In Sales, a lead is someone who expresses interest in your product or service but has not yet taken action. Salesforce has a data table (object) called leads and natively includes functionality to support the lead stage of a marketing and sales process. So, if you’re an education or nonprofit organization using Salesforce, how do leads fit in with your business process? Let’s take a look at leads and when (or when not) to use them.

In the Education and Nonprofit space, leads can be thought of as potential constituents; potential students, potential volunteers, potential partners, etc. The most common use case for leads is when your organization has a qualification process. For example: does your nonprofit work with volunteers? Do those volunteers need to be vetted or go through a qualification process before they can volunteer? If so, this would be a great reason to utilize leads. A potential volunteer (lead) could express interest in volunteering for your organization by submitting a form for calling in. After a lead has completed this action, a staff member could contact the potential volunteer, qualify them, and begin moving the lead through the process.

Another common use case for leads is if your organization has a nurturing process. In higher education, this could mean the use of purchased lists or inquiry forms to track potential applicants. Then a combination of marketing efforts and admissions team outreach could be used to move the potential application to an applicant by submitting an application form.

Business development teams might use leads to qualify and nurture potential partners prior to setting up a partnership agreement or B2B opportunities.

Of course leads aren’t right for every organization. Leads add another layer of complexity to your Salesforce org that may not be necessary (or feasible) for small teams. For example, small recruiting teams or advancement teams working with known donors may not need to use leads.

If your organization decides to use leads here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Salesforce has native functionality to support the lead qualification and nurturing process including Sales Process, Lead Conversion, and Lead Status (as well as Path in the Lightning experience). Our team at Elevation Solutions has developed a package that enhances the native Salesforce lead conversion functionality to specifically benefit education teams. Using enhanced marketing tools such as Pardot or Marketing Cloud can be used to further support your organization’s lead nurturing process.

Not all functional areas within an organization will need to use leads, but it’s important to consider their use if prospective constituents need to be qualified or nurtured. For more information about using leads in your Salesforce org, contact us at or through our website. 

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