Salesforce Text Fields
What’s the purpose of having Salesforce Text fields if you can’t report against them? Well, you can put the field in the report, but based on the size and comments of the user it will blow out the row size. This is the same on a page layout when using 2 columns. Have you ever tried searching for data inside of a text field? Nearly impossible. I mean, the first name and last name are text fields but this is not what we are referring too.
Operational text fields like Next Step or Description are standard text fields provided by Salesforce or Custom Text fields you create within your business process. Here are some Salesforce text field options:
- Text, allows users to enter any combination of letters and numbers up to 254 characters.
- Text Area, allows users to enter up to 255 characters on separate lines.
- Text Area (Long), allows users to enter up to 131,072 characters on separate lines.
- Text Area (Rich), allow users to enter formatted text, add images and links up to 131,072 characters on separate lines.
- Text (encrypted), allows users to enter any combination of letters and numbers and store them in encrypted format.
It is important to see the value inside of fields or design fields that generate analytics. This is one reason why we have Salesforce–to drive business intelligence through data entry to make better business decisions. Whenever possible we promote other than text fields like, picklists or checkboxes, but in doing so you must have pre-defined values for that business process. This is always the goal. Even some picklist fields will have an “Other” value then followed by a validation rule to complete a text field of what “Other” means.
The fact is you can’t get around using text fields. Another option is Notes & Attachments or even creating Task based on what the business driver is. Experience tells me Notes & Attachments is the least favorite of the user and Task should remain just that–a reportable action and not notes on a page. Both of these actions will drive the user down page off of the details section away from the action. Users want to keep looking at the details not down.
Rich Text and Encrypted are very nice options especially if you’re trying to capture images, formatting options which you may merge into a document or email. Encryption is vital for sensitive information when processing financial or personal identifiable information (PII).
Next Step is a standard field on the Opportunity that is heavily under-utilized within a sales process. However, not being able to analyze next steps across a team through a sales process, it is difficult to identify what is working to push the sale through the process. I often see a second Salesforce text field that allows the user to write in a note about the report or what they did against that record.
The problem within text fields is that it creates journal entries or a running log of information that is hard to digest.
These entries typically look like this:
5/6: FDR left v/m
5/5: FDR spoke with prospect and scheduled demo
5/1: FDR sent email to confirm and request more information
The user has to date stamp it and initial it and unless you have tight security controls this allows for anyone to update the fields (which is another topic, on security and governance.) Journal entries like this example are widespread in organization.
We’ve tried to help correct this behavior by designing a solution called Notes Plus to utilize Salesforce text fields better. This is how we do it across the five core objects (Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Cases and Opportunities)
You can keep the text fields (up to 255 characters) on the page and within your business process as you normally do. We are restricted by Salesforce within our code above 255 so that’s the limit as of today. When a user writes into the field they only need to put the note or next step, there’s no need for a date stamp or initials. We leverage standard Salesforce functionality to capture this information and keep security intact.
When a user needs to update any text field that has been configured for tracking inside of Notes Plus, they just edit the page, go to the text field in question, remove the entry and type in the new entry. Notes Plus will then write the old value and new value to a historical object displayed as a related list, and on the detail page we will always show the last note.
Notes Plus will itemize your text fields into single entries and always display the very last entry on the detail page, allowing the user to stay focused on the details. We’ve provided a View Notes Plus printable view that when selected will render all the notes from the page. This is good for coaching and monitoring activity of notes through a business process as a record changes status or stages.
We’ve also created basic list views so users can see their record list with the very last notes important to conduct their call out (Company or Account Notes, Rep Notes and Next Steps). This is all configurable based on what you need to see.
Likewise, you have standard reporting which flows into a dashboard. Here is a great coaching opportunity for managers and a competitive view for team activities. Providing Summary reports that show record owner by object and the last notes updated on a daily or weekly bases. Here you can see where users are spending their time.
Salesforce text fields for exclusion reporting. Now you can run exclusion reports on Notes Plus trackable fields when they haven’t been updated in “X” days. Exclusion reporting is difficult by default within Salesforce and text fields are hard to report against already. But now you have the ability to do both.
Lastly is Lead Conversion. As of today you can’t convert a text field into the Opportunity Next Step. We’ve corrected this behavior and now fields like Company Notes can convert over to Account Notes, Lead Rep Notes will convert to Contact Rep Notes and Lead Next Steps will convert to Opportunity Next Steps. Lead Conversion is manually setup and these are just suggested conversion mapping ideas. Account Notes is special because we created additional formula fields upon Lead Conversion that send the Account Notes field to the Contact, Case and Opportunity. By doing this we allow the Sales person working the opportunity or the Support rep working the case and anyone looking at a contact to always see the Account Notes (read only on secondary objects) to understand the temperature of the account before interacting with the prospect or client.
You can schedule a demo of Notes Plus or a free implementation of the code inside of your Sandbox. Start taking better notes today with Notes Plus for Salesforce and enhance your utilization of Salesforce text fields.