Don’t have a Salesforce Data Dictionary? Here’s why you need one.

A Salesforce data dictionary is a central source of knowledge for the organization that describes data: its meaning, relationships to other data, business usage, and format. This tool helps everyone from management, admins, analysts, and developers to understand and use Salesforce data fields.

Read more

Continuous Sales Training

Is It Time to Rethink Your Continuous Sales Training Strategy?

Fact: According to ATD’s State of Sales Training Report, the United States spends on average $1,459 per salesperson each year on sales training. That’s almost 20 percent more than they spend on workers in all other functions. Much of this training is curriculum-based and conducted in person.

Fact: The forgetting curve shows that participants forget almost 70 percent of the information they were taught in this classroom-style training just one day later.

Put those two facts together, and that’s a tough ROI to swallow, especially given the opportunity cost of lost revenue.

So how can businesses keep up with the rapid rate of change and the need for ongoing training? How can they compete in a world where employee quit rates are at a 17-year-high (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics) and remote work is on the rise?

Simply put, sales managers need to give their teams access to the information they need, when and where they need it. Fortunately, new technologies are making this training easier than ever before. 

Curriculum-Based Training Isn’t the Enemy

In many organizations, sales training is conducted during a single, one-off, fast-paced information dump where sales reps are expected to memorize new features, workflows, message maps, and sales tactics. This often occurs in a boot camp style environment or during the early stage of their employment with the organization. Another option is at the annual sales kickoff (SKO) meeting where the company reviews the new years’ quotas, any changes in messaging, new products, and so forth. Typically, these meetings also include motivational sessions by prominent public speakers or senior leaders within the company.

There are some clear benefits, including cultural intangibles from an employee engagement standpoint, to providing curriculum-based training through onboarding programs and annual kick-off meetings. It’s a great time to transfer foundational knowledge about the organization and its mission, as well as baseline expectations around things like pipeline and targeted prospects. It’s also an effective way to gather the collective minds of your team in one place to share ideas and best practices that might otherwise get lost in the day-to-day hustle.

Ongoing Training Is Key

A study conducted by IBM on the value of training reports that just one in five new hires will stay at an organization if they do not receive the training they need for their jobs when they join. But what happens when the internal processes or messaging that they learned changes a few months into their role and the annual kick-off meeting or next training session is some six months away?

To maintain its competitive advantage in a rapidly shifting technological landscape, your company needs to prepare it’s staff by instituting effective change enablement and an ongoing training process. It’s likely you’ve thought about requiring your sales teams to complete a certain number of training hours each quarter—where you can re-emphasize the most important information and address questions that may have come up.

Think about that for a minute longer.

While that may be effective as a start, consider how you, as an individual, gain the knowledge you need to get what you want. If you’re like most people, you search online to find bite-sized, contextual, and timely tidbits of information. Rarely do you seek lengthy training sessions.

Now think about how often your organization updates CRM or sales team policies and procedures. How long do team members spend getting up-to-date on those new policies and processes. No matter what your answer to that question is, it likely takes longer than it should. What’s more, every minute your sales team isn’t focused on actual selling is a minute that your competitor could be stealing away a customer. 

A New Era of Learning Technologies

It’s not just your business that’s changing at the speed of light. The technological landscape in the sales, knowledge management, and learning space is evolving at an equally rapid rate. It only takes a quick glance at the Sales Technology Landscape, developed by sales technology expert Nancy Nardin, which categorizes 600+ solutions in this space to realize this.

For instance, consider the evolution of learning management systems (LMSs). Most LMSs on the market are cost-effective and relatively easy to manage, while providing end users with easy access to a modern, multimedia learning environment that learning developers can personalize to help drive home the knowledge sales leaders need to make a difference to the business.

The problem? Many of these LMSs live in a portal that’s completely separate from your team’s workflows and processes. So while it may be helpful for a one-time lesson or onboarding, it’s not helpful for the day-to-day application of that knowledge.

As a result, we are starting to see an emergence of new learning and knowledge sharing solutions designed specifically around the way modern day workers learn behaviors in their consumer lives. Need same-day grocery or toilet paper delivery? Click. Need a ride to the airport? Click. Access to what people need, when they need it is easier than ever. Yet in the workplace, employees often will find themselves searching for the right folder for the right document, drilling down into the right section to locate the exact paragraph they need to answer the question they have. Not only does this lead to a significant amount to time wasted, the frustration of constantly feeling stuck can be crippling to employee engagement.

