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Salesforce Sales Cloud | How To Get Started The Right Way

Salesforce Sales Cloud | How To Get Started The Right Way

Your business needs to get started with the salesforce Sales Cloud the right way for your implementation project to be successful.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to do this.

The biggest single reason?

They set off on the wrong foot.

In other words, they fail to understand the core features and building blocks of the Sales Cloud.

This means they get started with the salesforce Sales Cloud in the wrong way.

Here’s what I commonly see.

Companies:

  • Quickly build custom fields, when standard fields already exist.
  • Store important data in the wrong places.
  • Confuse the purpose of important standard objects.
  • Struggle to produce meaningful reports and dashboards.
  • Suffer low user adoption because salespeople find the system cumbersome to use.

The result is everyone quickly loses enthusiasm. Then they blame the technology.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way.

The salesforce Sales Cloud is a powerful tool for managing the sales pipeline, tracking sales performance and improving salesperson productivity and effectiveness.

It can do these things in your business.

However, before jumping in, it is important to understand the core features and components of the salesforce Sales Cloud.

Fortunately, if that is your goal, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article and the accompanying video, I explain the core components of the salesforce Sales Cloud.

Understand these building blocks and you get started with the Sales Cloud in the right way.

Oh, by the way:

I also include links to multiple free resources to get you started with the salesforce Sales Cloud to gain early success!

 

The Salesforce Sales Cloud explained

The salesforce Sales Cloud enables sales teams and executives to proactively manage their sales pipeline and increase the productivity of salespeople.

It does this by providing a collection of components that store data about each aspect of the sales process.

For example, Accounts store information about customers and prospects. Contacts store data on people that work at those Accounts. Opportunities store data about each individual sales deal.

Reports and dashboard charts mean that managers and salespeople have visibility over the size, trend and quality of the pipeline and funnel.

These reports and dashboards also help identify training and coaching opportunities by analysing historic sales performance and providing forward-looking metrics.

When well configured, tools and features within the Sales Cloud increase the efficiency and effectiveness of salespeople.

These tools include workflow and approval processes. There are also third party applications such as integrated electronic signatures on sales contracts that can boost salesperson productivity further.

 

Get started the salesforce Sales Cloud

Let’s move onto how the key features and components of the Sales Cloud.

Make sure you understand these essential features and components before you jump in and start configuring the Sales Cloud in your business.

This is essential if you want to get started with the Sales Cloud in the right way. Then follow these 10 tips for salesforce project success.

 

Accounts

Let’s start with Accounts.

Accounts are organizations in salesforce. Typically, that means customers and prospects.

However, Accounts can also be other types of organization such as suppliers, consultants and partners.

Accounts are usually customers and prospects, but they can also be other types of organization such as suppliers, consultants and partners..

Use the standard Type field on the Account to identify these different organizations in your salesforce environment.

You can also record the hierarchical – or parent / child – relationship between Accounts in the same business group.

 

Contacts

Accounts have Contacts. Contacts are people that work at those Accounts.

One Account can have many Contacts. However, each Contact links directly to only one Account.

 

Opportunities

Accounts also have Opportunities. Opportunities are the most important feature of the salesforce sales cloud.

Opportunities are sales deals. One Account might have none, one or many Opportunities over time.

We can also record the relationship between Contacts and specific Opportunities using Contact Roles.

This means, for example, we can identify customer roles in the buying process such as Gatekeeper, Influencer, Decision Maker and Buyer.

 

Key Opportunity Information

Let’s talk more about Opportunities.

There might be lots of information specific to your business that you want to record about each opportunity.

However, every opportunity needs three key pieces of information. These are the Opportunity Stage, Close Date and Amount.

Here are these three fields in the salesforce Classic user interface.

Stage, Close Date and Amount displayed in the Classic salesforce user interface.

 

 

Here are the same three Opportunity fields in the salesforce Lightning interface.

Stage, Close Date and Amount displayed in the Lightning salesforce user interface.

 

Make sure you understand the crucial role of the Opportunity Stage, Close Date and Amount fields on the opportunity when you get started with the Sales Cloud.

