Salesforce Pros: If you haven’t been getting out much…

You might have noticed the number of free/discounted online courses that are being made available.

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The latest is Pluralsight offering the month of April for free (no credit card required or other subscription shenanigans).

Over 7000 courses, a few hundred on Salesforce.

I’ve seen posts in the past regarding the lack of training available around CPQ. Pluralsight has 2 that I came across: Demystifying CPQ and CPQ for beginners.

Bonus tip: After taking a class, shoot a personal LI invite to the author. A great way to build a new connection for the future.

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Salesforce Pros: Is now the time to set sail?

As unconventional, naive, or ridiculous as this sounds, maybe now’s the time to make that change that you’ve been thinking about.

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Short story:

When I was full time with consulting partners, the thought of going the independent contractor route crossed my mind many, many times.

But, it never really felt like the right time, and internally I was himming and hawwing: 

too risky to go

I’m comfortable so I’ll stay

why make a change

I’m not good enough

I’ll just wait a little longer

and whatever other justifications and rational thoughts came to mind.

Then 2008 hit and layoffs started to happen, customers put projects on hold, the future was very uncertain.

So I thought, maybe now’s the time.

I mean if I couldn’t make a decision when times were good, then hell, I might as well make one when times are bad.

So I took the plunge, and while my arrogance that I’ll land on my feet overnight was a swift kick to my backside, the decision was made, I was moving forward.

If you’ve been on the fence on making a career decision, maybe now’s the time and the opportunity that you’ve been waiting for…the igniter that you’ve needed.

The waters are choppy now, but you’ll need to set sail, smoother times are on the horizon.

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Salesforce Admins: M.I.M.E. (Maximum Impact Minimum Expense)

Are you currently taking the initiative to think of and find creative ways to be a critical asset to your organization?

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Fortunately, Ian Gotts, came up with 4 excellent ideas to continue to be the all-star, value-added, Admin that you are:

1. Validating key dashboards and reports that are needed by executive management and looking out for data accuracy, overall usage, and key fields.

2. Simplifying page layouts. Removing unused and unnecessary fields, improving help text, adding a description for future trace-ability.

3. Removing unused managed packages resulting in a potential license cost savings or just unnecessary clutter.

4. Taking a deep dive into tracing what and how objects are being utilized throughout your org, what dependencies exist and then eliminating the waste.

Please check out the below URL, which Ian created 4 videos on how to do this with Elements.cloud which offers a 14 day free trial along with extensions if needed.

I think you’ll find this exercise very valuable once you dive in and start navigating around.

If you don’t have time due to other priorities, how about delegating it to a newcomer to analyze that would love to get more experience.

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Salesforce Pros & Newcomers: Opinion on the current job market

While my (list) view of the current Salesforce job market is relatively small, a few thoughts to share:

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Due to the uncertainty, it seems most companies are putting their hiring on hold. The good thing for those that aren’t, is the greater pool of available talent to choose from.

If you’re a Salesforce newcomer, this is an ideal time to ask your connections if there is an opportunity to pick up some volunteer work, particularly if you hear about layoffs happening. Those on the ground are probably overwhelmed with the workload which gives you a chance to get some experience on the lower level tasks they don’t have time for (data analysis, data cleanup, prototyping, etc.). CRM related functions are still happening.

If you’re currently one of those that have more work than hours and have the capacity to offload some of the smaller, maybe mundane, tasks that you think a newcomer could help out with, please do so.

For those that are in caught in the cross-fire, I’m sure you know about the importance of continuing to up-skill.

What better time to dive into understanding how those Apex Triggers work and why Developer Donnie seemed to get all the credit when it comes to building complex Salesforce solutions.

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Slowing down…

Maybe things have slowed down a little for you during this time and you’re not constantly running from one meeting, one call, one hallway conversation, one text, one email, one Slack chat, one Chatter feed to the next all day long.

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How about a little career discovery/self-reflection time?

Science says a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, then a lifetime of deepening will keep you on the right track.

For Discovery, asking yourself:

1. What do I like to think about?

2. Where does my mind wander?

3. What do I really care about?

4. What matters most to me?

5. How do I enjoy spending time?

6. In contrast, what do I find unbearable?

Also some definitions on what you might be looking for:

A job: “I view my job as just a necessity of life”

A career: “I view my job primarily as a stepping stone to other jobs”

A calling: “My work is one of the most important things in my life”

Reference: Grit by Angela Duckworth

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Over the weekend, I caught “Uncle” Bob Martin’s presentation on The Future of Programming.

Within it, he speaks about the history and evolution of hardware, software, languages, methodologies and programmers, while stressing the importance for technical discipline.

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Back in 1945, it was predicted that the need for programmers was going to continue to be in high demand (considered mathematicians back then).

You might want to check out his presentation on YouTube as you’ll probably learn something new and it’s pretty entertaining (assuming you’re a techie).

Key takeaway (among many): as the amount of new programmers doubles every 5 years, this results in half the total number of programmers to not have experience, causing a perpetual cycle of inexperience, then causing the same programming mistakes to be made over and over, if the learnings of the previous are not taught to the new.

Below are some of the slides from his presentation.

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Salesforce Professionals – are you gritty?

Do you want to be grittier?

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What defines grit?

Based on Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, her research shows 4 characteristics:

1. Interest – when we’re captivated by the endeavor as a whole, although some of it sucks, overall we find it interesting

2. Practice – the need to continuously be better and resist complacency

3. Purpose – your work is important not just to you but others, interest without purpose is not sustainable

4. Hope – ability to keep going, knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, when things get difficult

If your current situation has you down, maybe check out this book to help bring out the grit within you.

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Need some pointers on the future of your technology career?

Please check out Dan Appleman’s latest session on Pluralsight, as I’m sure you’ll gain some additional perspective, based on his years of professional experience.

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Best part of it: It’s free!

https://lnkd.in/expUMRz

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Expecting versus Accepting

Before an interview, are you expecting an outcome to be favorable or rather accepting the decision no matter what?

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There are so many variables at play when it comes to interviews and the outcome is unpredictable, would accepting before starting be easier on your emotional well being?

Particularity, because you’re not the one making the decision and although you might have felt it went well, those on the receiving end might have felt otherwise, or maybe they decided to put the position on hold, or received an internal referral, or promoted within.

All areas out of your direct control.

You did your best at the time, and even if you didn’t, the conversation has ended.

When we expect a specific outcome, if we don’t get it, we’re usually disappointment.

Being disappointed in someone else’s action or decision can be a monkey on our back that we don’t want or need.

I’m not suggesting for you to agree with the outcome, but by accepting it allows you to take ownership, understand, embrace and take what you can from the situation as it unfolds.

When it comes to interviews, plan for victory, and learn from defeat.

Then if you succeed, celebrate and if you fail, re-calibrate.

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Salesforce Professionals: It’s not fair!

Have you recently found out how much your new colleague (Newcomer Nancy) is making and thought to yourself, WTF?

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That can’t be right.

I don’t believe it.

How is that possible?

Let me confirm, reconfirm, and confirm again.

“Hey Tenure Tom, did you hear how much Newcomer Nancy is making, please tell me it’s just hearsay.”

<more thoughts>

Nancy is definitely not better than me, more experienced than me, more skilled than me…I can just tell, look how she walks.

Why would “they” do that to me, to us, to those who have been in the trenches for all these years.

They should be paying me at least that, not some newcomer who hasn’t proved themselves yet at “my” company.

Well, maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s not.

Companies need to bring in new talent and often may have to pay a premium to do so.

And maybe you’ve either been a Newcomer Nancy before or will be fortunate to be one in the future.

Until then, a better decision could be focusing on your best output, and let the rest work itself out…

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Salesforce 1st Time Career Seekers: Impossible

Is landing your 1st Salesforce position considered impossible?

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Impossible is an intriguing word meaning incapable of being true.

While there are some things that are considered impossible (e.g. changing the past), I don’t think landing your 1st Salesforce position can be one of them.

Maybe: Difficult, hard, frustrating, aggravating, challenging, annoying, disappointing and plenty of other verbs/adverbs.

But impossible?

Or asked another way, how can you prove it’s really impossible, can’t there always be one more attempt to make something possible?

Same concept can be applied to almost everything that we do…

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The risk/reward with paying less than market…

Especially for contractors.

Contractors do what they do because they’re good at it and there’s a financial upside.

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Occasionally, they may take a position less than market if they’re in a pinch.

