Do you find yourself frustrated with your current job? Salesforce training & certification might be the answer. If you are a developer, you need to understand how to create more efficient and effective programs.
It’s not just about knowing how to code – it’s also about understanding best practices and design principles so that your work is of higher quality.
Salesforce is without a doubt, the most well-known name in cloud-based CRM’s. However, from a technologist’s perspective, mastering the various Salesforce platforms can also prove pretty lucrative, with specialist careers racking up an average yearly salary of $71,175, says Burning Glass — a company that studies job-posting data nationwide.
Additionally, being Salesforce-knowledgeable can open many opportunities even when a bigger paycheck isn’t necessarily the current driving force in your career.
So where does one start?
Which Salesforce Certification to start with?
Focus on Force spoke with Roy Moore, 11X certified Application Architect (heading for Platform Architect), 6X Trailhead Ranger, and Co-Leader of the Colorado Springs Salesforce User Group, and he has this to say: “One of the most important questions about Salesforce is where you start. What is your foundation going to be? Now, the answer’s going to depend a little bit but for the vast majority of people, I think they should start with the Admin Certification.”
“And the reason for that is while the Salesforce Admin Certification isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for other certs, it kind of is. It’s expected that you have this basic administrative knowledge of Salesforce. Think of the Admin Certification as the ‘high school diploma’ of Salesforce. It’s the bare minimum,” he adds.
There are some exceptions, however, where people might consider starting with a different certification.
“Developers who have a very strong developer interest. They could start with the Platform App Builder Certification — which is very similar to the Admin Certification. If I had to break out the difference between them, I would say the Admin Certification focuses more on the proper care and feeding of your Salesforce org as Administrator. And the App Builder is more of a ‘How to enhance it declaratively.’ A lot of developers say they want to go straight into more developer stuff so they might want to go to the App Builder, but most start with Admin. The other exceptions are those who are only in one of Salesforce’s more tertiary products. Like if you’re only in Marketing Cloud, then look at the Marketing Cloud certifications. The Email Marketing Certification is probably where you want to start. But most people should start with the Admin Certification,” Moore explains.
Is Learning Salesforce Worth It?
The world’s No. 1 CRM is Salesforce and thousands of companies, regardless of industry and size of operation, are always in need of Salesforce professionals to work for them.
The demand for Salesforce professionals is increasing with time and the salaries being offered are getting higher and higher. A Salesforce Technical Architect in the United States, for example, can earn upwards of $150,000 annually.
The better trained a Salesforce professional is, the higher he/she gets paid!
Best place to learn Salesforce
Salesforce does an excellent job of curating its own content. They give paths for studying for the exams that will walk you through everything they’re going to cover.
“Trailhead is the place to start,” says Moore.
“If you know nothing about what you’re testing for, this is where you should start. If you’ve been doing it for a while, you might be able to jump ahead but for most people they should start by at least reviewing the content at Trailhead that’s applicable to the exam they’re studying for,” he adds.
One downside to it is the fact that there are so many trails. There are 185 unique trails you can take via Trailhead — and it can get overwhelming.
This is where supplemental learning comes in.
Inspire Planner Chief Innovation Officer Thai Nguyen told Dice.com: “To prepare for certification exams, I recommend visiting Focus On Force, which offers realistic and up-to-date practice exams and study guides. In addition, you can find resources for various Salesforce certifications including Admin, Advanced Admin, Platform Developer, App Builder, and more.”
How long does it take to learn Salesforce?
The answer to this question is not that simple because your experience matters.
Salesforce recommends that you have a certain amount of on-the-job experience as well as studying through the topics.
How long have you been doing Salesforce? What have you been doing in Salesforce? What level of Salesforce org have you been working on? Did you build your org from scratch?
“It’s not scientific or anything. It’s just my humble opinion that if yesterday you said ‘What is Salesforce?’ Then you probably need about 200 hours of prep time to get ready for your first certification. If you’ve been Salesforcing for a year maybe in an Admin role or a Junior Admin role — maybe 80 hours of prep time is enough. 2 years — 40 hours. 3 years — 20 hours. There are so many pieces that could influence this,” says Moore.
