Here is a link to the webinar I recorded telling the story of how we implemented Salesforce.com at PSA Insurance using 'The 4 Quadrant Method'.
I have been asked to participate in a special Salesforce.com webinar where you will have the opportunity to see for yourself how other top Insurance Brokers and Agents are using web, mobile, and social technology from Salesforce to transform the way they run their business.
Please mark your calendar with the following info and register at the link below:
Salesforce for Brokers and Agents
June 25th at 2PM EDT/ 11AM PDT
Dial-in: (866) 356-1046
At this special online event you will see how to:
· Uncover new leads with Data.com
· Launch your own cross-sell/upsell campaigns
· Use social media info to complement your stewardship program
· Avoid competing on price by demonstrating clear value
· Use mobile apps to get more done in less time
Remember that Agency Management Systems manage policies, not people. See for yourself what agencies like Frank Crystal & Co., Cottingham & Butler, Sterling & Sterling, Aon and others are doing to raise their game in this changing industry. Don't get left behind.
All Attendees will also receive instructions on how to receive a special promo code for discounted passes to Dreamforce, Salesforce's annual conference in San Francisco, CA.
I saw this question posted in the Salesforce Power Users Group on LinkedIn. This blog post is a reprint of my response.
This is a great question and one I have invested time considering not only with Salesforce in mind but in the context of business process in general.
Volume - If you are importing large numbers of unqualified leads from external lists then I suggest using leads. They will keep your core account object cleaner especially if you have actual customers as accounts.
Contacts - If your prospect qualification process involves adding multiple contacts then you should consider using accounts. They will allow you to associate multiple contacts with a single account whereas leads are flat and there is no capability to hang a contact off of a lead.
Qualification process - To be successful any organization should have even a basic qualification process and forcing producers to convert an account or mark a prospect as disqualified can have benefits. This achieves two primary objectives. One it reduces the number of prospects, allowing the producer to focus his or her attention on prospects that have a better chance of delivering a sale. In addition by forcing disqualification, and recording why, perhaps with a validation rule associated with a pick-list or notes field, you can help prevent a future rep wasting time trying to qualify this same prospect. Or at the very least passing on intelligence as to why this prospect was disqualified last time around.
Data Hygiene - Since leads are one dimensional it's easier to de-dup or merge them and you won't need to consider the associated contacts and opportunities.
Last Name - On the lead object Salesforce requires you to enter a Last Name on a lead which in my experience can lead to plugging which leads to bad data. Therefore, if your prospects are businesses and not individuals, you need to develop a methodology to handle this scenario.
Merge Functionality - Salesforce has a built in duplicate (dup) finder on the lead object. Remember to use this tool when you need to assign create / delete permissions to the profile, although this might not be ideal from a user security perspective. One work around might be to add a check box that the user can use to mark a record as a perspective dup and then have an administrator use those check boxes to guide them after the fact.
I hope this brief summation will help others who are wrestling with this same issue in their organizations.
Business owners often ask me what they should consider before moving a function (application) to the cloud. So here is my shot at answering this very important question.
You need to get definitive answers to three fundamental questions:
- Is it secure?
- Is it reliable?
- Does the application offer a comprehensive Open API?
Lets dig in a little deeper on each of these questions.
Is it Secure?
You should not store your data just anywhere. Moving your data out of your data center and into the cloud definitely has risks associated with it. You should be very certain that the vendor you select to house your most valuable asset has all its t's crossed and i's dotted before you make the jump. The good news is there are industry certifications out there like SAS 70, SSAE 16, SOC 2 and SOC 3 auditing standards for data centers. Make sure you understand what these are and whether the data center in which this cloud application will be housed have these certifications where applicable.
Is it reliable?
Reliability is all about transparency. Companies like Google and Salesforce.com have a 'TRUST' site where they openly share how reliable they have been over time. Don't take the vendors word for it. Ask for the facts before you move your most critical applications to somebody else's data center. Below are links to examples of how the best known cloud providers present this data.
Does the application offer a comprehensive Open API?
I am sure you have heard the saying, "it is all about the data." Put more accurately, it's all about your data and making sure you can get to your data when and however you need to. In the last few years, many legacy application providers have suddenly declared their applications have moved to the cloud.
Well that is all fine but you should investigate what they mean in terms of security and reliability and more importantly you should make sure that this application has a full set of open Application Programming Interfaces (API's), which will provide you with anytime access to your data.
So what does the above really mean from an end user perspective? I am not talking about being able to just export your data should you choose to move to a new vendor. I am talking about being able to build integrations between your data and other applications, which may reside in your data center or in some other cloud.
The fact is that today IT infrastructure is all about ecosystems and if this new application does not have a fully developed API library then there is no way they can be part of any such ecosystem. And let's just say this is not good.
So, when I get asked, "should I move my applications to the cloud?" my answer is in turn a series of questions. If you can answer those questions in the affirmative then you should be good to go. If not then further investigation is required. Perhaps it's time to consider bringing in a good advisor.
I often hear businesses or agencies discuss volume of 'visits' or if you prefer 'appointments' as a success determinant in the sales or cross sell process. Many of us know there is nothing like a face-to-face meeting with a decision maker to drive a deal forward. It is that magic period of time where you have the full and undivided attention of the person whom controls the fate of the opportunity.
For so many organizations with outside representatives or producers this is one of the tangibles. Something you can measure. When I talk to sales managers this is always something that comes up as a factor in the success matrix because as the old adage goes, "with activity comes success." Correct?
Well I would say maybe. You would assume that if there is lots of activity, lots of face time then success should follow; but, so often there is not a clear relationship between activity, face time and success.
So I bet you're asking why?
I would argue that there is a misunderstanding of the definition of a visit. Too often a visit is misidentified as a calendar event. That magical entry in the Calendar that denotes when you will physically arrive and meet a prospect.
So what is the correct definition of a visit?
By my definition a visit is a process. It is the process of planning what goes on prior to the actual calendar visit. It is what happens during the event itself and it is the actions that are executed following departure. The actual calendar event is only one part of a multi part process. Success is ultimately determined by the sum of those parts.
So if you agree that the planning and execution of a process is a key factor in a successful visit then the next question becomes how do you identify best practices and ensure that these best practices are replicated throughout your organization.
This is where Salesforce.com can help. Yes, Salesforce can sync with Outlook, Google Mail or Lotus Notes but these are only events. What you really need is a business process that helps your representatives or producers plan, execute and follow up on prospect interactions. All of this can be done using the incredible set of tools that is the Salesforce.com platform.
The take a way here is - focus on the process and not just the visit.