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The Very Best Way To Create Call Lists In Salesforce

The Very Best Way To Create Call Lists In Salesforce

Tony Richards thumps the table in frustration.

“There’s got to be a better way to create a call list in salesforce than this.”

“The call list must show me the 200 people I need to ring today to follow up the webinar,” he says. “But I spend most of my time scratching around, trying to see who to phone next!”

Tony is not alone.

If you have ever tried to create a call list in salesforce you may have experienced the same frustration.

Here’s what some people do. They create the call list from the Campaign page layout.

Creating call lists in salesforce from a Campaign does not work well.

That doesn’t work too well. To say the least.

Other people create a call list from a report. However, that involves a lot of toing and froing for each call.

Or they use a List View. Again, far from ideal.

Fortunately, there is a better way. A much better way.

Unfortunately, it’s a hidden secret.

But not any more.

The secret to creating call lists in salesforce is to use the Sales Console.

Salesforce Sales Console explained

The Sales Console is neat because it allows Users to do two things.

  • Easily view a call list of people that need contacting.
  • Open each person (and related information) in multiple tabs on the same screen.

Watch this video for a short overview of how the Sales Console is used to create call lists and manage Call Frequency in salesforce.

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The Horrible Mistake You’re Making With Call Lists In salesforce

Examples of Call Lists in salesforce using the Sales Console

The reasons to create call lists in salesforce is almost endless.

Here are five examples that the team use here at GSP or that I’ve taken from our customers.

  1. Telephone prospects to create appointments for field sales.
  2. Follow up an event or marketing campaign.
  3. Contact renewal customers.
  4. Keep in touch with regular customers in between physical visits.
  5. Conduct a market research survey of customers.

If you haven’t already, take a quick look at the video. I demonstrate how to use the Sales Console to create call lists in salesforce for numbers 2 and 3.

Find out if you have the salesforce Sales Console

You probably already have this feature in salesforce. You may just not realize it.

To find out, click Setup. Under Administration Setup, go to Company Profile, Company Information. Then, in the Permission Set Licenses section look whether you have Sales Console User licenses.

To find out if you can use the Sales Console to create call lists in salesforce, click Setup. Under Administration Setup, go to Company Profile, Company Information. Then, in the Permission Set Licenses section look whether you have Sales Console User licenses.

If you don’t have Sales Console User licenses, get onto your salesforce account manager.

It’s simple and easy to set up the Sales Console and use to create call lists in salesforce. Just follow these step-by-step instructions.

If you need help, no problem. Get in touch for a no-charge 30 minute web meeting and we’ll get it going for you.

Tony Richard’s Call Lists

“The Sales Console is a great way to create call lists in salesforce,” says Tony.

“Now I can focus on delivering my message not clicking around in the system. I’ve combined the sales console with call frequency to make 50% more calls in the day, simply by having quick and easy access to the information.”

Let’s get on with calling about that webinar!”

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Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

I have reviewed hundreds of existing salesforce implementations.

And seen many mistakes.

But there are five opportunity mistakes that jump out all the time.

I call them, “the usual suspects”.

Yet the thing about them is, they are easy to fix.

Addressing each opportunity mistake alone, will:

  • Make salesforce easier to use. In other words, improve user adoption.
  • Improve reports and dashboards. This enables better management decision making.
  • Enable more robust opportunity management. That improves pipeline management.

So here they are. The usual suspects.

Let’s examine each salesforce opportunity mistake and see how to fix it.

Opportunity Mistake #1 – Badly designed Opportunity Stages

The standard opportunity stages in salesforce do not fit well with the sales process in many businesses.

So it is perfectly sensible to change them.

However, I’m sorry to say, businesses often do it badly.

Here are the most common mistakes with Opportunity Stages.

  • Too many stages. This happens when the sales cycle is broken into too many granular stages. Consequently, it’s difficult to make sense of pipeline dashboard charts and reports.
  • Ambiguous stages. When opportunity stages are unclear, salespeople cannot update the opportunity accurately. As a result, managers are unable to monitor the sales pipeline with any confidence.
  • Stages as milestones. This happens when stages represent a specific milestone or task (e.g. Meeting Booked, Proposal Sent). Unfortunately, it is difficult to define a sales process or get a sense of what is happening on the Opportunity over time when Stages are defined in this way.

For example, here’s a real-life scenario.

It’s a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had far too many opportunity stages.

Example of a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had too many opportunity stages.

To fix this salesforce opportunity mistake, take these actions:

  • Consolidate stages. Combine two or more existing stages into a single opportunity stage. Update existing opportunities to reflect the new value.
  • Define stages carefully. Think-through the opportunity stages and their definition. Have someone not involved directly in sales, review and challenge your stage definitions.

For more advice on fixing opportunity stage mistakes, read this blog post:

3 Common Mistakes With Opportunity Stages And How To Fix Them.

Opportunity Mistake #2 – Not Using Opportunity Products

Earlier this week I reviewed an existing salesforce environment for a potential customer.

Unfortunately, they were making the opportunity mistake common to many companies:

Multiple ‘Amount’ fields on the opportunity.

In fact, they had created 24 fields. All to capture information about the different products and over-time revenue streams associated with an opportunity.

The result?

Highly confusing page layouts. Low user adoption. Reports that were too complicated, with no workable information.

However, it is a common opportunity mistake.

The solution is to use Opportunity Products. (In some cases, use Product Schedules as well).

Virtually every company that has salesforce should use Products. This is as true for service companies as it is for manufacturing or product-based businesses.

A Product, in this context, can be anything that generates revenue. A day of professional services, manufactured items, maintenance contracts, license fees, widgets. They are all examples of Products.