5 Questions to help you decide if getting Salesforce certified is right for you
Are you willing to put the work in?
A person who has been at his/her company for two years as a Salesforce Admin, for example, and is prepping for the Admin cert can study for an hour a day, (Monday through Friday) and five hours on the weekend.
If this person has been a full-time Salesforce Admin for two years and has helped build an Enterprise level org, has worked hard to maintain Salesforce best practices, has been exploring the yearly release notes three times a year, has been engaged in his/her local community group, and has been actively learning on Trailhead — four weeks might be sufficient for this person to get ready for his/her certification.
But what if you don’t have this person’s experience? Are you willing to put the work in? The answer solely depends on you.
Are you going to invest time and money in yourself?
Salesforce is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand skills in IT at the moment, and to add that expertise to your resume can have a payoff almost instantly.
This is because the Salesforce ecosystem has extended way beyond its original cloud-based CRM platform, so Salesforce technical skills are proving useful and necessary in a vast array of areas: from system administrators to product managers, developers, integration architects, among others.
But apart from intentionally carving out time to study, the fee to actually take the certification exam is $200 and the retake fee is $100.
This is where investing in quality supplementary materials comes in.
Are you ready to constantly maintain your knowledge?
Roy Moore has this to say about what it means to be a Salesforce professional: “A lot of this is about soft sharpening… Take what you know and keep it fresh so it doesn’t get rusty.”
“As it gets updated in releases and whatnot, you keep it up to date in your mind, and you get exposure to new things on Trailhead that maybe your org doesn’t have a need for right now. But just getting that exposure could be helpful because I’ve had it happen a dozen times where my company wanted to do something and I had decided: ‘You know, I think there’s a trail about that.’ I believe I did one a few months ago or a year ago and has allowed me to go find data about that feature. So absolutely, we have to be soft sharpeners as we approach our certifications and our professional careers” he adds.
What is your experience with real-life scenarios?
Salesforce certifications are revised and updated on a regular basis. This means that learning about the platform involves familiarizing yourself with real-life situations.
Have you been doing Salesforce full-time/half-time/quarter-time? Do you work solo or are you part of a team? Is the org healthy or is it a mess? How customized is it? How many users and stakeholders are there? What edition of Salesforce are you working on? So all this comes back to — it depends.
When you look at the questions above, also look at what type of experience you have: this is what will determine how well you are going to be able to answer those questions.
Again, experience matters a great deal here.
Are you prioritizing what you’re leaning towards?
There’s a Functional Career Path, and there’s a Technical Career Path.
A Functional Career Path aligns more with an Admin or a Consultant role and is best started with Admin, followed by Advanced Admin. Salesforce has a number of different Consultant certs: the Sales Consultant, Service Consultant, Field Service Consultant, etc. And you may eventually wish to go down to the end of the path which is getting into the Architect-level certs.
A Technical Career Path on the other hand requires that you understand how you can declaratively build applications and is best started with Admin as the foundation, followed by App Builder. And you may also continue on to the end of the path which is getting into the System and Application Architect-level certs.
If your answer is “yes” to all 5 questions above, you might want to know about the best training resources available for learning Salesforce.
Best Salesforce training resources
Comprehensive Salesforce training is vital. A study by Whatfix found that 35% of sales reps feel they need more training to use their customer relationship management platform (CRM) effectively.
Salesforce is used by over 150,000 companies and because of this, there is a myriad of learning courses, training materials, and videos available. It can be a challenge to figure out which are the best ones for your team.
We’ve done the hard work for you and have researched the best Salesforce training resources on your behalf. We organized them into the following categories:
- Instructor-led Salesforce classes
- Salesforce in-app guidance
- Asynchronous Salesforce training courses
- Supplemental resources
Instructor-led Salesforce classes
Instructor-led classes will allow your team to be learning from the experts, and they’ll be able to ask follow-up questions to ensure they fully grasp each concept.
