PCD Awards 2005

Category:  PCD Solutions 

Deployment State:  Concept, Prototype

PCD Solutions are intrinsic or embedded and exclusively focused on the business or organizational performance outcome in measurable ways.  For example, a PCD Solution that replaces the interface of an enterprise application such that (a) the frequency of data entry errors is reduced; (b) the frequency of incomplete information entered into the system is reduced; (c) the speed with which data is entered is substantially increased; and (d) the need for any form of learning in advance of doing is eliminated is performance-centered.  

Entry Title

Salesforce.com Interactive Coach

Submitted by:

Christensen/Roberts Solutions and Rocketools, Inc.

Contact Name:

Hal Christensen


Christensen/Roberts Solutions






8 Lunar Drive
Woodbridge, CT 06525





The Salesforce.com Interactive Coach is designed to be used by appropriate employees within companies that are evaluating and/or implementing Salesforce.com, the popular hosted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. It is designed specifically for small- to medium-sized businesses. These companies rarely have the resources to dedicate to configuring the software to the extent that it can and should be. Consequently, the reports that sales management produces with Salesforce.com have less value, since they are not likely to be tightly aligned with how the company runs its business.


In addition, smaller companies often do not have the resources to deliver adequate training for the sales representatives who will be providing the data on which the reports are based. The cost of training employees on a new CRM system has been estimated at from $500 to $1000 per employee, and often can reach $2000 per employee. Statistics suggest that training can amount to 20% of the total project budget.  Salesforce.com suggests that Administrators attend a five-day seminar in San Francisco. Small companies often cannot afford to make those investments in money or time.


Misalignment between the process and the application and the inefficiency of poorly prepared users have been the major reasons why well over half of all CRM implementations have failed to achieve the anticipated results. The goals of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach are to reduce the time and cost associated with

·          Configuring and optimizing the application to best meet the company’s need.

·          Preparing users to complete their tasks within the application.

·          Reducing or eliminating costly and time-draining errors.



How would you classify your PCD Solution?  Check one:

Traditional EPSS - external or extrinsic "EPSS" solutions with designs rooted primarily in learning or reference

Performance-centered workflow solution - any PCD solution with a focus on directly supporting business processes (aka workflow)

PCD makeover - solutions that replace existing user interfaces with ones that exhibit attribute and behaviors of performance-centered systems

Embedded/ intrinsic PCD solution - performer-centered solutions that are strictly embedded in the task context and focus on task completion - not learning - without breaking the task context or flow

PCD featuring innovative technology - any performance-centered solution that features technology other than just a user interface to enable or enhance performance

Other category (describe): 



The Salesforce.com Interactive Coach broad objective is to improve ROI and more specifically:

  • Greatly shorten the time and financial effort required to thoroughly test and evaluate Salesforce.com to determine whether or not to employ it as a CRM solution. This is accomplished by simplifying the procedures for configuring the application to match the way the company does business and making it easier for core users to get up and running on the application’s use. Only when a company’s own processes and data are in the application can it be evaluated for the benefits it will bring to the company.
  • Greatly increase the value of the application for subscribing customers by making it clearer and easier to configure and optimize Salesforce.com for the company’s unique needs.
  • Greatly reduce the time required for full company adoption and use of the application by eliminating the barriers to immediate effective use.
  • Lowering the costs of adoption by eliminating the time end users need to spend in unproductive training events in order to be productive.
  • Improving productivity by greatly reducing the error level in daily use of the application

The program consists of two sets of tasks for two separate audiences: Sales Management/Administration and Sales Representatives.

  1. For Sales Management/Administration the program supports tasks and procedures that configure Salesforce.com to better match the unique needs of the customer company. As those are typically one-time tasks that need not be learned, they are automated as much as possible, making them simple to complete in just a few steps. In the demo for this submission, we have included a semi-automated procedure to replace the default Salesforce.com names and properties for its opportunity stages with new names and properties that reflect the company’s own sales process.
  2. For Sales Representatives the program supports the repetitive, common and key task of entering data about the rep’s customer accounts, contacts, and opportunities, which is the prime focus and function of the application from the rep’s’ view. Each of these tasks is supported with an interactive interface that inserts a layer of intelligent support between the user and the application. This layer, a JavaScript client-side web services broker, manipulates and monitors all of the application’s controls, as well as all of the user’s actions within that application. This allows it to shape the user’s experience with the software, to support each step of the user’s tasks, and reduce or prevent harmful user errors. It also sustains the user’s competency over time by being continually available when needed within the context of performing tasks.