Here are some of the benefits you get from using Opportunity Products:

  • Accurate opportunity amounts. Base the total value of the opportunity on the specific price and quantity of products.
  • Improved pipeline visibility. Monitor the size, trend and quality of the pipeline by product category.
  • Identify training and development needs. Compare average deal size, number of products and type of products across salespeople.
  • Pricing control. Use approval processes to control price discounts.
  • Forecast revenue over time. Combine products and schedules to forecast revenue over months or years.
  • Streamline processes. Re-design contract and fulfilment processes.

If you have many Products, then consider using the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

Use the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

These blog posts that give more guidance on using Products and Product Schedules.

Missing Out On The Value Of Products? Learn The Basics

5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce

Manage 4 Types of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

4 Ways To Manage Volume Based Pricing In Salesforce

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Opportunity Mistake #3 – Not Using Contact Roles

Even a simple B2B purchase rarely involves only one person.

“The number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today, and these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies.” Harvard Business Review, March-April 2017.

However, not using Contact Roles is another common opportunity mistake in salesforce.

The Contact Roles function in salesforce is not perfect. However, it is a standard feature that is easy to configure and use.

Contact Roles is a standard salesforce feature that is easy to configure and use.

The benefits you will get from using Contact Roles include:

  • Increased rigour in managing opportunities. The simple act of populating Contact Roles, forces salespeople to think about their stakeholder management approach.
  • Improved management team contribution. Often it is hard to define the decision maker, versus an influencer versus the financial approver. Yet surfacing this information in Contact Roles promotes healthy debate about the role played by each individual.
  • Improved long-term visibility. Using Contact Roles makes it significantly easier to identify the stakeholders that keep cropping up over time.

There is more on Contact Roles, including advice on the Role picklist values, in another of our blogs:

The Right Way And The Wrong Way To Track Opportunity Stakeholders

Opportunity Mistake #4 – Not using Chatter on the record

On any major deal – and even on many small ones – there will be a lot of communication between internal stakeholders.

Pricing, strategy, pre-sales demonstrations, stakeholder management and lots more. Often, they are all the subject of extensive discussion.

However, managing that internal communication by email is a common opportunity mistake.

Using email for this dialogue means:

  • It’s difficult to revisit important discussion e.g. on discount decisions.
  • Important dialogue about the opportunity is dis-jointed.
  • Less clogged up inbox. Surely, we all want that!

Indeed B2B pricing consultant, Tony Hodgson, attributes many needless price discounts to email.

“Let’s say you give a 10 percent discount to the customer first time around. The dialogue around the internal justification and approval will nearly always be by email. A year down the line, the customer asks for a further discount. Chances are they are going to use the same justification in their argument that they used previously. Yet you consumed that justification in the original discount. But unfortunately, everyone will have forgotten and it’s virtually impossible to find the documentation.”

Far better, says Hodgson, to use Chatter, directly on the Opportunity.

Use salesforce Chatter directly on the Opportunity.

“Conducting the internal dialogue on the Chatter Feed within the Opportunity leaves no doubt as to where the justification and documentation resides. It’s there forever and a day. Maybe you’ll still agree to the discount – but at least you’re doing it with full knowledge of what went before”.

Read more about Chatter and other techniques to control price discounts:

10 Expert Tips To Give Away Smaller Price Discounts

Opportunity Mistake #5 – Close Dates in the past

Unless you have a time turner, opportunities will not close in the past.

However, this is a very common opportunity mistake. An open pipeline that contains deals with a close date earlier than today.

In fact, many pipelines contain deals that are months out of date. This is a real-life example of what that looks like in a dashboard chart.

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

The impact of having out-of-date opportunities in the pipeline includes:

  • Poor quality pipeline visibility.
  • Inaccurate performance metrics e.g. errors in win-rate percentages.
  • Inability to forecast reliably.

The way you fix this problem depends on the scale of the situation and the resources at your disposal. You have the following choices:

  • Sweep the problem under the carpet.
  • Fix the problem yourself.
  • Get the sales team to fix the dates.
  • Take broad-brush approach with a mass update of opportunities.
  • Adopt a hybrid approach incorporating several of the above.

This is such a common opportunity mistake that I have written an entire blog post about it. The post describes the options for solving the problem and explains when each is appropriate:

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

So there they are. The top five opportunity mistakes in salesforce.

Go ahead, and fix the usual suspects in your business.

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When Repeat Opportunities Are Right (And When They Are Not)

When Repeat Opportunities Are Right (And When They Are Not)

Not every sale results in a single, one-off invoice and payment.

Often, they result in multiple orders and payments over time.

However, here are two common mistakes companies make in Salesforce:

  • They do use repeat opportunities when they shouldn’t, and sometimes
  • They don’t use repeat opportunities when they should.

The result?

  • Your sales process is more complex than necessary.
  • It’s challenging to get accurate pipeline visibility.
  • Sales metrics on the size, quality and trend in the sales pipeline become distorted.

So, here are five examples in which you may think repeat opportunities have a role to play in Salesforce.

In each of these commonly occurring scenarios, companies receive multiple payments over time. So, are repeat opportunities the best way to handle each situation?

Here’s a simple way to answer this question:

Decide whether future revenue is in jeopardy.

If the answer is yes, then repeat opportunities are probably required.

However, if the answer is no, then you probably don’t need repeat opportunities.

Here’s how repeat opportunities apply – or don’t apply – to each of the situations above.

Repeat opportunities with software as a service

Based in Paris, Sidetrade provides predictive software to accelerate credit management and the sales-to-cash cycle.

Sidetrade delivers its platform on a SaaS basis. Customers sign-up for a fixed-term contract for several years. Payment is on an annual basis.

Sidetrade doesn’t need recurring or repeat opportunities each year.

Repeat opportunities are not required because the future revenue on the existing contract is not in jeopardy. The opportunity is not in doubt. That’s because the signed customer contract is already in place.

Therefore, instead of repeat opportunities, Sidetrade forecasts future revenue using Revenue Schedules.

