Target Practice: Account targeting in Salesforce

Scene 1

(Barry sits center stage, looking at his computer screen, an Excel spreadsheet with a list of company names, highlighted in different colors. He holds a phone to his ear.)

Barry: Scroll to the top of the sheet to the kelly green highlighted accounts. Those are the ones for you. The seafoam green are the ones I’m going to work on. The ones in orange are the ones I want you to target after the green ones. Got it?

Offstage: Uh, well, yeah.

(Lights dim center stage. Stage right lights up, and we see MJ at his desk, looking at Salesforce. An Account page. He picks up the phone.)

MJ: All of the salespeople were asked to create a target account list for you. I’ve used that Top Target checkbox in Salesforce, so you can just run a report on those and go after them. I don’t care about the order, but go to Retail companies first.

Offstage: Ok.

Scene 2

(Admin now in center stage with multiple tabs open. Each tab is selected in turn – a series of reports, each with different filter criteria)

Admin: So…which accounts are targets? How are our inside sales reps supposed to know what to do? (Removes glasses dramatically) I must assemble a team!

One of the first major projects I ran as an admin was an org cleanup. Our org was about 6 years old and was in dire need of TLC. There were unused fields, created in the heat of the moment, then forgotten. Reports sat on shelves collecting dust, filtered to specific dates that no longer held meaning, many of them duplicates. The role hierarchy was a single line.

In the middle of this project, I came across three different fields with the word “target” in them. Since there was no documentation (winning!), I sought out users that I knew had been part of the team for a long time and asked them to explain the different use cases for them.

(Admin sits across from MJ, fingers steepled intelligently, listening 100% calmly, and no one can argue that.)

MJ: Barry wanted to track target accounts associated with . But I just wanted a quick way to mark my targets, so [name redacted] added a checkbox for me to use.

Admin: That seems reasonable. Can I ask, though, why this account marked as a target hasn’t had activity for two years?

MJ: Well, I want to target them again in the future, so I didn’t want to uncheck it.

(Admin remains perfectly calm. Data maintenance is like whatever, right?)

I gathered two sales reps and the inside sales rep manager, and we sat down to review our options. There were 7. 7 options. Because there were 7 different ways of managing what we called the “pre-pipeline” in our org.

7. Seven. Like the movie. Seven.

Each outside sales rep worked differently with inside sales; they all tracked their target accounts separately. There was no way for us to report on activity or work done outside of the opportunity pipeline. *nervous laughter*

After weeks of reviewing the ideal sales cycle, we produced a series of three fields (or field enhancements) that filtered Accounts:

  1. Account Status
  2. Group Ownership
  3. Acct. Dev. Assigned (Inside Sales)

Account Status

The original field had four options, none of which matched our process. We decided to use this field in a way similar to an Opportunity stage; each status represents a step in the sales cycle.

  • Best Fit: the account meets our minimum “requirements” – the company is a good size, has enough revenue, is in a good industry, etc. Inside Sales can use this status to mine for potential new targets.
  • Active: the account is being actively pursued. If inside or outside sales is calling people there, it should be marked active.
  • Opportunity: the account currently has an open, new business opportunity
  • Implementing: the account has been won, is a new client, and is currently working with our implementation team
  • Client: the account is a current customer
  • Qualified Out: the account does not meet basic requirements/is not a good fit
  • New: the account is less than 60 days old and has not yet been researched to qualify or not

Where possible, these statuses are automated; when a new opportunity is created for a non-client account, the status is updated to “Opportunity.” When that opportunity is won, it is changed to “Implementing.”

Group Ownership

The second piece of the target puzzle for us was who was working on what. It would look foolish for inside and outside sales reps to be unwittingly calling on the same person. And who should the admin speak to for current information?

The group ownership field was barely used, and its options were out-dated. We simplified the choices and made them relevant.

  • Sales: best fit and opportunity accounts belong to (outside) sales
  • Account Development: the account is active and currently being pursued by inside sales
  • Implementation: this is a client account, but they are still implementing
  • Client Services: this is a client account that has completed implementation
  • Marketing: this account needs to be nurtured by Marketing to re-engage

This field, too, is automated where possible. Manual changes are primarily handled by inside sales; based on their activities, they will change accounts to Active/Account Development, as we call it.

