Valpak, a Salesforce customer, wrote this article.

I’m an accidental admin. I didn’t set out to learn Salesforce — it just happened. I was first introduced to Salesforce 15 years ago at my first job out of college. The IT team there had installed it as a sort of set-it-and-forget-it tool. I realized it could organize a lot of our sales team’s processes, better organize databases, and streamline manual data entry. We started integrating Salesforce everywhere and rolled it out to our global sales team.

More than a decade later, I was at Valpak — we’re a direct marketing company with a monthly audience of more than 36 million households. I noticed we were struggling with transparency in our sales process. We’re a franchise operation with 145 offices across the United States, some privately-owned, others corporate-owned. So, it was tough to know what each office was doing in regards to sales activities and pipeline management. We realized the solution would be a digital transformation of our lead-to-cash process. That’s when leveraging Salesforce as a solution came to mind.

At Valpak, everything was paper-based and then entered into multiple legacy back-end systems. We were collecting physical payments and signed paper contracts. We had quite the journey ahead of us: taking our organizations into the digital world. 

Here are three key things I’ve learned about the digital transformation of the lead-to-cash process.


1. Treat sales like an internal customer

We’re deeply invested in customer success at Valpak, and we manage a variety of different customer relationships. We have a large franchise network organization with owners, managers, and representatives. We also have small businesses for which we help build direct marketing programs. Introducing these businesses to the Valpak family and helping them understand how to work with us is key to success.

One of the biggest breakthroughs we had was realizing we needed to treat our sales network like we treat our customers. Sales are the lifeblood of any company, and many of our sales reps have worked for Valpak for two or three decades. Changing culture and getting them to move from paper to digital was sometimes a challenge. But, by listening to our sales teams the way we listen to our customers, we’ve been able to help them handle the changes.

Digital transformation is all about getting buy-in, strategy, and timing. We had to be very strategic about how we rolled Salesforce CPQ out to our sales network, so we started with our larger markets. When they were successful, we highlighted them as CPQ superstars and let them lead by example. They showed other markets that digital transformation could take their workdays to the next level.


2. Connect everything on one platform

To bring your teams together, you’ve got to bring your tech platforms together. If your sales and finance teams are working on the same platform, there are far fewer chances things might get missed.

For example, if you’re using separate systems to process credit card payments, reps may not be able to see when payments are processed. They won’t know to reach out to a client again and ask for a different payment type. We used to encounter issues like these at Valpak, but bringing everything together on one platform solved those problems. 

Also, we’ve got an application that runs on the Salesforce platform that allows our reps to sit with customers and select different mailing locations for their blue envelope coupons. During this process, it automatically generates all the CPQ documents and quotes on the back end. In the end, all reps need to do is submit documents for approval and signing after they’ve reviewed pricing. Everything is connected and seamless.


3. Don't forget data

Once we adopted the platform, we were pleasantly surprised by all the data and how many insights we’ve been able to glean from it. You can see everything — sales rep activity, conversion rates, long-term client engagement — and all in real time, too. It even gives you full visibility of the quoting pipeline. We never had access to that information before, and it’s become critical to evaluating our success.

Data visibility can also help you get much more intelligent about pricing by showing how different regions price products and how sales reps behave in different markets. When all this information comes together, you can drive pricing changes that help sales networks succeed. Data can also boost the accuracy and results of your marketing campaigns by allowing you to make them more personalized and customized than ever.

There’s a reason why data is so valuable these days — it just helps you be smarter and more flexible, period. For many companies, it’s not even the biggest reason to undergo digital transformation. But as we learned at Valpak, data can be extremely valuable when taking your company to the next level.

Take a deep dive into Valpak’s digital transformation journey.