Linking Together Two Picklists in Salesforce

June 21, 2016 Jonathon J. Leon Guerrero


One of the most straightforward definitions in the entire Salesforce glossary is the Picklist. As in, you pick a single value for a specific field from a drop-down list. Picklists make it easy to customize your Salesforce instance.

But while Picklists are easy to create, I’m sometimes surprised to see that our customers and prospects aren’t using them to their full capabilities. In fact, a couple ways to get the most out of Picklists is when you link two of them together or when you connect a workflow to a Picklist.

So, I’m going to share two quick blog posts to show you how to do that. This first post will look at how to link two Picklists.

Technically speaking, you are creating Field Dependencies – making one field in Salesforce dependent upon another. It combines two related data values so that it’s easier to input into Salesforce as well as ensuring high-quality data. This is also provides a nice feature of streamlining giant picklists so only the most relevant information is shown.

For instance, let’s say you want to link an Industry Field with a Sub-Industry Field. Maybe you have Computer Software as an Industry and you want to auto-populate a Sub-Industry field with categories within that sector, such as Sales Intelligence Software, Security Software and Customer Relationship Management.

This is how you make that happen:

STEP ONE: Identify the fields that you want to link. For our example, we’re going to stick with Industry and Sub-Industry.

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STEP TWO: In Salesforce, go to your Industry Field in the Setup page.

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STEP THREE: Click on new under the Field Dependencies section, which brings you to the New Field Dependency page.

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STEP FOUR: Because you entered through the Industry Field, that will be listed as the Controlling Field. In other words, it’s the dominate field. So it’s a good Salesforce tip to always start on what you want to consider as the Controlling Field. After doing that, click on Dependent Field and select which field you want to be dependent on your controlling field. In this example, that would be the Sub-Industry. This takes you to the Edit Field Dependency page.

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STEP FIVE: Here at the Edit Field Dependency page, you can determine what Sub-Industry values that will be affiliated with that Controlling Field value. We’ll select Computer Software as the Controlling Field value. Now you can select as many Sub-Industry Field values as you want. You want to be as inclusive and complete as possible. But we’re going to search for our three use-case examples from the list of available choices: Sales Intelligence Software, Security Software and Customer Relationship Management.

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STEP SIX: Click on Save. Congratulations! Your Fields are now linked.

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STEP SEVEN: I always recommend that you test any changes to you make to Salesforce. So make sure that Industry and Sub-Industry Fields are indeed linked.

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RESULT: In our use-case, after selecting Computer Software in the Industry Field, the Sub-Industry Field will now give you a drop-down menu containing the three choices we selected: Sales Intelligence Software, Security Software and Customer Relationship Management. This allows sales team members to select the one that’s appropriate for that account.

As I said at the beginning, Picklists are easy to create. But they’re underutilized. I think you’ll find that by linking Picklists together, you’ll improve the quality of your data within Salesforce. To read the second post about Connecting Workflow Rules to Picklists, click here.

About the Author

Jonathon J. Leon Guerrero is a pre-sales solutions consultant and head of Sales Operations at LeanData.

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