How to Use Salesforce: A Beginner’s Guide for 2024

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Anyone new to Salesforce will know that it has a learning curve, mostly because of how feature-rich this CRM is. Here, we offer a beginner’s guide on how to use Salesforce — including navigating the interface, customizing the platform, and setting up personal preferences.

Navigating the Salesforce Interface

Let’s get started with Salesforce training basics. Salesforce offers two user interfaces: Salesforce Lightning and Salesforce Classic. When you log in, you’ll arrive on the homepage.

The homepage in Lightning Experience provides a graph of your quarterly sales performance, and it displays an Assistant that documents your to-do list.

Salesforce homepage showing quarterly sales performance and user to-do list
Salesforce’s homepage

 

In Salesforce Classic, your homepage will show a high-level view of your work, including recently viewed items and your work calendar.

At the top of each Salesforce page are links and tabs that you can use to navigate the platform’s features:

Salesforce page showing highlighted links and tabs
Salesforce homepage navigation

 

Here’s how to navigate Salesforce:

  1. Click the Home tab (1) to switch between objects and features. Object homepages offer information on your Salesforce objects, like a list of your accounts.
  2. You can use the search bar (2) to find records
  3. Click Admin User (3) to access user-specific customizations from your user profile
  4. Access the Setup page to customize Salesforce (4). This is only accessible if you have administrator privileges.
  5. The Help tab (5) gives you access to Salesforce learning and training resources
  6. The bottom left icon (6) offers you access to the other apps stored in Salesforce
  7. The More button (7) gives you access to tabs that aren’t visible via the navigation bar

Customizing Salesforce

You can choose which tabs you want to see when you log into Salesforce with Salesforce Classic by simply:

  1. Entering ‘Customize My Tabs’ in the Quick Find box (if you’re using Improved Setup User Interface). If you’re not using this interface, type ‘Display’ and click on Change My Display.
  2. Select the app you want to customize from the drop-down Custom Apps menu
  3. Save changes

You can also customize the related lists that show up on your detail pages. Here’s how you’d customize your pages in Salesforce Classic:

  1. Enter ‘Customize My’ in the Quick Find Box
  2. Select Customize My Pages, and then Change My Display
  3. Select the snapshot you wish to show on the Home Tab (this is available if your home page includes a dashboard)
  4. For other tabs, select your list and click Add or Remove to add or remove related lists
  5. Save any changes

Setting Up Personalized Preferences

You can personalize your navigation bar in Lightning Experience. You can add items to the navigation bar or remove or rename them later. To make multiple changes to the navigation bar, simply:

  1. Select the pencil icon
Salesforce page showing highlighted pencil icon
Salesforce customization

 

  1. To rename the items listed in your navigation bar, select the pencil icon next to the item that you wish to rename and make the desired changes
  2. You can reorder the items in your navigation bar by dragging them
  3. To delete the items listed, click the x next to each item
  4. To add more items, click Add More Items. Using the bar, search from all available items or your favorite list

To configure your settings, you can update your personal information like your email, password security question, and the way your tabs and pages are organized via the dashboard.

To do this in Salesforce Classic:

  1. Click the down arrow positioned next to your name on any Salesforce page. Based on your organization’s settings, click My Settings or Setup in the dropdown menu.
  2. If you click Setup, select the desired setting from the left-side menu
    Salesforce showing "My personal information" and prospective changes listed.
    Salesforce showing ‘My Personal Information’ and prospective changes

     

  3. From there, make the desired changes e.g. under personal information, change your time zone, or reset your security token.
  4. If you click My Settings, look on the left-side menu and click the item you wish to change in order to display its sub-menu. Then select the item you want to change.
Salesforce showing "My personal information" and prospective changes listed.
Changing personal information with Lightning Experience

 

Here’s how you’d do this in Lightning Experience:

  1. Click your image, located at the top of any Salesforce page
  2. Select Settings
  3. Click the menu item you want, located on the left-hand menu
  4. Make changes as required
  5. Hit Save

Creating Custom Objects, Fields, and Workflows

You can use custom objects to track and store your company’s data. You can create custom objects to facilitate any kind of data — such as contact information, spreadsheet data, or revenue forecasts.

