When you dig deeper into the inner workings of Salesforce, you just might find gold. In this article, we look at the Salesforce custom object.

1 – Custom objects extend the functionality of Salesforce.

2 – Custom objects are useful when tracking the value of assets while you sell them.

3 – You can use custom objects to combine many different records into one.

4 – Custom objects can save time for your sales team and make their lives easier.

5 – When a part of your sales process is unique to your organisation, custom objects can help you keep track of it.

6 – Custom objects can lock you out of some of Salesforce’s functionality, including some AppExchange products.

7 – It’s time-consuming to implement Salesforce custom objects.

8 – Custom objects may not be able to scale with your business.

9 – You need a qualified Salesforce admin to implement custom objects.

10 – Exhaustive testing is vital for success with custom objects.

If you run a sales team that uses Salesforce, you’re always looking for ways to get the most out of it. However, you don’t want your reps to be spending all their time entering data into the CRM. It’s all about finding a balance. When you delve deeper into the functionality of Salesforce, you’ll find features that help you achieve this balance. In previous articles, we’ve talked about Process Builder and Workflow, two features that allow you to create automation within Salesforce. In this article, we’re going to explore deep in Salesforce’s back end and talk about custom objects.

What are Salesforce custom objects?

Custom objects are your go-to functionality on the rare occasion that native Salesforce objects are not enough. They allow Salesforce to store data that doesn’t fit into any of its usual CRM categories, such as Leads, Accounts, Users or Contracts.

If an object is a database of information, a custom object is simply one that you create yourself, rather than one that Salesforce provides for you (standard objects).

Why might you use Salesforce custom objects?

Custom objects can be used when you want to create a database in Salesforce that is specific to your organisation. If your organisation conducts sales in a way that is unique, Salesforce might not be able to keep track of it when used normally. There are also industries that do business slightly different from the norm. In this case, you will need to customise Salesforce so it can convey all the information that you and your team will need.

For example, let’s take an advertising agency who act as a broker between themselves and their clients. They buy space from a media owner (e.g. a 30 second TV ad spot) and sell it to their client, adding a mark-up for themselves during the transaction.

Salesforce in its usual form doesn’t have the functionality to keep track of all the TV ads that the agency has for sale, or how much they cost. In this situation, the agency would get their Salesforce admin to build a custom object, a database to keep track of the dates, times and value of their spots. When you know this information, you can determine your margin on each deal, as well as your profit and loss.

You could also use custom objects to:

  • Link multiple records into one overarching record
  • Add fields to standard records
  • Keep track of supply and demand in your business
  • Determine your Cost Of Sales numbers

Custom objects are useful when you want to use Salesforce to keep track of more than just sales.

Advantages of Salesforce custom objects

The benefit of using custom objects in Salesforce is that it’s a failsafe way of keeping track of all the information you need. Salespeople rely on data, and every organisation has its own unique quirks in the way it operates. When you customise Salesforce to reflect those quirks, you will find using it easier. In the long run, this can translate into higher revenues, as sales reps have access to all the customer information they might need when trying to close a deal.

Custom objects also save time and effort for your team when they are trying to access vital information. If they can find everything they need without having to leave the Salesforce ecosystem, they will be able to do their jobs faster and more accurately.

Disadvantages to Salesforce custom objects

On the other hand, there are drawbacks to utilising custom objects in Salesforce. Salesforce themselves advise users only to create custom objects when absolutely necessary. With good reason. In many ways, a custom object can create more problems than it solves.

  • When you work around Salesforce’s standard object features, you miss out on the area where Salesforce is always trying to innovate and improve. If you use custom objects, your Salesforce CRM cannot be optimised and you don’t receive all the benefits.
  • To create a custom object in Salesforce, your organisation’s Salesforce admin needs to build it using code. This is difficult and time-consuming. It may also require training, as your admin may not be used to working in this way. Your custom object may also unravel work they have already done in the CRM, which they will need to redo in order to accommodate your custom object.
  • Many of the great products available in the Salesforce AppExchange are not compatible with custom objects. When you use custom objects, you exclude yourself from all the innovation that is available in the Salesforce community. If you are already using AppExchange products, you may not be able to use them anymore. They may not be compatible. This could slow down your sales operation.
  • Your Salesforce custom objects could cause problems as your business scales or grows. For example, if your organisation acquires a smaller company, if both companies are using Salesforce in the normal way, the records of the two organisations will integrate seamlessly. If custom objects are involved, it could require a long migration process, placing your sales operation on temporary hold.

Is there a better solution?

To really make use of all the advantages Salesforce offers to your sales operation, it is best not to mess with it too much. Salesforce’s standard objects should be able to meet the needs of your sales process, however unique they may be. If they do not, look to the AppExchange or the Salesforce community before you dive into the back end and start creating new custom objects.

Success with Salesforce custom objects

If, after weighing up the pros and cons of creating a Salesforce custom object in your CRM, you still want to go ahead, here are some tips to follow to maximise your success.

  • Always use a certified Salesforce admin to create a custom object.
  • Plan the implementation of your custom object carefully. Think about the impact it will make on the day-to-day life of your team. Consider how it will affect the rest of your Salesforce CRM. Will you have to alter other parts of your Salesforce to make room for your custom object? Salesforce has its own tools to help you evaluate the impact of your actions.
  • Test. Test. Before you let your sales reps loose on your new custom object, ensure it works! You can use Salesforce’s staging zone to carry out these tests in a safe environment.
  • Don’t roll your custom object out to your entire team in one go. Create a group of superusers that can give feedback on your Salesforce custom object. This will help you spot errors and iron out any problems.
  • Make sure your admins keep your Salesforce data secure while opening it up to work on a custom object.

Take your time when considering, implementing and testing your Salesforce custom object. They can be remarkably useful when done well, but destructive when executed poorly. Don’t expect a custom object to appear overnight.

See for yourself

We’ve seen how Salesforce custom objects can be useful when dealing with parts of your sales process that are particular to your organisation or industry. They can make lives easier for your team and aid them in bringing in more revenue. However, custom objects can exclude you from some of Salesforce’s features, which could derail your sales operation.

The best way to evaluate whether Salesforce custom objects are right for you is to talk to your organisation’s Salesforce admin. Tell them what you want to achieve and they can tell you whether it is possible, as well as what you may have to sacrifice to make it happen. It may be that you don’t need to create a custom object. When efficiency is key to your sales operation, all options are worth considering.