Non-Profit Growth and Developing A Data Culture Strategy

Non-Profit Growth and Developing A Data Culture Strategy

 

 

 

 

Introduction

The development of a data culture in non-profit organizations is critical to their mission and vision.  Now, however, data culture is required for survival and sustainability.  Over the next 15 years, we see a couple of factors that support this thesis.

One, regardless of government leadership changes, we have witnessed that our government is mostly static except where debt policy is concerned.  Special interest groups, corporate lobbyists, and highly-funded candidates for office limit the policy changes.   The politicians that govern have little time to truly impact government policy rapidly.

Two, the corporate scale has become limited, in general, to the largest companies and the tech sector.  Thus, funds available to disperse to nonprofit missions, in general, decrease particularly to smaller non-profits.

Therefore, non-profit organizations must shift from a purely mission-centric strategy by infusing a culture that drives the mission with the data-driven policy in operations and funding outreach.

 

What is Being a Data-Driven Non-Profit Look Like?

First, decision-making shifts from decision making based on historical data to decisions generated from predictive outcomes.  To migrate an organization to this paradigm shift, the leadership must develop its initial strategy to install the right data information system that generates these predicative outcome data points.  Using a system like Salesforce is one of the fastest mechanisms for a non-profit to transition to a data-driven culture.  Why?  Salesforce provides the Enterprise Edition to all qualified non-profits for no cost to the first 10 licenses and deep discounts thereafter for all product licenses.  This CRM jumpstarts leadership to a low-cost start.  Working with a certified partner like White Rock also holds costs down as we deliver our solutions to non-profits at a fifty percent discount to follow suit with Salesforce.

Second, invoking a Salesforce CRM as the spearhead of the data systems enables quick integration to other systems such as marketing and accounting systems.  Non-profits rapidly advanced their ability to transition to a data culture when all data points relate to the key stakeholders, donors, and other interested people and organizations.  Therefore, a data-driven non-profit looks like an organization that supports its mission with two simple, strategic steps to enable decisions toward predictive outcomes.  In other words, make this decision fast, make it simple, so that it is effective sooner than later.

 

3 Key Steps to Make Your Non-Profit Data-Driven

When your organization has set the data platform, what is next?  The idea is to allow your team to go from “I think” to “I know”.  As previously mentioned, looking back at historical information shows the leaders how decisions made created past outcomes.  However, would last year’s campaign schedule for donors be the proper campaign for 2020 given the pandemic?  Are those donors prepared to donate in the same manner this year versus last year?  Is the message the same?  Not only will all of that be different but the outcomes will be different.  You need a model that will support the “I know” model more effectively and better each year moving forward. 

 

  • Make Your Data Transparent and Accessible

If your nonprofit’s data is guarded and hidden from your staff, it can derail your efforts to become data-driven before you even begin. So, be transparent and make your data easily available for your team. This includes everything from donor-centered metrics to financials on your nonprofit itself.

Beyond a weekly email, there are many other ways you can be transparent with your data, like:

  • Creating dashboards where people can track months, or even years, worth of data
  • Hosting quarterly review meetings to discuss and dissect your data
  • Encouraging individuals or teams to run data-centered growth tests and share their results with everyone

Transparency, while important, is only half of the equation though. You still need to empower your team to act on this data by equipping them with the right tools like Salesforce NPSP.  For example, the person in charge of your online fundraising can use Salesforce to run detailed reports on campaign data and draw insights about its performance that inform future campaign strategies.

Similarly, your development director can Salesforce to organize all your incoming data and provide structure to the noise. Further, your marketing team may use email automation tools that give you detailed metrics on things like open and click-through rates.  Having a system like Salesforce also enables policy around data quality and data integrity.  Where policy and system come together to help manage the data for accuracy, leadership must understand that the data is a key asset and managed like an asset for returns.

Salesforce allows you to sift through the mounds of data you will collect. This tool will help you communicate crucial information to your entire team about where you have been, where you are, and where you want to go.  Where you want to go is the “I know” to a data-driven culture.

 

  • Focus on Actionable Metrics

As you and your team progress, avoid the overwhelming tendency to panic when data volume increases. The key here is to not focus on everything.  Instead, study the metrics which will help improve the performance of your nonprofit as a whole or the individual departments within.