BUT…

They know they’re being paid less, and they’re also probably getting calls regarding better paying options.

I think it’s only a matter of time when deciding to be cheap causes an employer to have to start over and back-fill.

Seems like a riskier move than to just start with market rates in the beginning.

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Salesforce Professionals – Your work environment…

Is your current environment bringing out the best in you?

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Maybe you feel like no one really cares, or they don’t have the same passion, drive or grit that you know you have.

Are you surrounded by the type of people and leadership to help you and those around you grow?

It’s often said, your environment has the greatest influence in your success.

I’d suggest not to think:

“Just one more week, one more month, one more year, things might change.”

or

“As soon as:

so and so leaves

we move offices

I can work remote more often

we have a new round of funding

new leadership comes on board”

Sure, that might cause some changes for the better, but it will probably take time and won’t be the cure all solution.

Rather, why wait?

I know, change is hard, but being stuck is not any better.

“If you don’t like where you are, change it, you are not a tree.” ~Jim Rohn

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Do we often get too caught up or stressed out by asking:

“what’s next for me”?

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Trying to find that perfect job title and associated responsibilities, salary, culture, work environment, etc.

And also questioning if I was this title before, I can’t be this title again, as that’s not a career progression.

Or if I’m Jr. then I’m Mid then I’m Sr. or if I’m X, then I’m Y and then I’m Z, because that’s what society says is the right path forward.

I think it’s natural that we all question this.

Do our career advancements happen by timing, by fate, by chance, by serendipity, call it what you want?

But you hear someone followed these steps, did these things, and landed here, doing X, those same results should come my way.

I think one specific linear career progression is often a fallacy that we get too wrapped up in.

Rather, what do we enjoy most and can we excel at those few things?

Maybe we don’t know what THAT is quite yet, so we keep trying different positions.

But at some point, asking the questions:

“where do I consistently produce the best results and feel valued?”

“is the work I’m doing interesting, engaging, and financially rewarding?”

and then determining how and where can I spend most of my day doing those things.

Inherently, I feel your career will progress.

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More and enough…

Do we have enough or just feel the continuous need to do more, be more, earn more?

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Do we consider time = money, especially when we hear of all the Salesforce work that’s available out there.

Why can’t we have more (or bigger) slices of the Salesforce work pie?

If we’re working full time, that’s only 40, 50, 60 hours a week, we still have over 100 left (who needs sleep?).

During our lunch hour, after hours, on our commute, weekends, during our kids soccer game, etc.

I can be made available, give me more…

Earlier in my career, I felt the same way, as either I was on the bench between projects, or the work wasn’t keeping me busy (fulfilled) enough.

Looking for ways utilize my time on part-time gigs.

Now reflecting back, what is enough?

An internal struggle, I think many of us go through, weekly, daily, hourly.

I have time, what can I do with it?

Enough for one, might not be enough for another.

Is having more the right answer, or maybe it’s having just enough, right here, right now.

Find your enough, however more or less or equal that is for you, once you have it, be happy, be content, be fulfilled.

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought of the Day): It’s crowded, scooch over.

The congested Salesforce consulting space…

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Having a quick look at the Salesforce AppExchange, there’s 1475 partners.

How in the heck does a small consulting company get discovered?

How does a customer decide to choose this, that or the other company?

Maybe having a few 5 star ratings will help.

But, what if you don’t have any, yet?

Ok, you have one contact, who said they’ll bring your company on.

Great, but after the 3 month implementation is complete, now what?

You’ve been focused on delivery the whole time, not lead generation.

Your pipeline is now dry as a bone.

Back to square 1…

Occasionally, I speak to those that are thinking of starting their own Salesforce consulting company, and I believe the biggest challenge is the above scenario.

10 years ago, I’d imagine it was much easier, as the the field had a lot less players.

Now, without having an in-depth, well connected, entrenched sales and marketing engine already heavily tied to the Salesforce ecosystem, it seems pretty difficult to get noticed and keep momentum.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: How do you receive constructive feedback?

Does it bruise your ego?

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Does it imply you were wrong and they were right?

Does it make you upset or distraught?

If so, maybe you can think about it differently…

It’s a GIFT.

To provide you better direction.

To give you more guidance.

To show you what’s needed to succeed.

To help you understand what’s important.

And it’s up to you to decide how to take it and make adjustments.

Rather than being upset, thank them that they took the time and energy to provide feedback as they’re helping, guiding and actually caring to make you better.

While this is an unnatural feeling, by taking a sense of gratitude to the individual or group providing you the message can be a game-changer in how you deal with constructive feedback, flopped interviews, discrepancies of opinion, etc.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: “If I had only”

How many times have we said or thought this?

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After the interview…

If I had only:

– Gotten up earlier

– Left on time

– Prepared better

– Wrote it down

– Understood how

– Researched more

– Shook hands firmly

– Answered more thoroughly

– Shown more confidence

– Showered

– Remembered their name(s)

– Not gotten so flustered

– Tripped over my words

– Sat up straighter

– Talked with my mouth full

– Said “I don’t know” instead of BS’ing

– Ironed my suit

– Interrupted

– Looked them in the eye

– Spit out my gum

– Shown my work

– Asked more intelligent questions

– Thanked them

Well, we didn’t, we tried, we forgot, we got distracted, we came up short.

It’s over: 

– Reflect briefly

– Go for a walk 

– Eat a cheeseburger

– Watch a Seinfeld rerun

– Have “A” cocktail

– Talk to someone

– Write it down 

– Get it out 

You’re fortunate to have tomorrow, and the opportunity to go at it again.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” (Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th POTUS)

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The Salesforce Career Paradox (which can probably apply to most fields):

Entry Level Job Seekers: no choices (struggle to get their 1st position).

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Mid Level Job Seekers: too many choices (struggle to be able to decide which position to take next).

Senior Level Job Seekers: the right choice (struggle to find a position that can actually propel their career to the next level).

And while one category may seem like a “better” problem to have, as you’re not in it, each one has it’s own respective challenges that we go through.

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Effective Communication…

Describe an example of a process that you’ve built as a Salesforce Administrator:

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“Using an agile methodology, I’ve put together an in-depth and ultra-sophisticated series of highly regulated and error-free automation process steps that entails initiating and utilizing multiple decision criteria to produce an abundance of desired outcomes for the company’s sales team.”

Say what?!

There’s an art and genius to using simple language to get a message across.

By delivering precise answers that are clear and comprehensive to interview questions, you can be 2 (process builder) steps above the rest.

Rather, how about something like:

“I created a process that had 3 immediate actions, which included creating a new contract record, a post to a defined Sales Team chatter group, an email to the VP of Sales, as well 2 scheduled follow up tasks of 7 and 14 days, once an opportunity amount above $100,000 hit the stage of closed/won.”

I’m sure this could even use some refinement, but hopefully the point is apparent.

Practice your Q&A with yourself (or with your mom, your dog or favorite stuffed animal).

“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity” (Nat Turner, Minister, Rebellion leader that led to the Civil War and slavery abolishment)

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“If you want to be a knight, act like a knight”

While the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes of Don Quixote has many twists and turns, one theme is clear, that I think can apply to your goal of moving into or up in your Salesforce career as an Admin/Dev/Architect/Manager, etc.

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If you want to be one, act like one.

Don Quixote was considered a knight-errant, where he would wander the land in search for adventure in his pursuit for chivalry.

Acting as if…

How are you pursuing your adventure on becoming a better Salesforce professional, especially if your current position isn’t allowing for additional growth?

How about going out and speaking to some of those who are where you want to be some day.

Asking about how their days typically play out, the types of projects and challenges they deal with, and advice to offer you to get where they are.

Then, take some notes, think about these, and ask yourself:

“What would an Admin, Dev, Architect, Manager do in this situation when you come across them.”

Psychologically, having these thoughts and actions could help build your confidence as if you’ve already played the part in your mind.

Be creative, be that Salesforce-errant.  Just don’t fight any windmills.

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.” -Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

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Previous Salesforce Career Seekers: Did you decide to quit?

In your initial pursuit of a career transition doing Salesforce work?

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Or even when you landed something and decided to eventually pivot out.

And more importantly, are you happy in whatever work that you’re now doing?

If so, I’d/We’d love to hear from you.

While I enjoy thinking and writing about Salesforce careers and will continue to do so, I think it’s equally important to discuss alternative paths to overall career success, enjoyment and fulfillment.

Particularly, when we seem to be consistently hit over the head with: Salesforce This, Trailhead That, Admin This, Certifications That, Community This, Opportunity That…the list goes on.

