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Every business creates its revenue by selling Products or Services – or a combination of both. But despite the fact that the Salesforce Products tab handles each of these equally well, not every Salesforce customer has ventured into Products.

Which is a shame. Products bring life to your Opportunities. The result of not using Products is reduced visibility of the sales pipeline and lack of forecasting accuracy. Not to mention the inability to streamline sales processes from quote to order fulfilment.

This is the first of several related blog posts that explain how to make the most of Products. We’ve covered the basics here. The second explains how to use Schedules as a revenue recognition game changer. The third, shows how to make it easy for users to add products to opportunities using a product selection wizard. And finally, see how Price Books helps sales people add the right products to the right opportunities at the right price. Also, take a look at how a combination of Products and Schedule can help you manage 4 types of framework agreement in Salesforce and track revenue over time.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Salesforce Products explained

It’s literally anything that generates revenue. That might be a tangible item that’s delivered or installed to a customer. But it can also include anything else that appears on an invoice. Training, implementation services or delivery charges are all examples of Products that can be added to an Opportunity or Quote. As are one-off set up charges or service and support contracts.

Here’s a simple example from a company that sells consulting services in the engineering sector. They’ve changed the name of Products to Resources but other than that it’s 100% standard Products functionality.

Products added to an Opportunity as Resources

We can see in this example that the company is selling 5 days of Engineer time and 3 days of Designer time. The total price from the Opportunity Products rolls up to the Amount field on the Opportunity. The company uses this information to generate proposals and to plan their resource schedule.

Product Families explained

Think of a Product Family as a Category. It’s simply a way of grouping of Products. That’s useful because it means that Users can search for Products by filtering on the Product Family. And creating dashboard charts and reports based on Product Family rather than the detailed underlying Products means you can see the wood for the trees.

Here’s a screenshot of a dashboard chart and report based on Products:

Report and Chart with Products grouped by Product Name

And here’s the same chart and report grouped by Product Family.

Dashboard and Report grouped Product Family

If users need to see the more detailed information then they can drill down to the underlying Product-based report.

Add Products To Opportunities Quickly and Easily

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Salesforce Price Books explained

Price Books list the Prices that apply to Products in certain sales situations. For example, you might have a ‘Strategic Customer’ Price Book that lists all the Products with the 10 percent discount that applies to your most important customers. Or a Distributor Price Book that uses a different set of Prices when the customer is one of your distributors or re-sellers.

Not every Product needs to appear in each Price Book. If a certain Product can’t be sold in continental Europe then create UK and European Price Books that each contain only the relevant Products.

For more detail here’s our Ultimate Guide to Product Price Books.

Make it easy for sales people to add Products to Opportunities

The standard way to add a Product to an Opportunity is to click the Add Product button on the Opportunity page layout. Then check the box against the relevant Product, click Select at the top of the page, enter the Quantity and Sales Price. One training tip – point out to the sales team that the process is to check the box next to the Product and then click Select; a common mistake is to click on the name of the Product itself, rather than the check box.

One way to speed up the process is to activate the feature, “Prompt users to add products to opportunities”.

You’ll find this feature under Setup, Customize, Opportunities, Settings. The result is that when a sales person first creates and saves a new Opportunity, they’re automatically taken to the Product selection page, without having to click Add Product.

We’ve also created a number of more advanced product selection wizards that help sales people to quickly add many Products to an Opportunity.

Salesforce Quotes explained

Salesforce uses Quotes – and something called Quote Line Items – to represent the specific set of Products that are included on a quote or proposal to a customer.

Two things to remember about Quotes:

– The Products associated with the Quote are represented in Quote Line Items. You create these by adding Products to the Quote in exactly the same way as with Opportunities.

– One Opportunity can have multiple Quotes. For example the customer requests three different Quotes, each with a slightly different combination of Products.

Of course the value of this Opportunity in the sales pipeline is not the value of the three Quotes added together. Use the Sync button on the Quote to synchronise the ‘most likely’ Quote with the Opportunity. This has the effect of replicating the Products on the Quote (that is, the Quote Line Items) with Products on the Opportunity.

Opportunity with three Quotes, one synchronised to the Amount field

Here we can see that the Quote with Silver Support is viewed as the most likely to succeed. It’s been synchronised with the Opportunity and the value of the Quote becomes the value of the Opportunity Amount. And because only one Quote can be synchronised with each Opportunity, we’ve avoided double-counting the other Quotes.

Using Products and Quotes in Salesforce dashboards

Products, Quotes and Line Items are all fully available for reports and Salesforce dashboards. Remember, as a general rule, use Opportunities and Products rather than Quotes for your pipeline reports. Otherwise you risk double-counting the value of the pipeline if there’s more than one Quote on some Opportunities.

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