Lead Conversion

When are leads converted?

Typically, leads are converted when they have been identified as qualified sales prospects.

A common lead flow is as follows:

  1. Lead generated through web-to-lead
  2. Lead assigned to inside sales queue via auto-assignment rule
  3. Inside sales rep manually takes ownership of lead from queue
  4. Inside sales rep calls and qualifies lead
  5. Lead is converted and transferred to outside sales rep

What happens when I convert a lead?

1. A contact, account, and opportunity are created and populated with the lead’s data (unless otherwise specified during conversion).

2. The lead field “Converted” is changed from False to True.  The lead record can be selected but the details can no longer be seen.  The lead record and its data are still present, however, and can be reported on.

What happens to lead data during conversion?

The data within standard lead fields is automatically transferred to the contact, account, and/or opportunity.  Standard relationships (campaign membership, related activities) are transferred from the lead to the newly created records (e.g. calls on the lead are transferred to the contact/account/opportunity).

In order for data within custom lead fields to transfer to the contact/account/opportunity during lead conversion, the administrator must map the custom lead fields.

How does lead conversion custom field mapping work?

Mapping a custom lead field for conversion is a two step process:

1.  Create field to store the data on the target object.

2.  Map the lead field to the target object.

Open Example

I have a picklist field “Product Interest” that indicates what product the lead expressed interest in.  I want this field to transfer to the opportunity when the lead is converted.

The field already exists on lead, however, I need to create the “Product Interest” field on the opportunity as well.  Then, I would configure lead conversion mapping (Setup –> Customize –> Leads –> Fields –> Map Lead Fields Button) as follows:

When the lead is converted, the data within the “Product Interest” field at the time of conversion will be transferred to the opportunity “Product Interest” field.

What if the account/contact/opportunity already exists (Classic)?

When you convert a lead, you will have the option to not create a new opportunity.  Simply check the box as shown.  There is no way to convert a lead to an existing opportunity.

Salesforce will attempt to find accounts with the same name as the field “Company” on the lead record.  If an account name contains the company’s name, then you will have the option to use the existing account record:

If you attach the lead to an existing account and the lead name matches the name of an existing contact, then you will also have the option to use the existing contact record:

What if the account/contact/opportunity already exists (Lightning Experience)?

In Lightning Experience, when you convert the lead, you can select the account during the conversion process.  The default search will be the value in the company field on the lead (CertifiedOnDemand.com in this example).  This prevents the creation of duplicate accounts upon lead conversion.  You would have to create a new account and fill in the details in order to associate it.

You also have the option to create a new opportunity upon conversion (leaving this blank will not create an opportunity):

Important Considerations:

1. Converted leads cannot be modified (even via the API) without the “View and Edit Converted Leads” permission (which is NOT assigned to the System Administrator profile) [updated ‘Spring 17].

2. Custom fields on each object are maintained separately.

If you have custom picklist fields on lead and a target object, you must maintain the values for each field separately (if you update one, remember to update the other – OR, use a global picklist).  Some standard fields (such as lead source) do this automatically.

Open Example

I want to add the value “Printer” to the custom field “Product Interest” on lead.  This field is mapped to opportunity.  I must also add the value “Printer” to the custom field “Product Interest” on opportunity.

3. The default record type of the user performing lead conversion is selected automatically for records created in the conversion process.

Open Example

My organization sells both product and services.

Record types are enabled on lead and opportunity.  Two record types are present on both objects: one for products, a second for services.  The default record type for all users is the products record type for both objects.

When a user converts a services record type lead, a product record type opportunity will be created (as this is the user’s default record type).  There are workarounds for these scenarios (workflow rules), however, this should be planned for accordingly.

4. Custom relationships to the lead object do not transfer during conversion.

Lookup fields on the lead object can be mapped the same way as any other custom field.  However, relationships to the lead object will remain in place, and will not be transferred during conversion.  An apex trigger or custom VisualForce lead conversion page is required for this logic.

Open Example

I have created a custom object “Product Interest” with a lookup relationship to the lead object.  Each product that a lead has expressed interest in is created as an associated record to the lead.  When I convert the lead, those “Product Interest” records will remain associated with the lead, and will not be transferred to the contact/account/opportunity.

