+44 203 280 3665
How To Make Your CRM Project A Success

How To Make Your CRM Project A Success

There’s no shortage of advice if you Google ‘CRM project success’.

Set clear goals. Align the CRM project with your business strategy. Get executive buy-in. Manage stakeholders. Clean up data. Deliver training – lots of it.

I don’t disagree.

Yet I find there is a problem.

This advice is too generic.

These factors will influence the success of any business project. There’s nothing that applies specifically to CRM projects.

Do all of these things and your CRM project might still fail.

We are after something different.

We need the critical factors that deliver CRM project success. The drivers that apply specifically to CRM projects. The things that, if you don’t do them, mean that your CRM project is likely to fail.

For that, you need to look deeper.

10 Specific Drivers Of CRM Project Success

Here they are. Based on my experience of hundreds of implementations – the specific drivers of CRM project success.

Not every driver will apply equally to every CRM project. Use your judgement. However, they do apply equally to new CRM project implementations AND benefit expansion in existing systems.

1. Re-design your Lead to Opportunity process successfully

CRM project success demands that business processes are re-designed.

Nowhere is this more important than the Lead to Opportunity process.

Unfortunately, no business process re-design effort results in more confusion, ambiguity and CRM project failure.

This process goes to the heart of CRM project implementation.

Lead-to-Opportunity represents the critical set of activities that develop good quality, sales-ready leads. This puts them in the hands of people that can execute the sales process.

However, to achieve CRM project success, there are key areas to pay attention to when re-designing your Lead to Opportunity process.

  • Do not transfer leads to salespeople too early. Salespeople will quickly start to ignore what they perceive to be poor quality leads.
  • Convert each Lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity before transferring it to a salesperson. This is critical for accurate Campaign ROI metrics.
  • Create separate pipeline reports and dashboard charts for early-stage opportunities. If appropriate, exclude these initial opportunities from core pipeline reports.
  • Educate salespeople and managers that it is acceptable to qualify-out early stage opportunities. If you are going to lose, lose early.
  • Create a feedback mechanism from Sales to Marketing or Inside Sales. Insist on feedback from every Lead transferred to Sales. Review this feedback regularly to improve lead generation and qualification processes.

The Lead to Opportunity processes often provokes fraught discussion. In effective re-design of this process puts CRM project success at risk. Use these principles to avoid that.

Key resource

 

2. Use this four-step approach to user adoption

If users do not fully engage with your system, then no matter what else happens, your CRM project will not be a success.

Too often, user adoption equates with training. That’s a mistake. Deliver as much training as you like and you still cannot guarantee CRM project success.

Apply four steps to secure full user adoption CRM project success.

  • Create an advantage to using the system. For example, for front-line sales people, it has to be easier to do their jobs using the system, than not using it.
  • Create a disadvantage to not using the system. It has to be easier for sales people to do their jobs using the system that not using it. Conversely, it has to be harder for them if they don’t use it. In other words, continuing to work with current methods has to be more difficult than using the CRM system. This also means all pipeline reviews, 1.1s and team meetings are based on the data in the system, not separately stored on spreadsheets.
  • Measure user adoption. You cannot manage it if you don’t measure it. Collect metrics that measure user adoption in your business. By the way, login frequency isn’t one of them.
  • Proactively manage user adoption. This is why you need the metrics. Make it clear what’s expected. Use your metrics to manage user adoption the way you would for any other topic. Reward and complement people for doing well. Take remedial action with those that fall below standard.

Key resource

 

3. Install the right set of dashboards

Getting visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance is the number one reason why companies invest in CRM projects.

Yet often, these companies fail to implement the dashboard charts and reports that deliver that visibility.

Sales dashboards must provide three things for CRM project success:

  • Visibility of the size of the pipeline.
  • Information on the trend in the pipeline.
  • Key metrics on the quality of the pipeline.

Without this information, sales managers are flying blind. That’s a guarantee of CRM project failure not success.

Addressing this key issue is relatively easy. Start by installing our free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. It’s fully customizable so you can adapt it to the specific needs of your business.

Key resource

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE App from the AppExchange today

4. Train managers how to be a coach not a pundit

During the match, pundits sit in the TV gantry pointing out mistakes. They pore over errors. They point out the reasons for defeat. A critical eye examines performance statistics and metrics.

Coaches – at least good ones – do things differently. They explain how to do things better. They teach techniques that lead to improvement. Coaches recognize and accept that mistakes happen and that these represent learning opportunities.

Having the right set of dashboards is one thing. Knowing how to use them to drive sales performance across the team is another.

CRM project success depends upon sales managers and leaders using dashboards and reports to improve performance. It means each one has to be a coach, not a pundit.

Using dashboards as a pundit means you risk encouraging the very behaviour you want to remove. Sandbagging occurs – deals are left out of the CRM system until the sales person is confident an opportunity can be won. Dormant opportunities remain open. Updating of opportunities takes place only at the last minute.

The result? The real time, robust visibility of the sales pipeline the CRM project can deliver, goes out the window.

Effective sales leaders recognize no single chart gives the complete picture. They understand how to combine information from different dashboards charts to identify specific improvements available to each individual and team.

In many businesses, this will require a change in behavior and education of sales managers.

Do not assume this will happen automatically. In many cases, it won’t. CRM project success depends on training managers how to be coaches not pundits.

Key resource

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

5. Start as you mean to go on (avoid a soft launch)

A soft launch means making the system available to users, but not insisting they engage with it to the maximum.

Sometimes a soft launch occurs when the project team believe the system is not fully ready and perfect. They worry about the impact. After all, there is so much else going on in the business.

Don’t let this happen. CRM project success requires a hard launch.

Let’s be clear. In many businesses, a pilot with a specific group of users is a sensible thing to do. It contributes to CRM project success.

Likewise, a phased rollout is also logical. Often you simply cannot physically train all the users in one go. Instead, do it country-by-country or region-by-region. Whatever deployment plan makes sense in your business.

However, as soon as the CRM project goes live, make sure everyone understands the importance of keeping data and records up to date.

For example, one of the biggest sins in pipeline visibility is opportunities with an out of date Close Dates. This distorts the accuracy of future revenue the CRM project aims to deliver.

In the first week, the first month, the first quarter, track down these opportunities. Don’t stand for them being out of date. Zone-in on salespeople that need to update their deals.

Here’s another example. Tracking the buying center on a B2B deal is often critical to success. So in the CRM system, make sure the stakeholders on the customer side are recorded as playing a role on the opportunity.

Here’s the thing. If you tolerate sloppiness in the early days, your business will find it mighty hard to recover the situation.

Instead, make it clear from day 1 what is expected. CRM project success in your business means you start as you mean to go on.

 

6. Include Target Tracking in the solution

Targets are key to salespeople.

There isn’t a salesperson worth her salt that doesn’t measure her performance against target each month or quarter.

Yet very often, sales performance versus target is tracked outside the CRM system. This waters-down the importance and usefulness of the CRM system to salespeople and managers.

Incorporate target tracking directly into your system. It’s a core component of CRM project success.

However, that can be more difficult than it seems.

For example, in salesforce CRM, many businesses find the Forecasts tab difficult to use.

Alternatively, if targets you base targets on scheduled revenue over time, then the target tracking mechanism needs to be more sophisticated.

In both cases, the target tracking mechanism needs to reflect both historical performance and compare future potential revenue against quota. In other words, it must compare pipeline and weighted pipeline with the target for next month or next quarter.

Fortunately, there are ways to do all of these things in salesforce and other CRM systems. Follow our recommended resources below for more information.

Key resources

7. Create a robust, scalable architecture

The best thing about CRM systems such as salesforce is that it’s easy to add a field.

