My Current Thoughts on Salesforce Person Accounts
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My Current Thoughts on Salesforce Person Accounts

Mark Bruso from EMS Consulting asks,

Paul, I just read your article on LinkedIn to avoid Person Accounts.  But the article is almost 3 years old.  With all the updates Cari Aves and her team have done the last few releases (including Spring ’17 ) do you still feel the same?  I have a client that is 100% B2C and Person Accounts seem to be developed for their business model.  They don’t like having to be required to use the Company Name in Leads or Account Names elsewhere.  Thoughts?

Mark, I am cautiously optimistic. I would encourage you to review the webinar Cari held regarding Person Accounts if you haven’t already.

One item brought up in this webinar is that once you enable Person Accounts you don’t have to use them forever. While that is fair statement, we found the solution to prevent a Lead Converting to a Person Account is either make the Company field record on the Lead required or use a validation rule to require a Company field. This may or may not be a restriction that has an impact for you.

Indeed, Salesforce is still investing in Person Accounts. However, I would consider your culture as a company. If you are early adopters of new features you may become impatient. For example, the Lightning Experience was released first to Contacts in Winter ’16. Person Accounts were released just one release later in Beta/Pilot in Spring ’16. There are known limitations with Person Accounts in the Lightning Experience. There was a time such when you were not able to edit the Persons Account Page in the Lightning App Builder. To be fair, other features for other data models such as the Contact-Account data model also did not make it in the initial release of the Lightning Experience, including Account Teams.

Person Accounts continue to make great strides with respect to Lightning. We can now edit the Lightning Page for Person Account in Spring ’17. I would encourage you to educate yourself on the Lightning Roadmap PDF. It is your responsibility to know what is currently included, what’s on the roadmap and what isn’t. Ultimately, you need to conduct the cost-benefit. And remember if something isn’t on the roadmap, don’t just complain! Engage with Cari and make yourself heard. Salesforce listens and will continue to ship great enhancements!

I think some of the pain many feel with Person Accounts is common to technology and change management in general. I do feel that this pain has been overstated with respect to Person Accounts, and largely a result of poor decisions by consultants/admins choosing Person Accounts when, in fact, it was not a fit for their organization. I think Salesforce wants you to carefully consider the implications, which is why you have to contact support to activate them.

For example, I worked for an insurance brokerage who had both B2C and B2B business models. We would often have employees leave a company that we did business with (B2B) and then have them on COBRA or select and individual plan with us (B2C). Conversely, we often had folks who would have an individual plan with us (B2C) and then get a job with a company who we had a group plan with (B2B). We found there was a lot of friction between the 2 data models in these situations, and I do feel Salesforce could do a better job here—where an individual either exclusively has an individual plan or group plan. For scenarios where the customer could be both an individual consumer (b2c) and client (b2b) it is more common to use the household model. That model is commonly used for non-profits to track when a person donates in the name of their company vs. an individual donation.

I will refrain from giving you a recommendation for your client, but hope you found this post helpful!

  • Nick Peeters
    Posted at 09:50h, 25 January Reply

    I work at a moderately sized non-profit that has been on Salesforce with Person Account since 2012. While the Person Account / B2C approach was recommended to us during initial implementation by our implementation partner (and Salesforce themselves in an architectural review) we have found that it’s come with a lot of unanticpated additional costs.

    In particular, we’ve found that most App Exchange products do not work with Person Account – not only apps that work within Salesforce but particularly those from vendors (that I shall not name) providing external 3rd party functionality like event management, talent recruitment, survey management and fund raising. Since we’ve not been able to use out-of-the-box applications from those vendors we’ve had to build custom point-to-point integrations for many of these – with the ensuing data synchronization issues and ongoing support and maintenance work that those entail.

    Given these persistent costs, we are contemplating the complex task of shifting to a an Account Contact model – likely using “household” accounts as you suggest. Do you have any advice for organizations contemplating such a move? Are there other factors we should be considering in making the decision?

    • Paul Fischer
      Posted at 00:00h, 31 January Reply

      Hi Nick, thanks for the comment. It looks like we already have an appointment set up (via Jessica) to speak further. I will definitely address your questions in that call. Talk soon!

  • Denis Horgan
    Posted at 15:09h, 26 August Reply

    Did you ever not think to have two record types for Leads, one for Consumers and one for Business Contacts? Once person accounts are activated, you can remove the company name field from the lead record.

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