By Amber Kemmis

Navigating Salesforce.com , even if you are a sales person, can be like trying to find a gravel road with the assistance of Siri. You may be able to find your way to the nearest paved road, but as soon as you reach the point where the pavement meets the gravel, Siri will either tell you that you’re going the wrong direction or tell you that you haven’t reached your destination yet.

One of the reasons that Salesforce.com can be extremely difficult to navigate is that each company utilizes it in a custom way, although Salesforce.com does have out-of-the-box features. To effectively use Salesforce as marketers, you first have to understand how your sales team is using the CRM. It is also important for you to understand some Salesforce.com basics.

Why Would A Marketer Use Salesforce?

As marketing automation paves the way of the future, navigating your company’s CRM, even if it is integrated, is essential to getting closed-loop marketing data. When it comes to Salesforce, there can be a lot of really valuable data and information available at marketing’s disposal. The problem, however, is that many marketers shy away from Salesforce because it can seem overbearing at first.

Although Salesforce can seem like a maze of data, understanding how it works can help marketers gain access to data that sales people probably aren’t willing to sift through. It can also provide a way of diving deeper into marketing metrics at the sales level.  At the same time, there’s probably marketing data you could share with your sales team that you haven’t explored yet simply because you haven’t fully explored Salesforce as a marketer.

Basics: Objects, Data Fields & More

Salesforce.com’s platform is built around prospects and customers that are stored in what Salesforce refers to as “objects”. These objects are segmented into three types of data, which are broken out below:

  • Lead object: A lead is someone who has expressed interest in your business, products or services. A lead may be acquired through web forms, trade shows or networking.
  • Contact object: Each contact represents an employee or individual of one account. Since each account may have multiple contacts, the contact record is where personal contact information is stored.
  • Opportunity object: An opportunity outlines the deal or sale associated with an account. There may actually be more than one opportunity per account. The opportunity object can be utilized to gain a view of the sales funnel and pipeline.
  • Account object: An account is any company that is tracked, which may be a customer, prospect or partner. All of the objects in Salesforce can be connected to an account.

Typically, a new record will be entered in Salesforce.com as a lead. When the sales person has worked the lead to become an opportunity, the lead can be converted using a standard Salesforce.com process into a contact. When this happens, the lead details are automatically transferred to the contact object.

As mentioned, every organization uses Salesforce.com in their own way. In some cases, a company may not even use the lead record. Thus, the next section of this article is critical to ensuring successful use of Salesforce.com as a marketer.

Your Company’s Sales Process & Salesforce.com Documentation

When a rep generates a new lead at your company, how do they enter this information into Salesforce? Throughout the sales process, when and what does that rep update in Salesforce records? Documentation of what happens in the sales process helps marketing understand why particular fields or data exist, but it is very rare that sales has actually documented the process. So, you may need to create documentation based on how reps are using the platform.

Creating an service-level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales will also help to make it easier for marketing to understand and use Salesforce. You can learn how to do that in this post.

Once you have a thorough understanding of how your sales team employs Salesforce, you’ll be able to share the right type of data, close any integration gaps, and, excitingly, utilize Salesforce reports. 

Salesforce.com Reporting

Salesforce reporting can be really informative to the performance of marketing, especially if marketing data is stored in Salesforce. For example, you could pull a report of the total deal amount by the contact’s first conversion date to see what types of entry points lead to the highest sales. It can be easy, though, to quickly get lost in Salesforce reporting, so you should begin by answering this question:

What types of metrics are important to my company’s goals?

With this simple question, you will have a Salesforce report that you and your executive team find valuable. Let’s look at a couple examples to help you develop the right reports for your company.

Example 1:

Goal: Increase revenue from new customers through online channels by 10% in the first quarter.

Report: You’d want to create a report that filters out repeat business, breaks down and filters by the channel they came through, and also includes the sales dollar amount.

Example 2:

Goal: Increase close rate by 5% for leads coming through online channels.

Report: In this case, you’d likely (depends on your Salesforce setup) create a report that breaks down by the opportunity object in Salesforce, as well as the lead’s channel.

As the examples probably demonstrated, there really isn’t a secret formula for a Salesforce report. The formula and report you create are completely based on the ingredients your Salesforce process and setup provides. But, if you start with understanding goals, you can pull the properties you need to create a report.

The same is true for the overall use of Salesforce for marketers. How marketing should use it really depends on how your sales team is using the platform. By starting with a complete understanding of how Salesforce is employed by sales, you’ll begin to see how it can be useful for your marketing team.

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Amber Kemmis

About the author

Amber Kemmis is the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.

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