Keep your team concentrated on actionable metrics that provide context to help your organization change behavior and improve performance. Try to avoid vanity metrics, which often lack the context needed to grow your nonprofit.  Here is a quick example to help illustrate:

Vanity Metric: The total number of people who clicked “like” on your nonprofit video posted to Facebook

Actionable Metric: The average amount of time people spent watching your video

The vanity metric here fails to tell you anything of importance: 

  • Did these people only “like” the post, or did they share it?
  • How much of the video did they watch?
  • Are they interested in your message, or did they simply click “like” because it came across their feed?

The actionable metric here, by contrast, gives you a keen sense of success. You know, with certainty, how long people spent watching your video.

If the average engagement time is 50 seconds, but your video was 90 seconds, you can apply that learning moving forward. Your team can aim to have the next video you produce to be 50 seconds or less to ensure maximum audience engagement.  Thus, tracking actionable metrics shows you what works and what does not. From there, you know if you should double down on your tactics or pivot direction.

 

  • Hire the Right People

Not every employee you bring on to your team will have the analytical training of an engineer, but that does not mean they cannot appreciate and use actionable data in their distinct role. The right person, regardless of function, will understand how crucial data is to your nonprofit’s success.

As you build your data-centric mindset, take the time to also build a data-centric team. A few potential indicators in a prospective hire might be that they have:

  • An inquisitive and curious nature
  • The ability to recognize trends and find the root causes behind those trends
  • A decisive attitude that allows them to draw conclusions and a course of action

Once you have got the right team, it is important to foster an environment where they can develop into stronger data-driven professionals. The culture you create is paramount to your success. Here are three simple things you can do to keep data on everyone’s mind:

  • Always demand some quantitative analysis to back up assertions from your team
  • Reward people for creating and testing hypotheses before jumping into something head-on
  • Allow people to select the key metrics they want to track

Creating a data-driven culture in your organization is not something that will happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and a lot of reflection to figure out what is working and what is not. And along the way do not be afraid to ask your team for feedback.

If you are looking to take your data-driven mindset further than ever before, or get the engine started for the first time, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We have a great “getting started” program that will help you walk before you run.

 

Non-Profit Growth and Developing A Data Culture Strategy

3 Core Advantages of Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock

 

INTRODUCTION

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock delivers healthcare providers the ability to go beyond health records and build stronger relationships with patients. Patient centered healthcare is the new reality today.

There are three core advantages of the new Salesforce Health Cloud:

Complete patient view
• Smarter patient management
• Connected patient engagement

With the Affordable Care Act and outcome-based reimbursement policies, mandates and incentives were created for providers, payers, medical device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies to concentrate more on patient care and satisfaction. While at the same time causing patient expectations for information, interaction, and access to rise quickly and radically.

To succeed, the healthcare industry must transition from a medical record management methodology to a strategy focused on the relationship between the patient and their relationships caregivers, payers, and other providers related to their well-being and healing. The direct path to improving patient satisfaction is the delivery of high-quality patient care, controlling avoidable costs, and improving outcomes. However, providers today are burdened with high-cost, legacy systems. Further, the challenge to make the paradigm shift to healthcare that is 1-to-1, smart and connected to patient needs has a long-tail timeline but does have a highly measurable ROI.

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock uses the power of the cloud, social, and mobile technologies to create an environment that enables everyone from admins to patients to specialists to get the information they need at any time and on any device.

Curious to learn more about the 3 core advantages of Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock? Take deeper dive below with us.

COMPLETE PATIENT VIEW

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock provides a complete view of the patient which includes:

• Create rich, contextual patient profiles – because you can customize the data captured easily, the patient information collected can reflect the necessary information to provide the “story” of their health journey from start to finish.
• Access collaborative care network and health timelines – again, the story has a visual look because of the rich patient profile.
• Integrate patient data from the electronic health record (EHR) – rendering the data in the EHR helps to depict the full story thus caretakers and other stakeholders get the accurate view as opposed to parts and pieces in various unrelated systems.
• Incorporate third-party data from medical devices and wearables – given the popularity of devices that can transmit data back to caregivers helps patients help themselves.

With a complete view of the patient, you have easy access to the right patient information including current conditions and medications, appointment history and communication preferences.

Salesforce Health Cloud works synchronously with your health system’s EHRs to make patient data easily referenced, actionable and current from any device. And with medical devices and wearables integrated directly to Salesforce Health Cloud, you can even gather data from at-home devices, such as glucose levels, sleep patterns and activity measures.

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock delivers a holistic and real-time view of each patient’s health, giving healthcare providers the information, they need to provide care that improves outcomes for patients and populations.

