Salesforce: Opportunity Record - dummies

By Tom Wong, Liz Kao, Matt Kaufman

An opportunity record in Salesforce is the collection of fields that make up the information on a deal you’re tracking. The record has only two modes: In Edit mode, you modify fields; in View mode, you view the fields and the opportunity’s related lists.

An opportunity record comes preconfigured with several standard fields. Most of these fields are self-explanatory, but be sure to pay attention to these critical ones:

  • Amount: This field displays the intended, best-guess amount of the sale. Depending on the way your company calculates the pipeline report, you might use numbers that include total contract value, the bookings amount, and so on.

  • Close Date: Use this required field for your best guess as to when you’ll close this deal. Depending on your company’s sales process, the close date has different definitions, but this field is commonly used to track the date that you signed all the paperwork required to book the sale.

  • Expected Revenue: This read-only field is automatically generated by multiplying the Amount field by the Probability field.

  • Forecast Category: This field is typically hidden, but every opportunity automatically includes a value. Each sales stage within the Stage drop-down list corresponds to a default forecast category so that higher-probability opportunities contribute to your overall forecast after they reach certain stages.

  • Opportunity Owner: This person in your organization owns the opportunity. Although an opportunity record has only one owner, many users can still collaborate on an opportunity.

  • Opportunity Name: This required text field represents the name of the specific deal as you want it to appear on your list of opportunities or on a pipeline report.

    When naming opportunities, you and your company should define a standard naming convention for the Opportunity Name field so that you can easily search for and distinguish opportunities from a list. Try to make the opportunity name start with the account name, then a hyphen, and then the name of the customer’s project or the product of primary interest. This naming convention makes for readable reports later.

  • Private: If you want to keep an opportunity private, select this check box to render the record accessible to only you, your bosses, and the system administrator. This field isn’t available in Team Edition.

  • Probability: The probability is the confidence factor associated with the likelihood that you’ll win the opportunity. Each sales stage that your company defines is associated with a default probability to close. Typically, you don’t need to edit this field; it gets assigned automatically by the Stage option that you pick. In fact, your administrator might remove write access from this field altogether.

  • Stage: This required field allows you to track your opportunities, following your company’s established sales process. Salesforce provides a set of standard drop-down list values common to solution selling, but your system administrator can modify these values.

  • Type: Use this drop-down list to differentiate the types of opportunities that you want to track. Most customers use the Type drop-down list to measure new versus existing business and products versus services, but your system administrator can modify it to measure other important or more specific deal types, such as add-ons, upsells, work orders, and so on.

When customizing your opportunity fields, take into consideration the patience and attention span of your end users. Keep the record as simple as possible to ensure that all your important fields actually get filled in.

If you add many fields, you might make the opportunity record harder to use, which then puts user adoption of Salesforce at risk. At the same time, you’ll have greater success with opportunities when you can easily capture what you want to track.