If you are lucky enough to have met the love of your life, you probably remember certain details about your meeting – where you were, what they were wearing, what they said. My introduction to Salesforce was similarly memorable. In 2003, I was working in sales operations for a Fortune 500 company in Nashville. I had been doing a lot of work managing market research data and generating business leads for the sales team. We had put together a homegrown database to track all this juicy data. One day an executive said to me, “This database is helpful, but we need something more robust. You should research CRM systems.” To which I brilliantly replied, “What is CRM?” Okay, remember this was 2003; don’t judge too harshly.
Discovering Customer Relationship Management
Once I learned what “Customer Relationship Management” was, I started researching options, discovered Salesforce.com, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sixteen years later, I am still passionate about Salesforce. I have spent about half of my years in the Salesforce ecosystem as an internal system administrator for several companies and the other half as a consultant.
Which is better? There are pros and cons to both. Being internal often makes you a big fish in a small pond. You may be the lone admin for your company, which means that if you do your job well, you can have a direct impact on your company’s success. It also means that you will know every field, record type, and page layout of your Salesforce org in great detail. You get to know your users, and how they work. You become the “go to” expert.
Conversely, as a consultant, you are surrounded by Salesforce experts, each one seemingly smarter than the next. Team members become more specialized; there are solution architects, technical architects, data specialists, and developers. Some roles focus on specific industries. I have recently moved into a business analyst position with the Silverline delivery team, which will allow me to spend my time doing the work I most enjoy, like gathering requirements from business users, developing solutions, configuring Salesforce, and training users. At Silverline, we work as a team, and we support and encourage each other. As a consultant, it is part of your job to stay educated about the latest functionality and best practices, and you can take what you learn and apply it to a variety of situations and clients.
A vast variety of industries, clients, and education
My Salesforce journey has allowed me to work in many different industries over the years, including financial services, healthcare, business services, manufacturing, supply chain management, and education. I’ve had employers and clients all over the country, ranging from small businesses to large, global enterprises. My duties have included conducting business process reviews, solution design, application configuration, data migration, and training. There is plenty of variety.
One of the best things about working with Salesforce is that there is always something new to learn. Always. Even after all these years, I learn something new nearly every day. I have been to Dreamforce in San Francisco three times, which felt like going to Disneyland at Christmastime. Calling Dreamforce a user conference is a huge understatement. It’s a multi-day opportunity to experience the full force of Salesforce’s marketing and hype engines, stuff your brain with learning, and socialize with other Salesforce geeks. On a (much) smaller scale, there are local meetups with user groups, where you can spend a few hours networking and learning with other Salesforce users and admins in your hometown.
Another great learning event is WITness Success, an event for Salesforce Women in Tech. This year, I am fortunate that the event will be held in my hometown of Nashville. I am excited to attend, reconnect with local friends, learn, encourage newbies, and get inspired by other veterans.
If you are the solitary type, don’t despair. There is plenty of on-demand training available. A great place to start is Trailhead. Billed as a “fun way to learn,” Trailhead is a vast library of interactive online learning modules. Pick your area of interest and experience level and start down a Trail. As you complete modules, you earn badges, which helps you track your progress and stay motivated. There are also online Success Communities where you can network and learn from peers. You can also find many Salesforce blogs, webinars, and podcasts.
I don’t know where my Salesforce journey will ultimately end, but I feel certain that it will be interesting and that I’m going to enjoy the ride!