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Broken lead process in salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

Broken lead process in salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

You probably don’t remember Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

It’s a surreal comedy group from the 1970’s. It’s how John Cleese and Michael Palin first made their name.

In one famous sketch, Palin arrives at the Argument Clinic or for an argument. Cleese is happy to oblige. They go round in circles, arguing the same point over.

You can recreate a similar scene.

Ask a room full of Sales and Marketing people agree how the lead process should work in salesforce.

You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

I’ve run hundreds of salesforce implementation workshops. And here’s something I’ve experienced. No subject causes more debate than that surrounding the lead process.

Yet, resolving this debate is critical to an effective lead process in salesforce. Unfortunately, often that doesn’t happen with clarity.

The outcome is an ineffective lead process. That means ineffective lead qualification, reduced revenue and poor marketing and sales performance information.

Let’s understand what causes this debate. Then we will define a lead process in salesforce.

(By the way, don’t forget, you can download the lead process diagrams used in this article).

Difference between a lead and an opportunity

There is often dis-agreement between Sales and Marketing on the difference between a lead and an opportunity. Yet clarity is essential.

But that can be harder than it sounds.

Why is there so much confusion? After all, most Sales and Marketing people will acknowledge that a lead is the first step in the sales cycle.

Here’s why it’s a problem.

Salesperson’s definition of a lead

To a salesperson, a Lead can come as easily from an existing customer or known prospect, as a brand new one.

The lead can be repeat business for an existing customer. Or a new prospect, freshly arrived through the door.

Either way, the sales process has started. It may not be advanced enough to warrant an Opportunity in salesforce.com. But sales engagement has at least commenced.

So, from a salesperson’s perspective, a lead reflects a broad range of early stage, potential opportunities that require immediate action.

Marketing person’s definition of a lead

A Marketing person’s perception of a lead can vary in two important ways.

First, a Lead is often a person or business that will potentially make a purchase at some undetermined point in the future.

Marketing may hand the lead to Sales, but not necessarily with the expectation that a sale will immediately result. The lead is a potential customer that may engage in a future sales process. Conversely, to a salesperson, a lead is someone entering the sales process right now.

Second, to Marketing a lead is very often a new company or person. The business or contact may not have existed previously in the database. Indeed, the role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall lead database for long-term benefit.

Sales are under pressure to close deals in the short term. Marketing want to nurture the Lead. It’s this contrast in expectations that frequently results in Sales to complaining about the quality of Leads created by Marketing.

Salesforce lead process

Sales and Marketing often fail to agree on the difference between a lead and an Opportunity. This directly obstructs the implementation of an effective lead process in salesforce.

So what constitutes a lead in the salesforce.com CRM system?

In fact, salesforce uses the term Lead in several different ways. Let’s take them step by step.

  • Lead as a brand new enquiry

Start by thinking of a Lead in salesforce as a brand new enquiry, from a business and person you’ve never previously heard of.

For example, let’s say you have a Web-to-Lead form set up on your web site. Web-to-Lead is an easy way to integrate salesforce with your web site. It means anyone that fills in your Contact Us form will be created automatically in salesforce as a lead.

So, the lead is created. What’s the first thing that should happen in the lead process? Check for duplicates by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.

This will identify any matching Leads or Contacts that already exist in your salesforce database. Let’s assume you don’t find any.

Now you make an outbound telephone call to the Lead. Essentially, one of three outcomes will result from this part of the lead process.

  • The Lead is a dead end

It turns out the person isn’t interested in any further dialogue. Perhaps it was a student simply looking for research information. Either way, set the Lead Status to Closed. You don’t necessarily delete the Lead from the database, but no further action is anticipated.

  • The Lead is a definite maybe

The Lead is moderately interested in your products and services. He doesn’t want to speak to a sales person – at least not yet. But you agree to send a brochure, product specification or price list. So this time set the Lead Status to Contacted. You might also create a follow up Task to call the Lead again in the future.

  • The Lead is a sales Opportunity

The Lead agrees to a meeting or phone call with a Sales person. Or he requests a quote. In other words, he gives you some indication that he’s a legitimate potential customer. He’s a Qualified Lead.

This time leave the Lead Status alone. Instead, click on the Convert Lead button. Salesforce will convert the Lead into three separate records; an Account; Contact; and Opportunity.

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a new Lead.

The Account represents the business or organisation. The Contact is the person employed by that organisation. And the Opportunity represents the potential sales deal.

It’s this early stage Opportunity that many Sales people will regard as a Lead.

Indeed Sales people may be reluctant to use the term Opportunity. It raises expectations about the outcome. It creates visibility of the deal in the sales pipeline dashboard. And from the salesperson’s perspective, the Lead may – or may not – have been properly qualified by Marketing before it was converted to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.

All legitimate issues. Before we address them, let’s deal with several other ways salesforce uses the term Lead.

  • Leads that match existing Lead records

Let’s go to back to our person that filled in the Contact Us form on your web site.

In our example, we assumed that no existing Lead or Contact matched our new Lead. We established this by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

Click the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout to find matching leads

No problem. Use the Merge Leads button to merge the various Leads into a single record. Then make your qualification call.

Here’s the lead process diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a lead with match to existing lead.

  • Leads that match existing Contact records

How can an existing Contact be created as a Lead in salesforce? There’s a number of ways.

For example, Leads can be created by importing the spreadsheet that contains a list of people that came to a booth at an exhibition. Some of those people may well be existing Contacts.

Or, a Web-to-Lead form on your web site that allows visitors to register for an event. When an existing Contact registers she’s created as a Lead. The same thing happens if you’re using Web-to-Lead to enable visitors to download a document from your web site.

In any of these cases, when you click on the Find Duplicates button you may find there’s a matching Contact.

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match.

Here’s three ways to deal with the Contact-as-a-Lead situation.

  • Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call

    During the Lead conversion, salesforce will help you merge the Lead into the existing Contact record. If the Account Owner is already actively engaged with the Contact – on an existing Opportunity for example – then perhaps it isn’t appropriate to make the qualification call.

  • Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call

    This is the common approach when it’s the Account Owner that is dealing with the Lead. He or she merges the Lead into the Contact record and then makes a call to the Contact.

  • Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead

    This approach is used most frequently when Marketing or Inside Sales is dealing with the Lead. They make call to the Lead, cognisant of the fact that the person already has a relationship with the company. Following the conversation the Lead is converted, but Marketing or Inside Sales make a human decision on whether to simultaneously create an Opportunity.

Here’s the process diagram for the last of these scenarios.

Lead process diagram for lead qualification with match to existing account or contact.

To Convert a Lead without creating an Opportunity, check the box “Do not create Opportunity upon conversion” during the convert process. It’s underneath the Opportunity name on the Convert Lead page layout.

At the end of the Monty Python scene, Palin and Cleese continue to argue about whether the argument is finished.

You can do better than that. You can resolve the argument about lead processes in the workshop. And then build the lead process in salesforce. Period.

Free lead process diagram download

Are the lead process diagrams in this article useful to you? Download the diagrams in Powerpoint. Use them starting point for creating your own lead management process.

