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Guest blog by Mike George, Business Systems Analyst at Toast, Inc.

Getting a sales team to enter accurate information to your CRM is like pulling teeth, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips for satisfying your data needs without burdening your sales team.

Keep your forms lean

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.” I’d like to take that a step further and say, “If it’s not a required field in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.” If data isn’t mandatory, it won’t be entered consistently, resulting in a useless dataset. Think about the last form you filled out — did you enter the optional fields? You should go through every single field in your CRM and question its significance. If it’s critical, make it mandatory at some point in the sales process. Otherwise, hide it.

There’s a few different ways to make a field required:

Page layouts

  • Pros: Good UX, easy to setup
  • Cons: No custom logic, it assumes the user knows what to enter as soon as the record is created

Validation Rule

  • Pros: Allows custom logic to build requirements depending on contextual data, like other fields or user profile
  • Cons: Poor UX, it’s an ugly error message

Flow (Visual Workflow)

  • Pros: Extremely customizable logic and UX — users hit a button which guides them through a series of screens, like a survey with various paths
  • Cons: It’s difficult to set up

With clear field requirements and perhaps some extra guidance using tools like WalkMe, the sales team won’t have to be worry about remembering what’s mandatory, or the order of operations. A new sales hire can follow the process with zero training because the system forces them through it.

If you’re a Salesforce admin, be prepared to shield your sales team from the bombardment of requests for additional fields. If product and marketing analysts had their way, your accounts and opportunities would have hundreds of fields. Although sales reps have valuable prospect data at their fingertips, remember that time spent on market research is time away from selling.

Automate it

Actions speak louder than words manual updates. Let’s recognize that we are in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and every step we take can be tracked by connected devices. Sales reps are generating tons of data every day, but we’re just missing it. Every phone call made, event scheduled, and quote sent can be captured in Salesforce. Instead of hoping your sales team will manually update a field on the opportunity to indicate they’ve sent a contract, have them generate it from the opportunity with a e-signature app and time-stamp that action. Not only will it save your sales team time, it will be accurate and consistent.

Within 10 years, I imagine the only manual input sales will have to do is select products and discounts. Everything else can be appended or inferred if you invest in the right tech stack.

  • Data services and inbound marketing will provide the contact info
  • Integrated phones and inboxes (e.g. Outreach) will track the activities
  • Analytics (eg. InsightSquared) will do the forecasting
  • Document generating apps (e.g. Conga+Docusign) will execute the paperwork

Lastly, no one likes having to repeat themselves over and over. The sales team shouldn’t have to update the same information in two places. Leverage Process Builder and iPaaS tools to move data across objects and systems.

Erin Rohr
Director, marketing communications
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