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9 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products In Salesforce

9 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products In Salesforce

Every opportunity has a value.

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

Yet here’s the thing.

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

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

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

So what is the right way?

The right way is to use opportunity products.

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

Product Benefit #1 – Improved usability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That means improved usability and increased salesforce adoption.

How to extend this Product Benefit

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

Recommended blog post

Bring Your Opportunities To Life With Products

Product Benefit #2 – Improve Opportunity Accuracy

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

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

Far better to use Products to calculate the opportunity amount.

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

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

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

The result is much improved accuracy in opportunity values.

Product Benefit #3 – Improve Pipeline Visibility

Using opportunity products improves the accuracy of individual deal values.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report in salesforce showing pipeline by product family.

This means reliable forecasts can be created by individual products.

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

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

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

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Product Benefit #4 – Identify Development Needs

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

Average deal size dashboard chart created using opportunity products.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended blog post

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Product Benefit #5 – Price More Selectively

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how these prices get applied.

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

Product price book associated with an opportunity in salesforce.

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

You can even go a step further.

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

Automated price book selection

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

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

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

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

Recommended blog post

The Ultimate Guide To Product Price Books In Salesforce

Product benefit #6 – Track Revenue Over Time

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

Quite the reverse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to extend this Opportunity Product Benefit

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

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

The solution to this is the GSP Schedule Shifter.

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

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

Recommended blog posts

Use Product Schedules To Improve Revenue Recognition

5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce

Product Benefit #7 – Increase Price Discount Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended blog post

10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes

Product Benefit #8 – Close Deals More Quickly

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended blog post

Product Benefit #9 – Sell Bundles Of Products

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

Our customers use product bundles in two key ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended blog post

GSP Product Bundle Wizard overview.

Recorded Webinar | 10 Ways To Win Big Using Opportunity Products

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

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

The Essential Guide to Salesforce Product Price Books

5 killer examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce

Demo | Product Selection Wizard And Product Bundles In Salesforce

Watch Gary demonstrate how to make it easy to add Products and Product Bundles to opportunities in salesforce.

For a no-obligation personalized discussion about how to make it easy to add Products to Opportunities in your business, simply fill in the form below.

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 ILX Boosts Salesforce Effectiveness With Opportunity Products [VIDEO]

How ILX Boosts Salesforce Effectiveness With Opportunity Products [VIDEO]

There’s a single reason why you should watch this case study video.

Adding Products to Opportunities has massive business benefits. And you might be missing out on those benefits.

Watch the video to see how the ILX Group achieves competitive advantage by:

  • Increasing pipeline forecasting accuracy.
  • Streamlines business processes.
  • Improves customer service.

And that’s just for starters. In fact it’s surprising the benefits ILX generate by using salesforce Products effectively.

After you’ve watched the video try some of these other blog posts to learn more about how to implement salesforce products.

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

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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!

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

Tell-tale signs you need a salesforce Product Selector

Tell-tale signs you need a salesforce Product Selector

It’s tough to go back to the customer with an increased price after important products were first missed off an opportunity.

It’s frustrating when sales people forget to add complimentary products that would increase the overall deal size.

And it’s costly when an engineer can’t complete an installation because items were accidentally left off the quote.

These are all tell-tale signs you need a product selection wizard.

Here’s the problem. If your business uses products in salesforce – and you almost certainly should be – then it’s easy to accidentally leave products off an opportunity.

Partly that’s because of the way in which products are added to an opportunity or a quote in salesforce. It’s not particularly user-friendly. That’s especially the case if you have a lot of products. Sales people have to manually hunt for the various products they need to add.

And that results in human errors.

One way to solve the product selection problem is by using a CPQ application. That’s a “configure, price, quote” system. They’re very powerful. But they come with a price. And you need a significant implementation project to deploy them effectively.

The other option is to simplify things. Do same as many of our customers. Use a product selection wizard.

Product selection wizard for salesforce

The video lower down this article shows how the product selection wizard makes it easy to add products to a salesforce opportunity or quote.

Product selection wizard in action showing the various features.

  1. Tree structure. The product families (or custom field categorisation of products if you prefer) are presented to the sales person.
  2. Expandable sections. Each section can be expanded within the product wizard to reveal the individual products.
  3. Quantity and discount. The quantity of products, discount and any line item description can be added.
  4. Running total. The list of products, line item prices and total running price are presented to the sales person and updated in real time. This means the sales person can easily work towards a ‘target total price’ by adding or removing certain products.

When the sales person clicks ‘Save’ the products are added to the opportunity in the normal way.

If the sales person subsequently clicks on the product selection wizard then the items that have been previously selected are presented to the user.

This means the collection of products can be revised as the customer requirements emerge or evolve.

The product selection wizard works equally on both opportunities and quotes.

Product bundle wizard for salesforce

Very similar to the product selection wizard, the bundle selection wizard allows sales people to add a collection of products to an opportunity or quote.