SMARTER PATIENT MANAGEMENT

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock makes it possible for healthcare providers to:

• Prioritize tasks across all their patients’ needs – leveraging the admin tools in Salesforce, White Rock can automate and notify key patient relationships about tasks due, recurring tasks, and prioritize them by stakeholder. The patient can see a full view of treatment plans, recovery therapies, and who has assignments of these priorities.
• Segment and manage patient populations – the importance of grouping patients in ever-changing ways is critical. Given the recent pandemic, having the ability to segment patients is critical for staffing, managing hospital assets and space accommodations, and treatment equipment and medicine.
• Map personal and professional caregiver networks – in geriatric medicine particularly, families get the real-time knowledge about those that are caring for their loved ones. In addition, those serving patients of all aspects of treatment, all caregivers can view the care team members and collaborate for optimal recovery plans while the patient is fully aware of all of these critical connections.

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock features a ‘Today’ page to provide a holistic view of your patients and the most critical tasks related to your full patient population. With the Today view you can make care decisions efficiently by browsing the customized care plan for tasks and quickly acting on them. You also can segment and manage patient populations, such as sending a message to all patients with high-blood pressure to schedule regular check-ins, in a single secure and private message.

And with the power of the Salesforce Platform, you can review all internal conversations that involve your patients, making care coordination and patient handoffs easier and more efficient. You can even map personal and professional care networks, so you can assign ownership of health goals to anyone on the care team — including the patients or their families. Salesforce Health Cloud empowers you to easily manage your full patient populations, personalize every interaction and drive better outcomes.

CONNECTED PATIENT ENGAGEMENT

Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock makes healthcare information more accessible, improving workflows and care outcomes:

• Collaborate seamlessly with care teams and patients – having one central platform to access all of the parties of the patient treatment team provides the high-quality exposure to the information related to recovery plans.
• Assign tasks to caregiver networks – whether these tasks get assigned via automation or by each individual caregiver, the patient’s care team has a 360⁰ view of the critical medical treatment plan components as well as the communications and tasks related to that journey in an organized presentation.
• Share secure messages to any device – security is of utmost importance with cloud technologies at Salesforce. Delivering confidential communications to patients from caregivers and the patient’s responses will help families be unified and fully knowledgeable of every step of treatment for their loved ones.

With Health Cloud, care coordinators can securely collaborate and assign tasks across the caregiver network. This extends across the full care system as you can work with patients to chart progress against care plans or health goals; easily communicate with physicians, care coordinators and family members; and get answers quickly from specialists across the provider network.

And by extending Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock to mobile platforms, you can send secure messages to patients’ mobile devices, meeting their expectations for convenient communication, encouraging deeper engagement and accountability, and developing stronger relationships and loyalty.

CONCLUSION

Today’s modern healthcare systems must rapidly evolve to meet the base expectations of the connected patient.
Salesforce Health Cloud with White Rock puts the patient at the center of the care by giving caregivers core advantages:

• See a complete view of the patient with integrated data from EHRs, wearables and more
• Make smarter care decisions from a single console
• Engage with patients across their caregiver networks and on any device

Salesforce Health Cloud was developed in partnership with leading healthcare companies, including Centura Health, DJO Global, Radboud University Medical Center, UCSF and Philips. The features and functionality that are core to the platform are continuously getting developed so that care improvements are iterative and rapid in response to ever-changing conditions like COVID-19.

As a Salesforce independent software vendor (ISV), White Rock supports the Health Cloud Platform by providing data and other technical integration solutions with leading medical IT systems, such as Epic, Cerner, GE Healthcare, and others. Salesforce Health Cloud empowers you to go beyond health records and build meaningful relationships with patients.

Non-Profit Growth and Developing A Data Culture Strategy

8 Salesforce Must Have Configuration Features

 

 

 

White Rock recommends 8 Salesforce must have configuration features that are highly effective in any organization for your customer.  Of course, there are hundreds of “must have” features that can be listed.  However, these are the ones we believe change the culture for your team and customer quickly.

 

Organizations that are focused on their customer experience and revenue growth should treat the CRM system as a cornerstone tool.  In other words, CRM is just as important as the accounting system or the product/service delivery system.  The best CRM strategy will incorporate our “must have” critical features as soon as possible.  In practice, many times these features have to be added over time.  The reasons for this continuous improvement methodology are numerous.  Cost, ability to incorporate, and training are just a few of the reasons that might slow the adoption of the critical CRM features we recommend.

 

Take a dive into the details of the most impactful Salesforce CRM features.

