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Salesforce provides a number of features to build out and reinforce your sales methodology.  When moving to Lightning there are additional options such as Path and the updated Lead Conversion page to consider. Making changes to your sales process requires planning, an understanding of the process-related features available, and some best practices for the transition. 

Planning Process Changes

The most important step in making updates to your sales process in Salesforce is planning. Use a spreadsheet to list out current and future Stage values, along with clear definitions and specific customer actions as milestones required for each. List out any fields you want to be required for each Stage. To make the best use of features in Salesforce Lightning, we also suggest keeping a list of fields that are helpful for each Stage.

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With each Stage, Salesforce requires three separate field defaults be set for Type, Percentage, and Forecast Category. The Type field tracks Open, Closed/Won, and Closed/Lost, and is a handy future-proof filter for List Views and Reports. The Percentage field indicates the sales rep’s belief in the likelihood of a deal ever to close. Forecast Category indicates the sales rep’s commitment to the Opportunity’s Close Date and Amount and can be used with or without the full Forecast Module.

A final consideration is whether you want to require an Approval Process controlling the movement of Stages. Examples include requiring formal approval to save an Opportunity as qualified, to agree to non-standard terms or discounts, or to mark a previously qualified deal as dead.

Keep in mind while planning that Salesforce easily allows two or more sales processes to coexist in the same system. Examples include new business versus renewal business or one division’s sales methodology versus another. These require planning and can be built out using Record Types and Sales Processes.

Process Tools in Salesforce

Salesforce offers many tools to leverage in building out your sales methodology. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Stages
  • Sales Processes and Record Types
  • Custom Fields
  • Field Dependencies
  • Validation Rules
  • Paths and Celebrations
  • Approval Processes
  • Lead Conversion Settings

When updating Stages it is important to note that Stages can be Active or Inactive. Inactive Stages can be referenced in Filters, and seen in existing records, but not be selected when adding or updating records.  The Opportunity Stage picklist field offers useful tools such as Reorder, to change the order of Stages, Replace, to make updates, and Printable View, for copying lists of values from one place to another. 

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Salesforce’s Enterprise Edition allows for five hundred Custom Fields per Object! With well over twenty Data Types supported the Opportunity Object can track the information needed for the methodology. Field Dependencies support the linking together of up to three Picklist fields (or a Checkbox with dependent picklists), with an example being a Reason picklist being driven by the Stage being Closed Won or Closed Lost.

While Validation Rules are the fastest way to break a Salesforce system, they also come in very handy when building out a sales process. Validation Rules allow us to conditionally require data, meaning that in order to save an Opportunity as the “Demo” Stage, a few other fields may be deemed required. Without the criteria being met, the Opportunity cannot be saved.

Path in Salesforce Lightning allows us to visually reinforce Sales methodology directly on each Opportunity. Once you have updated your Stages, and if necessary, grouped them into Sales Processes and Record Types, you then create individual Paths to match each Sales Process. On each, you can define up to five Key Fields per Stage and list accompanying Guidance for Success, which is a rich text description for the Stage.

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Setting up a Path is as simple as following a wizard in Setup. 

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A whimsical addition to Path in Lightning is the Celebrations feature. Add Celebrations to an existing Path with only a few clicks at the last step of the wizard. Reps will then see confetti drop down on the screen when specified updates are made, such as the marking of a deal as Closed Won.

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Approval Processes are not new, and require no special knowledge to leverage in Salesforce Lightning, but warrant consideration when planning a sales process. They allow us to formally request approval for an Opportunity to be saved in a particular Stage or updated in a specific way. Approvals are complex and, like Validation Rules, should be built and thoroughly tested in a sandbox before setting up in Production.

Another important change in Lightning that is easily overlooked in building out a sales process is Lead Conversion. The Lead Conversion page is dramatically different than in Salesforce Classic and requires some setup. Check out the Lead Conversion Settings in Setup to specify whether Validation Rules should be enforced during conversion, an Opportunity should be created, or mobile Lead conversions should be supported. Also important is whether you want to define Duplicate Rules for catching potential duplicates during the conversion process.

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Transitioning Your Process

Some best practices for transitioning your sales process include:

  • Use the Data Loader or a similar tool to backup all current Opportunity field values BEFORE you begin.  Be sure to include the Opportunity ID column.
  • Build and test your new methodology first in a Sandbox. 
  • The sequence for updates should be as follows:
    • Add, remove, inactivate Stage values
      • Use the integrated tools to replace the Stage Values
    • If necessary, create Sales Processes
    • If necessary, create Record Types
    • Create Field Dependencies
    • Setup Path
    • Update Page Layouts
    • Create and test Validation Rules

Each of the tools listed above is worth investigating for potential use in building out your sales methodology in Salesforce Lightning.  This should be done with careful planning, and updates made in a sandbox before attempting in Production. The result should be a sales team that is more aware of what is expected of them and a sales process that is better adopted.

That’s not all for Salesforce Lightning. Want to dig deeper? Listen to our step-through of the various features available in Salesforce Lightning that can be used to reinforce the sales process here.

David Carnes
CEO, OpFocus, Inc.
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