02 Aug Sales Cloud for Operations
Here’s to Operations !
When thinking about Salesforce Sales Cloud, the immediate reflex is to think about the tools that can be provided to an organisation’s Sales team to enable it to structure, plan, and monitor its sales and business development activities. For many companies, Sales Cloud is an essential tool and there are many success stories that demonstrate as much.
Here are some of the aspects of Sales Cloud that we use to ensure the smooth functioning of our organisation:
- Forecasting and planning
- Technical review and approval of proposals
- Record keeping for customer communications and quoting activities
- Automated project creation
Forecasting and planning
Managing project assignments in a professional services organisations is a savvy mix of magic and science. How can we minimize the magic and maximize the science? It’s no surprise that the answer involves communication.
However, the real question is: how to enable organisational fluidity without the need to organise another yet another meeting to review opportunities? Using Salesforce’s Forecast engine enables everyone, particularly the Operations team, to have a complete view of the sales opportunities that are likely to materialise in the coming weeks and months. Consequently, Forecast becomes a gauge by which future assignments are evaluated and enables the Operations team to better plan as a result.
Based on our experience, Forecast should be consulted weekly, at a minimum.
Technical review and approval of proposals
We don’t want to emphasise the common confrontations between the Operations and Sales teams. However, one must admit that such confrontations can be reduced if Operations has its say in Sales’ efforts!
The most effective approach is to validate architectures and work estimates before presenting them to clients and prospects. On the one hand, this helps Sales because it brings technical credibility to their estimates. On the other hand, it helps Operations be more effective since it provides them with a project based on a solid footing.
It is good business practice to involve one or more representatives from Operations for approving “Quotes” in Salesforce. While they could always veto a proposal if required, they are also better placed to help the project delivery teams if they feel capable of delivering on a reasonable budget.
Record keeping for customer communications and quoting activities
At the risk of repeating ourselves, one of Salesforce’s strengths is the Chatter messaging engine. Sales opportunities can retain all records of internal communications, which enables one to quickly get up to speed on the sales dynamic.
Even more importantly, all activities are recorded in the opportunity record, including call notes, emails, and other communications between the client and the sales representative. It’s probably the most effective way of avoiding misunderstandings and other surprises such as, “Yes, but during the sales cycle, we were told that …”. At the very least, these notes enable everyone to get realigned.
Together, these activities, Chatter notes, and other opportunity data points can be used at a later time (e.g., a few months) to reconstruct the sales history and to provide the Operations team with a customer overview.
Finally, one of the most important ways of using Sales Cloud for Operations teams: when an opportunity has been won, the next logical step is to deliver the work. No surprise here!
The creation of an effective project structure begins during the sales cycle. It’s then when tasks should be broken down and presented, followed by proper budgets assigned to these tasks. This separation at the Opportunity level enables project managers to align the project and give it a truly representative status. This enables the customer to understand at all times where the project stands relative to what was promised. The organisation will appear that much more coherent and well-organised as a result.
In conclusion, Sales Cloud is not just for Sales, but useful for each of the departments in a Professional Services organisation, particularly so for Operations. Whether it’s for project planning, risk management, alignment, or follow-up, Sales Cloud’s tools (i.e., Opportunities, Quotes, Forecast) are a must. To try them is to love them!
by Alexandre Boyer, VP Operations