Monday, November 30, 2015

Sales Path....a useful selling tool

With the recent Winter '16 release, all SalesForce users (using the Lightning experience/interface) now have access to a valuable new sales tool - Sales Path!

Sales Path is a tool that sits in the Opportunities view and gives your Sales Team information on what they need to succeed at each stage of the opportunity.

Screenshot of Sales Path

First, to use Sales Path you need to have a thoroughly defined Sales Process.  It is only with that Sales Process well defined that you can really leverage Sales Path.  That's because at each stage of an opportunity Sales Path displays "Key Fields" and "Guidance for Success".  The Key Fields is a list of fields, that you define, that should be completed prior to moving the opportunity to the next stage.  These fields could be anything (including your custom opportunity fields) and ensure that your sales team captures the right information at the right time.  The Guidance for Success are sales tips that come from senior sales members that the whole sales team can use to help them through each stage.

Sales Path is a very easy tool to configure and shouldn't take more than an hour to get up and running once you, as an administrator, has the fields and tips per stage.

Overall it is a great tool to make selling easier in Lightning!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Environment Hub - Navigate Between Multiple Instances with Ease

For many organizations, and especially SalesForce consultants, you can end up with many logins to different SalesForce instances.  As a result of this, you often have a piece of paper or a password tracking app where you store all of your passwords.

Well, in the recent SalesForce release, a new feature was introduced called SalesForce Environment Hub.   The Environment Hub lets you view, connect, create and login to multiple SalesForce instances from one location.

With the Environment Hub, you can actually put all the login information to each of the instances in one master instance.  From there, you simply have to navigate to "Environment Hub" and choose what instance you want to log into.

Sample of Environment Hub

Here is the Help Document on how to set it up:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Service Cloud Tools that aren't always used!

The Service Cloud, as you likely know, is a comprehensive solutions designed to help organisations manage the inflow of cases coming in from customers via the web. The Service Cloud includes the basic case management, email to case and more. 

But a set of features not often used, but readily available in the Service Cloud feature often used are Contracts, Entitlements and Milestones. These tools give you a valuable way to ensure that the customers that are interacting with your service department are getting the service they expect and pay for. 

It all starts with a Service Contracts. Service Contracts let you denote which customers have purchased a contract with you for services. From there you can track how much they paid, what they protected (eg certain assets they have, all assets, etc.) and more. From a Service Contract you relate the Entitlements the customers have. For example, you can track if a customer can open a certain number of cases and what service level they should receive for this entitlement. 

Then, within an entitlement you have Milestone's. The Milestone's let you set countdowns and escalation paths. For example, with a Phone Service entitlement, you can set a milestone for a first call to the customer within 1 hour (of case submission) and that the case has to be closed within 6 hours of being created. Then from the Milestone's you could see what has, or hasn't been done, and set appropriate escalations. 

While all the above work quite well, one missing piece presently is that you can't easily close Milestone's based on activity. So for example if a call is logged on the case, the agent still has to manually mark the milestone as completed. There are ways to facilitate the above with Apex code but that is going the way of clicks not code.

Here are some SalesForce Help Resources to help you turn on this valuable feature (do them in this order):

  1. Milestones
  2. Entitlements
  3. Service Contracts 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Back to the Core....what does that mean?

At DreamForce it was announced that SalesForce to take this year to focus on its products and enhancing them.  In some ways this is a focus on the core again. 

As of late SalesForce has been busy acquiring companies and hastily integrating the various platforms into the SalesForce universe. The problem is that many of these integrations were hastily integrated and don't do everything that the end user expects. For example, the first integration of the (performance management suite) lacked the ability to really move data from into SalesForce. It took another two iterations of the tool to get a comprehensive set of tools.  Now you can't really tell where stops and SalesForce CRM really starts, or ends.  Which is what you would expect when you hear that a new acquisition is built into the core system. 

So for the next year SalesForce has stated they are going to fix this with their many other acquisitions. For example, we can expect the Marketing Cloud to become a strong tool where everything integrates with one another and there is no obvious distinction between ExactTarget (email marketing tool) and Radian6 (social media tool). It will also soon integrate with the Sales and Service Clouds which will give endless email marketing opportunities. 

We can also see this focus on the core in the recent Lightning release. Rather than the SalesForce core UI looking dated and noticeably behind the mobile experience, it is beginning to look more modern and what we expect from software available in the cloud.  It will be interesting to see how Lightning continues to evolve as the first release was very Sales Cloud focuses. 

Regardless hopefully SalesForce better integrates their many acquisitions to give us a comprehensive tool that really does everything we need, while also fixing those odd nuisances in the core application that have always driven users crazy. It should be an interesting year in the world of SalesForce.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Junction Objects....what are they the junction between?

With SalesForce, as you have likely learned, it is easy to create new objects. Objects are like database tables in the traditional database sense. They let you store common information in fields structured in whatever way makes sense to your business. 

That being said, information is a silo is of little use to business. You need relationships to your other data in the system to build a complete picture. This is where relationships come into play. When creating a new field in SalesForce you will notice you can create a Master Detail field OR a lookup field. These two fields let you relate the records in your custom object to another a table. We will explain more about them in a moment.  

The challenge with both of the above types is that they only let you relate your data in one way. So, if you had a list of airlines and the classes of travel they offer, you would have to create a lot of records. Basically one per airline and class (eg British Airways - First, British Airways - Business, British Airways - Premium Economy, British Airways - Economy. That's four different records). But what if you wanted to be able to see all the airlines offering a Premium Economy class?  That is where you would use a junction object. With a junction object it lets you create multiple objects. So you could have the following:
- An object called Airlines that lists all the airlines
- An object called Classes that lists the various types of classes
- A junction object that lets you create a record that related both to Airlines and Classes. 