5. The Chatter feed of the lead record is not transferred during conversion.  AppExchange workaround available here.

6. Once a lead is converted, it cannot be reverted to an unconverted state.

7.  Some related information to the lead is converted [updated for Summer ’17 Release].  Please see Keep Related Files and Records When Reps Convert Leads.


45 Responses to “Lead Conversion”

  1. Naved August 27, 2017 at 11:56 am #

    Hi John,

    When I am trying to map lead formula custom field to a Number field on Account, following error message appears
    “Map the lead field to a field that uses the same length”
    Lead field: Formula return type is Number with 0 decimal places
    Account field: Number field with 3,0 length

    What could be the reason of this error


    • JohnCoppedge August 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

      I suspect the formula field uses a longer number of digits (e.g. 18,0) – can you copy the value into a number field (3,0) via workflow rule on the lead and then map that field?

  2. Andrew Kuharich June 2, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    Hello John,

    What are my options for mapping leads to a custom object? Is that possible? I have read APEX triggers and using Process Builder can get the job done, but those were more of a suggested route to try.

    • JohnCoppedge June 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

      It depends on what you mean by a custom object – are you talking about a custom object that is related to leads (e.g. a custom object called product interest, where a lead can have multiple product interest records) or a relationship from the lead to a custom object (e.g. a lookup on the lead to product interest)?

      Scenario #1 I believe would require process builder or apex – the lead conversion process only maps fields by default (and in this case, you’re actually talking about the fields on related records… updating the product interest records to point to an opportunity, after the opportunity is created in the lead conversion process).

      Scenario #2 I believe you can do with standard mapping (although I haven’t tried it recently)… if not you can do a workaround fairly easily by storing the ID as text and then converting back on the converted record via process builder.

  3. Hani130 April 27, 2017 at 6:36 am #

    I cam across this question and i figured out after studying your website that answer is B and D
    can you validate me?
    it states” When you convert a lead, you will have the option to not create a new opportunity. Simply check the box as shown. There is no way to convert a lead to an existing opportunity.”
    I tried it in my org and when I try to convert the Lead with existing opportunity /Account/Contact. then I have a choice in drop box for contact and Account name if I want to merge it or create new. For opportunity if I don’t mark the check box ‘Don’t create a new opportunity upon conversion’ then it is also creating new opportunity. means I can have duplicate opportunity too. I am confused now can you explain me please below question or if I understood it wrong

    Which record type can be updated when converting a lead?Choose two answers

    A. An existing custom object record

    B. An existing contact record

    C. An existing opportunity record

    D. An existing account record

  4. ania.sredyn@gmail.com April 21, 2017 at 7:12 am #

    Hi, I think You need an update!
    Currently it is possible to map custom fields from the lead to both account, contact and opportunity. There’s no longer a need to choose one of the three.

  5. DeeJay01 March 17, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    I am not able to attach the lead to an existing contact in lead conversion. Is that option still valid ?

    Also, below is a question :
    Which record types can be updated when converting a lead ?
    1. Existing Account
    2. Existing Contact
    3. Existing Opportunity ?

  6. Cynthia Thomas February 22, 2017 at 2:57 am #

    So there would not be a good reason to create an Product Interest object that has a Lookup Relationship to the Lead object if upon conversion that Product Interest object data stays with the Lead.
    Short of Apex trigger as you say, but natively won’t do you any good to have that relationship when once the conversion of the Lead, you no longer see the Lead and that Product Interest object data does not flow to Contact/Account or Opp.

    • JohnCoppedge February 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

      Correct – you might also be able to do that with process builder now (based on the created opportunity) but you’re better off sticking with fields if possible.

  7. dpenchu@gmail.com February 3, 2017 at 11:18 am #

    I am using Developer edition and while converting Lead I didn’t see any option for ” converting Lead to contact”. Please share your answer.
    Thank you.

    • JohnCoppedge February 15, 2017 at 2:39 am #

      A contact will get created automatically when the lead is converted – have you completed the lead conversion process? You should see this result…

  8. trpbt December 3, 2016 at 7:05 am #

    Hi john,

    i am unable to see the lead conversion button while trying to create a lead. What can be the possible reasons? I have a system admin test environment and the field is availavble in page layout as well.

    • JohnCoppedge December 17, 2016 at 1:07 am #

      Possible a dumb question: Are you viewing the lead (rather than editing the lead)? The buttons (e.g. convert) will not show on the edit screen or during creation- need to save.

  9. priyankataunk December 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    Question on this –
    How can I map a single lead field to more than one field when converted?

