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

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

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

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

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

You can recreate a similar scene.

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

You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

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

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

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

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

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

Difference between a lead and an opportunity

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

But that can be harder than it sounds.

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

Here’s why it’s a problem.

Salesperson’s definition of a lead

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

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

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

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

Marketing person’s definition of a lead

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

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

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

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

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

Salesforce lead process

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

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

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

  • Lead as a brand new enquiry

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Lead is a dead end

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

  • The Lead is a definite maybe

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

  • The Lead is a sales Opportunity

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

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

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a new Lead.

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

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

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

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

  • Leads that match existing Lead records

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

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

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

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

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

Here’s the lead process diagram.

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

  • Leads that match existing Contact records

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

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

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

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

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match.

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

  • Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call

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

  • Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call

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

  • Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free lead process diagram download

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

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2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

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

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

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

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

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

1. Web To Lead ‘Contact Us’ page

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

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

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

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

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

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

These probably ring true in your own experience.

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

Who is the right person to receive Contact Us enquiries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiple Contact Us pages

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

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

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

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

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

2. Web to lead for content download

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content download example

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use web to lead for content download

Here’s how it works.

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

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

You can implement this quick win today.

How to set up web to lead

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

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

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

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10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes

10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes

Every price discount eats into your profit.

Probably more than you think.

“Most companies can increase profit between 2 and 4 percent by doing nothing other than getting a grip on price discounts”, says pricing expert Tony Hodgson of Pricing Solutions. “And key to this is an effective approval process”.

He’s right. Let’s imagine your ‘fully loaded’ margin on an opportunity is 10 percent. (That’s the margin including indirect costs, not just the product gross margin).

Price discounts apply to gross revenue. So a 5 percent price discount means giving away half your profit. Discount more than 10 percent and the deal is loss making.

The fully loaded margin in your business is probably a different figure. But you understand the impact.

“Too many companies are at the ‘fireman’ stage when it comes to price discounts. They rush from opportunity to opportunity dealing with discount emergencies,” says Tony.

“The first step is to agree a discount policy and make sure it is adhered to. That means having a robust approval process in place.”

So we interviewed Tony. Picked his brain about approval processes.

And guess what? He gave us 10 powerful approval process tips.

And here they are. Along with our advice on how to implement the tips in salesforce.

Tip 1. Implement an effective approval process

“Too often authorization for price discounts is handled in a haphazard and informal manner. That almost guarantees you are giving away unnecessary discounts and eating into your profits”, says Tony. “It sounds obvious but defining a discount policy and using a robust approval process for price discounts is the first step”.

Implement Approval Processes in salesforce

Use the standard approval process function in salesforce to achieve this. If you’re unfamiliar with how approval processes work then watch this short video from GSP Senior Consultant Nick Ambrose.

There’s plenty of online help that explains how to configure approval processes.

Or of course get in touch if you’d like our help.

Tip 2. Avoid rounded discount levels in approval processes

“Companies typically give discount of authority levels of 10, 15 or 20 percent in their approval process”, says Tony. “But remember, that’s a discount on the gross revenue. Every 1% of revenue you give away is having a disproportionate impact on the margin for that deal.

Sales people will often take the path of least resistance. That means if the customer asks for a discount they’ll go straight for 10 percent if that’s their authority level. So why not give them authority of 9 percent? Or 7.5?

The same with higher authority levels in the approval process. Instead of giving managers authority levels of say, 20 percent, give them 17. All our evidence shows there’s almost never any impact on win rates but you gain a major increase in opportunity margin”.

Implement non-rounded authority levels in salesforce

Any number you chose can be used for each level of authority in the approval process. For example, make the approval process entry criteria 7 percent. This means any opportunity with a discount greater than this figure needs approval.

Avoid rounded discount steps in approval processes.

Tip 3. Record what was agreed in the approval process

Tony’s third tip is to keep a record of what was approved and why.

“Let’s say you give a 2 percent discount based on a certain rationale. 12 months from now you don’t want to give away more discount for the same reason. The discount for that rationale has already been taken by your first discount.

“A big issue in many companies is that the reason for a discount is not visible later”, says Tony. “Email isn’t the ideal place for this. It’s impossible for people not directly involved in the discussion to access the information. And even if you are involved, it’s not easy to quickly find the information 12 months later”.

Record what was agreed in salesforce

Often there’s dialogue between a sales person and the manager before the approval process is formally started. Many companies that use approvals processes effectively store this dialogue on salesforce Chatter. That means the information is stored directly on the opportunity, for all to see, for all time.

Use Chatter in salesforce to record the discussion about deals the approval process.

When approving or rejecting an approval process request, the approver can also enter a justification into the comments box. That’s an excellent way of keeping a record of precisely why the approver made this specific decision.

Tip 4. Re-visit opportunities after the deal is done

Tony recommends reviewing deals 6 months after the paperwork was signed.

