You're sure that there must be ways to leverage your investment to have a cleaner, more streamlined quarter close. But what are they, and how do you use them?
Your business has started using Salesforce, and you've spent the last three months or so taking advantage of its lead and opportunity tracking, improved customer service and experience features, and streamlined communication support.
Now you're coming up on the end of the first quarter since you started with the system, and it suddenly occurs to you that you're not sure how to make the most of this powerful CRM for quarter closing. You're sure that there must be ways to leverage your investment to have a cleaner, more streamlined quarter close. But what are they, and how do you use them?
Sales and customer relationship management are activities that touch nearly every aspect of your business, so it stands to reason simplifying the reconciliation of these closing elements is a bonus. Salesforce, of course, is fantastic for managing customer relationships and tracking and reporting on sales. Still, one of its most significant benefits is its ability to connect to many of your other core business systems. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, and those connections are precisely what you need to improve your quarter closing activities.
To get the most out of Salesforce at the end of the quarter (or even the year), there are three steps that you'll want to make sure you are taking with your CRM.
Truing up the information between accounting and Salesforce for a successful quarter closing requires data consistency. It's easy to misattribute a sale or lose visibility of a deal if a customer is recorded under one name in one system and a slightly different one in another.
The key is to choose which will be the system of record and go from there. It might be easy to immediately select your accounting platform since you're new to Salesforce and the accounting platform has likely been in place longer. But that might not be the right choice.
Because of Salesforce's ability to connect to a growing number of data sources, platforms, and applications across the business, using it as your source of truth might make more sense. This would allow your customer data to be consistent across the whole organization. That doesn't mean that you can't seed Salesforce with the accounting data and adopt your financial platform's naming and tagging conventions. It does mean that, as time goes on, you'll look to Salesforce to store and push out critical customer information and not your accounting package.
Activity can happen fast at the end of the month and especially at the end of the quarter. Sales teams are working hard to close deals and make or exceed their numbers. So it can be easy for sales data and invoicing to get lost in the shuffle. This can slow down your ability to close out the books or, worse, cause amended and edited reporting.
Salesforce reporting can be an invaluable source for the identification and reconciliation of sales data for accounting. High-level numbers can be easily viewed in a sales dashboard, down to individual regions and sales teams.
Detailed data can also be surfaced through the reporting functionality in the Salesforce platform, allowing the finance team to see specific sales amounts, customers, and dates. Forecasting the probability of sales closing by the end of the quarter can help teams wrap their arms around the anticipated volume of sales, invoicing, and revenue data that will need to be recorded and reported on as part of quarter-end.
Rebate programs and sales team incentives can challenge the finance team at the end of a quarter. Not only are accounting teams busy gathering and validating important financials for reporting purposes, but channel partners and sales team members will be expecting checks as soon as possible.
But those incentives must be accurate to remain valuable and maintain credibility with partners. More importantly, they need to remain accurate to protect profitability. An Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) survey found that "incentive abuse may affect up to 25% of all channel sales and result in significant lost profits". Management is vital to prevent mistakes and fraud.
While Salesforce offers tools for rebate management, commission tracking doesn't happen out of the box. Yet, the platform can still be leveraged to identify, verify, and attribute sales during quarter closing. With some custom development, however, Salesforce can help you identify and manage commissions and sales incentives, as well.
While Salesforce helps with accuracy and reporting for each step, it can still be a time-consuming, manual process. However, integrations and automated data validation scripts can alleviate the burden of keeping data consistent while also eliminating the opportunity for errors.
Connecting Salesforce to your accounting platform does more than just provide a path to sales data validation for closing. For instance, Salesforce users can get a better, role-based view of important information like accounts receivable data, customer communication, and customer service interactions that can inform credits, refunds, and so forth. This supports the business by sharing the responsibility for receivables with sales team members and improving customer experience.
Salesforce can be a powerful tool when it comes to closing the books quickly and accurately. But it can provide even more value when integrated with accounting systems, ERPs, and so forth. You don't even need to do the schema mapping and planning yourself. A trusted and experienced Salesforce partner, like Six Consulting, can help you identify the most efficient and scalable means of sharing data between systems and implement validation script and platform integrations.
Interested in learning more about how Salesforce can help you streamline your monthly, quarterly, and even yearly closings? Six Consulting can help. Contact us about our Salesforce implementation, integration, data architecture, and application development services.
“Incentive abuse may affect up to 25% of all channel sales and result in significant lost profits.”
it can still be a time-consuming, manual process.
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