For sure, Sidetrade will aim to sell additional services or upgrades to the customer.

However, Sidetrade handles this using additional opportunities. These are new opportunities for incremental revenue rather than repeat opportunities.

Repeat opportunities with insurance premiums

Based near Toronto, Aboriginal Insurance Services (AIS) sells insurance products to the Indigenous Native American communities across Canada.

For example, the community will purchase motor insurance to cover all vehicles operated by the municipal area.

The insurance and premium is always for one year of cover.

AIS will aim to renew the policy with the community. However, there’s no guarantee of this renewal.

Future revenue is in considerable jeopardy. Each year, competitors will seek to undercut AIS or offer more product benefits.

Therefore, it’s right for AIS to create a repeat opportunity to manage the renewal. It is a separate sales process. AIS will apply crucial, proactive key account planning to optimize the chances of success.

There is, however, no certainty of a positive outcome.

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Repeat opportunities with service contracts

Based in Yorkshire in northern England, MAM Software sells advanced software and hardware to support the automotive logistical supply chain in the UK and the USA.

The company provides support contracts that cover the software and hardware. These typically run for 3 – 5 years.

The customer pays an annual fee for support.

However, MAM doesn’t use repeat opportunities.

That’s because the customer is committed contractually for the duration of the support arrangement. The revenue is secured. It’s not in jeopardy.

Instead, MAM has a single opportunity. Products with Schedules forecast future revenue. These schedules mean MAM has an accurate, forward-looking view of secured income.

Repeat opportunities with Proof of Concepts

Another London based customer, Modernis, provides advanced analytics and consultancy services to the insurance and reinsurance markets across the UK, USA and Europe.

Modernis offers the analytics products in a software-as-a-service platform.

However, the sales process often involves two distinct stages.

First, Modernis provides chargeable proof-of-concept access to its platform. Later, once customers have experienced the value that the platform brings, Modernis sells a contract that runs for several years. This contract incorporates an annual license charge.

To manage this, Modernis create two opportunities.

The first opportunity represents the sales process for a chargeable proof-of-concept.

A second opportunity is automatically created. This represents the sales process for the full contract.

So the company uses repeat opportunities – at least of a type. The repeat opportunity is used because commitment to the full contract is not a given.

Instead, it depends on a successful outcome to the proof of concept.

Modernis also forecast the future revenue on the full contract using Schedules. This is because once the contract is signed, the revenue is not in jeopardy. Therefore, a repeat opportunity is not required.

Framework agreements in Salesforce

Gilbarco Veeder Root (GVR) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of petrol pumps and retail equipment. Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the company has a Salesforce deployment covering six continents.

A GVR opportunity often relates to a large site re-fit program for one of the major petrol retail companies.

The refit program may take the retail petrol company several years to complete. It’s likely to require a significant purchase from GVR.

One the one hand, a long-term contract benefits both parties.

On the other hand, the customer doesn’t want the delivery of all the petrol pumps manufactured and delivered in one go!

Rather, they need to ‘drawdown’ the units as-and-when the refit program is ready to install them.

So the total value of the contract is agreed upon. However, the month-on-month revenue is variable.

GVR handles this with a single upfront opportunity.

The company uses custom revenue schedules to predict the volume and revenue that is anticipated each month. The GVR Account Manager updates the schedules each month with the actual orders.

This allows GVR to track the projected volume (upon which the commercial terms were agreed) with the actual volume ordered by the oil company.

Recommended blog post: How To Manage 4 Types of Framework Agreement In Salesforce.

Implementation points to consider with repeat opportunities:

  • Consider triggering the repeat opportunity automatically. This avoids the subsequent opportunity being forgotten about. That trigger happens when the first opportunity is won or at some other predetermined point in the process.
  • Measure the win-loss ratio for the repeat opportunity separately to the initial opportunity.
  • Consider using Products and Schedules to forecast the revenue over time. Read this blog post for more advice on how to do this.
  • Consider custom revenue schedules if you need additional flexibility. For example, if you need to record the status (not due, invoiced, paid) on individual schedules, then you will need custom revenue schedules.

Not every sale results in a single payment or transaction. However, only use repeat opportunities when it is right to do so. And if it isn’t right, then try revenue schedules instead.

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Finish 2016 Strongly With These End Of Year Deal Strategies

Finish 2016 Strongly With These End Of Year Deal Strategies

The Advanced Selling Podcast is the world’s longest running audio show for sales professionals.

It’s hosted by veteran sales coaches Bill Caskey and Bryan Neal. The pair have a relaxed and whimsical style that’s always packed with rock solid, practical advice.

It is must-listen weekly content.

The end of the year is fast approaching. But there is still time to get deals done. So this week Bryan and Bill focused on End Of Year Deal Strategies. In other words, their essential advice on how to finish 2016 strongly.

So in our blog post this week we take each of Bill and Bryan’s end of year deal strategies and explain how to apply their advice using salesforce.

Here’s why you need to do this.

  • The data you need to implement their deal tips and finish 2016 strongly is already in salesforce. Don’t waste time duplicating information by creating spreadsheets.
  • Using salesforce makes your opportunities visible to your boss and / or peers. You’re going to need that visibility to follow Bill and Bryan’s advice properly.
  • It’s easy to follow progress and track outcomes in salesforce. You’ll want to see just how effective you were in finishing the year with a bang.

So let’s get started with their end of year deal strategies and implementing them use good salesforce practice.

1. Be clear where you need to spend your time

Here’s Bill and Bryan’s first tip on end of year deal strategies.

“Be clear on where you need to spend your time”.

To do this, put all of your open deals into one of three categories. The categories reflect whether the deal can be closed before the end of the year.

Bill and Bryan recommend Green, Red and Yellow for the category names.

