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Salesforce.com Best Practices

There’s a ton of generic documentation, how-to guides, and Top 10 lists on how to get started or optimize your Salesforce.com sales process. If you look for specific examples of how companies have configured it to work for them though, it’s a bit of a wasteland.

There’s a reason. Salesforce.com is infinitely customizable and no two companies work the same way, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear from a pro about how they’ve found success with Salesforce.com? 

Not the universally applicable principles, platitudes, or cliches, but the good stuff - the nitty, gritty specifics.

Of course it would.

Brittyn Matthews, Sales Lead, Salesforce expert

So I sidled up to our resident Salesforce.com expert Brittyn Matthews to pick her brain on all things SFDC (I owe her a coffee or three).

Brittyn was a sales leader at Pardot (acquired by Salesforce.com), then at Marketo, and now she’s Head of Sales here at Leadtime. There’s so much Salesforce.com sales expertise and experience to unpack here. Let’s get started.

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Should you use the Lead functionality?

Definitely! I would recommend creating all leads to start. If your company has an SDR/BDR team, this is where they will work. A lead is the step before a prospect becomes qualified. When a lead becomes an opportunity, you have the ability to convert that lead into a contact. Then all other prospects will become contacts under that company moving forward.

How can sales teams collaborate on deals?

Overall, a sales team should be seen as one team being directed towards one overall goal. I have outlined how each member collaborates with the other below:

  1. SDR/AE collaboration - The SDR is responsible for qualifying and scheduling the demo. The SDR communicates any details that they learned from the initial call to the AE. He or she should intro the AE in the beginning of the call for easy handoff. The AE could then run the sales cycle. It is important for the AE and SDR to have continual communication on the outcome of the meeting and any further strategy to find more leads. I suggest a weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 between the two.
  2. AE/AE collaboration - Not only is the AE responsible for his or her own quota, but sales teams are most successful when everyone is driving towards a team goal as well. It is important to set an expectation that everyone is on the same team working towards one goal. Peer to peer collaboration and sharing of new insights is very important for a sales team to be successful. It also can’t hurt to have some friendly competition among each other.
  3. AE/Manager collaboration - Having a weekly 1:1 is crucial for success. Each rep has individual areas to focus on. Having the ability to bounce ideas off of their manager and gain new strategies will enable the rep to get opportunities over the finish line. Executive alignment is also beneficial in the later stages of an opportunity. The potential customer will feel valued not only by the AE, but other leaders in the organization as well.
  4. AE/Mentor collaboration - This is a great way for AE’s to take peer to peer collaboration one step further. If an AE strives to become a manager one day, this will allow them to get a taste of what that entails. The newer AE will also benefit from gaining an alternative perspective from their manager’s advice alone.
  5. AE/Sales Engineers - Based off of the audience, demos can open up technical questions outside of the AEs knowledge. Sales engineers are great to have as a resource for these calls or to help with any followup questions that were left unanswered by the AE.

What did you do to prevent dirty data (duplicate names, opportunities, companies, etc)?

Training, documentation, and enforcement by management is important to avoid data issues. I would suggest creating rules of engagement that prevents one rep from working the same lead of another. Once this is established, a documented process to check ownership should be understood by all AEs. SFDC has automated alerts when duplicates may be spotted, however, it's also important for the rep to do a spot check by searching the lead first before adding them. If a duplicate is made by mistake, SFDC has an option to merge duplicates within the application.

What characteristics defined the contacts your sales team interacted with? Title and Role only?

You need to decide what your ideal prospect looks like. What characteristics does a lifetime customer have? What traits do churned customers have that you want to stay away from? Once you establish what this is, you will want to set up these fields in SFDC if they aren’t there already. Then enforce a requirement for the reps to enter in data as they uncover it. When building a database, use tools like datanyze, data.com, or linkedin to search for these characteristics.

What key characteristics do you use to profile or segment customers? Industry, No. of Employees, Revenue...Others?