 

#1 Contact Management

 

Contact management is first among the 8 Salesforce must have configuration features.  Salesforce provides easy customization for contact management.  This feature allows for the ability to capture the right information about a person and company.  Just as critical is NOT capturing irrelevant information.  In fact, we find that customers create too many fields thus your sales team either will not complete the information or will spend too much time trying to capture information that is not purposeful.  Here are some keys to success for effective contact management.

 

Enable Salesforce Maps and Location Services

 

Salesforce provides a great feature that uses Google Maps to display maps on standard address fields, enables creation of Visualforce maps, and helps users enter an address with auto complete for faster input and less keystrokes.

 

Salesforce Account and Contact Related Activity

 

Capturing activity that takes place with people and organizations is vital for history and reporting.  Just as important is having a field setup on the contact or account record that provides a category of the activity.  Examples of activity types are Call, Meeting, Research, and Other.  Why is this important?  First, categorizing your activity creates a timeline of interaction.  Further, when configured to work with other fields related to activity like Due Date, Reminder, and Notes on the activity, a full timetable of activity content tells the story in detail.  Last, minimizing the fields is important along with using picklist fields where possible to speed up data entry and reduce keystrokes for the user.

 

Capture Campaign Metrics Related to Your Contact

 

Salesforce has an enormously powerful relationship between Contact and Campaign.  Campaigns can be used to track marketing activities like email, webinars, ads, trade shows, and more.  When campaigns are setup in Salesforce, contacts can be enrolled as members then tracking statistics about their reactions can be displayed on the Contact record page so that users can see who is showing the most interest at any given time.

 

Create Opportunities directly for Accounts

 

Opportunities are deals in progress. Opportunity records track details about deals, including which accounts they are for, who the players are, and the amount of potential sales. Thus, opportunities should be created directly for accounts you’re working.

As your deals progress toward the Proposal stage:

 

  • Add products and attach files, such as contracts or data sheets.
  • Log the calls you make.
  • Use Notes to jot down things during customer meetings.
  • Create tasks for key activities and calendar events for client meetings.
  • Send email to the opportunity contact or other key decision-makers. 

 

#2 Develop a Consistent Sales Process with Progress Stages

 

Knowing what needs to be done at each stage of the sale gives sales reps a huge advantage over salespeople who wing it every time out. Without clearly defined steps and milestones that guide sellers from prospecting to the sale, even the most promising deals can slip away due to unorganized methods.   The customer will feel it too.

 

Define the Sales Process

 

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a salesperson takes to advance a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale. Typically, a sales process consists of 5-7 steps.  Defining your stages is critical to:

 

  • Accurate sales forecasts
  • Creating a buyer’s journey that is organized
  • Onboarding new sales team members
  • Refining the process to be more effective over time

 

How does the sales process in Salesforce benefit the sales team and customer?

 

To grow your business, you need to have a robust method for tracking your sales pipeline.  Salesforce handles this very well.  The ability to customize this process is undoubtedly one of the top 8 Salesforce must have configuration features. 

 

The benefits are:

 

  • Capture the whole customer journey
  • Save time through powerful reporting and easy input
  • Improved customer experience, communication, and service
  • Accountability of sales progress over the life of a deal

 

Accurate Forecast of Revenue

 

Of all the features in Salesforce, the most critical from our view is an accurate sales forecast that can be relied upon.  How many times have you asked for next quarter’s sales forecast then learn it is wrong?

 

#3 Daily Dashboard

 

The daily dashboard allows you to see a general or detailed overview of company performance in real time. The dashboard is the control panel to your business.  This tool is used to help organizations quickly identify workplace statistics based on KPIs. By allowing users to easily visualize and review data immediately, dashboards increase the overall efficiency of business analytics.

 

Coaching and Collaboration Aid to Sales Management

 

Great sales coaching requires great data that is real time and accurate.  According to the HBR, the most effective coaching is with the middle 60% of the sales team.  Therefore, it is imperative to have an effective daily dashboard system to help them.

 

Enable Leadership to Understand Performance for Decision Making

 

CEOs are busy. The ability to surface key performance insights is critical.  Here are 5 critical daily dashboards for CEOs:

 

  • A Lead Funnel Dashboard
  • The Revenue Forecast Dashboard
  • The Sales Leader Dashboard
  • The Executive View Daily Dashboard

 

Provide your Sales Team with Information to Better Serve

 

Sales teams need to collaborate and deliver organized journeys for buyers.  Dashboards provide that real time information to be responsive and responsible to your customers.  Dashboards will facilitate faster decision making and organized teams. 