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2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

Here are two quick wins using web to lead that many companies overlook:

  1. Web to lead on their Contact Us page.
  2. Web to lead for downloadable web content.

The fact that many companies don’t do this means they are not generating leads as efficiently as they should.

The result is fewer leads, and less sales-ready opportunities.

Yet web to lead is quick and easy to do. Read on to discover the benefits. Then have your system administrator implement these quick wins today.

1. Web To Lead ‘Contact Us’ page

I doubt there is a business that doesn’t have a Contact Us page on their web site.

But many companies that own salesforce licenses are missing a trick. They are not using web to lead on their Contact Us page.

Instead, they have the prospect fill in a form. Then they send the form details to an email address. (Or even worse, they simply invite the prospect to send an email to info@). This means it is more time consuming, and requires more effort, to respond to the enquiry.

A salesforce web to lead form is a quick win in this situation. Here are five reasons you should be using web to lead on your Contact Us page.

  1. Populate the lead information into salesforce without any extra effort. No re-keying of data involved.
  2. Automatically send an acknowledgement email. Let the prospect know you have received her enquiry.
  3. Immediately assign the new lead to someone qualified to deal with the enquiry. I’ve commented below on who the right person might be.
  4. Alert the person to whom you have sent the lead with an automated email.
  5. Capture hidden information that will improve your marketing metrics. For example, link the lead to a relevant Campaign. Automatically set the Lead Source field.

I’ve helped hundreds of companies improve their lead process. And in every case, I’ve found that the quicker you respond to a new lead, the higher the chance of a successful outcome.

These probably ring true in your own experience.

Web to lead means you get the information into salesforce, acknowledge the customer and assign the lead to the right person, all in the blink of an eye.

Who is the right person to receive Contact Us enquiries?

Often the immediate response is to assign web to lead prospects to a salesperson.

But hold on. That might not be the best way. Here’s why.

  • Salespeople are busy dealing with opportunities. Which is the way you want it. Most salespeople will see a new web lead as lower priority than an open opportunity. That may mean a slower response.
  • Salespeople are often out in the field. Speed is of the essence. You need to respond to the web to lead prospect quickly. Leaving the response until the salesperson has downtime is a sure-fire way to neglect new leads.
  • The new enquiry may not be a sales lead. It may be a technical query, vendor approach, potential employee or even spam. Have someone qualify and validate new enquiries. Then, when the person is sales-ready, assign the lead to a salesperson.

In many businesses, web to lead prospects are immediately assigned to an inside salesperson, telemarketer or marketing employee.

This person qualifies the lead. He may also add additional company or person-specific information. In short, assign qualified leads to salespeople. Deal with all other enquiries in a different way.

For more information on the process for dealing with web leads (including free process diagrams that you can download), review our blog post, The Difference Between A Lead and an Opportunity In Salesforce.

Multiple Contact Us pages

Don’t think you can only have one web to lead Contact Us form on your web site. You can have as many as you like.

For example, if your web site is in multiple languages, create a different web to lead form for each language. Send the acknowledgement email based on the language of the form.

Even if the site is in a single language, you may still have many different pages in which the customer can get in touch.

In that case, you’ve two choices. Use the same web to lead form in each location. Or go the extra mile – create a different web to lead form in each case. That way you can set the Lead Source field differently for each form. It’s an easy way to understand where your sales enquiries are coming from.

So that’s the first quick win. Get a web to lead form set up on your Contact Us page today. As always, if you need some help, go to our own Contact Us page and we’ll answer your question. Quickly, I hope!

2. Web to lead for content download

Here’s the second quick win you can implement easily using web to lead.

Use web to lead to manage content downloads on your web site.

The days of the salesperson being in charge of the flow of information with a prospect are long gone. Nowadays, with any important buying decision, prospects expect to conduct their own extensive web research. They do this research long before they’re ready to speak to a salesperson.

Businesses that generate revenue efficiently have acknowledged the buying process has changed.

Efficient revenue generation means helping prospects conduct this preliminary research. This builds trust, credibility and engagement with prospects. This happens long before a dialogue has started between the salesperson and her prospect.

Downloadable content on your web site can include eBooks, case studies, white papers, checklists and other useful material.

But here’s the thing. You can ‘sell’ your best content. The price? The cost of an email address.

Content download example

Look at our most popular blog post, 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

The post gives extensive advice on using salesforce dashboards to improve visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.

It includes videos that demonstrate the 12 charts that we think are critical in any business. There are extensive links to related pages on our web site that give more information on each dashboard chart.

You can also download the accompanying eBook. It’s a high quality, comprehensive resource. So we charge for it. The price is an email address.

Here’s what we don’t then do. Immediately jump down their throat. Rather, we use an email nurture program to invite the prospect to look at our other content. Many people do. And some of those people subsequently engage with us on a commercial basis.

It’s an efficient and effective way to generate revenue, with the prospect being in charge of the purchasing process. Of course, to understand how this approach can apply in your own business you know what to do by now – visit our Contact Us page.

Use web to lead for content download

Here’s how it works.

Set up a web to lead form to capture the email address. Then, when the prospect completes the form, immediately send her an email that she can use to download the content.

That way, you validate that the email address is legitimate. It also means you capture all the details in salesforce. This includes linking the lead to a marketing campaign and setting the lead source.

You can implement this quick win today.

How to set up web to lead

There’s a wizard in salesforce to help system administrators set up web to lead. You’ll find it under Setup, Customize, Leads, Web-to-Lead.

Use this wizard to create the code for your web form. Then get the person that looks after your website to deploy the form on your web site.

Don’t get bogged down with it. If you need some help or advice just get in touch.

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Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

“If they were proper salespeople they would generate their own leads.”

So says Paul Rolling.

Paul commented on the LinkedIn version of last week’s blog post, “Why Sales Complain About Marketing Leads”.

The post tells the story of how the Marketing team at Modernis attended a trade show. Marketing generated lots of leads. And passed them straight to Sales.

Guess the number of opportunities created?

None whatsoever.

What happened next?

Modernis engaged us for a customer research project 12 months later. The GSP team phoned 10 of the leads as part of the research assignment.

We found that five of the leads had since made a purchase or were in the process of doing so. In other words, 50% were great quality leads.

Yet Sales originally thought all the leads were rubbish.

I outlined the lessons that Modernis learned from this experience.

Then I published the blog on LinkedIn. And Paul made his comment.

Really, Paul?

I asked him to elaborate.

“What I mean is that if you need others to create your sales leads you are doing only half the job. If you start and finish the process yourself, you can properly qualify the prospect without wasting time with leads from someone who is simply playing a numbers game.”

You can see his point.

Proper qualification of Leads is critical to effective selling. No one wants salespeople to waste time on non-productive leads. And the salesperson knows best what represents a qualified lead.

Why salespeople should generate their own leads

Here are five ways I think salespeople should create their own leads.