Here’s how to create custom objects in Salesforce’s Lightning Experience:

custom object data shown in Salesforce
Custom object data shown in Salesforce

 

  1. Click Create | Custom Object, located at the top right corner of any page in Setup
  2. Complete the fields for your object
  3. You can create a custom object tab by selecting the Launch New Custom Tab Wizard
  4. Save your custom object
  5. Want to create custom fields for your object in the future? In Object Manager, select Fields & Relationships

To create custom objects in Salesforce’s Classic:

  1. From Setup, type in “Objects” in the Quick Find box, then click Objects
  2. Hit New Custom Object
  3. Follow the Wizard to create the fields you need for your custom object
  4. Save

How to Create Custom Fields

In Salesforce, you get access to a number of standard files (files that most CRM users need), like company name, contact, and date. However, you might want to capture information beyond those covered by a standard field.

You can do that with custom fields by following these steps:

custom field data shown in Salesforce
Salesforce custom field data

 

  1. In your Salesforce org, hit the lightning icon
  2. Select Setup
  3. Select Object Manager
  4. From the Object Manager page, select the object (e.g. Asset) to open details for that object
  5. Click Fields and Relationships
  6. Click New

New button highlighted in Salesforce

Now, you’ll want to do the following:

  1. Choose your data type
  2. Hit Next
  3. Fill out the Field Name, description, and input format
  4. Choose the field’s visibility and editing access
  5. Hit Next
  6. Hit Save

You can also create custom workflows to help support your day-to-day work processes and everything involved in them — such as data entry, reports, and users.

custom workflow shown in Salesforce
A custom workflow shown in Salesforce

 

  1. In the in-app launcher, hit Workflows and then click New
  2. Type in your name
  3. Select usage (e.g. order entry, promotion, activity, etc)
  4. Select a sales org
  5. Enter your description
  6. Save

Setting Up User Roles and Permissions

Your Salesforce learning wouldn’t be complete if you left this post without knowing how to set up user roles and permissions to provide your team with the access they require.

As you’d expect from a top CRM service, both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience allow you to edit sharing settings using Salesforce’s user role hierarchy.

Users higher up in the hierarchy can view, edit, and report on the data owned or shared with them by users below them in the hierarchy. Simply:

  1. In the Quick Find box, type in ‘Roles’ and select Roles
  2. If the Understanding Roles page comes up, click Set Up Roles
  3. Add a label for the Role. The Role Name field will auto-populate.
  4. Select who the role will report to
  5. Select the role’s level of access to contacts, cases, and opportunities
  6. Click save

Here’s how you’d give your team permission to create, edit, or delete queues in Lightning Experience:

  1. Enter and select ‘Users’ from the Quick Find box
  2. Select your chosen user
  3. From the Permission Set Assignments related list, select Edit Assignments
  4. To assign a permission set, select it from under Available Permission Sets and select Add. To remove it, select it from the same list and click Remove
  5. Save any changes

Configuring Page Layouts and Record Types

Here’s how to configure record types and page layouts in the enhanced profile user interface:

  1. From Setup, enter ‘Profiles’ in the Quick Find Box and select a profile
  2. In the Find Settings… box, add the name of your desired object, click on it, and then hit Edit
  3. In the Record Types and Page Layout Assignments section, make any of the changes you need
  4. Hit Save

This is how you’d do the same in the original profile user interface:

  1. From Setup, type ‘Profiles’ in the Quick Find Box and select a profile
  2. Click Edit next to the record you need
  3. Select your record type from the list of Available Record Types and add it to your Selected Record Types list
  4. From Default, select a default record type
  5. Hit Save

Managing Leads and Opportunities

Our guide on how to learn Salesforce wouldn’t be complete without covering how you can use the platform to manage leads and opportunities.