There are alternatives and I think perspective can help.

Maybe, I’ll come up with a short questionnaire to publish for those I hear from that decided that Salesforce wasn’t for them.

This post was inspired by a fitting quote I read today:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…then give up. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” ~W.C. Fields (American Comedian and Writer)

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“Why are you looking to make a change?”

“That’s none of your beeswacks, Chris.”

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I asked this question this week when speaking with a candidate who’s currently employed.

She delightfully answered and didn’t say the above.

Then I thought about it some more, and whether the question was really any of my business.

If it was being asked to me, I might question as why it really matters.

In this case, I wanted to make sure the position we’re discussing is not more of the same of what the individual DOESN’T want.

Often a job description only goes so deep, so we often need to dig a little deeper.

This then allows us to add those notes on the submission to either proceed or end the process.

Feel free to ask the recruiters you work with, “why do you ask?” if you feel uncomfortable with the questions being asked.

The question on current salary is probably one you’re thinking, which often company’s ask us to request, which we should also have an answer as to why.

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Salesforce Professionals: Mo Money, Mo Problems.

“I don’t know what they want from me
It’s like the more money we come across
The more problems we see” ~The Notorious B.I.G.

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Do you believe this is true?

Have you experienced more headaches, more responsiblities, more stress, and less time as your salary has increased?

We would have to presume one typically leads to the other…

And does one amount over another lead to more happiness?

Studies show it could be $60K, $75K, $95K that just the right amount to make one happy.

And then there’s the hedonic treadmill: a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness despite a change in fortune or the achievement of major goals.

A thought provoking quote I heard yesterday:
“Money is the cheapest thing, liberty and freedom is the most expensive.” ~Bill Cunningham (American Fashion Photographer, New York Times)

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Salesforce Professionals: Do you read?

I’m not referring to just Salesforce blogs or other online articles.

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Real, physical books.

Yes, they still exist, and believe it or not, they’re FREE at the library.

Or e-books if that’s your thing.

More importantly, reading books that seem totally unrelated to your current day to day work.

Maybe philosophy, auto-biographies, self-help, history, etc.

If you tend to struggle with some of the problems you face at work, maybe reading has the answer you need.

The possible path to overcome problems, might not be with you thinking and dwelling on them directly, but rather subconsciously through reading.

Go off course occasionally, see what comes to mind.

I know, if you only had time…

How about just 15 minutes before your day gets hectic, or on the bus/train ride in, or instead of watching TV in the evening.

Surprisingly, you may become increasingly better at solving problems on the job by relaxing a little outside of work with a book.

Thank you to, Brett Habing, for asking me to write a post about the significance of reading who I know has had success as a Salesforce Admin and BA by reading.

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” – Joanne Rowling (Best selling author in history – of a book series)

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Learn from those who came before you.
Cartoonist Bob Mankoff’s, most reprinted cartoon in the New Yorker magazine history.

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Robert Mankoff, a former cartoonist for the New Yorker, had a strong desire to be employed by the New Yorker, but had quite the uphill battle to get that opportunity. The New Yorker receives thousands of cartoons a week, and their acceptance rate is close to 0, but he knew if he could make that team, he would be considered one of the best.

For 3 years and after more than two thousand rejections, he said in an interview that he received enough rejection slips to wallpaper his bathroom. 

As Bob was getting frustrated, he realized that the adage of “try, try again was not working”, so he decided to take a different approach. He went to the New York Public Library and looked up all the previous cartoons that had been published in the New Yorker since 1925.

He analyzed the cartoon captions for length and the type of humor that was presented to see if he could find some missing element that he wasn’t presenting that was, in essence, causing all the rejections. After not being able to easily understand that missing link, it hit him, as he then realized that all the cartoons had one thing in common: 

They made the reader think.

And the cartoonists used their own personal drawing style to achieve that. Furthermore, there was no single, “best” style, as many variations were picked over the years.

Finally, Bob revised his approach to be more in-line with what would be accepted causing the viewer to think about the drawing, as well as adopting his own dot style of drawing (called Stippling).

With his revised approach, he drew the below cartoon, which was the first to be accepted by the New Yorker.

The next year, he sold 13 cartoons to the New Yorker, then 25 the following year, then was asked to become a full-time cartoonist.

While we often hear the saying, “success leaves clues”, I think this story is a great example of that. Although, discovering what “worked” wasn’t easily recognizable, Bob took his own approach to figure out how to get better by studying the history of those who “made it”.

If you’re currently going down the Salesforce career path and not sure how to achieve the success that you’re desiring, take a look at those who came before you, talk to them, research their background, ask intelligent questions, look for similarities that you can latch onto. Sure, everyone’s journey may be slightly different, but I think you’ll find patterns that have led to their success which you can also take into consideration to help you in yours.

Article inspired by a chapter on Robert Mankoff from the book Grit by Angela Duckworth

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Salesforce Professionals: Be Difficult!

To Replace…

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This past week, I went to the dentist and once again, he had a new dental hygienist.

I think that makes it about 4 different ones that I’ve met over the last 2 years.

And while I don’t why the turnover is so high (maybe it’s him), my point is about you.

Are you easy to replace in your current position?

We’re all replaceable to an extent, but how difficult would it be?

The more difficult, the better for you and your career.

Not just at your current position but over the longevity of your career.

How do you become more difficult?

I think by:

  • Being uniquely you
  • Standing for something
  • Bringing a point of view
  • Taking initiative
  • Doing the work no one cares to do
  • Inspiring others
  • Leading by example
  • Being assertive
  • Showing your brilliance
  • Connecting, innovating, communicating
  • Doing the little things well
  • Taking the time
  • Failing and trying again

It might take some guts and you don’t have to do them all, but if all your employer wants is cheap and reliable, that’s probably not where you want to be.

Rather, be difficult to replace.

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Salesforce System Integrators – Please don’t shoot the messenger on this PSA.

If you’ve hired someone to be a consultant and the candidate joined with the premise to be a part of a consulting delivery TEAM atmosphere and then based on a “situation”, you’ve decided to push them into a onesie/twosie staff augmention role, there’s a good chance, they’re not happy, as that’s not what they signed up for.

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You may want to have a candid conversation with that individual before they bail.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “Chris, shut your mouth, they’ll take what we have available”, which I understand, it’s business and the billables matter.

If that’s the case, a suggestion is to please let them know during the interview process what might happen.

Experienced Candidates – this goes for you too, ask those SI’s that you’re interviewing with, how their operating model works when it comes to staff augmentation and project work if/when times are slow.

If you want to be a contractor (aka staff aug), then just be a contractor.

Is there any point working for a SI, and then you being put on your own deserted island to fend for yourself?

I’m seeing/hearing more about the SI/staff aug lines becoming blurred.

Thank you on behalf of the voice of some (not all) of the Salesforce Talent Market.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Salary Negotiations

Maybe there’s a middle…

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Or rather an intermediate in this context.

I was asked to conduct a mock interview yesterday as part of the Salesforce mentor-ship program.

One of the topics we discussed was salary negotiations.

I believe it’s always more art than science, as there’s many variables that come into play when it comes to salary and only you can determine what “works” for you.

But maybe there’s a middle…

If a potential employer makes an offer that is a little less than what you’re expecting and they’re not budging.

Rather than declining the position all together and assuming that you’re really interested, express that, and ask if there are any options to accelerate you receiving a raise within 3-6 months of proving yourself.

Some companies have the flexibility to do this and it can potentially keep the conversation moving forward.

Obviously, there has to be some trust that they’ll come through, but it would get your foot in the door and help you gain some additional experience.

Don’t end the conversation entirely, think about if there’s a middle.

“Oh baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle? I’m losing my mind just a little” ~Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – The Middle

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Do you feel like it’s cheating?

When you decide to look for new opportunities while you’re currently employed…

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Do you question your dignity, your pride, your loyalty, your trust?

Does it create anxiety, stress or guilt?

You might be worried that word gets out and your current employer or colleagues could find out.

Then what? Will you instantly be “let go”?

These are all natural tendencies we have.

There are reasons why you decided to start your search.

Use those reasons to help propel you forward.

You don’t have to blast your resume to the world if you’re concerned.

Play it safer, start with just having a few conversations with those you trust to get the word out.

It’s your career and your future.

Sitting still won’t get you any closer.

You’re not a cheater…

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Nostalgia – the positive kind.

It’s interesting how nostalgia comes into play, especially in your career.

