• Tom Stearns

How to manage your sales process efficiently with Salesforce



Good salespeople follow a disciplined sales process. Cloud-based sales applications (like Salesforce) can be powerful tools for managing that process, but they can be overwhelming to understand—let alone use effectively to manage that process. This post is designed to be simple, basic and instructional.

Let’s start by defining the basic sales process and how Salesforce is organized. Note: I’m focusing on the Sales Cloud version of Salesforce.

The basic sales process:

  • A good salesperson identifies leads (or marketing supplies leads) and “works” them. Typically “working” is contacting via phone, email, social interaction, in-person or all of these. Consistently working many leads through this process can literally mean hundreds, if not thousands, of individual activities.

  • Once a lead becomes a potential deal, or what’s called an “opportunity” (you’ve discovered they’re interested and you may be the right fit for their needs), then working this opportunity becomes another process, to which there are many stages.

While perhaps oversimplified, this chart explains how Salesforce is organized:


The key components of Salesforce software:

  • Leads (prospects) are not connected to anything else in Salesforce

  • When an opportunity (potential deal) is discovered, the lead is converted to a contact, and an account and a default opportunity are created.

  • Accounts

  • Contacts

  • Opportunities

  • Open Activities: tasks not completed yet (calls, demos, email, social interactions)

  • Activity History: completed tasks

Let’s marry the sales process to how Salesforce is organized:

Working a lead

This is a lead in Salesforce with open activities and an activity history:


Here’s how we get there:

1. You’ve identified a prospect—perhaps on LinkedIn—and entered it as a lead in Salesforce. Now you want to begin your outreach. You make a phone call and leave a voicemail. Log the call here:


2. Now set a follow-up task here:


Every time you complete an activity you should set up the next task. By doing this, you don’t have to remember the next step in your process. Salesforce will remind you of all your tasks for the day when you login. This ensures you don’t forget and it frees your mind. Keep good notes when you log an activity and you’ll be able to efficiently reach out to hundreds of prospects without losing track of where you are in your outreach process.

3. You can email directly from Salesforce or use your own mail program (Outlook, Google, etc.) and track this in Salesforce. If you use an external mail program, use your Email to Salesforce unique URL (find this in “setup” under “email”) in your bcc field and it will automatically log the email as an activity with the lead, contact, account, and opportunity.

Converting leads to opportunities:

After a couple of weeks of out-bounding, you discover a lead is interested, has the budget, authority, need and timing for when they’d like to implement a service like yours. Great! Now is the time to convert this lead to a contact, account, and an opportunity. It’s simple: Click “convert” and follow the prompts. BUT, remember that you’ll now need to open the opportunity and work this instead of the lead itself.


Make sure a “primary contact” is assigned (in case you have several contacts at one account).

Closing the deal:

Your process now changes from an out-bounding process to managing the opportunity through the close. Activities work the same under opportunities as they did as you worked your lead. Now, you’ll move this opportunity through the stages. Salesforce helps you with defaults (though these should be customized to your business).


Plan accordingly: Consider your timeline as it relates to the stages, working backwards. For example, if the deal needs to close in a month and you still need to analyze needs, provide a proposal and price quote, negotiate, and get paperwork through the legal department, how will you manage your time and tasks to this end?

Note: Salesforce automatically associates the likelihood of closing the deal successfully to the stage you put it in. This is for forecasting purposes. For example, if you’re at the negotiation/review stage then you should expect to close 90% of those opportunities. Use your tasks to manage these stages, giving yourself enough time to close the opportunity. For example: If you have a closing date of three days from now and you haven’t provided a proposal/price quote then it’s unlikely you’ll get through the other stages in time to hit that close date. Be realistic and set tasks so you’re following up regularly and moving the opportunity through the stages.

Keep thorough records:

Keep as much information in Salesforce as possible. It’s your record of everything you’ve done and plan to do to close the deal. Add notes, descriptions, track emails, social interactions—everything. By doing this, you’ll keep yourself and management informed on everything that’s going on with your leads and opportunities and free up valuable brainpower. You’ll know who to call in the morning because you already scheduled it, giving you peace of mind that you have your sales process under control.

Maintain a disciplined sales process:

Sales has many crucial aspects, but a disciplined process is the most critical. Consider that process, manage that process, and use Salesforce to keep you focused and on-track. You’ll be more efficient, in control, and confident in what you can do.

Feature image credit: © Olivier Le Moal | Dreamstime.com Icon credit: © Tuulijumala | Dreamstime.com

#insidesales #salesprocess #salesforce #crm

© 2020 Tom Stearns Consulting, a division of Stearns Marketing, LLC