1. Opportunity Stage

The Opportunity Stage is a picklist. It records where the opportunity is in your sales process at any point in time.

The standard picklist values for the Opportunity Stage are not ideally suited to many businesses. That’s why you will probably want to customize them.

For example, many of our customers use these Opportunity Stages: Prospecting, Investigation, Proposal Made, Negotiation, Closed Won and Closed Lost.

Either way, think carefully to avoid these three common mistakes with opportunity stages.

 

2. Opportunity Close Date

The second essential piece of opportunity information is the Close Date.

The salesperson uses the Close Date to forecast when the deal will complete. This date may change from one month to another as your sales deal progresses.

Tracking the number of times the Close Date changes is an important pipeline quality metric.

 

3. Opportunity Amount

The Opportunity Amount is the revenue associated with the opportunity. In other words, the sales value.

Where does that Amount come from?

There are two ways to enter the Opportunity Amount in salesforce.

The first is to simply type the value into the Amount field.

However, the second way is much better. That way is to use Products.

 

10 Tips For Salesforce Sales Cloud Implementation

Download our free guide today

Products

Products are the goods and services that you sell using Opportunities.

Remember, Products can be physical things.

However, Products can also be intangible items such as subscriptions or fees. Or services that you deliver through people.

In fact, a Product in salesforce is anything that generates revenue for your business.

When you add Products to an opportunity, the total value of these products becomes the Amount on the opportunity.

Using Products means the opportunity more accurately reflects the specific goods and services sold to the customer.

In turn, this means pipeline and sales performance dashboard charts are more useful in decision making about sales strategies and tactics.

 

Dashboards

Now that we have these three pieces of information – the Opportunity Stage, Close date and Amount – we can start to analyse the sales pipeline.

Dashboard charts are a powerful way to do this.

For example, using our three pieces of opportunity information, we can understand the size of the pipeline due to close each month.

In the salesforce Sales Cloud, dashboards are a powerful way to view the Stage, Close Date and Amount.

Within each month, we can analyse the pipeline each month.

Dashboards deliver great visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.

You can kick-start the use of dashboards in your business in two ways.

First, study this blog post, 12 Must-Have Sales Dashboard Charts. The post explains the critical dashboard charts that executives need to manage the sales pipeline effectively.

There’s even an accompanying eBook you can download.

Second, install our free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. This dashboard contains all the charts explained in the blog post and eBook.

Together, they represent a comprehensive resource to improve visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance in your business.

 

Campaigns

Campaigns are another key feature of the Sales Cloud.

Campaigns are marketing activities such as trade shows, adverts, emails and web forms.

A key purpose of Campaigns is to create new Leads.

 

Leads

Leads are people in the very earliest stage of the sales cycle.

Often we have very little information about each Lead. To increase this information, many businesses use marketing automation applications such as Pardot and Marketo.

These applications integrate tightly with salesforce and allow you to create email nurture programs that deepen and extend the relationship with Leads over time.

It is important you understand the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity when you get started with the Sales Cloud.

 

What happens when contacting a Lead

Suppose someone in your business telephones one of these Leads and has a conversation.

One of three things is going to happen.

First, you might find the Leads isn’t a prospective customer at all. Therefore, you update the Lead Status to Closed, and take no further action.

Secondly, the Lead is a definite maybe!

In other words, the person is interested, but not ready yet to speak to a salesperson.

This time, you update the Lead Status to Contacted. You might also record a follow up activity to contact the Lead again in the future.

The third thing that can happen is you decide the Lead is qualified. In other words, the person is ready to engage with you from a sales perspective.

Here’s what you do:

Convert the Lead into, an Account, a Contact and an Opportunity.

Now you have a new Account, Contact and Opportunity.

 

Marketing Metrics

Here’s the beauty of the lead conversion process:

When you convert a Lead in the salesforce Sales Cloud, the resulting opportunity links back to the Campaign.

This means you automatically calculate the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing campaigns.

Of course, dashboards are a great way to analyse sales performance and the sales pipeline by marketing campaign.

To get started with marketing metrics, install the free GSP Lead Conversion Dashboard into your salesforce environment.