Typically, the sessions cover the exam topics and examples are given. Students also have an opportunity to interact with each other by way of chat, allowing them to offer each other support.
The structured environment will also likely push team members to learn and help keep everyone on track.
- Pricing: Cost varies. Focus on Force’s instructor-led classes are free.
- Main benefit: As instructor-led classes are interactive in nature, students get an opportunity to ask questions, and are able access recordings after the sessions.
Trailhead Academy by Salesforce offers over 50 virtual and in-person courses with each one covering a different aspect of the platform.
- Pricing: Cost varies widely between different topics and locations, starting at $300 and going up to $4,500 per course.
- Main benefit: Since it is Salesforce running these classes, your team will be directly learning from them.
Salesforce in-app guidance
An in-app guidance feature was added after Salesforce upgraded the platform to Salesforce Lightning.
With this training, Salesforce will pop up to guide the user as they go through the platform.
Users can create custom walkthroughs and prompts, and even install a pre-built package from AppExchange. Walkthroughs can direct users through various steps, whereas prompts usually come up as a single notification.
- Pricing: While you may need a myTrailhead subscription to create walkthroughs, basic in-app guidance is already built-in on the platform. You may need to contact Salesforce for pricing.
- Main Benefit: Because prompts are a built-in feature, you don’t need coding knowledge to set them up. Also, Salesforce in-app guidance is guaranteed compatible with the platform.
Salesforce’s in-app guidance only offers a few basic features, especially if you don’t have a myTrailhead subscription.
You can use Whatflix DAP to track your team’s progress and use it to offer targeted help (i.e. alerts, walkthroughs, and self-help materials) if they are struggling.
- Pricing: offers Contact Whatfix for pricing details as they offer different packages based on your company’s needs.
- Main benefit: Whatflix has a self-help menu containing relevant materials to the roles of users and where they are on the platform. And similar to Salesforce, there is no coding needed in Whatflix.
Asynchronous Salesforce training courses
Self-paced, asynchronous training is a practical option for large, distributed, rapidly growing, dynamic teams. Since they don’t require an instructor, these courses are often more affordable and flexible than other training alternatives.
Team members can begin, end, and pause their training based on their current schedule.
If you want to learn about a topic in-depth, Salesforce Trailhead has more than 200 Trails, which are lesson plans made up of a set of modules. To take quizzes and track and record your progress, you’ll need to log in via your Salesforce, Google, Linked In, or email account.
- Pricing: Trailhead is free.
- Key benefit: Trailhead has curated Trailmixes that group Trails into broad topics like “Lead a Sales Team from Anywhere.”
Salesforce’s YouTube Channel
Salesforce’s YouTube channel has a wide array of short-form videos that can help your team quickly find guides for the feature they are currently using. It is also a great resource for learning about new offerings and features.
- Pricing: These resources are completely free.
- Key benefit: Some employees may find the video format more helpful than written documentation.
Given the widespread adoption of Salesforce, the odds are that if you encounter a problem, someone else has already had the same issue.
This is where Salesforce’s discussion forums come in handy. Though many forum threads are developer-focused, you can sort by topic to look for sales-related questions or general concerns about using the platform.
- Pricing: You only need your Salesforce ID to post or respond to questions.
- Main benefit: Your team can get specific, direct answers to their problems instead of sorting through available self-help materials or product documentation.
Consider offering your team multiple types of Salesforce training, including videos, structured courses, and text-based supplemental reading. That way, you can appeal to different learning styles, and every person will be able to figure out what method works best for them.
Gamify your Salesforce training with a leaderboard
Learning to use new technology, especially a platform as nuanced and multi-faceted as Salesforce. Make the process more fun with gamification. Several of the training resources discussed above have gamification elements built in. Salesforce Trails, for example, has levels and badges team members can earn.
You can also motivate your team and create an air of friendly competition by displaying individual progress and achievements on a leaderboard dashboard.