Sales VPs need to know how their sales pipelines are being filled and where their deals are coming from. It is critical for them to have a full understanding of these sourcing tiers in so that they, in concert with the CEO, can make the right investment decisions.

However, most sales managers err in their treatment of sources and sourcing tiers, especially when working in Salesforce. The CRM provides a lead source option right out of the box, with a picklist of common lead sources for the sales rep to choose from. But where the picklist is limiting is that it does not tell the whole picture.

For instance, consider this example:

  • Sales rep John added prospect X from a list but did not touch them

  • Marketing sends prospect X a compelling offer, in an attempt to get them to raise their hand…

  • …But before prospect X can do so, they meet your company’s CEO at an event, they have a great conversation, and now prospect X wants to request a demo, creating the opportunity. Well done, team!

But who sourced the prospect? What about the lead, the opportunity, and, hopefully, the deal when it becomes closed?

This is why we recommend implementing 4 tiers of sourcing in Salesforce.

Prospect Source

  • Where did you get this name?

This is simply the origin of how you got a specific name into your database. This is also where most sales reps err in their data entry. Some reps might change the prospect source and select a new option from the picklist because they looked at lead source as the source. In truth, cold prospects are very different from warm leads, and their source should be treated differently as well.

Ultimately, you want to track your prospect sources so that you can determine the return on investment of the lists that you buy, not to mention the effectiveness of your outbound prospecting team. If your prospect sources – and their success – are being misrepresented in your CRM, that might lead you to make false conclusions.

Lead Source

  • Who / what caused this name to become a lead

The most important element of the lead source is first defining what constitutes a lead. They are not the same as prospects. Make sure that your entire company is in agreement on this standard. Perhaps a prospect becomes a lead when they:

  • Answer the phone

  • Fill in a form

  • Talk to you at a conference

  • Are referred by a partner

Here is where sources and sourcing tiers start to become more complicated. Let’s say the prospecting team goes on LinkedIn and adds a name to the database and never calls them, thereby ensuring that they remain a prospect and not a lead. Shortly thereafter, marketing reaches out to them with some great offer and is able to convert them into a lead. Without the prospecting team, there is no name. However, without marketing, that prospect never raises his or her hand. Right there you can see the value in separating prospect and lead sources.

Opportunity Source

Let’s keep on moving down the funnel and figure out…

  • Who / what qualified this account and converted it into an opportunity?

When working on prospects, sales reps…

  • decide when to call…

  • what to say…

  • what medium to use…

  • who to call…

However, when working on opportunities, there are fewer levers to pull, fewer factors in play, which means that they are all more important. If you’re trying to leverage great connections – such as having your buddy at a VC shop reach out – you only have one chance, so you have to use these chances wisely and know what works and when.

Take our example from the top. It is unlikely that your CEO will end up meeting all of your leads and converting them at events by happenstance. In other scenarios, your sales rep or maybe even the marketing team will end up converting leads to opportunities. The key is to figure out the breakdown between all your opportunity sources and invest in the ones that generate the most pipeline. You also have to capture new events that caused this to become an opportunity and not over-write the Lead Source with a new source.

Deal Source

  • Who / what caused the opportunity to become a deal?

Congratulations! You finally got the deal…but do you know all the details about all the magic that happened between opportunity and deal, much less between prospect and deal? What exactly happened to pull this deal over the finish line?

There might not be any additional factors, but if there are, they should be noted. Maybe an Executive Call from your CEO convinced them. Maybe a note from a common connection endorsing your company did the trick. Capture the final event or campaign that pushed this over the finish line. Figure out what works, and when. Finally, do this in a way that doesn’t hurt your ability to measure pipeline creation, i.e. overwriting Opportunity Source.

A quick Salesforce note

  • Don’t let reps go back and adjust fields. Once the lead has moved to an Opportunity, and therefore past the Lead Stage, you don’t want your reps to have the option of going back to change it.


Sales VPs and CEOs need to know where their pipeline and deals are coming from in order to make the right investment decisions. If your outbound prospecting team is underperforming, perhaps you should make cuts there and allocate those resources elsewhere. If marketing is not generating enough pipeline opportunities as laid out in your Service Level Agreement (SLA), action should be taken. The point is that such investment decisions can’t be made correctly unless various sourcing tiers – differentiating between prospects, leads, opportunities and deals – can be tracked in

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