4orce Cloud Consulting’s Trevor Lobel is a 4x certified Salesforce Consultant based in Cape Town, South Africa. He was working for a non-profit organization when he discovered Salesforce, saying that it was a combination of three things that drew him in: technology, systems, and people. Find out which of his four certifications he considers his hardest, what tips he has for those preparing for the Service Cloud Consultant certification, what a typical working day for him is like, and what advice he has for those aspiring for a career in Salesforce!
My name is Trevor Lobel. I'm based in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm an independent Salesforce Consultant.
How did you get started with Salesforce?
I was involved with a non-profit that was looking for a system — they were using spreadsheets and Google Docs and it was quite a mess. They were not only trying to keep track of the donation process, but also of the interventions that they were providing — this was a literacy program and they wanted to monitor the progress that the learners were making as a result of the intervention.
And I did quite a bit of research. Came up with a couple of options, but Salesforce appealed to me the most.
It was a combination of three things that always fascinated , interested, and drew me in and these are: technology, systems, and people. And working with Salesforce is where those three entities meet perfectly.
What kept you motivated in learning Salesforce?
Simply being able to access the platform via a browser or a device — even though there weren't mobile apps when I started working with Salesforce. The wonderful thing about Salesforce is that they provide 10 free Enterprise licenses to every non-profit. And I've subsequently found out through some of my clients who failed to use this system that if you don't use the platform, they'll take it away from you.
But it was a combination of three things that always fascinated , interested, and drew me in and these are: technology, systems, and people. And working with Salesforce is where those three entities meet perfectly.
Of the 4 certifications you currently have, what would you say was the hardest one?
Service Cloud was the most difficult one. And it's interesting that the certification was the most challenging and yet I'm most enjoying working with Service Cloud. And the simple reason for that is that with Service Cloud, you control the situation. In an Opportunity in Sales Cloud — with an Opportunity or with the Lead or the Opportunity contact person, they call the shots.
They make the decision — it's pretty much out of your control. But being able to provide excellent service; excellent follow-up through Service Cloud, you control it. So that's just an interesting thing that I found but it was the most difficult one that I did.
Of Any tips for those preparing for the Service Cloud certification exam?
What I learned over the four certifications is look very carefully at the study outline. I literally had checked — do I know all the answers to this specific line; to this specific part of the exam? Become very comfortable with the material that Focus on Force provides. I think the content is outstanding so be fully comfortable and understand the content.
And the other thing is real life configuration and practice. Try building an approval process, try building an escalation process — try actually physically doing the work. I think it is impossible to pass any exam — when I say impossible, it's very difficult to pass any exam — without actually doing the stuff yourself; without actually configuring and doing it yourself. And the reason I say that is that there are usually questions that are close but slightly misworded.
Can you please paint a picture of what a typical working day for you is like?
I spend a lot of time around validations and reports & dashboards. I usually start off with a stand-up — first one’s at 9 o'clock. And then what I like to do is I like to action anything that came about from that particular stand up. I've got at 9; 10:30 two stand-ups — I've kind of tied down at that time. I like to follow up straight away with any action items from the stand-ups.
But generally speaking, I do a lot of work around validation rules. I do a lot of work around reports and dashboards. I like to make myself available. I like my clients to know that if they drop me an email or they send me a WhatsApp, that they're going to get a response almost immediately.
And the other thing that's pretty important to me is helping others. So I've got quite a large Network here in South Africa of other Salesforce Consultants and we often get together and bounce ideas off each other and get assistance.
Would you say that having good communication skills are essential to a career in Salesforce?
Absolutely. I don't think it's just dependent on a career in Salesforce. It's important generally-speaking. And communication skills involve I think a lot of things, not only being able to explain something and slow down, and having the patience to realize that people aren't getting it, but also to listen to what they require.
The other very important thing about communication skills is to say no. I'll get a request, for example, for a validation rule that's very complex. And I'll know it'll conflict with something. And I'll say, ‘Listen. It can be done but it's very complex. It's going to take me a long time and it's going to cost you money.’ So I think part of the communication skills is not only being able to express, to listen to others, to express yourself; but also to be able to say no or to say, ‘I won't be able to do it today, I'll do it this week.’ Or ‘I won't be able to do it this week, I'll be able to do it next month.’
So that ability to say no is just as important in those communication skills.
Do not be disheartened by failing the first time — or the second time for that matter. I've known people that have failed Administrator three times and now they have far more knowledge and experience than me.
For what certifications did you use Focus on Force for, and would you say it was helpful towards your preparations?
You know, I tell people that you actually only need one resource and that's Focus on Force. So I used Focus on Force for Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and for Platform App Builder. I think your content is outstanding. I think it's absolutely brilliant. You know, there are other very good resources out there but I wouldn't prepare for any exam without taking on a couple of modules from Focus on Force.
So it is my number one selection and recommendation for any certification.
Any final tips to those aspiring to join the Salesforce ecosystem?
I would not hurry up and tell friends and colleagues, ‘I'm sitting the exam on Monday,’ in case it goes wrong. A lot of people fail. Do not be disheartened by failing the first time — or the second time for that matter. I've known people that have failed Administrator three times and now they have far more knowledge and experience than me.
So don't be put off by failing an exam.
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for sixteen certifications