“Check that the customer is sticking to their side of the commitment. For example, if you gave a 5% discount in return for a guaranteed order of 1000 units per month, then check that’s what the customer is actually ordering. Sometimes it won’t be.

That doesn’t mean you have to go back to the customer in an aggressive way. Perhaps their project has been delayed. But you do at least want to shift the balance of power by making sure they’re aware of the broken commitment. And avoid falling into the same trap again”.

How to schedule re-visits in salesforce

There’s two simple ways to do this. Option one is to create a custom date field on the Opportunity. When the deal is set to Closed Won populate this field with the review date. If this is done manually (rather than by using a workflow rule) then apply a validation rule to make sure a date is entered.

Option two is to create a Task. Set the date 6 months hence and give it a Type of Deal Review.

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Tip 5. Make the profit impact visible during the approval process

Tony insists discount requests are approved or rejected with full knowledge of the impact of the profit of each deal.

“Each 1% of discount has a greatly magnified impact on the net margin of each opportunity. Approvers need knowledge of this impact when they are considering deals in the approval process. Otherwise you run the risk that many deals have borderline profitability.”

How to calculate the net margin on each opportunity in salesforce

To do this accurately your business needs to be using Products on Opportunities. (In addition to calculating net margin there are many other reasons why you should be using Products).

Then there are two options depending on the level of sophistication that’s necessary to give approvers the information they need.

The first option works well if the fully loaded unit cost does not vary by territory or customer type. In other words, the same cost can be applied irrespective of where the product is being sold.

To do this create a custom field on the Product to store the fully loaded unit cost of the Product. Then use a formula field on the Opportunity Product Line Item to calculate the Quantity multiplied by the Product unit cost. This tells you the total cost of the Product on that particular Opportunity. Sum this value for all Products on the Opportunity using a workflow rule.

The second option is appropriate if the cost of fulfilment varies from one region or segment to another. For example, in the ILX Group, the cost of delivering training courses varies significantly by geography. This is reflected in the price at which training courses are sold around the world.

The price variation is managed through the use of Price Books aligned to each geographical territory. ILX then created the Unit Cost field on the Price Book Entry. This allows the variable cost to be reflected on the opportunity line items. Again the total cost is summarized on the opportunity.

Either approach means the total net margin can be calculated. It’s the Amount minus the total net cost of the Products. It means managers can take the margin figure into account when deciding whether to accept discount requests in the approval process.

Enter a reason for approval or rejection in the approval process. Record the reason why a discount is given during the approval process.

Tip 6. Streamline the approval process

It’s natural to think that the more steps in the approval process the more unlikely it is that unnecessary discounts will be given away.

“But that’s not always the case”, says Tony. “Stripping out levels of authority has a remarkable impact.

For example one of our manufacturing clients had six levels of authority in their approval process. Yet we still found lots of evidence of unnecessary discounts. So they stripped four levels out of the approval process.

Now managers have authority up to 9 percent. If the sales person wants a higher discount, the approval request goes direct to the CEO. And guess what? They usually don’t ask for discounts of more than 9 percent. Win rates have remained stable. But profitability has improved”.

How to streamline approval processes in salesforce

Think carefully about the approval process steps needed in your business. Then configure the Entry Criteria and Steps in the Approval Process function that will support your streamlined process.

Tip 7. Measure win rates

Many companies have differential pricing between geographical territories or market segments. That means there needs to be flexibility in the discount policy.

“It’s important to test and validate changes to the discount levels” says Tony. “The best way to do this is by measuring win rates over time and across territories or segments. That gives quantitative data that can be used to evaluate and adapt pricing and discount approval processes.”

How to measure win rates in salesforce

There are various approaches to measuring opportunity win rates. We believe the only robust way is to compare the number and value of opportunities Closed Won and Lost in a given period. It’s an important topic and we’ve written an entire blog post on measuring win rates.

Tip 8. Make sweeteners explicit in the approval process

“It’s a fact of life that sometimes you need to offer inducements to win a deal”, says Tony. “Free delivery. Non-chargeable training. Upgraded support contracts. Add-ons at no charge. They’re all legitimate ways to get a deal across the line. But there’s a cost to fulfilling them. Or an opportunity cost in lost revenue. So they’re all forms of price discount.

The key is to make sweeteners explicit in the deal. If you’re giving away free delivery, fine. But make an above-the-board conscious decision to give free delivery and include the value as discount in the approval process”.

How to make sweeteners explicit in salesforce approval processes

The key to this is making sure that all elements of the customer solution are captured on the opportunity in salesforce.

Using Products is one way to do this. Items such as delivery, service contracts and optional components can all easily be created as Products. Consider using the product selection wizard to make it easy for sales people to add products to opportunities in salesforce. Let sales people set the sales price to zero for freebies included in the deal.

If you are not using products then create custom fields on the opportunity to capture information about what is included in the deal given to the customer.

Either way, managers it means that are asked to review a deal in the approval process now have a holistic view of the cost and revenue associated with the opportunity.

