Understanding Prospects, People and Associations

This is a conceptual article to help explain how data objects in Heap CRM are related. If you’ve already viewed the three steps videos and still need a little help, this article is for you. This is not a replacement for the three steps videos.

What is a prospect?

A prospect (the generalized term for leads, opportunities, customers and archives), is a transaction or potential transaction (it is not a person).

Let’s say you get a request for information from your website. Generally, this would be considered a lead. You don’t know exactly what the person wants, you don’t know what it is worth (to your company), and you don’t know how likely it is that you will sell the product or service.

But just because you can’t quantify the value or probability doesn’t mean it isn’t a potential transaction. The goal is still to sell something, even if you don’t know what that is.

Once you’ve found out some details like the probability, value, exactly what they want, etc. it becomes an opportunity (ie. you convert the lead to an opportunity). An opportunity is a qualified potential transaction. That means you understand the transaction, what they expect, how much you would make and how likely it is to happen.

If you sell the product or service (ie. probability goes to 100%), this is a customer. Finally, once you are completely done, you archive the transaction to get it out of the way.

So, the goal is to move potential transactions to completed transactions. Which means you have to move it through a few transaction stages. In Heap, we call these leads, opportunities, customers and archives (though you can rename them under settings).

Maybe a visualization will help:

In the above image, the red dot is the transaction. The size of the dot indicates the potential transaction’s value to your company (expected value). Because the probability of the transaction occurring is increasing as you move it through the transaction stages, its expected value is also increasing.

Note: A prospect can start at any transaction stage.

How are prospects and people related?

Now that we know what a prospect is, and we know it isn’t a person, let’s look at how prospects and people are related.

Suppose I have two people in Heap. One person is named John Doe and the other is Jane Doe. You might visualize it like this:

Notice the two prospects connected to John Doe? One is a lead (doing some sort of graphics work for John), and one is a an opportunity (creating a website for John). Jane Doe has no prospects connected to her. That’s ok, a person can have zero or many prospects connected to them. A prospect, however, must be connected to at least one person (because at a least one person is the decision maker on the transaction).

However, let’s suppose that Jane Doe is involved in the website opportunity. For instance, she might provide the hosting for the website. So in that case she’s involved, but isn’t the decision maker. That would make her a related person.

You can have as many (or few/none) related people connected to a prospect as you want. This allows you to see all of the people involved in a transaction.

So, if you view the person detail page of someone like a supplier, they probably have never been the decision maker on a transaction. But they probably have been related to many transactions.


Messages and events are associated to particular prospects (messages and events can also be unassociated, but that is outside of the scope of this article). Visually it might look like this:

As described in the three steps videos, messages and events can mean really anything from automation processes to random meeting notes. For the purposes of this article, the key idea is that they are associated to a prospect. And as that prospect moves through the transaction stages the messages and events remain associated. This allows you to see a complete history (as well as upcoming tasks) related to a particular prospect.