Introduction to Contacts, Leads, and Targets

Introduction to Contacts, Leads, and Targets

High-Level Overview

Target lists feed into a campaign; leads are targets that responded to a campaign; and contacts are highly qualified leads that are part of a longer-term selling process.


A target, sometimes called a suspect or prospect in other CRM systems, represents an individual about whom you know little. Targets are transitory and can be mopped up, deleted, and scrubbed to no lasting effect. This is because there is virtually nothing of importance that can be associated to a target-no cases, quotes, etc. Targets are therefore transitory-unless they are qualified to be deemed a lead in which case you convert the target to a lead. For many Sugar customers, converting a target to a lead is representative of the handoff of the individual between Marketing and Sales. Targets that do not meet your qualification criteria are not converted to leads and can be recycled into subsequent campaigns or deleted. In essence, such targets stay in Marketing. For simplicity, targets are grouped into target lists in campaigns. In fact, the whole notion of a target appears only within the context of Sugar campaigns. You might obtain targets from purchased lists of emails or from trade shows your company has attended.


A lead represents an individual of interest to your qualification and selling efforts. Leads often stem from qualified campaign targets or they may be entered directly into Sugar, outside the campaign context. Over time a given individual may be represented by different leads, each such lead constituting a different qualification and selling process. Whether you choose to use targets or leads as the starting point of your qualification and selling efforts is largely determined by the complexity of your sales and marketing efforts. Organizations with well-defined marketing functions typically follow a target-to-lead path while other organizations start with leads. (Still others begin with Contacts!) A lead, in contrast to a target, has persistence and, unlike a target, a lead can and often does have a historical record of interactions beyond just the campaign. Like targets, leads can be converted to something even more substantial and persistent — a contact, in this case. So, a lead typically represents that midpoint between Marketing and Sales, an unqualified contact of sorts. A lead is someone requiring further qualification before investing considerable time and energy in a sales cycle. Once a lead is deemed substantial enough, the lead is converted. During the qualification process enough information is known about a lead to create not only a contact record reflecting the individual’s personal information but also company where the individual works (the account). Even further, the qualification process should yield an estimate of the ultimate value of the sale. Thus, converting a lead will result in three related categories of information: a contact, an account and an opportunity.


Contacts are  non-volatile, longstanding representations of individuals you have done or will likely do business with. Unlike leads, a given individual should be reflected in a single contact record, and Sugar performs checks to notify you of violations to this rule. The nature of targets, leads and contacts governs the actions you can take on each. For instance, a lead is not bound to an account, though you can type a freeform account name in a lead. Why bother creating an account for an unqualified lead? Contacts, on the other hand, are directly linked to an account when one is specified. Only Contacts are synchronized in the Outlook Plug-in. Contacts can be associated with Cases, Bugs, and Projects – providing long-lasting, meaningful context appropriate for a contact that you won’t find with a lead, and certainly not a target. Finally, it’s important to note that Sugar’s flexibility allows you to skip targets and leads altogether and go straight to contacts. That’s perfectly fine. Your business requirements will drive the appropriate use of these types of records.

Putting it All Together

Here’s an example of how a business would use Targets, Leads and Contacts:

  1. The Marketing group purchases a list of email addresses and imports them into Sugar using the “Import Targets” function. During the import, the targets are added to a Target List (or a new Target List is created to hold these targets).
  2. Marketing creates a campaign and uses that Target List to send a message to those targets.
  3. Some of the targets respond to the campaign and are converted into Leads using the “Convert Target” button within the Target module.
  4. A Lead Qualification sales rep makes contact with the target and determines that the target is interested in purchasing a product, has a timeframe for purchasing, and has budget to do so. The Lead is converted into an Opportunity, an Account, and a Contact record.
  5. The Opportunity is handed over to a sales representative, who works the opportunity to a successful close.