That’s exactly the problem that just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing technologies are solving: small, easily understood, and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly into workflows or CRM. This approach gives employees road signs, complete with videos and images, every step of the way to ensure that your team has the knowledge they need. Not only does this sort of quick and easy access to knowledge minimize friction during onboarding, it allows organizations to effortlessly drive process changes and maximize productive selling efforts at the same time.

No doubt, business is always evolving. Fortunately, the learning market also is evolving to respond to these changes. Better yet, the number of knowledge sharing tools is rapidly growing. Indeed, 2019 will be the year for just-time-in learning—just wait. 

Top 6 Tools for Sales Ops and Salesforce Administrators

Salesforce Administrators are vital to the success of any company with a CRM. They handle day-to-day tasks like provisioning new users with ease. More importantly, they are often charged with setting the direction a company takes with regards to process improvement, systems implementation and automation. This is where they can really make a big impact. One way Salesforce Administrators can increase the speed at which they contribute to the success of their company is through the use of Apps from the AppExchange or Chrome Extensions.

Sales Operations play an important role in company success too. Often times they are the unsung heros, making connections, discovering trends in data, and suggesting efficiency improvements that Admins can implement. Sales Ops and Admins, like peanut butter and jelly, are the perfect combination for success.

Here’s six tools every Sales Ops and Salesforce Administrator should keep in their toolbox to maximize their Sales Team’s productivity.

Sales Rep Productivity

Chances are, your company has something it’s trying to sell – a set of products, a consumable good, or a service. One of the best ways to sell more, is to increase your sales rep’s productivity. Using a CRM, like Salesforce, is a good start, but it can be a difficult task to get sales reps to spend the time needed to keep data current. Requiring them to update opportunities, one record at a time, in a browser is a real drag on their time. Search for a record, update the data, save the record. Repeat. Why not use a tool like GridBuddy that allows you to connect to your Salesforce data through a single view that is actionable and doesn’t require advanced developer skills or tons of code to create and maintain?

With GridBuddy sales reps can quickly and easily update multiple attributes on multiple opportunities all from one screen. GridBuddy enforces your access rights and other security features of Salesforce too, and provides a great user experience whether you are sitting at your desk, or out in the field using your mobile device. Not only does your company benefit from more productive sales reps, your sales ops team and your admins also benefit from better data to help drive better decisions!


The one area of business that seems to be most overlooked is documentation. This typically only becomes important when a staffing change is about to take place, and sometimes those changes are unexpected and come completely out of the blue, with little or no warning. By then, it’s all but too late to start thinking about documentation. The moment your Salesforce Administrator walks out the door on their last day on the job, their years of knowledge and history of why the CRM is configured the way it is, with certain processes automated & others not, also disappears.

You can certainly bring in a consultant to dig in and determine all the ins and outs – that’s one solution. You can also see if Sales Ops can step in to help, since they often work closely with Admins. A better solution is to start building documentation now, before you discover a need for it.

A tool like Spekit can easily facilitate and automate the creation of your documentation. Creation of a Salesforce wiki, or data dictionary as the foundation of your data infrastructure and training programs can produce some great benefits like shorter on-boarding time for sales teams, better reporting capabilities through easier discovery of what data objects really mean and how they are used. Learn more about the benefits of a Salesforce Data Dictionary across the organization.


Training and Onboarding

Training tends to go hand-in-hand with documentation. It’s a pairing that’s been around for a long time and becoming more and more of a differentiator in the recruiting process and ramp-up time of new employees.  Sales reps should be busy all day calling on prospects, and closing deals – that’s where the money is. And you want to arm your sales reps with the best knowledge possible, as fast as possible, so they can beat the competition and win more deals. Therefore, access to the knowledge they need, directly in-context is critical to getting your Sales reps spending more time selling and less time looking for answers.

Training on Salesforce has evolved by leaps and bounds in the past few years with the introduction of Trailhead. If you don’t know what Trailhead is, head over here to learn more and get started. Using Spekit’s Chrome Extension as part of your training program allows you to further customize the onboarding and training experience of your new users.

