How to Relate a Contact to Multiple Accounts in Salesforce

Salesforce.comStarting with Salesforce Summer ’16, you can relate a single contact to multiple accounts, without duplication!

This new link between an existing contact and existing account is called a “relationship,” and is introduced through a new related list on Accounts and Contacts, called Related Contacts and Related Accounts, respectively.

Best of all, enabling and using this new relationship model does not affect your existing Account/Contact structure, so it can be added in at any time! This feature combines the functionality of two separate related lists: Contacts and Contact Roles.

To enable this functionality, head into Setup and type “Account Settings” in the quick find box (in Classic, look under Build | Customize | Accounts | Account Settings; in Lightning, look under Feature Settings | Sales | Account Settings).

Once there, check the box for “Allow users to relate a contact to multiple accounts.” Depending on the number of existing Accounts and Contacts you have in your org, this process could take up to a few hours to enable.

Once enabled, you will then have the option to dictate what happens when a user tries to delete an account that has related contacts, as well as what happens when a contact’s primary account gets replaced.


Salesforce Tips and Tricks

Once you have configured your settings, it’s time to add the Related Lists to their respective objects.

Under setup, go into the Account Page Layouts (in Classic, look under Build | Customize | Accounts | Page Layouts; in Lightning, look under the Object Manager | Account | Page Layouts) and select the layout you wish to modify.

Then add in the Related List called “Related Contacts” to your page layout.

You’ll notice that the Related Contacts list has a New Contact and Merge Contact button (Classic only), similar to the standard Contacts Related List – this is because Related Contacts also contains all of your direct Contacts for an Account, so you no longer need the standard Contacts Related List.

Related Contacts will also contain all of the relationship roles of other Contacts, so if you use the Contact Roles Related List, you can remove it from the page layout as well.


Related Contacts List in Classic

Salesforce Tips and Tricks


Related Contacts List in Lightning

Salesforce Tips and Tricks

Once that is done, you can follow the same steps for adding the Related Accounts Related List to your Contact Page Layouts.


Related Accounts List in Classic

salesforce tips and tricks


Related Accounts List in Lightning


One More (Important!) Step

Historically, activities under a Contact would also roll up to the Account.

With the new relationship model, this will still occur, but activities under a Contact will only roll up to the Contact’s primary account and not any related accounts.

This could potentially skew reporting as if a user logs an activity against a Contact referencing a related account, the activity will still show up and count against the Contact’s primary account, even though that specific account had nothing to do with the interaction.

This functionality can be disabled entirely, however.

If you want to turn off this rollup functionality, which Salesforce recommends when linking contacts to multiple accounts, go into Activity Settings (in Classic, look under Setup | Build | Customize | Activities | Activity Settings; in Lightning, look under Feature Settings | Sales | Activity Settings) and uncheck the box for “Roll up activities to a contact’s primary account”.

Keep in mind that this change is not retroactive, so only activities logged against Contacts going forward will be excluded from their respective Accounts, not any existing activities in the system.

The same goes if you decide to re-enable this setting – it will only take effect from that point forward and not change the associations of previous activity records.

Salesforce settings, tips and tricks


The Final Act

Now that everything is in place to link Contact to multiple Accounts, you can start linking Contact to other Accounts and defining the relationship, or Role, that they have with the secondary Account.

To do this, simply locate the Account, scroll down to the new Related Contacts listing and click on the “Add Relationship” button.

On the next screen, select the Contact you wish to associate with this Account and their Role, and then click on Save.

salesforce tips and tricks


If you need to redefine Roles or add more to the listing, go into Contact Roles on Accounts (in Classic, look under Setup | Build | Accounts | Contact Roles on Accounts; in Lightning, look under Object Manager | Account Contact Relationship | Fields & Relationships | Roles).

This listing is shared with the Contact Roles related list that you may have been using on the Account page layout.


Do you want more Salesforce CRM user and admin tips?

Watch this On-Demand Salesforce webinar, “What’s New in the Salesforce Spring ’18 Release”!

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