Discovering Products and Price Books in Salesforce

By Liz Kao, Jon Paz

Depending on your goals for Salesforce, you may not need to immediately incorporate Salesforce’s product-type features into your opportunities. But if you sell multiple products and services and you struggle with product-level visibility, Salesforce provides powerful and easy tools to implement solutions for users of Professional, Enterprise, or Unlimited Edition.

Using products in Salesforce benefits sales reps and people in product marketing, management, and development throughout your organization. Sales reps can quickly locate the price of a product and select products to calculate an opportunity’s amount. Marketing, management, or development professionals can get vital sales information to support strategic business planning, new product development, and product life cycle management.

You need to know two key and interrelated terms before you can begin planning your product strategy in Salesforce:

  • Products: Individual items that you sell through your opportunities. All products belong to one universal product catalog. After you create a product, though, you can associate it with one or multiple price books with identical or different prices. For example, you may use multiple price books if you use one set of prices when selling to qualified nonprofit agencies and a different set of prices when selling to companies in the private sector. A product can have an associated schedule based on quantity, revenue, or both. If you sell products and break out schedules to forecast revenue recognition or for planning, you can use Salesforce to reflect important schedules for products linked to opportunities.

To access the Products home page, click the Products tab. If you can’t see that, confirm that the Force.com drop-down list in the upper-right corner of the screen is set to Sales (versus something like Call Center). If you still don’t see it, check with your system administrator.

  • Price book: A collection of products and their associated prices. A product with its associated price is a price book entry. You can also create custom price books based on your unique sales model. You can associate a price book, add products, and build schedules on an opportunity through the Products related list on an Opportunity detail page.

Defining standard product fields

A product record consists of a number of fields that you use to capture information about a product you sell. If you’re involved in shaping products for your company, most of the standard fields are obvious. If you want specific definitions, click the Help link in the upper-right corner of Salesforce.

Here are some important pointers on understanding the standard product record fields:

  • Product Name: The name of your product. Make sure to use titles that are clear and familiar to your sales reps and customers.
  • Product Code: An internal code or product ID used to identify your product. If your existing products and product codes reside in a financial database and you want to plan for integration, make sure that the product codes are consistent.
  • Product Description: Text to distinguish products from each other. If you’re in product management or marketing, describe your products so that they’re obvious and useful for your sales teams.
  • Product Family: The category of the product. Use this drop-down list when building reports that reflect sales data by product category. For example, if you work for a technology value-added reseller (VAR), you may want to reflect your pipeline by families that include hardware, software, services, training, and maintenance. You can set up products in Salesforce so that each product automatically maps to a product family.
  • Active: This check box must be selected to make the product available to your users.
  • Quantity Scheduling Enabled: Select this check box to enable quantity scheduling for a product. If you don’t see this check box, your administrator hasn’t enabled it.
  • Revenue Scheduling Enabled: Select this check box to enable revenue scheduling for a product. If you don’t see this check box, your administrator hasn’t enabled it.

Understanding the different types of pricing

Salesforce allows you to customize your pricing based on the way you sell. If you use products in Salesforce, your company has three different options for pricing:

  • Standard Prices: Default prices that you establish for your products when you set up your standard price book.
  • List Prices: Prices that you set up for custom price books.
  • Sales Price: Price of a product determined by the sales rep when he adds a product to an opportunity.

You’ll hear the terms products and opportunity products referenced when you start using Salesforce products and price books. What’s the difference? Products are the base level things that your company sells. Products can be assigned to various price books and given different list prices within those price books. Opportunity products are the specific products (and prices) that are associated with a specific opportunity. Opportunity products should reflect the negotiated price and conditions for that specific opportunity.