 

#4 Salesforce Automation

 

Automation refers to the design and configuration used to automate the business tasks such as inventory control systems, account management, process management, contact management, customer tracking, sales funnel management, sales forecasting analysis, product knowledge, sales lead tracking systems, and sales team performance evaluations.   Salesforce is the leading platform for automating business processes in all these categories.  Automation is never ending and always evaluated for continuous updates into perpetuity.  Further, Salesforce automation is nearly limitless.  Of the 8 Salesforce must have configuration features, this is the one that speeds up your business processes and saves time.

 

Web to lead

 

Salesforce lets you easily create web-to-lead forms that capture information about visitors to your website. The information is automatically stored in new lead records in your Salesforce sales system, and the lead can then be scored, qualified, and routed to sales reps.

 

Web to Case

 

Gather customer support requests directly from your company’s website and automatically generate up to 5,000 new cases a day with Web-to-Case. This feature can help your organization respond faster and improve your support team’s productivity.

 

Approvals and Notifications

 

An approval process automates how records are approved. An approval process specifies each step of approval, including from whom to request approval and what to do at each point of the process while notifying the user along the way.

 

#5 Mobility

 

There is only so much that the desktop version of Salesforce can do for you if you are not confined to the office, especially if you have active sales and support teams who spend most of their work hours in the field. CRM with the Salesforce Mobile App is a great tool for these sales warriors.  Without a solid mobile configuration, your organization is missing out on one of the keys of the 8 Salesforce must have configuration features.

 

Timely Data Entry

 

Who wants to be out in the field all day, making calls, providing demos, and closing deals then have to enter all of your activity at the end of the day?  Salesforce Mobile App allows account, contact, and opportunity updates throughout the day regardless of where you may be.  In an area with no Internet access?  No problem, once your access is reestablished, your information will automatically sync up to the database.

 

Talk to text entry

 

Take advantage of the iPhone Talk to Text or Einstein Voice feature with Salesforce Mobile App.  Dictate your notes, activities, and deal updates while driving to your next appointment.

 

Planning your day on the run

 

Stay up to speed by planning your day while on the run with Salesforce Mobile App.  Use the Salesforce Mobile App to:

 

  • Personalize and plan your daily demos and pitches to customers
  • Stay logged in all the time saving time logging in and out
  • Study your daily dashboard in Salesforce to review performance and know your next steps. 

 

#6 Integration with marketing platform

 

The data will not lie: Integrating your marketing platform with Salesforce can help businesses realize increased marketing ROI and overall growth. More specifically, how can integration marketing with Salesforce benefit your business? Let’s start with lead generation.

 

Lead Generation

 

Lead generation is an extremely important step in any business’ growth. Integration provides your sales team more insight into what materials the lead became interested in and how that lead entered the pipeline.  Therefore, automating the process between marketing and Salesforce can also give you a richer, more detailed picture of potential customer behavior.

 

Sales and Marketing Accountability Alignment

 

Smarketing.  A buzz word for sure but it speaks to the importance of alignment between sales and marketing.   When sales teams know where their leads are coming from and more importantly not coming from then sales can collaborate more objectively about improvements.  Conversely, if marketing is delivering high quality leads to the sales team yet growth and close rates are not on the rise, then marketing has an objective stance to collaborate with the sales team to improve.

 

Bring the Analytics Together

 

The insights delivered from your marketing platform, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Salesforce when integrated are remarkable.  The power of the story told about the journey of your buyer is crisp and clear.  The benefit of having all of this data show on the contact page in Salesforce allows the user to understand the path taken by their customer which delivers impactful decision making about where to market, what the message should be, and who to target.  Thus, the cost of customer acquisition becomes optimized more and more over time.

 

#7 Integration with accounting system

 

Want to run your business more strategically and proactively?  We offer Accounting Seed, an innovative, robust financial software solution that transforms the way you do accounting. It’s flexible, collaborative, connected, and trusted.

 

A True 360⁰ View of the Customer

 

As an Accounting Seed Partner, White Rock can move you from the traditional, rigid accounting systems by linking your mission-critical CRM application, banks, business processes, and financial data together for end-to-end visibility of your customer data.

 

Cash Flow Projections

 

The ability to have cash flow projections related to the timing of closed sales and customer payments is critical.  Therefore, using the information about an account in Salesforce with the financial information in Accounting Seed delivers a seamless, easy-to-use cash projection without leaving Salesforce.  The result is error free analysis.

 

Safeguard Accounting Records

 

Accounting Seed is the most secure, reliable API in the industry.  Further, utilizing Salesforce and Accounting Seed will help drive faster decisions, better productivity, while automating many of the redundant steps.