  1. Referrals. Salespeople are in the ideal position to ask a customer or prospect if they can recommend anyone else.
  2. Existing customers. We all agree it is easier to sell to existing customers than new ones. Generating new leads from within the existing customer base is part of any salesperson’s role.
  3. Very specific cold contacts. Something has changed with a potential customer. Takeover, acquisition, competitor action, it doesn’t matter. In certain situations, a carefully crafted, highly targeted email or phone call from a salesperson with relevant company and industry knowledge and experience is the right approach.
  4. Networking / speaking. Many salespeople attend networking or speak at events. All legitimate ways for salespeople to generate their own leads.
  5. LinkedIn (or other social media). Keeping in touch, regularly interacting with groups, sending targeted communications, are all ways for salespeople to generate their own leads.

So Paul has a point.

There are situations when it is right for salespeople to generate their own leads.

Nevertheless, I have a but. And it’s a big but.

In most businesses, the leads salespeople generate themselves should supplement rather than replace the leads Marketing generate on behalf of salespeople.

Why salespeople shouldn’t generate their own leads

Let’s remind ourselves of the context here.

We’re talking about sales teams that operate in a B2B environment in which the sales cycle is several months or more.

1. Sales people are expensive

Salespeople are often the most expensive resources in a company. That’s even before you consider the fully loaded cost of Sales.

In many industries, salespeople need a significant degree of experience and expertise in the product area. They need to be sufficiently mature (irrespective of age) to interact effectively with experienced counter-parts on the purchasing side. That takes time and investment in people development.

This investment means salespeople have to be productive as possible.

The conflict with lead generation is that so much of it is time consuming and unproductive. Simply finding the right people to contact can take an age. Getting hold of them even longer.

This work can left reliably to lower cost employees. Having salespeople generate their own leads is an inefficient use of this expensive asset.

2. Salespeople aren’t very good at cold calling

This may come as a surprise to many people not directly involved in sales. After all, salespeople are supposed to have the ‘gift of the gab’, aren’t they?

No, not necessarily. In fact, in my experience, the most successful salespeople are the ones that listen the most and talk the least.

Calling and qualifying leads is a skill in its own right. And because they are not very good at it, for many skilled salespeople, cold calling prospects is like going on a diet or giving up smoking. Tomorrow is always a better day to start. Focus today on getting an existing deal moved along, rather than spend time being rejected on the phone.

3. Confused roles and metrics

Expect salespeople to generate their own leads and you risk confusion over priorities and focus.

Let’s say you have a salesperson that is consistently one of the top revenue performers. But she’s poor at generating leads. Is she doing well or badly? What management action do you take? If you are not careful, you risk damaging overall revenue by making her focus more time and energy on generating her own leads.

And what if she’s not very good at generating her own leads? There is a serious risk of de-motivation and resignation. Far better to have her out in the field, spending time with customers and prospects.

4. Consistent, robust approach to generating leads

Effective lead generation requires a systematic and organized approach. This means a day-in-day-out reliable process of gathering information, sending relevant communications, calling potential prospects, making appointments.

Lead generation is not an activity you can afford to leave until the pipeline is low. It is not something to do in a crisis. This is a business activity that requires a continuous, systematic approach. Use the extensive internet resources such as Siteoscope to generate more web leads.

Generating leads is too important to be left to times when a salesperson has a quiet moment (there’s never a quiet moment). It requires dedicated commitment from a properly trained, organized and managed person or team.

5. Technology is re-engineering lead generation

Once, cold calling and adverts was primarily the way to generate leads. Not anymore.

Prospects are devouring content. B2B buyers research extensively online before deciding on which suppliers to contact. They decide when, how and on what terms to interact with the selling organization.

Companies effective at generating leads are increasingly using technology, not people align with this buyer-led approach. Applications such as Pardot and Marketo allow vendors to nurture, prioritize and monitor leads. They perform these activities on a scale and sophistication that no human can achieve.

So let marketing automation technology do its thing. Only then, when the technology highlights a sales-ready lead, should the salesperson get involved.

In summary

Every sales team rightly expects salespeople to generate their own leads. These leads come from sources such as networking, carefully targeted email, referrals and extensions into the customer’s own organization.

In many businesses though, it is counter-productive to ask salespeople to focus heavily on generating their own leads. Far better to let technology and automated business processes do the work of lead nurturing and prioritization. It means getting lower cost employees with specialist skills to do the hard work of identifying and qualifying leads.

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Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Let us know what you think about this blog post by filling out the form below – we greatly appreciate it!

 

“Most Marketing leads we get are rubbish,” complains Dave Apthorp, sales executive at Modernis.

“How can Sales possibly know this?” says Maria Smith, marketing manager at Modernis. “They never phone any of the leads we DO give them!”

But where’s the truth? Are Marketing leads so poor it’s not worth Sales following them up? We wanted to find out.

Twelve months ago the Modernis marketing team attended a trade show. Sales immediately called up the leads. And how many opportunities were created? None. Absolutely none. Which led to a lot of sales complaints about the quality of leads. And one heck of a lot of friction.

So, 12 months later we called 10 of the marketing leads. We wanted to find out what had happened in the intervening 12 months. Here’s what we discovered:

  • 2 had purchased products from a competitor of Modernis.
  • 2 were actively engaged in a purchasing process to select a supplier. Sadly Modernis wasn’t one of the candidate suppliers.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process. But they fully expected to make a purchase in the next 12 months.
  • 4 of the leads had taken no action following the trade show. They didn’t anticipate starting a purchasing process any time soon.
  • 1 wasn’t in Modernis’ market place and is unlikely to ever make a purchase.

In other words 5 of the 10 were great leads. Two had already bought from a competitor. And yet these leads were all rejected as rubbish by Sales.

So why didn’t these prospects engage with Sales at the time? Here’s what they told us:

“We weren’t ready”.

” We didn’t have stakeholder support”.

“I didn’t have a budget at the time”.

“We weren’t sure what the right solution was. The last thing I needed was a sales pitch.”

“We hadn’t decided which vendors we wanted to talk to”.

The prospects were legitimate buyers. But they simply weren’t  sales ready. They were at an earlier stage in the buying process. They didn’t want to speak to a sales person. Yet.

Which is why Sales thought the marketing leads were rubbish. “That’s why we don’t bother to ring them”, says Dave.

But what’s worse, after the trade show the activities of these warm prospects were invisible to Modernis. Which meant no-one knew when they were sales ready. And led to lost sales for Modernis.

So what what can we learn from this research. Six things.

1. Manage the invisible pipeline pro-actively

Customers start their buying process long before Sales get involved. These early stage activities form an invisible pipeline. Yet this invisible revenue pipeline can – and must – be managed to drive sales income.

2. It pays to be patient

Modernis has a sales cycle of 2 – 3 months. But that’s Modernis definition of the sales cycle. That’s how long it typically takes an opportunity to pass from Created to Closed in the CRM system. But looked at from the perspective of the customer, the buying process is much longer.

3. Lead nurturing is essential

Traditionally prospects had to rely on sales people for their information. Not any more. There’s a wealth of information available on the internet on every product on earth.

And ad hoc marketing campaigns – delivered only when time permits – have only a short term impact on sales revenue. Effective lead nurturing means a structured process of communications throughout the buying process.

4. Useful is the new cool

The creation of content that is highly useful to prospects is critical to lead nurturing. The leads we spoke to were hungry for information. Highly useful content satisfies this hunger. It helps leads narrow choices. In your favor.