 

More great salesforce Sales Cloud resources

This is a high level, overview of the salesforce sales cloud. However, you get started with the Sales Cloud on the right foot if you understand these key building blocks.

We have many great articles on our salesforce blog that explain how to maximize sales cloud benefits. Above all, don’t forget to download our 10 Specific Tips for Successful Sales Cloud Implementation at the foot of this post.

Here are some of my favourites:

We also have free dashboards on the AppExchange, including:

In addition, simply get in touch to find out how we can help make your salesforce sales cloud project a tremendous success.

 

10 Specific Tips For Successful Salesforce Sales Cloud Implementation

An extra bonus! Download our 10 page PDF with specific, tips for successful Sales Cloud implementation. Contains detailed advice for maximizing benefits from the salesforce Sales Cloud.

Webinar | Power Metrics For Lead Conversion Success

Webinar | Power Metrics For Lead Conversion Success

Join me and my team for a compelling webinar on power Lead Metrics in salesforce.

We promise you fresh insights.

As a result of this webinar you will be able to take new action to drive lead conversion rates in your business.

Date: November 1st, 2017
Time: 11 AM EST, 4 PM GMT
To join: Register here today.

Lead Conversion Success Webinar Topics

We will demonstrate how to:

• Implement a robust lead management process.
• Measure the revenue contribution of converted leads.
• Track key metrics to improve lead performance.
• Compare win rates on opportunities created from converted leads.
• Analyse lead performance from multiple angles and identify improvements.

The webinar will give you a unique understanding of lead metrics in salesforce. You will gain new, specific actions to increase revenue from leads that you can immediately apply in your business.

You will also, of course, have the opportunity to ask questions.

We are limited to 80 places on the webinar. Don’t miss out. Register today.

I’m looking forward to you joining us.

How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

Not having an accurate revenue forecast is the bane of many sales managers’ lives.

Gut feel just won’t cut it.

Nor will a top-down percentage applied across all open opportunities.

Moreover, executives often dismiss the Expected Revenue report in salesforce as irrelevant or inaccurate.

That’s a pity.

Used correctly, the Expected Revenue report is a realistic forecast of future sales. It’s a sales forecast that stands up to detailed analysis and scrutiny.

But here’s the rub with Expected Revenue.

If the Opportunity Probability is wrong then so is your Expected Revenue forecast.

Unfortunately, the Opportunity Probability IS usually wrong.

It’s wrong because in most salesforce implementations, the probability links directly to the Opportunity Stage. It reflects how far the Opportunity is through the sales process. However, it doesn’t say anything about the chances of winning the deal.

But this relationship can be uncoupled. It’s even possible to set Opportunity Probabilities automatically, based on proven historical evidence.

That way, the Expected Revenue report becomes a realistic revenue forecast and a key sales performance indicator.

That’s the holy grail of sales management.

Expected Revenue Defined

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here.

Expected Revenue (or Weighted Revenue if you prefer) is the Opportunity Amount multiplied by the Probability. That gives a dollar value for each Opportunity.

Add up these dollars for all your open deals and you have the Expected Revenue for each month or quarter.

If you calculate Expected Revenue on a realistic basis, sales manages know where they stand in relation to future sales targets.

That means decisions that drive sales team behavior are better informed.

For example, if the Expected Revenue is higher than the sales target, focus heavily on closing the deals you already have.

Alternatively, if the Expected Revenue is too low, then the sales team must generate more pipeline to meet target.

The Power of Expected Revenue

Many sales managers dismiss Expected Revenue as irrelevant.

That’s because it relies on calculating the weighted value of each Opportunity. Yet the outcome of each deal is a win or a loss. The full value of the Opportunity is won – or nothing is won.

It’s a binary outcome.

But wait a moment.

Let’s say you have a number of deals due to close next month or next quarter. You will win some and lose some.

The problem is you do not know which will be which. Crystal balls are hard to find.

Suppose you knew this information in advance. You would take 100% of the value of those opportunities that you will win. Likewise, you’d take zero value of the deals that will be lost.

But life isn’t like that.

Other than gut feel, you don’t know which will be won.