Acct. Dev. Assigned

We are a small company, and our inside sales team at the time was only 2 people (now it’s a whopping 3!), so an outside sales rep could have accounts being managed by either of them. They needed a way to report on which account development rep was working on specific accounts, which is where this picklist came in.

First off, why we opted out of a lookup field: based on history, the field would likely remain unused as a lookup. It was also easier for reporting – an outside sales rep could choose from the picklist values instead of potentially misspelling a name and having a meltdown about “Salesforce not working.” Finally, when a rep left, we could clear the value of that field, removing them from the reports.

This field was also kept read-only for the outside sales reps. Rather than allow them to pick and choose who they wanted assigned to it, it’s up to the inside sales team.

Workflow and Reporting

With the new process in place, we report on Accounts similarly to Opportunities. Sales reps can see how many Best Fit accounts they have, how many Active accounts, and who is working on them.

Inside sales can look at the whole of Best Fit, drill down into their own Active accounts, and it fits nicely into our Marketo Revenue Cycle Model.

2 years later…

I would really love to say that this new system was perfect, everyone loved it and used it correctly 100% of the time. But this is the real world, and Salesforce Admins have to live in it, too. I still get questions; I still have users tell me they need a way to track the Accounts they are working on…but at least now I have one place to send them with one way of doing just that.

West Michigan Women in Tech

February 25th marked the inaugural West Michigan Women in Tech User Group meeting.

The first meeting for the West Michigan WIT User Group was snowed out – fitting for where we live. And befitting West Michigan ladies, we just rescheduled. *Snow happens* amirite?

Accordingly March 22nd marked the inaugural West Michigan WIT User Group meeting.

We were not snowed or rained or anything out, which was already an improvement. Due to the reschedule, we did have some people de-register. It’s cool; it happens.

I spent the week before the meeting both excited and almost dreading it. As I mentioned at the meeting, I’ve never been a group leader type. I led some things in college, usually because I was handed the thing and said “here. Do something with it.”

I guess in a way this group is the same. I wasn’t happy with how the existing area user group was functioning, and feeling no other recourse, I just thought to start a Women in Tech group. It has been a rocky road.

I don’t like to sugar coat things, even though I’m consistently neck-deep in Salesforce kool-aid. User Groups are popping up everywhere, which is great, but when I initially signed the papers, there were only two people responsible for supporting them, and for the first few months after submitting myself to lead a group, I didn’t feel supported at all.

It is difficult to learn what is expected of you or how you can be set up for success, doing some of the cool things that other groups are doing. It is very much sink or swim. At least it was for me.

Until I got a mentor anyway (Sarah Deutsch, rock star, I’m looking in your direction).

I’ve said it before, and I will say it over and over until I am blue in the face – this community is where it’s at. Once I got signed up with a mentor, things started to move. I met other people who had done this; not to get too metaphysical here, but it was as if once the universe knew what I needed, I developed a Salesforce-mentor-related gravitational pull.

But back to the point. I don’t know what I’m doing, but after last night, I feel like it’s ok.

We had 5 people super cool women attend our inaugural meeting, graciously hosted by Ashima. We decorated wine glasses, so we can drink (whatever we want!) from them at subsequent meetings. We discussed what we want this group to be. We vented. It was positive. I was inspired and reinvigorated.

But this post is supposed to be for those of you A) looking for some support in West Michigan and B) thinking about starting a user group.

If you are looking for support nearby, please join us! We are on the community; we are on LinkedIn. We tweet #WestMichiganWIT. We want to hear from you and talk Salesforce with you!

If you are thinking about starting a user group, get a mentor. They have fought the battles that you will have to fight, felt the disappointment and feelings of inadequacy, and they can give you some really solid tips. They can be a cheerleader or a firm hand. I also encourage you to be patient; I originally signed up for this gig in October of last year. It takes a while to get things moving, and it is slow to start. Still worth it!

It’s probably too early for me to writing all of this. I have a cat who doesn’t understand REM cycles. But at least I can say it’s authentic. And so was our meeting.

Next one will be in April. And from there, who knows?

Sales Cloud for Marketing 3: This time, it’s Salesforce

Last time, I covered a lot of Marketo things – if you don’t have Marketo/access to Marketo/care at all about Marketo, I apologize. But it was necessary. This week we’re back in the loving embrace of the Sales Cloud and looking at what we need to do to ensure that our sales teams can access all of that marketing info.