5. Engage sales when prospects are sales ready

Prospects don’t mind talking to sales people. But only when they’re ready to do so. And only with the relatively small number of vendors with whom they’ve decided to engage. And the challenge for Marketing? Track human behavior to gauge when leads are sales ready.

6. Marketing is becoming increasingly process and technology driven

It’s hard to know when a prospect is sales ready without knowing if they open your emails. Read your blog posts. Visit your web site.

Lead nurturing cannot be done in an ad hoc fashion. And it can’t be done manually, at least not effectively. It requires planning and well defined processes. Together with the marketing automation tools necessary to make the whole thing scalable and efficient.

 

And finally… you can also access this blog on Slideshare – Stop Sales complaining about the quality of Marketing Leads

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How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

Framework agreements exist in virtually every industry.

They are the backbone of many commercial relationships. If you want a long-term relationship with a customer, then get a framework agreement in place.

So naturally, you want to manage framework agreements in salesforce.

Yet companies often struggle to do this.

“We’ve made a dog’s breakfast of it”, as one prospect told me recently.

They weren’t wrong.

So, here’s what you need. The definitive guide to managing framework agreements in salesforce.

Types of Framework Agreement

To manage framework agreements in salesforce effectively, you first have to decide which type of framework you are dealing with. Here are four types of framework agreement you can manage in salesforce.

  1. Drawdown.
  2. Regular Order.
  3. Occasional Order.
  4. License to Hunt.

(If you have a different type of framework agreement, let us know. We’ll figure out how to manage it in salesforce).

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements

Customers ‘drawdown’ a quantity of products against an overall assumed volume.

Often, at the start of the agreement, there is an assumed order quantity each month. In practice, the actual order quantity can often vary from month to month.

Drawdown framework agreements are common in many industries.

For example, based in Greensboro, NC, Gilbarco Veeder Root finalizes a drawdown framework agreement with a petrol retailer for the purchase of a large quantity of petrol pumps.

The agreement defines the products and pricing, commercial arrangements and legal terms of the contract.

The petrol retailer does not want to receive all the pumps in one go. There may be a written minimum and maximum order quantity each month. However, progress on their gas station re-fit programme will determine the actual quantity ordered each month.

2. Regular Order Framework Agreements

Companies that sell large volumes of relatively small-ticket items or consumables often use transactional framework agreements.

The customer places regular orders when they need to re-stock. Often, the customer does this directly via an online portal.

For example, in the UK, Zimmer Biomet sell a variety of consumable products to dental practices.

Zimmer Biomet enters into a framework agreement with the dentist. This agreement specifies the price for each product, together with the support and other services provided by Zimmer Biomet.

The dental practices place orders every few weeks using the Zimmer Biomet ERP portal. This streamlines the end-to-end process of packing, shipping and invoicing each order.

3. Occasional Order Framework Agreements

With these framework agreements, customers place occasional, rather than regular orders.

These occasional orders are often significant in size. The framework agreement covers the commercial terms and over-arching legal terms. However, a separate specification and agreement defines the specific products and services within each order.

Based in Malta, Evolve provide products and services to fit and equip a wide variety of medical laboratories.

Fitting-out each new laboratory is a significant undertaking. A framework agreement is set up with a pharmaceutical company or government department. This agreement defines the pricing and other terms that apply to each contract within the framework agreement.

However, no two laboratories are alike. Each order requires consultancy and detailed collaboration with the customer to define the specific products and services that are required. A separate contract, under the umbrella of the framework agreement, defines the agreed work.

4. License To Hunt Framework Agreements

A license to hunt framework agreement gives one party the permission to seek-out deals elsewhere in the organization or group of companies.

It’s a common agreement in financial services and many other industries.

For example, based in the UK, Hornbuckle Mitchell provide financial services to brokers. They can secure a license to hunt framework agreement in two ways.

First, within a large multi-branch brokerage, the head office team will make framework agreements with selected providers in each market category. This gives Hornbuckle Mitchell permission to visit the branches and convince individual brokers to use their products.

Second, Hornbuckle Mitchell makes framework agreements with buying groups. These financial services buying groups make framework agreements on behalf of many small brokers. The agreements cover fees, training, regulatory services and more. The license to hunt gives Hornbuckle Mitchell permission to visit the members of the buying group to promote their financial products.

How To Manage Framework Agreements in Salesforce

Here’s how to manage each of the four types of framework agreement in salesforce.

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements In Salesforce

Products, combined with standard or custom schedules, are the key to managing drawdown framework agreements in salesforce.
Here’s how.

Create an Opportunity to represent the potential framework agreement. Add Products to the Opportunity to represent the physical goods and intangible services you anticipate the customer purchasing during the lifetime of the framework agreement. (Consider using the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy to add Products to Quotes or Opportunities in salesforce).

Then, for each Product create a schedule that describes how the products and services will be drawdown.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this. Assume the customer anticipates purchasing 216 generators over a 12-month period. To make it easy, we assume each generator costs $1000.

The opportunity has a ‘gross’ value of $216,000 (216 x $1000). That’s the figure in the Amount field.

Add products to the opportunity to represent the goods and services the customer will buy in the framework agreement.

From gross sales perspective, the deal is worth $216,000. However, that’s only half the story.

Forecast Revenue On Drawdown Agreements

We can use revenue schedules to forecast the month-on-month order value.

Revenue schedules project the anticipated income over an extended period. Create a revenue schedule for each product on your opportunity.

This means we get an accurate view of the revenue contribution from each opportunity, over time.

Use revenue schedules to forecast sales on framework agreements.

Using our example, we might assume that on average, the customer will drawdown generators to the value of $18,000 per month.

Optionally, you can adjust the revenue schedule for this month based on the actual value of orders placed. At the same time, you can also update the forecast for future months, based on your latest information from the customer.

You can use a similar approach to forecast the quantity of products the customer will draw-down each month.

Don’t forget you can also use the GSP Schedule Shifter to keep the Opportunity Close Date aligned with your schedules.

Auto Adjust Product Schedules To Match Close Date Changes

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For much more on using the standard revenue schedules in salesforce read 5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce.

Custom Schedules for revenue forecasting

The standard revenue schedule functionality in salesforce works well for many of our customers.

But not all.

The problem is the standard feature is not very flexible. You can’t, for example, track the Status of each schedule – Not Ordered, Ordered, Invoiced, Paid.

To do this, you need custom schedules. These give considerable flexibility for revenue and quantity forecasting on framework agreements in salesforce. This has even included s-curve revenue forecasting for some clients.

2. Manage Regular Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

‘Regular order’ framework agreements in salesforce also need an opportunity.

But this time, the opportunity serves a different purpose. It represents the process of getting a potential customer onto the books.

In other words, the opportunity has a notional value. No orders are placed and no money changes hands on the day the deal is done.

Rather, there is an expectation that the customer will begin placing a flow of regular orders.

The customer will require regular account management. However, there’s no sales process required for each order.

So, here’s what you don’t want to do. Create an opportunity for each new order. Rather, use a custom object to track all the orders that get placed.