However, creating a forecast based on Expected Revenue is the way round that. The catch is it relies on setting a realistic probability for each opportunity.

The Problem with Opportunity Probability

The Opportunity Probability is wrong on many deals because it links only to the Opportunity Stage.

If the Stage moves forward, the Probability automatically increases. That happens irrespective of whether your chance of winning the deal has increased.

For example, let’s say four similar companies are pitching for a deal. They all have an Opportunity Stage called Needs Analysis. And let’s say they all have the Opportunity at 25% Probability.

All four sales teams submit their proposals. They all move the Stage onto Proposal Submitted – which for each company, has an Opportunity Probability of 30%.

All other things being equal, the individual chance of any one sales team winning the deal has not changed. There are four of them left. So each one has a 25% chance of winning.

In fact, it’s probably less than 25% because the prospect may decide not to proceed with any purchase.

However, the total Expected Revenue for each individual Opportunity has increased. Indeed, across the four combined companies, the total probability is 120%.

That clearly doesn’t make sense.

It means that a reliable Expected Revenue forecast needs a better way to estimate opportunity probability.

The Probability of Winning a Deal

For any one company, the Probability of successfully closing an Opportunity is dependent on many factors.

These might include geographic sector, product category, tender versus pitch deal and so on.

For our purposes, let’s consider two factors that apply to many businesses:

  • New or existing customer. Usually the chance of winning a deal is significantly higher with an existing customer compared to a new prospect.
  • The effectiveness of the sales person. Some sales people consistently close more deals compared to the rest of the team.

This where we need to consider history.

In financial services, there’s usually a warning that past performance is not an indicator of future returns.

With sales teams, it’s different. Past performance is an excellent indicator of future returns. We can use that to our advantage.

By extrapolating the Opportunity Probability from similar historic deals, it’s possible to forecast the future. It’s possible to confidently predict Expected Revenue.

Historic Opportunity Conversion Rates

We have implemented functionality for our customers to gather data on historic opportunity probabilities and conversion rates.

New versus Existing Customer conversion rates

Look at the report and dashboard table below.

It shows the difference in opportunity conversion rates between new and existing customers.

Report and dashboard chart compares the difference in opportunity conversion rates between new and existing customers.

The report and chart tells us about conversion rates for existing versus new customers. For example:

  • 41% of all Opportunities with existing customers were successfully won, compared to 34% for new customers. See the “1. Prospecting” row in the report.
  • 58% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “2. Investigation” Stage were won. This compares with 53% of Opportunities that entered the same Stage for new customers.
  • 76% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “3. Proposal Made” Stage were successfully won. This compares with 65% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.
  • 92% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “4. Negotiation” Stage were won. This compares with 79% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.

In other words, the report provides the information we need to differentiate Opportunity Probability between new and existing customers.

This is the starting point for more accurate Expected Revenue forecasts.

Sales person conversion rates

Now, let’s consider the difference in opportunity conversion rates between sales people.

Compare the difference in conversion rates between salespeople.

The report shows that Dave Apthorp wins 60% of all his Opportunities compared to 27% for Peter Hemsworth and 36% for Shaun Yates. This is shown in the “1 Prospecting” row.

Look at other rows in the report. They tell us the Opportunity Conversion rate that for Opportunities that move into each Opportunity Stage.

For example, of all the deals that enter the “4 Negotiation” Stage, Dave successfully closes 90% compared to 78% for Peter and 86% for Shaun.

Accurate Expected Revenue

Our customers use the information in these reports to calculate Expected Revenue accurately.

To do this we need a custom Opportunity Probability field.

The field populates by a formula, based on the information we garnered from the conversion reports.

Let’s take an example.

Here’s an Opportunity for £15,000 with a New Customer. It’s in the Investigation Stage.

Based on the standard method, the Opportunity Probability is 25% and the Expected Revenue £3,750.

Expected Revenue using standard approach.

However, we know from our reports that 47% of Opportunities with new customers that enter the Investigation Stage are successfully closed.

That figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. Now the Expected Revenue becomes £7050.

Expected revenue with probability adjusted for new customer.

Alternatively, let’s consider what happens if this Opportunity is for an existing customer.