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The “good ole days” one may call it.

Often it’s a feeling of joy bringing back your career confidence of yesteryear.

Maybe, it’s you diving into code that you haven’t seen in years and remembering quickly how it all works.

Maybe, you’re a seasoned pro and starting out with a new company that reminded you of your 1st professional position after college.

Maybe, it’s you getting pulled into a new project where you’re finding similarities where you were able to perform your best work.

Maybe, it’s reuniting at a new company with past colleagues you previously worked with and were truly the A team.

Maybe, it’s having a lunch with a previous manager reflecting on how he/she has shaped you to what you are today.

Maybe, it’s passing that certification exam, and how it felt similar to handing in your last term paper in college.

Maybe, it’s you hopping on an introduction project conference call allowing you to reflect on previous experiences of starting something brand new again.

Allow the opportunities of nostalgia to sit in when they come, as I think they are a great motivator to keep you moving forward while remaining youthful and satisfied in your career.

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Acres of Diamonds (Salesforce Style)

A parable about a farmer who left his land to go search for diamonds elsewhere (sadly he ended up drowning himself when he couldn’t find them), but low and behold he was sitting on a diamond mine in his own backyard.

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Maybe, you’re also sitting on a diamond mine in your current Salesforce org.

A diamond mine of knowledge to be discovered that is…

If things are a little slow at your company or you’re waiting for a project to get approved, this is the time to start digging.

Especially if you’re in a seasoned org, where there’s been many individual hands in it.

You’d be surprised how one diamond (or maybe a time bomb) that you discover may lead to another that leads to another.

An opportunity to learn something new, dig a little, see a shiny object, ask some questions, trace some processes or Apex execution to get a greater understanding of how things were designed to work.

Maybe, try to rebuild it in your Dev org, piece it together, see if there’s a way to improve on it, move it from highly custom Apex to declarative functionality.

Create your own mini-project.

It builds your confidence, your analytical and technical skills, as well as showing your management team that you’re no slouch.

Your Salesforce Acres of Diamonds awaits you.

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Thinking of going the independent contractor route?

Yesterday, I posted about giving this a try, if you’ve been considering it.

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Coincidentally, I had a full time employee call me that’s taking this path but didn’t know what their hourly rate should be.

I advised not to take your annual salary and divide by 50 (or 52) or however many weeks you work in a year.

You need to account for your loaded cost which is going to be ~20-30% more than just your salary.

This includes things such as: payroll taxes (SS, Medicare, Unemployment, Workman’s Comp), insurance (medical, dental, life, long-term disability), 401K matching, PTO, possibly an office, desk, laptop, cell phone reimbursement, training allowance, etc.

But the biggest intangible is RISK.

That should be included in your hourly rate calculation and that’s up to you to decide.

While also considering what a company (overall market) will pay for your services.

Easiest example:
Your current salary: $100,000
Salary + loaded employer cost: $120,000 – $130,000
Equates to hourly: $60-$65/HR
Going independent (1099): I suggest at least $65-$70/HR

There’s many variables at play, just don’t sell yourself short and think it’s a 1 to 1 match, as it shouldn’t be.

Hope this helps a little.

Note: I’m not HR, an accountant, or the IRS.

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Thinking of going the independent contractor route?

I would suggest to go for it, try it, see if you like it, you could always go back to full time if it doesn’t work out.

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IMO, I would not suggest it if you don’t have at least around 8+ years of solid experience first (ideally from consulting, or have a technical background, or a niche skil-set).

It may be a little rough getting your 1st gig, and you may hit some lulls along the way, but if you could use some independence in the work and projects you decide to do, maybe this is it.

2 good conversations I had with independents this past week:

Salesforce Architect – “Chris, I’m taking the month of May off to go hiking and will not be available”.

Pardot Consultant – “Chris, I’m currently working from Bali so only available for remote projects”.

That’s nice – they have the ability to depict how they spend their time, and it works for them…

If you’re not sure, post your resume to Dice (while still working), see what happens, it might be the calling you were meant to pursue.

Just step on the gas, don’t get stuck in the mud.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Your January

How did you do?

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Did you hit the new year running like you had planned back in December?

Maybe not.

Maybe you hit some unexpected obstacles.

Maybe you let some distractions tilt you off course.

Maybe you didn’t get the call back for the interview that you were hoping for.

Maybe you didn’t pass that certification exam that you prepared intensely for.

Maybe you went through 3 interviews and then didn’t get offered the position.

Maybe the offer that was presented just didn’t feel right, so you declined.

Maybe you started something new, and quickly realized it wasn’t for you (or the company decided that for you).

Maybe you got bruised, torn, cut or upset along the way.

Guess what you have the chance to do?

Begin your February!

How exciting! Another month to move forward.

Rip January off the calendar, it’s come and gone.

Reflect briefly, then get back at it.

You have the fantastic opportunity to go another round.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Restating The Obvious To Help You Standout

How about using the job description of the position you’re applying for to be the focus of your objective on your resume?

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For example (Salesforce Admin position I found from LI):

Responsibilities include:

-Interviewing stakeholders to understand needs and outlining solutions in Salesforce

-Creating and/or testing automation processes

-Manipulating data

-Working with the development team and assisting in their functionality testing

-Assisting in end-user training

-A background in innovation, problem-solving, data management

-Self-starter who is highly motivated and resourceful.

Suggestion for your objective:

“A highly motivated, resourceful and aspiring Salesforce Administrator with a background in innovation and problem solving with a strong emphasis on interviewing stakeholders to understand requirements, specific to Sales and Service clouds. Specialties include: workflow automation, data manipulation, end user training and testing, while working directly with the technical development team to help achieve greater success for XYZ company.”

Specifically, state the company to make it personal.

I think this approach is much better than: “Using my skills and experience to help a company achieve success.”

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Lack of communication often leads to bigger problems.

One of the biggest challenges, yet often easiest to correct, is communication break-downs.

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It’s usually not about the actual work, rather about how the situation was communicated (or rather not communicated).

Not communicating leads to surprises and management hates surprises.

If you’re interviewing and already have personal vacation scheduled, let them know.

If you’re behind schedule on a project, let them know (beforehand).

If you don’t understand how to do something (and have tried different options), let them know.

If you have a personal situation going on and are not your usual self, let them know.

If you’re going to be late coming in, let them know.

If the spend is approaching the budget, let them know (before it’s spent).

If you’re having a conflict with a co-worker and you don’t see it being resolved, let them know.

If a decision was made that really bothered you, let them know (I don’t mean whine).

Managers have intuition, most can get a pretty good read on people/situations.

Whatever message you need to give, they would much rather hear it from you.

It may cause you anxiety and some friction, but a majority of time, the problem can be resolved or minimized with effective and proactive communication.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Strengths or Weaknesses

One challenge I think we often have is, where do we focus our time and energy when it comes to our skills and inherent abilities.

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Do we work on identifying and improving our weaknesses or continue to zone in, refine and further build upon our existing strengths?

We see this being asked when it comes to what our next Salesforce certification should be or where should I go next in my career.

I don’t believe there is one perfect answer, but as long as we’re moving forward, rather than backward or staying stagnant in our current work, we’re headed in the right direction.

This thought conceived when I was doggy paddling in the gym pool yesterday attempting to swim when I’m traditionally a runner.

Keep moving forward, with or without swim floaties…

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Cover Letters

I was asked to review a cover letter last week, which I don’t do that often, but glad I did to share some ideas:

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* Make it as specific as possible, not just one version and change out the company and job title.

* Share your knowledge on what you’ve learned about the company’s goals, accomplishments and accolades or the industries and customers they serve, and the expertise and value proposition they offer.

* Specify why you’re interested as it directly relates to them and their mission. Possibly use wording and phrases that they’ve already used in their marketing material without going overboard.

* Take the top 3 requirements of the position and speak directly to how you have met those (provide examples or links to work if you can).

* Be less “you” and more “them” to speak to how they can accomplish greater success with having you on board (again based on your previous track record).

All this with the goal of being concrete, succinct and interesting, as you have about 5 seconds of their attention.

Or to summarize it nicely, as the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, often said: “Be a meaningful specific, rather than a wandering generality.”

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Salesforce Certifications – if you’re setting out this year to get more, below are some questions you might want to ask yourself.

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The intent is not to persuade or dissuade, rather to help ensure you’ve thought about the process (aka your time), your goals and the associated benefits.

Why am I getting it?

Am I choosing or is it being forced?

