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Salesforce 101: Top 10 Tips and Tricks

Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera

Salesforce can improve how your business runs. Here is how to get the most out of the popular CRM program.

Salesforce is a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) tool that helps you keep tabs on nearly all aspects of your company's sales and customer contact, thus providing insight into your analytics and keeping your customers happier. There's so much you can do and control with Salesforce's highly customizable interface. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started. 

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What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is a digital tool that stores your customer data and manages your customer relationships. Your sales and marketing teams can use Salesforce to collect, analyze and organize leads; close deals; and manage customer interactions. It's a great way to streamline and automate your business processes. You can also use Salesforce to connect with customers and encourage them to buy or interact with your product or service. [Salesforce is one of our best picks for CRM software. You can read our full review here.]

Salesforce is one of the most popular CRMs; nearly 60% of all companies have integrated or plan to integrate Salesforce. Part of what sets Salesforce apart is its scale of customizable options. Salesforce allows you to personalize elements such as navigation and the dashboard based on the metrics and data you want to examine, which makes it easier to break down the customer information you need.

Tips on how to get started with Salesforce

Ready to get started with Salesforce? Follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of this popular CRM:

1. Take the tour.

When you first look at the Salesforce interface, it could be a bit overwhelming. Because of the many tabs and features, it's common for new users to feel lost. That's why it's a good idea to take advantage of Salesforce's tour feature, which walks you through the main functions of the CRM system. The tour will teach you how to manage your pipeline, view and edit opportunity profiles, track sales, and customize your sales process. Although the tour won't reveal every feature Salesforce has to offer, it's enough to get you started with the basics.

2. Navigate the setup.

The setup is where you'll access many of the program's options, customization settings and Salesforce admin functions. Instead of browsing through the hundreds of options, the easiest way to locate the page you're looking for is to use the Quick Search Bar in the top-left corner of the page to take you where you need to go.

3. Set up tracking alerts and notifications.

Keep everyone on your team in the loop when there are changes to your process, your team adds and assigns new leads, or you want to set a reminder to follow up with a contact. You can set up automatic email alerts for you and other users that are triggered by different actions. On the Setup screen, select or search for Email Alerts. From there, you can select from a list of email templates and set up the recipients for the automated email alert. In Email Templates, you can make more templates.

Next, in Workflow Process Builder, you can create customized scenarios and actions for which the emails are sent. Set up a process for when a new lead is created, and an email is sent to the sales team. This is a powerful tool that can automate almost everything in the CRM.

4. Automate reports and send emails.

Much like emails, you can automate reports to be created and delivered to you automatically for any occasion, like weekly or monthly meetings. Under the Reports tab, create your desired reports on leads, opportunities, revenue, etc. Hit Run Report, and select Schedule Future Runs. Choose how frequently you want to run the report and who you want it emailed to.

5. Control permissions.

Salesforce allows you to give access to all employees with user accounts. Of course, you may not want all users to have the same access and information, so you can set permissions for individual users.

In Setup, go to Permission Sets, where you can create limitations for groups of users so they have access only to certain apps and settings. With Session Activation, you can also set permissions for users who meet certain criteria. For example, you can give users who complete certain tasks in Sales access to Leads.

6. Explore AppExchange.

One of Salesforce's strengths is its modular design and ability to integrate hundreds of applications into its interface. Some of the most popular applications are add-ons from Data.com, MailChimp and DocuSign. Apps can extend the capabilities of your CRM and make things more efficient. There are several apps dedicated to keeping your database clean by eliminating duplicates created from mass imports. Additional apps can make your reporting more robust, adding features such as geometric data for leads and opportunities.

7. Add Chrome extensions.

There are a lot of advantages of using Salesforce with Google Chrome, including many browser extensions that make things more convenient for you and your users within the Chrome extensions page. The Salesforce Lightning extension for Gmail lets you view activity from Salesforce within the email page, allowing you to see new developments with context from emails. [See related article: 10 Best Chrome Extensions for Business] 

Another popular extension is Ebsta, which allows you to cross-reference information from your Salesforce with info on a webpage, such as personal profiles and sales data.