  • Green deals. You’re confident these opportunities will close before the end of the year.
  • Red deals. It’s unlikely these deals will close successfully this year.
  • Yellow deals. These might close but you’re going to need to work hard on them.

“Take a long hard look at your open deals. Be brutally honest”, they recommend.

“One way is to walk through each deals with your boss or a peer. Get them to challenge you a little bit. Work hard to justify why each deal is in each segment”.

The natural reaction of most salespeople is to work on the green deals first, then yellow, then red argue Bill and Bryan.

But that’s a mistake.

The correct order is Yellow, Green then Red.

If you work the Yellow deals hard and in the right way then some of these deals will close successfully.

And if you’ve done your segmentation correctly then the Green deals will close successfully without too much effort.

It’s those middle deals – the ones that are currently 50:50 – that will determine how strongly you finish the year.

So you’ve got to be brutally honest about the segment into which each deal belongs. Get a colleague to help you – your boss or a peer. Ask them to challenge you on every deal. And then do the same for them.

To implement this end of year deal strategy in salesforce

It’s really easy. Here’s what your system administrator needs to do.

  • Create a picklist with the values Red, Amber, Green.
  • Fix the chart colors associated with each value (otherwise salesforce will assign colors randomly to each picklist value).
  • Create a matrix report and dashboard chart.

If you want to be a bit fancier, then implement a color bar (or other visual graphic) to make it even easier on the eye.

Here’s what the dashboard chart and report looks like.

As part of your end of year deal strategy create a dashboard and report showing all open deals by category and close date.

In our example we’ve grouped the report by week rather than month. That’s because there’s not much time to the end of the year. It’s imperative to focus week-by-week on the deals we plan to close successfully before the end of the year.

2. Plan how to get to where you want to be

Here’s the second end of year deal strategy from Bill and Bryan.

Create a plan for each opportunity you are going to work on.

The guys acknowledge that planning isn’t something that comes naturally to many salespeople!

“You don’t need to overdo it”, say Bill and Bryan. “A plan is a series of steps that the salesperson will execute between now and the end of the year”.

Taking care to rigorously review and categorize each opportunity is a key element of creating the deal-specific plan.

Identify all the stakeholders associated with the opportunity. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the last minute by failing to address the needs of one stakeholder.

To implement this end of year deal strategy in salesforce

  • Contact Roles. Use the standard Contact Roles feature on Opportunities to associate everyone in the buying center with the opportunity. Specify the role each person. This really helps with thinking through the close plan for each deal.
  • Create a text field for the plan. No need for anything fancy. Create a Text field on the Opportunity to store the details of the close plan for each deal.

Here’s how the opportunity might look.

The end of year deal strategy should include categorization of each opportunity and a close plan for every deal.

The field ‘2016 Close Segment’ appears in the top left of the Deal Strategy section. Over to the right is an automated custom flag to make the segment easy-on-the-eye to spot.

In this example we have also included some key pipeline quality metrics. These provide valuable input that will influence our confidence that the deal can be closed successfully this year.

The Contact Roles are shown on the bottom of the opportunity. Tagging each person with their Role surfaces thinking and discussion about the influence of each Contact on the Opportunity. You can see in this example that we’ve even included one external consultant (John Bond) that is also playing a role on the Opportunity.

Alternatively read about more a more customized approach to key account management and creating customer-specific action plans.

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3. Amp-up your calendar based language

Here’s deal strategy number three. Become very diligent about getting dates into the diary.

“If you agree to call someone next Friday then send the calendar invite in the meeting. Do it there and then.

Because otherwise, Friday comes around, there’s no agreed calendar invite, the call doesn’t happen and your follow-up has evaporated”, says Bill.

The days slip away quickly at this time of year.

At this time of year it’s imperative to get dates in the diary. Make dates explicit. In the meeting, send the invite. Be disciplined!

To implement this end of year deal strategy in salesforce

Let’s be honest. Most people use MS Outlook for diary management and calendar invites rather than salesforce. We don’t disagree with that approach.

So here’s a slight spin on Bill and Bryan’s advice.

You’re going to be busy. There are going to be many non-work demands on your time what with Christmas shopping, kids school performances, family gatherings and social commitments.

So it is imperative to keep track of what you have agreed and the tasks you need to do. Record these notes in salesforce using Activities. It’s the best way we know of keeping track of everything. And it will help you stick to the plan.

4. Agree Go / No Go dates

Bill and Bryan’s final tip is to agree a Go / No Go date with each prospect. They recommend December 16, for example.

This isn’t an agreement that the prospect will say ‘yes’ on this date. It’s a mutual agreement on the date by which both parties will agree whether they will work together on a close this year. You can even ask the question, “If you were me, would you forecast the deal to close one way or the other in December?”

On the Go / No Go date the prospect might agree that the deal will close in 2016. Or they may say it will never close successfully. Or that the decision can be postponed until the New Year.

Either way, it’s a way of bringing matters to a head at this time of year.

To implement this end of year deal strategy in salesforce

  • Simply create a Go / No Go Date field on the Opportunity. You can see it on the left hand side of example screen shot earlier.
  • Incorporate the Go / No Go Date into your deal-specific plan. There should be actions that lead up to the date, and a calendared meeting for the discussion on the day.

So good luck. Santa will be coming, but not just yet. Implement these end of year deal strategies in your sales team today and finish 2016 in stomping fashion!

For weekly advice on maximizing your sales revenue subscribe to the Advanced Selling Podcast.

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10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes In Salesforce

10 Expert Tips To Improve Discount Approval Processes In Salesforce

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 salesforce 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. Therefore, a 5 percent price discount means giving away half your profit.

Moreover, discount by more than 10 percent and the deal is loss making.

The fully loaded margin in your business is probably a different figure. Nevertheless, 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 salesforce.”

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

And guess what?

He gave us 10 powerful salesforce approval process tips.