 

#8 Integration of Outlook or GSuite Email and Calendar

 

This feature is listed as #8 on the list but is  the #1 integration that we start with for customers.  Having the ability to access Salesforce while working in your Outlook or Gmail email client provides the ability to add email records easily to your contacts and other related Salesforce information.  Given the automation capabilities of Salesforce, there are no limits to the richness of the information and ease to lookup, search, and analyze the progress that is made with your customers.

 

Speed up your day

 

We have helped customers who would literally copy and paste emails into Salesforce to have that information that is vital in an email.  Thus, having your emails and calendar integrated with Salesforce will save you countless hours during a year’s time.

 

Know the Customer’s Journey in One Place

 

Having your calendar events and emails associated with your accounts and contacts in Salesforce provides the full picture of the story line that evolves with your prospects and customers.  Vitally important is what our customers tell us.

 

Stay organized

 

The ability to organize your day and plan for the next day is where integrating your Outlook or GSuite and Salesforce will boost your productivity immediately.  Plus, having this information always available will let the user access it via Salesforce Mobile App and from any other device any time.

 

Creating a functional and fully integrated CRM system is not an easy task, however, it is a vital investment. Creating relationships with customers is a paradigm shift that moves a company from the middle of the pack to the top of their respective industry. An effective CRM strategy helps companies work with the customer and try to understand them instead of blindly sell their product or service.

 

Do you want to discuss how these 8 Salesforce must have configuration features can specifically impact your organization?  Learn how to do it over time and cost effectively with us!  Reach out today to discuss your needs with us.

 

 

Revenue Forecasting In Salesforce – Accuracy

Revenue Forecasting In Salesforce – Accuracy

The work related to a valid and accurate revenue forecast using the Opportunity Object in Salesforce is one of the most valuable components of the platform. Let us take a deep dive into the details.

If you are a Salesforce organization, you may have an approach to revenue forecasting that is unique to your organization. We use organization because there are revenue forecasting techniques for non-profits who need to forecast donor collections which are treated like revenue. So, from the standpoint of the mechanics of Salesforce, these transactions have similar characteristics.

In last week’s article, I shared the reconciliation of a revenue forecast. I highlighted, at a high level, the standard components that are used in determining the accuracy of the forecast. Now, let’s take this a step further.

Let us start with the workflow of an opportunity. In Salesforce, the Account, or customer, is where the recordkeeping begins. The Account contains the many attributes of your customer like address, how you may have sourced the customer, the status of the customer, and so on. In addition, there are the key contacts to the account; those individuals that you work with and their specific information like contact information, social media information, and recorded historical activities and meetings that have taken place with your contacts. In addition, you may have your accounting information such as sales that report into your Account from another system to have sales, product, and service information related to this customer thus giving you a full picture of your account.

Now, we need to understand where the next revenue will be coming from. Typically, in Salesforce, the object called Opportunities is used. Opportunities are related in the database to the Account and the Contact. Opportunities are organized by stages of the progress towards a sale by using the standard field called Stage. The Stage field is designed around your typical deal progress from the beginning where awareness of the deal is learned all the way to the day that the contract is inked. The Stage field comes with pre-loaded values or you can customize these values with you own stages. Here is a typical layout of an Opportunities Stages:

As you can see, these stage values are listed in the order of the deal progress. There is the stage name, an API name to be used in the software language to reference, the Type, the Probability, and the Forecast Type. Each of these columns show the values in the fields related to the stage. In this example, if there is a single opportunity that is in the Prospecting stage, management has agreed that there is a 2% probability that the deal will close. In other words, 2% of all deals that begin for this company in our example will result in a closed sale based on the sales history. This varies based on each business, of course, but the logic is based on history and the information that is gathered on the opportunity in this stage and compared to previously won and closed deals.

Let us look at the individual components that may be part of the Prospecting stage in our example. We use “two plays” in our Prospecting stage, Account Research and Initiate Contact. Each play has a set of parameters that must be learned (prospected). These parameters may look like this:

The answers to these questions are captured in the Opportunity record in these fields. When captured they are benchmarked against the historical answers for this specific stage to determine if they match historically and if so, then the probability of 2% will most likely be accurate since the values would be matched to opportunities that closed historically with the same or similar values. In this example, if Account size in number of meters typically has 100 or more meters for the opportunity to advance but the actual value captured is less than 100, then the probability that this deal has a 2% chance of advancing to a close is already off track and less than 2%. The same logic is used for each field in each play. The sales manager then can review the information in the Prospecting Stage to determine how well a specific deal is matching up to the historical values of past deals

When the opportunity is setup in Salesforce, there are two standard fields to help with the forecast of revenue, Amount and Expected Revenue. For an early stage opportunity, there may not be any value yet because it is too early to know the amount. If so, then Amount would show zero and the Expected Revenue the same. If, however, the product that they want has a price of $1,500 and they needed 2 items, then the Amount would show $3,000 and the Expected Revenue would show $60.