At Zimmer Biomet, customers place orders using a portal that gives access to the ERP system. Integration with the ERP system inserts these orders – and associated invoices – into custom objects in salesforce.

It wasn’t always this way, though. Initially, Zimmer Biomet extracted the orders into a spreadsheet each week. The orders were imported into salesforce using the Data Loader. It just goes to show, one person’s integration is another’s import wizard!

For more information on this topic, Import Orders Into Salesforce to Optimize Account Revenue.

Either way, account managers have great visibility of the trend in orders for each customer.

Orders and Invoices imported into salesforce gives account managers great visibility of the trends for each customer.

Zimmer Biomet uses this information to segment customers, drive business development activity and implement marketing campaigns. They also measure account management performance, not on opportunities, but on the quantity and value of orders placed by the customer.

Here’s one more thing they do.

All information about the rationale for any discount is stored in the Chatter feed, directly on the Opportunity. This means it is easily available in the future – certainly compared to hunting for a long lost email.

The reason is this. A large volume of promised future orders may justify a discount. The customer may fall short of this volume. At the very least, you need to know this when it comes to re-negotiating the framework agreement. Storing all the rationale for the original discount in the Chatter feed keeps this information visible and easy to find at the appropriate time.

More tips on controlling price discounts using salesforce.

3. Manage Occasional Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

Manage the sales process of getting a customer to the point of signature on an occasional order framework agreement by using an opportunity in salesforce.

With this type of framework agreement, there is sometimes an initial order or project to fulfil. However, the key thing is both parties take the opportunity to put a framework agreement in place that will cover future deals.

So far, it’s not dissimilar to the way regular order framework agreements are managed in salesforce.

However, unlike regular order agreements, there’s no expectation of a weekly or monthly flow of relatively small orders. Rather, you need to work proactively with the customer to identify new projects and opportunities.

Unlike regular order framework agreements, manage these future orders through separate opportunities in salesforce. That’s because each one needs its own dedicated sales process.

Here’s another thing.

Often, the framework agreement will define a specific set of product prices that will apply to future opportunities. This means you create a special Price Book, just for that customer.

Use the GSP Auto Price Book Selector to ensure this dedicated Price Book is applied to the customer (and not to any others).

Automatically Assign Price Books To Opportunities

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The Auto Price Book Selector is an effective – and free – way to make sure salespeople consistently apply the right Price Book to the right Price Books

4. Manage License To Hunt Framework Agreements in Salesforce

Manage these framework agreements in salesforce in a similar way to the ‘occasional order’ agreements.

Use an opportunity to manage the sales process of getting the overall framework agreement secured. This opportunity can have a notional value, based on the 12 month or long term anticipated value of related deals.

Be sure, though, to exclude these type of opportunities from your pipeline of ‘paying’ opportunities.

Once the framework agreement is in place, create a separate opportunity in salesforce for the Accounts you are working.

Potentially, use Products and Schedules on these opportunities to define and forecast how the revenue will accrue over time.

So there you have it. 4 types of framework agreement to manage in salesforce. Don’t make a dog’s breakfast of it. Decide first which type of framework agreement you’re working with. Then follow the advice above – or – for a free 30 minute free consultation on managing framework agreeents in salesforce, follow the link below.

Free 30 minute consultation on framework agreements

Get in touch today

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Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

The Essential Guide to Salesforce Product Price Books

5 killer examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce

9 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products In Salesforce

9 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products In Salesforce

Every opportunity has a value.

That value is the revenue from the products and services you sell to the customer.

Yet here’s the thing.

The way you record that value on the opportunity has a major impact on the benefits your business can generate from salesforce.

Do it right and you get increased user adoption, better forecasting accuracy, improved pipeline management and superior analysis of individual salesperson performance.

Do it wrong and you get little or none of those benefits.

So what is the right way?

The right way is to use opportunity products.

If you are still in doubt, read Part 1 of this blog post. Part 2 will follow next week. Together, they explains 10 ways to increase your salesforce benefits by using opportunity products.

Product Benefit #1 – Improved usability

One of the best things about salesforce is that it’s easy to create fields.

One of the worst things about salesforce is that it’s easy to create fields.

And that’s what a lot of companies do. They create many salesforce fields to record revenue information about the products and services they sell.

Here’s a real-life example. It’s a screenshot from a new customer.

Too many fields on the opportunity page layout to record revenue about products and services.

This customer created many fields on the opportunity page layout store revenue information. In fact, this is only the top third of the page. We couldn’t get all of the fields into the screenshot to keep it readable!

Not only did this customer have fields for revenue for each type of service they offer, they also had fields to track revenue over time.

It was, frankly, a pain in the tail to enter the information. User adoption is seriously impacted. And it is virtually impossible to create meaningful reports.

The way to avoid these issues is to use opportunity products.  The screenshot below shows an opportunity with two products.

Salesforce becomes much easier for salespeople when opportunity products are used. Clicking and data entry is dramatically reduced.

Salesforce becomes much easier for salespeople when opportunity products are used. Clicking and data entry is dramatically reduced.

Using opportunity products also makes prices much more accessible. For example, in manufacturing companies, or indeed any company dealing with many physical or tangible products, the prices have to be stored somewhere. Often that’s in a ring binder or online spreadsheet.

Using Products means it is much easier for salespeople to find the right price for each type of customer and product selection.

That means improved usability and increased salesforce adoption.

How to extend this Product Benefit

The GSP Product Selection Wizard makes it even easier to add products to opportunities. This means average deal size is increased, sales person productivity is improved and user adoption is raised. 

Recommended blog post

Bring Your Opportunities To Life With Products

Product Benefit #2 – Improve Opportunity Accuracy

Robust pipeline visibility and reliable forecasting require opportunity amounts to be accurate.

This is unlikely if salespeople simply enter a single figure into the Amount field. The value of the opportunity is invariably going to be a guestimate.

Far better to use Products to calculate the opportunity amount.

This way, salespeople enter the unit price, quantity and any discount. It also means there’s a breakdown of the opportunity amount by product category and individual product item.

The value of both opportunity product line items roll up to the Amount field.

The value of each opportunity product line item is calculated. The total value of all product line items rolls up to the Amount field.

The result is much improved accuracy in opportunity values.

Product Benefit #3 – Improve Pipeline Visibility

Using opportunity products improves the accuracy of individual deal values.

But it also means that dashboard reports and charts are significantly improved.

For example, here’s the pipeline report from the customer that had lots of fields on the opportunity.

Too many fields on the opportunity make it difficult to get good quality pipeline reports.

The reports lists the opportunities in the pipeline. But it’s a far cry from a concise, usable pipeline report needed to manage the funnel effectively.

Here’s the same information. This time we’ve re-built the report using Products.

Using opportunity products means accurate revenue amounts and robust pipeline dashboard charts.

The improved chart means the key information can be understood much more quickly.

Using products also means the pipeline can be analyzed by product category.

Report in salesforce showing pipeline by product family.

This means reliable forecasts can be created by individual products.

For manufacturers like Gilbarco Veeder Root, this is crucial information. These reports inform the production levels within the factory. For companies like Invennt, who provide consulting resources, it means accurate manpower planning.

