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Salesforce Orientation: What a Sales Manger Needs to Know

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Red Argyle logo

I have been around Salesforce since 2001.  My introduction to Salesforce was as the Director of Sales for a small tech firm where I fell in love with the platform. I went on to start a Salesforce technology firm and then started and sold a Sales and Marketing tech consulting firm and I am now that the COO of Red Argyle, a Salesforce Partner.   Along the way, I have consulted for hundreds of organizations around how to better leverage Salesforce for Sales, Marketing, Support and Operations.  

Looking back at my early years in Sales Management utilizing Salesforce I wish someone would have shared the following with me.

The first thing to understand is really around the big-picture concepts that every Sales Manager should understand about Salesforce, or really any Sales automation tool.  

The first big-picture thing to understand is that Salesforce has several different editions and each edition is made up of features.  You should know what edition of Salesforce you own and you should familiarize yourself with the features available to you in that edition. To find out what edition of Salesforce you own follow these directions:

Settings > Company Settings > Company Information > In the Organization Details section at the bottom right of this session you are looking for a field called, Organization Edition.

If you do not have the correct access to do this ask your Salesforce Admin. 

The second big-picture thing to understand is that every company can choose which features they want to use and how they are set up for use.  So your company may only have elected to use a few of the features available to them and there may be room for improvement. Click here to see how Salesforce uses Salesforce.

Salesforce is meant to drive process.  Yes, it is a database but it is designed to drive process and if done well you will have the data you need to manage, coach and make decisions.  So this means you will need a lead process, a sales process, a sales development process, an account management process, etc. Having these process will defined and handy will drive the setup of your Salesforce. 

Salesforce has something called Trailhead. Trailhead is a learning management system built specifically around all aspects of Salesforce.  It contains hundreds of modules for both users and admins. This is just one example of training that salesforce has around Sales Management. Finally, Trailhead allows you to build a Trailmix and share it with people.  You should think about creating a Trailmix for your sales reps on the things they should know how to do with salesforce specific with your organizations.  You will still need to teach them your process but the units will teach them how to do the process in Salesforce. An example is around helping your reps to use the activities unit that can be found here. 

Bring in HR to help you include Salesforce on job postings and as well as into job and performance management.  Let’s make sure people coming into the organizations understand that they will need to use Salesforce. This might allow some people to self select out of the process.  Having it as a part of the job descriptions and performance management also draws attention to a skill they can be trained and coached on as needed and if needed, gives you teeth to replace someone else.

Separate Sales Rep Training into at least these three buckets: Who We Are & What We Sell, Our Process, Our Technology.  This also gives the proper focus to the importance of technology to drive the process. This will allow you to isolate and coach as needed.

With the big picture as the framework, the following are a list of things 

  1. Nothing should be managed outside of Salesforce.  If you have a spreadsheet for anything you are asking your sales reps to do there is a very high probability that this could be pulled into Salesforce.

  2. Sales Stages really define and support the sales process.  Sales stages are used to communicate where something is currently sitting and what is being done to it.  Stages are NOT gates that sales pass through, they are were they are sitting currently.

  3. Make sure that Salesforce is connected to your email package.  Nothing changes adoption like allowing a Sales Rep to reference and take action on things within Salesforce from your email package.  Which as we know is where most Sales Reps spend the majority of their day.

  4. Take a look at and see if three relatively new features are of Salesforce could be leveraged in to help your Sales Reps. 

  • Sales Path – If setup allows you to define key fields as well as actions to take at each stage of the Sales Process.  
  • Calendar – Salesforce has a new calendar features that allow you to use the data within Salesforce to drive items on the calendar.  An example that reps love is to see their pipeline based on the calendar by the close date.  
  • Task Tab – Salesforce has a new tab that I rarely see being used.  It consolidates all task no matter where the sales rep may have added them to be seen in a single view.  This allows them to more quickly work them.
  • Kanban View – A sales rep can now look at their pipeline in a “card” fashion grouped by stage allowing them to move “cards” between stages.  This really helps adoption leading to healthier pipelines. Check out this video to get a more in depth overview.

Salesforce has a few under the hood features that unless you knew they were there you would have never known.  Salesforce keeps track of Opportunity Age and Stage Age.  

Opportunity Age – is basically a clock that runs from the day something is open to the day it is closed (won or lost).  This will allow you to see on average how long it takes you to win or lose deals. Which you can no use to evaluate the health of your pipeline.  

Stage Age – is basically a close for how long something was in a stage.  This will allow you to see where bottlenecks exist within your sales process and look again at an average time in a stage as a way of identifying things that are stuck.  

Run pipeline meetings and coaching sessions out of Salesforce.  If you are using the tool in front of the team to conduct departmental meetings, pipeline reviews, and coaching sessions with the reps it will drive home the importance of Salesforce and and give the work they do meaning.   

It comes down to you, the manager to set the tone.  Your organization is paying for a tool to help increase sales.  You need to know what it can do, you need to know how to use it, you need to model the correct behaviors.  An expert golfer cannot be an expert without being an expert at swinging a club. They know how and where to use each club in their bag.  You are professional and you too need to know how and where to use the Salesforce, in the end, it is just a tool.  

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