The worst thing about CRM systems such as salesforce is that it’s easy to add a field.

Over-enthusiastic creation of fields and other features quickly swamps salespeople and other users. Be judicious.

Think about it like this. If you are writing a 20-page slide deck, it’s best not to start by typing the first bullet point into slide 1.

Instead, get a sheet of paper and plan your presentation. Start with the end in mind – the key message you intend to deliver. Work backwards, structuring your slides and specific points within this context.

CRM project success requires the same approach. The best starting point for a CRM architecture is not the creation of the first field.

Better by far, to stand in front of a whiteboard with the project team and plan out your architecture. Think about improving your processes. Translate this business architecture into a system design that is robust, scalable and meets the objectives.

One more point on this. When the design of CRM projects goes wrong, it goes wrong at the start.

It may not be immediately obvious, but the underlying architecture of CRM systems like salesforce is logical and robust. Work with this architecture, don’t fight it.

Key resource

If you are in any doubt about how the core architecture of salesforce works then call us. We will jump on a web meeting and I’ll explain it to you.

 

8. Import (reasonably) clean data about at the outset

Your business already has a myriad of data about leads, contacts, customers, prospects, current and past opportunities.

This data may currently be in a legacy CRM system. Perhaps it all currently sits in spreadsheets or Outlook folders.

In either case, for CRM project success, import this data into your new system before you go live. If you leave it until later, it will never happen.

Here are examples of the benefits of importing this data at the outset.

  • User adoption will improve significantly. Salespeople (in particular) and other users will not want to enter data that already exists elsewhere. They will quickly revert to using their existing tools.
  • Productivity and efficiency is increased. For the same reason – manually typing large volumes of data is not a good use of anyone’s time.
  • Realize marketing and customer communication benefits from the outset. No need to wait until there is a critical mass of data.

One other key reason.

This is an excellent opportunity to clean up and consolidate the data. In fact, that’s an imperative before you import the data. The result doesn’t have to be perfect. However, CRM project success demands an intensive effort on data improvement and migration to bring it to an acceptable level.

Key resource

 

9. Use Products (irrespective of what you sell)

This is not an article on CRM features or functionality.

Nevertheless, there’s one feature that successful CRM projects consistently use.

Products.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell physical items, services or something in between. Using the Products feature has multiple benefits. It:

  • Turns bland opportunities into specific deals. This means visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance is dramatically improved.
  • Improves management reporting and analysis. For example, margin and average deal size analysis.
  • Opens the door to multiple other benefits. For example, discount control, electronic signatures, streamlined fulfilment processes.
  • Increased pricing flexibility. For example, tailor prices to specific customer segments, geographical areas and distribution channels.
  • Improved forecasting of scheduled revenue over time. This means understanding how committed and pipeline scheduled revenue compares to target.

However, Products is also one of the more complex functional areas to set up in CRM systems. That is especially true if you already have an ERP or other back-end system that controls pricing, availability and fulfilment.

Nevertheless, the extensive range of benefits makes it worth it. Successful CRM projects invariably use Products.

Key resource

 

10. Get independent help

You would say this, wouldn’t you, Gary?

Well yes, I would.

I started implementing cloud-based CRM systems in the late ’90s. Just as the concept of business web computing was taking hold.

At that time, CRM systems such as salesforce were simple, uncomplicated. They offered rudimentary sales force automation and customer support features. Businesses implemented them as tactical solutions, to solve specific issues in sales or customer service.

Now things are different.

Today salesforce is gargantuan. There’s a wealth of features. Companies implement CRM for strategic and compelling benefits.

Ironically, that means full benefit realization is harder to achieve. However when you do, the benefits are so much bigger.

To secure those benefits, CRM project success requires independent expertise, experience, advice and guidance.

You’ve read the 10 specific drives of CRM project success. For further advice on how to make your CRM project successful, then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Interested in a discussion with GSP that works for you?

Arrange your own time-slot using our new booking system.

3 Steps Every Business Must Take To Increase Salesforce User Adoption

3 Steps Every Business Must Take To Increase Salesforce User Adoption

Low salesforce user adoption bedevils many companies.

That’s why a lot of time and trouble is spent trying to increase salesforce user adoption.

Because quite simply, if the users don’t use system the way you intend, then no matter what else happens, the benefits aren’t going to be delivered.

But many businesses fail to achieve this. After all, most sales people don’t vote for more visibility of sales performance and activity levels. Or for more ‘perceived’ admin at the expense of sales time. So attempts to increase salesforce user adoption often fail.

We have completed over a thousand salesforce projects. Our experience is that a 3 step approach is required to increase salesforce user adoption. Do these 3 things well from the outset and your business will have high salesforce user adoption. Apply these steps to a current salesforce environment and you will turnaround existing low levels of user adoption.

1. Create an advantage to using salesforce

This means it’s easier for front-line sales people to do their jobs using salesforce than not using it.

If there is no benefit to front-line sales people in using salesforce then user adoption will not increase. This often happens when salesforce is implemented for the sole reason of giving the management team visibility of the sales pipeline.

Here are some ways to make it easier for sales people to do their jobs using salesforce. They represent an immediate way to increase salesforce user adoption.

Take full advantage of salesforce functionality

Re-design and streamline business processes. Make it easier to get things done using the system. Automate approval processes. Integrate electronic signature applications to get contracts signed more quickly. For more details and other examples read our blog post 5 Compelling Ways To Increase Salesforce Benefits or its sister post, 5 More Compelling Ways To Increase Salesforce Benefits.

Create powerful pipeline reports & dashboard charts

Give first-line line sales people and their immediate managers with the information they need to manage their sales pipeline effectively. Focus on dashboard charts that provide visibility of the size, trend and quality of their pipeline. If you’re seeking inspiration then look at our blog post “12 charts that every sales manager should have on his dashboard‘. If you only have time to create one pipeline dashboard chart then make it this one.

Use smart AppExchange applications

Integrate other low cost / high value applications with salesforce to add further value. Start with the free Dupecatcher application to improve data quality. Use Conga to automatically generate well formatted proposals from salesforce. Use electronic signature applications to make it easy for customers to commit to your quotes.

Bring other relevant data into salesforce

If other systems store invoice or order information then import this data into salesforce. That way, when the sales person is standing outside the customers’ premises he can quickly and easily see the trend in orders over the last 3 or 6 months. This doesn’t necessarily need full-blown integration. One person’s integration is another’s weekly import wizard.

There are lots of other ways to use salesforce to make people more efficient, effective and productive. Get in touch if you would like a free review of your salesforce environment and we’ll help you get started.

2. Create a disadvantage to not using salesforce

Step 1 states that there should be an advantage to using salesforce in order to increase user adoption. But step 2 is the converse. Create a disadvantage to not using it.

In other words, it must be easier for a first-line sales person to do their job using salesforce. But must also harder for that same person to do their job if they don’t use it.

Here are some examples of what we mean. Apply these examples to increase salesforce user adoption.

Use pipeline reports and dashboards to manage the sales team

This means using dashboards and reports that give visibility of the pipeline and sales performance in 1.1s, appraisals and team meetings. If the sales person says “Some of my opportunities are in Excel or my notebook” then the managers’ response has to be, “Sorry, they’re inadmissible evidence! We are conducting this conversation on the basis of the information that I can see in salesforce”. Here are examples of dashboard charts that are good to use in team reviews, the focus on managing pipeline quality.

Track sales targets in salesforce

Every sales person performs against a target. But too often these targets are stored outside salesforce. This means the dialogue about whether the sales person has sufficient pipeline to meet his target also takes place outside his target. Tracking targets within salesforce is a very powerful way to increase salesforce user adoption. Here are 3 ways to measure sales versus target in salesforce.