You don’t need to define everything separately, your end users can simply hover or right-click on a field name or a word in Trailhead or in Salesforce to access your company-specific knowledge and definitions within Spekit. With Spekit and Trailhead, the pairing of training and documentation just got even better – like a juicy prime rib, paired with a fine red wine.

Email Automation

As a sales rep, would you find it valuable to know when a customer opened your email? Of course you would! Strike when the iron is hot – time your follow-up communication perfectly so your customer stays engaged and interested in your products and services. Using a tool like Cirrus Insight allows you to manage your sales process without having to leave your inbox and without having to log into your CRM.

Imagine being able to spend more time talking to customers and closing deals – that’s what Cirrus Insight gives you – time. Through its Salesforce integration, coupled with some automation, data in CRM stays current and sales reps are more productive. Set follow-up reminders, use email templates, allow customers to schedule meetings with you without the back and forth emails – Cirrus Insight give you all that and more, right from your inbox!

Image result for email automation

Document Generation

What’s the most important thing about CRM? It’s the data. Good data can make sales happen faster, and bad data can ruin opportunities faster than ice melting on a hot summer day! And where does the data life cycle start? With communications between your sales teams and your prospects. One tool that can help increase the integrity of your data, as well as the efficiency of your sales teams is Conga Composer.

With Conga Composer, you can create PDF, powerpoints or even excel templates that are populated directly from your Salesforce data, removing the manual aspect of preparing invoices and entering that data in multiple locations. In other words, Conga Composer encourages companies to take full control over the communication process with prospects and customers. Document automation allows organizations to create the ideal customer engagement experience while retaining the flexibility to determine how much automation makes sense for their organizations.

Image result for document generation

Project Management

How can you tie all these tools together and manage everything easily? You need a project management tool like TaskRay. First off, TaskRay doesn’t care what business you are in. All TaskRay cares about is helping you manage processes and projects quickly and easily. You get multiple views into your projects: Kanban, Gantt-style and even calendar views.

TaskRay provides an easy to use interface, to create project dependencies and assign tasks to individuals, simply drag and drop! And because TaskRay is 100% Salesforce native, it uses the same security and sharing controls you already built into Salesforce. Whether you are running an agile development shop or franchising restaurants across the country, TaskRay can help you manage your projects with ease.

project management

In the end, everyone benefits from sales rep productivity: Sales Ops can make better decisions faster; Salesforce Administrators can build our smarter automated processes; and hopefully all this helps your company’s bottom line grow!

5 Benefits of a Salesforce Data Dictionary

Every Salesforce org needs a way to keep their employees on the same page despite ever-changing sales processes, products, integrations, and data fields. This is where a Salesforce data dictionary comes in.

The highest-performing companies like Google and Amazon all share a metrics-driven culture, which gives them the ability to leverage data to make key business decisions. Unfortunately, companies looking to adopt this strategy often share a common problem: their underlying data is a mess. Why? Because they rely on employees to correctly enter their data into platforms like Salesforce. As a result, their data is only as good as their users’ understanding of it.

A Salesforce data dictionary is a central source of knowledge for the organization that describes data: its meaning, relationships to other data, business usage, and format. This tool helps everyone from management, admins, analysts, and developers to understand and use Salesforce data fields. 

Using a data dictionary for Salesforce has a range of benefits across your organization.

1. Get your team selling faster

Remember that time you joined a new company and picked up all of their internal jargon immediately? Yeah, that didn’t happen. There’s a reason why it can take the average employee 2-4 weeks to ramp-up on their new company’s Salesforce org. And the hard part isn’t using Salesforce itself – most employees have either used it in a prior role or can easily leverage Trailhead to get a quick understanding of how to use the tool.

Instead, the real challenge is learning the intricacies of the company’s internal business processes: When to move leads from “Working” to “Prospecting”, or how to decipher the meanings and rules behind the custom fields and objects your company has created.

To further complicate things, these fields often consist of acronyms and industry-specific terminology that doesn’t get adopted overnight. Learning the difference between “LTC” and “LTV”  is just as challenging to a new employee as memorizing the difference between “ser” and “estar” in Spanish class. In short – it takes time and practice.

Having an accessible and detailed Salesforce wiki with all of your fields, processes and other terminology defined is critical to get your teams spending more time selling and less time training.

