Selling B2C – The Household Data Model

In this episode of ShellBlack Whiteboard we look at the Household Data Model – a method you can use to leverage traditional Accounts and Contacts in Salesforce to sell B2C (Business to Consumer). I briefly cover other options that are available from Salesforce to support B2C selling such as Person Accounts and FSC (Financial Service Cloud). I walk through an example Household to illustrate and explain the relationships you can create and how they work together.

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Transcription of video:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Shellblack Whiteboard. I’m Shell Black, president of and Salesforce MVP. Today’s topic is B2C or business to consumer selling, and, what I’m calling, the Household Data Model – so let’s jump into it. If you’ve watched earlier episodes specifically on Accounts and contacts, you’ve heard me talk about Salesforce being very Account-centric "out-of-the-box." It’s designed for B2B or business to business selling. The Account is the most important object in the Salesforce database. Typically it is reserved for a company or a business entity, and then Contacts are just simply people that work at that location.

Well, let’s take the scenario where we want to sell to consumers. Maybe we’re a university, and we wanna track college students, and we’re not selling to companies. We’re working with people, so there’s a couple of options available from Salesforce. One is Person Accounts. It’s a feature that’s been around for many, many years, probably a decade, very well supported in both lightning and classic. There’s a lot information out there on Person Accounts, so I won’t go too much into that. There’s also a newer option called FSC – Financial Service Cloud. It came out about 18 months ago, only works in lightning, does not work in classic. And if you are an existing customer, you’ll need to start a fresh Salesforce instance or new database, install Financial Service Cloud and migrate.

FSC has a product team and is evolving quickly, really good if you’re dealing with, say, mortgage companies, wealth management, banking relationships, it’s something to look at. So, we’re talking about a couple options available from Salesforce. What considerations, what things do we need to know? Well, the first thing you need to know on either one of these options is that if you enable it and start using it, you cannot go back to standard Accounts and Contact. It’s an irrevocable change to the database and the data model underlying inside Salesforce. So once you turn it on, there’s no going back to standard Accounts and Contacts. You would have to move to a fresh Salesforce database and move all your data and business processes and logic to get back to standard

Accounts and Contacts.

So, something else to consider, 1% of the Salesforce orgs out there are either using Financial Service Cloud or Person Accounts. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, but just realize that the greater universe of Salesforce customers are using traditional Accounts and Contacts. What does that tell us? Well, you need to think about integrations. If you have integrations that are heavily reliant on Accounts and Contacts and those tables, you’ll want to make sure that they are compatible or see if they need to be upgraded to support Person Accounts or Financial Service Cloud. Same thing with third party apps off the AppExchange. If they are very reliant on Accounts and Contacts, check with them to see if they support Person Accounts or Financial Service Cloud.

So those are kind of the options that are available to us from Salesforce. Are there any other options to us? Well, there actually is one. It’s not one that’s really documented by Salesforce. It’s very popular in the consulting industry, lots of firms use it. And I’m going to call it the Household Data Model, and what it allows us to do is stay with traditional Accounts and Contacts. And let me give you some examples of this. So, if I was to look at these illustrations of Accounts and Contacts on the far right, traditional Account, traditional company, a law firm. Two attorneys are our Contacts. Another traditional Account, an accounting firm, two CPAs, an insurance agency with two Contacts being an insurance broker. On the left, I have created what I’m calling a Household Account. Underneath that, I have some Contacts, John Jones, Mary Jones and their two kids, Bobby Jones and Amy Jones. I am nesting people that live at this physical address and make up this entity called the John and Mary Jones Household.

And the naming convention for the Household Account is really just using the primary and secondary contacts, the main contacts in this relationship, and using a naming convention of "first name & first name & last name" = John & Mary Jones Household. Something that’s also very popular with this is when you’re dealing with business to consumer or selling B2C, there are other contacts that typically get involved. So, let’s say we are a real estate agency, and we are a realtor, and we’re selling a new house to John and Mary Jones. Maybe we need to know who’s their banker, who’s their attorney, who’s their insurance provider, or maybe who is the selling realtor on the buying side of the relationship?

And so there’s a way to track these relationships, and another good example I would say is if we were a financial adviser or a wealth management firm, and we are selling financial products to this household to John and Mary Jones, we want to know other contacts that will influence their financial buying decisions. And that could be a CPA, an attorney, an insurance broker, maybe a personal banker. And so how do we kind of track these relationships that John and Mary Jones have? So what we do, it’s kind of a best practice, is create a Custom Object called Related Contacts. Sometimes we’ll call them Affiliated Contacts. Sometimes we’ll call them Professional Contacts. In wealth management sometimes you’ll hear COI, Center of Influence – the folks that influence these people’s financial decisions. It’s a simple Custom Object with a lookup to the Account which would be the Household, and a lookup to the Contact.

And what this allows us to do is as we go through and we list all the Contacts that are working with John and Mary Jones, if we look at that Household, we’ll see the related list of Contacts, the people that live or reside at this Household. And then we’re going to have another related list or Related Contacts. They’re gonna show all the professional relationships, all the professional contacts, so then I would see John and Mary Jones’ CPA, their attorney, their insurance broker, maybe their personal banker and so on. The flip-side of that data relationship, if we go to the attorney, for example, any Household that we have related to that attorney will now be visible as a related list underneath that attorney’s record. So if we go to this attorney’s Contact record, below that, we’re going to see all of the Households that attorney works with because of this join object of this join Custom Object.

One more kind of dynamic that I want to talk about to kind of wrap up our topic on the Household Data Model is what happens when Bobby Jones is no longer a kid? He grows up, he has his own financial accounts, and he’s buying real estate and those types of things, and he’s on his own. Say Bobby Jones grows up and now is called Bob Jones, because we don’t want call him "Bobby" anymore. It’s okay to have one Contact at one Account. The naming convention here is first name, last name Household, or the Bob Jones Household. John and Mary Jones Household, because we have primary and secondary contact here. It’s okay to have a single Contact underneath a Household Account, because maybe that’s the only person in that entity, or that relationship.

So, hope you enjoyed that. That wraps up our discussion on selling B2C or the Household Data Model. Again, the Household Data Model is not something really you’re gonna find in Salesforce help, but it’s kind of a best practice and used quite a bit with consulting.

If you have any feedback for us, you can always reach out to me on Twitter. I’m at @Shell_Black, or you can email me at Thanks for tuning in.

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