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Sales Ops Anti-Patterns

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

An anti-pattern is a common but ineffective and/or counterproductive way to try to solve a problem.

Here are two anti-patterns that I keep seeing for Salesforce users:

  • Automating an ineffective process

  • Creating more than one source of truth.

These occur when trying to improve sales forecasts.

Typically, businesses use a “classification forecast” where each deal gets classified as Commit, Best Case, and so on. The won + Commit are a conservative forecast. Add the Best Case for an optimistic outlook. This is the way sales forecasts have been done for years. Classification forecasts are great for aligning resources and setting priorities. But they are not accurate early in the quarter.

In their quest for more accurate and earlier forecasts, businesses often have each level of the sales hierarchy submit their own made-up figure that may be different from the sum of their underlying deals. Firms commonly introduce another system—spreadsheets or a forecast rollup application—to address this need.

Why you shouldn’t do this

1.) Classification forecasts are typically inaccurate until the last weeks of the quarter. (We've looked at this in detail over many businesses and quarters.) If you want earlier visibility, with this method you are out of luck. Hierarchical opinions add complexity without addressing the problem. If you want good forecasts earlier, the classification forecast process is ineffective, layers of opinions and automation don't help.

2.) Spreadsheets and rollup applications create multiple divergent views of the same data. Which application is right? Salesforce or the rollup tool? At what level of rollup? Organizations spend countless hours inputting data and reconciling differences. Having multiple sources of truth is enormously counterproductive.

Ineffective, counterproductive; you’ve got anti-patterns.

What you should do

Use classification forecasts to align resources and set priorities. They are great for that. Stick to one source of truth. Don’t waste time automating an ineffective process. Get a forecasting process that works. I know a pretty good vendor for that if you’re interested.

And one more anti-pattern

Paying for the same thing more than once.

Businesses often adopt redundant capabilities without realizing that they already have what they need. Sales forecast entry and rollup tools are a great example.

Common (and incorrect) complaints about Salesforce are:

  • Updating forecasts is cumbersome. Users must repeatedly open and edit each opportunity, losing context with each change.

  • It does not support multi-level adjusted rollups. Each level of the sales hierarchy needs to submit their own figure that may be different from the sum of the underlying deals.

Not true!

Salesforce supports in-line spreadsheet-like editing of lists. I'll admit it is annoying that some fields are uneditable in list view. But there are workarounds for this and there is a popup detail screen that allows you to edit without losing context.

And Salesforce has a very nice collaborative forecasting module (available in the Professional edition and up). If you want hierarchical opinionated rollups, go for it. But you’re already paying for that. Use Salesforce.


An outstanding quick setup tutorial, by Emily Call (recommended).

A Salesforce tutorial on collaborative sales forecasting (see chapter 5 for set up instructions).

Tutorial on setting up inline editing, by Emily Call.

More Salesforce anti-patterns, by ApexHours.

More Salesforce anti-patterns, by SaaSGuru.

Tired of anti-patterns? Check out our Salesforce Best Practices.

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