The affect is that for early stage forecasting, $60 dollars can be added to a period’s revenue forecast if the anticipated Contract start date is within the reporting period. In other words, if this deal begins on January 1 and has a projected contract start date of March 31, the revenue forecast will include $60 for this early stage deal based on the parameters captured in the plays of the Prospecting Stage.

This logic is used for each stage for each deal and the calculations roll down the same way through each set of “plays” per opportunity stage.

This is how we help customers design and organize their revenue forecast within Salesforce.

Revenue Forecasting In Salesforce – Accuracy

Revenue Forecasting In Salesforce – Reconciliation

When we think of the accounting process of reconciliation, we typically are thinking of the reconciliation of the balance sheet accounts. After all, the working capital side of a business is closed out annually and the earnings or losses are swept into retained earnings. The FASB requirements and standard practices of reporting for organizations.

But back on the working capital side of business where operations take place (Sales and Expenses), there is a far more important reconciliation process that is imperative to the life blood (cash) of a business. This reconciliation centers around the most important account in the chart of accounts, revenue.

Yes, sales reconciliation is full of bends and twists. We read about it every day, organizations missing the mark on sales forecast. Do you ever wonder why this occurs?

At White Rock, we work in Salesforce.com every day and we serve our customers who use it for tracking customer activity, recording opportunities for leadership, and addressing the anticipated sales transactions in the organization. The revenue may be derived from services, products, or donations.

What we know about the system processes that we build is that there is a defined and predictable relationship between the data recorded in an opportunity’s stage of the sale and the forecast category. For example, an organization may have a five-stage sales process like this:

  • Initiate
  • Discovery
  • Prove
  • Propose
  • Negotiate

These stages would be related to a forecast category setup maybe like this:

  • Pipeline
  • Best Case
  • Commit
  • Likely to Close

There is a percentage that is assigned to the stage to represent how likely that opportunity will be to get booked as a sale. These percentages are determined based on history and sales management’s sales process activity criteria. Here is an example of how this all comes together in Salesforce.com:

Stage                     Probability of Close                         Forecast Category

Initiate                  10%                                                        Pipeline

Discover               20%                                                        Pipeline

Prove                    50%                                                       Best Case

Propose               70%                                                        Best Case

Negotiate            90%                                                        Commit

In this example, if we have a deal that is in the Prove stage, then management has determined that 50% of the time, half the deals, will close when they reach this stage and they are categorized for Forecasting purposes as a best case. If the total value of those deals is $2,000,000 then experience says that $1,000,000 will result in booked sales.

Now the tricky part. What “moves” a deal along in these stages that provides the forecast outcomes? Well, sales activity on behalf of the sales team, of course. It is assumed that the activities are accurate and well-defined to result in a predictable probability of booked sales.

But what happens if a salesperson is “pushing” the input of data to better reflect a deal’s progress to help the in-process performance look better? Of course, then, we have a padded prediction. If management is not testing the sales activity inputs and puts an inherent trust in the values provided in the sales activity, then a risk is now set in a deal’s outcome. There is a mismatch now recorded in the deal tracking system between the buyer’s view and the seller’s view. Here is where the reconciliation of forecasted revenue breaks down.

This is where organizations should focus their reliance on the type of sales activity that is required in a specific stage of a deal/opportunity. We see so many times where there is poorly defined or subjectively defined activity requirements that are not really supporting a buyer’s behavior. As a result, quarterly forecasts become overstated and unreliable or, even worse, dangerously reflecting the value of future cash flows.

We believe that proper processes and tools that can be associated with long cycle sales are the most important, tactical weapons against this risk. We work with several organizations that focus on this and, in fact, we have developed applications native in Salesforce.com to help leaders have reliable sales forecasting.

We recommend that these types of tools be leveraged to provide a more objective set of activities that are related to the buyer’s journey and behavior. Using them will thwart the subjective input of data that can skew the success of a deal. We invite you to learn more about how White Rock can help you ramp up and conquer the risk and dangers of over-stated progress of deals in your organization.

