NetSuite SFA 101

by Jash Chatterjee

December 24, 2016

The Top Ten NetSuite Salesforce Automation Questions answered here!Just when the Gartner report of 2016 places NetSuite in the Challenger's quadrant, we thought we'd share some 101 with you. We have had the privilege of training scores of new sales team members, sales managers, sales vice presidents, marketing managers and directors and the like and they invariably trip at the terminology and lingo of NetSuite. Here is a quick cheat sheet if you are new to NetSuite SFA and have just started using it for a sales side role.


1. When should I create a Lead and when should I start from a Prospect?

Our simple rule of thumb is that a lead is someone you heard about or who walked into one of your booths at a tradeshow and left their visiting card but with whom you have had no conversation. A prospect is someone who has shown interest. It is for you to judge if their showing preliminary interest is sufficient or if you would like them to define their requirements a little more before you would like to call them a prospect.

2. What's a Contact and why isn't it a Lead?

Well, that one is easily answered. If you are B2C, your contacts and leads are the same. In NetSuite create them as Leads and default your company's preference to "Individual". If you are B2B NetSuite thinks by default that your leads are companies and the contacts are people working for the lead. That said though, NetSuite introduced a Lead Conversion feature a few years back that allows you to convert individual leads to company prospects as long as the lead has a Company named. So, you can begin working with the individual and later convert them to a company.

3. What's an Opportunity and why isn't it a Lead?

In the early days of your sales cycle, a lead is an opportunity - well almost. NetSuite Sales Force Automation defines it a little more narrowly. A lead is restricted to information about the company whereas an opportunity is a chance to sell. When we say chance to sell, we mean a value for the expected business. This is why the opportunity record stores a ballpark of the expected value of the sale whereas the lead record stores the phone number. Do note though that creating an opportunity against the lead would typically convert it to a prospect unless the probability of the opportunity converting is set to a really low percent.

4. I don't want sales reps to see one anothers' customers. Can I do that?

Oh, yes. That's out of the box. All you would need to do is to set up the role with "Sales Role" checked and use one of the access control options. The roles that come out of the box already have the right settings, so if you just copied a standard sales role for your company, there isn't much to worry about.

5. What's the deal with pipelines and forecasts?

They sound similar. Yes and no. A pipeline is something in the works but not yet converted. A forecast is your ability to predict a sales figure for a defined period. To translate that out of the box NetSuite standard reports would only include open Opportunities and Estimates. "Open" has its own system definition too. An open Opportunity is one that has no Estimate created from it, the rider being that the Estimate should be "Included in Forecast". An open Estimate is one from which a Sales Order or another more mature sales transaction like an Invoice has not been created. Of course, there is a flick of a switch to "Include" it and you need to set up your preferences to make Estimates get included by default.

6. My sales cycle isn't that long. Can I just start at a Customer?

Absolutely, all stages of the customer record are optional and so are the stages of the sales transactions. You can create a new Customer record and create a new Invoice straightaway. Remember, NetSuite's SFA and ERP are integrated.

7. How do I differentiate an Opportunity from an Estimate?

An Opportunity is typically very very early in a sales cycle. It's a stage where you have a ballpark of the deal's size but don't know the exact number or even don't know which products or services the customer will take interest in. That's why an Opportunity record has a few unique features when compared to other sales transactions in NetSuite:

- it can have amount which may or may not be equal to the total of the selected products

- it can have an amount range - it can have no products at all

No other sales transactions will allow you to override the amount and of course you need have at least one product line before you can save it.

8. Could I simultaneously work on mutiple deals for one Lead?

Yes, you could. More than one Opportunity can be created and one or more of these can be converted to an estimate.

9. I am creating a new Lead and can't see how to attach a Contact?

On the new form child relationships like contacts show up as editable lines. Once you save the lead, you should see the box that allows you to select a contact and the associated Attach button.

10. I am already working on an Estimate but the Opportunity still shows as open. What did I do wrong?

Never forget to "convert" an Opportunity to an Estimate and an Estimate to a Sales Order if you need to track the flow of the deal. When you are on the Opportunity, the Estimate link might be hiding under the New icon. You can also go to the subtab for Estimates and click on the "New Estimate" button.