Salesforce Opportunity Management
How to get the most out of your CRM and utilize AI technology to close more deals
There’s no question that Salesforce is the most powerful and ubiquitous CRM in existence. It’s one of the first SaaS (software as a service) platforms and it pioneered the way of online business.
However, Salesforce is merely a series of powerful tools. Much like you wouldn’t give an untrained layman a chainsaw, learning to harness these tools is essential to the success of your organization.
One of the core tools Salesforce offers is sales opportunity organization and management.
Opportunity management in Salesforce is one of the most important things to master. Opportunities are the lifeblood of your revenue. It’s the engine that drives forecasting, reporting, and the bulk of your sales team’s efforts.
In this post, we’ll review:
- What salesforce opportunity management is
- Strategies for effective opportunity management
- How AI technology can help you overcome some of the platform’s limitations and generate more revenue
What is Salesforce Opportunity Management?
While every CRM seems to have a different definition of an opportunity, in Salesforce an opportunity is a past or pending sale.
Opportunity management is the process, workflow, and specific guidelines you establish for managing and organizing data in Salesforce.
Think of Salesforce opportunity management like managing a budget of potential revenue. It requires organization, a process, and attention-to-detail. A comprehensive opportunity management strategy will help your team avoid junk data. It will also help forecast rep’s progress and focus their time on revenue-generating deals.
Why is Salesforce Opportunity Management Important?
Regardless of if your sales team is two reps or twenty, if you have multiple people editing or inputting data into a system, there’s a risk of inaccurate information.
This risk is important to address when the data directly affects budget, goals, and the overall success of the organization as a whole.
As we explore deeper in a previous post, every other department in your organization depends on accurate numbers from the sales team.
SEE ALSO: Sales Forecast Examples
Better insight into sales performance
Missing revenue goals is not a disease, but a symptom. The root cause of sales teams falling short lies at the individual rep level. For example, their selling habits, process, grasp on the prospect’s pain, or their day-to-day workflow.
As a sales leader, it’s imperative to be able to drill down into these things and fix them at the ground level. Accurate opportunity management is the best way to understand your reps’ blind spots.
But Salesforce doesn’t exactly make it easy to get at-a-glance summaries of all your team’s opportunities. We’ll discuss some strategies to overcome that hurdle later in this post.
The Fundamentals of Salesforce Opportunity Management
The Law of Entropy as it relates to business states that a process or operation left unmanaged will descend into chaos and disorder. Those of you who’ve worked with garbage data in your CRM can attest to this truth.
So, before you even step foot into Salesforce, it’s imperative that you have a written process for your team. This process should at least do the following:
Establish clear thresholds for sales stages
As mentioned in a previous post, establishing sales stages that best align with your company’s sales cycle is imperative.
Some examples of common sales stages are the following:
- Closed Won
- Closed Lost
Variations of these stages should be used to best reflect your organization’s needs. But even more important than establishing stages is clearly defining the threshold for each of them.
For example, at what point is an opportunity entered into Salesforce as a prospect? What trigger or triggers signal your reps to then move them to the Qualified stage? Is there anything that would cause them to regress back to Prospect? How long in the Proposal/Quote phase can an opportunity stay before the deal grows stale? When should it be marked Closed Lost?
These questions are best answered on the front end. Not in the heat of the moment when opportunities start piling up and reps need a quick answer.
But it’s impossible to predict every edge case for opportunities. Start with an estimated framework and thresholds. Then work with your team to refine it quarter-by-quarter.
Make Salesforce the single source of truth
You need to have one single source of truth in Salesforce. Especially if you want to get serious about accurate data and better insight into the efficacy of your team. A common refrain among sales leaders is, “if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.”
While it may seem dogmatic and harsh on the surface, it’s a matter of necessity. The sentiment emerged from exhausted sales leaders who have trudged through repositories trying to find answers in sparse or non-existent data.
To combat a lack of data, managers try to force or incentivize manual data entry. This means forcing sales reps to log every call with each prospect. It means forcing the send of all emails through trackable systems. And it means ensuring all relevant prospect data gets logged. For example users, decision-makers, demographic info, and more.
While reps are sure to shudder at the mere mention of “data entry,” it’s a necessary evil if you want clean insights.
There are sales AI solutions that can help you capture all this data automatically, lifting manual data entry off the plate of your reps. It analyzes buyer/seller interactions taking place in your normal systems (phone, email, calendar, etc.) and captures it in CRM for you. From there, these solutions can visualize your data in a way that makes understanding what to do next a piece of cake.
But not only can sales AI eliminate the element of human error in data entry, but it can also help recover historical data. Since it’s connecting to your exchange systems, it can go back in time and backfill years of buyer/seller data missing in Salesforce.
