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

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

1. Improve sales funnel management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Use Product Schedules to track future revenue

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

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

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

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

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

S-curve in salesforce used in the construction industry.

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

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

3. Load Invoices or Orders into salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

4. Use web to lead to capture new sales enquiries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Use Quotes with Opportunities and Products

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

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

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

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

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

Single Opportunity with multiple Quotes

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

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

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

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

Increase your salesforce.com benefits

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

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

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