Last week, Salesforce announced the new class of Salesforce MVPs. Our own Danielle Laffey made the cut. I had the chance to chat with her about her path to MVP and how this new role will impact all aspects of her career.
Tell us about your road to becoming a Salesforce MVP. How did you get here?
When I entered the Salesforce ecosystem as an accidental admin, I knew nothing. So I started a user group as free support and training to make sure I could do my job. And I scoured the web for any info I could get to make me an expert in it. Then Salesforce came out with the MVP program. There was obviously a status to it. The prestige that came along with the title was one of the reasons that I really wanted it. It was another credential that I could earn and claim that proved my expertise. I was already certified in so many things, and this just felt like a great next step to the top. And MVPs get access to so many cool things, including free training, contribution to exam questions, and access to product managers and SF executives. I wanted to be an MVP for the recognition and to make sure I stayed marketable in the ecosystem. I wanted to better myself. I was basically being selfish.
It didn’t take long for my intentions to shift, for me to see that running a community group and acquiring all of this knowledge makes me an expert, sure — but more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to share what I know out into the Trailblazer ecosystem. It was a rapid 180 from solely wanting to better myself into realizing all the ways I could help other people learn. The support, collaboration, and community is what it’s really about.
When you’re first starting out in any career, you are naturally more interested in taking things — knowledge, experience, opportunities — for yourself. Along my own path there was a point where I went from taking it all in, to giving a lot of it back to the greater community. That has, I think, really driven my career success and contributed to recognition to be considered a MVP. And now it’s funny because I’m super excited about the opportunities the program will bring, but I’m more excited about what this is going to allow me to share. Where before it was self-centered, now this gives me a platform to help enable other Trailblazers. And to see their success, whether a client or a community member I helped along the way, is more gratifying than any piece of swag or cool outing.
How long have you been in the Salesforce ecosystem?
After I graduated college, I took a job at a PR agency in Indianapolis where I was assigned 10 clients who were using ExactTarget email marketing. Obviously that was not Salesforce at the time, but I’ve been working on that technology since 2003. As I mentioned, I came into Sales and Service Cloud in 2007 as an accidental admin. Before the Salesforce acquisition of ExactTarget and name change to Marketing Cloud, I worked with the teams that built the connector between ExactTarget and Salesforce. So technically I’ve been working with the tools and technologies since 2003.
Because of my experience with ExactTarget, I was familiar with cross-cloud technology, and at the time, not many people understood the infrastructure and solution between Sales, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud. While I have worked with clients in all industries, I have been assigned to many insurance clients over my consulting career. Using my cross-cloud capabilities, I have been able to help these clients design and implement solutions to create the unique, personalized customer journeys that today’s consumer demands. After working with several insurance clients, I noticed a trend that the industry was significantly behind in technology compared to other industries. That’s why I chose to focus my recent efforts to the Salesforce for Insurance community and took over the Trailblazer group in 2019. Insurance is a necessity for all of us. Traditionally it’s a pain for all parties involved. But I see an opportunity to make a direct impact and leave this world a little better by making the process a bit easier for all.
What is your day-to-day work like at Silverline (and beyond)?
As the Principal for Insurance Solutions, my day-to-day is assisting clients in the insurance industry by designing technology solutions to make a cohesive customer experience for both their agents and the end consumers. I’m consulting with clients on best practices, how-to trends I see to solve industry-specific issues, and advising on solution roadmaps. I am working internally with our Silverline consultants to educate them on industry terms, standard business functions and processes, and best practices so they better serve our clients with the expertise in both insurance and Salesforce.
Outside of my work at Silverline, I voluntarily run the Trailblazer Insurance Community group for Salesforce. I have the privilege to work with the FSC for Insurance product team on a fairly regular basis — to learn from them about how to apply the data model and features for optimal success, helping the team understand the needs of the marketplace, and helping prioritize to a certain extent based on what we’re hearing. I get sneak peeks into roadmap features so that I can help shape solutions for the clients and the community I lead going forward.
At the end of the day, I spend quite a bit of time overall evangelizing how Salesforce can help insurance companies with all of their particular problems and goals. I mentor quite a few people in what a path could look like for them. Do they pick a particular industry that they need to go after? Do they choose one or multiple clouds that they should become an expert in? And so much more.
How will being an MVP impact your daily work?
MVP status will give me earlier access to Salesforce product knowledge, roadmaps, and product managers across all clouds. It will allow me to take that knowledge back and share it to the greater community. It’s really going to give me a better platform to enable clients and employees of Silverline and the general Trailblazer community overall.
What are you most looking forward to as an MVP?
What I’m most looking forward to is having access to a select group of individuals who are major leaders in the Trailblazer community so that I can learn from them. That is transparently the whole reason that I came to Silverline from previous companies. I never want to be the smartest person in the room; I want to continue to learn and grow from others. Having direct access to 200+ people who are at the top end of the “knowledge givers” in the ecosystem will be life changing. I’m looking forward to connecting with them and learning their stories. I believe it’s really going to give me a chance to elevate above and beyond what I’m doing today.
Interested in working with some of the brightest minds in the Salesforce ecosystem?