And for everyone, it means the strength of the pipeline can be understood and interrogated by product category.

Make It Fast & Easy To Add Product To Opportunities Or Quotes

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Product Benefit #4 – Identify Development Needs

Look at the dashboard chart below. It show salesperson performance by average deal size.

Average deal size dashboard chart created using opportunity products.

The dashboard chart is a starting point for analyzing why some salespeople may have higher overall sales than others. However, to get meaningful information, that can help identify individual development needs, we need to dig deeper.

For example, the dashboard chart below analyses average deal size by product category.

Analyzing average deal size by product category reveals more insight into salesperson performance.

Each product is allocated a category – Core, Optional, Service. The dashboard chart clearly shows that Dave is better than his peers at including non-core products in his deals. In other words, Dave increases the average value of his opportunities by including non-essential products and services.

Simply telling salespeople to sell more optional or non-mandatory products is unlikely to have a significant impact. Yet now we can identify the development needs of each salesperson more precisely.

Remember, the chart, in itself, does not tell us specifically how Sarah can increase her average deal size. Perhaps she needs to improve her technical understanding of other products. It could be she needs coaching on how to introduce the other services. Potentially she needs to work harder during the Investigation Stage of the sales cycle to understand better the potential customers’ needs.

Analyzing performance using opportunity products does not automatically give us the answer. But it certainly tells us where to start looking.

Recommended blog post

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Product Benefit #5 – Price More Selectively

When it comes to product pricing, one size certainly does not fit all.

Different market places will support different pricing. Countries and geographical regions may justify different prices. The cost of fulfillment may differ between territories or certain marketplaces will support a higher margin.

You may also chose to give not-for-profit customers a lower price. Some companies also have client-specific pricing. Perhaps you have exclusive pricing arrangements with strategic customers.

To handle this variability properly in salesforce means you need to use opportunity products. This is because using Products with opportunities means you can also use Price Books.

A Price Book is a selection of products along with their List Prices. Here’s an example.

Let’s say you have a product with a standard List Price in the United States of $1000. 

Using Price Books means you might have the following List Prices for this product

  • $1000 for standard customers in the USA.
  • $900 for strategic customers in the USA.
  • $800 for not-for-profit customers in the USA.

There could be many additional variations based on geography or territory. For example, the Eurozone Price Book or UK Price Book may have different prices than the straight-forward exchange rate equivalent. This may reflect differences in fulfillment costs or variances in what the market will bear in those territories. 

Here’s how these prices get applied.

The salesperson defines the price book that will apply to each opportunity. The Price Book contains the products and prices that apply within that price book.

Product price book associated with an opportunity in salesforce.

Chose the right price book on the opportunity and you have the right set of prices.

You can even go a step further.

Not all products need to belong in each price book. Perhaps, for regulatory, commercial or technical reasons, a specific product cannot be sold in Europe. Then simply exclude from the European Price Book. When the European Price Book is added to an opportunity, the product will not be available for selection.

Automated price book selection

You may have spotted the potential human error with Price Books.

What happens if the salesperson adds the wrong Price Book to the opportunity? The result is incorrect prices are given to the customer.

There’s a way to avoid this problem and it won’t cost you a penny to implement. It’s the GSP Auto Price Book Selector. It’s free on the AppExchange.

The Auto Price Book Selector automatically assigns the relevant Price Book to an opportunity. It ensures the right prices are given to the right customers.

Recommended blog post

The Ultimate Guide To Product Price Books In Salesforce

Product benefit #6 – Track Revenue Over Time

Very often revenue associated with a sale is not invoiced in one go.

Quite the reverse.

It may take many months for the revenue to materialize. For example:

  • Service contracts, with regular, repeat revenue over one, two or three years.
  • Framework agreements, in which goods and services are ‘drawn-down’ over time.
  • Professional services, with projects that may take several months to complete.

In each case, it’s important to track how revenue materializes over time. This results in improved revenue forecasting and more predictable cash flow.

To do this, you need to use opportunity products in conjunction with standard or custom product schedules.

Here’s what a salesforce dashboard revenue chart and report look like based on product schedules.

Opportunity product scheduled revenue displayed on a salesforce dashboard chart and report.

The chart and report don’t show the ‘gross’ value of deals. Rather, they measure the scheduled opportunity product revenue.

Many of our customers forecast scheduled revenue over time in this way.

How to extend this Opportunity Product Benefit

There is a challenge in salesforce with keeping opportunity product schedules aligned with the opportunity close date.

For example, let’s say the close date on the opportunity is April 1. The revenue on each opportunity product may be scheduled to start May 1. But what if the close date changes? It means the revenue schedule must be adjusted. In salesforce, this has to be done manually. But that means the adjustment is often forgotten about!

The solution to this is the GSP Schedule Shifter.

The Schedule Shifter automatically moves opportunity product schedules when the Opportunity Close Date changes. This maintains the accuracy of revenue forecasts.

Here’s a short video and more information on the Schedule Shifter in action.

Recommended blog posts

Use Product Schedules To Improve Revenue Recognition

5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce

Product Benefit #7 – Increase Price Discount Control

To reduce the amount of discount given away, use opportunity products to implement discount approval processes.

Here’s an example of how price discounts can be calculated and managed using opportunity products.

Using opportunity products means greater control over price discounts given away by salespeople.

The sales person enters the discount percentage for each opportunity product. In this case, 10% discount has applied to each opportunity product.

The total discount amount rolls up to the opportunity. That’s $4,000 in this example.

The overall price discount on the opportunity is 5.7%. That’s because although 10% has been applied to each opportunity product, the value of each line item is different. In other words, across the board, the discount on this opportunity is only 5.7%.

We can see that on this opportunity, the discount amount has been approved. This is done using the standard approvals functionality in salesforce.

Recommended blog post

10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes

Product Benefit #8 – Close Deals More Quickly

Using Products opens the door to two ways that radically speed up deal closure.

First, accurate products on the opportunity means they can be output into a quote document. This avoids salespeople having to re-key and re-enter information. It also means templates containing the up-to-date set of set of terms and conditions are used consistently across the business.

Second, combine the quote with an electronic signature application such as Docusign or Echosign.

These electronic signature applications integrate tightly into salesforce. They make it super-easy for customers to commit to contracts in a robust, legally binding way.

Our customer, project management training provider ILX, take it even further. They have embedded the process of validating whether a PO is required, and capturing that number where appropriate. This means they have a super-tight contract signature process.

Recommended blog post

Product Benefit #9 – Sell Bundles Of Products

One way to increase average deal size is to sell bundles of products.

Our customers use product bundles in two key ways.

First, to group technical products together. The bundle of products comprise the solution offered to the customer.

Secondly, they offer promotional product bundles. These bundles offer discounts or additional products that are available for a limited amount of time. They are intended to drive sales for a specific period.

There is no pre-built product bundle capability in salesforce. So instead, use the GSP Product Bundle Wizard.

The wizard contains features that enable system administrators or product managers to create product bundles easily. Salespeople have a user-friendly interface for selecting the bundle and adding the component products to the opportunity or quote.