Ensure managers use salesforce Chatter

Don’t communicate key messages on email, use Chatter. Have managers interact with sales reports on individual opportunities directly on the Chatter feed within each Opportunity. That way if sales people aren’t regularly logged into salesforce they are missing out on critical dialogue with the management team. For more information on making full use of Chatter read 10 Tips For Chatter Roll-out.

Manage discount approval requests only in salesforce

Too often price discount requests are submitted to managers by email. This means the rationale for a discount is quickly lost to the mists of time. To increase salesforce user adoption ensure managers only deal with discount requests that are submitted using the Approvals process in salesforce. Study this blog post for recommendations from a pricing expert on how to limit the margin given away by price discounts. It includes an explanation of how to implement these ideas in salesforce.

The key thing here is that there is an advantage to using salesforce. But increasing salesforce user adoption also means there must also be pain associated with not using it.

3. Use metrics to increase salesforce user adoption

Most things are impossible to manage without measurement. Salesforce user adoption is no exception.

And if you can measure it, you can manage it.

But salesforce user adoption metrics need to be more sophisticated than simply tracking whether sales people have logged on. That reveals nothing about what they did next.

Here are some metrics for measuring salesforce user adoption that can be run at the individual sales person level.

Number of Contacts created in the last 30 days

We’re all meeting new people all of the time. Are these new Contacts being entered into salesforce? If not, then salesforce user adoption is low.

Opportunities with Close Dates in the past

Deals can’t close in the past. So a significant number of opportunities with close dates in the past tell us that the pipeline is inaccurate. But it’s also telling us that user adoption is low because sales people aren’t using salesforce to manage their opportunities.

Percentage of Opportunity fields populated

This report measures the number of non-mandatory fields that are populated with data on the Opportunity (or any other type of record for that matter). In other words, if one person on average populates 80 percent of fields and another 40 percent then the first has a much higher level of salesforce user adoption.

These are just three examples of how to measure salesforce user adoption. As you can see, the best user adoption reports don’t actually focus on user adoption per se – rather, they track the key metrics that are important to the business – it’s just that they also tell us how well users are using the system. Here’s a blog post specifically about how to measure user adoption in salesforce.

Increase salesforce user adoption in your business

Achieving full salesforce user adoption can be a challenge. But follow the 3 steps to achieve full salesforce user adoption. Don’t forget, create an advantage to using salesforce, create a disadvantage to not using it, and measure and proactively manage user adoption.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

5 Factors to Consider When Switching to Salesforce Lightning

5 Factors to Consider When Switching to Salesforce Lightning

Not Lightening… Or Lighting. But Lightning.

If you didn’t know already, ‘Lightning’ is the modernization of the salesforce user interface.

Salesforce Lightning on multiple devices

It’s delivered loads of new features and productivity benefits but it’s not for everyone… just yet.

Could your team be more effective by migrating from ‘Classic’ to the new, supercharged Lightning?

Well, the answer is, it depends.

Imagine Ma and Pa with a couple of kids.

They’re considering whether or not to buy an Aston Martin. It’s stylish, beautifully engineered and will have them lapping the Isle of Wight in less time than the All Other Passports queue post-Brexit.

It’s not, however, great for the school run or junior football at the weekend. So despite the allure and benefits to be had, they can’t ditch the Skoda… just yet.

The point being that your company may still rely on one or more features of salesforce ‘Classic’ that aren’t available in ‘Lightning Experience’ (or at least aren’t fully supported in Lightning).

Salesforce ‘Classic’ and ‘Lightning’ can be used in unison, and users can switch between the two. Whether your company would become more productive depends on how it uses salesforce.

On the face of it this sounds like a reasonable and simple solution. In practice, it can be painstakingly slow. Continually waiting for the Lightning user interface to load can be a real source of frustration for users.

Constantly switching back and forward between the two in some ways negates the productivity benefits derived from migrating to ‘Lightning’.

To highlight this, watch how to switch between the two in the video below.

 

Another often overlooked factor is that this demands your users to be equally competent navigating and using two different user interfaces.

As with most things, the keep-it-simple-stupid approach is generally the most effective. For this reason your company should ensure that all (or at the very least most!) day-to-day features required by your users are available in Lightning before migrating.

This will provide the best chance of users embracing Lightning’s new features. Otherwise, what you may find is that some users hold onto Classic.

In this post we review a few key features to consider when determining whether or not migrating to ‘Lightning Experience’ would improve your company’s effectiveness.

1. Lightning Reports & Dashboards

These are the mainstay of salesforce and one key reason why companies take the salesforce plunge.

Without a doubt, the ability to customise the size and shape of Dashboard Components has been one of the best features offered by Lightning.

The downside is that whilst switching to Lightning offers greater flexibility in both Dashboard design and appearance, unfortunately not all of the Classic features can be configured in Lightning.

If your sales team requires full control over creating reports and dashboards, then you may want to consider the following limitations before making the switch.

  • Dashboards created in Lightning are unable to be scheduled to refresh automatically
  • Users can’t create additional Reports & Dashboard folders

salesforce dashboard displayed after the switch to Lightning.

These may seem minor points, but can your team be effective if they’re looking at old data?

What if they’re unable to store multiple reports in a single location and quickly share these with other members of their team?

Information is king and if it’s not current or easily located then it’s hard to be effective.

2. List View Restrictions… or the lack of in Lightning

List Views are a quick way to view records that share something in common.

Depending on whether you’re looking at Accounts, Contacts, or Opportunities you may wish to filter the view by a particular country, job title or business unit.

The benefit of List Views is that they can be made available to other users.

If your team relies on List Views to work sets of records, be it Opportunities or otherwise, then you’ll need to consider the implication of Lightning’s new List View visibility before switching.

Unfortunately, salesforce Lightning takes an all or nothing approach to List View visibility.

This removes the ability to grant visibility to users based on their Role or membership of a group. An added complication is that ‘All’ users includes internal and partner users.

The limited options to control List View visibility can result in your team:

  • Not providing certain users with visibility of List Views that they create, or;
  • Needing to sift through a never-ending set of List Views that are visible to everyone

The latter is the more common and inconvenient outcome. This results in many list views, most of which are completely irrelevant to most users. This is hardly a great way to quickly find records of interest.

Opportunity List Views change appearance after the switch to Lightning.

Admittedly, List Views can be configured and have the visibility controlled by switching back to Classic. This may not be an issue if List Views are fairly static in your environment.

If, however, your users utilise List Views to work sets of records and maintain the List Views fairly regularly then, I’m afraid, you’ll be constantly switching back and forth between Classic and Lightning.

3. Product Schedules in Lightning

At GSP, we advocate the use of Products to almost all of our customers.

Products allow you to see how the value of an Opportunity was determined, check to see that no items (Products) have been forgotten, but one of the best things about Products is ‘Product Schedules’.

Product Schedules provide a way to track the timing of recurring revenue. You can read more about this in our post 5 Killer Examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce.

If your company already benefits from Product Schedules then there’s a slight issue… Product Schedules aren’t available in Lightning.

Classic Opportunity Product with Schedules rather than Lightning.

Opportunity Product in Classic with Product Schedules

Lightning Opportunity Product after the switch to Lightning.

Opportunity Product in Lightning

What this means is if a Product with Schedules is added to an Opportunity, the default Product Schedules will not be created. The impact of this is that these Products and their revenue will not be included in any revenue reports that are driven off Product Schedules.

This is a deal breaker for companies that rely on Product Schedules for revenue forecasting.

