In May of 2016, I was hired to customise and implement a brand-new Salesforce org (Financial Services Cloud) for a wealth management business in Sydney. Cool.
BUT: I had never even heard of Salesforce, or any CRM. I do not have an I.T. degree. I had absolutely zero Salesforce training or certification. I had no idea how to use Salesforce, never mind build an org from scratch, importing existing legacy data from multiple sources, and automating business processes!
What was I thinking?
Ten months later, our heavily-customised org is live, and more than thirty complex business processes have been mapped and automated. Our management can make strategic business decisions based upon data and analytics that did not exist, or were inaccessible, last year. Now I am busy implementing marketing automation using Pardot, and we are preparing to implement our inaugural social media strategy. The next milestone on my career journey is inbound marketing built around our leading-edge website that I am helping to build with our design partner.
I am now a Salesforce-certified Admin, and I was recently promoted from CRM Project Manager to the more strategic role of Digital Business Analyst. My earnings have increased by more than 50% in less than a year. I even got to speak at Salesforce World Tour!
How did this all happen so fast?
How does a total novice learn Salesforce on his own and build out a complex new org?
What I did, you can do – and you can learn Salesforce and have an awesome career like I do!
- Work hard
For the three weeks between when I was hired and when the project began, I spent my waking hours studying and learning. When the project started, I shocked my manager by asking for the keys to the office so I could open the doors in the morning and begin my work day at 6:00. Official office hours are 9:00-5:30, but my typical day began before 7:00, and often did not finish until after 5:00, or later. That does not include all the hours spent at home learning the system and looking for ways to solve business problems.
“There is no substitute for hard work.” Thomas Alva Edison.
- Read and research
I have spent countless hours on blogs, reading books, watching webinars, and more, because I was passionate to learn and grow. I read several articles every day, often sourced from my LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. I subscribe to several Salesforce blogs and listen to a variety of podcasts. I often pick the brains of our Salesforce Solutions Engineer and other experts. I am forever learning!
“He who refuses to borrow another man’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own.” Charles Spurgeon.
Nothing will limit you more than giving in to fear and doubt. Was I terrified when I received our Salesforce licenses and began restructuring our virgin org? Absolutely! Did I ever want to quit and run away? Only every week! But, I tried. I had a go. I pressed through those debilitating feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency, I lived outside of my comfort zone (still do!), and I just tried.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” Richard Branson
I did not need to become Salesforce certified because I needed it to get hired, as I already had a great job. I needed to get certified because I knew there was a great deal about Salesforce that I did know, and would not know until I made the effort to get certified. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes!
- Business process mapping and building
Process first – that is my motto. The slickest, coolest Salesforce org is useless if it doesn’t match up with the business that it was built for.
I had never heard of business process mapping until I began my new job, although my engineering background had given me some useful skills in the area of process. Mapping a process, understanding it intimately, and building that process in Salesforce is, largely, how I have learned this complex CRM. Salesforce is a problem-solving tool, and using it to solve business challenges is an incredibly effective way to learn the system.
- Engage the Salesforce community
Don’t be afraid the engage the amazing #Ohana of the Salesforce community and ask for help. I believe that the Salesforce Success Community is the greatest asset of this extraordinary corporation. Not only have I learned tons about Salesforce, I have made some amazing new friends. Don’t wait – get engaged!
What can I say? Trailhead ROCKS. It is a comprehensive and structured system of online learning that is completely free – wow! I could not count how many times I was stumped and Trailhead came to the rescue with a module that showed me exactly what I needed to do.
By the way, most of the time that I invested was my own, not my employer’s.
- Never give up
I can remember days when I woke up at 2 am, fretting about our CRM project, and thinking that taking on this role was the biggest mistake of my life. It would take me hours to get the courage to go to the office – but I did eventually go. This project has been one of the most difficult, challenging, scary and overwhelming things I have ever done. Have I ever wanted to quit? Only about a hundred times! But, I am so very glad that I persevered.
“Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose.” Josh Shipp
I believe in prayer. God gave me this job (how He did that is an amazing story for another time), and I have prayed every day for the wisdom, strength, courage and creativity to excel in it.
On one occasion, I had been stumped over a very complex challenge for days. I had sought help from several experts, including a very qualified Salesforce developer and his team, but no one could help. Finally, I left my office for a moment, and prayed a simple prayer for wisdom. Five minutes later, I had my answer!
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Alfred Tennyson
Friend, you can do this! You can learn Salesforce and excel in your chosen career. Jump on in – the water is fine!