Maintaining a healthy database is an ongoing challenge for any organization. It requires the commitment of all users to maintain key data points accurately and expeditiously. It also requires solid system architecture and configuration that enforces data quality goals. And, it requires a strong system administrator who can help identify quality issues and appropriately train users – whether that’s a Sales Manager, a fully dedicated admin, or a team of admins – depending on your organization’s size.
If you’ve had Salesforce for several years, or if you’re launching Salesforce with dirty data from an old system, it’s wise to tackle data quality issues as quickly and thoroughly as possible so you can get the most from your Salesforce investment.
When business is busy, it’s easy to throw org cleanliness on the backburner, but the longer you let data issues percolate, the more exhaustive process you’ll have to do cleanup. If business is slow, it’s a great time to re-evaluate your org and maximize your investment in Salesforce by introducing new features, re-organizing data, de-duplicating data and so much more.
How long does it take to clean up a Salesforce org? It depends on how much of a commitment you and other stakeholders can make to the process. The sample project plan in this 2-part series is certainly doable in a 30-day window, but depending on the size of your database, and the extent of your issues, be mindful this can be a full-time undertaking. Just remember that all that hard work will pay off in the end with better and more accurate reporting, as well as more actionable insights.
Week 1 – Initial Analysis
In the first week of your cleanup process, you should plan to spend a full, dedicated week to analyzing data, reports, apps and functionality. Your initial analysis will vary based on issues and goals in your organization but we generally recommend reviewing the common trouble areas outlined below.
1. Installed Packages
If you’ve had Salesforce for many years, and cycled through more than 1 admin, chances are you have old AppExchange apps that are no longer in use. Check with your users to confirm if the related functionality of legacy apps is still useful. If not, back up the data and uninstall the app from your org. This can be especially helpful if you are running low on data storage.
2. Duplicate Analysis
Salesforce comes standard with various duplicate rules and functionality to prevent new duplicates But this can still be an issue for historical data or migrated records from old systems.
A consulting partner with technical staff can assist with larger duplicate issues and analysis. Or, you can explore an AppExchange app such as Cloudingo, DemandTools, or other tools that offer ongoing duplicate management functionality in a paid subscription model.
Salesforce is committed to providing customers with tools that render a 360-degree-view of your prospects and customers via data integration. Understanding how well your integrations are feeding data into Salesforce is critical to providing the critical insights your sales and marketing teams need to grow revenue at new and existing accounts. When reviewing your existing integrations, it might be most helpful to start with reports based on integrated data. Understand if there are gaps or discrepancies in the data. Integrations can vary on if they are pre-built with configurable settings or custom built through the API so developing a game plan for tackling issues will vary greatly.
Documenting concerns or Opportunities for further integrations will go a long ways in developing a long-term Salesforce roadmap to stabilize and optimize your Salesforce org.
4. Pipeline Staging
In Salesforce, most customers use the Lead object for lead lifecycle management and the Opportunity object for pipeline management. The combination of these two funnels, together, is what we call a “Revenue Funnel.”
Some customers struggle with implementation and proper use of Leads but this object can be very worthwhile to use in your sales process. Read more on Revenue Funnel Science here and the use of Leads vs Contacts here.
In your analysis, you should evaluate your Lead Status and Opportunities Stage fields and the entry/exit criteria of those fields. It’s common for customers to re-implement changes to pipeline staging over time to ensure sales has a data-driven sales process that aligns with current standard practices.
You’ll also want to make sure you have the Lightning interface enabled in your org and are using the “Path” functionality with appropriately defined stages for your reps using the Guidance for Success feature.
5. Lead Quality
Speaking of Leads. Leads begin to age rapidly after 6 months, or even sooner for many customers. But legacy orgs can have Leads in the org for much longer.
More is not necessarily better when it comes to Leads.
It will help your sales team tremendously to cut down the number of Leads in your system and to implement grading and scoring functionality in a marketing automation platform such as Pardot. This will help sales focus their energy on prospects that truly fit your target market and have shown interest in your products or services. You can also have your marketing team run re-engagement campaigns through the marketing automation platform to give prospects a “last chance” to stay in touch before sunsetting these lists altogether and removing them from the database. Unsubscribed or Bounced Leads are also easy targets to remove from your lists.
6. Account Management
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account Management functions are trending strategies many organizations are implementing to stay hyper-focused on specific accounts that fit their target criteria and to service or expand these Accounts as they become closed customers.
Whether you are prioritizing ABM or Account Management (or both), organizing data around the Account object is ultra-important. Ensure that you can properly identify if a given Account in your system is a prospect, active client, inactive client, channel partner, or another type of partner. Also, ensure that the Accounts in Salesforce match any other systems of the record you have on Accounts such as ERP systems. It’s not uncommon for these systems to become out of sync if they aren’t integrated to Salesforce through the open API.
7. Data Validation
One of the underutilized functions in Salesforce can be the use of Validation Rules to ensure standardized data entry for key data points in the database. Use Validation Rules to enforce data standards as sales users advance deals in the pipeline or for any process in which certain standards provide really valuable insights.
Also, consider other types of validations such as the use of picklists instead of open-text fields and/or the use of the simple “Required” option in your field settings.
A warning sign that your database needs a tune-up is that your teams are not using or able to get the reports and dashboards they need to effectively manage sales and other functions.
Consider if the following are true of your org:
- Can the executive team forecast revenue based on current pipeline Opportunities?
- Can the executive team see pipeline views and trends by product or product line?
- Does your executive team have a view of Opportunities by industry, organization size or another key piece of target market criteria?
- Can the executive team see trends month to month in Lead generation?
- Does the executive team understand Lead Sources and marketing Campaigns generating Opportunities?
- Does the executive team see trends in tracked activities such as calls and emails logged by reps?
If you answered “no” to one or more of the questions, consider that these are fundamental reports you should be able to create in Salesforce. Revamping your system architecture and implementing strict data governance standards will be crucial to achieving a higher ROI with Salesforce and driving increased revenue growth.
Week 2 and Beyond
In part 2 of our series, we cover week 2 and beyond. These weeks encompass the actual data clean-up, making the most of your changes and long-term strategies for maintaining a healthy org.