The only other alternative, again, is for users to switch back to Classic, add Products that contain Schedules to the Opportunity and then revert back to Lightning.

These additional actions aren’t exactly conducive to a productive sales team.

4. Navigation Menu after Switching to Lightning

Say hello to the new icon-based Navigation Menu.

Get friendly with it, as it’s the only menu you will see.

If you’re a SME business, or have staff that use salesforce for more than one business area (sales /marketing /service), then this will impact you.

The navigation menu, presumably, is designed to speed up navigation.

Gone are the days where you select the Marketing App and the all objects related to Marketing appear on screen and only one click away (think Campaigns, email applications etc).

Apps (or Tabsets) are now accessed from the App Launcher or using the Search bar. When you land on an App all the objects included in that App are listed (see below).

Marketing application after the switch to Lightning.

The issue is that when you navigate away from this page the links to the other objects are no longer visible. Users must either search or navigate back to the App Launcher again.

The implication of this is that the number of steps has increased for users to access what they need.  This only slows you down and quickly becomes a source of frustration.

The alternative is to include all objects in the Navigation Menu. The downside of this is that the menu quickly becomes cluttered and not very user-friendly.

5. ‘Lightning Ready’ AppExchange Packages

If your business has installed packages from the salesforce AppExchange then you’ll want your System Administrator to ensure that all of these are compatible with Lightning.

When you think of packages, think Dupecatcher, Conga, EventBrite and MailChimp etc.

Most of the widely used packages are already certified as ‘Lightning Ready’.

If you happen to use some more niche applications specific to your business, then make sure they’re endorsed with the ‘Lightning Ready’ certification on the AppExchange (see below).

Lots of apps on the Appexchange that integrate with salesforce are Lightning-Ready.

Helpful Resources when Switching to Lightning

There are a number of online resources available to help you determine if the ‘Lightning Experience’ is right for your salesforce environment. Of course, our team of consultants are here to assist you and talk you through any challenges that you face as you move to salesforce Lightning.

If you’d like to discuss your migration or have some further questions, please get in-touch using our Contact Us page.

In the meantime, head on over to salesforce Trailhead and access the projects listed below to find out more about the features, compatibility and roll out considerations.

1. Lightning Experience Features

This project describes the new toys and wets the appetite for what’s instore after migrating to Lightning. One consideration is that a certain amount of additional time and effort will be required if you wish to utilise several new features such as the Sales Tools.

2. Lightning Experience Basics

This project helps to understand the fundamental differences between salesforce Classic and Lightning and whether your environment and licences are compatible. The second module compares the objects and high-level features that are and aren’t available in each interface.

3. Lightning Experience Roll-out

This project provides a methodical approach to planning the migration to Lightning. It covers key project success factors such as project sponsors, process reviews, gap analysis and what next. It also provides some recommendations on how to stage the release to certain groups of users. The benefit of this is that any issues only impact a smaller set of users.

4. Quick Look: Lightning Experience

This project walks through the changes to the user interface. These changes will have the most dramatic impact for users immediately after migrating to Lightning. It could and should be incorporated into your user training programme.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

How to Prevent Duplicate Accounts in Salesforce with This Free App

How to Prevent Duplicate Accounts in Salesforce with This Free App

Ever felt you’re seeing double when you look at Leads and Accounts in salesforce?

Or treble? Or even quadruple?

Like unwelcome guests at a party, duplicate records have probably sneaked into your salesforce system.

Or they arrived in droves and marched through the front door.

Like unwelcome guests, duplicates are there because nothing was done to stop them getting through in the first place.

But here’s a secret. You can prevent duplicate records from being created. Nip them in the bud.

And best of all you can do it for free. That’s right, you can prevent duplicates at no cost.

How? By deploying a must-have application from the AppExchange. It’s called DupeCatcher.

The Duplicate Problem Explained

Duplicate Accounts, Contacts and Leads in salesforce can be a big problem.

Imagine calling a Lead only for them to tell you that they were called earlier by your colleague. Or worse still, that they’re already a customer. It’s not the best way to make them feel valued.

Thinking about targeting your second-tier Accounts this month? Good idea. It’s been a while since Acme, Acme Ltd and Acme Limited all had a call.

So let’s break the problem into two separate challenges.

First, you need to prevent duplicate accounts and leads from being created in the first place. We recommend the free DupeCatcher app to do this. This blog explains why and the steps you should take to get the best out of DupeCatcher.

The second challenge is to merge existing duplicate records. Depending on the scale of the problem there are different ways to do this. We’ll explain all in separate blog post. (Tip: you can install DupeCatcher today which at least will stop the problem from getting any worse).

Here’s how duplicate records get created in salesforce

Duplicate records find their way into salesforce from a variety of sources.

  • Imported external databases.
  • Migrated data.
  • Web-to-Lead entries.
  • Manually entered by Users.

We often find it’s the last one that causes the most duplicates.

When a new Account, Contact or Lead is created there’s no standard feature that forces the User to search for existing records. So often, people don’t search.

And ownership can be a contentious thing. Sometimes duplicates get created because someone else already owns the Account, Contact or Lead.

These include obvious sources such as purchased databases but one of the common and discreet sources is data manually entered by users of salesforce.

Prevent duplicate Accounts, Contacts and Leads being created

DupeCatcher might only do one thing. But it does it very well.

It prevents duplicate records from being created.

DupeCatcher is a free app available on the AppExchange that prevents users from creating duplicate Leads, Accounts and Contacts at the point of entry.

It’s provided by Symphonic Source. They also sell a cracking paid-for application called Cloudingo which is great for merging existing duplicate records.

DupeCatcher is easy to configure and can prevent duplicate Leads, Accounts and Contacts each time a user attempts to create or edit these records. It also identifies possible duplicates from Leads to Accounts and from Leads to Contacts.

Prevent web-to-lead duplicates

DupeCatcher can also be set up to prevent duplicates from being created via your website web-to-lead forms.

This can be crucial to prevent the same person or company being duplicated in your database at different stages of your sales cycle.

But hang on. Can’t sales and marketing people just use the Find Duplicates button on Leads?

The short answer is yes, they can. The realistic answer is that they often don’t. The smart answer is why clean your dishes when there’s a perfectly good dishwasher to do it for you? Especially if that dishwasher is free to use!

Here’s how DupeCatcher prevents duplicate accounts

DupeCatcher allows you to create a set of Filters to detect potential duplicates when manually creating or editing records.

To get you started, DupeCatcher even has several pre-built filters to cover several simple ways to detect duplicates. These include checking if any new Accounts match the Account Name of existing Accounts and if any new Leads match the email address of existing Leads.

Account filters in Dupecatcher define duplication types and actions.

Fundamentally this is how DupeCatcher works.

Each Filter checks for duplicate Accounts, Contacts or Leads (Filter Type) and performs an Action depending on whether the record is being created (Insert Action) or edited (Update Action).

Filters operate on an ‘OR’ basis, which allows us to have more than one way to detect duplicate Accounts, Contacts, or Leads.

Prevent Account duplication with filter names in Dupecatcher

Each Filter then contains a set of Rules. Rules are the next level of granularity and state what fields are being matched and how they are matched (Matching Approach).

Rules operate on an ‘AND’ basis which means that all Rules must be true before the Filter will say it’s a duplicate.

Prevent Account duplicates with Name Rules in Dupecatcher

The best part is that Filters and Rules can be customized so you control how possible duplicates are detected and say what should happen depending on whether you are creating or editing a record.

Let’s take the example of Dave Apthorp who’s eager to set up an Account for GenePoint so he can start working on his latest deal. The trouble is that Dave never checks if the Account is already in salesforce and always tries to create a new one. Not only is GenePoint already an Account, but it’s owned by his colleague Shaun Yates.