Marketing automation software can increase qualified leads by 451%, and Salesforce shines when it comes to lead management. You can view your lead metrics and update your records from Lead Intelligence View.

Metrics include things like:

  • Total leads
  • Leads with no activity in the past 30 days
  • Overdue leads
  • Engaged and contacted leads
  • Disqualified leads

To view more on each individual record, just click on the side panel icon next to the record’s name or click the lead name to see more information.

Here’s how you’d edit lead details:

  1. Click edit
  2. Select the fields you want to update
  3. Make and save the changes

To share leads in Professional, Unlimited, Enterprise, Performance, and Developer Edition organizations with other users, roles, or groups, click on Sharing.

Now, to convert qualified leads, here’s what you’d do:

  1. In a lead record, choose the lead you wish to convert
  2. Type a name for the account you’re creating
  3. If you’re using Salesforce Classic and want to update a personal account, overwrite the lead source with the value from the lead
  4. Choose a contact
  5. If you’re using Lightning Experience, choose an existing opportunity from the list. If not, enter a name for the one you wish to create
  6. Convert your lead
  7. Create a follow-up task if you wish (e.g. how you’d like to nurture the lead going forward)

Using Salesforce Reports and Dashboards

A recent survey highlighted how 47% of data engineers estimated that poor data quality negatively impacts a quarter or more of a company’s revenue.

With Salesforce, you can help stay on top of your data with visual dashboards and custom reports. Users with any role can view and whip up new reports from their accounts.

Salesforce Report Builder is a visual drag-and-drop tool that you can use to create your own reports or edit ones already in your database.

Here’s how to access the Report Builder:

  1. Click Create – Report via the Analytics Tab or New Report on the Reports tab
  2. To edit a current report, search for it on the Analytics or Reports tab and select Edit

You can also view real-time visual data on each report or several reports via your dashboards.

How to Build a Dashboard With Salesforce

  1. Create the Source Reports

    You want to start by creating the source reports with the data you want to show. To do this, click Create > Lightning > Dashboard. Next, name your dashboard.
  2. Add a Widget

    Add a widget by clicking the + Widget button. Choose your source report for the widget and click Select. Customize how it displays and then hit Add.
  3. Filter Your Dashboard

    To add a filter to your dashboard, locate the Field dropdown and select a field to filter on. Next, give the filter a display name. Click Add Filter Value to assign values to the filter.
  4. Control User Rights

    To control who can view the dashboard, click the star icon. You can rename the dashboard — select Under Name and Under Description to do so.

    Hit Select Folder, find the new folder, and then click Select Folder. Under View Dashboard As, choose who can see the dashboard. Click Save.

  5. Customize Your Dashboard

    To customize your dashboard colors or themes, click the star icon to open Properties. You can choose from 14 color palettes from Dashboard Palette and light or dark themes from Dashboard Theme.

Here’s how to build a dashboard in Salesforce Classic:

  1. Create the custom reports with the data you want to show
  2. Hit the Dashboards tab
  3. Click Go To Dashboard List
  4. Hit New Dashboard
  5. Click Save

Conclusion

From setting up your personal preferences to managing your leads, Salesforce has several amazing capabilities that make it a great CRM. With these tips, you’ll be up and running with Salesforce in no time. Want an in-depth look at the platform‘s features?

Head over to our full Salesforce review.

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Kirsten Lamb
Technology Expert
Kirsten Lamb
Technology Expert

Kirsten Lamb is a freelance conversion copywriter and content marketer with a specialist focus in technology. She previously studied at Keele University and The University of Edinburgh. She has over 7 years of experience in the marketing industry and has worked with brands like Hotjar and WooCommerce, plus on the tech side of Booking.com.