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Are Lead Sources the Trick (not Treat) to Your Halloween? 

I can’t seem to track our marketing lead sources once I hand them over to sales.

I don’t know if our marketing leads result in closed-won business in the CRM.

How do we maintain lead sources throughout time in the CRM? 

What is best practice when it comes to lead source attribution and reporting?


Do any of these concerns sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many B2B marketing teams face challenges when it comes to lead source tracking, attribution, ROI, and sales hand-off over time. The good news is that with a good CRM and a well-defined marketing and sales process, your team can easily answer these questions and provide effective solutions for your organization. Here are some helpful “tricks” to extract the strategic insights you need from your lead sources:

A High Level Lead Source Field

The Lead Source field should be high-level, organizationally applicable, and with limited values (i.e. no endless scrolling picklist values). In this field, entries like, “Joe Smith’s next-door neighbor’s networking group” are not suitable.  Some debate that the Lead Source shouldn’t even have values like the name of your local networking group. Lead Sources should be general, high-level, and applicable to anyone in your organization. To get more specific, dependent picklists, text fields, and Campaigns are options to ensure your reporting, tracking, and attribution are easily identified. Consider the following structure for your CRM Lead Source field: 

  • Lead Source (Primary picklist) 
    • Lead Source Specific (dependent picklist) 
      • Lead Source Details (text field) 
  • Any associated Campaigns 

Reporting doesn’t have to be siloed.

Many reputable CRMs today have inclusive reporting functionality that allows ROI attribution to multiple sources in 1 report. For example, lead sources and campaigns associated to an individual can be pulled in a single report for a more well-balanced, holistic view of interactions contributing to closed-won business. In today’s digital era, crediting all touchpoints – in-person and digital – is important to consider. Through robust CRM reporting, all interactions can be documented and appropriately credited without vying for the Lead Source field option. 

Consider an “Original Lead Source” field.

Depending on your business model and number of touchpoints, engagements, and nurturing, this might be an option your organization or CRM structure. If future engagements or potential “Lead Sources” are limited, consider adding this Original Lead Source field and then allowing the Lead Source field to be updated with the most current Lead Source. An example situation where this would work:

Five years ago, you met a prospect at a tradeshow. The prospect was entered in the CRM as “John Smith” with the Lead Source option of Tradeshow. John was unable to obtain the budget necessary for an engagement, and the deal was lost. Since then, your organization has started cold calling lost leads, and Mary happened to get John on the phone to re-open discussions about an engagement. He now has the budget. If Mary doesn’t change the Lead Source to “cold call,” she will not get the credit if the deal is won. If Mary changes the Lead Source to “cold call,” she will take away credit from Marketing, who pays for tradeshows from their budget. 

Note: Without the right strategy in place, there is potential to have the Lead Source structure become disorganized. If you are unsure, it’s best to work with an implementation/CRM partner to determine best options for your organization. 


When Lead Source field values are updated and/or changed in a CRM, sometimes the old values still exist on individual records. Therefore, when Lead Source reports are pulled, the old values are reflected and can don’t necessarily give an accurate picture to make informed decisions based on attribution. Best practice is to clean up or reassign old values that are no longer important or applicable. Again, this is at the organization’s and key stakeholder’s discretion. 

At the end of the day, there is no “single best answer” for Lead Source field values, tracking, and attribution in a CRM, but there are some best practices and ideal options. Sales and marketing teams can work together to provide a comprehensive view of opportunities and closed won business for their organization by utilizing the above tricks in an effective CRM design. But, if you get stuck or need additional expertise and knowledge regarding your unique business process or CRM, never hesitate to reach out to our team at 614-212-1101 or [email protected].