Genepoint Account duplicated.

Here’s where DupeCatcher comes to the fore.

When Dave attempts to create the Account he is receives the following message.

Error message when preventing duplicate accounts using Dupecatcher.

In this scenario DupeCatcher stops the Account from being created and provides a list (and links) of the potential duplicates identified. From here Dave can go directly to our existing GenePoint Account and confirm if he is creating a duplicate or not.

If Dave thinks he’s creating a duplicate then should stop creating the Account and go have a friendly chat with Shaun about sharing his Account.

If after checking the GenePoint Account Dave decides that he’s not creating a duplicate, then we have given him the ability to ‘Override DupeCatcher’ and create the Account by clicking New Account.

As with the Filter Actions, the Override DupeCatcher feature is optional and can be turned on or off in the ‘Dupcatcher Application Settings’.

This is power of the DupeCatcher. Choose the type of Filter. Define how duplicates are detected. Adapt the available set of subsequent actions to the scenario.

There’s also a nice set of options including whether you wish to bypass record visibility (see the example below). This provides a great level of flexibility and control throughout the entire process.

Here’s how to get started with DupeCatcher

Don’t hold off and let the issue of duplicates snowball. Every day that duplicates are allowed to enter your salesforce will only add to the data clean up job later on.

Head over to the salesforce AppExchange and install DupeCatcher today. If you’re not 100% sure if it’s right for your business, then install it into a Sandbox first and test it more rigorously.

DupeCatcher can be downloaded from here:

https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N30000003IYLlEAO

On the details page you’ll also find handy links to DupeCatcher’s Info Sheet and FAQ’s.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

7 Questions About Salesforce Opportunities That Everyone’s Asking

7 Questions About Salesforce Opportunities That Everyone’s Asking

Ever had a question about salesforce opportunities or the Sales Cloud but were afraid to ask?

Looking for best practice advice on using opportunities?

You’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 answers to the most common questions about salesforce opportunities.

And if we haven’t covered your burning question? No problem. Fill in the form at the end of this post and we’ll send you the answer.

1. Converting Leads to Opportunities

When should a Lead be converted to an Opportunity?

Salesforce doesn’t prescribe when a Lead should be converted to an Opportunity. The answer is to convert when it makes sense to do so in your business.

For example, let’s say you have a telemarketing team focused on generating opportunities for field sales. Some of our clients transfer the lead to the field sales person. It’s the latter that converts the lead to the opportunity after the initial meeting.

With others, the telemarketing person converts the lead and assigns the opportunity to the sales person.

Its horses for courses. Although in my experience one benefit of having the telesales person do it is that the opportunity is more likely to be linked to the originating campaign.

Read a full blog post on the difference between Leads and Opportunities including sample process diagrams that you can download.

2. Building your sales process into salesforce opportunities

How do I build my sales process into salesforce opportunities?

Firstly, match the opportunity stage values with your sales process. That’s probably not going to happen unless you change the default opportunity stage picklist values that come with salesforce.

Secondly, to improve reporting avoid milestone based opportunity stages. Each stage should relate to a period of time. For example, Customer Evaluating is better than Proposal Sent. Sending a proposal is one – but not the only – activity you would expect for an opportunity at this stage.

Here’s a sample set of opportunity stages that many of our B2B customers use:

Prospecting (or Qualifying)
Investigation (or Discovery)
Customer Evaluating
Negotiation
Closed Won
Closed Lost
No Purchase
Qualified Out

Bear in mind there may be more than one sales process in your business. The process associated with transactional products, consumables or service contract renewals may be shorter and require a different set of opportunity stages.

Read this blog post for more advice on setting opportunity stages that match your sales process.

3. Highlight doubtful deals in the sales pipeline

How can I use salesforce to highlight doubtful deals?

Just when you thought you were going to be above target this month, a bunch of opportunities slip to the next month. If that’s ever happened to you then you’re not alone.

Deals do slip. It happens all the time. Unfortunately that’s in direct contrast to the sales manager’s desire for a robust pipeline and confidence in this month’s sales forecast.

But here’s what you can do. Use two opportunity quality metrics to highlight deals that have an above average chance of slipping.

  • Number of Close Date changes. Specifically the number of times the opportunity has already slipped from one month to the next. Experience shows it’s these opportunities that have a higher-than-average probability of slipping again.
  • Days since last Stage Change. If the number of days since the last stage change is well above average then it often highlights a deal that is not being actively managed.

These metrics measure the quality of opportunities in the sales pipeline.

In both of these cases the sales manager should work with the opportunity owner to decide on the best course of action. Can the deal be revitalised? Shall we bite the bullet and close-out the opportunity? Can a more realistic close date be established?

Read this blog post about using opportunity metrics to manage your sales pipeline quality.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

4. Make it easier to add Products to Opportunities

Can we make it easier to add Products to Opportunities?

Adding Products to opportunities has many benefits.

It produces more accurate opportunity values. This makes your pipeline and sales forecast more accurate. It provides information on the pipeline at product level. And it opens the door to a raft of ways to streamline the end to end sales and fulfilment process.

There’s only one drawback.

If you have a lot of products then the user interface is not particularly helpful. In fact it’s quite hard to find the right products at times.

There are two ways to solve this. Option 1 is to use a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) application. Here’s a link to those applications on the AppExchange.

Option 2 is to use our Product Wizard and / or the Product Bundle Wizard.

Product selection wizard to make it easier to add products to salesforce opportunities.

Read this blog post to find out more about product selection wizards including a short video.

5. Track Opportunity Stakeholders in the buying center

What’s the best way to track Opportunity Stakeholders?

There’s nearly always more than one person involved in a B2B buying center. Gatekeepers, business users, influencers, technical evaluators, executive sponsors, budget holders and project managers. They can all be playing a role.

And they can all make or break your deal.

So how do you keep track of all them all?

Use Contact Roles to relate multiple people to an opportunity.

Many companies use modified contact role picklist values on salesforce opportunities.

These Contacts can even be from other companies – external consultants or advisors, for example.

Read this blog post for advice on using Contact Roles.

6. Calculate sales commission using salesforce

Is it possible to calculate sales commission using salesforce?

If you calculate and display commission in salesforce then you’ve got a built-in sales incentive tool.

The trouble is commission calculation is rarely straightforward. It often includes short term kickers and long term commission bandings. In other words, the commission percentage on a deal increases as total sales in the month or quarter increase.

There’s two ways to calculate and track commission in salesforce.

The custom solution works well if you don’t have an excessively complicated commission structure.

Commission tracking on salesforce opportunities.

Read this blog post to learn about the commission management solution many of our clients have implemented.

7. Measure the trend in the size of the sales pipeline

How do I measure the trend in the size of the sales pipeline?

Any sales manager needs to know whether the total sales pipeline is getting bigger or smaller.

Salesforce has two standard reports to help you measure the trend in pipeline size.

The first is the As-At report. It measures the pipeline on the first day of each month. It’s an excellent report to show the long term trend in pipeline size.

Measure the long term pipeline trend in salesforce opportunities.

The second is more short term focussed. It’s the Historical Trending report.

Dashboard chart showing short term trend in salesforce opportunities.

The report can be built to show the size of the pipeline over the last 4 weeks or other timescales. It’s a good report if you want to understand the impact of recent marketing and business development effort.

Read this blog post two pipeline trend reports.

Any other questions?

Do you have a question about salesforce opportunities? Fill in our contact us page and we’ll send you the answer!

