Salesforce Tip of the Week: Private Contacts

Salesforce is a very robust platform which provides the framework for a sales, marketing or service department. The system is specifically designed to be highly customizable allowing developers to build solutions and products that specifically meet a specific need. With plus there is usually a minus, it is for this very reason that the system is also complex and heavily nuanced.  We are dedicated to releasing one tip a week to help share our knowledge of common "gotchas" with the Salesforce Platform.

Tip #2

Private Contacts

A question we frequently hear from our clients is "Why can't I see certain contacts that my colleagues can see?" We have heard this question in many forms another version is "My colleague entered some contacts in Salesforce and I can't view them, is our database disconnected?"

In Salesforce Contacts are the individual people who work at a particular company or Account in Salesforce. It is not a requirement that Contacts be related to an Account; however, if a Contact is entered and does not have an associated Account, it will become private. When I say private I mean it will only be visible to the Owner of the record and system administrators (It will appear in exports of the system but it will not show up in reports, views or searches performed by non-owners). The reason Salesforce has this option is that it allows for users to store personal contacts in the system without sharing them with others (ie. doctors, teachers etc.) Another question we commonly hear is how do we get around this Salesforce functionality, what if I don't know the company at this time but I want to share this contact with others?

There are two options depending on your company's needs:

  1. Enable Person Accounts | Person Accounts allows you to enter people in the system as Accounts, this is the recommended option for B2C companies that need to track customers as people. You can then tie a Person Account to a "Company" Account in the system  if needed.
  2. Placeholder Accounts | You can create one Account in the system and call it Placeholder Account. You can then have all of your employees tie Contacts to this Account until they know what company they work for. At that point they can adjust the Account associated with the Contact.

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