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

Tip 1. Implement an effective approval process

“Frequently, authorization for price discounts happens in a haphazard and informal manner. Consequently, that almost guarantees giving away unnecessary discounts and eating into your profits”, says Tony.

“It sounds obvious but defining a discount policy and using a robust salesforce approval process for price discounts is the first step”.

Implement salesforce Approval Processes

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

10 Tips From An Expert To Improve Discount Approval Processes

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

Alternatively, we’ll give you some pointers when you get in touch.

Tip 2. Avoid rounded discount levels in approval processes

“Companies typically give discount 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 given away disproportionately affects the margin for that deal.

“Sales people often take the path of least resistance. In other words, if the customer asks for a discount they go straight for 10 percent if that’s their authority level. Therefore, why not give them authority of 9 percent? Or 7.5?

“Likewise 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. However, you gain a major increase in opportunity margin”.

Implement non-rounded authority levels in salesforce

Use any number you chose for each level of authority in salesforce 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 agreements 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 is 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

There’s often dialogue between a sales person and the manager before the approval process formally starts.

Many companies that successfully use salesforce approvals processes 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 also enters 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 signing the paperwork.

“Check that the customer is sticking to their side of the commitment.

“For example, you gave a 5% discount in return for a guaranteed order of 1000 units per month. Check that’s what the customer actually orders. Sometimes it won’t be.

“That doesn’t mean you go back to the customer in an aggressive way. Perhaps their project is delayed. However, you do at least want to shift the balance of power by making sure they’re aware of the broken commitment. That’s an important negotiating point, next time around”.

How to schedule approval reviews in salesforce

There’s two simple ways to do this.

Option one involves 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, for example) 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 value of ‘Deal Review’.

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

Tony recommends approving or rejecting each discount request with full knowledge of the impact on 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).

This means 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 applies 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 fulfillment 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 Price Books aligned to each geographical territory. ILX then created the Unit Cost field on the Price Book Entry. This means the variable cost is reflected on the opportunity line items. Again, the total cost is summarized on the opportunity.

Either approach means the total net margin is calculated. It’s the Amount minus the total net cost of the Products. It means managers 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 salesforce 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 in salesforce.

“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 produces 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 such an important topic that 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 either a direct cost or an opportunity cost in fulfilling them. Therefore, 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. However, 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, it means managers reviewing 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. However, 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. Typically a validation rule 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. However, 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 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 provides clients with the tools and support they need to make pricing decisions that improve the bottom line.

As Managing Director, Tony works 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. Find full details at www.pricingsolutions.com

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5 Tips To Increase Average Deal Size Using Salesforce

5 Tips To Increase Average Deal Size Using Salesforce

You might think there’s not much that can be done to increase average deal size.

Other than apply good old fashioned sales skills.

But you’d be wrong.

In fact there are 5 things that can be done in salesforce to help increase average deal size and drive revenue.

1. Compare average deal size across sales people.
2. Measure the number of optional products on opportunities.
3. Make it easier to find and add optional products to opportunities.
4. Get a grip of discounts.
5. Create product bundles.

Let’s explain how each one works in salesforce and look at the relevant dashboard charts.

 

1. Compare average deal size across sales people.

As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.

The mere presence of a dashboard chart indicates that average deal size is important.

This is the most basic way to measure average deal size but it adds major value.

By comparing the average deal size by sales person, the chart:

  • Tells sales people this is a metric that is important.
  • Helps identify training needs.
  • Highlights successful people from whom we can learn.
  • Provides factual information that can be used in 1.1s and reviews.

It’s a simple and easy dashboard chart to create. Simply create a standard opportunities report and summarize the Amount by Average rather than Sum.

Start comparing average deal size across sales people today.

 

2. Measure the number of optional products per opportunity

On most opportunities there are one or more core products.

It’s these products that comprise the bulk of the opportunity sales value.

But there are often a number of optional products that can be added. Optional products might include additional enhancements, complimentary product features and service and support contracts.

And guess what? There are often two characteristics of optional products.

First, they tend to come under less price challenge than core products. And second, the margin on optional products is often higher than on core products.

Adding more optional products to opportunities is a critical way to increase the average deal size. That’s why you want to measure it.

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The chart compares the performance of sales people in adding optional products. Here is the impact of adding optional products on average deal size and revenue.

That’s important information when it comes to training, coaching and managing sales people.

The same information can be created at team and company level.

Let’s look now at how to make it easier for sales people to add optional products to opportunities.

3. Use a product selection wizard

We agree that adding optional products is an essential way to increase average deal size.

But here’s the rub.

Using the standard page layout, it’s not particularly easy to find and add products to opportunities in salesforce. Especially if there are a lot of products.

And that’s an important reason why optional products get missed off opportunities.

Here’s how many of our customers deal with that challenge. They use a product selection wizard.

The wizard gives an easy-on-the-eye way to view all products. Sales people can expand each section of the tree and select products from various categories. The pane on the right lists all the opportunity products by the various categories.

The wizard makes it easy to add products to opportunities. And because it’s easier, more optional products get added to opportunities. And that increases the average deal size.

For more information on using a product selection wizard visit our dedicated blog page.

 

4. Create product bundles

Very often groups of products can be bundled together.

Bundling products has several advantages.

  • Essential but relatively minor products don’t get accidentally missed off the opportunity.
  • Complimentary optional products can be automatically added to the opportunity.
  • An improved price can be offered to the customer compared to purchasing the products individually.

All of these benefits help to increase the average deal size.

The combination of products that can be bundled together is created by an experienced product manager.

Sales people select the bundle using a similar interface to the product selection wizard.

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When sales people associate a bundle with an opportunity, all of the products in the bundle are added to the opportunity.

The customer benefits from a reduced price or increased discount for buying as a bundle. And the effect from a sales perspective is to increase the average deal size.

