Over the past few years, Salesforce has emerged as one of the most widely recognized and talked about customer relationship management (CRM) cloud software systems. For those of you still stuck using spreadsheets and other ad hoc systems to manage sales, however, the idea of a cloud CRM like Salesforce may be a new concept.
That being said, consider this your official introduction to Salesforce, as well as a basic overview of how you can use Salesforce to manage sales.
Salesforce.com offers several key products – ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Chatter, Salesforce1 Platform, Salesforce Communities, Work.com, Pardot, and the most popular of all, Sales Cloud.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus mostly on Sales Cloud for this overview. Sales Cloud is a CRM system that allows you to manage contacts, leads, opportunities and customers; follow the status of deals; forecast projected revenue; track customer cases, feedback, problems and resolutions; and much more.
Proper engagement through CRM leads to customer loyalty, then growth, and finally profits. In fact, the ROI of Salesforce averages as follows: 28% increase in sales; 45% improved forecast accuracy; and, a 38% improvement in lead conversion rate, among other improvements.
But it’s important to remember that Salesforce Sales Cloud is only a tool to manage your sales process. You must engineer your processes according to your unique business needs in order for it to work. And you must remember basic top CRM tips – a human touch is still required to close a sale.
Using Salesforce to Manage Sales
1. Conduct Marketing
The first step in the sales process is gathering leads. A surefire way to do this is through both old-school outbound and innovative inbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing, which involves blogging, social media, website and search engine optimization, and email marketing, is quickly replacing traditional outbound marketing strategies like cold calling, online advertising, and direct mail. In essence, inbound strategies should not be overlooked.
Once leads start filling in from your marketing efforts, they can be recorded in Salesforce. Data quality is very important at this point – make sure you define what fields are required and what information you need about each lead specific to your business.
2. Organize and Work Leads
Educate yourself about the lead and start reaching out to those who have expressed interest in what you have to offer. Here is a basic sample process you may follow to work leads:
1. Personalize mass email
2. Call (Leave a voicemail)
3. Personalize another mass email
3. Manage Opportunities
Once you qualify a lead, they become an opportunity – in essence, a “hot” lead that shows promise in becoming a customer. The criteria for moving a lead to an opportunity may differ for each business, but generally, a lead becomes an opportunity when a proposal and pricing information is exchanged and you have an estimated deal value. An opportunity remains just that until the deal is either won or lost. In the case of the latter, the failed opportunity is redefined as either a lead or contact. Keep in mind that it is important to store “dead” leads so they can be contacted again when the time is right. There is nothing wrong with re-marketing!
4. Account Management
Last but not least, it’s time to manage your accounts. Make sure you are providing sufficient customer support. New opportunities with existing accounts need to be constantly monitored and updated so everyone is on the same page. When an opportunity is won or lost, update its status in Salesforce. You can also use Salesforce Service Cloud to provide customer support. Furthermore, you can now evaluate recurring issues customers are experiencing with your services, thus allowing you to revise and fine-tune what’s not working.
5. Logging and Analyzing Data
Use data logged in Salesforce to your advantage. One of the key benefits of Salesforce is access to shared data that you can use to make better sales and business decisions. You can gain insights on won or lost opportunities to improve sales; visualize your sales pipeline; prioritize leads and opportunities; understand revenue projections; and track cusomer cases for quick resolution.
It’s important for all sales reps in your organization to use Salesforce as the “system of truth.” That means all data should be stored in Salesforce and users can trust that data as the most accurate. This helps with user adoption, which is a big buzzword with Salesforce because it can often signal how well your organization is doing with their return on investment. When people fail to transition from their old CRM method to Salesforce, user adoption and ROI is low. When user adoption is high, you will see the results Salesforce promised you.
So there you have it – a quick introduction to Salesforce and using Salesforce to manage sales at a basic level. Remember, Salesforce is a tool that enables your team to work smarter and engage the right prospects the right way. When customers know you understand and can solve their problems, they are delighted and will show loyalty. That is success with Salesforce.