The proper reconciliation of revenue in an organization is so vital to a healthy predictable cash flow. The setup of the Opportunity object in Salesforce.com utilizing the standard fields Stage and Forecast Category are vital. If this is an area where you think your organization can improve, please give us a call.

Non-Profit Growth and Developing A Data Culture Strategy

Revenue Forecasting In Salesforce – Key Components

Reporting the revenue forecast in Salesforce.com is vital information for predicting Sales, budgeting operational support and planning cash flow. The sales team is hard at work moving deals to close and staying on track while management is reviewing these deals to determine how viable and credible the forecast will be for the specific reporting period. Let’s take a deep dive into a simple illustration of how this gets done and what the components are of the forecast.

The deals, or Opportunities, as the standard name goes in Salesforce, are the records stored in the database that show how well a deal is progressing towards the expected close date and amount of the sale. Each deal has some standard fields that are used to reflect and calculate this important milestone. Here is a summary of these standard fields that help with the forecast report:

  • Opportunity Name – the identifying name of the specific deal
  • Opportunity Owner – the rep that is working the deal and owns its success
  • Stage – the progress point of the deal (refer to last week’s article for more details)
  • Opportunity Amount – how much the deal is worth in dollars
  • Close Date – the date that the deal is expected to close and become a sale
  • Probability – the percentage used of deals in a particular stage that close historically (refer to last week’s article)
  • Forecast Category – the value assigned to a stage when reporting sales pipeline results

NOTE: If you didn’t read last week’s article, this would be a good time to refer back so that the calculations are clear as we present the reporting of opportunities below.

The critical computation for the forecast is related to the Opportunity Amount, the Stage, and the Probability. Because management continuously reviews the percentage of deals that close based on information gathered that is related to a “good” deal and a “not-so-good” deal, the probability represents what the likelihood is that a deal will close with the details of each input about the deal. Here is an example of a typical forecast report:

As you can see from the example, the Amount column represents the total expected revenue to be generated from the deals in the list while the Expected Revenue is related to which stage the deal is in and the probability associated with that stage based on historical outcomes. For example, the first deal in the report for XYZ Corp, shows a deal that is valued at $1,500 but because it is so early in its stage, the deal probability is only 10% based on experience. The basis of the 10% can be further adjusted if the parameters of this specific deal are not in line with what historical deals may have had too if they are vastly different from past deal parameters.

Let’s dive into parameters now. These parameters are custom defined attributes of a deal based on sales leadership’s knowledge of their product and services. Each stage has a set of specific parameters that must be articulated to a prospective customer to learn whether they are a true buyer.

Suppose we look at all the stages in another deal example. Looking at each stage below, we have a specific set of actions and information that must be captured by the rep from the prospect by stage to give credibility to the overall health a deal. Here is a table of what this might look like:

Stage – Prospecting
Parameters to learn in this stage:

  • Reception to Elevator Pitch – pitch the deal
  • Size of organization – how big is the org – are they the right “fit” for our product/service
  • Has a compelling driver for product/service – what is the pain point that they are experiencing
  • There is a project sponsor and budget – can they fund this project or get funding – what is the cost of doing nothing?

Stage – Discovery
Parameters to learn in this stage:

  • Define current problem – size up the problem and the effect on the organization’s operation – what is the metric
  • Where is the pain felt from the problem – which area of the organization is experiencing the problem
  • What other options are being considered for the solution – competitors

Stage – Solution/Presentation
Parameters to learn in this stage:

  • Share solution options and successes from them – present the solution and pricing
  • Implementation timeline presented and solution demonstrated – how will the solution get implemented and how long will it take
  • Feedback on demonstration – what is the reaction and next step from the prospect and the sponsors

Stage – Negotiate and Close
Parameters to complete in this stage:

  • Submit final adjustments and contract for signing – any discounts, other terms and conditions to consider pushing the deal through
  • Plan implementation – bring the players in for the implementation game plan
  • Get documents signed and hand-off to production – ink the deal!

Each of these parameters for the stages in this example are key turning points (tipping points that take the deal to the next step/deal velocity) for the deal to progress and move forward. As each of these parameters are learned, completed, and evaluated for quality related to the history of similar opportunities, the probability is established based on the answers to each of the parameters. For example, if in stage Prospecting, it is learned that there is no funding for the deal, then the chances will be very low to zero that this deal will progress, so it would fall “outside” of the “normal” historical deal flow for this stage.

We invite your feedback and ideas to share related to the revenue forecast. Please contact us with your comments and questions.