The user accesses the support from a specially designed toolbar that knows the user’s current location within the program and can provide the precise support required at that point in time. The user can use the toolbar menu to launch interactive support for the procedures they want to execute.

The section below provides more details on the PCD attributes that are reflected in the program.


Further details:



1. Supports performers through best practice processes. 


The process customization portion of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach

·          Enforces the best practices for Sales Management and the Administrator to follow in order to shape Salesforce.com to their company’s current and desired processes and unique circumstances.

·          Automates—or semi-automates—the steps to quickly accomplish that goal. These are generally complex, one-time tasks that do not need to be taught or memorized for future use.

·          Employs decision-making guidelines to help those users select those best practice options that will optimize the application for their specific needs.


The user input portion of the program

·          Coaches sales representatives through the basic tasks for inputting data regarding accounts, contacts, and opportunities. This data can then be used by them and by sales management to monitor and support the sales funnel.

·          Shapes the most effective paths according to the company’s best practices, emphasizing correct input for the more crucial data, as established by company business rules and processes.

·          Can be modified to conform to any field or workflow changes made by the Administrator during the process customization stage, as described above.


Both portions will provide guidance in the form of informational and decision-support boxes and that guide the users at every step. Where appropriate, this guidance is in the form of links to other resources and support.


Any interactions between the user and the application can be both monitored and controlled. Where appropriate, the program prevents the user from making costly or time-consuming mistakes. In addition, the program can use input from any field to determine the options and the best path available to the user, thus accommodating a variety of circumstances.


2. Establishes, or aids in establishing, goals.


The process customization portion of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach provides Sales Management and the Administrator with options for customizing and optimizing Salesforce.com to their needs. The outcomes of those options are also explained. Where appropriate, decision-making support (including decision trees, implications, conditions, and criteria) will help guide them to the goals and options that will be most beneficial to the company.

In the above illustration, the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach explains the options available for customizing the sales process opportunity stages to conform to company practices.


3. Minimizes terminology translation or interpretation.


The user input portion of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach guides sales representatives through the data entry process using informational boxes and employing commonly understood terminology. It also provides information on the ultimate use of the data, and their implications for other processes, in the context of the company’s sales process.

In the illustration above, the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach helps users avoid the mistake of entering incorrect account names by asking them appropriate questions and directing them to the most efficient procedures based on their responses.

The process customization portion of the program automates some tasks, thereby avoiding labels, fields, and cumbersome procedures that use obscure technical language or require much more background information to understand.


4. Provides access to supporting and learning resources.


Informational boxes, which form a smart layer between the user and the application, can link users to any resources that may be appropriate to further explain or illustrate relevant actions, goals, and outcomes. These can be in any form (e.g., animations, graphics, websites, white papers, documents, tools, templates).


5.  Focuses on task(s), processes, and the natural flow of work.


The user input portion of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach leads users though the proper procedure for completing the tasks required for accomplishing a business goal. Users do not need much or any prior training, nor do they need to internalize the sequence before doing it. Users learn by repeatedly doing the procedure properly. As with training wheels for a bicycle, the user can rely on the support, learning while doing with little chance for error, until he or she is ready to complete the task without it.

The process customization portion of the program automates some of the procedures for accomplishing a task. The user indicates his or her objective and the program takes over to complete the appropriate tasks.

In the above illustration, the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach has automated four navigational steps to take the user directly to the page where he/she needs to be.


6.  Reduces or eliminates the need for training/learning.


This Salesforce.com Interactive Coach drastically reduces, and often eliminates, the need for training/learning by either

·          Coaching the user through all the proper sequenced actions, providing as much cognitive support as required, so that learning is a by-product of—rather than a pre-requisite to—performance, or

·          Automating the task so that proper performance is achieved without the necessity of learning.


7.  Supports performance FIRST, and learning only as a secondary consequence of doing.


The process customization portion of the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach captures and automates the process flow/workflow to ensure maximum performance and efficiency with a minimum of effort. Sales Management and Administrators are freed to concentrate on the larger issues of defining the sales process and the nature of the reporting process rather than on how to implement their visions within the application. Sales representatives are guided through their tasks with a minimum of confusion and effort—and little need to waste productive time in training activities.


