5 Salesforce Data Pitfalls and How to Get Over Them

5 Salesforce data pitfalls and how companies are using Rekener to get over them.

At Rekener, we spend every day helping companies use their data to increase sales velocity. Rekener's BizOps platform finds patterns in data that unlock understanding of what drives sales velocity.  Rekener finds the right leads and contacts to feed to the right sales people at the right time.  Using Rekener, best in class BizOps teams use data to unlock winning strategies and then translate those strategies into action on the sales floor.

Sounds awesome, right? When we talk to sales execs and BizOps leaders, they are all hungry to "get more strategic" and improve sales velocity using data.  

So what's holding them back?  It turns out that many companies are held back by their Salesforce data.  In short, they feel like it's a mess.  Worse, it's getting messier every day as sales and marketing teams add to the database.  It can feel like quicksand.  And with so many point solutions aimed at solving problems associated with messy data, it can feel like an overwhelming project to get it right.

It doesn't need to be that way.  Here are 5 top Salesforce data pitfalls that we hear every day, and how companies are using Rekener to get over them. If you've got a biggie that isn't on this list, please share and comment.

1. Messy Accounts

Best practice for most B2B companies today is to set up Salesforce with an account-based structure.  The problem is this account structure rapidly gets out of hand.  In spite of a number of point solutions to prevent duplicates, they are frequently created, often with names that are just different enough that it is difficult to know for certain whether the accounts should be merged or be kept separate.  In addition, many of the bigger enterprise accounts are comprised of multiple different businesses that have very different names.  Often, sales teams will often pursue these sub-accounts independently without collaborating to go after the parent company.

The account mess often leads BizOps teams to put process rules in place that prevent sales people from creating new accounts.  This helps, but getting things cleaned up in the first place is a big project.  Then keeping them clean requires regular maintenance, which consumes time and money and keeps the BizOps team from getting more strategic.

Rekener solves the messy accounts problem with a combination of machine learning algorithms and mechanical turks.  Rekener starts by rolling up accounts into a master account, and then updates that master account automatically.  Here's what a rolled up account structure looks like in the Rekener Account Control Center for one of Rekener's customers.

Rolled Up Accounts in Rekener Account Control Center

2. Leads Floating in Free Space

Marketing programs generate new leads for the sales team every day, and integrations between marketing automation platforms and Salesforce push these leads into Salesforce constantly.  The problem is that these leads can fall through the cracks unless they are matched to an account. 

Lead to account matching software can solve this problem, but buying, implementing and managing another point solution is another drain on time and money.  

Rekener solves this problem using the same machine learning algorithms that are used to create the account rollups described above.  In Rekener, unconverted leads are automatically found and matched to the rolled up accounts.  The screen capture above illustrates how unconverted leads have been attached to rolled up accounts in Rekener.  What is remarkable is the volume of unconverted leads that can now be put to good use.  

3. Inconsistent Firmographic Data

When we meet with companies, we often show them how they can use Rekener to understand sales velocity by segment.  For example, here's an illustration of a sales velocity analysis by industry segment for one of our customers.

Sales velocity calculation by industry segment

Sales execs crave this information, but their BizOps teams struggle to generate it because they have inconsistent firmographic information for analyzing segments.  Lots of companies have this problem.  Sometimes, it's because they rely on the sales team to complete fields like industry or company size.  Other times, it's because they purchase multiple lists of targets from different vendors, and the firmographic info is inconsistent from one vendor to the next.

Rekener enables sophisticated segmentation based on firmographic data - even if the data is messy.  One approach in Rekener is to create metrics, such as industry metrics, that use simple "pickmost" calculations to find the industry that is used most in a picklist.  This simple solution allows BizOps teams to find signals in the data in spite of the "noise", which is important because CEOs and sales execs want answers.  

Rekener also provides automatic data augmentation, which solves this problem immediately and keeps it solved automatically.  With Rekener's data augmentation, the firmographic fields such as industry become "standardized", and inconsistencies are eliminated.

4. Bad or Missing Opportunity Types

Analysis based on opportunity types is incredibly important.  For example, understanding sales velocity for new business and comparing that to upsell business can create insights about which segments are good for landing and which are good for expanding.  Here is an upsell sales velocity analysis for the same segments that we showed before for net new.

Upsell sales velocity analysis by industry

In order to be able to do this kind of analysis, BizOps teams must know which deals are net new and which are upsell.  The problem is that the Salesforce opportunity type is often not used or is used inconsistently.  Going back and fixing the opportunity data can be an expensive project and can keep the BizOps team from feeding valuable insight to sales leaders.

Rekener can solve this problem without the expense of fixing all the data.  Rekener is able to incorporate the time dimension into Salesforce data. This means that Rekener knows net new deals because they were the first deal won in the account.  Upsell deals happened sometime after the first deal.  Using the time dimension, metrics can be created to separate net new from upsell, which enables sophisticated analysis without fixing the underlying Salesforce data.

5. Disconnects Between Accounts and Products

One of the biggest pitfalls of Salesforce data is dealing with multiple products.  For some companies, it is difficult to keep track of which accounts have which products.  There are lots of reasons for this.  Usually, it is because product sales are tracked on Opportunity Line Items, and are therefore challenging to roll up to the account.  Additionally, to see Active ARR by product requires you to reference the fact that the contract is valid as of today.  Salesforce won't allow you to do this relative date calculation without custom apex code.

Rekener solves the problem of showing active revenue by product even when product data is "hidden" in Salesforce objects such as Line Item or Contract objects.  In Rekener, the entire data structure is "flattened" so it is easy to see what products have been purchased by each account.  Further, Rekener uses the time dimension to create cohorts as illustrated below, and this can be used to figure out the patterns for how customers grow over time. This screen capture shows how one of Rekener's customers is able to analyze close rates and ASP for both upsell and cross-sell for their two major product lines.  This can all be done without overhauling the Salesforce data structure. 

Multiproduct upsell and cross-sell analysis


What Can You Do Now?

If you are suffering from one or more of these Salesforce data pitfalls, you're not alone.  You can spend all of your time and money to try to clean up your Salesforce data, or you can implement Rekener's modern BizOps platform and let Rekener do the work for you.  Rekener's integration with Salesforce is pre-built, so it only takes minutes to get set up.  And Rekener provides a free data assessment so you can immediately assess the value of using Rekener to get you out of the Salesforce data quicksand.

Of course, at Rekener, we use the Account Control Center to figure out and execute our sales strategies.  Here's a snapshot of our own Data Assessment, which shows how Rekener is helping us with the top three Salesforce data pitfalls described in this post.

Rekener Data Assessment

Here's some things you can do right now:

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Alex Laats

Alex is CEO and Founder of Rekener. Previously, he served as President and COO at ZeroTurnaround and as President of the Delta Division of BBN Technologies. At ZeroTurnaround, he grew high velocity inside sales by 6x in 3 years. At BBN, Alex co-founded RAMP and AVOKE, both recurring SaaS businesses based on BBN's world class speech recognition and natural language processing tech. Alex started his entrepreneurial career as founder and COO of NBX Corporation, which led the transformation of business telephone systems to Voice over IP. Alex’s companies have generated $500M in liquidity events and more than $1B in sales.

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