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

The product bundle is defined by a system administrator or product manager. When the sales person selects the bundle, all products in the bundle are added to the opportunity.

The sales person can amend or edit the price and quantity within the concept of the product bundle.

Product selection wizard and product bundles demonstrated

Arrange a customized salesforce product wizard demo

Learn how companies such as Mascolo use the product selection wizard. Simply complete the form below and we’ll arrange a short customized demo specific to your business.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

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5 killer examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce

5 killer examples of recurring revenue forecasts in salesforce

I’ve never met any company that couldn’t – or probably shouldn’t – be using Products in salesforce to forecast revenue.

But here’s the rub.

Many of us sell products and services that involve recurring revenue. And that means you need to use standard or custom product schedules.

Unfortunately many companies that use salesforce think this is difficult to do.

But it isn’t. And you shouldn’t be put off.

In fact, making the effort to forecast recurring revenue in salesforce has many benefits. For example it:
– Increases visibility of committed and pipeline revenue streams.
– Improves the ability to manage customer payments.
– Ensures opportunities are managed to secure the full anticipated revenue.
– Improves cash flow management and production planning.
– Removes the labour intensive headache of forecasting on spreadsheets.

So here are 5 examples of companies that manage recurring revenue in salesforce. We bet you can spot at least one that is similar to the products and services your company sells.

If they can do it, so can you.

(Just for the record, all screenshots below are taken from real GSP customers but the actual data displayed is fictional).

1. Service Contracts with recurring revenue

Let’s start with the absolute easiest one.

Service Contracts typically have a fixed duration and recurring revenue over the life of the contract. This recurring revenue is easy and simple to forecast in salesforce using product schedules.

Linx Printing Technologies, for example, sell service contracts of 1, 2 or 3 years to support and maintain the printing equipment they sell. Payment terms on the service contracts can be monthly, quarterly or annually.

Linx have created the various service contracts in salesforce as Products. For each product, a default revenue schedule has been created.

A default schedule is the revenue schedule that will be automatically applied when a sales person adds a product to the opportunity.

Default revenue schedule on a service contract product in salesforce.

For example, the product that represents the 2-year service contract with monthly payments, has a default of 24 revenue schedules. The 3-year, annual payment service contract has default of 3 revenue schedules. And so on.

Here’s how it looks in a dashboard chart and report. We’ve used three examples of 1-year service contracts to keep down the size of the image.

Report showing recurring revenue over time.

salesforce dashboard chart plotting recurring revenue.

2. Products with deposits or multiple part-payments

MAM Software provides management software solutions to the automotive, building and distribution industries.

Each opportunity can contain multiple products including software, hardware, licenses, service contracts and professional services.

Like many companies MAM charge an initial deposit. Further payments are due when the products are delivered. Subsequent invoices and payments are triggered upon implementation and customer sign-off.

In other words there’s recurring revenue for a short period of time, albeit the payment amounts are not necessarily identical.

There are two ways to handle this type of recurring payment – standard salesforce product schedules or custom schedules.

Standard product schedules

Using the standard functionality the sales person enters the core data required to create the schedule.

Establish initial revenue schedule on a product.

This will create an initial recurring revenue schedule of 4 payments @ £750. However the sales person now has a chance to modify the date and amount of each schedule.

Users can adjust recurring revenue schedule.

The result is a series of recurring schedules that correspond with the payment arrangement agreed with the customer.

Custom product schedules

It’s imperative for MAM to record this schedule of payments in salesforce.

  • Contractual payment agreements are visible to appropriate users.
  • Goods are prevented from being shipped to customers that haven’t paid their deposit.
  • Professional services and implementation work can be triggered based on customer payments.
  • Sales people can accurately forecast upcoming pipeline and committed revenue.
  • Finance has the visibility needed to manage credit control effectively.

However this means that additional information must be entered for each recurring payment – the status, for example.

Unfortunately the functionality associated with the standard product schedule in salesforce has several constraints – additional fields such as ‘payment status’ cannot be added for example. It also requires sales people to manually calculate the amount and timing of each schedule.

MAM overcome these constraints by using custom product schedules.

Sales people record the deposit and repeat payments using a Visualforce page embedded within the Quote.

mam_vfpage_custom_schedules_resized

The scheduled payments are automatically calculated based on the default payment terms – for example, 20% upfront deposit, 60% upon delivery and so on.

If additional products are added to the Quote then the deposit and recurring revenue calculations are automatically updated. Once the deal is agreed with the customer the final Quote is synced with the Opportunity and both are locked to further changes.

The Finance team within MAM use these payment records to send invoices. When the invoice is paid the relevant payment term is updated and the next project stage can begin.

The structure gives MAM a robust dashboard view of pipeline and committed recurring revenue. It also enables product delivery, implementation and commissioning activities to be scheduled based on invoices and customer payments. It also means MAM can easily compare expected with actual orders on framework agreements.

