Getting started with the salesforce Sales Cloud the right way is critical for successful implementation and project delivery.
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 are immediately getting started with the salesforce Sales Cloud in the wrong way.
Here’s what I commonly see.
- 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 getting started, 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 are getting 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 and 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.
Getting 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the same three Opportunity fields in the salesforce Lightning 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.
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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.
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.
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 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 are people in the very earliest stage of the sales cycle.
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.
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:
- 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Videos And Examples.
- How To Build Powerful Key Account Plans In Salesforce.
- 3 Ways To Manage Sales Performance Against Target In Salesforce.
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.
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12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard
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This fully-illustrated 27 page ebook shows you the 12 Killer Sales Charts for your Dashboard and explains How to Read Them and When to Use Them.