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Previously, we explored how SaaS companies use projects to account for parts of their sales cycle that standard Salesforce lacks. Offerings like free trials, evaluation periods, partial installations, freemium pricing, and other models can all use projects to track these periods where the sale is partially complete. Taking this one step further, this week we will cover how to use evaluation periods to track post-project engagements.

The Use Case

Time to Evaluate

After performing an installation, many SaaS companies allow their clients to trial their products before committing to a full contract. Whether this is through a free trial or another pricing method, this sales strategy creates a sort of “limbo period,” where the Opportunity sits dormant until the client is ready to talk about signing a contract. With out-of-the-box Salesforce functionality, sales reps manually track this evaluation period. Then, they must re-engage with the client when the trial period expires.

You can do this with the Opportunity Trend Report, which shows how long an Opportunity spends at specific stages. By creating a stage called “Evaluation Period,” this report will show each Opportunity and the current time spent in evaluation. However, this method does not let you trigger actions when evaluation periods expire. All you can do is visualize the Opportunities that are on this stage.

At Ntegro, we’ve found a better way to do this using a few custom fields and the process builder. By tracking the time elapsed during the evaluation period, we can trigger actions automatically when certain milestones are hit. This option allows us much more flexibility for how we handle the next steps once an evaluation period finishes. It can also be automated to minimize manual involvement.

How To Set It Up

Checklist

Basic Administration

In order to track evaluation periods on an Opportunity, we first have to create an Evaluation Period stage on the Opportunity. This stage will occur after the installation project, and will be used to indicate that the customer is evaluating the software on a trial basis.

After creating this stage, we will then create three custom fields to track the time spent in the Evaluation Period stage:

    • Date In Evaluation – This field is a date field that populates when the Opportunity enters the Evaluation Period stage.
    • Date Out Of Evaluation – This field is a date field that populates when the Opportunity exits the Evaluation Period stage.
  • Days In Evaluation – This field subtracts the two above fields to determine how long the Opportunity was in the Evaluation Period stage. If the Date Out Of Evaluation field is not populated yet, it uses the TODAY() function to display the current amount of time in evaluation, updated daily.
    Time in eval formula

For each of these fields, you can choose to use a date/time format if you’d like to understand the time in evaluation at an hourly level.

Process Builder

In order to populate the Date In Evaluation and Date Out Of Evaluation fields, we use the Process Builder. 

Process Builder High Level

This process will:

    • Run when someone edits or creates an Opportunity
    • Determine if the Opportunity stage is changed to Evaluation Period
      Criteria for triggering Date In population

      • Update the Date In Evaluation field
        Update date in
  • Determine if the Opportunity stage is changed from Evaluation Period to another stage
    Criteria for triggering date out population

    • Update the Date Out Of EvaluationUpdate date out

Additional Possibilities

In addition to the above process, you can customize actions to kick off during or after the Evaluation Period stage. 

    • The classic example of this is sending an email to the Sales Operations team when the Evaluation Period ends. You can tell them to disable the customer account so that they are nudged to make the purchase. 
    • Some other examples of actions are creating notifications, sending emails, creating tasks, or updating the opportunity. Whichever actions you choose, you can automate them for when the Evaluation Period ends. This allows sales reps to manage software trials without manual time tracking.
    • You can also create a text image formula to highlight the status of the evaluation period as it progresses. For example, if the period is three months, you can set the status to Green for the first two months, Orange for the next three weeks, and Red right before the evaluation completes if a sales rep should reach out to the customer. 
  • Additionally, if you’d like to create a fourth field to keep a running total of the time spend in the Evaluation Period stage in case the Opportunity exits and enters the stage multiple times, you can do this as well with another Process Builder configuration.

Want To Set This Up?

Ntegro logo

If you’d like help setting up the above process, Ntegro is happy to chip in. Just get in touch with us online to let us know what you need, and we can fill you in on the details. We specialize in different automations, and we can assist you with whatever you may need for your business. If you are a SaaS company, be sure to check out our other resources on our blog or send us a message!