There’s a shift happening in many B2B organizations. Marketers are swapping out their catch-any-lead-that-comes-in inbound marketing nets for the more targeted harpoon approach of account-based marketing. The latter involves different marketing strategy, different technology, different metrics, and different processes both on the marketing and sales side.

As the name account-based marketing implies, your sales and marketing efforts are focused on a pre-defined list of target accounts that match your ideal customer profile.

Since Salesforce does not link leads to accounts, your reps will want any leads from your target companies immediately converted over to the matching account record in Salesforce so they can track all account activity in one place.

Understanding the Lead’s True Status

If you have marketing automation workflows making decisions based off of Salesforce Lead Status values, this early lead conversion creates some real challenges. Here’s why:

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing

In a typical inbound marketing process, a “converted” lead status usually means there’s been a conversation, the lead has been qualified, and is interested. But with account-based marketing, leads are often converted prior to any conversation.

So now you have two types of “converted” leads. One means the lead is engaged and interested, the other means the lead could have no clue who you are, or what your company does. To provide the most appropriate and relevant next action, marketing needs to know what the real status is.

The problem is that Salesforce’s out-of-the-box contact record doesn’t leave marketers, or their marketing automation platforms, with a field to reliably gauge where the contact is in the buying process. However, if during the lead conversion process, a rep adds a prospect to an opportunity, marketing will have a clear indicator. But if the prospect wasn’t added to an opportunity, there’s no way to know the lead’s true status.

So here’s what you do.

Step 1: Create a contact status

To get a more telling view of engagement and interest for converted leads, create a custom picklist field on the contact object called Contact Status, and give it the same values as your Lead Status picklist.

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing

(Your sales and marketing process might warrant slight variation between the two, but for the most part they should be the same.)



Now you can get a much more granular view of what’s happening with a given contact. You can use this Contact Status in your nurturing logic, in any automated task creation logic, for building exclusion lists in your campaigns, and more.

But remember to adjust your marketing automation smart lists to now look at both the Lead AND Contact Status.

Here’s an example of how to do that in Marketo:

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing

Step 2: Create Marketo smart campaigns to automate the correct initial value of the Contact Status

Your reps will have to keep the new Contact Status updated as they work a contact, just as they would with Lead Status on a lead. But there is one important step you can automate, and that’s setting the correct initial value of the Contact Status immediately after lead conversion.

For example, if a rep receives a lead with a Lead Status of “Assigned,” and they immediately convert it to an account prior to any engagement, set the Contact Status to pick up the same Lead Status value it had just prior to being converted. To do this, you’ll need some smart lists and a smart campaign.

Here’s a smart list to identify prospects who were converted, where their most recent Lead Status value prior to being converted was “Assigned.”

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing







You’ll want to create a separate smart list for each Lead Status change to converted. Depending on how many values you have in your Lead Status picklist, you’ll end up with a folder of smart lists similar to this.

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing







Once you have all your smart lists built, you’ll setup your smart campaign where the trigger is Lead is Converted.

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing






And in the flow, after a brief initial wait step, you’ll use the Member of Smart List in your choice logic to determine what the initial Contact Status should be.

One Useful Marketo Trick For Better Account-Based Marketing










It’s a fair amount of work to setup. But if your reps are going to convert leads to contacts prior to engagement, your marketing campaigns and your automation workflows will benefit greatly by having more to key-off of than just Has Opportunity or Does Not Have an Opportunity.

Ari Echt

Posted by Ari Echt

Ari has a hybrid background spanning both digital marketing and traditional advertising. He is a Certified Marketo Expert, and long-ago Google Adwords Certified Professional. He spent the last 8 years doing digital marketing for SaaS companies. Prior to that, Ari spent 10 years as a copywriter for many of the Mad Men agencies (BBDO, McCann Erickson, Young & Rubicam), as well as some really cool boutique ad agencies including DGWB and Crispin Porter & Bogusky.


  1. Avatar

    Great post. I love the detailed nature and step by step instructions. At terminus we just help customers do it in an automated way and at scale. Love to chat and compare notes.

  2. Avatar

    Marketing automaton is The HOT topic these days and rightly so. Being able to track and nurture is very important. But, as in all Account Based Marketing, let’s not lose sight of content. By creating relevant content that resonates with your target audiences, what you are tracking becomes even more important.

  3. Avatar
    shirleen solares August 27, 2015 at 10:23 am

    This is a great article! We also face the challenge where every lead is converted prior to engagement for the sake of activity history in SFDC. This obviously hinders our marketing automation process and challenges our ability to clearly see a lead’s path among the lifecycle stage, as well as limits our lead scoring effectiveness. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Ari Echt

    Glad you found it helpful, Shirleen.

  5. Avatar

    Great article. We used a similar method in a previous organization I was in and it worked great. Now I’m trying to recreate that method at a new company and your article gave me some ideas on how to do this without needing to code tons of APEX triggers. Thank you for saving me the time and headache!

  6. Ari Echt

    Thanks for taking a look, Dasher. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good solution that solves a lot of problems. If you have any questions, feel free to ping me.

  7. Ari Echt

    One suggestion: if you’re not using LeanData (, I highly recommend taking a look. It’s a Salesforce application that allows you to connect the dots between leads and matched accounts. It’s helpful in many ways, and their customer success team is terrific.

  8. Avatar

    Hi Ari, we’re doing something similar to this, albeit I like the idea of adding numerical values to reinforce the notion of stages. I’d like to take this one step further and create some SLA reporting based on time-stamping when a lead or contact status changes. Have you done anything similar? Just trying to think through any ‘gotchas’ before implementing.

  9. Ari Echt

    Hi Trask, Thanks for the feedback and sorry for the delayed response. Your idea of time-stamping is wise. In general, we try and timestamp everything because at some point, it will turn out to be useful data for measuring SLAs or velocity.

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