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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

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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

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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.

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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 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

4 Ways To Manage Volume Based Pricing 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

If You Only Build One Salesforce Pipeline Chart In 2017 – Make It This One!

3 Common Problems With The Opportunity Sales Stage And How To Fix Them

5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

Most businesses should be making use of Leads in salesforce.

Unless you’re in a known and finite market then there will always be new Leads to be qualified.

(Actually even if you’re in a finite market in which every player is known you should probably still be using salesforce Leads).

But here’s the thing.

The lead process in salesforce is often badly implemented.

And that means reduced benefits and usually a lot of unnecessary frustration.

In our experience the mistakes made by one company are often repeated by another. So here are the 5 most common mistakes made in implementing Salesforce Leads.

Oh, and by the way. If one of these mistakes has been made in your business then don’t worry. We also explain the action that will fix it.

So here you go. 5 common mistakes made with salesforce Leads and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1. Not using Web to Lead

Your web site is an ideal place to solicit new inquiries from prospective customers.

In our experience if someone has taken the trouble to get in touch with you then they tend to be a pretty warm Lead.

So it’s a shame that companies often do one of two things. They invite prospects to send an email to an address published on the Contact Us page. Or secondly, they publish a form that doesn’t pass the information directly into salesforce.

This is a mistake because it adversely impacts your businesses’ ability to respond quickly and effectively to the inquiry. It means you cannot:

  • Automatically route the Lead to the person best equipped to deal with the customer’s request.
  • Automatically send the prospect an acknowledgement that you have received their request.
  • Gather information about the request in a structured way (we can’t guarantee that the person includes a phone number in their email, for example).
  • Measure how quickly your team respond to new Leads.
  • Automatically link the Lead to a Campaign. This means you lose valuable information about marketing effectiveness.

It also means someone will need to re-type the inquiry in salesforce and that’s a waste of time.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Replace the email address or third party form with a salesforce Web-to-Lead form.

This will automatically create a Lead in salesforce when someone completes the form. It means you can avoid or correct all of the shortcomings listed above.

Here’s more information on how to implement salesforce Web-to-Lead forms.

Mistake #2. Not using Lead Assignment Rules in salesforce

All evidence demonstrates that the quicker you respond to a sales inquiry the greater the chances of winning the deal.

If you rely on team leaders, sales support or managers to assign Leads then you may be delaying the response to the inquiry. And that can mean lost sales.

The quickest way to get a Lead in salesforce into the hands of a person that can contact the prospect is to use Lead Assignment Rules. So it’s a mistake not to use them.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Lead Assignment Rules can be based on any standard or custom field on the Lead. They’re easy and straightforward to set up. Here’s where you can find more information on setting up Lead Assignment Rules (LINK).

Or get in touch if you’d like to know more about the custom solutions that we have implemented for customers. These include the ability to automatically assign Leads based on holidays and team availability.

Mistake #3. Not linking Leads to Campaigns

In many cases Leads are created but no-one knows where they came from. For example, the Leads are not linked to the marketing campaign that generated the Lead or influenced the qualification process.

This means that information on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is lost. It’s impossible to tell which marketing activities work and which don’t.

But it goes deeper than that.

If the Lead is converted and an Opportunity is created then there’s no information on the contribution of the marketing campaign. In other words, the return on investment on marketing campaigns cannot be calculated.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Link the Lead to the marketing Campaign that generated the Lead.

If the Lead came from an advert, trade show or email program then link the Lead to the relevant Campaign. Be sure to modify the Campaign Member Status values to reflect the various types of Campaign. Here’s a blog post that explains how and why to use Campaign Members.

Sometimes there’s no obvious marketing campaign. For example, if the Lead is generated by a Web-to-Lead form on your web site. Our recommendation is to create an ongoing Campaign called Web Inquiries and link these Leads to that Campaign.

That way you’ll get consistent management information on all Leads and understand the contribution played by different marketing campaigns.

One more thing whilst were on this topic.

Let’s clear up the ambiguity between Campaigns and the Lead Source field.

The Lead Source is a picklist that is populated when the Lead is first created. For example, a picklist value on the Lead Source might be Exhibitions. But the Campaign tells you which specific exhibition generated the Lead. So use both in conjunction with each other to get the most informative management information.

Mistake #4. Opportunities are not created when the Lead is Converted

Here’s what happened in several companies that asked for our help in improving the lead management process.

The telemarketing team contacted the Lead and arranged an appointment for a field sales person. The Lead was assigned to the sales person. The sales person converted the Lead to an Account and Contact but without creating an Opportunity.

The meeting created by the telemarketing team was fulfilled by the sales person. If the meeting was successful then the sales person created an Opportunity.

But this approach is a mistake. Here’s why.

The relationship between the Opportunity and originating Campaign and the Lead Source was broken. This is because the Opportunity was not created at the point of Conversion. This means that it is now impossible to determine the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns or lead sources.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Convert the Lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity when the meeting is arranged. This means the link between the Campaign and Lead Source is retained and passed through to the Opportunity.

It also means that the meeting is recorded against both the Contact and the Opportunity.

As a result, reports and dashboard charts now demonstrate the efficacy of Campaigns and various lead sources in producing revenue.

Both of our customers set the new Opportunity to “Stage 0 – Marketing Qualified”.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the sales person to “Qualify-out” the Opportunity immediately after the initial meeting. The sales person selects from a ‘Reason Lost’ picklist and enters additional information into a text box or the Chatter Feed on the Opportunity. This means there’s a process of continuous improvement fueled by feedback on the success or failure of each early-stage Opportunity.

