coming quickly after you decide to change. Give them a demo of what this will look like, give them a few days to process it, and provide a method for feedback. This will help you understand the potential pitfalls and where you need to solve problems before they start. Your front-line teams know how the process breaks down better than you do because they’re the ones that break it. Listen to them.
  3. Solution Design. This may seem simple, but it can be a beast of a project. Work with an expert to determine how you will migrate lead intake from lead creation to opportunity creation and how you will account for historical data in this new process.
  4. Train, Implement, and Iterate. Actually do it! This whole process should take 1-4 months, depending on the size of your team, the volume of data, process complexity, and more. But, again, this is worth it if you want to scale. Still unsure? Let’s debate it.