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Inside Sales Reps can’t phone all of the people all of the time. And nor would you want them to.

Like any other sales team, Inside Sales Reps need to prioritise their activities. But this requires a mechanism that allows Inside Sales Reps to define a schedule of calls to each customer and prospect. One that provides clear guidance on which Account to phone next.

Unfortunately there’s no pre-built function in salesforce.com that does this. So we created one. It allows Inside Sales Teams to establish a routine of calls for each customer or prospect. It means each Rep can easily see who they should phone today, tomorrow, next week or next month.

And for managers it means salesforce.com reports and dashboards provide the management information that allows effective resource planning and staff scheduling.

Here’s how it works.

First, the Inside Sales Team define a call frequency for each of their customers and prospects. This can be anything from daily to annually; monthly and fortnightly are likely to be the most common values for many Accounts.

The Reps record the sales call frequency for each Account using a custom field on the Account Page Layout.

Set the Call Frequency using the custom field on the Account page layout.

Next, Inside Sales Reps define a date for the very first call. They enter this in the Next Activity Date custom field. It’s set at 25th June in our example below.

Define a date for the first call and enter this into the Next Activity Date field.

Remember the date format will show based on the Locale defined in your User Profile. Ours is set to European in this case.

List Views on the Account tab let each Inside Sales Rep know who they should be calling today, tomorrow, next week and so on. These List Views filter using the Next Activity Date defined in the previous step.

List Views on the Account tab show Inside Sales Reps who they should be calling.Let’s say the Inside Sales Rep makes the scheduled call on June 25th. He makes notes about the call using the New Task or Log A Call button. When he does so, behind-the-scenes code automatically updates the Next Activity Date based on the date of the call and the Activity Frequency.

For example, if the call is made on June 25th and Activity Frequency is monthly, the Next Activity Date is going to be automatically reset to July 25th. That is, unless July 25th happens to be a weekend, in which case the date will be set to the next working day.

Next Activity Date automatically updated.

But are there any situations in which you don’t want the Next Activity Date to be reset when you record the call in salesforce? Let’s say the Inside Sales Rep makes the call on June 25th. During the call the Rep also decides to make an interim follow up telephone call on June 28th. He wants to check that a price list has been received.

So what happens is this. The call on June 25th automatically sets the Next Activity Date to July 25th. The Inside Sales Rep creates a Task for himself to also call the customer on June 28th. However the Rep also checks the box marked “Do Not Adjust Activity Schedule” within the Task.

Check the box Do Not Adjust Activity Schedule to prevent Next Activity Date from being updated.

This maintains July 25th as the Next Activity Date and prevents it from being updated to July 28th. The customer keeps his existing monthly call pattern.

This whole function becomes even more powerful if you combine it with the salesforce Sales Console made available in the Winter 14 Release. Customer Service Reps have long been able to use a multi-tab view of the customers with whom they’re interacting. Now this same style of functionality can be used by Inside Sales Reps to easily juggle multiple customers and prospects with whom they’re trying to get in touch.

Sales Console allows Inside Sales Reps to juggle multiple customers and prospects.

It’s a simple but effective mechanism for Inside Sales Teams to keep control of their activities.

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