5 Salesforce Tips for Small Business Owners

Christine Volden

I founded Soulful Selling in 2014 to help entrepreneurs and small businesses build confidence and up their sales games. Soulful Selling has been using Salesforce since day one, and I’ve been a Salesforce user for even longer, having used it throughout my 15 years in sales and sales management before starting my own small business.

Salesforce can help small businesses to do almost anything. Whether it’s accelerating sales, personalizing marketing, or offering better customer service, smart use of Salesforce can move the needle. The challenge is that there’s a learning curve involved with getting going with Salesforce. It’s a big platform that can do a lot, and that can be overwhelming for first-time users.

That’s where strategies come in. Both in my own business and when training clients to adopt Salesforce in their own work, I use strategies to make using the platform more impactful, faster. Here are five simple tips for small business owners to get the most out of their Salesforce experience:

1. Set some ground rules.

Many companies, large and small, jump right into using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Salesforce without first setting any rules around best practices. I can tell you from experience if you dive right in like that, it’s going to cost you time and resources in the long run. A few simple rules can serve as effective guardrails to get your entire organization on the right path.

For example, simple rules about naming conventions and how to manage duplicate accounts can save you hundreds of hours of work. Avoiding errors during data entry is a lot easier than trying to correct them after the fact! Also, know what other departments in your business are using Salesforce. If your accounting department is billing off of Salesforce data, you want to make sure there’s a clear process in place for how that data is entered and verified before it’s used to generate invoices. Same for other teams using data from the system.

The best thing to do is to walk through the workflow from the time you first add a new customer into Salesforce to the end of the customer lifecycle. Think through exactly what data you might need at each step along the way, and what potential confusion could arise from different people in your company accessing and adding to customer records. A little bit of advanced planning can make your entire sales process a lot more efficient.

2. Integrate Salesforce into your daily routine.

The only way to really learn Salesforce is to use it every day. Trainings can be quite helpful, but it’s regular use of the tools that leads to mastery. As a real-world example, here’s my daily routine:

The first thing on my calendar each day is to follow up with any customers I’m in the final stages of closing business with. I prioritize based on the stage of the opportunity — for example, I always focus first on customers who are in the closing stage. Then I look at any pending issues where potential customers are waiting for information from me. Finally, I review any scheduled follow-ups for that day.

3. Create a schedule.

Set a time each week to update reports, follow up with prospects, clean up data, and attend to other Salesforce-related tasks. One of my co-workers created a daily call list each day from his Salesforce prospects and printed it out. It was such a simple and effective tool, I started having everyone on my team do the same.

Once a week, I pull reports to see if there are any customers I haven’t reached out to in the last 60 days. I look to see if there are any relevant tools or info I can send them. I also pull quarterly reports to look at progress and set goals for the next month.

4. Focus on what really matters.

Salesforce is a tool to make selling easier and more efficient. So it shouldn't be causing you stress; it should be making your life easier. The most successful Salesforce users know that sometimes less is more. Don't guilt yourself into using every feature. Focus, instead, on finding and using the ones that are useful to you. If that means simply logging follow-up calls and making sales projections, that's fine! Decide how you are going to use Salesforce instead of trying to make use of every single feature.

5. Ask questions when in doubt.

Salesforce is constantly evolving, with new features and integrations being added regularly. Take the time to ask questions and learn about the new features. Dig into the ones that seem like they might help your business, and ask about how best to implement them. Between your Salesforce reps, learning opportunities on Trailhead, and the broad community of users and developers, there’s a lot of knowledge about the platform out there!

Salesforce can be an incredible tool for your sales team. As a small business owner, it can also help you manage many other parts of your business. It’s designed to grow with you as your business scales, but can also be a source of inspiration to help you grow. Lately, I’ve been digging into reports to look at patterns around revenue and my customers’ purchasing habits. I’m using this data to develop and launch new products that I think will be a good fit for them.

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