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

10 Tips to Prepare Salesforce Import Data

10 Tips to Prepare Salesforce Import Data

“Where on earth do I start?”

That’s a common reaction when contemplating how to import data to Salesforce or improve existing data quality.

And it’s true. There’s a lot to do. Much hard work can be necessary when it comes to importing data. Combined with a certain level of attention to detail.

But relax. Whether you’re importing data for the first time or improving your existing salesforce data, use our tips and best practice guide to make the process a lot easier and achieve a better data quality outcome.

After all, high quality data is a proven driver of salesforce user adoption and accurate report and dashboards. And that means all salesforce users have better insight into sales performance and the sales pipeline.

And remember, if you’re importing new data to salesforce then download our Account and Contact template to get off to a winning start.

1. Spreadsheet for importing data

You can’t just import data from any old spreadsheet into Salesforce. The spreadsheet itself has to be properly formatted and structured. Downloading our Account & Contact template is a good way to start.

Collate your data from the various sources. Existing CRM systems, accounting packages, users’ own spreadsheets, business cards stored in desk drawers are all common sources of existing data. Pull it all together and start populating your spreadsheet.

If you’re improving existing salesforce data here’s what you need to do.  Create a tabular report containing the Account and Contact data you want to improve. Don’t forget to include the Account ID and Contact ID – you’re going to need these when you import your changes. Export your report to CSV format and then follow the tips below to improve your data. When you’re finished, use the Data Import Wizard to update your existing data.

2. Account Name

Sort the spreadsheet by Account Name. Scroll down the list, correcting any obvious spelling mistakes. Check for inconsistencies. If you have three Contacts you’re going to have three rows in your spreadsheet. So make the Account Names consistent within each row.

3. Street Address

Many organisations will have several components to their Street Address (we’re talking about all parts of the address before the City).

It’s essential that the Street Address for each Account is contained in a single cell. Likewise for the Street Address for Contacts. In our case, for example, “3rd Floor, 9 Devonshire Square” goes into one cell, with the two components separated by a comma.

Whilst you’re at it, strip out all the zip codes, city data, phone numbers or anything else lurking in the Street column. Cut and paste that data into the relevant column in the spreadsheet.

4. City, State and Country

Sort the spreadsheet by each column in turn. Scroll down the spreadsheet, making sure the data is consistent within each column. The City column should contain only town and city data for example. State, zip codes (and any other data for that matter) belong in their respective columns.

While you’re at it, correct any obvious spelling mistakes. And make abbreviations and values consistent. CA or California across all data values, for example. UK or United Kingdom. Not a mix of both.

5. Phone numbers

First things first – don’t lose your leading zeros. In your spreadsheet, format all columns containing numbers (US readers, that includes the zip code column) to TEXT. You don’t want 0203 280 3665 beginning with 203 in Salesforce.

Then look for cells with more than one number. The company Switchboard number belongs in the Account Phone column and a direct dial number in the Contact Phone.

Look for any obvious inconsistencies. All UK mobile phone numbers, for example, begin with 07. Cut them out of the Account Phone column and paste them into the Mobile column for the Contact.

6. Email Addresses

The scourge of data import!

More problems arise from incorrectly formatted email addresses than everything else put together.

Here are the most common errors:

– Punctuation marks at the beginning or end of the email address.
– Missing @.
– No period mark.
– A character space within the email address.

Here’s how to test for these problems.

  • From the Data menu within your spreadsheet, select Filter. This will add the Filter dropdown function to each column.
  • Click the filter down arrow in the column containing the email addresses.
  • Hover over the Text Filters menu option.
  • Select ‘Begins With’.
  • In the top dialogue box, type the comma mark and then click OK.

This will return all the emails that start with a comma. Go ahead and fix the problem.

Then do the same for the various other potential issues using the same process. Check for character spaces within the email addresses by placing your cursor in the ‘Select’ dialogue box and then pressing the space bar once.

7. Contact Names

Here again you have a choice in how you format your spreadsheet. Place the First Name and Last Name in the same column. Or split them into separate columns. Unfortunately you can’t mix and match.

Remember that whichever approach you choose, each Contact needs to be on a separate row. So if you have five Contacts at the same Account, you’ll have five rows.

Make sure the Account Name and Address are the same in each row. That way, when you import the data, Salesforce will de-duplicate the Accounts so that you’re left with one Account and five attached Contacts.

Check for any obvious errors by sorting the spreadsheet by Name (or First Name and then Last Name if you’re using two columns for Contact name). Make sure names are properly capitalised, that way when you send a mass email you’ll be addressing Gary and not gary. If you’re confident in fixing any spelling mistakes then go ahead and do so, remembering names can be legitimately spelled in different ways (Gary and Garry, for example).

8. Type and Industry Fields

Now is also a good time to set the correct values for the Type and Industry fields. The chances are that if you don’t do it now, then it’s probably not going to happen in the future.

You may need to change the standard salesforce picklist values for these fields. The typical values you’re going to need for Type include Customer, Prospect, Supplier and so on.

There is also a wide ranging set of standard values in the Industry field. Customise these to the specific needs of your business. If you operate in a particular market niche then you may want to change the values to be appropriate to that niche. Be careful not to overlap with the Type field. The two sets of picklist values should be mutually exclusive.

Then sort the spreadsheet by Account Name. Populate (or get someone who knows the data to populate) the Type and Industry values for each record. Laborious, but if it doesn’t happen now then the chances are it’s not going to happen any time soon after you’ve imported the data to Salesforce.

9. Record Owner

This refers to the User that will own the Account & Contact records when you import them to Salesforce. Every record needs to have an Owner, albeit the Account Owner and Contact Owner don’t necessarily need to be the same person.

If you don’t specify the Owner then the person that performs the data import will be set as the Owner. Which may be fine. You can always re-assign the records later using the Mass Transfer function in Salesforce. However, if you’re getting ready for go-live, then ensuring the data is assigned to the correct Owners will often avoid lots of unproductive argument and discussion during the training!

10. Field Length

Nothing is more frustrating than spending lots of time preparing your data then doing the import, only to find some data didn’t load because the field length was too long.

Every field in Salesforce has a maximum length. This is invariably large enough for any well formatted set of data. The problems that occur typically arise due to problems that weren’t picked up in preparing the data, for example, two email addresses in the same spreadsheet cell.

To check for this use the LEN function in a blank column in your spreadsheet. The maximum character length of some of the most important fields is:

– Account Name: 255
– Street: 255
– Phone: 40
– Email: 80
– Last Name: 80

Remember spaces count as characters when you test your data.

Now it’s time to import your data! If you’ve just finished doing the data preparation then have a coffee break before you move onto the import process. You don’t want to mess it up now after all that hard work!

And finally, if you have any difficulty get in touch and we’ll give you some guidance by email or over the phone.

Additional data import resources:

Detailed instructions for using the data import template

  1. Enter Account (i.e. company or organisation) data in columns A to M.
  2. Enter Contact (i.e. person) data in columns N to AB.
  3. If you have custom fields in salesforce and need to import that data, simply create additional columns in the spreadsheet. Use the custom field name as the column header name. It doesn’t matter where you insert the new columns, just locate them in either the Account or Contact sections of the spreadsheet.
  4. If you use multi currency, enter the relevant Currency value in Column B for the Account. Copy this across into Column R for the contacts.
  5. If your salesforce environment uses record types for Accounts (or Contacts) then create a new column. Remember that if you’re using the Data Loader to import the data, you need to enter the record type id not the name.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

8 Best Practice Tips to Increase Salesforce User Adoption

8 Best Practice Tips to Increase Salesforce User Adoption

52% of high-performing sales people are power users who take full advantage of their company’s CRM technology compared to only 31% of under-performing sales people.