To recap, here’s what we have:

a Marketo program (historically considered a campaign in literally any other conversation) that has been assigned the appropriate channel and has been synced to a Salesforce campaign (either new or existing)

In order for someone to access this campaign and add members to it, you’re going to need to make sure that they have the right permissions.

  1. Make them a Marketing User

    On the user record, just click the box
  2. Make sure their profile(s) (or permission set, if only certain users need to be able to do this) has the proper CREDs for Campaigns, specifically they need the Edit permission

    On both Campaigns and Contacts/Leads, users will need at least Edit (and, by extension, Read) permissions
  3. Make sure their profile(s) (or permission set, if only certain users need to be able to do this) has the proper CREDs for Contacts/Leads, specifically they need the Edit permission

These permissions will allow users to add members to Campaigns. If you also want them to be able to change the members’ statuses, you’ll need to ensure that they have access to Read and Edit the “Status” field on the Campaign Member page:

On the user record, just click the box

Why am I going through all of this, you crazy lady?? 

Here’s my use case:

Our inside sales team utilizes our Marketo tool to help them reach a broader audience when sending out one-to-one emails. That’s a load off their plate, but they don’t have access to Marketo! How can they ensure that a lead who has responded doesn’t continue getting the emails in the nurture stream?

Answer: they have access via Salesforce! When a lead responds to them, they can update the lead’s Campaign status to “Responded,” which will trigger Marketo to remove the lead from the stream.

There are other times this has been useful – marking Contacts to invite our annual client event, webinar follow up, etc.

This process does not mean that you can Sales Cloud to market to your leads; Sales Cloud is not meant for that. But it can create some semblance of harmony between Sales and Marketing.

Next week: Completing the puzzle with Sales Insights!


Sales Cloud for Marketing 1: Intro

I’ve had my fun, talking about myself, letting my freak flag fly, etc. But now it’s down to brass tax and all that. No one starts a Salesforce blog just to see their words on the screen (I  mean, that’s part of it) – they do it to give back to the community that offers them so much.

I’m no expert (obviously), but like most solo admins out there, I have a unique situation that has given me some insight that others might not have. You see, technically I work for my marketing team. I am the “Marketing Data and Systems Analyst,” which is totally cool, but it doesn’t accurately reflect what I do.

In reality, I support Marketing, Sales, Account Management (Client Services), and pretty soon, Customer Support potentially. I also help out our training team and our implementation team sometimes. I work with Finance. And sometimes I rub elbows with IT.

But technically I’m in marketing.

The bulk of my data analysis needs to be for both Marketing and Sales, which means most of my data management must balance both teams’ needs, as well. If I were to romanticize what I do, I’d say that I find ways to bridge the data gap between Sales and Marketing. In reality, I just have two cats that I’m constantly trying to herd into one place without them hissing territorially.

There are a few ways I’ve worked this out, and I intend to share them. For the record, my solutions thus far have depended on the following:

  1. We use the Enterprise version of SFDC, Sales Cloud only (so far)
  2. We are on the SMB-Select edition of Marketo

To keep things relatively short, I’m going to break this information out into a couple of posts to make a series, the Sales Cloud for Marketing series to be precise.

I’m going to cover a few things that I’ve learned herding these cats.

My first post in the series will be Marketo-heavy, and it will talk about some best practices on building Programs that will sync nicely with Salesforce. Those of you that use other marketing automation tools, the following part might be more applicable, and it will be making the case for making most, if not all, SFDC users “Marketing Users.”

I look forward to sharing this journey with you!





You remember 95% of what you teach

Part of the Teach for America interview process involves creating a mini lesson and presenting it to a group of individuals who are also interviewing. Naturally, as I went through the process, I put together a lesson on…well, something English related; I honestly don’t remember the exact topic. I was an English major. I still live and die by the Oxford comma.

I got the email a week (or so) later, saying that I had been selected to join the ranks…as a middle school math teacher.

Math? Were they serious? I had never taken a class beyond pre-calculus in college. I almost said no.

Instead, I went to a used bookstore, bought all of the possible books I could find on math, and I started teaching myself things like limits and derivatives. Because in order to teach middle school, you have to be able to teach high school.

