Focus on People: Neal Lightfeldt

Neal Lightfeldt works as a Sales Excellence manager and in this post, shares his Salesforce journey with us.

How and Why did you get started with Salesforce?

Our parent company began a new initiative several years ago focused on applying OpEx principles to the front end of the business. Part of that initiative included implementing Salesforce. I already had experience implementing and administering our previous CRM system (SalesLogix), so I was a good fit for the role of overseeing our consultants during implementation and growing into the Admin role, along with several other hats I wear in the company.

What were your goals when starting and how did you keep motivated?

I continue to have one consistent goal: continually identify ways to solve users’ problems.
You can do that a number of ways, but several top the list:

  1. Ensure data integrity in order to develop and sustain users’ confidence in the system
  2. Maintain a continuous dialog with users to find and resolve pain points through new features/applications;
  3. Continuously look for opportunities to streamline and automate processes within the company.

Focusing on those areas has always been a passion and has kept me motivated.

What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce and how did you rise above those challenges?

While I have a technical mind, I always relied on our IT department for the nuts and bolts development of our CRM systems. When our IT department was reduced in size I no longer had those resources. If i wanted to create new areas within Salesforce I had to learn to do it myself. Luckily with Salesforce you can do so much with clicks not code.

The Salesforce online community and all the documentation that is available on line from Salesforce has been a lifesaver in terms of becoming a more effective, knowledgeable Admin.

What is your role now and what does your day to day look like?

About 70% of my time is Salesforce related and 30% is focused on other areas within the company, mostly online activities. Regarding Salesforce, my day varies from learning new things within Salesforce, addressing users’ issues, training, talking with users to learn how we can improve the system, chasing down data issues that may arise (integration issues), developing new reports for executives, working with our German subsidiary company to drive adoption – the list is varied and endless.

Which steps would you suggest for someone that wants to start a Salesforce career?

If you only focus on the technical side of things you will be the person that everyone comes to and you will be assigned tasks to complete. There is nothing wrong with that but if you want to have a larger impact on your company and become a more valuable resource, take the time to understand your company’s processes, how forecasting is arrived at, what are the company’s markets, what products are being sold where. Understanding those things will inform how you develop Salesforce and give you insights into how to create a more useful system.

Foremost, be a voracious learner. Go through all the relevant Trailhead training. Talk to other Admins whenever possible. Be active in the online community. Talk your company into sending you to Dreamforce. Work in Sandbox as much as possible to try new things. Set a date to complete your Admin certification, schedule it and then work towards that. All of these things can help set you in the right direction.

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for ten certifications