A Better Way Forward for Salesforce Opportunity Management
Salesforce, while a powerful tool, has significant limitations in certain areas. For example, it lacks the depth of granularity into certain deals that sales managers need. It also falls short at providing high-level visualizations on the progress of deals.
If you’ve ever tried sifting through the clunky Opportunity Details matrix in Salesforce, you know what I’m talking about.
As a sales leader, you don’t have time to decipher vague opportunity notes. You also don’t have time to click through dozens of emails with decision-makers to understand the health of a deal.
And while Salesforce is great at storing critical data, that data still needs to be there and be accurate to be useful. Imagine how much time you could save (and how much happier your reps would be) if some of the heavy-lifting of data entry could be automated. Or even eliminated altogether.
Here are some ways that the Accent Technologies suite of software can help you overcome these pitfalls:
Automate and eliminate manual data entry
Accent’s CRM Supercharger automatically integrates with all the ways your reps communicate with prospects. This means all emails, phone calls, or texts are automatically synced with your CRM and transcribed into the opportunity’s record.
No extra effort from sales reps, no cumbersome portal to send an email from. And it provides a more streamlined experience for both sales leaders and sellers.
Increased accuracy and accountability
Out of the box, Salesforce also lacks checks and balances that ensure accuracy and accountability.
For example, we knew one organization whose CRM was full of dummy opportunities. Reps were creating and closing opportunity records on the day they closed the deal. Turns out, it was a company rule that there had to be a record in CRM in order to get their commission.
This produced a fatally false assumption that their average sales cycle was one day. When in actuality it was closer to six months.
This is an extreme case, but as a sales leader, you’ll want to make sure you have safeguards in place to ensure the data being entered represents reality. Accent’s Sales AI technology ensures that opportunity data and activities are harvested from your exchange systems and recorded in CRM in real time. It can even detect ghost buyers (or contacts) that are engaged but not captured yet in the Salesforce opportunity. Then log them accordingly.
One of the biggest pain points of sales leaders is the inability to quickly discern an opportunity’s health in a matter of seconds.
This is an extreme case, but as a sales leader, you’ll want to make sure you have safeguards in place to ensure the data being entered represents reality. Accent’s Sales AI technology automatically detects ghost buyers that are engaged but not recorded yet in Salesforce. Then logs them accordingly.
In our sales AI solution, we call it the Opportunity Room. From this simple dashboard, leaders can discern all essential information about the health of a deal and how to progress it forward to close.
This once again eliminates the need to sift through actions in the Opportunity Details matrix. It also elevates communication with reps because you can see how an opportunity is progressing, and move on to strategy and tactics.
Predictive analytics and intelligent recommendations
Salesforce is the standard for storing and presenting relevant sales data. But it lacks any sort of AI-driven recommendations or predictive analytics.
We’ve written extensively on the power that AI has to streamline your sales process, free up your reps, and help you make revenue-generating decisions more quickly.
Accent’s Sales AI technology intelligently recommends sales plays and content for specific situations and personas. It utilizes algorithms to help prioritize opportunities in the pipeline.
This means that every day your reps can hit the ground running without a single doubt as to the next thing they should be working on.
The way Sales AI visualizes an opportunity’s health is dynamic. It changes based on factors of time, prospect activity, and progression through the sales funnel. This means it’s easier for sales reps and leaders to quickly discern what next actions are necessary to move a deal to a favorable outcome.
Better performance tracking
Not only does Accent’s Supercharger CRM streamline the day-to-day operations of sales reps, but also the responsibilities of sales leaders.
Performance tracking in Accent’s CRM Supercharger is simple and comprehensive. Not only can it analyze the health of individual opportunities, but also the performance of individual reps. As well as, particular pieces of content and specific marketing channels.
To sum it all up, Salesforce is a powerful tool that lacks the AI-driven benefits that help organizations stay competitive in 2020 and beyond.
Supplementing your CRM with Accent Technologies’ proprietary features eliminates huge chunks of busywork and streamlines responsibilities for reps, managers, and marketers.
Reach out to our team today. We’ll show you how AI can give you better insight into rep performance, recommend specific actions that lead to success, and ultimately, equip you for more effective revenue generation.
Subscribe to Accent’s Blog
Get Accent’s latest sales enablement articles straight to your inbox.
Accent Technologies is the first and only SaaS company to bring together Sales AI and Content Management in a true Revenue Enablement Platform. We provide both sales and marketing with better visibility into the performance of their teams. This drives revenue through intelligent recommendations for complex sales scenarios and provides the data for rich analytics that power better coaching, forecasting, and long-term customer support. Learn more about our solutions or request a live demo to see it in action.