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Agency Advice Column: How Successful Agencies Use Salesforce

Is your agency thinking about using Salesforce? Paying for it but not using it? Using it, but not seeing the value in it?

I’ve got some advice for you.

We’re lucky to be in contact with a number of highly successful agencies as clients, partners, and friends. I decided to take advantage of those connections by talking to some agencies who are using Salesforce to help their business.

I sent out a few questions to folks at Big Duck, Win Without Pitching, and ReCourses, and got some great feedback from Michaela, Sarah, and David. I’ve taken their responses and combined them into one general response for each question. I have not added any opinions or answers of my own.

Which Salesforce features do you find most valuable?

The crowd favorite for this question was the ability to directly connect marketing efforts with revenue. By using the Primary Campaign Source and Lead Source fields on Opportunities, you can measure your marketing efforts by looking at how often they lead to new business. No more guessing at what’s working based on click-throughs. If you’re not using Salesforce to track your marketing efforts yet, I have an article that walks you through the basics.

And–bonus!–if you’re using Act-On, you have access to pre-built visualizations of your Salesforce marketing and revenue data in the Revenue Impact Report. If you’re unfamiliar with this feature, see Chris Creech’s article on how to use marketing automation to measure your marketing ROI.

Other features that got a thumbs up were the ability to create custom reports and dashboards to visualize the sales pipeline, and using Tasks to organize to-dos. Check out my article from last month for tips on how to create a sales dashboard.

How long did it take you to fully embrace Salesforce and start deriving real value from it? Were there key features that made this possible?

Everyone agreed that Salesforce has a steep learning curve, but that it is possible to derive immediate value from it. There were two main recommendations for starting out on the right foot.

  1. Learn the basics and make some initial customizations for your business. This basically boils down to understanding the five main Salesforce objects and which pieces of data are important for each, and building reports and dashboards to visualize that data.
  2. Reach out to a Salesforce expert who can help you gain a basic understanding of the tool, and maybe even help you begin customizing it for your business. Everyone we polled has had help along the way.

By the end of six months you’ll definitely have the hang of it, and as years go by you will continue to derive more and more value from it.

Any additional advice for someone in your role who hasn’t adopted Salesforce yet or is having trouble seeing its value?

This last question got so many great responses that I couldn’t pick just one. So here are four pieces of advice from your agency peers:

  • Commit to it. It may take a while to work out the kinks and start seeing meaningful results, but be patient and continue to make it a priority.
  • Establish clear standards for use, and make your team accountable to those standards. Consistent use is key for accurate reporting, as well as bringing on new team members.
  • Work with a Salesforce expert to ensure you’re fully optimizing the tool for your needs.
  • And lastly, consider that Salesforce is the leading CRM, with a majority market share. Many of your clients likely use it, so your Salesforce knowledge will give you a better understanding of their world.

Have any more advice for folks who aren’t quite sure about jumping on the Salesforce bandwagon? Leave them in the comments!

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