Curiosity, Google, and Salesforce Help
Today I’m writing a post explaining my path to becoming involved in the world of Salesforce. As a current freelance Salesforce Admin/Business Analyst/Consultant, my career plans did not include managing a Salesforce Implementation. Yet, six years after first logging into Salesforce as an inside sales rep, I can’t image a better way to spend my working days. I hope my story inspires you to become involved in Salesforce and sheds a light on a few tools that will help you along the way.
I think my Salesforce story mimics many of those you may have heard before. It started with a sense of curiosity rather than a specific interest or need. Several years ago I was working for a parts company overseeing a small regional team of sales representatives. During this time the company decided to purchase several Salesforce licenses. The company was growing rapidly via acquisition which meant additional product lines and more sales people. We were at a point where spreadsheets and calling each sales person individually was no longer effective or efficient.
Something needed to change. During implementation, the company decided to do minimal customization in order to quickly get the product into everyone’s hands. Feedback was solicited. As supervisors, we were each asked to participate by mapping each of our specific internal processes – I was responsible for Quoting. Over the next week, I thought about our current quoting process and watched a few YouTube videos on Salesforce, noting how it could be tailored to meet the company’s needs. I asked our admin, who had zero Salesforce experience, to add a few fields and modify the page layout. This reduced the number of visible fields. When it came time to share my ideas, I talked about how we could modify our current quote process which had no impact on the amount of work but increased awareness and history. I was unaware that my efforts exceeded that of my peers and I quickly became aware that I had a natural curiosity and was able to quickly understand and use this new technology. Over the next few months the project slowly progressed forward and I was routinely asked to provide input and to test new features. The company eventually realized this was going to be a much larger project than originally planned, and I was asked to relocate and guide the project forward.
Here I was at the age of 28 working at the company’s corporate office leading a major project in which I had little to no experience. In fact, I was still relying on Google searches to complete my job. Knowing I needed to be the subject matter expert, my desire and need to learn everything I could was increasing. I learned quickly to tap into the support provided by Salesforce. If you’re a current user of Salesforce, you are aware of the robust support they provide to their customers and partners – free online training and product updates, a large user community both online and in person user groups, and they will even put you in touch with other users with similar businesses needs and processes.
I, along with our admin, used every available moment to watch training videos and discuss how best our use cases would fit into Salesforce. One of the most valuable tools we found was the large online Salesforce Success Community, (https://success.salesforce.com) which allows you to search any topic, browse help and training, ask the community questions, and even contribute by answering other users questions. With well over two million active community members, we were always able to quickly find answers and continue moving the project forward.
Another great opportunity to learn more about Salesforce is to attend the Annual Salesforce Conference in San Francisco. Typically held each fall, Dreamforce, brings together over 100,000 Salesforce users, admins, developers, business executives, and industry pioneers from around the world meet at one of the largest tech conferences. The conference hosts over two thousand sessions, each tailored to specific industries, roles, and company size. Keynote speeches are delivered by greats; such as Astronauts, world business leaders, and of course Salesforce’s Chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff.
With almost too much to see and do, Dreamforce can be overwhelming for the first time attendee. I recommend signing up early and planning which sessions you are most interested in attending. Once registration for the sessions opens, it’s much like registering for college classes. Sessions fill up quickly – sometimes the same day. If that happens, you can be added to a waitlist or if you’re lucky they will add an additional session.
If you’re a new admin or developer, I highly recommend the Hands-on Training sessions. Here each person sits in front of a Salesforce provided laptop as the session leader takes you step by step through the specific topic. You are also provided additional printed documentation. These sessions cover topics such as setting up a new user, allowing the class to proceed step by step through organization wide defaults, profiles, roles, and permission sets. Other sessions will walk the class through rolling out, customizing forecasting, launching multi-currency, and many other topics. If you are interested in the Hand-on Training and can’t wait till Dreamforce, you’re in luck. After each Dreamforce conference Salesforce uploads the sessions to YouTube and making them available for anyone to view.
At the time I was asked to lead the Salesforce implementation, I had no idea what was instore for me. Because of my natural curiosity, and my interested in business process, Salesforce has been and continues to be the most satisfying career move I have made. It has inspired me to continue my learning, allowed me to connect with other members in the company, and build lifelong relationships and friendships!