Data Quality

Record Types in Salesforce: What They Are and How to Use Them Efficiently

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Many customer data management tasks are repetitive, time-consuming, and even downright boring. Plus, the more data you generate, the more difficult it becomes to maintain.  

Fortunately, Salesforce—the world’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform––offers a variety of features to help streamline your data and enhance your user experience. Among these features, Record Types play a pivotal role. 

Below, we’ll delve deep into Salesforce Record Types: what they are, how to customize them, and how to use them effectively.

What is a Record Type in Salesforce?

Short answer: A Salesforce Record Type is a way to group records within a specific object.

Longer answer: Imagine you have a form to fill out, but the information you need to put in changes depending on the situation. Record types let you have multiple versions of this form, each with different fields and options, all within the same category. This way, you can choose the right object for each specific situation. Some examples of standard objects include Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Products, Users, Contracts, Reports, and Dashboards but users can create custom objects as well.

When to use Record Types in Salesforce

Say, you use an Opportunity object to track potential sales. A Record Type allows you to have different versions of an Opportunity record for different sales processes (for example: retail versus wholesale sales). Each Record Type can have its own set of fields, Page Layouts, and logic, tailored to the specific needs of your business processes.

In terms of how many record types are in Salesforce, while technically the sky’s the limit, Salesforce recommends no more than 200 record types per Object (more on why later).

Types of records in Salesforce

As previously stated, Salesforce Record Types are used to manage different aspects of the business effectively. The following Record Types, for example, are tailored to handle specific data and processes relevant to the retail and ecommerce sector:

  • Customer accounts: Record types built against this object might be used to store information about your customers, such as contact details, purchase history, and preferences. These will be  crucial for managing customer relationships, personalizing marketing efforts, and providing effective customer service.
  • Orders: Record types built against this object are used to manage the details of customer purchases, including products ordered, quantities, prices, and delivery status. In other words, they’re essential for tracking sales, inventory, and fulfillment processes.
  • Products: Record types built against this object will typically store information about the products you sell, such as descriptions, pricing, and inventory levels. These will help facilitate sales and inventory management.
  • Opportunities: Record types built against this object will likely be used to track potential sales and revenue and are key for sales forecasting and managing the sales pipeline.
  • Cases: Record types built against this object will be used for customer service and support, tracking customer inquiries, complaints, and feedback. They’re especially important for resolving customer issues and maintaining high customer satisfaction.
  • Leads: Record types built against this object will be used to track potential customers who have shown interest but have not yet made a purchase. This information is vital for lead generation and conversion efforts.

Remember, not only can you create custom Record Types but each of these Record Types can be further customized with specific fields, Page Layouts, and picklist values to suit the unique needs of your business.

5 key benefits of SF Record Types

As you can imagine, using Record Types in Salesforce offers several benefits for businesses of all sizes (but especially those managing large amounts of data).

  1. Enhanced user experience (UX): Record types allow you to tailor the information you collect and how it’s displayed based on different scenarios. Customized Record Types help streamline workflows by presenting users with the appropriate options and fields, reducing clutter and confusion.
  2. Improved data quality: By guiding users to enter specific information for different situations, Record Types help maintain consistency and accuracy in the data. This leads to better data quality, which is crucial for reliable reporting and analysis.
  3. Controlled access: Record types can be used in combination with profiles and permission sets to control who can view and edit certain types of records. This helps in enforcing security and privacy policies within the organization.
  4. Simplified reporting: By categorizing records into different types, it becomes easier to segment and analyze your data. This level of segmentation can be invaluable for generating targeted reports and gaining insights specific to different areas of your business.
  5. Scalability: As your business evolves, Record Types provide the flexibility to add new categories or modify existing ones without affecting the underlying structure of your Salesforce instance. This adaptability is key for businesses that need to scale or change their processes over time.

What is the Record Type ID?

When you create a Record Type in Salesforce, the system automatically assigns it a unique ID. This unique code allows Salesforce to link data, configure Page Layouts, and control which users can access certain Record Types based on their permissions.

In simple terms, the Record Type ID is like a label or tag that helps Salesforce know exactly which version of a form or layout to use for a particular record. 

Knowing the Record Type ID is useful in situations such as:

  • Automation: When setting up automation rules, knowing the Record Type ID ensures the correct application of these rules.
  • Data migrations: The ID is crucial for correctly mapping data during migrations or integrations with other systems.
  • Complex reporting: For generating detailed reports where data needs to be segmented by Record Type.

Managing Record Types in Salesforce

Managing Record Types in Salesforce is relatively simple. Below is a step-by-step guide covering how to create, edit, and delete Record Types based on different needs.

Creating Record Types

For establishing new Record Types tailored to specific business needs.