Study this blog post to understand about Lead Conversion and to download lead management process diagrams.

Mistake #5. Treat every new salesforce Lead as if it’s sales-ready

Often businesses don’t differentiate between sales-ready Leads and nurture-ready Leads. They treat everyone as sales-ready.

If someone fills in a form on your web site asking you to get in touch then it’s safe to say they’re sales-ready. They’re willing and able to speak to a sales person.

But that doesn’t apply to everyone that fills in a form. And it definitely doesn’t always apply to Leads from other sources.

Think about your own buying process. You might download an e-book, whitepaper, case study, product specification or other useful content. But it doesn’t mean you immediately want to hear from a sales person.

Yet often companies pass these Leads straight to Sales to call. And that’s a mistake.

Here’s another example.

At considerable expense one of our customers attended a trade show and gathered 160 new Leads. “It will be like shooting fish in a barrel”, said the VP of marketing as he handed the Leads over to Sales.

The Sales team phoned all the Leads. Want to guess how many new Opportunities were created?

None.

12 months later we phoned 10 of the Leads as part of our research project for the customer. Here’s what we found.

  • 2 companies had purchased from a competitor.
  • 2 companies were actively engaged in a purchasing process but neither had involved our client.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process but expected to do so in the next 6 months.
  • 4 had taken no action following the trade show and didn’t expect to make a purchase any time soon.
  • 1 was only interested in winning the iPad giveaway competition.

In other words half of the Leads were legitimate potential customers. In fact two had already bought from a competitor.

At the time Sales contacted the Leads the prospects were not sales-ready. They were nurture-ready. The fact that our client failed to communicate or nurture these Leads on a regular basis after the trade show was a mistake. And that mistake meant missed opportunities, and in all probability, lost sales.

Read the full story here.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Those Leads that are sales-ready need to be contacted quickly. But not all Leads fall into this category. In fact the majority probably don’t.

To deal with the nurture-ready Leads implement a regular program of targeted marketing communications to move Leads along the path to being sales-ready.

The most effective way to do this is by using a marketing automation platform such as Marketo, Hubspot or Pardot. These applications enable sophisticated targeting to support lead nurturing. They also provide lead tracking and scoring to indicate when a Lead appears to be sales-ready.

If you don’t have access to and advanced marketing automation tool then use a mass email tools such as Dotmailer or MailChimp. The capabilities are less advanced but they can still be integrated with salesforce to track how well specific Leads are responding to marketing communications.

Of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like our help with Leads in salesforce in your business. We won’t necessarily regard you as sales-ready but we promise to contact you quickly. 🙂

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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10 Tips to Help You Roll out Salesforce Chatter

10 Tips to Help You Roll out Salesforce Chatter

salesforce.com Chatter is a great tool for collaborating with colleagues and making working life more efficient, effective and enjoyable. But there’s more to successful Chatter roll out than simply switching it on.

Here’s our 10 tips for successful Chatter roll-out based on our experience of working with salesforce.com customers around the world.

1. Get Executives involved from the start

It’s tempting to let Chatter use be driven from the ground-up. But really driving the benefits means that senior managers have to provide visible approval – and participation – in Chatter.

chatter executive2. Add profile pictures

Chatter is a far more personal communication than email. We all like to see the person we’re talking to so get people to add a pic!

Chatter User

3. Plant some seeds

Ever felt like you’ve been missing out on something good? Don’t present users with a blank canvas when they first login. Seed Chatter with some good quality posts. Include some from the management team!

Chatter feed

4. Set the ground rules

In some teams it’s acceptable to post about subjects that are not strictly work related. A new baby for example. They take the view that the pictures would be circulated by email anyway.

In other organisations Chatter is the preserve of work subjects only. Both policies are fine. Just let people know where they stand.

Chatter guidelines

5. Give training

Creating a Chatter post is simple. But what about bookmarks, hashtags, messenger, @symbolls, favourites, files and polls? If you really want your users to adopt Chatter give some simple training on how best to use it. And follow up regularly with additional tips. On Chatter!

Chatter launch plan

6. Ask questions about deals. On the record!

So much communication about the sales pipeline, important customer issues, customer service cases or projects relies on email. Make sure managers know how to get an update on a large deal by creating a Chatter post directly in the feed on the record. Nothing is more likely to drive adoption amongst the sales team.

chatter record

7. Enable Chatter feed tracking

This means anyone following a specific record will get an automated Chatter post when an important field changes. So make sure you enable this feature! And think carefully about the fields that should be tracked (sometimes less is more!).

Chatter feed tracking

8. Monitor Chatter adoption

At the moment it’s not possible to create reports that show the number of posts by users. However encourage managers and team leaders to use Chatter statistics on posts, comments and likes during appraisals and reviews.

gary smith

9. Communicate the benefits

Don’t keep it a secret! In particular get executives and managers to highlight examples of how Chatter has helped them resolve issues, close deals or driven projects forward.

chatter benefits

10. Use Chatter swarm

This free app lets you create business rules on Leads, Opportunities and Cases. Specified users automatically follow records based on rules that you specify. For example, if an Opportunity is over £100K and the Opportunity Stage advances to Proposal Made then the VP of Sales is automatically added as a Chatter follower. Or a customer service case is changed to type ‘Complaint’ then the Head of Customer Service and the Account Manager are automatically added as Chatter followers. Useful, free and easy to install. Click here to see the app.

Chatter Swarm

So there’s 10 tips for successful salesforce.com Chatter roll out. Don’t forget to let us know if you’ve got some more!

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