If you’re reading this post, you probably already have a good handle on how to custom implement and use Salesforce but now you’re trying to get the most that you can out of it.
If that’s true, then that’s what we’re here to do for you this time. Along with providing some best practices for implementation, we’ll be giving you tips and strategies on what you should know and do with Salesforce.
Salesforce is admittedly a large platform with a number of features, applications, and services so we’re here to provide you that little bit of extra know-how to get the most out of the software.
We’re going to assume since you’re looking for best practices, that you have the basic uses and the sales service of Salesforce down to a relative science. So, instead of leading off with what Salesforce is, we’re going to dive down into how to use it before sharing our best practices.
This isn’t part of best practices, but we felt it prudent to give you some standard advice on how to line up Salesforce with your business so that you know you’re utilizing it in a way that is beneficial.
If you’ve already had it up and running and been using it for a while then you probably have a few key features picked out that you like to use. This is a good start as it shows you how Salesforce performs and that there are a great number of options out there to take advantage of.
To supplement this, we suggest looking into Salesforce’s other services (if you haven’t already) including their mobile app services. There are many additional apps and features available through their mobile app service that can help facilitate doing business on the fly.
Furthermore, remember that each and every service, app, feature, and platform has customizations available to make them to your and your customer’s liking. Improving both the business and customer experience is a key to success.
Our last piece of “beginner” advice is to constantly keep learning. You don’t necessarily need to keep adding new features, that can quickly become overwhelming, but use what’s before you to learn more and more about the platforms and services you do use to facilitate the most growth possible. Data is what drives business success and that includes your own knowledge.
Using Salesforce for the benefit of your company is a great idea. The myriad options and customizations make it a great tool. But like any tool, it is meant to be used a certain way and to a certain end.
That’s why this next bit of advice we have is directed specifically at those who are already using Salesforce for their business.
For this, we’ll pose a question. Are you using Salesforce for the right purposes within your business?
What we mean is, most businesses utilize the main CRM features of Salesforce and either underutilize or do not utilize all the other features. Just like we talked about in the beginning, there are so many options that it is wise, once you have learned the optimal use and functions of the primary service you use Salesforce for, to branch out to other services.
If you are already using multiple Salesforce services for different parts of your business, then the ideal goal is to pick one and maximize its potential.
Salesforce is just one of many possible CRM solutions available, but the volume of available applications it has makes it a unique tool to service the needs of businesses. Making sure that you adapt the technology available to you to best suit your business will help you get the most out of Salesforce.
Now, on to the meat of our illustrious guide, the best practices to help you get the most out of Salesforce, along with a few other nuggets of information along the way. Hopefully, this will help you maximize the potential of Salesforce and ultimately of your business.
Being able to see the totality of your sales performance is key to sales success. Otherwise, why are you using a product called Salesforce in the first place? The problem is that many users are not using the appropriate data to show them what they need to know in regards to sales.
There are a number of dashboards and charts that are available within Salesforce and each of its many services. To maximize the potential success, you should be installing dashboards that provide particular metrics for your sales team.
In particular, you will need dashboards that provide you with visibility of your sales pipeline, in other words, you need to see how your sales are flowing from start to finish in order to gauge how successful your sales team is at any given time.
In addition to that, you will want to display the sales trend data so that you know whether sales are growing or slowing at any given time. Not only is this helpful for adjusting strategies during a downturn, but these types of metrics also provide you with valuable historical data that you can use in context to forecast sales during future events.
Lastly, you will want dashboard details on the quality of your sales pipeline, that is to say how well it is performing overall. Understanding this will help you determine the effectiveness of your sales team and can contribute to future sales projects and other elements of your business.
Additionally, this data over a long period helps you to determine any weaknesses in sales and is a good indicator of the overall health of your business. Particular if the bulk of your revenue is driven by sales.
Having all these dashboards and metrics available will improve your likelihood of success when implementing sales projects with Salesforce.
This may seem like common sense, but in practice can be difficult to implement. What we mean here, is that when you first launch Salesforce as part of your business, avoid the tendency of many businesses to soft launch the platform.
If you have ambitious goals, shoot for them. You don’t want to get in over your head, but as we’re a mind to tell you, prepare well enough before you launch, test, and retest key features and properly train your personnel and you’ll have no issues with launching Salesforce at full speed.