8.  Stretches the PCD/EPSS paradigm.


The Salesforce.com Interactive Coach, developed using Rocket Software’s ActiveGuide Web Studio, is delivered by the ActiveGuide Toolbar, which senses the user’s location or stage in a process and either displays task options appropriate for that location or provides direct navigation to where the user needs to be to complete the task. The Toolbar also permits the scripts that run the support to be modified from a central server, making it easy to update at any time and allowing the update to be transparent to the end user. Moreover, the Toolbar enables the program to be hosted and run entirely separate from the application it is supporting and controlling. No alterations are required in the underlying application code and no harm can be done to the application.



The illustration above shows the ActiveGuide Toolbar and one of its menus.


The program is also unique in the flexibility and sophistication of the interactive support it provides to users, from complete automation to step-by-step monitoring and coaching, while they are working within the live application.


Prior State (or current state, if concept is not yet in a pilot or test phase):

(Required for all Concept entries)

Prior to employing the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach, the following actions were required:

1.      To customize the Opportunity Stages to match the stages of a company’s sales process, required that the user a) navigate to the customization section—with no cues as to the appropriate sequence [5 steps], b) delete the existing stage names—except for one—and roll the properties into one other stage [40 steps], c) enter the new stage names and properties [30 steps], d) delete the remaining default stage left from b. The automated process within the support program reduces that to less than 5 steps, if a generic sales process is used, or less than 25 if a unique process is used.  


In the illustration above, you see the list of default opportunity stages that users need to delete, one at a time in a four-step procedure, before adding new stage names and properties. The Salesforce.com Interactive Coach automates the entire repetitious task.


For further information on how the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach automates this process, view the Flash animation at: http://www.crsol.com/demo/ag-comparison.htm.


2.      To enter data for Accounts, Contacts, or Opportunities, users needed to learn in an efficient manner how to navigate to the appropriate pages, which fields are considered the most important by their organization, and what data to enter into each field.


 In the illustration above, you can see a small sample portion of one of the data input pages without the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach. The Coach guides users through the form, directing them to the fields that the company considers most important.


User/performer Profile:

(Required for all Concept entries)

There are three performer profiles:

1.      Sales Directors/Managers who make the determination as to how Salesforce.com will be customized to match the company’s needs. These performers are expected to know the sales function and have a vision for how the company’s sales goals can be achieved. They are not expected to be technical experts, but would likely have used computers extensively in the past.

2.      Administrators who will execute the modifications and configurations recommended by the Sales Department and company management. They are expected to be more technically savvy, but would probably not have an IS background.

3.      Sales Representatives who will enter the day-to-day data about their customers and record their progress in moving opportunities through the sales process. They will likely have used computers as part of their work, viewing them as a means to an end—increasing sales.

For each of the profiles, the Salesforce.com Interactive Coach will enable the performer to complete their key tasks without requiring them to change the level of their technical skills or to learn the intricacies of Salesforce.com.


Expected results:

(Required for all Concept entries)

We anticipate the following results once our solution has been implemented:

1.      For each customization procedure that the Sales Management/Administrative personnel chooses to perform, they will need to spend far less time a) determining what modifications they should make, b) learning how to make the desired modifications, and c) carrying out and testing those modifications. Our estimate is that for our sample—adapting the Opportunity stages to match the stages of the company’s sales process—would take three to six hours without our solution and approximately 15-30 minutes with it. That process is but one of a great many that an Administer is likely to want to perform in order to fully optimize the application.

2.      For each data input task, sales representatives would no longer need to attend hours of training events and lose time on the job finding the most efficient way to complete their tasks. Estimates are that the average new user normally requires from $500 to $1000 of training. This need will be almost entirely eliminated.

Other Evidence:

Our solution offers several innovative concepts:

1.      The solution enables extremely rich, interactive support to be delivered live without requiring any access to the application or even the server on which it resides. This allows support to be provided for hosted applications, such as Salesforce.com, by third parties who have no access to the program code or server. It also provides a solution for supporting users of proprietary applications, where permission to put files on the application’s server cannot be obtained.

2.      The solution’s intelligent layer between the user and the application makes it possible for the user to be given—or linked to—a large variety of relevant supportive materials from a direct point within a task.