Is what I’m doing really learning? or just memorization?

Is it about curiosity and passion or just accreditation?

Will it help me, my organization, my peers, in the long run?

Could I be using my time more effectively? If so, doing what?

Does it make me more valuable?

Will it open more doors?

Does it translate well into career advancement?

Do I know others who have seen more success because of it?

Does it make me a differentiator when evaluated against my peers for a promotion or during an interview?

What is my end goal with another certification?

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Experienced Salesforce Professionals: New Year, New Possibilities?

Almost 2 weeks into 2020 and I have been asked to review and provide my opinion on more resumes than usual.

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Maybe it’s just that time of the year…

The question is: is there anything holding you back?

If you’re unsure on what you want to do, or where you want to go, maybe dip your toe in the water, it may be ice cold, lukewarm or boiling hot, but you’ll need to take off your stilettos and penny loafers, to find out.

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable” ~Seneca (Roman Stoic Philosopher)

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Inspiring and Motivational Quotes to Share

While some of us are internally motivated, I think many of us want or could use a little help to get us through the occasional troubling times that we’re currently facing or might experience in the future.

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Below are a list of quotes (some slightly improvised) from Jim Rohn, who’s considered America’s foremost business philosopher who wrote the book: “The Treasury Of Quotes”, where I chose the top ones that I felt might be the most helpful for you.

Movement/Activity/Labor:  🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️

·      You must act, God said, “if you don’t move, I don’t move”.

·      The few who do are the envy of the many that watch.

Basics/Fundamentals: 🧮

·      Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Failure is simply a few errors in judgement repeated every day. 

Career/Marketplace: 💻

·      We get paid for bringing value to the marketplace. It takes time to bring value, we get paid for the value, not the time.

·      Where you are currently, is not where you have to stay.

·      The worst days of those who enjoy what they do are better than the best days of those who don’t.

·      You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

Communication: 💬

·      Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% in how you feel about what you know.

·      Communication is the ability to affect other people with words.

Desire/Motivation: 🙌

·      Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate them, now you have a motivated idiot.

Education/Learning: 📚

·      Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.

Sharing Your Work:  ✌️

·      Nothing teaches character better than generosity

Goal Setting: 🥅

·      The value obtaining a goal makes out of you will always outweigh the goal itself.

Happiness: 😊

·      Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.

·      Happiness is the art of learning how to get joy from your substance.

Health: 🧑‍⚕️

·      Make sure the outside of you is a good reflection of the inside of you.

·      Take good care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.

Influence/Association:  🤼

·      You must constantly ask yourself: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking Most importantly: What do they have me becoming and is that okay?

·      Some people you can afford to spend a few minutes with, but not a few hours.

Journals: 📒

·      Don’t use your mind for a filing cabinet. Use your mind to work out problems and find answers; file away those good ideas in a journal.

Leadership/Management: 👑

·      Be strong, not rude; Be kind, but not weak; Be bold, but not a bully; Be thoughtful, but not lazy; Be humble, but not timid; Be proud, but not arrogant; Be humorous, but not insulting

·      Start with where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.

·      Lead the way by personal example.

·      Managers help people to see themselves as they are. Leaders help people to see themselves better than they are.

Personal Development: 📖

·      How long should you try? Until.

·      What you become directly influences what you get.

·      The most important question to ask on the job is not: “What am I getting?”, rather “What am I becoming?”

·      It’s not what happens that determines the major part of your future. What happens, happens to us all. It is what you do about what happens that counts.

·      Your paycheck is your responsibility not your employers. Your employer has no control over your value, but you do.

·      You should do more than what you get paid for, as that’s where the fortune lives.

Problem Solving: ➕➗➖

·      To solve any problem, here are 3 questions to ask yourself: What could I try? What could I read? Who could I ask?

·      The best place to solve a problem is on paper.

Time Management: ⌛

·      Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it rather than invest it.

·      Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy.

Hopefully, some of these made an impact for you as you continue down your Salesforce career journey.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: A Few Lessons from Misters Rogers’ Neighborhood

In learning a little more about the symbolism that was provided to us in the children’s television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that lasted over 30 seasons, 900 episodes, from 1968 to 2001 winning multiple Emmy’s, I believe there’s a few lessons that might apply to your Salesforce Career Journey.

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Blinking Yellow Stoplight = Slowing Down

In the beginning of every episode a stoplight is shown, blinking yellow.  As we deal with constant digital interruptions and always being on the “go” moving from one task to another, Mr. Rogers wanted to help enforce the need to slow down and take time to think for ourselves. Rather than always working on your next certification or that next Salesforce badge, slow down and think about creative ways to help you either advance your Salesforce career or to land your 1st Salesforce position. 

Maybe each morning, spending 10-15 minutes to write some creative ideas down to try, these ideas are unique to you. Rather than using specifically what a Trailhead or any other blog might suggest, trying using these as an initial guide but then come up with your own creative solution/approach.

Egg Timer = Focusing On The Task At Hand

In one episode, Mr. Rogers would cook an egg, timing it for 60 seconds in silence to show his audience how long 1 minute is, as well as how to be quiet and still during that time. This quiet time and focus helps prevent any outside distractions from interfering with what you’re currently working on. It could be an egg timer for 1 minute or a stopwatch for 30 minutes, it’s the ability to tune out emails, text messages or phone calls that will allow deeper focus on your current work.

Look For The Helpers = Mr. Rogers Would Turn To His Neighbors For Help

Whether it’s the postman, the policeman, the milkman or anyone else that was in his neighborhood, he would have them be a part of his show to teach his audience new things while carrying on an interesting and informative conversation about a specific topic.  In your Salesforce career search, are you turning to others to help you? While there’s plenty of information written already on various Salesforce topics, connecting with others and having a meaningful conversation to look for help and guidance can be a powerful process in your Salesforce career progression.

There’s many more lessons from this hit show, these were a few that seemed to have relevancy to your Salesforce career. Lastly, as he closed every episode, he told his audience:

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just you being you”.

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Some Good Success Verbs for Your Resume (and a few other ideas)
  • Accelerated
  • Achieved
  • Contributed
  • Delivered
  • Eliminated
  • Exceeded
  • Grew
  • Improved
  • Maximized
  • Optimized
  • Produced
  • Sold
  • Streamlined

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  • Add a numerical accomplishment if you can. $, %, Time/Money Saved, Processes Eliminated, etc.
  • As you review your resume accomplishments, craft it to persuade an employer to hire you based on the benefits you have delivered. Even read them out loud saying: “You should hire me for this position because I…”
  • Your resume doesn’t just relay what you’ve already accomplished, but rather to help an employer envision what you can do in the future.

More context on this subject can be found here:
https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-ceo-of-ladders-reveals-surprising secret-of-crafting-a-winning-resume-that-will-get-you-your-next-job.html

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Experiencing Cold, Gloomy Winters In Your Salesforce Career Search?

In the U.S., we just hit the official season of winter, and for many of us, that brings the colder weather, gloomier days, along with the potential for a little less motivation to do the things we want/need to do in our Salesforce career search journey.

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If we relate the winter months to your career search and maybe you’re hitting some cold, windy, icy, overcast days without much sun (new opportunities) in the forecast, causing you to feel a little down and unmotivated. Especially, when you’re not getting a call back after the interview or receiving any responses after submitting your resume for a position that seems to be the perfect match for you.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~Anne Bradstreet (1st Puritan English Poet)

If this is the case for you and you’re hitting the winter season, remember that for the last 6000 years of recorded history, spring follows winter, which means brighter, warmer, sunnier days lie ahead.

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~Hal Borland (American Author, Journalist and Naturalist)

It’s during these winter months where our tolerance is tested and patience to persevere matters the most and this is the time to double down on your career search efforts when others may not “be in the mood” to do so, leaving you at a distinct advantage.

“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.” ~ Tom Allen (American Politician and Author)

If we decide to neglect today’s undesirable climate and corresponding gloomy mood for a better, more appealing tomorrow, once the warmer weather is finally here, we might not be as prepared as we should/could have been. Therefore, the act of planning, executing and having the confidence now, so when spring arrives, the possibilities of new career opportunities can be made available to you.

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~Pietro Aretino (Italian Playwright, Poet, Author)

The Winter Season In Your Salesforce Career Search

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Salesforce Career Seekers: For 2020…

If you’re looking for an idea (or New Years Resolution) for 2020, how about:

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Allowing yourself to get slightly more uncomfortable with your career search.