We know that 58% of all Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully.

Therefore, that figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. This time the Expected Revenue is £8,700.

Expected Revenue adjusted for existing customer.

In other words, a realistic Opportunity Probability, based on historic conversion rates, automatically populates for each opportunity.

This, in turn, provides a more realistic (and in this case higher) Expected Revenue.

Accurate Expected Revenue Forecasts

Expected Revenue calculates by multiplying the opportunity probability by the value of the deal.

The problem is that our probabilities link directly to the Opportunity Stage.

However, if we use historical facts it’s different.

We know that 58% of Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully.  We know that Dave Apthorp successfully closes 60% of all his Opportunities, compared to 36% for Shaun Yates.

Now we can use these facts to set realistic Opportunity Probabilities and drive accurate Expected Revenue reports.

And accurate Expected Revenue reports mean accurate sales forecasts.

To find out more about how to create an accurate sales forecast using Expected Revenue in your business, 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

Broken Lead Process In Salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

Broken Lead Process In Salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

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

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

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

You can recreate a similar scene:

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

You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

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

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

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

It also means a lack of lead conversion metrics that quantify the contribution of leads to revenue.

Let’s understand what causes this debate. Then we will define a lead process in salesforce. Do this as one of the core components of effective Sales and Marketing alignment in your business.

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

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

Difference between a lead and an opportunity

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

Unfortunately, that is harder than it sounds.

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

Here’s why it’s a problem.

Salesperson’s definition of a lead

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

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

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

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

Marketing person’s definition of a lead

A Marketing person’s perception of a lead often varies in two important ways.

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

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

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

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

Salesforce lead process

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

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

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

  • Lead as a brand new enquiry

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Lead is a dead end

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

  • The Lead is a definite maybe

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

  • The Lead is a sales Opportunity

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

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

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a new Lead.

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

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

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

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

  • Leads that match existing Lead records

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

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

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

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

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

Here’s the lead process diagram.

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

  • Leads that match existing Contact records

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

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

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

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

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match.

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

  • Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call

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

  • Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call

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

  • Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead

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

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

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

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

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

You can do better than that. You can resolve the argument about lead processes in the workshop. And then build the lead process in salesforce; it’s a sure-fire way to increase sales and marketing alignment.

Free lead process diagram download

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

And now, kick-start lead metrics in your business by installing the free Lead Conversion Dashboard From GSP in your salesforce environment.

Related Blog Posts

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

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

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

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

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

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

1. Web To Lead ‘Contact Us’ page

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

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

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

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

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

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

These probably ring true in your own experience.

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

Who is the right person to receive Contact Us enquiries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiple Contact Us pages

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

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

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

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

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

2. Web to lead for content download

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content download example

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use web to lead for content download

Here’s how it works.

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

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

You can implement this quick win today.

How to set up web to lead

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

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

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

Related Blog Posts

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?
Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?
The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms
The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity In Salesforce

How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

Framework agreements exist in virtually every industry.

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

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

Yet companies often struggle to do this.

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

They weren’t wrong.

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

Types of Framework Agreement

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

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

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

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements

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

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

Drawdown framework agreements are common in many industries.

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

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

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

2. Regular Order Framework Agreements

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

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

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

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

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

3. Occasional Order Framework Agreements

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

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

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

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

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

4. License To Hunt Framework Agreements

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

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

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

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

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

How To Manage Framework Agreements in Salesforce

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

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements In Salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forecast Revenue On Drawdown Agreements

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

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

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

Use revenue schedules to forecast sales on framework agreements.

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

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

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

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

Auto Adjust Product Schedules To Match Close Date Changes

Download the FREE App from the AppExchange today

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

Custom Schedules for revenue forecasting

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

But not all.

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

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

2. Manage Regular Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s one more thing they do.

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

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

More tips on controlling price discounts using salesforce.

3. Manage Occasional Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s another thing.

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

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

Automatically Assign Price Books To Opportunities

Download the FREE App from the AppExchange today

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

4. Manage License To Hunt Framework Agreements in Salesforce

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

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

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

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

Potentially, use Products and Schedules on these opportunities to define and track revenue over time in salesforce.

