For example, I have a lead I want to convert to a contact and opportunity and link them to an account that already exists in CRM. If I do this, it links the contact to the opportunity but does not link the account. Any suggestions?
You can, when converting a lead, create all three records when the lead converts. You can also create an account and opportunity, a contact and opportunity, or simply an opportunity which you link to a single account or contact. Because an opportunity can only be linked (out of the box) to either a contact or an account (not both), then you have to pick one when qualifying the lead.
There are two ways that you could address this change in CRM:
Option 1 - When the lead is qualified, create both a contact and opportunity record and select the option to "open the newly created records." This would then open both the contact and the opportunity, and would allow you to link the contact to the parent account. This would in turn also make the opportunity visible under the parent account opportunity list when viewing related records.
Option 2 – With Microsoft CRM 4.0, you can add a new relationship between the account and the lead entities. This is a new feature of CRM 4.0 that allows you to create additional relationships between system – or Microsoft created – entities. When you convert the lead and create both a contact and an opportunity, you can use a workflow rule to link the newly created contact to the account that is linked to the lead.
With either of these options you should be able to achieve the result of linking the contact to the account.
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