Salesforce Billing is part of the Revenue Cloud family of products and is one of Salesforce’s lesser-known tools.
Organizations look to improve efficiency across their business, especially when faced with macroeconomic challenges. Having a billing system integrated with Salesforce provides transparency across the organization and allows companies to automate manual tasks.
Keeping track of billing and invoicing can often be a daunting task, especially when it comes to managing a large customer base. Let’s take a look at what Salesforce Billing offers and how it can help streamline your business operations!
What Is Salesforce Billing?
Salesforce Billing is an automated billing and invoicing platform that helps businesses transform their revenue processes. According to Salesforce, customers are twice as likely to choose a supplier that offers a great digital experience. So, investing in your most important process (revenue) is a good place to start!
Salesforce Billing enables companies to:
- Have full visibility of billable transactions, including payment status
- Automate invoice creation
- Offer payment models suited to the customer, such as subscription payments
- Create dynamic reports and dashboards to monitor all things revenue
Additionally, Salesforce Billing makes it easy to track orders, monitor progress on projects, and keep customers informed with timely notifications via email or SMS.
Salesforce have been focused on improving the sales process for organizations. However, as they’ve grown, they have shifted their focus to improving overall customer relationships. The billing process is arguably one of the most important processes in an organization – without collecting and processing payments, an organization cannot survive.
The Salesforce platform of today allows organizations to connect every customer touchpoint, from lead to cash, and Salesforce Billing is one of the key components in this process.
Salesforce Billing and ERP
You might wonder: “Does Salesforce Billing replace my existing ERP solution?” The answer is both yes and no. Your existing ERP solution may handle some aspects of billing, invoicing, and revenue recognition. However, it will also manage all necessary accounting practices such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger activities.
Salesforce Billing can take over some processes traditionally handled by ERP systems, such as billing, invoicing, and revenue recognition, whereas traditional accounting processes will remain in the ERP.
It’s no secret that ERP systems are not designed for sales teams. Sales is an ever-changing field that requires the ability to pivot your product or service offering based on the market’s demands.
Think about the shift in the last decade from on-premise software solutions to cloud-based solutions. In the past, you would purchase and download a local version of Microsoft Office – you paid for it once, gaining perpetual access. Today, consumers typically pay a monthly or yearly fee to access Office 365.
Whilst the customer-facing product is essentially the same (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.), the back-end product and processes to bill, invoice, and recognize revenue are completely different.
Traditional ERP systems do not easily handle this shift in selling models due to their rigid nature, which is necessary for accounting practices to ensure strict rules are followed. However, the Salesforce platform is designed to tackle these challenges and allow businesses to adapt to their customer’s needs.
Salesforce CPQ and Billing
Salesforce Billing is effectively an extension of Salesforce CPQ. Once a quote and quote lines have been created, Salesforce Billing can generate orders, invoices, and more – using the data from Salesforce CPQ.
Because products and pricing are maintained in Salesforce, invoices are generated with the correct line items and prices every time. Moreover, revenue can be recognized according to the revenue schedules defined for each product.
Many industries are now shifting to the ‘as a service’ way of selling, even for physical goods, which were traditionally one-time purchases. This way of selling is extremely convenient for customers and can be lucrative for companies. However, setting up the back end to handle subscriptions can be tricky, and maintaining this setup in multiple systems can be expensive.
Even more tricky is billing for the usage or consumption of a product or service, which results in invoicing in arrears. Managing consumption billing in a traditional ERP can be a very manual and time-consuming process.
By having all customer interactions and data maintained in a single platform, companies can reduce workload, increase revenue and address customers’ needs faster.
Features of Salesforce Billing
Now that you understand how Salesforce Billing can transform your sales and finance operations, let’s look more closely at the actual features.
Orders and Invoices
One of the most commonly required features for any billing system revolves around orders and invoices. Businesses of every size need to be able to track their orders and invoice their customers for the goods and services rendered; otherwise, they will simply go out of business.
Finance teams spend countless hours in organizations creating orders manually in their ERP system based on what’s been sold in Salesforce. They have to generate invoices for those orders and send them to the customer. But what if this entire process could be automated? In fact, this can be a reality with Salesforce Billing!
An Order is generated with Other Products once a quote (generated using Salesforce CPQ) has been accepted by the customer, and the Opportunity has been Closed Won. Orders can be broken down in different ways, depending on what was quoted.
Let’s take a manufacturing example. A customer was quoted for a piece of machinery, a warranty, and a maintenance plan. This quote could result in a single order, with two invoices or two orders, with one invoice on each.
Let’s say the company has a policy of invoicing for physical goods in advance, but they invoice for services once the physical goods have been delivered to the customer. By using Salesforce Billing, the customer can automate the creation and delivery of invoices based on rules defined by the business processes
Another example is when orders and invoices are generated automatically through the Salesforce eCommerce Cloud. By selling directly to your customers via eCommerce Cloud, you remove the need for a sales rep, sales operations user, and finance user to be involved in the process at all.
Salesforce Billing can automate the entire sales process, leaving your team freed up for other tasks – but more importantly, creating a seamless experience for your customer. You can even automate the collection of payments, which we’ll discuss next!
