Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

Not applicable Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

I'm a brand new Marketo customer, long time customer. In fact, we're just beginning the Marketo implementation process tomorrow.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been finalizing our lead and sales processes and the challenge I keep running into is's terrible approach to Leads and Contacts (and the fact that you can't move a contact back to a lead stage once it's been converted).

The process I would like to have for our marketing and sales efforts would be something like the following:
  1. Leads are entered and nurtured in Marketo (Syncing with as Leads until they're ready to be worked by a sales rep).
  2. Once a lead is "Sales Ready" it becomes available to work as a "Lead" in
  3. Sales rep confirms the Lead's interest in our solutions and converts them to an Account/Contact/Opportunity
  4. Sales rep works the opportunity to one of three conculsions:
    1. Opportunity won (where we'll keep them as an SFDC Contact and continue to nurture as a customer)
    2. Opportunity lost (lost the opporutnity to a competitor)
    3. No decision (e.g. timing is poor, can't purchase right now, etc.)
So my challenge is with the last two possible outcomes in our Sales process (Opportunity Lost and No Decisions) as I would like to move those contacts back to the Lead process and continue to nurture them via Marketo until such time as they become sales ready again. does not provide the ability to move a contact back to a lead once it's been converted. However, I've been exploring having some custom development done so that I could convert a contact back to a lead if/when we wanted to. The custom process would take all of the contact data and create a new lead with that data, assign the correct lead stage and then delete the contact record.

My question is, should I be considering doing this? I think this would solve my objecitve of only having Contact records that we either have active/open opportunities with, or that are customers. Everyone else would be Leads in (which makes sense to me baed on how I've defined our marketing and sales processes).

Is there anything I'm not considering in this approach that could cause this to backfire on me? Before I spend the money on this custom development I want to make sure that I've considered all of the pros/cons.

Lastly, for other folks that are customers, how have you handled the Leads vs. Contacts dillemma? I'd love to hear about solutions others have implemented to keep their database clean and matched up with their processes.

Thanks for your help, ideas and comments!
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Not applicable

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

We suffer from the same constraints that you do,but our policy is to not delete Lead / Contact records to ensure that historical data is preserved for reporting (a lot of which is in SFDC).  From a nurturing and reporting standpoint, Marketo doesn't really care if a lead is a SFDC Lead or Contact, so the only reason to delete the SFDC Contact would be primarily for the benefit of SFDC processes.

When you delete the Contact in SFDC, it will not delete the Marketo lead record.  And then if yousubsequently sych the Marketo lead record to SFDC, a new Lead record will be created (albeit with a new Lead Created date).  Your developer would only need to delete the Contact and would not need to create a new Lead record as you will do this from Marketo using the SFDC is Deleted filter in a scheduled smart campaign.  All of the lead's Activity Log will be available via the Sales Insight section in the Lead record, but the new Lead record's Activity Log and Campaign History sections will be blank.

Are you going to delete the Account record as well if the Contact that was deleted is the only Contact at the Account?
Not applicable

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

Interesting - I hadn't considered that just deleting the Contact record might accomplish what we need. The plan was to leave the Account record in place (although now that I say that I need to make sure that converting a lead doesn't create a duplicate account).

My thought process was tha twe would only delete the contact record. The custom development would actually include copying all of the contact's data (activities as well) to the new lead record in

Would Marketo not see that the new lead record has the same email address as the one in Marketo's database and be able to tie the two together?
Level 2

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

Hi Ken,

I'm curious about what process you ended up deciding on. What you outlined is similar to what I'm hoping to map out with lead handover to our sales team, but I've also hit a couple snags.  Deleting contacts is absolutely not an option for us as we don't delete contact records from SFDC (similar to Elliot). SFDC is widely used in our company and Accounts and Contacts basically tie most elements together. 

A couple of the snags we have are:
1) current customers (i.e. contacts) fill out forms, attend tradeshows, etc., and timely follow-up is required.
2) leads are converted to prospect accounts or were uploaded to prospect accounts (therefore, are contact records)
3) cross-sells & upsells are common.
4) lead object is used as a "Tasking/to-do" type object (tasks are still used, but multiple leads can be created for one person).

Any insights?
Not applicable

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

I'm also curious on what you ended up doing.  I have a similiar question / issue I just asked the community re: Salesforce here:

Not applicable

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

Because Marketo doesn't really care if the person is a Contact or Lead in Salesforce, I decided it wasn't really important to convert it back to a lead in Salesforce. To ensure nurturing of Contacts (converted leads) from lost deals, I am looking at the customer status of the Account the contact is tied to. For example, I have 3 Account statuses:

1. Prospect (no won opportunities)

2. Current customer (current contract)

3. Past customer (won opportunity, but no current contract)

The contact is tied to the account so I can then associate that account status with the contact and put them in the correct nurture campaign. For example, a lost deal contact is flagged as "prospect" and goes into the prospect campaign.

The alternative is to have a new lead created when a contact needs to be worked again and then merge it with the contact record when converted, but I thought that would be too messy.

Any other ideas on how to solve this issue?

Level 5

Re: Lead records vs. Contact records dilemma should I "unconvert" if I can?

We have the exact same issue and I currently do the same as you ended up doing, leaving the contacts under the account and flagging that account as "prospect re-engage" meaning we had an oppty, lost it and therefore will continue to nurture these contacts as if they were leads.