IBM iX DACH Senior Salesforce Technical Consultant Zoltan K. Szabo was working in various positions in sales and operations for two decades when he first encountered Salesforce. He is currently 8x Salesforce certified in Service Cloud, Application Architect, Data Architect, Sharing & Visibility Architect, Sales Cloud, Platform Developer 1, Admin, and App Builder. Find out how he got started in Salesforce, what kept him motivated, what he says was his most difficult certification to date, and what his advice is for Salesforce newbies.
My name is Zoltan K. Szabo. I'm a Senior Salesforce Technical Consultant. I work for IBM iX in Germany.
How did you get started with Salesforce?
For over 20 years, I've been working in different sales and operations positions, although my background is technical. And in 2012, the company I was working for as a Sales Director made a strategic Next Generation application development platform selection. On one of the weekends — as a technically-interested Sales Director, I was checking which application platform made sense. So that was basically the time when I started to deal with Salesforce and ever since, I still highly admire the functionality of this platform.
What were your goals when starting and how did you keep motivated?
I'm always very much interested in the latest technical and technological companies that are coming. So around 2012, I started to feel that Salesforce is going to fly high. It was absolutely not known but you could just feel that this is so powerful — that it's going to grow. I wanted to have more and more hands-on experience and Salesforce was just ideal for me.
Of your 8 certifications, what would you say was the hardest one?
The latest one was Service Cloud, and Service Cloud was really quite difficult for me. I wasn't that much aware of the service-related business processes; business requirements. And also, Service Cloud is quite a complex environment within Salesforce. I found Service Cloud to be the most difficult one so far.
Which areas of the Service Cloud Consultant certification exam should learners focus on then?
The level of configuration is huge. Even compared with Sales Cloud, for example. That's number one. Then there are different new components like the Chat environment — which was probably a newer set of components. Whenever it was possible, I tried to do the testing in a Developer org in addition to Focus on Force. What was especially difficult for me were the KPI’s for the Service Cloud environment. Again, the domain knowledge of that isn't there — there is a focus on it on Focus on Force. And also, the certification itself was requiring this type of KPI’s. That was something I did not feel that I had the confidence in.
Would you say that getting certified affected your career in a positive way?
Having enough certifications, having enough work experience, and also your general background — I think these three together help you advance in your career.
Even with all the technical support now that we have GPT, this is probably going to increase the importance of the human interface: between two humans to talk; to understand.
How would you describe a Salesforce Consultant to someone who has no idea what that means?
Number one, a Salesforce Consultant is someone who understands the customers’ businesses, and the customers’ business processes. Especially if you work for a large company, there are a lot of internal requirements that you must comply with. As a Consultant, you always have to have to listen to the customer. And sometimes if you have a lot of customers, the different customers will be come at you with sudden requirements.
You have to have the dialogue. Dialogue and the negotiation, and the communication with the customer. Nevertheless, you can never implement something during the call itself. So you always have to strike a balance between collecting information, maintaining the customer relationship, and actually doing things.
In my opinion, a Salesforce Consultant must deliver a working technical solution. And depending on the actual customer situation, definitely the existing Legacy environments where Salesforce has to be plugged in. And from the very first moment when you start workshops, a Salesforce consultant must have a switch internally, to immediately try to convert it to a technical solution.
And then where you have your technical skills: How is it going to be mapped into Salesforce? What is it going to look like? How is it going to scale? Is it going to be mid or long term maintainable? And later, a bit on how the existing customer user base is going to get used to it. So all this together is pretty complex. And the good thing with Salesforce is that the platform provides a high level of easy implementation.
Basically, you can focus more on customer dialogues as a Consultant, in my opinion.
Would you say that having good communication skills are essential to a career in Salesforce?
Absolutely. I think for any Consultant, you just have to communicate. I mean even with all the technical support now that we have GPT, this is probably going to increase the importance of the human interface: between two humans to talk; to understand. Maybe you understand something in this way, but two weeks later you figure out that your understanding was incorrect and you need to correct yourself in a very short time frame.
For what certification did you use Focus on Force for, and would you say it was helpful towards your preparations?
Absolutely. And whenever I have a new Salesforce certification, I always use Focus on Force. And I basically exclusively use Focus on Force environments to prepare. I like to stick to the standard Salesforce certifications. There are now a huge number of certifications, but the ones which lean towards the Application Architect, and on the other side — the System Architect. And I like to stick to the core platform and platform-related activities.
Don't cheat yourself. If you feel that something is not coming easy, you can come to a conclusion that “This part is not going to be my strength” during the certification. That's okay, but be aware of it.
What advice would you give those who are thinking of joining the Salesforce ecosystem?
If you want to achieve a certification, try to achieve it in a limited time frame. Maybe in three months. That's assuming that you have some background in the related environment. That's the second. And the third is don't cheat yourself. If you feel that something is not coming easy, you can come to a conclusion that “This part is not going to be my strength” during the certification. That's okay, but be aware of it. And on the other side, if there is something that you feel is important, really try to spend the time to really understand not just on the surface, but in-depth. Meaning, practice is always helpful.
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for fifteen certifications.