Product bundle allows multiple wizard products to be added to the opportunity at the same time.

Price book integrity is preserved, which means that bundles can only be added if they match the price book associated with the opportunity.

Recommended blog post

GSP Product Bundle Wizard overview.

Recorded Webinar | 10 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products

Watch the full webinar with Gary Smith and Nick Ambrose from GSP, and special guest Robby Johnson from Ellison Technologies. Gary, Nick and Robby explain and demonstrate all 10 ways to win big using opportunity products.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

The Essential Guide to Salesforce Product Price Books

5 killer examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce

Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

I have reviewed hundreds of existing salesforce implementations.

And seen many mistakes.

But there are five opportunity mistakes that jump out all the time.

They are the usual suspects.

Yet the thing about them is, they are easy to fix.

Addressing each opportunity mistake alone, will:

  • Make salesforce easier to use. That improves user adoption.
  • Improve reports and dashboards. That improves pipeline management.
  • Enable more robust opportunity management. That increases win rates.

So here they are. The usual suspects. And here is how you fix these common salesforce opportunity mistakes.

Opportunity Mistake #1 – Badly designed Opportunity Stages

The standard opportunity stages in salesforce do not fit well with the sales process in many businesses.

So it is perfectly sensible to change them. But sorry to say, businesses often do it badly.

Here are the most common mistakes with Opportunity Stages.

  • Too many stages. This happens when the sales cycle is broken into a too granular series of stages. This makes it difficult to make sense of pipeline dashboard charts and reports.
  • Ambiguous stages. When opportunity stages are unclear, salespeople will not be able to update the opportunity accurately. The result is managers cannot assess the sales pipeline with any confidence.
  • Stages as milestones. This happens when stages represent a specific milestone or task (e.g. Meeting Booked, Proposal Sent). It is difficult to define a sales process or get a sense of what is happening on the Opportunity over time when this happens.

For example, here’s a real-life example. It’s a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had way too many opportunity stages.

Example of a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had too many opportunity stages.

To fix this opportunity mistake, take these actions:

  • Consolidate stages. Combine two or more existing stages into a single opportunity stage. Update existing opportunities to reflect the new value.
  • Define stages carefully. Think-through the opportunity stages and their definition. Have someone not involved directly in sales, review and challenge your stage definitions.

Here is another blog post I wrote specifically about opportunity stages. It contains additional advice on setting opportunity stage values.

3 Common Mistakes With Opportunity Stages And How To Fix Them.

Opportunity Mistake #2 – Not Using Opportunity Products

Earlier this week I reviewed an existing salesforce environment for a potential customer.

They were making the opportunity mistake common to many companies. Multiple ‘amount’ fields on the opportunity. In fact, they had created 24 fields. All to capture information about the different products and over-time revenue streams associated with an opportunity.

The page layouts are highly confusing. User adoption is a problem. And the reports are a nightmare – too complicated, no workable information.

However, it is a common opportunity mistake.

The solution is to use Opportunity Products. (In some cases, use Product Schedules as well).

Virtually every company that has salesforce should use Products (even Service companies).

A Product, in this context, can be anything that generates revenue. A day of professional services, manufactured items, maintenance contracts, license fees, widgets. They are all examples of Products.

Here are some of the benefits you get from using Opportunity Products.

  • Accurate opportunity amounts. Base the total value of the opportunity on the specific price and quantity of products.
  • Improved pipeline visibility. Monitor the size, trend and quality of the pipeline by product category.
  • Identify training and development needs. Compare average deal size, number of products and type of products across salespeople.
  • Pricing control. Use approval processes to control price discounts.
  • Forecast revenue over time. Combine products and schedules to forecast revenue over months or years.
  • Streamline processes. Re-design contract and fulfilment processes.

If you have many Products, then consider using the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

Use the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

Here are two blog posts that give more guidance on using Products and Product Schedules.

Missing Out On The Value Of Products? Learn The Basics

5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce

Manage 4 Types of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

Opportunity Mistake #3 – Not Using Contact Roles

Even a simple B2B purchase rarely involves only one person.

“The number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today, and these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies.” Harvard Business Review, March-April 2017.

However, not using Contact Roles is another common opportunity mistake in salesforce.

It’s not perfect. On the other hand, it is a standard feature that is easy to configure and use.

Contact Roles is a standard salesforce feature that is easy to configure and use.

The benefits you will get from using Contact Roles include:

  • Increased rigour in managing opportunities. The simple act of populating Contact Roles, forces salespeople to think about their stakeholder management approach.
  • Improved management team contribution. Often it is hard to define the decision maker, versus an influencer versus the financial approver. Yet surfacing this information in Contact Roles promotes healthy debate about the role played by each individual.
  • Improved long-term visibility. Using Contact Roles makes it significantly easier to identify the stakeholders that keep cropping up over time.

There is more on Contact Roles, including advice on the Role picklist values, in another of our blogs:

The Right Way And The Wrong Way To Track Opportunity Stakeholders

Opportunity Mistake #4 – Not using Chatter on the record

On any major deal – and even on many small ones – there will be a lot of communication between internal stakeholders.

Pricing, strategy, pre-sales demonstrations, stakeholder management and lots more. They are all the subject of extensive discussion.

However, managing that internal communication by email is a common opportunity mistake.

Using email for this dialogue means:

  • It’s difficult to revisit important discussion e.g. on discount decisions.
  • Important dialogue about the opportunity is dis-jointed.
  • Less clogged up inbox. Surely, we all want that!

Indeed B2B pricing consultant, Tony Hodgson, attributes many needless price discounts to email.

“Let’s say you give a 10 percent discount to the customer first time around. The dialogue around the internal justification and approval will nearly always be by email. A year down the line, the customer asks for a further discount. Chances are they are going to use the same justification in their argument that they used previously. Yet you consumed that justification in the original discount. But unfortunately, everyone will have forgotten and it’s virtually impossible to find the documentation.”

Far better, says Hodgson, to use Chatter, directly on the Opportunity.

Use salesforce Chatter directly on the Opportunity.

“Conducting the internal dialogue on the Chatter Feed within the Opportunity leaves no doubt as to where the justification and documentation resides. It’s there forever and a day. Maybe you’ll still agree to the discount – but at least you’re doing it with full knowledge of what went before”.

10 Expert Tips To Give Away Smaller Price Discounts

Opportunity Mistake #5 – Close Dates in the past

Unless you have a time turner, opportunities will not close in the past.

However, this is a very common opportunity mistake. An open pipeline that contains deals with a close date earlier than today.

In fact, many pipelines contain deals that are months out of date. This is a real-life example of what that looks like in a dashboard chart.

Pipeline has lots of opportunities with close dates in the past.

The impact of having out-of-date opportunities in the pipeline includes:

  • Poor quality pipeline visibility.
  • Inaccurate performance metrics e.g. errors in win-rate percentages.
  • Inability to forecast reliably.

The way you fix this problem depends on the scale of the situation and the resources at your disposal. You have the following choices:

  • Sweep the problem under the carpet.
  • Fix the problem yourself.
  • Get the sales team to fix the dates.
  • Take broad-brush approach with a mass update of opportunities.
  • Adopt a hybrid approach incorporating several of the above.