That’s according to “What Separates the Strongest Sales People from the Weakest” published in the Harvard Business Review by Steve Martin of the University of Southern California School of Business.

Martin’s research focussed on identifying what separates high-performing sales people who exceed their quota from under-performers who miss their targets by more than 25%. The ability take full advantage of the company’s CRM system was key differentiator between the two groups.

In our experience, there are several reasons for this. Sales people that use a CRM system fully are able to:

  • Understand whether they have sufficient pipeline to meet their sales targets.
  • Quickly identify critical deals that contribute most to target attainment.
  • More effectively track actions related to opportunity closure.
  • Collaborate more efficiently with peers and colleagues on deals.

Not every sales person needs to be a power user. But here’s the rub.  Many companies struggle to achieve even acceptable levels of CRM user adoption. And that means reduced benefits and lower sales.

So here are 8 best practice tips to increase CRM user adoption. They’re based on our experience of working with hundreds of companies to increase and expand adoption of the salesforce.com CRM application. (more…)

5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

Last month we gave you 5 Compelling Ways to increase your salesforce.com benefits.

As promised, here’s another five ways our customers have increased the benefits they deliver from salesforce.com. See which ones apply to you.

1. Improve sales funnel management

Nearly every sales funnel contains padding. Deals that rumble along month after month. Opportunities that with the best will in the world, are unlikely to ever close successfully.

It’s these Opportunities that are artificially inflating your sales funnel and giving everyone a false sense of future revenue.

So improve sales funnel management in your company by identifying these lame duck deals and weeding them out. Here’s three metrics that help you do just that:

– Number of Close Date changes.
– Number of days since the last update in the Opportunity Stage.
– Number of days the Opportunity has been open.

These are key metrics that measure the quality of opportunities in the sales funnel. Tracking these metrics will improve the effectiveness of your sales funnel management.

These metrics increase salesforce.com benefits by measuring the quality of opportunities in the sales pipeline.

Let’s say your typical sales cycle is 90 days. The Opportunity in the screenshot above has been open for 143 days. The Close Date has moved 12 times. And the Opportunity Stage was last updated 60 days ago. Can you rely on this deal to successfully close? Probably not.

Combine these metrics with sales target solutions to determine whether you’ve sufficient opportunities in your sales funnel to meet your revenue goals.

Remove The Poor Quality Sales Deals That Inflate Your Sales Funnel explains how to increase your salesforce.com benefits by creating these metrics.

2. Use Product Schedules to track future revenue

Many businesses do not receive the total value of an Opportunity in a single invoice.

The traditional sales funnel view gives good insight into the total value of potential deals. But it does little to inform management on how the income or cash will be received. Here are five examples of situations where Product Schedules can bridge that gap:

  • Recurring revenue models, such as maintenance or support contracts.
  • Manufacturing businesses, in which the goods are shipped and invoiced over several months.
  • Framework agreements, in which a customer draws-down orders against an overall contract.
  • Project-based sales, in which revenue is invoiced based on work completed.
  • Transactional sales, in which customers make multiple repeat orders over the course of the year.

In other words, Product Schedules are highly useful when the Opportunity Amount is invoiced and received through a number of instalments. They enable revenue recognition to be managed in salesforce. And they significantly increase sales funnel visibility by projecting how the gross sales value on potential deals will be invoiced over time.

Creating custom Product Schedules enables even more advanced functionality. Here’s an example of an s-curve revenue schedule in salesforce.com used by a customer in the construction industry.

S-curve in salesforce used in the construction industry.

Reports and dashboards show the accumulated Product Schedules across all Opportunities to generate a revenue profile for the months and years ahead.

Use Product Schedules For Revenue Recognition And Funnel Visibility explains how the standard salesforce Product Schedule feature works. It also demonstrates how custom Product Schedule solutions can easily be created to significantly extend your salesforce.com benefits and forecast recurring revenue. If you want to know more in general about using Products in salesforce then Learn The Basics; and even try The Ultimate Guide to Product Price Books.

3. Load Invoices or Orders into salesforce

Many businesses rely upon regular repeat orders from existing customers. For these companies, an Opportunity represents the process of acquiring a new customer that will subsequently make many repeat purchases. These repeat orders will often be processed through an ERP or Finance system rather than directly through salesforce.

Importing the actual Order or Invoice data into salesforce on a regular basis provides powerful insight that drives business development and account management. It reveals customers whose orders are increasing or decreasing. And allows managers to track the relationship between business development activity and invoiced revenue.

Orders imported against the Account record and inline charts used to display the trend in Order value and increase salesforce.com benefits.

The screenshot shows Orders imported against the Account record and in-line charts used to display the trend in Order value. In this particular customer, the Orders are also automatically linked to a Target record to track performance against target in salesforce.

Getting the data into salesforce doesn’t necessarily require full blown integration. Quite the contrary. We have many customers that load Invoices or Orders into salesforce using the Data Loader on a weekly or monthly basis.

4. Use web to lead to capture new sales enquiries

It’s amazing how many companies don’t implement web to lead.

Most business people will acknowledge that the quicker you get in touch with a new Lead, then the greater the chance of a sale. This is particularly the case when the prospect contacts several companies. Being the first to respond dramatically increases your probability of success.

Yet very often companies using salesforce.com fail to implement web to lead. This is a shame, because it gives an easy way to capture new leads from your web site and immediately direct them to a person that can respond quickly.

Here’s what you can do with web to lead:

  • Automatically insert new Leads into salesforce from a Contact Us page on your web site.
  • Immediately send an acknowledgement email to let the prospect know you’ve got his enquiry.
  • Automatically send prospects content (white papers, case studies, product specifications) that they request from a form on your web site.
  • Automatically assign the Lead to the person or team that can respond quickly.
  • Use multiple web to lead forms on a single web site, each tailored to a particular product area or geographic region.

And of course reports and dashboards provide management information on how well each Lead Source is performing and how quickly sales teams are responding.

The web to lead wizard makes it easy to integrate salesforce with your web site.

The web to lead wizard in salesforce makes it easy to integrate salesforce with your web site.

There’s plenty of advice available on using web to lead to increase your salesforce.com benefits.

5. Use Quotes with Opportunities and Products

So you’re already using Opportunities and Products. And now maybe you’re considering Product Schedules. Why would you want to muddy the water with Quotes?

Let’s say a customer asks you for two different versions of the same proposal. You want to keep both because you don’t know which one he’s going to choose.

Of course the value of the Opportunity is NOT the sum of the two Quotes added together. The Quotes are mutually exclusive. The customer is going to accept one or the other. So how do you calculate the value of the Opportunity?

The answer to this is Quotes. You can create multiple Quotes on an Opportunity. Each Quote can have its own combination of Products. You decide on the ‘most likely’ Quote. It’s this Quote that is synchronised to the Opportunity and is populated into the Opportunity Amount.

If the customer changes his mind and chooses one of the other Quotes, no problem. Just synchronise that Quote to the Opportunity.

Single Opportunity with multiple Quotes

The screenshot shows a single Opportunity in salesforce with multiple Quotes. Quote 1 is synchronised to the Opportunity. It’s the value of this Quote that is counted for funnel purposes.

Using Quotes means you can increase your salesforce.com benefits by:

  • Getting an accurate view of the number of Quotes you’ve sent.
  • Differentiating between Quotes and Opportunities.
  • Retaining each Quote on the Opportunity so you’ve got a record of what’s been sent to the customer.
  • Integrating Quotes with third party applications such as Conga ComposerEchosign or DocuSign to automate the physical production, delivery and acceptance of the Quote.
  • Integrating Quotes with Approvals to streamline Pricing Approvals and Quality Assurance processes.