2. Bring context to your code

Client-facing employees aren’t the only ones who need to learn the company’s business rules and definitions. Ask any software developer who recently joined a company: the hard part about learning their new stack wasn’t deciphering the code itself – it was bringing context to it. “What is that API name referring to?” “Why does this data point have this data type?” “Where else in the process is this API name used?”

This last example is particularly complicated with Salesforce due to the multitude of formulas, workflows, process builders, triggers and more, that a developer must take into account when looking to understand or make a change to any Apex code. 

Image result for code

Database and CRM documentation, whether it’s in the format of a Salesforce wiki or technical data dictionary, is critical in getting your technical, and often, more costly employees up to speed quickly on the application they’re building or the architecture of your systems.

3. Reduce employee errors

If you’ve taken a workout class for the first time, you’ll remember awkwardly staring around the room when the instructor yelled “Eagle pose” or “Burpee” until you found someone to copy, even if they themselves were doing it wrong. That instinct to follow others is natural and in this case, inconsequential. When it pertains to company data, however, errors resulting from telephone games are costly.

An example is when a new employee wrongly moves an Opportunity record to the next stage in the process because their teammate incorrectly taught them to. Not only will this throw off your pipeline forecast, it will also affect your organization’s ability to rely on these metrics to measure KPIs around your revenue or business processes. This problem is accentuated in large or growing companies where, due to the large amounts of data, these individual errors often go unnoticed for longer periods of time.

Having your processes properly documented in your Salesforce data dictionary using Spekit and easily displayed in-context to the end-user can decrease the room for misinterpretation.

4. Integrate and report on data easily

    • “Hi – I’d like to pull a report on the average portfolio amount  by account but can’t find it”
  • “Oh – that’s because on the account record that data point is called account size”

Does this scenario sound familiar? Probably more than you’d like to admit it. Similarly knowing that irr_c in Salesforce maps to rate_return in your internal database is not obvious to your developer either. It’s perfectly normal for companies to have multiple ways of defining a single term within their organization – our language wouldn’t be nearly as rich if it weren’t for synonyms. That said, when it comes to data reporting or system integrations – this can be a real pain.

This is especially true when handling the integration of databases that do not share the same vocabulary but do share similar data, such as when inheriting the CRM or database of a company during an acquisition or merger.  

Image result for integrations

Capturing all of these synonyms and mappings in a single data dictionary or Salesforce wiki will reduce the constant friction and context switching endured by development teams and marketing analysts alike. The result: More time spent on getting stuff done.

5. Reduce costly turnover

Similar to that awkward moment felt by the new friend who didn’t understand the inside joke, lack of proper documentation around your company’s business terminology can easily make new employees feel lost. Your business jargon is often unique to your company and deeply embedded in your culture. Unfortunately this feeling confusion, or worse, stupidity is not discriminatory towards experience.

I’ll always remember hiring a brilliant VP of Ops who in their first few weeks of joining, had to constantly forward internal emails to me because a metric or acronym was referenced that they were not familiar with. This feeling only gets worse when you’re in a client-facing role and expected to respond to customer inquiries promptly. It’s no surprise that 24% of turnover happens within the first year of an employee joining their new company. At an estimated turnover cost of 33% of an employee’s annual salary, these consequences aren’t cheap.

In conclusion, in today’s age of Big Data, new roles like “Chief Business Intelligence Officer” and “Data Evangelist” are emerging every day. The market for AI-powered Business Intelligence or analytics tools is also increasingly competitive, with some of the largest data companies like Salesforce rolling-out their own game-changing analytics solution, Einstein

I’ll be the first to admit that documentation is a pain, and often the last part of the process that anyone wants to be responsible for. But any well-documented organization will tell you that this investment is well worth the improved data quality and long-term efficiencies around faster development and on-boarding as outlined above.

What’s more, there are new solutions that help make this process easier than ever. Spekit, for example, is uniquely designed as a hybrid between a Salesforce wiki and data dictionary that meets the documentation needs of your technical and non-technical employees alike. It comes with a Chrome Extension that lets all users access your documentation directly in their workflow without ever leaving their browser. The best part: We have a free tier that you can use to create beautifully enriched help text for Salesforce, starting today. Click here to learn more about how Spekit can bring sanity to your Salesforce

*Survey conducted in October 2017 by Spekit