  1. Log in to Salesforce.
  2. Select an Object:
    • Click on the gear icon in the top-right corner, and select Setup. Then, find and click Object Manager.
    • Choose the object (ex. Account, Contact, Opportunity) for which you want to create a new Record Type.
  3. Create a New Record Type:
    • Click on Record Types in the sidebar, then click the New button.
    • Fill in the necessary details like Record Type Label, Record Type Name, and Description. Select the Active checkbox to make it available for use.
  4. Assign Page Layouts:
    • Choose the Page Layouts that will be used for this Record Type.
  5. Set Profile access: 
    • Decide which user profiles will have access to this Record Type. Select the profiles and save your changes.
  6. Save: 
    • Click the “Save” button to create the new Record Type.

Editing Record Types

For modifying existing Record Types to align with evolving processes.

  1. Navigate to the Record Type: 
    • Go to the Object Manager, select the object, and click on Record Types.
  2. Find and Edit: 
    • Find the Record Type you want to edit and click on it. Then, click the Edit button.
    • Update whichever details you wish (ex. label, name, description, or associated Page Layouts).
  3. 3. Save
    • Click the “Save” button to apply your changes.

Deleting Record Types

To remove obsolete Record Types and maintain data integrity.

  1. Navigate to the Record Type: 
    • As before, go to the Object Manager, select the object, and click on Record Types.
  2. Find and delete: 
    • Locate the Record Type you wish to delete. Click on the drop-down menu next to the Edit button, and select Delete. Salesforce will prompt you for confirmation. Note that deleting a Record Type is a significant action that can affect data and users. Ensure that it’s no longer needed and backup your data before proceeding.
  3. Complete the deletion:
    •  Click OK or Delete to confirm and complete the deletion process.

Remember, when working with Record Types, it’s important to understand how they’re being used in your Salesforce environment. Changes to Record Types can have wide-ranging effects on how users interact with data, so it’s best to make changes carefully and with a clear understanding of the implications. There are plenty of technologies that can help with this—elements.cloud is one popular example.

Record Types and Page Layouts in Salesforce

Earlier we explained that Record Types let you have multiple versions of a form, complete with different fields and options, all within the same category.

Well, Page Layouts, aligned with specific Record Types, allow you to dictate how data is displayed and interacted with.

How to customize Page Layouts using Record Types

Customizing Page Layouts is what enables you to tailor the UX to your specific needs. However, to customize them, you must already have an associated Record Type created. Beyond that, here’s how to get customizing:

  1. Navigate to Object Manager:
    • Click on the gear icon in the top-right corner and select Setup.
    • In the Setup menu, find and click on Object Manager.
  2. Select an Object:
    • Select the Object for which you want to customize the Page Layout.
  3. Navigate to Page Layouts:
    • Click on Record Types in the sidebar for your chosen object. 
    • Click on the name of the Record Type you want to customize the Page Layout for.
    • Scroll down to Page Layouts and click Edit next to the profile whose Page Layout assignment you want to change.
  4. Customize the Page Layout:
    • If you don’t have a custom Page Layout yet, go back to the object’s main page, click on Page Layouts, and create a new layout by cloning an existing one or starting from scratch.
    • Once you have the desired Page Layout, assign it to the appropriate Record Type for each profile. You can do this by selecting the new layout from the dropdown menu next to each profile in the Edit Page Layout Assignment page.
  5. Save and Test:
    • After assigning the Page Layouts to the Record Types for the desired profiles, click Save.
    • Test the Record Types by creating or editing records. Ensure that the correct Page Layout appears for each Record Type and profile combination.

Customizing Page layouts for different Record Types allows you and other users to see the most relevant information based on the specific context of the record. This further enhances user experience and ensures data consistency throughout your Salesforce implementation. 

Remember, changes to Page Layouts can significantly impact how users interact with Salesforce, so it’s important to plan and test these changes thoroughly.

6 Salesforce Record Types best practices 

Salesforce data management can be tricky for even the most experienced users but the following best practices will help you make the most of your SF records.

  1. Clearly define business processes: Understand the different business processes within your organization and how they map to Salesforce Record Types. This clarity will help you create Record Types that align with specific business needs.
  2. Limit the number of Record Types: Avoid creating too many Record Types for a single object. Having too many can lead to confusion and complexity. Instead, create Record Types only when they serve a distinct purpose.
  3. Use detailed names and descriptions: Give each Record Type a clear, descriptive name and a detailed description. This practice helps users understand the purpose of each Record Type and choose the right one.
  4. Customize Page Layouts thoughtfully: Tailor Page Layouts for each Record Type to include only the fields and sections necessary for that particular business process. This customization reduces clutter and makes data entry more efficient.
  5. Train users thoroughly: Ensure that users understand the purpose of different Record Types and how to use them. Proper training can significantly improve Salesforce data quality and increase user adoption.
  6. Regularly review and update: Business processes evolve, so regularly review and update your Record Types and Page Layouts to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Turn your Salesforce data woes into wins

When used correctly and strategically, Record Types can transform your CRM processes. From setting up automation to customizing user interfaces, understanding and leveraging Record Types is key to effective Salesforce data management. Remember, the aim is to enhance productivity without compromising data integrity or user experience.

Wondering how your CRM stacks up against the rest? Check out our benchmark guide for users and stakeholders, Today’s Top 7 Data Management Challenges