Only a handful of the early and expansion stage companies that I have worked with were already tracking products in their CRM system when I started working with them. If they do any kind product tracking, more often than not they track that information in an accounting system or in a separate contact management system used by technical support or professional services. Most of the sales teams that I work with struggle with tracking products because they lack the time or expertise to implement it in CRM, and it isn’t a high enough priority for the organization to get those resources. The task of managing annuity-based products like SaaS combined with one-time fees or services can be difficult and can make tracking products even more complicated. What most sales teams end up doing is simply entering in the total amount of the opportunity, and then entering the product or services included in a separate text field.

However, that type of loosely structured data is difficult to keep consistent and nearly impossible to report on, which is one of the primary points of capturing that information in the first place.

Though most sales organizations at this stage do not track sales by product, that information can be extremely insightful and help sales leaders improve focus, training, and incentive plans around specific products. As your sales team scales, this level of information will be critical to your success. If you haven’t already, you should invest in a resource to help you implement sales tracking at the product level.

If you are already using Salesforce.com as your CRM/SFA system these tips will help you implement products effectively.

Before you start implementing anything, review some of the overview documentation that salesforce.com provides to get a better understanding of how this module is designed to work and intended to be used. As a rule of thumb I always try to use as much out-of-the-box functionality as possible.

Also, when implementing product tracking in your organization, there are a several relationships between objects that are important to understand. Before you start implementing make sure that you understand:

  • The difference between the Products object, and the Opportunity Products (opportunity line item) object, and the role each one plays
  • The difference between the Price Book object, and the Price Book Entry object, and the role each one plays

The Products, Price Book, and Schedules Data Model provides a great graphical representation to help clarify the relationships.

Once you’ve completed the initial setup you may be interested in implementing some of these additional tools and features which are not obviously documented and available. Here a few examples that I have found useful, and some documentation to help guide you through implementation.

Setup -> Customize -> Settings -> Prompt users to add products

This will not effect leads that have been converted. Also, some organizations only require products once an opportunity has reached a certain stage.

    • If you want to take your implementation a step further you can implement one of these validation rules: (credit to Katherine Chilcote in the salesforce.com administrators Group on Linkedin)

When the stage reaches X, Y, or Z, sales reps are required to enter products and schedules. Before these stages, products and schedules are not required on opportunities.

AND(

TEXT(StageName) = “ABC”,

NOT( OR( ISNEW(), HasOpportunityLineItem)))

For Multiple stages, the rule is this:

AND(

CASE(StageName, “Perception Analysis”,1, “Proposal/Price Quote”, 1, “Negotiation/Review”, 1, “Closed Won”, 1, 0) = 1, NOT( OR( ISNEW(), HasOpportunityLineItem))

If you have any other good tips for implementing salesforce.com please share.

photo by: blaahhi