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

Free 30 minute consultation on framework agreements

Get in touch today

Related Blog Posts

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How to Bring Your Salesforce Opportunities to Life with Products

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

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

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

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

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

But there was a problem.

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

Salesforce dashboard chart showing opportunities by close date and stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fix the immediate ‘Close Dates in the past’ problem

You have five options for dealing with the problem of opportunities with close dates in the past.

1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself

Update the Close Date on each opportunity.

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

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

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

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

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities

This is a variation of option 1.

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

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

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

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

5. Sweep the problem under the carpet

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

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

Optionally, combine some of these options.

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

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

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

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

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

Here are four ways you stop the problem happening again.

1. Avoid sloppy management

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

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

2. Coach salespeople to self-manage their pipeline

Sloppy sales management is only part of the story.

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

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

3. Create an alert when the Close Date is today

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

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

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

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

4. Use a validation rule

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

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

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

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

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

How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem

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

Here’s what he did.

  1. Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
  2. Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won. However, as the opportunity was out of date, it’s likely many were lost. Colin accepted the risk of inaccuracy in historic reports.
  3. He assigned two hours one Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energized as a result of this focused review.
  4. Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
  5. He had everyone read our blog post about the Open Opportunities by Stage and Month.
  6. Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
  7. Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
  8. He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
  9. Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.

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

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

Related Blog Posts

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

How To Plug A Leaking Funnel In The Right Place

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

Nothing is more useful to a sales manager than a sales pipeline chart that gives a comprehensive view of the funnel.

That’s exactly what the Pipeline by Month and Opportunity Stage sales pipeline chart gives you.

It’s my absolute favorite in our 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts. In fact, if I could only have one sales pipeline chart then it would be this one.

Tip: You don’t have to build this dashboard chart yourself. If you haven’t done so already, download our free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. That way you can easily install all 12 recommended sales pipeline charts in your own salesforce environment.

So here it is. It’s the sales pipeline chart shows the Pipeline by Close Date and Opportunity Stage.

This sales pipeline chart gives robust visibility of the funnel on a salesforce dashboard.

The chart shows the value of opportunities due to close each month. Within each month, we can see where those deals are in terms of the Opportunity Stage and the sales process.

Let’s assume we are in the middle of October right now.

We can see that in this month, there is £600k worth of Opportunities due to close. This value is split by the various Opportunity Stages. In salesforce, hover over each Stage for additional detail.

This is powerful information from a sales management point of view.

It gives sales executives the essential information they need to manage the sales pipeline effectively. The underlying report facilitates accurate forecasting. Dud deals can be identified. And the sales pipeline chart helps to prevent that all too common problem, an over-inflated sales pipeline.

Tip: When the Pipeline by Stage chart is first created in many businesses, it doesn’t bring the immediate clarity you expect. That’s because the pipeline is full of opportunities with Close Dates in the past. In fact, the chart looks more like a bedraggled washing line. However, that problem of Close Dates in the past can be easily fixed.

Current month pipeline strength

Let’s stick with our assumption that we’re in the middle of October right now. And, in this case, let’s assume our typical sales cycle is 3 months.

As a sales manager looking at my October projected revenue, I want to know just how robust the October pipeline really is.

The sales pipeline chart shows the value of deals due to close this month, split by opportunity stage.

Those deals that are in Prospecting, for example. If our average sales cycle is three months, are we confident those deals on the sales pipeline chart will close this month? Should some of them be at a more advanced Stage? Do the close dates need to be moved to a later month? Have the close dates on some of this opportunities slipped from one month to another before?

The same with the Investigation and Proposal Made Stages. Are we really going to close these opportunities this month? If not, then our October pipeline is significantly over-inflated.

December pipeline strength

Let’s look at another month in the sales pipeline chart.

What about those deals in the negotiation stage in December? Is it really going to take us three months to close these deals? Is there anything we can do to bring them forward?

The sales pipeline chart shows deals scheduled to close in December.

In fact, looking at the sales pipeline chart for December, we have a lot of funnel value that’s due to close. But just how robust is that? Are these deals in December because the financial year of many customers ends that month? If so, we can legitimately expect many deals to get completed in the run up to Christmas?

