How sales workflows in Salesforce can help you reach your sales goals


September 12, 2017

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It goes without saying that bringing in new opportunities is critical to business success. If you never collect leads, don’t talk to new prospects, and stop signing new contracts, then your business is going to shrivel faster than a red grape left in the hot California summer. Companies with a formal sales process generate more revenue. But how do you ensure that your ten-person sales team—or even two-person team—is working from the same playbook? The answer lies in good internal communication and in building out processes that are clear and simple to follow. Building out your workflows helps ensure every potential new customer gets the same red carpet treatment, no matter who they’re talking to on your team.

How to Use Sales Workflows in Salesforce to Interact with Leads

Let’s start at the beginning. Everyone should get a phone call or an email after they contact your firm. Once a person fills out a contact form on your website or sends your sales team a message, they’ve signaled a desire – or at least willingness – to talk with you and the process has begun. Building workflows for sales in your CRM is a great way to ensure new leads are receiving a phone call or an email. For most businesses, this isn’t enough. You can go beyond one initial reminder with custom workflows, so those leads can receive tailored outreach attempts at specified intervals. It’s possible, but highly unlikely, that someone will agree to sign a contract after only one interaction with your team. Prospects seek you out at different phases – between problem education, solution research and selection – and many companies have longer sales cycles and require a good deal of negotiation and even education before an agreement is reached. By defining processes to coordinate the human and automated work involved, a newly-created lead can automatically kick off a process to guide your team members on suggested talking points and when to reach out. Doing this well will require some internal reflection, as you’ll want to make your touchpoints research-based. Do larger or later-stage prospects require more frequent “touch base” attempts? Take a look at the last few clients you brought on to get a snapshot of how your team interacts with each prospect type at each stage of your sales funnel and build out workflows to accommodate real-life scenarios and prospect profiles. Even with the best intentions, though, your team can get busy. By creating automatic touch points, if your team hasn’t talked to a prospect in two weeks, your process is right there to remind them—or even automatically fire an email you’ve saved for just such an occasion. Building consistent workflows for your sales team isn’t about fitting each team member into a box. Each person may have a different style and some will be more effective than others. While some of your team may be more laid-back and others more assertive, you can define processes explicitly in order to scale the most effective practices across the entire team.

Reporting and Progress Tracking for Sales

When you first define your processes, you want to review your sales process to get a good understanding of the types of tasks and the frequency with which those tasks need to occur. But you can’t stop your analysis there. Ongoing reporting and dashboarding is critical for your sales team to maintain momentum and keep each stage of your sales funnel at its optimal level. When you track all your data in CRM and define processes explicitly, you can easily create reports to track the progress, the types of activities and their effectiveness, along with the results (closed won opportunities). Here’s just one simple example of how to help your sales team. One of the first reports you should set up should be tracking how many leads have been contacted this month, the average number of conversations you’ve had with each and whether they’ve been warm or cold, along with the number that have been converted to accounts/contacts/opportunities. You should also keep constant eyes on how many prospects you have in each stage of your sales funnel. Typically, sales teams using Salesforce will track opportunity stages with some type of path. Keep it simple. You want enough stages to define how your sales process flows without adding too much complexity. For reference, these are our basic stages for moving a prospect to a customer:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Demonstration
  3. 30-Day Free Trial
  4. Negotiation/Review
  5. Closed – Won (or Closed – Lost)

Your number of touch points and terms may vary, but the critical point to take away is that you need to be tracking where a prospect is in the cycle so you can see what you need to do to move them on to the next part of your sales cycle. And it also helps you communicate next steps with prospects.

Create different processes for different Opportunities

We talk a lot about how workflows can help standardize efforts across your opportunity, and that standardization can be the key to scaling your firm to grow without straining your existing staff. But while your sales team all have their own personalities and ways of selling, your client types likely do as well. You’ll likely need at least a slightly different sales approach for each client profile. Your sales cycles for enterprise customers may be much longer than for medium sized institutions. You can’t rely on a single process to handle this simple reality. Thankfully, you don’t have to put yourself into a bind by trying to fit your prospects into a single one-size-fits-all type of workflow. Rather, set up processes that respond and adjust to those idiosyncrasies and take the right actions conditionally. Gather as much data about the client – their stage in the buyer journey, their potential size and other key data – and have workflows assign and kick off based on those details to give you the right amount and frequency of interaction with each new lead you discover (or discovers you). We talked about what a good idea it can be for you to segment clients into tiers for service, and you can read that post here. The same idea can also be applied to those clients while they’re still in your sales cycle to help you make sure you treat everyone like the unique individual they are. One powerful way to help your sales team is to set up Roles for the contacts you’re talking with to help define their relationship to each other and your firm. If you’re an advisory firm who gets a referral from a CPA partner firm, you want to leverage that relationship in the sales process with your new lead. Roles can help you consolidate the relationship so you keep that CPA attached to your new opportunity and continue to use their relationship to your benefit and keep them in the loop if necessary. (For more information on Roles, here’s a great resource from Salesforce on how to set them up.)

A More Efficient Sales Team

Defined, automated workflows can do more than create a more efficient operations team, it can also standardize how your sales team works with new business opportunities. From helping you structure sales processes unique to size of a client or helping you maintain consistent contact with automatic processes, a well-thought-out sales workflow can help your team find and close more business opportunities. Still not sold on how workflows can transform your business? Download our free resource, Buyer's Toolkit for Powerful Workflow Automation, to keep reading.


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