If you are an university or community college looking to setup salesforce for the first time to track your recruitment or enrollment process, this blog will help you to make key decisions on the 4 most critical things which you need to consider before you start implementing anything on salesforce. If these factors are not considered, it will become very costly to make changes later after your recruitment users have started using salesforce. Since salesforce is an easy point and click tool, it is too tempting to start creating fields and changing page layouts without thinking through these factors. Here is the list of factors which are listed below.
Things to consider for the first time.
1 . Decision on using Leads or contacts for prospective students.
If you are new to CRM, the concept of lead in salesforce is always confusing and most of the educational institutions can relate to contacts easily as they deal with donors and students who work for companies. So to make it easy, here are things you can do
a. Your prospective students who register on your website for a course should be stored as leads. Salesforce web to lead feature helps easily to integrate your webforms with salesforce and store the prospective students as leads.
b. Once your recruitment counselors or advisors talk to the student and if there is a real interest on the student, you can convert the lead to account and contact. Registered students should be stored as contacts in salesforce.
c. Another thing to consider is to use an automatic lead conversion where we have a solution which would convert leads to accounts and contacts automatically as soon as the lead is created in salesforce. This can work great if you do not want to deal with the hassle of duplicate leads and contacts and you want to deal with contacts only.
Decide how you would store individual students and students who work for a company
Salesforce is a great tool for B2B companies and the standard objects like accounts, contacts would easily work for you. But for individual students who do not work for any company, you have the following choices to store them.
a. Person accounts can be a solution to store individual students and contacts. However you need to be aware that person accounts have some limitations on displaying prefixes and suffixes and tend to occupy more space.
b. Non profit starter pack can be a good solution for this which will allow to store individual and students who work for companies cleanly.
c. Some universities make the mistake of creating one account for individual students and create contacts under the same individual account. This is called the bucket model and will not be scalable when you create reports which can only display upto a limited number of contacts.
- Storing programs and course information
This is another important decision on how to store programs and courses and how you want to link it to the students. Here are are some options to consider for this.
a. If you are only using undergraduate or graduate programs in your university, using a custom object to store programs would be an ideal choice. This would allow to store additional fields like course start date, end date, fees . This would also help in synchronizing with your student information system like ancor or banner where you can easily update programs with ids in both systems.
b. Using picklists on contact or lead object might appear as an easy solution to track program level information but it is not scalable and does not allow you to add additional fields .
c. If you want to track courses for each program or if you are a division of continuing education, then creating a custom object to store courses would be an ideal choice.
d. If you want to track courses which your students actually register, opportunities might be an ideal choice to track it. Using opportunities helps to track ROI on campaigns and also help to generate pipeline reports which would help you to project future potential revenue for upcoming quarters easily.
Security is an important aspect of salesforce and deciding what type of user can view what type of data and how the hierarchy should work should be decided in the initial stages. Here are some things to decide initially.
a. Decide what types of users would use the system like marketing specialists, recruitment advisors etc and also decide whether all the fields for student, course should be seen by all. If there is a rule that certain fields of student or course cannot be made visible to the certain types of users, then leverage the organization wide default security settings to enforce security.
b. If you have multiple departments and different role hierarchies in the organization , role hierarchy is a feature to implement and it should reflect your organization chart. This has to be setup right otherwise it would lead to issues in running reports where certain records may not be visible to all users.
4. Marketing preferences and campaigns
For a student to register for a course , there are multiple people who influence the student decision and it is important to track all the sources which influence the student to make the decision. Here are some key points to consider.
a. When a student registers online from your website, the lead source from which the student registers can be a facebook ad, google adword or any other channel. This has to be tracked as a lead source or contact source which should never be changed during his lifecycle.
b. When the same student registers for multiple courses, the actual source which made the student to register like his boss, parent, referral should be tracked and it should be tagged under the registered course which can be an opportunity.
c. For storing student email, fax and office preference, it is important to keep audit information and so related custom objects which are linked to the contact with date and note fields would help to store them.
The points which i listed above would really help you to save valuable time later and decide the right approach on your salesforce org. Please feel free to post your comments on your thoughts and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions. I will be covering data and integration as a second part of the blog series.