 

5. Get a grip of discounts

It stands to reason. The bigger the discount the lower the average deal size.

Discounts are a fact of commercial life. But in many businesses there is loose control over discounts.

Discount approvals are often handled in an unstructured way. Requests and approvals are often communicated by ad hoc emails and phone conversations.

The result of this is often that a higher level of discount is approved than is needed to secure the deal. And this impacts the average deal size.

The solution is to use the salesforce approvals functionality.

Using Approvals means that pre-defined rules can be created based on the size of the discount. There is a full audit trail of the discount request and approval on the opportunity. And discount requests can be approved by email or Chatter and automatically updated on the opportunity.

In my experience this controls discounts in two ways.

  1. Discount requests become more formal. This encourages sales people to think more deeply about whether a discount is really necessary to win the deal.
    Management control is increased. This can mean that overall, lower level of discounts are offered to customers.
  2. A quid-pro-quo is more often obtained from the customer in return for a discount. An increased product quantity or longer contract term for example.
    The outcome is an overall lower level of discounting and higher average deal size.

You should also consider using discounts in conjunction with volume based pricing within salesforce. Too often salespeople have to calculate volume related discounts in spreadsheets or ring binders. Bring discounts under control by calculating them directly within the system.

The average deal size is not a sales metric that should be left to look after itself. There are things that can be done to proactively increase it.

If you would like a customised demo of how to increase the average deal size in your business then simply fill in the form below. We’ll get in touch to arrange a time for a web meeting.

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Stop Losing Deals, Start Tracking Opportunity Competitors

Stop Losing Deals, Start Tracking Opportunity Competitors

Companies that consistently gather information about opportunity competitors outperform those that don’t.

A no brainer, right? If you understand how your rivals compete then you increase your chances of winning against them.

But here’s what I’ve found in my experience.

Most businesses are quite poor at using salesforce to track competitors on opportunities.

And yet the benefits are significant. They include the ability to:

  • Qualify opportunities based on historic success against competitors.
  • Tailor your sales approach based on the competitors on each deal.
  • Consistently increase win rates by learning what worked and what didn’t.

But there’s one other major benefit.

The act of recording competitor information in itself increases the chances of a successful outcome. It encourages sales people to think about their approach. Facilitates thought and discussion about the best way to approach each sales opportunity. Often surfacing unconscious information.

Achieving these benefits means gathering information about individual competitors on each opportunity. Here are 5 ways you can do that:

  1. Use the standard opportunity competitor functionality.
  2. Use a Reasons Lost and Lost To Picklists.
  3. Link competitor Accounts to Opportunities.
  4. Use a custom Competitor object.
  5. Use the GSP Competitor custom solution.

Not all of these options are mutually exclusive. Let’s explain each one and understand when it is appropriate.

1. Standard salesforce competitor tracking function

A good solution if:

  • You need a solution today. (Competitors may already be on your page layout).
  • Reporting on won / lost deals against competitors isn’t too important. You simply need a way for sales people to capture the competitors involved in a deal.

This feature hasn’t changed much in the 13 years that I’ve been implementing salesforce.

It allows basic information to be captured about the competitors on each opportunity.

If you haven’t modified your opportunity page layouts then the chances are the Competitor Related List is already visible to your users. Here’s what it looks like on the Opportunity page without any Competitor information added:

Opportunity with no competitors being tracked.

Clicking the new Button allows competitor information to be added:

Click new competitor to add a new rival to the competitor.

Competitors are manually entered by users. The lookup icon (immediately to the right of the Competitor Name) can be customized so that users can select from a predetermined list. Here’s an example of what we mean:

Add competitor from predetermined list.

The page can’t be customized in any way so you’re limited to the Strengths and Weaknesses fields that you see above.

Here’s what the layout looks like with some competitor information added:

Three competitors have been added to this opportunity using the standard salesforce funtionality.

The function is simple and easy to use. One drawback is that unless users consistently select competitors from the predetermined list or enter the same name for each competitor, then the quality of reports is reduced.

Dashboard chart that shows the number of times we have competed against each competitor.

For example, the report above shows the number of times we’ve been up against each competitor. GenePoint has been entered in several different ways which detracts from the value of the report.

It’s also not possible to record which competitor won the opportunity. We would therefore need separate charts to show our win / loss ratios against each competitor.

2. Reasons Lost picklist

A good solution if:

  • You need basic information on which competitor won a deal and why it was lost.
  • You use the solution in conjunction with the standard competitor functionality.
  • Users can be persuaded to enter the true reason why a deal is lost. In very many cases sales people enter ‘Price’ for the Reason Lost. That’s not always the reason in my experience!

This is the solution most commonly implemented by businesses that want to track competitors in salesforce. It can be used in parallel with the standard competitor tracking function described above.

There are various ways to implement this option. In essence it’s a way to capture additional information when a deal is lost. (The same approach can be used for Won deals).

Fields on the opportunity capture information about competitors.

In our example, when an Opportunity Stage is set to Lost, picklist and text fields are used to record more information. This includes the name of the winning company and reasons why the deal was lost (both picklist fields). A text field is also used to capture supplementary information.

The approach means that a variety of management reports can be created. For example here we can see the competitors to whom we’ve lost deals and the reason why.

Dashboard chart that shows the competitors we have lost to and the reasons why.

A validation rule can ensure the fields are completed when users set the opportunity to Closed Lost. A similar combination of fields can be used to record information on why a deal was won.

Bear in mind though that there’s no way to record multiple competitors on an opportunity this way. It’s therefore a good option if you’re using the standard competitor function to record involvement.

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3. Link Competitor Accounts to Opportunities using Partner Roles

A good solution if:

  • Multiple Accounts (not just competitors) play a role on many opportunities.
  • Management reporting on competitor involvement in opportunities is important.