I passed the exam to teach math, but I didn’t really understand half of it until I started teaching it. Having to explain why the inverse of multiplication is division made me better understand fractions. I got really good at math while I was teaching it, and a lot of that came from how I was taught to plan lessons.

What does all of this rambling have to do with Salesforce?

I’ve discovered the exact same thing is true when it comes to, well, anything, but Salesforce specifically. I learn more about Salesforce when answering questions and training than I do by just studying.

This happens in two ways, which I will obviously share here.

Training new (and existing) users

I treat training the same way I treated my daily lesson plans. I plan them backwards – what do I want my user to be able to do? In order to perform that task, what do they need to know? What steps are necessary for them to get from point A to point B?

Example: I want users to know how to create a report on tasks that are due today. 

First thing’s first – I make that exact report, and I make note of every single step that I take. Every one of them. EVERY one. Each button click, each keystroke, each search, even the thought process behind those.

Then I make a list. What information do I take for granted that they might not know? For instance, I know that tasks in my instance can be related to up to three different records – Contacts, Accounts, or Opportunities. I know what those fields are called. I know that they are lookup fields. Do my users know that? Maybe, but I can’t assume that when I’m planning a lesson. What information do I kind of know but would be unable to explain in depth? That’s the stuff that I need to research.

The last step is actually planning what I’m going to say and do. I stick by the “I do, We do, You do” model, which just means that I will talk for about 5 minutes, demonstrate the actions and have them follow me, and then let them loose to try it out.

And I do that for every training session. Once you do it a few times, you really get used to it, and it doesn’t become quite so…daunting.

Answering questions

You’re obviously on the Salesforce Success Community because it’s pretty much a user’s/admin’s/developer’s best friend. So I know you’re there.

I used look for questions because I knew for sure someone had already asked what I was going to ask. Then I started seeing questions that people posted, and I would think “I kind of know what they mean.” But I would never answer their question! I was so afraid to just give my input.

Then one day I said “just try. What’s the harm?”

I learn more from answering questions sometimes than I do asking them. If I see a question out there that is lonely and has no responses, then I’ll start digging. If I know the answer, or have a good idea, I’ll double check my assumptions (I don’t want to steer people wrong, after all), and then I write an answer. Worst case scenario? My solution doesn’t quite work for them. They’re not going to cuss me out or tell me I shouldn’t be doing this job.

If I don’t know the answer, I try to find it anyway. Because reasons.

The Point?

If you want to learn more and get better, you need to teach. You need to force yourself to seek out the answers to questions that you didn’t know to ask yet, and you need to demonstrate and impart that knowledge. You’ll learn things you didn’t think you’d learn, and it will embed itself in your memory for a lot longer.

The Salesforce Blog Formula

Salesforce admins are a force (hahahahahaha) to be reckoned with. We are everywhere, and I mean that both literally abroad in the world and in cyberspace.

And, I’m just coming out and saying it because, guys, we all know. The thing is to change your persona; you get involved in Salesforce, and you’re no longer “Mike” or “Jane.” You enter your org, you make some custom fields, and you emerge, shiny and new as “MikeForce” and “JaneForce.”

Don’t act like it’s not a thing! Don’t even pretend. We all know it. I’m saying it.

And since this is now a Salesforce blog, I need to be talking about Salesforce, offering tips and tricks…

So here’s a formula that you can use in your Salesforce Dev Org (please don’t do this in Production) that will create your new Salesforce blog/twitter/etc. name.

We’ll assume you’re logged into your Dev Org. If you don’t have a Dev Org, go get one. They are free. They are amazing. They allow you to do things like make formula fields to generate your own new blog title without actual users asking what is going on. They also connect to Trailhead, so you can get badges for the practice you do.

So you’re logged into your Dev Org – go ahead and navigate to Setup, either via the word “Setup” in Salesforce Classic or by clicking on the gear icon in Lightning.

Use the Quick Search box and look up “Users” – alternatively, you can navigate to “Customize -> Users” in Classic or “Objects & Fields -> Object Management -> Users” in Lightning.

Select the “New” option to create a new field.

Here’s where the fun starts (switching to screenshots!):

As mentioned, this is going to be a Formula field, so you’ll want to select “Formula” on the first screen.

formula Don’t let the name fool you. Formulas can be pretty much anything. They’re really just automatically uneditable fields.

