6 Rules for creating more efficiency, clarity, and speed with status optimization in Salesforce
Why talk about statuses?
Statuses are at the heart of any system or process in your business, including Salesforce.
The gas gauge on your car is a simple example of a status. You know what the gauge represents (amount of fuel in your tank), and the feedback is linear so that you can determine when you need to do something (get gas).
Imagine if your gas gauge "statuses" were:
“Change the oil >> 0 >> Take Ashton to Soccer >> Full”
That would be crazy, right? Yet this is how many statuses look in Salesforce and other systems, especially for firms who have had Salesforce for a long time and have done a lot of customizing.
For recruiting/staffing firms who use Salesforce there are generally four critical statuses:
Opportunity/New Client Status
If you create these with clarity you will have great insight into your business on both a strategic and tactical level. If not, you are flying blind. Not good!
The 6 Rules
Creating useful statuses is an art, but here are six rules that will help guide your process:
#1: Pay attention to water cooler talk
I firmly believe that statuses should reflect the words your team uses to describe where they are at with business. If everyone in the company calls a client interview an “Interview”, then your system better not call it a “Send Out.” That’s just confusing.
Another example that we find all of the time is a “Water Cooler Talk” type of status that isn’t represented. You know what I am talking about.
Example: Most firms have a process where a recruiter sends a candidate’s resume and write-up to the Account Manager for review before it is submitted to the client. Sometimes the Account Manager doesn’t end up submitting the candidate to the client, or they take a day or two to do it (not good!). In either case, it’s a step in the process that happens and everyone is curious about, but many times it is only talked about verbally. This is especially important to track if you have a recruiter who doesn’t do much curating and account managers are left having to sift through a bunch of unqualified submittals. I’ve seen it happen and it can have a major impact on both team performance and morale.
#2: Create a Path
As mentioned earlier, creating a linear set of statuses is critical. Statuses should represent steps in a process or way-points along a process.
Sales and recruiting are hard jobs. Creating a path to walk down is so helpful.
How do you do this? Here are a couple ideas:
Write out a story: One thing you can do is write out the story of your last placement from start to finish. This will allow you to identify what steps the team had to take to get from start to finish.
Start with the end in mind: You can drive statuses down into the organization from a reporting perspective. If you as a manager really want to track your interview to placement ratio, you better have statuses that represent those steps.
Look for spreadsheets: If there are spreadsheets your team is using to track opportunities, jobs, or candidates you know there are missing statuses in Salesforce. On the other hand, these spreadsheets can guide you to document your actual process. In turn, you can then update Salesforce to reflect the actual process.
#3: Identify enduring data vs. steps in a process
This is a big one. Statuses should represent action and movement. They should not represent things that don’t change.
Example: Alumni status. Many of my clients want to easily track which candidates have worked with their firm in the past. Unfortunately, determining who is an alumnus gets a lot harder when you put “Alumni” in the candidate status.
If your candidate statuses are “New >> Phone Interview >> Ready to Place >> Hired >> Alumni” you will not be able to bring alumni back to a “Ready to Place” status without losing their alumni status.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to alumni status. There are many examples of this. Take a look and I bet you will be able to identify a few in your system.
#4: Create release valves
It would be awesome if you could place a consultant in every job you ever worked. Unfortunately, no one I know has a 100% win ratio. Because that is true, you need to create release valves in your status to help create clarity about a process that didn’t end successfully.
Most status sets I see have this already, but I wanted to mention it for those who are designing a new set of statuses.
Example from a sale opportunity:
Qualifying >> Needs Analysis >> Contract Negotiation >> Closed Won >> Closed Lost
The main thing I try to keep in mind about this part of the process is statuses should represent the current state of being. If you don’t win the business, you need a way to notate that it is no longer in flight. You get it. I just had to say it!
#5: Grammar matters
My wife got a 36 (perfect score) on her ACT in English. I am not saying that to brag (although I do think she is super smart), but to say that she does not tolerate poor grammar in our household. Grammar is important in our family.
Grammar is also important when creating statuses. Specifically, verb tense matters.
There is a big difference between Phone Screening and Phone Screened. One denotes a completed phone screen, the other one could mean almost anything related to the phone screen, from it being scheduled to it being complete.
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong when it comes to tenses, just be aware of them and their influence on how people are going to interpret what they mean.
#6: Eliminate or sync overlapping statuses
The last thing I would keep in mind as you analyze your statuses is overlapping. Let’s use the candidate statuses that I mentioned earlier and add one to illustrate this point:
“New >> Phone Interview >> Ready to Place >> Actively Looking >> Hired >> Alumni”
So what’s wrong with this? Well, nothing in some ways. It’s important to know whether a candidate is actively looking to move to a new job. However, as we look at these statuses we can see that a candidate can both be actively looking and be in any of the other statuses. They could easily be actively looking and ready to place at the same time, or really any of the other status combinations.
In these cases you will want to create another way to track that data. For this specific example you could create a checkbox called “Actively Looking.” (as one of many options if you are using Salesforce).
Another example of overlapping statuses is multi-tiered overlapping statuses. This happens when there are multiple statuses/sub-statuses on one or many objects that have to stay in sync with each other in order for the data to make sense. It takes some really clear thinking to work through this one. In this case my advice to list out all of your statuses across on one spreadsheet or whiteboard side by side to identify dependencies and overlap. Then go through a process of eliminating unnecessary statuses and automating any statuses that need to be in sync. One quick example: We have built automations (with process builders) to move jobs to “Closed” when the candidate’s application moves to “Hired.” This not only saves time and effort, but it also ensures that data stays aligned and up to date when you do need statuses in multiple objects to coordinate.
Why don’t you marry statuses?
My kids were bantering back and forth last night and one of them said they really liked something, to which another one quipped, “Well then why don’t you marry it!” My wife and I had a good laugh because that joke has been around for forever. Some things don’t change.
My clients and teammates all know that I am passionate about statuses. That sounds really nerdy, but it’s true. Maybe I should take my kids’ advice and marry statuses (don’t tell my wife!).
Statuses have the power to give critical business insight to the c-level, give managers the tools they need to coach and lead their teams, and enable sales/recruiting to keep moving forward toward their goals with clarity. Something I haven’t even mentioned is the effect they have on marketing efforts, but maybe I will write about that in another article.
Suffice it to say, statuses are a linchpin in your company, and spending some time getting them right always yields a harvest.