Being uncomfortable means something different to each of us, but whatever you did for 2019, can you add another step to the process to see if better results can be obtained?

Some suggestions:

* Write that/those article(s) that you’ve been thinking about but haven’t executed on.

* Build and display those apps that will show your creative side.

* Reach out (leave voicemails) to hiring managers/internal recruiters after applying for a position.

* Follow up on a position until you hear the final decision.

* Ask a local Salesforce professional out for coffee or lunch to build a new relationship.

* Collaborate with others on your job search asking for engagement and opinions.

* Ask another Salesforce career seeker to team up on a project together to hold each other accountable.

* Find an opportunity where you can bring out your inner leadership capabilities.

The list goes on…

“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do…” ~Seth Godin (American author, blogger, marketer)

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Write It Down

You’re never going into an interview empty handed, right?! but are you also leaving the interview without anything new written down?

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Suggestion: before the interview, make a mental note to write a few keywords that are being asked/discussed during the interview, hopefully without interrupting the flow.

I believe this shows that you are engaged in the conversation, you stand out, as well as showing your studious side.

After the interview is over, reflect and expand on those keywords, while writing a few sentences about the topic, maybe what questions were asked and if you recall how you answered and how you felt while discussing them.

I think you’ll find a pattern in some of the questions that get asked, as well as some self-reflection, and it will also help you prepare for your next interview.

Bonus: write a post-interview summary article on LinkedIn to share with your connections to bring forth additional insights and conversations.

“Journaling helps you to become a better version of yourself” ~Asad Meah (Blogger of AwakenTheGreatnessWithin)

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Salesforce Career Seekers: What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?

Salesforce Career Seekers – as you continue your journey to land your Salesforce position, what’s your story?

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Do you have one? If so, is it compelling, not compelling to you, but to those that are interviewing you?

There are many Salesforce professionals looking to tell their story, but it’s not yours. Think about yours and how it might be relatable and appreciated, because it’s all yours.

Does it allow the Hiring Manager, HR, other personnel (whoever you’re speaking with) tell their boss that they want to move forward with you in the hiring process?

Is there any fear or tension created that if they don’t hire you, they might be missing out on something special?

Not with arrogance layered within it, rather with confidence that you’re the right individual to get the job done and make their lives easier based on your story telling.

What would you like them to tell their boss behind closed doors? That’s the message you want to convey, that’s the story you want to perfect and have them understand clearly.

Many times, that interaction, that story, that dialogue, is what they’ll remember, not so much just what’s on your resume, your certifications, badges, etc.

If telling your story didn’t come across as you thought, planned, or rehearsed. That’s OK, there will be more opportunities to tell it again. Fortunately, you can hear it and perfect it over and over to yourself.

Remember, your story is your unique story, it may not be appreciated by all, heck, it may not even be appreciated by many, but it will be appreciated by some (or a few, or just 1), and your goal in your Salesforce career journey is to find those that need you and your story to be a part of their organization.

Perfect, rehearse and refine your story…Morning Glory.

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Adverse Impact To Credential Inflation In The Salesforce Job Market

Credential inflation refers to the devaluation of educational or academic credentials over time and a corresponding decrease in the expected advantage given a degree holder in the job market. Credential inflation is thus similar to price inflation, and describes the declining value of earned certificates and degrees. ~Wikipedia

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While I’m far from an economist, this past week I learned more about credential inflation and the negative downstream impacts this might be having on the Salesforce job market. Credential inflation can lead to NOT what’s considered a candidate job market (where the candidate has the upper hand in being able to pick and choose what organization to work for) but rather the opposite where it’s leaning heavily in favor to an employer’s job market (allowing the employer to have the final say in how they want to recruit talent in), specifically when it comes to the inexperienced Salesforce talent pool.

When obtaining a Salesforce credential can be achieved from passing an exam causing a mass influx of certification holders, employers in return need to raise the entry gate for an applicant to be considered, with the hopes to reduce the number of applicants that apply. Therefore, resulting in most job descriptions requiring 2+ years of experience rather than entry-level. The cause and effect phenomenon.

Another potential indication of the devaluation of certifications is the gap (i.e. hardship) between what was needed for a newcomer 3+ years ago and the time and resources they had to spend searching, interviewing, etc. before landing a Salesforce position compared to those who are looking to get in now. Additionally, the “Accidental Admins” may not be as prevalent as they once were, as companies are able to find and hire experienced Salesforce Admins if desired, where as prior years the supply may not have been so readily available.

Of the millions of jobs that are expected to be made available with the Salesforce (cloud) economy, how many of those will ever be made available to the inexperienced talent pool raising the question: is the over-abundance in credentialing leading to a devaluation of said Salesforce certifications causing companies to take an adverse response?

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Being A Successful Contractor

If you’re thinking about becoming a contractor (not out of necessity but because that’s the path you’re choosing) please keep these thoughts in mind:

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You’re more expensive (or you should be compared to being a FTE), you’re probably not getting paid PTO, etc. and should be making up for the difference in your hourly rate.

Therefore, you’re also dispensable, under more scrutiny and have a constant target on your back.

Suggestions to help be successful:

1. Do not rock the boat, play into company politics or think what’s being said will be kept confidential (land mines exist)

2. Do not become complacent or feel “privileged”

3. Work more than you report (meaning, be professional but don’t nickel and dime, especially if it’s something you should already know)

4. ALWAYS stay engaged and find something valuable to do

5. Do NOT be an administrative P.I.T.A. (and I’m not referring to what’s served with Greek salad)

You can be terminated at any point and it may hit you broadsided along with not knowing the full reason why, but it’s typically due to one of the above.

Contracting can be a lucrative and rewarding career option, but thick skin, humility, and understanding where you stand in the internal hierarchy (the bottom) should be taken into consideration at all times.

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Be Picked To Present (Dreamforce – Next Year)

If you didn’t make the cut to be a Dreamforce presenter this year, I would like to share a few (actually 4) ideas that may be helpful for you in the future, based on some of my own experiences over the past few years.

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While there’s plenty of existing articles around this subject on how Salesforce chooses who gets selected and how to have better odds going forward, I thought using my experience might make it more realistic.

Below are the statistics for 2019 :

  • Developer – 825 submitted, 200 selected (~24%)
  • Administrator – 1,435 submitted, 149 selected (~10%)
  • Architect – 350 submitted, 80 selected (~23%)

To begin, do you have a subject on Salesforce that you’re passionate about and feel sharing what you know will really be beneficial to others? If not, I suggest to spend some time making a list. It doesn’t have to be created all at once, but rather one that you can keep handy and refine over time. Eventually, the top 2 or 3 should bubble to the top as the “best”.

Idea #1 – start to speak at Salesforce user groups. Whether that’s local to your home city or remote via video conference. You’ll need to get your reps in and what better way to do this than with a small audience? This will allow you to refine your presentation over time, answer questions that come up and bring new thoughts for consideration. Most Salesforce User Group leaders post when their local sessions will occur on LinkedIn or the Salesforce Community site, and are always looking for presenters to share their knowledge. They may not be able to get you in immediately, but they will get you on the agenda for a future meetup.

We’ve had presenters at the Houston user group present some fabulous material that really resonated with the audience, which told the presenter they were on to something that needs to be heard elsewhere. They started locally.

Idea #2 – speak at regional events. Similar to the Salesforce user groups, the regional events are also looking for content and presenters. When you get to the regional event level, the audience is bigger and since it’s a paid event, the attendees are going to want to get their moneys worth. Here, you’ll need to make sure your content has been tweaked and refined to make a thoughtful impact. 

In my personal situation this year, we had some key attendees from Salesforce at NorCal Dreamin who saw us speak on Salesforce careers. After the presentation, they approached us and asked if we’d be interested to speak at Dreamforce.

You never know who’s attending these regional events, and it could be someone from Salesforce that may reach out to you and request you to speak at Dreamforce.

Idea #3 – write, write, and write. Start to publish more content. Whether that’s blogs, YouTube videos, or LinkedIn posts, you need to get your name and your content out into the Salesforce community. It can be short snippets of what your presentation would be about to give your network a glimpse of what’s on your mind or it can be a totally unrelated subject all together. The point is, you’re becoming known and over time the right eyes will see your efforts. 

In my case, I had written article after article, LI post after LI post around Salesforce careers, and eventually some Salesforce MVP’s saw my material and asked if I would be a part of a topic where they could use a Salesforce recruiter’s point of view on.

