Archive for October, 2011

Finding neglected contacts in your salesforce database

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Keywords: salesforce.com, search, find, filter, contact filtering, lead filtering, exception search

Would you like to know the people in your salesforce.com database who haven’t been contacted in a while? Particularly the ones who have given you repeat business? Sales managers know that it’s a lot easier to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones, so it’s critical to maintain and nurture customer relationships. One way to ensure this is to periodically find such “neglected” contacts, make sure to call or reach out to them and keep them aware of your product or service.

From the technical perspective, finding such contact records amounts to retrieving those records for which there are no related tasks or events in the recent past, where “recent” might mean “the last two months” or “the last year” depending on your business. Unfortunately, with the search tools available within salesforce.com, it is not very easy to find such contact records. One of our clients asked us precisely this question: Can we use Apsona for Salesforce to find these contact records?

Fortunately, the answer is yes, we can. Apsona includes the ability to filter your data records in many ways. In particular, you can create a filter (i.e., a set of search criteria) on an object, and then apply that filter to restrict the data on a related object. In this example, we can:

Finding neglected contacts (3 min 50 sec)

  • create a filter on the Task object, one that retrieves recent tasks that have been completed; and
  • apply the negation of that filter on the Contact object, i.e., asking for Contacts that have no such related tasks.

View the video on the right to get a more detailed perspective on how this is done.

With Apsona, you can use this technique with any object that has associated tasks or events. For instance, you might want to find Opportunities, Leads or Accounts that have had no recent activities. You can also use this technique to find Contacts or Leads that have not been part of any of your campaigns, or those that have been excluded from specific campaigns that you choose.

We think Apsona’s search and filtering is one if its most powerful features. And we’d love to get your feedback on it. Please try it out—visit our AppExchange listing, install it and use our free 30-day trial. Please let us know what you think.

Easier searching and filtering of salesforce.com data

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Keywords: salesforce.com, search, find, filter, cross-object search, exception search

The feature set that salesforce.com provides is both rich and deep. It lets you maintain all kinds of data in your database, ranging from contacts and accounts to customers, invoices, projects, and any other custom data objects your business requires. It also lets you customize your application inĀ  a myriad different directions.


Searching: a short intro (2 m 30 s)

Apsona for Salesforce adds a layer to salesforce.com to make it easy to search your data in multiple ways, and very quickly find the data records you want. It includes many searching and filtering functions that make salesforce.com much easier to use, but are not available within the native salesforce.com interface (view the video at right for a quick overview):

  • Cross-object search: You can filter the data records for one object based on records in a related object. For example, when searching for Account records, you can use fields from related objects such as Opportunities, Contacts, and Assets to refine your search results. In fact, you can combine fields from multiple related objects in the same search – for example, you can find Accounts that have both Contacts and Opportunities but no Assets.

  • Exception filtering
    (3 m 20 s)
    Exception search: As a special case of cross-object search, you can find records in one object that have no records in a related object. For example, you might want to find Accounts that have associated Contacts, or Leads that have no related Tasks – both examples of actionable information. This feature is one of the most widely-requested features on salesforce.com.
  • Sum and Count filtering: This feature enables you to filter by “aggregate” functions on related objects. For example, you can use this feature to find those Account records whose total Opportunity value is at least $100,000. Such a search is not currently possible within the native salesforce.com UI.
  • Respecting the field’s data type: When you choose a field on which to filter, Apsona for Salesforce automatically adjusts the allowed operations and values for the field. For example, if you choose a picklist field, Apsona for Salesforce shows the range of values allowed for the picklist, and lets you choose one. In contrast, within the salesforce.com UI, you have to remember and manually type in the picklist value you want too match. Similarly, if you choose a date field, Apsona for Salesforce shows you a menu containing filtering choices such as “today”, “tomorrow” and “yesterday”, as well as a date picker, making it much easier to specify dates.
  • Quantified searches: Suppose, for example, that you want to find those Account records which have related Contact records, but for which none of the related contacts have e-mail addresses. This is a fairly common use case – it arises, for example, when you want to quickly locate the Account records that have not been reached in any of your e-mail campaigns. This is an example of a quantified search, in which you impose a “none” or “all” quantifier on the data in the related (Contact) record. Apsona for Salesforce enables you to perform such a search, but the native salesforce.com does not.
  • Saved searches: Having performed a search, you can save its terms as a named filter, e.g., Accounts with total Opportunity value > 200k. Such a saved filter is available in all the views of the object: tabular view, console view and calendar views. You can even re-use saved filters in “nested” filters, so that you can carry searches across objects that are not directly related. More details are available here.
  • Searching in-place: The search terms are shown in a panel that remains in place when the search results are displayed below. This feature, combined with the rapid Ajax UI, lets you quickly revise your search terms to hone in on the data you want, without losing context. By contrast, if you wanted to make a change to a search term in your salesforce.com view, you’d have to click “Edit view” to navigate to a different page, edit the view, and redraw the screen, requiring four clicks and three page refreshes.

Since Apsona for Salesforce is an AppExchange application, all of these features are available directly within your browser, viewing and filtering your salesforce.com data directly. And these features are available on all objects and fields, both native and custom.

Technology-wise, Apsona for Salesforce runs as a JavaScript application within your browser. It dynamically generates the SOQL query for each search request, sends it over to salesforce.com, and displays the returned results in your browser.

You can sign up for a free 30-day trial via our AppExchange listing. Our documentation area includes a lot more detail about the search capability.

Your feedback is very welcome.