Once you hit “Next,” you’re going to be able to label your Formula field and select what the output on that formula will be.

formulatypeI named mine, creatively, “Blog Title,” but the screenshot is from a previous run. The Field Label is yours to command, and the Field Name will update automatically. For return type, you’re going to select “Text.”

actualformulaFinally, the formula itself. Pretty simple one. You can either type in exactly what you see here, or if you want to make sure you’ve got the format correct, you can hit the button “Insert Field” and find “First Name,” then insert it.

The plus sign is literally just telling Salesforce to add the word “Force” after the value it’s taking from the First Name field. Make sure you put it in double quotes.

Check your syntax. Check syntax. Check it. All the time. Even if you know your formula is right. Even if you copied and pasted it from someone who knew it was right. Even if you copied and pasted it from Steve Mo, check your syntax.

Then save it.

Check out a user profile – any user’s will do. Here’s mine, complete with my new Blog Title:


So, of course my actual blog title is PolymathForce, but the format is the same.

Formula fields have been one of my most under-utilized Salesforce abilities. Like many admins just starting out, I spent a lot of time afraid of them. I imagined complex calculus fields, looking for the limit of x as it approached closing or something. But as I spend more time with them, get to know them, it turns out they’re totally chill.



Rebranding (v.) – what I’m doing now

I don’t mean to brag, but I took a marketing class in college to meet the requirements for a Business Administration minor. As useful as an English degree is, I thought having some semblance of business acumen to support it would be a good idea. That decision has paid off. So I know a little bit about marketing and branding.

And I’m not going to sit here and talk about how when I started blogging, it was done on LiveJournal, and it was the domain of angsty teenagers because frankly I’d rather not drudge up those memories. And the long string of neglected URLs out there with one of my email addresses attached to them is testament enough to my level of commitment to those outlets.

But I did some great writing under the guise of The Crafty Polymath, and I didn’t want to shove it into a closet to collect dust. It’s just not valid anymore – I don’t spend my weekends at a desk adorned with fabric and a sewing machine. I spend it in front of a tv with a PS4 controller in my hands, to be 100% honest.

What is valid, though, is what I do at least 5 days a week.

Scroll down to my last post; I’ll wait. You didn’t scroll, did you? Rebel. I mention a new job, and the funny thing is that since that new job, I started another new job with the same company.

Enter Salesforce, stage right and Marketo, stage left. They meet in the middle and integrate surprisingly well.

That was almost 2 years ago, and I am swallowing my embarrassment here to try this again.

This whole thing – the job, Salesforce, Marketo – has been an unexpected delight. It’s kind of right up my alley because my title, Marketing Data & Systems Analyst, is vague enough that if there’s something I want to do, I can pretty much do it. I manage various software systems; I analyze data; I help plan marketing strategies; I write and edit content sometimes; I design landing pages and make emails responsive. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, I’m paid to be a freaking polymath.

I feel like the name of this blog should give away how exciting that is for me.

It also has opened up a door to an actual, honest-to-God career path, complete with professional development, built-in networking, and recognition for knowing what’s what.

Case in point: I started the West Michigan Women in Tech Salesforce User Group. Admittedly, the name is a bit of a mouthful. But this lady here, who only ever joined clubs that encouraged solo work, is getting involved. With people. And events. It’s a big deal. And within this process, some new-found friends (all of my new-found friends) have asked me “do you have a blog?”

Cue my awkward, “well, yeah, kinda, but it’s…I mean…please don’t go there. I haven’t posted in two years.”

And honestly, it’s a thing with Salesforce. We write stuff, we admins and developers. We shout about Salesforce all the time. That is not even an exaggeration; I’ve been trying to recruit my mom for a month. And my husband has had to sit through me endlessly gushing about validation rules and formula fields and “did you know Salesforce can do this?!”

I’m not going to make any promises here about posting every week. Not yet. Let me sink my feet in a little and get this rolling. Let me find my rhythm, my words. Let me make peace with the fact that, as an admin in a kind of marketing role, I might have a unique and interesting perspective to share.

But if you have a spare minute, here or there, and if you enjoy self-deprecating humor, then my friend…this isn’t a bad place to find yourself.

Consider the Crafty Polymath officially rebranded.