In summary, if you simply need to record the basic recurring revenue schedule agreed with the customer then standard product schedules are likely to meet your needs. Anything more complex – then use custom product schedules.

3. Transactional products

Some companies sell high volumes of products that the customer will use on a monthly basis. But at the outset, the actual number of units or transactions per month can only be guessed at.

Brainstorm, for example, sell text messages to accompany their software products that enable companies to get real time feedback on their customer service performance.

A large deal might require as many as 1 million text messages, to be used over 12 months.

To manage this Brainstorm has created Text Message as a product in salesforce.

Sales people add the product to the opportunity and enter the estimated volume of units and unit price. They then add a revenue schedule based on the duration of the contract.

Custom product schedules modified to reflect actual revenue.

Each month, the account manager updates the forecast revenue schedule with the ‘actual’ revenue that was generated. We can see this in the figures for January to April in the screenshot above. Optionally the account manager also updates future schedules based on the latest available information.

This means the reports and dashboards provide a clear view on two key things. First, the actual revenue that was generated from the text message product on each of the opportunities. And second, the projected revenue for future months.

4. Distributor sold products / run-rate recurring revenue

Gilbarco Veeder Root is the worlds’ leading supplier of petrol pumps and related retail equipment. In addition to their direct business, Gilbarco also sell significant volumes via distributors.

Revenue from these distributors is ‘guaranteed’ in the sense that there’s an ongoing commercial relationship and contractual arrangement with the distributor.

At the start of each year each account manager forecasts the product volumes that will be sold by his distributors.  He does this based on historic information and his knowledge of the distributors business.

To reflect this revenue in the pipeline reports and dashboards, Gilbarco take a similar approach to the transactional product example shown above.

In other words the account manager creates an opportunity for the estimated annual volume. At the same time she creates a revenue and quantity product schedule that reflects anticipated month-on-month orders.

Every month the revenue and quantity product are updated based on the actual volumes received. At the same time she modifies the schedule for the following months based on latest understanding of the distributor pipeline.

So again it means that there is an up to date view of confirmed deals and pipeline revenue based on the latest information. This is critical information to Gilbarco in production management and financial planning.

Find out what Derek Davis, Sales Support Director at Gilbarco Veeder Root has to say about working with GSP.

5. S-curve recurring revenue

Taylor Woodrow undertakes major construction and infrastructure projects such as motorways, tunnels and railway lines on behalf of government agencies.

The sales pipeline for these projects can last many years. As can the construction and engineering work that results from a deal.

Yet like any other business, Taylor Woodrow needs to forecast the anticipated revenue for pipeline and closed won opportunities.

For any given opportunity the revenue can be predicted – it’s either going to be a straight line, or more commonly, an s-curve.

The s-curve profile reflects the fact that at the beginning of each project there’s a comparatively modest design and set up cost. At the end there’s commissioning and sign-off. However in the middle, there’s a major chunk of heavy duty construction going on!

To manage this Taylor Woodrow use an s-curve function built into the opportunity.

s_curve_recurring_revenue

The opportunity owner enters start date, end date and number of months, projection method (straight line or s-curve) and the system does the rest.

Taylor Woodrow amalgamates the recurring revenue from all projects in reports and dashboards to produce a predictable view of anticipated income.

So did you spot a company that operates in a similar way to your own? Try making the effort to implement product schedules to forecast recurring revenue – there are major benefits to be gained!

And if you have a question – or want to talk to us about helping you forecast recurring revenue – simply get in touch.

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 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 Use Product Selection Wizard for Mascolo

How to Use Product Selection Wizard for Mascolo

A common problem for manufacturing and distribution companies that use salesforce.com is that the standard product selection functionality doesn’t easily allow sales people to quickly add multiple product line items.  This is particularly a problem if there are other business rules around the products, for example, minimum order quantities or product bundles that must be purchased together.

This was the issue facing Mascolo. In addition to operating the Toni & Guy hair salon chain, the company makes and distributes a wide range of hair care products under the label.m banner to other hair salons throughout the country. Field sales reps need to be able to stand in a busy salon and quickly enter a wide variety of products and quantities into salesforce.com.

salesforce product selection wizard

From the Opportunity page the sales rep clicks “Add Products” and is taken to a product selection screen that lists all the product categories (see image at the top of the page).

salesforce product selection wizard

He selects his products on the left hand side of the page and then enters the quantity for each product on the right hand side.

chose products using the selection wizzard

Items from multiple product categories can be selected:

salesforce product selection

The rep saves the product selection and is taken back to the Opportunity. The products selected in the wizard have been added as line items on the Opportunity.

salesforce product selection

Further reading

Make it easy for sales people to add products to opportunities using the product selection wizard. Or see a full video demo of the product selection wizard and product bundles in action.

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