Salesforce Billing has simplified the overall payments process for merchants by integrating with various banking services, allowing for the seamless processing of payments. Salesforce is considered one of the most protected platforms for online transactions, providing businesses with extra confidence when taking payments that their data is secure.
Salesforce Billing integrates with multiple payment providers to collect bank transfers, credit/debit card payments, and more. Never chase a customer for payment ever again with automatic payment reminders!
Salesforce Admin can set up reminders based on the rules of your business to ensure payment is remitted in a timely fashion – without a finance team member having to chase customers manually.
Collecting payments in Salesforce makes it easy to reconcile revenue collected from customers and to know how many outstanding payments a customer has. When customers have too many outstanding payments, there may be a need to pause new sales to them until they’ve cleared their balance.
Rules can be defined to automatically prevent salespeople from quoting or closing an opportunity if a customer needs to clear their balance first. This reduces the risk of selling goods or services to customers who cannot pay for them.
Revenue recognition is an important concept used in accounting to determine when to record sales and amounts of revenue related to those sales. This process requires a comprehensive analysis of the transaction and considers various factors, such as:
- when cash is received
- the rights and obligations of both parties
- the amount of goods or services delivered
- the costs associated with providing these goods or services
Sounds complicated, right? With Salesforce Billing, this process can be automated once some initial setup has been done. Recognizing revenue can get extremely complex. So, let’s take an example using subscription services – one which you pay upfront for the whole year, and one which you ‘renew’ monthly.
Service A: Paid upfront for 12 months for $120.
This will result in 12 revenue schedules (one per month).
- Recognized Amount: $10
- Deferred Balance: $110
- Previously Recognized Revenue: $0
- Recognized Amount: $20
- Deferred Balance: $100
- Previously Recognized Revenue: $10
- Recognized Amount: $120
- Deferred Balance: $0
- Previously Recognized Revenue: $110
Salesforce Billing automatically generates all 12 revenue schedule records when the transaction occurs, using the distribution method “Monthly”.
Service B: Rolling monthly contract – $10 per month in perpetuity.
- Salesforce Billing generates a new revenue schedule for each month after payment is taken and the invoice is generated.
- The distribution method used is “Full Recognition”.
Having a solid understanding of revenue recognition standards can help businesses avoid potential financial reporting errors, improve the flow of information between different departments during the recording process, and ensure accurate data for financial planning purposes.
Credit Notes, Debit Notes, and Refunds
Although companies would prefer for every customer to be happy with their purchase, the reality is that customers may have purchased goods or services that need to be returned or refunded for numerous reasons. This can be done in various ways, and Salesforce Billing can assist in this process – including credit notes, debit notes, and refunds.
What’s the difference between credit notes, debit notes, and refunds?
- Credit notes are issued when the seller cancels the underlying transaction and replaces it with a new one immediately.
- e.g. You exchange a jumper for the same jumper, just in a different size.
- Debit notes also replace an initial transaction. However, this time, the customer will receive a ‘credit’, which they will use against their purchase in the future.
- e.g. You return a jumper but forget your receipt, so you receive a store credit to apply to a future purchase.
- Refunds require full cancellation of the original transaction and a transaction to show the payment refund.
- e.g. You return a jumper to one shop and buy another one elsewhere.
In the first two scenarios, the revenue will still remain with the company – it will just be applied to a different transaction. However, in the last scenario, the company lost revenue, and all three scenarios must be accounted for correctly.
Salesforce Billing works alongside Salesforce CPQ to create accurate credit notes, debit notes, and refunds based on contract amendments, which are changes to an existing subscription agreement.
Customers will receive the correct amount back to be able to use on future transactions, and Salesforce will store this information for the customer. By having everything in a single system, customers always have a seamless experience when interacting with an organization.
Create a Self-Service Experience for Partners and Customers
With Salesforce Billing, it’s easy to extend CPQ functionalities to create a self-service experience for your partners and customers. Partners and customers can log in, create quotes, and even pay for their goods seamlessly. By creating a great buying experience, partners and customers will be happy to continue doing business with you!
Reports and Dashboards
Salesforce Billing brings all of your customer data, sales data, and transactional data into a single platform – and with that, the possibility to create detailed and comprehensive reports in Salesforce for analysis and monitoring.
With Salesforce Billing, it’s easy to create reports for bookings versus billings – meaning, the revenue you expect to receive versus revenue actually received. This is extremely important to differentiate as the two values could, and sometimes should, differ from each other.
For example, when booking a sale for services, that value will change as the booking value is simply an estimate for the services – and the billed value will be based on actual hours spent on the project. It’s easy to track this in Salesforce as all the data required is in a single system.
You can also analyze data specific to billing activities, like how many customers are overdue on their payments or how many payments are due to be received in a given time period. You can break your revenue down by source and channel – and even analyze which lead sources are generating the most revenue.
Whatever you need to report on, Salesforce reports, and dashboards will provide a comprehensive view of your business quickly and easily.
In conclusion, Salesforce Billing is a must have extension to Salesforce CPQ. It will streamline your business practices and make life easier for sales, sales ops, and finance – as everyone will be working with a single set of data, from a single source of truth!