This should tie back to the ideal prospect profile. You can then filter lists based off of this criteria for better targeting which should lead to a higher conversion rate and lower attrition.

Default Fields

  • Address: Are you targeting a specific area (e.g. USA)?
  • Annual Revenue: Will more established companies be the main purchasers?
  • Industry: What industries benefit the most from your product?
  • Lead Source: Do specific lead sources have higher conversion rates than others?
  • No. of Employees: Are you targeting SMB or Enterprise?
  • Title: What job title is your decision maker?
  • Department: What departments benefit from this product the most?

Custom Fields - This will be customized to fit your business but here are some ideas to ask yourself.

  • B2B, B2C, etc: Are you targeting a specific type of business?
  • Key Website Indicators: Do your customers have common traits found across their website?
  • App Use: Using Datanyze and Ghostery to see other app usage, are their commonalities being used by your customers?
  • Funding: Does higher valued customers have funding?
  • Founding Date: Are your customers more established or relatively new?
  • Competitors: Are you targeting a mature market that is already vended by your competitors?

For which of the following do you track data? Prospects, Customers, Partners, Vendors, Competitors, etc.

Prospects and customer data will be valuable to most if not all companies. Customer data would be helpful for upgrade and renewal opportunities and also tracking retention rates. If you do business through resellers, outsource implementations, or simply get referrals, partner data would be worthwhile as well. If a lead is using a competitor, I would track this in a separate field as well as the renewal rate if you have it. You also want to track any opportunities you lost, who you lost them to, and why. Competitor data can allow you to track how you stack up to others in the space and pounce at the right time upon renewal.

What were the stages in your sales cycle and percentage of closing certainty at each stage? The standard SFDC example: Lead - 10%, Qualified - 20%, Presentation - 50%, Proposal - 75%, Closed Won - 100%, Closed Lost - 0%.

The best advice I have been given is to make the stages as objective as possible. There should be a clear line between one stage to another. There should be no gray area. The definitions should be clearly defined for each rep. Reps should also be kept accountable to keeping these stages updated on a regular basis after every action is taken. The definition of an opportunity should also be clear with no gray area. Probabilities should be based on the close rates of each stage. This can be improved overtime by looking at close rates by stage.

How did you manage the sales funnel? How did you bring new customers into Salesforce.com?

I find 1:1’s to be super valuable as long as both the manager and AE come prepared. The AE should outline their top opportunities and establish a “path to quota”. We can then work down the list and talk through red flags, next steps, and best lines of action. The sales rep should be responsible for keeping the next step, amount, stage, and close date updated at a minimum to help them and their manager keep track of everything going on within the sales team. Once a deal is closed, it’s best to have the handoff and process outlined clearly to avoid frustration for the new customer. This could entail automated alerts or emails to an implementation team, specific fields being marked in SFDC in addition to closing out the won opportunity, working with a sales operations team for quota tracking and billing purposes, etc. This should be streamlined and the process should be understood by all parties.

Did you need all the standard fields for accounts, opportunities, etc? What fields were removed?

In most scenarios, most standard fields will be used unless it’s not applicable for your business. I would recommend using all of them if you have the data to input. It can be used for segmenting and analyzing trends later on. I would recommend adding more fields than removing. Your business will have customized needs compared to other which will lead to the creation of custom fields to house this data.

Did you rename any of the standard fields so they made more sense? (i.e. “Company” to “Account”)

Each standard field has a picklist. Customizing some of these fields to match your business is worthwhile to do for items such as lead status, lead source, opportunity stage, and industry.

Did you make any fields required or dependent?

If you feel data in a field would give you more success overall, I would require it as long as it doesn’t eat up your team’s time. I would prioritize the fields that are most important. I would then outline how to find this data and when it should be inputted. Dependent fields are great for specific field answers. For example, if an opportunity is marked lost, create a dependent field asking “Who was it lost to?” and “Why was it lost?”.

Were there any questions that you wished I had asked? Hit us up and we’ll get them added.

And ‘til next time - May the Salesforce be with you.

August 8, 2016
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Sales Data

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