We have a fantastic video case study that shows how ILX uses products to generate a wide range of benefits including full control of discounts within approval processes.

Tip 9. Track discounts by teams and individuals

“Some people are just naturally better at resisting customer demands for discounts”, says Tony. “New or inexperienced sales people often find it more difficult, for example. But teams or individuals that are under pressure to hit quota are also prone to giving unnecessary discounts.

There are a number of ways to address this. The most obvious is to give sales people the training and coaching needed to negotiate effectively. But it’s not always one size fits all. You need management information to determine which sales people will benefit from different types of training”.

How to measure discounts given using salesforce

To do this create several fields on the Opportunity that calculate the total discount in percentage and value. Nick demonstrates this in the video in Tip 1. Then use reports and dashboard charts in salesforce to track discounts by team and user. Also think about using volume based pricing within salesforce to manage and control discounts offered to customers.

Tip 10. Conduct qualitative research

It’s common to find a ‘Reasons Lost’ field on the Opportunity in salesforce. There’s typically a validation rule that ensures sales people complete the field when the Opportunity Stage is set to Lost.

“How often do you see anything other than ‘Price’ set as the reason that a deal is lost?” asks Tony. “Hardly ever. Yet is this always the real reason? I very much doubt it.

Of course price can be a factor in losing deals. But it’s important to get to the bottom of the other reasons as well. Win-rate measurement gives you the quantitative metrics on how well you are doing. But undertake qualitative research to get to the underlying reasons for success or failure”.

How to capture qualitative research in salesforce

Many of our customers use a custom object called ‘Lessons Learned’ and associate this with the opportunity.

An internal review is conducted whenever a large deal is won or lost and the key findings captured in the Lessons Learned object.

This is sometimes supplemented with customer interviews carried out by an independent third party. As Tony explains, that’s a way to get powerful insights that would not be available through internal discussions alone.

Tony Hodgson, 10 tips on effective approval process.

About Tony Hodgson

Tony is the Managing Director for Pricing Solutions Ltd UK. PSL is an international pricing strategy consultancy dedicated to helping clients achieve World Class Pricing competency. Their international team of senior pricing consultants is committed to providing clients with the tools and support they need to make pricing decisions that improve the bottom line.

As Managing Director he has worked with leading organisations across a wide array of sectors, including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food services, digital publishers, tourist attractions and many more. No matter what the sector, the common currency is an understanding of all aspects of pricing.

If you are interesting in exploring pricing improvements at your company please connect with Tony or contact him directly to initiate a discussion. More details can be found at www.pricingsolutions.com

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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.

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How to Make It Easy to Add Products to Opportunities

How to Make It Easy to Add Products to Opportunities

It’s true. For a sales person, to add Products to Opportunities in salesforce can be a bind.

It’s even more of a hassle if your sales people have a lot of products to select from. Let’s face it, it’s not the most user-friendly piece of functionality salesforce have ever invented.

But the fact is, if you’re using salesforce.com to manage your pipeline, then you almost certainly should be adding Products to Opportunities. And that’s true even if your products are services and not tangible items.

At the very least, the result of not adding Products to Opportunities is reduced management visibility of the sales pipeline. And it’s difficult to streamline the sales process by generating quotes and proposals directly from salesforce.com if products are not attached to opportunities. It probably means you can’t use electronic signature applications such as Echosign or Docusign to make it even easier for customers to buy.

Not adding products to opportunities also rules out a whole batch of downstream process improvements. This includes the automated creation of customer assets together with streamlined fulfilment, delivery and installation processes.

So what can you do about it?

The answer is a product selection wizard.
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Hero to Xero: Financial accounting integration with salesforce and Xero

Hero to Xero: Financial accounting integration with salesforce and Xero

Driving a business forward particularly in the current climate, demands real-time information on revenue, costs, cash flow and profitability. And that’s where salesforce.com and Xero fit in.

At The Gary Smith Partnership we’ve been using the cloud based Xero accounting system for the last three years and it’s proven to be the critical enabler for providing the Board with accurate, real-time financial information. It also means that our geographically diverse and mobile workforce can manage their expenses whilst on the go.

Now we’ve taken things a step further and integrated the two systems via the salesforce.com and Xero APIs. This means we can track the revenue and financial metrics of all deals from initial Lead through to Opportunity, Project and Invoice. All in one user interface, in real time.

In fact things go beyond Invoicing. Xero’s introduction of secure bank feeds directly into their application also means that we have an up to date view of the payment status of all Invoices. And this view is then pushed into salesforce.com to give a truly holistic view of every customer.

Reports and dashboards

Like salesforce, Xero also has a powerful management information capability that provides full visibility into financial performance.

xero accounting salesforce integrationxero accounting report

Xero have some excellent videos that explain how their accounting application works. Or if you’re interested in finding out more on how salesforce and Xero can work together to streamline your end to end business processes then please get in touch.

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