This is such a common opportunity mistake that I have written an entire blog post about it. It describes each approach to solving the problem in more detail and explains when they are appropriate.

Don’t Let The Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

So there they are. The top five opportunity mistakes in salesforce. Go ahead, and fix the usual suspects in your business.

Make It Fast & Easy To Add Product To Opportunities Or Quotes

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Related Blog Posts

5 Compelling Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits in 2016

5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

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Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna, read our blog post, 12 Must-Have Charts On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

“That’s the dashboard for me”, thought Colin. “Especially the Pipeline by Stage and Month.”

So Colin had his system administrator install the dashboard from the AppExchange.

But there was a problem.

The most important dashboard chart didn’t look like the beautiful example in our blog post.

Salesforce dashboard chart showing opportunities by close date and stage.

Colin’s was, well, to put it frankly, a mess. It was full of deals with opportunity close dates in the past.

Pipeline has lots of opportunities with close dates in the past.

“It looked more like an old washing line”, said Colin.

This meant Colin didn’t get the pipeline visibility he craved. The opportunity close dates in the past destroyed the benefits the chart brings. And Colin couldn’t tell which deals were still alive and which had been lost.

So Colin called us up. Asked what he should do. We were happy to help. Here’s what we said.

We explained to Colin that there are two sides to the problem.

  1. Existing deals with opportunity close dates in the past.Colin needed to sort out the existing opportunities that had a close date in the past. We told him there are five ways this can be done. We explained when each approach is appropriate.
  2. Colin needed to stop the ‘opportunity close dates in the past problem’ from recurring.

So, here’s what Colin did to solve the problem. And what he’s doing to stop it happening again.

If your pipeline chart looks like an old washing line, you can easily do the same.

Fix the immediate ‘Close Dates in the past’ problem

Here are the five options you have for dealing with opportunities that have close dates in the past.

1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself

Update the Close Date on each opportunity.

At the same time, change the Opportunity Stage. Set the Opportunity Stage to Closed Won or Closed Lost for deals that should no longer in the pipeline.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There’s a relatively small number of opportunities.
  • Accurately updating each opportunity with a close date in the past is important.
  • You’re prepared to do the work yourself (or can’t get anyone else to do it).

2. Mass update all opportunities to Closed Won or Closed Lost

This is the broad-brush approach. You simply set all opportunities with a close date in the past to Won or Lost.

Do it with a little more subtlety though. For example, mass update all opportunities where the close date is more than one year in the past.

To do this you can use a List View to update many opportunities at the same time. (Administrator Tip: If you’re using Opportunity Record Types then you need to filter List Views by record type in order to perform mass updates).

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of opportunities with close dates in the past doesn’t matter too much.
  • There are far too many opportunities to go through one by one.
  • You are prepared to sacrifice the accuracy of historic sales performance reports.

3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities

This is a variation of option 1.

Get the Opportunity Owners to do their own dirty work. Have them go through their opportunities and update the Close Dates and (where appropriate) the Opportunity Stage.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of reports and charts that track historic sales performance is important.
  • There are viable opportunities that have close dates in the past.
  • It is a worthwhile investment in time for salespeople to review out of date opportunities.

4. Mass update all Close Dates in the past to a future date

Take all the out-of-date opportunities that are still open and give them a close date in the future.

Then you – or the sales team – take time to update each opportunity accurately.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There are live or viable opportunities with close dates in the past.
  • No one has the time to sort them out right now.
  • Until the opportunities are reviewed, you are prepared to accept that the pipeline chart will contain lost or dormant deals.

5. Sweep the problem under the carpet

Modify the report that underpins the dashboard chart. Change the Close Date ‘From’ value so it only includes opportunities where the close date is greater than a specific point in time.

For example, you might filter the report to show opportunities with a Close Date ‘From’ the first day of this month. That means there will only be a relatively small number of opportunities on the report with close dates in the past. Just sort those out and ignore the rest.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • It is unlikely anyone will get around to updating out-of-date opportunities.
  • The pipeline chart will be based only on opportunities with close dates greater than the date you have chosen – and you are prepared to accept this.
  • Your system administrator acknowledges that all dashboard pipeline reports will need to incorporate the fixed ‘From’ date.

Optionally, combine some of these options.

For example, you might do a mass that sets opportunities with a close date of more than one year ago, to Closed Lost.

Then, update the remainder so they have a Close Date in the future. Have salespeople go through these deals one by one to pick out the viable deals.

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Stop the ‘close dates in the past’ problem from recurring

If the pipeline chart contains deals with Close Dates in the past then you have a lack of pipeline visibility.

That means you can’t get an accurate revenue forecast. And it is impossible to know whether you have enough pipeline, to meet future sales targets.

Here are four ways you can stop the problem happening again, after you have fixed it.

1. Avoid sloppy management

Proactive sales management means being on top of the pipeline. In that case, there shouldn’t be any deals with close dates in the past. Simple as that.

Good sales management means the sales pipeline is well maintained. It gives sales managers the key information they need to conduct funnel reviews at all times.

2. Coach salespeople on self-managing their pipeline

Sloppy sales management is only part of the story.

Effective salespeople don’t allow their pipelines to become out of date.

Salespeople need to understand the importance of keeping the Close Dates and Opportunity Stages accurate. That means each person has an accurate view of his or her pipeline.

3. Create an alert when the Close Date is today

Use workflow to create an email alert when an Opportunity is due to close today. The idea is to draw the salesperson’s attention to the deal so that they update it.

Optionally, trigger the alert when the Close Date is tomorrow.

This is a useful technique when you need to emphasize the importance of keeping deals up to date. Ideally, salespeople should be self-managing their pipeline and using dashboard charts tailored to their needs.

But, if you want to draw more attention to deals that need to be updated, then this is one way to do it.

4. Use a validation rule

A validation rule kicks-in when a salesperson makes a change to an opportunity. If the close date is in the past, this prevents the opportunity saving.

Effectively, it means the salesperson has to update the close date in order to make any change.

This solution is often implemented by companies that have a problem with close dates. But I’m not the greatest fan.

The validation rule approach doesn’t actually prevent the problem from occurring. If the opportunity is not updated (which, given that the close date is in the past suggests is the case) then it won’t prevent close dates from drifting into the past.

The most effective approach is to apply good sales management practice and have salespeople take pride in the accuracy of their individual funnels.

How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem

Colin had several hundred opportunities with close dates in the past.

Here’s what he did.

  1. Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
  2. Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won, Colin accepted. That there was no update, suggests many had been lost, however. Colin accepted that risk of inacuracy in historic reports.
  3. He assigned two hours on Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energised as a result.
  4. Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
  5. He had everyone read our blog post about the Open Opportunities by Stage and Month.
  6. Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
  7. Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
  8. He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
  9. Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.

The result? Colin got a robust view of the company sales pipeline. Now, he can accurately identify the action sales people and managers need to take to boost revenue. And it means Colin is confident of making is quota.

“Now, this truly is the dashboard chart for me”, says Colin.

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