Learn more about How And When to Use Salesforce Quotes on it’s dedicated blog post.

Increase your salesforce.com benefits

It’s always possible to drive more benefits from your salesforce licenses. We’ve given you ten examples of how that can be achieved in these two blog posts. And of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss implementing these ideas into salesforce.com in your own business.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

Every business creates its revenue by selling Products or Services – or a combination of both. But despite the fact that the salesforce Products tab handles each of these equally well, not every salesforce customer has ventured into Products.

Which is a shame. Products bring life to your Opportunities. The result of not using Products is reduced visibility of the sales pipeline and lack of forecasting accuracy. Not to mention the inability to streamline sales processes from quote to order fulfilment.

This is the first of several related blog posts that explain how to make the most of Products. We’ve covered the basics here. The second explains how to use Schedules as a revenue recognition game changer. The third, shows how to make it easy for users to add products to opportunities using a product selection wizard. And finally, see how Price Books helps sales people add the right products to the right opportunities at the right price. Also, take a look at how a combination of Products and Schedule can help you manage 4 types of framework agreement in salesforce and track revenue over time.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Salesforce Products explained

It’s literally anything that generates revenue. That might be a tangible item that’s delivered or installed to a customer. But it can also include anything else that appears on an invoice. Training, implementation services or delivery charges are all examples of Products that can be added to an Opportunity or Quote. As are one-off set up charges or service and support contracts.

Here’s a simple example from a company that sells consulting services in the engineering sector. They’ve changed the name of Products to Resources but other than that it’s 100% standard Products functionality.

Products added to an Opportunity as Resources

We can see in this example that the company is selling 5 days of Engineer time and 3 days of Designer time. The total price from the Opportunity Products rolls up to the Amount field on the Opportunity. The company uses this information to generate proposals and to plan their resource schedule.

Product Families explained

Think of a Product Family as a Category. It’s simply a way of grouping of Products. That’s useful because it means that Users can search for Products by filtering on the Product Family. And creating dashboard charts and reports based on Product Family rather than the detailed underlying Products means you can see the wood for the trees.

Here’s a screenshot of a dashboard chart and report based on Products:

Report and Chart with Products grouped by Product Name

And here’s the same chart and report grouped by Product Family.

Dashboard and Report grouped Product Family

If users need to see the more detailed information then they can drill down to the underlying Product-based report.

Salesforce Price Books explained

Price Books list the Prices that apply to Products in certain sales situations. For example, you might have a ‘Strategic Customer’ Price Book that lists all the Products with the 10 percent discount that applies to your most important customers. Or a Distributor Price Book that uses a different set of Prices when the customer is one of your distributors or re-sellers.

Not every Product needs to appear in each Price Book. If a certain Product can’t be sold in continental Europe then create UK and European Price Books that each contain only the relevant Products.

For more detail here’s our Ultimate Guide to Product Price Books.

Make it easy for sales people to add Products to Opportunities

The standard way to add a Product to an Opportunity is to click the Add Product button on the Opportunity page layout. Then check the box against the relevant Product, click Select at the top of the page, enter the Quantity and Sales Price. One training tip – point out to the sales team that the process is to check the box next to the Product and then click Select; a common mistake is to click on the name of the Product itself, rather than the check box.

One way to speed up the process is to activate the feature, “Prompt users to add products to opportunities”.

You’ll find this feature under Setup, Customize, Opportunities, Settings. The result is that when a sales person first creates and saves a new Opportunity, they’re automatically taken to the Product selection page, without having to click Add Product.

We’ve also created a number of more advanced product selection wizards that help sales people to quickly add many Products to an Opportunity.

Salesforce Quotes explained

Salesforce uses Quotes – and something called Quote Line Items – to represent the specific set of Products that are included on a quote or proposal to a customer.

Two things to remember about Quotes:

– The Products associated with the Quote are represented in Quote Line Items. You create these by adding Products to the Quote in exactly the same way as with Opportunities.

– One Opportunity can have multiple Quotes. For example the customer requests three different Quotes, each with a slightly different combination of Products.

Of course the value of this Opportunity in the sales pipeline is not the value of the three Quotes added together. Use the Sync button on the Quote to synchronise the ‘most likely’ Quote with the Opportunity. This has the effect of replicating the Products on the Quote (that is, the Quote Line Items) with Products on the Opportunity.

Opportunity with three Quotes, one synchronised to the Amount field

Here we can see that the Quote with Silver Support is viewed as the most likely to succeed. It’s been synchronised with the Opportunity and the value of the Quote becomes the value of the Opportunity Amount. And because only one Quote can be synchronised with each Opportunity, we’ve avoided double-counting the other Quotes.

Using Products and Quotes in salesforce dashboards

Products, Quotes and Line Items are all fully available for reports and salesforce dashboards. Remember, as a general rule, use Opportunities and Products rather than Quotes for your pipeline reports. Otherwise you risk double-counting the value of the pipeline if there’s more than one Quote on some Opportunities.

Related Blog Posts

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

3 Myths about Collaborative Technologies That Sales Managers Believe

3 Myths about Collaborative Technologies That Sales Managers Believe

Executives often give three reasons why their business shouldn’t use collaboration technologies such as salesforce Chatter. 1) People will post inappropriate content. 2) I’m swamped with email now I’ll be swamped with Chatter posts. And 3) It only works if everyone uses it and not everyone will use it.

Here’s why those reasons aren’t true.

Reason 1. People will post inappropriate content

Employees don’t generally send out a company-wide email telling everyone what they did on Saturday night. Likewise they don’t make Chatter posts on the same subject either. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’ve never heard of it.

That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t have rules on what is acceptable on Chatter. In my own business we use Chatter extensively for business purposes. However several members of the team recently had babies and they’ve posted a picture on Chatter. Other people have commented on how cute they look.

In our organisation that’s an acceptable use of Chatter. If the pictures hadn’t been on Chatter they’d have been circulated by email. It’s part of the fabric that binds us together as a company. Especially as people are often out working on customer sites for periods at a time.

But in some of our clients the policy on Chatter is to keep it strictly business. That’s also fine. Just let people know where they stand.

Reason 2. I’m swamped with email now I’ll be swamped with Chatter posts

My own experience is that internal email significantly reduces when organisations adopt Chatter. Communications that would have taken place on email now happen on Chatter. But because Chatter is a much more collaborative mechanism than email there’s an improvement in the quality of communication. People tend to be more concise. They get straight to the point. And you avoid the mess that results when some people hit ‘Reply All’ and others just ‘Reply’.

However it’s also a question of filtering. Follow the people, records, groups and files that matter to you. If other people want to bring you into the conversation they can @ you. So rather than being swamped I’ve found that executives have more time to focus on the important priorities.

Reason 3. It will only work if everyone uses it and everyone won’t use it

It’s true that to get the best from Chatter everyone needs to be committed to using it. And to achieve that there are a number of steps you can take to achieve full Chatter adoption. We describe these more fully in a seperate blog, ‘10 tips for successful Chatter roll out‘.

In summary, to achieve full Chatter adoption:

  • Get executives involved from the start.
  • Persuade users to add a picture to their profile.
  • Plant some seeds by pre-populating with some Chatter posts.
  • Get managers to ask questions using Chatter – on the relevant record in salesforce.
  • Set up feed tracking to alert people about important changes to records they follow.

Of course not everyone in your organisation is necessarily a full salesforce.com user. So provide free Chatter-only licenses for other employees. It’s a powerful way of bringing everyone into the conversation.

If you found this blog post interesting then you might also want to review:

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend