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An Introductory Guide to Salesforce Flow for Marketers

An Introductory Guide to Salesforce Flow for Marketers

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Marketing and sales teams have a lot on their plates. Marketing is focused on generating interest and qualifying leads, and the Sales team is focused on closing deals and securing business. 

Both teams benefit from working together to make sure they are focused on the right people at the right time, by streamlining the handoff and ensuring data quality every step of the way. To help with this, marketers have the power of Marketing Cloud/Pardot automation tools, which can tackle a lot of work. 

But when it comes to more advanced data wizardry and support for unique processes and actions like related record creation, marketers have another powerful tool that can help. 

Enter — Salesforce Flow!

Wait, what is Salesforce Flow?

Salesforce Flow is a powerful declarative automation tool that can be used to automate complex business processes without developer skills. Flows let you build customized user experiences and can save time by making sure the right actions are completed at the right time.

And, because they are declarative (relying on clicks, rather than code), Salesforce Flows are easier to manage than a developed (e.g. Apex) solution.

Flow is the future for Salesforce declarative automation 

Sound familiar? You may have heard Salesforce Flow discussed a lot in the community recently. For one thing, Salesforce has really gone all-in with enhancements to Flow that let you do way more than ever before.  

Not to mention, Salesforce has announced plans to sunset Workflow Rules and Process Builder, two of its legacy automation tools. For this reason, you should use flow for new process automation, and companies should consider migrating existing (and relevant) processes to Flow.

Sounds cool, right? Now you’re probably wondering, how do I learn more about Flow? 

We’ve got you! Here is a high-level overview on the basics around Salesforce Flow.

Marketing Uses of Flow

Now that you know a little more about flows and how they work, it’s time to explore how marketing teams can use Flow.

Below are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless! 

  • Managing Salesforce campaign activation
  • Creating a custom task series for Sales
  • Standardizing Campaign Member Statuses
  • Capturing lifetime prospect scores
  • Guiding a rep through a outbound calling “wizard” with branded messaging
  • Initial customer onboarding steps when an opportunity closes
  • Automating field values based on another field
  • Automating Lead Conversion (with the help of Apex)
  • Setting the Marketing Data Sharing field value to control when Leads/Contacts sync to Pardot and, if using multiple Pardot Business Units, which Business Unit they sync to

Flow Building Basics

This section covers what you need to know when building a flow.

We recommend you build and test your flow in a Sandbox environment. After testing and validation, deploy to production.

Flow Types

First, there are four core flow types that are most commonly used:

Screen Flows

When to use Screen Flows:

  • When you need a wizard-like screen interface that users can interact with to view/add/update information, create records, etc.
  • Good for customizing user experience and guide them through process steps

How Screen Flows are launched:

  • Common uses include launching from an action button or displayed on a Lightning record page.

Use Cases:

  • Walkthrough of creating a lead or opportunity
  • Quick start of setting up accounts
  • Agent phone script guidance
  • A “card” displayed on a record page displaying related record information in rich text, or showing an image when a lead is hot. (see screenshot)

Record-Triggered Flows

When to use Record-Triggered Flows:

  • An autolaunched flow that runs in the background when a record is created, updated, or deleted.
  • It’s this type of flow that replaces the functionality of Workflow Rules and Process Builder.

How they are launched:

  • Launched Independently, when a record is created, updated, or deleted and meets entry conditions

Use Cases:

Schedule-Triggered Flows

When to use Schedule-Triggered Flows:

  • Background process that runs at a specified time and frequency (daily, weekly, or one-time)

How they are launched:

  • Launched Independently, based on set time and entry conditions

Use Cases:

  • Create or update records in batches
  • Delete obsolete data periodically
  • Send email alert to Marketing if Lead is hasn’t been actioned by Sales

Autolaunched Flows

When to use Autolaunched Flows:

  • An automated process that is triggered by another process, like another flow, process builder, Apex or API.
  • Good for situations when you have a repeatable set of tasks that may be called by more than one process (called a subflow).

How they are launched:

  • From another process


  • Error handling subflows, like having a more user-friendly message that appears if you experience an error.
  • A utility flow that handles task creation for different record triggered events

This handy chart can help to determine which type of flow to use:

which type of salesforce flow to use

Building Salesforce Flows

Ok, so now we know the types of flows we can build. Now let’s take a closer look at what goes into building them.

Flow Builder

Flow Builder is the place where you build and test your flows. There are three key areas in the builder:

  • The Toolbox is where you create and manage all of the elements and resources that go into your flow. More on that shortly.
  • The Canvas is where you build your flow by adding elements using the (+) tool. 
  • The Button Bar at the top lets you view flow information, and test/debug, save and activate your flow. 

Flow Building Blocks

The main building blocks for building Salesforce flows are:

  • (1) Start – This is where you decide how and when the flow is going to start! Options are dependent on the type of flow — most relevant for Record Triggered or Scheduled flow types — but this can be very important to making sure the flow starts when it should.
  • (2) Elements – These are what you add to the Canvas to build out your flow. While the full list can be found here, several common elements include:
    • Get Records
    • Create or Update Records
    • Decisions
    • Actions
    • Loops
  • (3) Connectors – These define the path a flow will take, and which element to execute next.
  • (4) Resources – These are the pieces that store information that are used by Elements throughout the flow. Examples of these are variables that store field values, formulas or choice sets. 

Tips on Building and Updating Salesforce Flows

  • Copying/Pasting Elements – You can duplicate elements which can be a time saver if you need a similar element somewhere else in the flow. Simply click on the element and select Copy Element, then click the (+) in the place where you want to paste the copy, and click Paste Copied Elements. 
  • Extending Flows – Using the components available on the AppExchange and UnofficialSF.
  • Save often – While building a flow it’s a good idea to Save your flow often so you don’t lose any work. You can perform a quick save on Flows that haven’t been activated instead of having to save as another version.
  • Be sure to activate when ready! – Once you’re ready to run the flow live, remember to activate it.
  • Opening existing Flows – Clicking on the flow name on the Flows page will open the Active flow. If you have saved a new version of the flow but haven’t activated it, you need to go into View Details (click the arrow to the right of the flow in the list view) to view and open the newer inactive version.

There are many more best practices to building flows that are highly recommended.

I’ve built a Flow! What’s next?

Once you’ve built your flow it’s important to debug and test your flow to make sure it’s running the way it’s expected to. 

When you have tested and are happy with the results, then you can deploy to production. If you’re using a changeset to deploy, make sure you activate the flow in your production environment!

Where to learn more about Flow

This article is just the tip of the iceberg of flow related content. There are A TON of great resources out there. 

Here are a few to get you started:

Let us know how you’re using Flow in the comments section, or reach out to us with any questions.

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  • Heather started her career in technology, then grew into roles leading digital marketing and marketing & sales operations. Today, she holds 8x Salesforce and Pardot certifications. Before joining Sercante, Heather wore many hats, including project manager, technical writer, technical support, as well as digital marketing, marketing and sales operations. At Sercante, Heather keeps Sercante on top of Salesforce platform updates and best practices, to help clients achieve the maximum value from their technology investment. When she’s not working, you’ll find her cuddling with branch managers, on a yoga mat or ramping up her pottery skills. Her motivation is to deliver kick-ass solutions for clients and to support her team learn and grow at Sercante and in the Salesforce ecosystem.

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