Salesforce Standard Objects: Quick Guide for Salesforce Beginners
True to their name Salesforce is masterful . . . at selling their own product. Flashy commercials, demo videos, and mind-blowing case studies from real clients make the system incredibly desirable. However, for a new user – especially those of the self-taught variety – things look a little less intuitive when you first crack open the box.
Don’t worry! We’re here to help. This guide is a quick overview of the most essential Standard Objects in Salesforce. After reading this, you should be able to begin using out-of-the-box features and functionality, and start working your way towards being the next Salesforce success story.
For starters, what is a Standard Object?
A Standard Object is a type of record (like Leads or Cases) that comes with every Salesforce org. Keep in mind, there are a litany of different licenses and editions, and each one will have differences in the features that are unlocked. For the most part, any new Salesforce instance should have the objects described in this article.
Standard Objects also come with standard fields. These are just a few of the fields (such as Name and ID) that have to exist in order to have a record. In other words, you can’t have an Account in the system without giving it a name. Don’t worry about IDs – the system will make those for you.
While we can customize many of the details surround Standard Objects, we can’t delete the objects from the system and can’t delete those mandatory fields from them. We do have the ability to update labels and tabs (perhaps you want to call Accounts “Relationships”) as well as Picklists (for example, you might want to add a stage in your sales process called “Mail the Customer Swag”). Editing these items, as well as numerous User Interface customizations, can give your instance of Salesforce the look, feel, and ease-of-use that you’d love to have (and that you were promised in those demo videos!).
Goofy jokes aside, Salesforce is probably at its best when leveraging Standard Objects. The platform is incredibly powerful at managing customers, companies, sales opportunities, customer service cases, and communications. Understanding and utilizing Standard Objects will begin to unlock the features and automations built right into Salesforce and will set up future enhancements that your organization may want to make. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
Leads are the starting point for many customers in any Customer Relationship Management system. Leads are prospective customers, typically those who have not yet expressed their interest in doing business with us. They could be names purchased on a list, people met at a trade show, visitors to a website, raffle submissions, or countless other sources. Companies spend vast resources obtaining new leads. From there Business Development Teams, Marketing Departments, and Sales Teams work to identify and convert qualified leads into real business. At the point where a lead expresses interest in potentially doing business with the company, the are converted into an Account (business), Contact (person), and Opportunity (sales opportunity).
Accounts and Contacts
The best way to think about Accounts and Contacts are as companies and people. For example at Acme Productions, a sales rep may know the CFO Amy Smith, the Controller Bob Jones, and an Accountant Terry Johnson. Acme Productions would be an Account. Amy, Bob, and Terry would be Contacts. Those Contacts are directly linked with an Account, so the Account would also be a field on each Contact’s record. For example:
By connecting the Contacts with Accounts, we will see the related records and quickly and easily navigate between them. We can automate processes and pull in information from the Account to the Contact and vise versa. Any Salesforce user with access to Acme Productions can quickly see the list of associated Contacts.
Sales Opportunities are central to many features of Salesforce as a platform and to sales teams in the workplace. These refer to any job, project, sale, contract, or product that the salesperson has the chance (a.k.a. opportunity) to close, not just the ones that we successfully close. Like Contacts, Opportunities are directly tied to an Account. An Account can have multiple Opportunities, but not vice versa.
Opportunities have key information including Amount, Close Date, and Stage, as well as numerous custom fields specific to the company. As they move throughout the sales life cycle, they move from one stage to another, proceeding through stages like Prospecting to Quote to Negotiating to Closed Won or Closed Lost. Companies can add, remove and customize these stages to match their real-world business process. Salesforce has the capability to create different types of Opportunities (Opportunity Record Types) that display different fields, follow different stages, and use different automation.
Opportunities feed into other critical functionality such as forecasting. Opportunities can be constructed using Products and their associated Price Books (more below) that will roll up costs and quantities to populate pricing. All of this information can then be leveraged to build out a Quote. Many organizations frequently use the Opportunity in conjunction with Custom Objects as well, but as you can see the Opportunity object is central to many of the Standard Objects throughout Salesforce.
Products, Price Books, and QuotesThese three items are separate Standard Objects, but fit together nicely with Opportunities as described above. Products are items that may be sold with multiple Opportunities. It could be a tangible item like a Car or a Refrigerator. It could be a service like “one hour of consulting” or tax preparation. It could be a month’s subscription to a streaming service. Products can also be individual items (a can of soda) or bundles (a 24-pack of soda). The items can be attached to Opportunities to quickly add specific details.
Price Books work with Products to add pricing to the items. A company may use multiple Price Books for different circumstances. For example, pricing for widgets might regularly be less in Texas than New York City. One Price Book can be used for Texas (perhaps Southwest Price Book) and another for NYC (i.e. East Coast Price Book). This can be set up to intelligently add the product with the correct price based on the details in the Opportunity.
Quotes leverage this information as well as the fields on the Opportunity and associated Account to fill out a Quote Template for clients. New versions can be quickly produced to reflect negotiated discounts or changes to the Opportunity, making the salesperson’s life easy.
Once we’ve earned the customer’s business, then it’s time to immediately provide first class customer service. Customers can seek customer service many routes, most frequently via phone, email, and web form submission. Cases can be created manually, or automatically through Salesforce functions like Web-to-Case and Email-to-Case. Once the case is made, it can be assigned manually or automatically through assignment rules to an individual user or queue of users.
Cases can be associated with Accounts and Contacts (as well as Leads earlier in the process). Once again, the Salesforce Platform makes it easy to review current and past cases associated with an Account, Contact, or Case. Service team members can make updates to the case through Tasks/Activities.
Tasks & Activities
Tasks and Activities work hand and hand to catalog past and future interactions in the system. Tasks are typically used to identify something that needs to be done, with details surrounding the Task, who it is assigned to, and the due date. Activities provide documentation for items that were already done, like logging a phone call or an email. Tasks and Activities can be logged on several different objects (like Cases, Accounts, Leads, etc). By default, logs of Tasks and Activities are attached directly to the associated record, making it quick and easy to find past communications and upcoming items that need to be done.
Tasks can also be added to integrated calendars and provide reminders to the right user to stay on top of all of their critical assignments for the day. Managers can see what their team has on their plates, as well as tracking down team members who are getting behind. Tasks and activities can call reveal information as to where the team has been putting their effort. Are they working on the right types of clients, cases or opportunities?
Campaigns are a convenient way to put together a group of Leads or Contacts into a list. Campaigns are typically synonymous with Marketing Campaigns. This organization makes it easy to deliver consistent messaging to the right people at the right times. Campaigns can also be attributed to Account and Opportunity activity, so it’s possible to measure the success of a Campaign based on the results that it generated.
There are several other Standard Objects in Salesforce. However, the Objects in this article will give you a strong grasp of the key components to getting started with the most widely-used CRM Platform.