In this approach each competitor is created as an Account in salesforce. The competitor Accounts are then linked to relevant Opportunities.

Storing competitors as Accounts isn’t as crazy as it sounds. They are, after all, companies. And those companies have Contacts and other data that you may want to record about competitors. It also means no significant configuration of the system is required in order to capture competitor information.

Competitors are usually identified through the Type field on the Account or have their own Record Type.

The linking between the competitor Account and the Opportunity is done using the Partner Roles feature. This is a standard function that allows the role played by one or more Accounts on an opportunity to be specified. These ‘role’ values can be modified to include Competitor.

Companies that use this approach often re-name the Partner function to Account Roles or Competitors.

For example, on this Opportunity we can see two Competitors and two other businesses playing a role on the opportunity.

Accounts playing different roles on an opportunity.

From the opportunity, when users click New Account Role or Competitor. They ‘lookup’ to an actual Account rather than entering text for the name of the partner. The role played by the Account on the opportunity is also specified.

Edit roles played by Accounts on opportunities.

This means that the feature can be used to capture information about a variety of companies that might be playing a role on the opportunity.

Some readers might baulk at the idea of creating competitors as Accounts. If competitors are stored as Accounts then what about the risk of accidentally emailing competitor contacts?

The way to avoid this risk is to check the Email Opt Out box on all Contacts associated with the Account. If you have salesforce Enterprise Edition or access to workflow rules then this process can be automated to eliminate the accidental-email risk.

This approach significantly improves reporting compared to the standard competitor tracking feature. However there’s no way to capture the specific strengths / weaknesses of each competitor in relation to the opportunity. This is because the page layout in which the Account is selected and the role specified cannot be modified.

As with the standard competitor tracking function this option can be combined with picklists or text fields on the opportunity to capture information when the deal is won or lost.

4. Custom object to record competitor involvement

A good solution if:

  • You have a relatively small number of major opportunities in which it’s important to understand and evaluate competitor positions.
  • It’s important to capture both quantitative and qualitative information about competitors.
  • There are lessons to be learned from each opportunity that will improve win rates going forward.
  • Reporting on competitor involvement is important.

In this solution each competitor is also created as an Account. However a custom object (“Competitors”) is used to store a variety of information about the competitor’s role on an opportunity.

This information might include competitor strengths and weaknesses, whether the competitor is an incumbent supplier, your strategy for competing against the competitor and lessons learned about the outcome.

Here’s an example:

Custom object to capture information about the competitor on an opportunity.

Multiple competitor records can be stored on one opportunity.

Opportunity with thee custom object records to store competitor involvement.

Using a custom object gives considerable flexibility over the additional information that is recorded about each competitor on the deal. For example, the Deal Winner checkbox also shows which competitor won the deal (assuming it wasn’t you!).

The means we can report more deeply on performance. In this case, for example, determine how we fair when competing against the incumbent supplier.

The solution requires some configuration including the creation of a custom object. However it provides more powerful insight into the involvement of competitors on opportunities.

5. Custom GSP solution for tracking competitors

A good solution if:

  • The flexibility of the custom object solution (option 4) meets your competitor tracking needs.
  • You want to make it simple for sales people to add competitor information to opportunities.

Here’s a variation on option 4 that makes it easier for users to add and edit information about competitor involvement on the opportunity.

In option 4 the user creates each competitor involvement record by clicking the ‘New’ button every time.

The custom solution uses a Visualforce page to create and add the new records. This means users can enter or update all the competitor information from within a single page.

Custom solution for tracking competitors on an opportunity.

This improves the usability of the solution by making it quick and easy for sales people to add competitor information to opportunities.

Tracking competitors on opportunities is a sure-fire way to improve win rates. It means that both the sales strategy and the approach taken on individual opportunities can be continuously improved. And that means upward growth in revenue compared to the competition.

To see how competitor tracking can work in your business simply get in touch to arrange a customized demo of any of the options described in this article.

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Why You Should Be Using Salesforce Quotes with Opportunities

Why You Should Be Using Salesforce Quotes with Opportunities

How often do sales people give more than one quote to the customer to clinch a deal?

Always? Sometimes? Hardly ever?

Often customers ask for more than one quote. They want the price with and without various optional products. Or they need quotes based on different quantity discounts.

Other times the sales person will deliberately offer more than one quote. That’s giving the prospect a choice. It’s an intelligent approach if you’re not sure about the customer’s budget.

In either situation we need to keep a record of what has been quoted. Chances are, we’ll need to refer back to these previous quotes at some point in the sales process.

But how can we best manage this in salesforce? And how do we avoid over-inflating the sales pipeline?

The answer is to use salesforce quotes.

With salesforce quotes sales people can record and track the various product and price combinations given to the customer. The sales person can decide which quote is most likely to be accepted by the customer. It’s that quote which becomes the value of the opportunity for pipeline reporting purposes. Synchronizing that quote to the opportunity avoids double-counting opportunities.

So, back to our question. How often is the customer given more than one quote during the sales process? If the answer is always or sometimes, and you’re wondering how to keep track of it all, then salesforce quotes is the solution you’re looking for.

 

Quotes in salesforce explained

A quote is a specific combination of Products, Quantities and Pricing. It’s the specific group of products and their associated prices that you’ve quoted to a customer.

Here’s an example of a quote. We can see there are three products, including the Bronze Service Contract.

The total value of the quote is £83,700. Incidentally to see how to make it easy for sales people to add multiple products to an opportunity or quote, check out our product selection wizard.

Let’s look at another quote. Two of the products are the same, but this quote has the Silver Service Contract.

Product Selector by GSP

Make it much easier for salespeople to add
products and bundles to opportunities.

With the Silver Support Contract the value of the quote has increased to £94,700.

And now here’s a third quote. This one has the Gold Service Contact, a bigger discount on the Generator and an additional product.