    A custom lead field can only be mapped to a single field on either contact, account, or opportunity. For instance, I could not map “Lead.Product Interest” to both “Account.Product Interest” and “Opportunity. Product Interest”.

    A workaround for this is to create a formula field that replicates the value of the original field. Then map the formula field to the second field.

    —> instead of adding a second field as a workaround, can we not map it to a field at the account level and then create a cross object formula field at the opp level ? Also, there could be instances where the opp is not created at the time of conversion so there is a risk of losing the data if it’s mapped to the opp only?

    • JohnCoppedge December 5, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

      Yes you could create a formula that represents that data on the opportunity as well. But if you wanted to be able to change the information (e.g. lead source) on both the account and the opportunity then you would probably be better off replicating the field. Just depends on the scenario, but yep totally viable.

  10. mimou225 November 29, 2016 at 6:46 pm #


    since spring 16 it’s possible de see converted lead in classique: http://docs.releasenotes.salesforce.com/en-us/spring16/release-notes/rn_sales_leads_edit_converted_leads.htm

  11. nk005347 October 13, 2016 at 9:25 am #

    looks like i can’t change mapping of standard fields.

  12. lisax July 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi John,

    I have a question regarding lead conversion. In this guide it says “The lead record can no longer be viewed by users and will not be displayed within search results.”. But on the other hand, it says “The leads become read-only..” on the “Understanding Lead Conversion” link to Salesforce. I am confused? Can leads be viewed or not after lead conversion?

    Thank you!

    • JohnCoppedge August 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

      Good Q – You can report on converted leads but you can’t actually view the lead records. Try leaving a browser tab open to a lead, then on a second tab convert the lead. Then refresh tab #1

  13. darzelljenkins June 21, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

    Hey John, Salesforce just released their Global Picklist feature. Thus you could maintain one custom picklist and use it in two places, which prevents you from having to keep it maintained in two different places.

    I don’t think you can easily set a default for global picklists though.

  14. Bhavishya March 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi John,

    Can an opportunity, contact or account be converted back to a lead?

    • JohnCoppedge March 7, 2016 at 3:16 am #

      I’m afraid not- good question!

      • kabun1 April 24, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

        Hi John,

        In the Salesforce instance I have for work (we use Enterprise), we have a button to ‘Create Lead From Contact’. However, I do not see this option in my test version. Perhaps it is a custom button?

        Thanks for all of this content. It is very helpful.

        • JohnCoppedge April 25, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

          Yeah that’s definitely a custom button… your data is going the wrong way 🙂

  15. veragalukhina February 2, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi John,
    Do you have any details on how to implement workflow rules for “3. The default record type of the user performing lead conversion is selected automatically for records created in the conversion process.”? We have users that sell both products and services at the same time and default record type of the user does not work in our scenario.
    Thanks in advance!

  16. Ezekiel Apte August 3, 2015 at 2:37 am #

    Excellent / concise explanation on lead conversion.

  17. stephen wood March 24, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    re: 4. Custom relationships to the lead object do not transfer during conversion.

    My understanding is that you cannot create a Master-Detail relationship to a Lead.
    “You can define master-detail relationships between custom objects or between a custom object and a standard object. However, the standard object cannot be on the detail side of a relationship with a custom object. In addition, you cannot create a master-detail relationship in which the User or Lead objects are the master.”

  18. Caitlin Culbert May 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm #


  19. Caitlin Culbert May 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    How would I make a field required only on conversion. Example: If a sales person tried to convert a lead (and the lead does not have a address) on the conversion page they will be required to add address before the conversion will take. I am struggling to find this, as it appears to not work if i just put the field as required on the contact.

  20. Anketha SFDC February 26, 2014 at 7:14 am #


    I have a doubt. Here, Salesforce will attempt to find accounts with the same name as the field “Company” on the lead record in the accounts drop down to select.

    Is there any way to customize this feature such that the Salesforce will find those accounts with the same name as any other custom field and not the ‘Company ‘ field?


    • JohnCoppedge February 26, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

      You would need to use apex/visualforce to code a custom lead conversion page. This is not something that you can configure to my knowledge.

  21. Elizabeth Shephard January 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    I think you missed a word under item 1 under “What happens when I convert a lead?” I think you meant to include AND “1. A contact, account, and opportunity are created AND populated…”

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