Have many of the opportunities due to close in December been sitting in our pipeline for a long time? Have sales people entered December as the close date on the basis that (hopefully) the opportunity is “bound to be closed” sometime during the year?

If that is the case, then the December pipeline is nowhere near as strong as we might hope.

January pipeline strength

The sales pipeline chart shows there’s a dip in the size of the funnel in January.

The sales pipeline chart shows there's a dip in the size of the pipeline for January.

Is this due to legitimate seasonal variation? Or is it something we should be concerned about? As a sales manager, do I need to start organizing some marketing campaigns now, with a view to boosting the pipeline 3 or 4 months from now?

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

Deals due to close before today

Let’s stick with our assumption that right now we’re in the middle of October.

What are these deals doing here on the sales pipeline chart? The ones with the close date in September.

Opportunities with a close date earlier than today are revealed on the sales pipeline chart.

Unless you have a time turner, these deals aren’t going to close in September!

But we see this very often. Open opportunities with close dates in the past. Either those deals have already closed and the opportunity stage hasn’t been updated. Or, the close date needs to be moved because they are still open.

A case in point. Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna downloaded the dashboard package containing the sales pipeline chart. But Colin’s chart didn’t look like our beautiful example, based on his own sales data. That’s because Colin’s funnel was full of opportunities with close dates in the past. Read how Colin solved this problem.

Underlying report for the sales pipeline chart

Let’s go down to the underlying report.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart. The report data shows the specific value of opportunities that are due to close by month, by each opportunity stage.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Now we can start to interrogate the individual opportunities that make up the chart and report data.

Right click on any opportunity to open it in a new tab. This way you can examine the individual opportunity details, whilst still retaining the open report.

Sales Pipeline Chart Video

The sales pipeline chart and underlying report give sales managers robust visibility of the funnel, in a meaningful and useful way.

And of course like any other chart, it doesn’t just need to be visible to managers. Team leaders and individual sales reps can manage their own pipeline, using this exact same sales pipeline chart.

In the video below I explain how to use the sales pipeline dashboard chart and the underlying pipeline report to manage the funnel effectively.

Create the Sales Pipeline Chart

If you don’t want to download the full 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts, then here are step-by-step instructions for creating this salesforce dashboard pipeline chart and underling pipeline report.

  1. Start on the reports tab, click new report then select an Opportunities report.
  2. Adjust the basic filters. Set Opportunity Status to Open. Set the time Range to All Time.
  3. Set the Format to be a Matrix report by clicking on Tabular Format.
  4. On the left hand side chose Opportunity Stage.
  5. Across the top of the report chose Close Date. Adjust the date format to Group By calendar month.
  6. Pull the Amount field into the body of the report.
  7. Click on the Show link to remove the record count. Repeat the process to set the report to Hide Details.
  8. Run the report to check that it looks the way you expect.
  9. Now create a chart directly in the report. Click on Add Chart in the Customize section.
  10. Choose the vertical bar chart.
  11. On the Y axis select the Opportunity Amount.
  12. On the X axis select the Close Date.
  13. In the Group by, select Opportunity Stage.
  14. Now choose the stacked bar chart.
  15. Click on the Formatting tab. Put the legend below the chart. Enable the hover. And put the chart below the report.
  16. Now run the report and check your chart.
  17. Save the report (remember, not in your Personal Folder, no-one else will be able to see it).
  18. Click on the dashboard tab and select the dashboard to which you want to add the chart.
  19. Click on Edit on the Dashboard.
  20. Drag a bar chart from the left hand pane onto the dashboard.
  21. In the Data Sources tab, find the report you want to use for the dashboard. Drag it onto the component you’ve just added to the dashboard.
  22. Rather than creating a new chart within the dashboard, let’s pull in the chart we’ve already created on the report. Click on the spanner symbol on the chart. Tick the checkbox, ‘Use chart ad defined in source report’.
  23. Finally give it a header and a title so that people know exactly what they’re looking at.

If in doubt watch the video – I demonstrate fully how to create the report and dashboard chart.

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