So now rather than having to have four records in the British Airways example above, you could create a record to relate the airline British Airways to each of the classes offered. Then you could relate those classes offered to other airlines and get a picture of how many airlines offer a business class by looking at the Class object and seeing how many airlines are related to the Business Class record. 

While a junction object isn't necessary, it certainly makes data analysis easier. You can see examples of junction objects SalesForce uses themselves by looking at Opportunity Contacts, or Account and Opportunity Teams.  Here is a sample of how you could use a junction object between JOBS and CANDIDATES if you were building an Applicant Tracking System.

The Job Posting to Applicant Link is the Junction Object
Now back to the question earlier about the relationship types. You can have a Master Detail field or a lookup field. Each has their own purpose. For example, with Contacts you would likely want a Master Detail relationship to Accounts so you can force that every contact has to be related to an account. However not every contact might be related to an Opportunity so that is when you would use a Lookup relationship since the relationship isn't required. 

Relationships in SalesForce are a powerful way to structure your data. So you should take the time to learn about them.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What is the Community Cloud?

As you likely notice, SalesForce is really pushing the idea of clouds for their products. For example, the core SalesForce CRM you are likely well versed in comes with the Sales Cloud (opportunities, price books, etc.) and the Service Cloud (cases, entitlements, Milestone's, etc).  But there are also so many other clouds. Two of the other big ones are the Community and Marketing Cloud. 

The Community Cloud is designed to help businesses, using SalesForce, to be able to create audiences/communities of users for a common purpose. For example, for a university using SalesForce, they could create a community of their Alumni or Students. Or a company like Phillips, can create communities for their fans of products they make. 

The whole idea with the SalesForce Community is to make it easier to share, but also deflect small issues from becoming large issues that frustrate customers. For example, in a SalesForce community you can create a Q&A area so users can ask one another questions - like how did you get product x to interact with a Product Y. With the Internet of things, this is important as items no longer live in silos but people expect them to integrate with their world and technology. So by having a Q&A area users can help one another, but also learn from one another. Now, of course, the Community would also have documentation available that the company has published. That way customers have an official source to go to rather than trolling around the bulletin boards. And of course, customers can just submit cases to your support team of none of the other resources have answered their questions. This at least gives them a way to hopefully get support if none of the self service help gave them what they needed. 

With the SalesForce Community product, they give you a basic few templates that you can then customise to your businesses need with Apex, VisualForce and HTML. Then with the help of lightning components, you can then add pre built components to your community with ease and enhance what you offer. 

Setting up a new community is fairly easy and the pricing is based on the number of logins you expect. If you consistently go over that number of logins you may have to pay more, but if you happen to just have one busy month on your community you are not likely to be penalised.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SalesForce Marketing Cloud - what is it?

As you likely have notice, SalesForce is really pushing the idea of "clouds" for their products. For example, the core SalesForce CRM you are likely well versed in comes with the Sales Cloud (opportunities, price books, etc.) and the Service Cloud (cases, entitlements, Milestone's, etc).  But there are also so many other clouds. Two of the other big ones are the Community and Marketing Cloud. 

The Marketing Cloud is actually a set of third party tools that were recently acquired by SalesForce to round out their Marketing offerings. It includes email marketing (powered by ExactTarget), Social Media Monitoring (powered by Buddy Media and Radian6) and more. 

Each of the tools included within the Marketing Cloud, while branded as Marketing Cloud, are still somewhat separate tools in a UI designed to make them look like a comprehensive solution. For example, the email marketing tool can not send out emails based on the activity seen by Radian6 yet. One day the Marketing Cloud will likely do all this, but joining all these different technology products into a cohesive and comprehensive tool takes time. It is that time that tools like Marketo should fear as SalesForce will have a comprehensive tool that does everything their tool does, but also have the powerful Sales and Service Clouds to power it and make appropriate business decisions. 

That being said, the tools presently available are powerful. ExactTarget, the email marketing tool, has no shortage of ways to send personalized emails to your subscribers and track their activity. The Radian6 tool gives you a be comprehensive view of what your brand is doing on Social Media, but also how people on social media are interacting with it. 

We will do an in depth review of each the Marketing Cloud aspects in the future.  But wanted to give you a quick overview and food for thought about what it does, and how it doesn't all yet interconnect.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Most of you have likely heard about SalesFprce Trailhead. But if you haven't, you are missing out on a great resource in your SalesForce tool belt. 

SalesForce Trailhead is a free to use, self driven, educational tool available to all SalesForce users. Unlike the SalesForce training videos, Trailhead is designed more for those who like to read with some audio visual content.  But where it lacks in audio visual content, it makes us with the self driven exercises to test your knowledge. At the end of each module, which is probably a thousand words or less, you will have a comprehension quiz. Some of these are multiple choice questions, but many force you to actually build out something in your org and then Trailhead validates if you did it correct. This is a great way to learn, especially with software, since it's hands on. 

Even after using SalesForce for ten plus years, I have found the sessions useful. There are about 55 sessions/modules at the time of writing this. They cover basic things that a basic user would want like Accounts & Contacts, to advanced developer concepts like how to use Lightning components. 

And best of all is the gamification of it all. After each quiz/module you get points based on how many attempts it took you to answer the questions correctly. And then from there you get badges as a reward for completing a module. Although they are no replacement for SalesForce certification, these badges given you something to show in your office that you know SalesForce and are a go to resource.