Idea #4 – piggyback off existing presenters. If you’re making it to Dreamforce and attending a session that interests you and you believe that your area of expertise could bring additional positive impact to the presentation, introduce yourself to the presenter and ask to meet up with them afterwards to see if they’d be open to a conversation on the subject which may open up the opportunity to co-present for next year. 

Even if you’re not making it to Dreamforce, you can still go the Dreamforce website and search by topic and look for presenters to connect with via LinkedIn. From there, you can take the same approach and start building a relationship with them collaborating on ideas. Obviously, they may have a little resistance until you can prove to them that you know what you’re talking about and they see value in another dynamic you bring to the topic.

Hopefully, these 4 ideas are helpful to get you a little closer to making it to the big dance. You have around 8-9 months between now and the deadline for the 2020 Dreamforce event, so plenty of time to devise a game plan to execute on.

Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need is one small idea that can open the door of opportunity for you.

References:

https://developer.salesforce.com/blogs/2019/09/the-dreamforce-developer-track-2019-how-we-select-sessions.html

https://admin.salesforce.com/blog/2019/how-we-picked-the-admin-track-for-dreamforce-2019

https://developer.salesforce.com/blogs/2019/09/behind-the-scenes-of-the-architect-track-at-dreamforce-19.html

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Why Are You Being Ignored (AKA Ghosted)?

I don’t know THE reason

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But I know A possible reason (or two or many):

– You’re not what they need 

– They went another direction

– They’re way too “busy”

– They hired internally

– Their budget was cut

– They don’t care to make a decision 

– Management changed 

– You are (this is) not a priority

– They just didn’t like you (for their own reasons)

– You were forgotten about 

– They fell into an alligator swamp

– Your perceived value is not their actual value 

– The relationship isn’t what you thought it was

– They don’t know how to break the bad news, so it’s easier to ignore you 

If none of those work, maybe this will help you feel better: 

– their loss, it’s better this way

Remember: you can’t force “them” to respond

Your goal is to find those few that have interest and try not to let the others get you down.

Post inspired by a friend recently asking why I thought he was being ignored by a potential customer when he felt he did everything right. 

Which falls hand in hand when job candidates ask why they’re being ghosted.

“A man said unto the universe, “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “that fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.”  ~Stephen Crane (American Poet)

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): Show Me The Money!!!

Salesforce Agents.

I’ve often wondered if there’s a market for this.

Professional Athletes have Sports Agents, why not Professional “Salesforcer’s” have Salesforce Agents?

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I think many of us have anxiety when it comes to negotiating a salary, raise or a promotion and frankly don’t want to deal with it…especially if we’re new to it.

For new hires, yes, that is the recruiter’s job, but how about for existing positions?

Does it make sense to hire this process out?

It was fitting today, as 2 things happened: 

1. I had to get in front of an Appraisal Review Board to protest my property taxes (there’s 3rd parties that do this too).

2. I spoke to a Salesforce Admin who needs to get her salary up to market conditions and we were strategizing on how to go about it.

Jerry Maguire: Show you the money.

Rod Tidwell: No, no. You can do better than that! I want you to say it brother with meaning! Hey, I got Bob Sugar on the other line I bet you he can say it!

Jerry Maguire: Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Show you the money.

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): Salary Surveys

This past week, I was asked about salary surveys in our Houston Admin User Group.

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In my opinion, unless a reasonable amount of specific details showing the data points are also included, the salaries stated should be taken with some caution. 

Stating every Developer should make at least X and every Admin should make at least Y, makes little sense.

There’s many variables at play that making blanket statements causes more questions to be asked. 

Now, if the results had details that stated: Admin Group A included those living in greater New York City, working for Fortune 500 Financial Services companies being in the office daily for 2+ years with 4 years prior experience supporting an Enterprise level Sales org with 600+ users along with 2 other admins classified by org complexity made between X and Y as a base salary, that could help put some more context to compare against.

I realize the above example is a stretch and even then, there may be some variance. 

My point is, every situation, employer, role and responsibility is unique. Please keep this in mind when viewing salary surveys with emphasis on the term “average”.

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): The Continued Rise Of SI’s

One of the more strategic discussions that I’m often a part of is small SI’s (consulting partners) that are already established and are looking to build a practice in a new city/region.

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I think if you’re currently consulting with a major SI, and have thought about entrepreneurship and breaking out on your own, but don’t want the weight of starting a practice with little know-how (back office, marketing, sales, recruiting, etc.), a favorable alternative is to join a small player that doesn’t have a presence where you’re located and help them plant their flag there.

In this scenario, you’ll have (should have) the financial backing to get you started, the mentorship/leadership to guide you, the ability to determine strategically how things should run (creativity and entrepreneurial), and the joy (and pain) of getting your name/company name in a place where it’s not known, and ideally some financial upside/equity based on the results. 

This role is not for the light hearted, relies on pre-existing relationships, your ability to sell/deliver, and has a long cycle (years not months) to get established, but might be a good middle ground for you based on your career aspirations.

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Salesforce Career NON-Seekers: Keeping Your Connections Tied…

When speaking to those who have lost their job and are now actively looking, often they mention that they should have kept up with their existing connections along the way.

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Yes, I get it, when you have a position, you’re easily occupied and focused on the job at hand, but if you can make it a point to keep in touch with your previous connections routinely, hopefully the transition, if you were to lose your job, would be smoother.

Or maybe, you don’t think this conversation is awkward:

“Hey Chris, it’s been 15 years, how have you been?  Oh, by they way, can you help me find my next position?”

Since I’m a recruiter, I take these reach-outs with open arms, but statistics show most opportunities are landed through personal connections, not some recruiter giving advice on personal connections.

Keep your connections tied…

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): Salesforce Certifications, An Impediment

This week, I had lunch with a senior level architect/consultant and he seems to occasionally get questioned about his lack of certifications prior to joining a project, which annoys him.

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For him, certifications are not his focus, but rather these concepts:

– when sh%* hits the fan, they call him to fix it and he drops what he’s doing to take action

– they ask him for his valued opinion and validation 

– he provides honesty and integrity every step along the way

– clients can throw most anything his way as they know he’ll have an idea as to what to do next

– he has passion, works from his heart and builds working relationships

– he thinks logically about the downstream impacts that a decision will have

– he counsels and assists others around him for the sake of the team success 

With this, he continuously stays employed as a high billing consultant. 

This is not to downplay those highly credentialed Salesforce professionals, but it is to up-play those senior level practitioners who have been in the trenches for years, with a track record of success and have felt friction with the certification phenomenon getting in their way.

Great job! Keep leading the field!

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Salesforce Career Seekers: Are You Tapping Into Your Past Relationships To Help You Land Your 1st/Next Position?

With the almost hard to believe statistic that states approximately 80% of positions filled are through word of mouth, please take this into consideration during your job search.

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You might want to jot down 15 or 20 people you have either previously worked with, went to school with, been a part of an association with, or somehow have known each other through past interaction and check them out on LinkedIn.

Maybe, just maybe, they can get you one step closer to the front door depending on where they’re working, the type of work they’re doing and who they might be connected with that is tied to Salesforce. 

The best time to leverage your network during your job search was yesterday, the 2nd best time is TODAY.

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Keeping A Pulse On Market Conditions

Salesforce Professionals – if money (aka your salary) is your major motivational factor, are you keeping a pulse on if your salary is in line with market conditions?

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Sometimes, I think we get so caught up in the day to day we may lose sight of what I call “opportunity cost”.

The loss of potential gain when one choice is taken versus another. 

In other words, if I’m being paid $10 today and the market conditions are saying that I should be paid $12, I’m leaving $2 in lost opportunity dollars per day for someone else (your employer to keep, your colleague to have, another company who is willing to pay it, etc.).  All other things remaining equal.

Days compound to weeks, weeks compound to months, and before you know it, a years worth of opportunity cost dollars really add up.

I’m not suggesting greed, I’m suggesting fair. 

And I realize there’s much more that goes into your career than money and other ways to weigh your job satisfaction. 

In summary, it is your responsibility to reduce your opportunity cost as much as you can and to take an occasional evaluation.

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Sexism In The Sales Tech Industry

As you know, I’ve posted some bullsh*# that happens to me with the fraudulent behavior in technical recruiting, but what I experienced yesterday with the amount of sexism in the sales tech industry tops the cake, BY FAR!

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In hanging out with an attractive female consultant that is also responsible for generating new business and the types of text messages she received after the meet and greet event occurred was extremely disturbing. 