For larger businesses, it is a smart idea to pilot test the use of Salesforce by region or area to ensure functionality. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should take half-steps and half-measures. Implement Salesforce with the intent of doing what you intend to do and if you’ve prepared right, your users will adjust.
Obviously, this won’t be 100% accurate, but it’s what you should strive for. If necessary, and you see that a launch isn’t working, pull back and readjust before relaunching. The key takeaway from this point is to launch Salesforce with purposeful intent. This will drive you further towards success than if you were to soft-heartedly attempt to use Salesforce and then back away from it.
Possibly one of the most complicated parts of being on a sales team, the lead-to-opportunity process is what generates successful sales out of potential leads. As you’re using Salesforce as a new tool to help your sales team succeed, you’ll be wanting to focus on and refocus your lead-to-opportunity process.
The process starts with finding and developing sales-ready leads that are then handed off to a member of your sales team. When you rethink your process, there are some key elements that you need to focus on instead of just blindly trying to drive leads to your sales team. You’ll have much more data and functionality available to you than you likely did previously, so it’s important to do the leg work to develop leads adequately before shipping leads to the sales team.
Each lead should be categorized once acquired, create the proper contact, account, and opportunity files so that you have metrics to back up the leads that you send to the sales team. This is essential for two reasons. First, it provides valuable metrics for ROI throughout your sales campaign. Second, it verifies the validity of the lead to the best of your ability. An added benefit of doing this is the additional historical data that can be referenced in future campaigns for accurate profiling of potential leads as well as expected ROI on future campaigns.
Create separate dashboards and datasheets for early leads. This gives you better record keeping and keeps leads separated by phase rather than lumping them all together.
In this way, you will be able to terminate early leads if it looks like the odds of success are low. This includes letting your sales team know that it’s ok to opt-out of potentially lost leads. This is a great way to save yourself a headache, there’s no sense in following a bad lead to the end if you know where it’s going.
Lastly, make sure there is adequate communication between your sales and marketing teams regarding potential leads and sales figures as well as other data. Luckily, Salesforce has the features to facilitate this with ease.
This is a multi-faceted problem. Your sales team should have targets every month, every quarter, and every year. This sets an explicit value that your sales team needs to hit. Not only does this help to determine the health of your sales as a whole, but it also holds the sales team accountable and gives them a direct metric of their success.
Many businesses don’t use their targeting software, their forecasting and projection software and even fewer correlate that data and place it directly into the sales team’s Salesforce project.
Creating sales projections and expected sales figures to create targets can be a complicated task during the best of times and with the best data. However, not doing this will actually hinder your sales team and your business.
Sales teams need this data to accurately record results versus target data and also for performance and historical records. All of these things are crucial to the future success of your sales teams.
As with other issues, one of the main benefits of Salesforce is that there are easy ways to integrate target data, projected revenue, and other metrics directly into your sales project dashboards. This allows for accurate accounting of all sales, goals, and forecasts.
This practice should honestly be part of the list of things that if you don’t do it, you’re making a mistake. But to be clear, what we mean here is that you need to import all of your relevant business data into Salesforce before you even launch.
While Salesforce has the potential to present you with volumes more data right from the start, all of your old campaigns, leads, contact lists, sales reports, and other information hold relevance when building out with Salesforce.
There are a number of intrinsic benefits to doing this, besides having the data for record-keeping purposes.
Firstly, your user acquisition will increase significantly. If they are already familiar with some or most of the data, being able to adapt to the new system will run much more smoothly.
Second, the increase in efficiency will begin immediately. You’re going to need all of that data eventually anyway so doing it before you launch will save time and effort. Besides, why put off something like data migration, you know how tedious that is right?
Lastly, you can begin customer and marketing communication immediately. No waiting around for data to be fed in or setting up new accounts or transferring over, it allows you to hit the ground running with the marketing team and existing customers.
A lag in business at a critical time can be detrimental to your business, as we said earlier, prepare well, and prepare early before you launch.
The success of your sales team and everyone else in your business that uses Salesforce is determined a lot by how well you utilize the different features and how well you tailor your operations to suit the way in which Salesforce functions.
The best tip we can give you to maximize success with Salesforce is to learn the ways in which Salesforce operates and change your practices to facilitate its operation. This doesn’t mean you have to upend your business to use Salesforce, it means simply that you should lean into the asset that you have rather than continuing business as usual. After all, what’s the purpose of purchasing a new tool if you don’t plan on using it for what it’s good for?
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Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.