Your Best Contact Just Moved Companies – What Do You Do?

January 31, 2017 Volney Spalding

This is the second in a series of best practices blogs from Leadspace’s Customer Success team.

Read Part One here: How to Effectively Segment Your Inbound Leads

It’s a dilemma which, at one point or another, will strike most demand gen teams at some point – and there’s no simple solution.

You’ve got a great lead – one of your best contacts within your CRM and/or marketing automation platform in fact. Then suddenly, they move jobs, and you’re faced with a strategic choice: do you continue focusing on the account, or do you follow the lead to their new company?

Of course, there is no objective “right” answer here. Either approach is legitimate, and will really depend on one or both of two factors:

  1. What is the strategic focus of your demand gen? Do you view the Account as the “Buyer,” and therefore at the center of the demand gen universe (or in other words, are you pursuing account-based marketing)? Or do you view the contact/lead as the “buyer,” in which case all history for that contact should remain intact?
  2. Your gut instinct. Sometimes, it all depends on the specific context and your own assessment of the situation. For example, you may usually see individual leads as the focus, but in this case your product might not be suited to the contact’s new company. Or your company’s relationship with the old account may have since taken on a life of its own, shifting your focus to the account itself.

Do you even know when a contact moved companies?

Of course, before you even make that decision, you need to know that the contact moved companies in the first place!

Obvious, right? But all too often, companies are ill-prepared for this eventuality – usually because they don’t know how to prepare for it. B2B databases are never stable; your CRM and marketing automation platform will deteriorate far more rapidly than you can possibly keep up with personally. B2B professionals change or lose their jobs, get promoted, move department and otherwise switch responsibilities at a dizzying pace – not to mention retirements and other such scenarios.

Using a data enrichment provider can temporarily solve this problem, but it will only be a temporary fix, as your database will begin deteriorating again soon after. The only comprehensive solution lies in real time enrichment.

Once you have such a solution you can always remain one step ahead, and plan efficiently for any of those eventualities.

Watch: Real-time data management and enrichment at your fingertips

If you believe the contact should be the central focus of your lead/demand gen, then arguably the most logical thing to do is to simply move the contact to the new account, and keep the entire activity history with the contact intact. This is a topic of some debate.

Among sales operations professionals, the consensus is that the account should be the center all of relevant data and history for the account.

According to this view, you should acknowledge that the contact has a new reality and may or may not have the same decision making power in the new role. Therefore, best practice would be to create an entirely new record for this contact.

For the original account, you should continue to associate the original contact record but should create a contact status field and call it something like “Deliverability” and assign a status of something like “Inactive – left company”.  This way, you can keep the activity history of that contact, without the concern of incorrectly contacting them.  On the new contact record of course this status would be “active”.

While it takes some manual effort, there are those who believe best practice is to create a field to associate the new contact record with the previous account to track the career movement of that contact. This is undoubtedly useful, but may require more manual effort than is viable.

(There is function in SFDC Summer 16 release that enables you to relate a contact to multiple accounts, but the purpose is different than tracking the movement of a contact. The objective in that case is to associate a contact with a primary account and a possible “indirect” account such as a non-profit account they may be associated with. It can also be used when the lead is a consultant that is associated with several client accounts.)

This article was adapted from a discussion thread on Modern Sales, the premier invite-only sales operations, enablement, and leadership community.”

Did you find this useful? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Leadspace.

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