Every day, we talk to sales leaders who are trying to answer the most basic questions about their sales process. Every single one of them has Salesforce CRM. Every single one of them invests $3 extra in sales tools for every $1 that they invest in Salesforce.
Yet not a single one of them can answer the basic question they all urgently need to know: “what are my reps doing all day, and how do I make them better?”
CRM has been around for 50 years. Salesforce for 25… it’s the most advanced cloud CRM ever created with infinite customizability. But it still doesn’t answer any of the basic questions everyone asks every single day
– What is our activity level (are they hitting goals?)
– What stage of the funnel are we spending their time on?’
– Are we trending to hit our number?
– Where/why are we succeeding/failing?
– Do we have the right training, management, capacity?
So why doesn’t it just do this out of the box? We get that Salesforce is infinitely customizable, but are organizations so unique that there can’t be a one size fits most report to these questions?
To understand why this is the case, we need to better understand how Salesforce works.
At its core, Salesforce is a visual tool that runs on Oracle’s “Relational Database”. This technology is excellent at certain use cases, but poorly equipped to handle others. As its name implies, its strength comes from its ability to map relationships between different things (Accounts, Opportunities, Contacts) in order to report on those relationship. It’s the difference between ‘how many calls did we make’ and ‘how many unique contacts do we talk to on average per account?’.
So what are its weaknesses?
“Garbage in, Garbage Out”, as the old saying goes. We won’t belabor the point, since everyone already knows that getting data into the CRM is a key gap for every sales organization out there, no matter how many sales tools they buy.
But even if the data makes it into the CRM, it’s often missing valuable metadata. Sure, you might know that a call happened, but then you might wonder: how did the rep execute this call? What workflow did they execute the call from? Was this a task, and was it done on time?
Shameless plug… this is why we started Truly – to solve this problem. Enough said :)
It may be surprising, but OracleDB’s strength is also its weakness. It allows you to build complex reports, but ONLY if relationships exist across all objects. Activity data is messy and complex. How do you log an email if the contact doesn’t exist on the account? How do you log a phone number if there are duplicate records?
Our customer data shows that on average, 55% of data that’s logged to the CRM through automated tools actually doesn’t get associated with the right objects. So if the call gets tied to the contact but not the opportunity, you lose the ability to report on those relationships. The system does not do data enrichment around these scenarios natively; it doesn’t even easily let you natively audit/score how good your data is!
Storing State Changes
When you run a Salesforce report, it shows you the data as it is in that state… it’s not designed to track changes. So if you run a report today to see what your funnel looks like, you get a snapshot in time, but you don’t get a sense of progression.
Companies try to get around this by storing ‘duration in stage’ values on the opportunity object, but this ultimately never scales as the company updates its opportunity stages to reflect increasing/decreasing specialization, new products and new workflows.
The revenue lifecycle in the old days of software were linear and simple.
- Someone would answer your newspaper ad and mail in a request for information (you’d become a lead).
- You’d call those people and they’d pick up the phone. Some would be interested in buying the product (convert to Account + Opportunity).
- Some of those opportunities close, some don’t
Today’s SaaS revenue cycle doesn’t look anything like this. First, there’s no clear notion of a deal starting and ending. Recurring revenue often means that we’re constantly both in the “lead” phase (because we are selling to retain the customer) and in the “opportunity” phase (because we are trying to expand into the customer).
This means that to understand where we’re spending our time and where we’re winning/losing, you need to understand the context in which those activities are happening.
Salesforce has a global notion of an opportunity stage, but not one for the Account. This means that we only have a shot at seeing a very small sliver of the customer lifecycle, even if we do measure stage progression.
So.. you said I could fix this, how do I do that?
The GOOD news is that Salesforce is infinitely customizable. This means that we can get it to do anything we want, and if we start with a few simple assumptions (eg: 80% of us are trying to answer the same questions and work within some similar framework), then we can get a lot done with very little.
Want to know what this looks like? We built a FREE Salesforce package that will show you what this looks like ‘out of the box’, enabling you to report on four key things that will lead you to data-driven sales success:
- Activity: what are my reps doing?
- Behavior: how are my reps doing it?
- Efficiency: what are our funnel conversion ratios?
- Time Allocation: what part of the funnel are we spending time on?
You can check it out here. As part of our COVID-19 response, for a limited time we are offering this for FREE to all Salesforce customers.