Leads, Customers and Contacts confusion

I really don’t understand how leads are supposed to be used. I would expect both first and last name to be present instead of a full name field, which is difficult to manipulate. Aren’t leads contacts after all? I see more affinity between leads and contacts than leads and customers, although I understand leads are meant to be converted. This is especially more frustrating when dealing with small businesses and freelancers. When you deal with lots of professionals, leads, customers and contacts tend to overlap completely.

Say you have a lawyer, which has a studio. You record it as a lead, but it’s difficult to address him by email, because you know… you just don’t say “Hello Fullname”. You either go with “Hello Name” or “Dear Mr. Lastname”… Just an example. Then, say you convert him… the lead becomes a customer, to which you might want to attach a contact with some information like his birthday or other information that might come handy to run your business. So you start duplicating things like crazy just to force pretty simple information into these categories. I can tell the whole thing gets pretty messy real soon.

I read the documentation but couldn’t find any real help to solve my issue. Hopefully that’s on me and I’m just overlooking the whole workflow, but I’d be glad to receive some insights on how to build my database correctly.

Thank you very much!

Leads are pretty much Contacts that have not bought from you. I think the way this is designed in ERPNext (I say “I think” because it wasn’t me :)) is that Leads are converted to Customers. So Leads could be both a Customer or a Contact!

Do you have any suggestion on how to fix this?

Yep, I agree with you and see what you mean… However, within ERPNext Leads are entities much like Customers, not Contacts, just not yet converted. But in reality, you convert people, not entities. Companies just pay the bills. The idea behind a CRM module should be to manage relationships, and you keep relationship alive through people. It’s people working that you address with your communications.

I must add that I like the idea of Customers carrying around one or more contacts, and I do take advantage of such flexibility. So my suggestion is to keep things as close as possible to the real world: you do have Contacts and Companies and Projects. Leads, as well as Prospects and Opportunities should be just attributes.

Potentially, all contacts (outside your company and suppliers) are leads. But some leads, due to the nature and quality of communications and opportunities in development, can be considered prospects. What differentiates all of them from a customer is just a sale… or an invoice linked to them. Same goes with Opportunities, Projects and Sales… Those are just steps in the very same pipeline, not different objects.

Keeping things like that brings a lot of flexibility. For example you can sell to a company as well as a private individual, or you can keep track of an already “converted” professional that moved to another job, so you have increased chances for a repeat sale at his/her new company.

At this moment I’m staying away from Leads and just use Contacts and Customers, and tagging my Contacts as Lead or Prospect.


@rmehta any news on this front please? What do you guys think internally and how you approach lead generation? I still believe it’s wrong to pretend to literally convert leads to customers (ya, think terminology doesn’t help here)… However:

  1. As long as customers can be both companies or individuals, leads are always only individuals
  2. Leads do not link to contacts and addresses as customers, they actually are self-contained entities
  3. Considering there is no overlapping among leads and contacts, I suggest conversion to actually always convert to contacts with a new customer of variable nature attached (company or individual)

This way lead generation becomes actually possible within ERPNext. What do you think?

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Thanks for the suggestion. I recollect discussion on this concern on Github as well. This was planned to be incorporated with Universal Mailbox which has been shelved for now.