8. Install the Salesforce search engine in Chrome.

Speaking of Chrome, you can add a Salesforce search engine within your browser so you can quickly search for information within Salesforce from the Chrome address/search bar. In Chrome, under Settings, find Manage Search Engines. Add Salesforce and a simple keyword, like "sale" or "sf." For the URL, go into Salesforce Classic View, and use the search box. On the resulting screen, copy the URL and paste it into the URL field in the Add Search Engine Box. Replace the term you searched for with "%" and hit Save.

When you are searching with Chrome, type in the keyword you selected for Salesforce, add a space and then enter your search term. This should automatically bring you search results within Salesforce.

9. Import from Excel or other CRMs.

If you need data from Excel spreadsheets or your previous CRM, Salesforce can easily import data in the form of CSV files. The Data Import Wizard under Setup walks you through the process of importing contacts, leads, solutions and campaign members. You can upload files based on the previous formatting from Outlook, ACT or Gmail CSVs. The interface allows you to import up to 50,000 records at one time.

10. Customize the logout page.

Salesforce allows you to designate a landing page for users who log out of their Salesforce interface. So, for instance, you can set it so that, if they log out, they are sent to your company's intranet or other Dashboard sites. To do this, just go to Setup and Session Settings. In the Logout Page Settings, just paste the URL you want users to land on when they log out.

Benefits of Salesforce

Your sales and marketing teams can gain a lot from using Salesforce. Here are some of the benefits:

Scalability

Small businesses don't always stay small, at least when it comes to their customers. Salesforce is excellent for companies of any size because it allows for growth. No matter how large your business gets, Salesforce can continue to serve your needs. According to Salesforce, the architecture behind the platform was designed to support millions of users.

Add-ons

The system's AppExchange store provides many integration options that work for a range of industries. There are also small-business-specific add-ons that can streamline your workflow and increase your efficiency. Some of the most popular add-ons include Adobe Sign, Box, MailChimp and Data.com.

Ease of use

Although Salesforce is sophisticated, its design is easy to use. The operations system is direct, and the interface is similar to those of most CRM programs. Salesforce includes a selection of tools that help with easy navigation: Home, Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Campaigns and Opportunities.

Customizable administration tools

Team leaders, administrators and other users can customize Salesforce to fit their expertise and workflow. Salesforce allows you to reserve specific tools and settings for different groups of workers. Based on the team or user, you can create permissions that designate which employees have access to certain parts of the program. You can also design different displays and workflows based on the level of experience users have with the CRM, which is helpful for training new users.

What other services does Salesforce offer?

Salesforce has a range of product categories to meet a variety of business needs. Here are some of the cloud-based services Salesforce offers:

  • Sales Cloud: This is useful for sales forecasting and analyzing your team's marketing strategy as a whole, as well as for gaining a general perspective of your sales plan and processes. Features include marketing automation, sales content management and sales tracking.

  • Service Cloud: This tool is designed to help users improve their customer service and support. Service Cloud is meant to focus and deepen the way your sales and marketing teams market to consumers.

  • Marketing Cloud: This helps your sales and marketing teams connect with potential customers by using personalized and researched campaigns or messages.

  • Commerce Cloud: You can use this platform to connect commerce tools to the rest of your sales and marketing departments. You can also personalize your users' shopping through artificial intelligence.

  • Assurance Services: This platform provides guidance from expert Salesforce professionals. These experts can help you implement and manage your system so you can create the best plan for your company. They offer recommendations and advice for the direction to take with your business.

Additional reporting by Simone Johnson.

Image Credit: Chainarong_Prasertthai / Getty Images
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera
business.com Staff
Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a staff writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.