So all three quotes represent proposals that the customer might agree to purchase.

Let’s see how that looks on the Opportunity.

We now have a single opportunity with three individual quotes. The sales person can go back to any quote during the sales lifecycle and examine the specific combination of products and prices that were proposed to the customer.

Pipeline forecasts with quotes

Each of the three quotes has a different value. So what’s the value of this opportunity in the sales pipeline? It’s certainly not the value of all three quotes added together.

Fortunately there’s a standard salesforce mechanism on the quote that helps us. It’s the sync button.

The sync button means that we can synchronise one of the quotes (and only one) to the opportunity.

Clicking the Start Sync button does two things.

First, the products that are on the quote are automatically created as Line Items on the Opportunity. Second, the value of the quote that has been sync’d becomes the value of the opportunity.

In other words, the sales person is effectively saying, “I don’t know for sure which quote the customer is going to go with. I think #2 is the most likely. That’s the one I want to include for pipeline forecasting purposes”.

Here’s the Opportunity with Quote #2 synced.

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The Opportunity Products reflect the products that had been added to Quote #2. And the value of the opportunity is the same as the value of Quote #2. It’s this value that will be reflected in the sales pipeline but we’ve still got a record of the other two quotes that have been given to the customer.

What happens as we move through the sales cycle? Let’s say that after further discussions with the customer, the sales person decides that Quote 3 is now the most likely outcome. No problem. Syncing that quote replaces the opportunity product line items and changes the Amount to match opportunity #3.

Now we have a full audit trail of all the product price combinations. This means if the customer comes back with a query, or decides to go with a previous product price combination, you’ve got that covered.

How often do your sales people give more than one quote to the customer to clinch a deal? If it’s sometimes or often, then let salesforce quotes be your friend!

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5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

Last month we gave you 5 Compelling Ways to increase your salesforce.com benefits. As promised, here’s another five ways our customers have increased the benefits they deliver from salesforce.com. See which ones apply to you.

1. Improve sales funnel management

Nearly every sales funnel contains padding. Deals that rumble along month after month. Opportunities that with the best will in the world, are unlikely to ever close successfully. It’s these Opportunities that are artificially inflating your sales funnel and giving everyone a false sense of future revenue. So improve sales funnel management in your company by identifying these lame duck deals and weeding them out. Here’s three metrics that help you do just that: – Number of Close Date changes. – Number of days since the last update in the Opportunity Stage. – Number of days the Opportunity has been open. These are key metrics that measure the quality of opportunities in the sales funnel. Tracking these metrics will improve the effectiveness of your sales funnel management. These metrics increase salesforce.com benefits by measuring the quality of opportunities in the sales pipeline. Let’s say your typical sales cycle is 90 days. The Opportunity in the screenshot above has been open for 143 days. The Close Date has moved 12 times. And the Opportunity Stage was last updated 60 days ago. Can you rely on this deal to successfully close? Probably not. Combine these metrics with sales target solutions to determine whether you’ve sufficient opportunities in your sales funnel to meet your revenue goals. Remove The Poor Quality Sales Deals That Inflate Your Sales Funnel explains how to increase your salesforce.com benefits by creating these metrics.

2. Use Product Schedules to track future revenue

Many businesses do not receive the total value of an Opportunity in a single invoice. The traditional sales funnel view gives good insight into the total value of potential deals. But it does little to inform management on how the income or cash will be received. Here are five examples of situations where Product Schedules can bridge that gap:

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

In other words, Product Schedules are highly useful when the Opportunity Amount is invoiced and received through a number of instalments. They enable revenue recognition to be managed in salesforce. And they significantly increase sales funnel visibility by projecting how the gross sales value on potential deals will be invoiced over time. Creating custom Product Schedules enables even more advanced functionality. Here’s an example of an s-curve revenue schedule in salesforce.com used by a customer in the construction industry. S-curve in salesforce used in the construction industry. Reports and dashboards show the accumulated Product Schedules across all Opportunities to generate a revenue profile for the months and years ahead. Use Product Schedules For Revenue Recognition And Funnel Visibility explains how the standard salesforce Product Schedule feature works. It also demonstrates how custom Product Schedule solutions can easily be created to significantly extend your salesforce.com benefits and forecast recurring revenue. If you want to know more in general about using Products in salesforce then Learn The Basics; and even try The Ultimate Guide to Product Price Books.

3. Load Invoices or Orders into salesforce

Many businesses rely upon regular repeat orders from existing customers. For these companies, an Opportunity represents the process of acquiring a new customer that will subsequently make many repeat purchases. These repeat orders will often be processed through an ERP or Finance system rather than directly through salesforce. Importing the actual Order or Invoice data into salesforce on a regular basis provides powerful insight that drives business development and account management. It reveals customers whose orders are increasing or decreasing. And allows managers to track the relationship between business development activity and invoiced revenue. Orders imported against the Account record and inline charts used to display the trend in Order value and increase salesforce.com benefits. The screenshot shows Orders imported against the Account record and in-line charts used to display the trend in Order value. In this particular customer, the Orders are also automatically linked to a Target record to track performance against target in salesforce. Getting the data into salesforce doesn’t necessarily require full blown integration. Quite the contrary. We have many customers that load Invoices or Orders into salesforce using the Data Loader on a weekly or monthly basis.

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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.

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The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

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, contradicting each other over and 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. Consequently, there 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).

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. However, sales engagement hast 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 primary role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall lead database for long-term benefit.

Salespeople are under pressure to close deals in the short term. Marketing want to nurture the Lead. Unfortunately, this contrast in expectations 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 is automatically created as a lead in salesforce.

Now the lead exists. 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. No further action is anticipated, although you don’t necessarily delete the Lead from the database.

  • 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. Nevertheless, 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.

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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 is 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. Likewise, 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.

However, 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? Simply 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.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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