What Is A Record Type in Salesforce & Why You Might Be Using Them Incorrectly

What Is a Record Type in Salesforce: Key Features & Benefits

In Salesforce, a record type is a tool that lets organizations define different processes, page layouts, and picklist values within the same object. For example, if an Opportunity is a record, then the different record types may be: Net New, Renewal, or Expansion.

In the real world, you can think of the records as a rectangle and the different types would be rhombus, square, diamond, etc. All of the different types are rectangles, but they are all different and serve different purposes.

Here are some key features of record types:

  • Customization of Page Layouts: Record types allow different page layouts for different business processes, tailoring what users see and interact with.
  • Control Over Picklist Values: Record types offer different picklist values for different record types, ensuring relevance and accuracy in data entry.
  • Business Process Segmentation: Record types enable segmentation of records by business process, facilitating more targeted sales strategies.

Speaking of sales strategies…

Why Should I Care About Record Types? 

For sales teams specifically, record types are crucial for several reasons. 

First, they enable the customization of Salesforce to reflect different stages of the sales process. Record types also make it easier for sales reps and leaders to only see the most relevant information while they manage deals or inspect and forecast pipeline. 

Lastly, they help segment customer data based on whatever sales strategy your organization is implementing so your process is cleaner and more efficient. 

This level of customization and segmentation enhances visibility, improves data quality, and ensures that sales teams can work faster by focusing on and recording only the most relevant information and context when working deals.

When Should I Create (or Delete) Record Types in Salesforce?

​​Typically, the responsibility for creating record types in Salesforce falls to Salesforce Administrators or those with similar roles that have administrative privileges within the Salesforce environment. 

For the purposes of this article, we’re not going into the technical specifics of creating record types in Salesforce, but would suggest checking out this article if you want a thorough walkthrough.

However, even if you aren’t tasked with building your team’s Salesforce environment, it’s still important to understand the roles, functions, and risks of record types in Salesforce so that you can maintain clean and relevant data in your sales organization.

For example, if you have too many record types in your Salesforce process, it can lead to incorrect, incomplete, or missing data. 

Salesforce is hard enough to use for sales reps when they’re managing their pipelines because it’s simply not designed for the way that they work. 

Finding tiny fields seemingly hidden on a page to input relevant data, toggling between 5 or 10 tabs at a time, or not being able to find the page you’re looking for can lead to reps working outside of Salesforce and in disconnected note-taking apps, spreadsheets, or another tool that’s easier and faster to use. 

Even though you’re investing a lot into Salesforce, it doesn’t serve any good if the data inside it isn’t accurate.

That’s Salesforce at its optimal state. 

Now imagine if you have 5 unnecessary record types for a certain object. Reps will simply ignore them and ignore the sales process and all of a sudden leaders can’t trust the data in Salesforce when they need to forecast or inspect pipeline.

When thinking about your sales process and planning for record types, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the object?
  • What are the different types of that object?
  • How are the types different?
  • What would be the fields required for each record type?

For example, if “contact” is the object we’re discussing, what might be the different types of “contact?” Perhaps it’s partner, customer, and prospect. 

How are the types different and what would be the field required for each record type? 

For contacts, we generally need to know name, email, phone, job title, role, company, and maybe address. So while there are obviously different types of contacts, it isn’t necessary to create different record types for each one and potentially cause additional confusion and complexity to a CRM like Salesforce that already has that in spades. 

Each organization has different rules and guidelines so you might need different record types for contacts, but it’s important to ask those questions before creating them so you can avoid having to clean up and delete record types down the road.

Let's play a bit of detective with your Salesforce setup, shall we? 

Here's your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  • How many records are lounging under each record type? 
  • Is each record type cozying up to its own special page layout, or is it a free-for-all?
  • How many page layouts even are there?
  • Turn to your users and pop the question: "What's the purpose behind each record type?" (Pro tip: Chat up more than one person. Variety is the spice of life, after all.)
  • Peek at the picklists – any wild variations in the values across different record types?
  • And are there major variations in those page layouts?

Now, here's the kicker, and it might surprise you: A hefty chunk of this caper isn't even about poking around in Salesforce. 

It's about asking your users and getting the lowdown on what they think of these record types. Are they a hit or a miss? You're looking for those lightbulb moments when they say things like:

  • "Oh, the Renewal types make us jump through hoops, but New Business? Easy peasy."
  • "My boss is like a hawk with those record types, always making sure we're on the straight and narrow."
  • "Have you seen the Product dropdown? It's like entering a whole new dimension with some of these record types."

But if you start hearing stuff like:

  • "Record types? Might as well be speaking Greek. I don't see the point."
  • "I pick 'Renewal' and suddenly I'm doing the 'New Business' dance. What gives?"
  • "Eh, I just pick one at random and keep it moving."

If you hear the second set of answers, then you've got your work cut out for you. It's time to whip those record types into shape and make them work for their keep. After all, the real magic happens when they're not just set up right, but when your team actually gets what they're for and uses them to their full potential.

After investigating by speaking to users themselves, that’s when you can actually go into Salesforce and see if the data is backing up their assumptions. 

First, run a report to show how many record types are being used. Then run a report grouping by record type and look at picklist values. Do they show that each picklist is customized to each record type? Should they be?

Once you have your answers, then you’ll need to plan, make changes, and potentially delete record types to get a cleaner Salesforce so your reps can work more effectively and your leaders get better visibility.

But as we said before, even if your record types are in a good place, ensuring that Salesforce is your organization’s trusted and single source of truth is much easier said than done. Luckily, we have the perfect tool to help.

Bring Salesforce Where Your Sales Team Works

Scratchpad is the AI powered workspace that improves collaboration, visibility, and efficiency across your sales team.

Here are some key features that make Scratchpad such an effective tool:

  • AI Sales Assistant: Auto-generate call summaries, notes, shareable video clips, and even required fields in Salesforce like next steps or for methodologies like MEDDIC.
  • Command: A simple shortcut that lets you search and update any Salesforce field from anywhere on the web.
  • Deal Rooms: Automatically create and manage Deal Rooms in Slack for better collaboration and visibility into all aspects of your deals at each stage ensuring faster sales cycles, smoother handoffs, and a better customer journey.
  • No-Code Automations: Help your reps update Salesforce faster and give you and your sales leaders insights into gaps in your open pipeline.
  • Deal Spotlights: Conditional Highlighting and Deal Spotlights let leaders and reps inspect entire pipelines in one place and gives them the ability to spot gaps or missing information in a certain deal at a glance. This leads to better visibility and proactive collaboration among leaders and reps to avoid missed opportunities and forecasts.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Scratchpad so if you’d like to learn more, schedule a conversation to see if it makes sense for your organization or simply try it out for free today.