Ridiculous sh*# like:

Paraphrased – 

“You’re the most attractive female I met tonight, I’m staying at hotel XYZ, do you want to hang out for a drink tonight”

“What are you up to, can I come by to meet you later”

“How long will you be out, maybe we can get together”

No sh*#, these are the types of texts she showed me.

I honestly didn’t know what to say, except to advise her to ignore every one of these.  

I’m not in her shoes and I never will be, nor was I there in the initial introductory conversation, so my opinion can only go so far, but what she shared with me really opened my eyes to a whole other side of what an attractive sales female is up against, which correlate to statistics that state over 90% of females have witnessed sexist behavior at the office or at industry events. 

This sucks and I couldn’t provide any sound advice to help.

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Being An Independent Salesforce Consultant

Over the weekend, I read a few great articles on being an independent Salesforce consultant.

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One aspect I wanted to point out, based on my experience, that you might want to take into consideration, if this is the route you aspire to take, is your bill rate.

I believe eventually you hit a ceiling, regardless of how many additional years of experience you have, additional certifications you obtain, high profile clients you’ve served, etc. 

There are exceptions to produce greater income, such as, building an actual company with employees, moonlighting and serving more than one client, or finding clients that will only pay what you want to charge and you’re willing to turn down projects until then.

My bill rate eventually flatlined based on what the market was willing to pay and I have those in my network that have seen the same. 

I also have had discussions with those who decide to go back to being a corporate employee because of this (along with the need to have a steady paycheck).

Your mileage may vary, but please keep in mind that your bill rate curve does not go to infinity as an independent consultant.

Have a great week ahead.

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The Value Of Asking – Example Provided

When you’re looking to make a career move, there’s a reason (or many) why you’re looking elsewhere. And you want to help make sure that you’re not going to run into the same predicament in your next opportunity.

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One idea is to ask for further understanding around those particular areas prior to the interview.

This not only allows you to determine if the company, role, work, road-map ahead, culture, etc. are a good fit for you, but it also shows the hiring manager that you’re intellectually curious and have a genuine interest to ensure you’re doing the proper due diligence which translates to being analytical, which is what employers are looking for.

Now some companies may not want to address those questions up front in writing, but rather during the interview itself, just make sure they get addressed.

Real world scenario that happened this week:

A Salesforce Sr. Admin was looking to make a career move and one of the primary reasons was that they were looking to solve more complex business problems.

What did they do:

Ask me to ask the hiring manager if they could review some written examples of the process flows of their current business operations.

The intent was not to try and “steal” any proprietary information, but rather to understand if it’s a good fit for them to improve their skills by being faced with more complex and interesting challenges.

This is not only for your benefit, but it also shows the hiring manager that you’re intellectually curious and puts you in a good light even before the interview.

The hiring manager didn’t feel comfortable providing this up front, but rather we expedited the interview process and we all went in together for an informal discussion of the business operations, the problems being faced, and the road-map ahead.

At the end of the discussion, the candidate had a lot of the input that they were looking for to help base their decision on.

Remember, you’ll never get what you don’t ask for, and there’s typically much more of a beneficial outcome when you decide to ask for what you want and need, to help ensure your next career move is right one. As long as you can put some reasons behind why you’re asking, most will oblige which will lead to a better outcome.

The value of asking…

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Corporate Policies, Procedures, And The Challenges They Bring

I think one of the biggest challenges/constraints good software developers (primarily contractors) have when starting a new project is the amount of corporate policies, procedures and traditional ways of working that negatively affect their performance and morale which prevents them from hitting the ground running to produce results.

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Today, I had a developer approach me, looking for an out, although he just started a project about a month ago.

I asked, why so soon?

He can’t get anything done.

Crappy, locked down, laptop that he was given that he doesn’t care to use; firewalls up the wazoo preventing him from getting to various tools he needs; paperwork that he must continuously fill out and get approval on.

I understand corporate standards, security and regulations to prevent a developer going “rogue”, but unfortunately, good developers will also bail as they get tired of knocking their head against their desk everyday.

If you’re a contract developer, I guess the only way to understand what’s ahead for you, is to try and get as much clarification on what you’re up against before accepting (which I understand is not always possible).

Keep doing what you love, less frustrating opportunities await you…

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought of the Day): Company’s Reimbursing Employees For Failed Certification Exams

In conversing with a highly accredited Salesforce Professional this week, we discussed the CTA Review Board exam and he mentioned his company would only reimburse him if he passes (and this is a global billion dollar consulting company).

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With the anxiety that often accompanies taking this exam (or any certification exam), the financial impact to the employee should probably be off the table.

I think a good incentive for company’s to have in order to bring in and retain highly sought after talent is an annual continuous learning bucket that allows one to utilize at their discretion with no pass/fail stipulations.

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You’re In The Driver’s Seat

Salesforce Professionals – please remember, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to making a career move and you have an offer that you’re considering.

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Not the hiring company and DEFINITELY not the external recruiter.

It really bothers me when I hear stories about being pressured to “hurry, hurry, rush, rush” when it comes to making such an important decision for your future. 

There’s often enough anxiety already at hand, feeling the added pressure from an outsider doesn’t help.

Now, I’m not saying to drag your feet either, as a decision has to be made, but rather come up with a date and time to finalize that decision and if you’re transparent in the process about why you need that time, it “should” get people off your back. 

On average, I think 3-5 days should be adequate time, unless there’s some unusual circumstances that’s involved.

It’s your career and your decision…

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Navigating Your Career – Questions & Thoughts To Occasionally Ask Yourself

I believe as we move forward in our careers, we continuously ask ourselves, are we still striving to hit our full potential? Do we need to make some changes? Do we need to focus on our strengths or our weaknesses or both? Do we recognize the environment we’re currently working in and is it providing the opportunity for us to do our best work? Can we identify how to work with others effectively?

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Along this journey, inevitably we’re probably going to make some wrong turns and might even have wished to do things differently, but it’s the realization and evaluation of these that can help realign ourselves to move forward in a better way.

Within Peter F. Drucker’s article on Managing Oneself published by the Harvard Business Review, these topics are discussed to help us get a better understanding on how to achieve greater career success while realizing approximately 40-50 years of our lives are spent working.

In developing ourselves, we’re able to make the greatest impact and by knowing when and how to change the work we do, is critical.

Do you know your strengths?

Many of us have taken the Gallup Strength Finder to assess where our greatest assets lie within ourselves, but according to Drucker, most do not evaluate how we perform within those identified strengths. More importantly, we do not place ourselves in the best environment that allows us to continuously improve on those strengths, but rather in situations where many obstacles exist that we struggle with that we inevitably push through. In doing so, time might not be best utilized as much as it could be as we’re trying to improve those skills from weak to mediocre, versus strictly focusing on going from good to excellent in our identifiable strengths.

Our ability to perform with our own strengths is unique, as it’s a matter of personality.

Drucker believes that people achieve the best results when working in an environment that allows them to draw out their personality and by continuously doing things they are good at. Within his assessment, there are types of questions that should be asked on how to improve:

Am I a reader, writer, or listener? People are rarely all 3, but rather there is 1 in which you retain and learn information the most effectively.  Of course, “doing” will trump all 3, but before doing, understanding how it needs to be done first is needed.

Additional self-evaluation questions include:

  • Do I work well with people, or am I considered a loner?
  • Do I produce results as a decision maker or best perform when being told what to do? 
  • Do I do my best work in a structured, well-organized environment, of do I enjoy being in a chaotic (and often high stress) culture that allows me to bring out the best in me? 
  • Do I work well in large organizations or enjoy a smaller company?

There are no right or wrong answers and we should have a “gut feel” on what works best for us as individuals.

Do not try to change yourself, rather change the environment you’re in to perform your best work.

What are your values? Not your ethical values, but rather your organizational values. 

For example, do you agree with organizations that try to promote and develop within or those that always look to hire externally to bring in new ideas and challenge the norm?

Do you believe in an environment whose mission is to make small, incremental changes or one where major change occurs to help drive company success?

To be the most effective in an organization, your values should be closely aligned to that of the company as this allows you to focus on continuously improving rather than wasting time on organizational operations that are out of your control.

Successful careers are not planned, rather they develop when you’re prepared for opportunities because you know your strengths, your best methods to perform, and have identified your values.

Lastly, managing yourself, requires taking responsibility for the relationships that surround you.  Just as you, others have strengths, ways of working, values, etc. and your ability of knowing, understanding and working within those parameters will allow you and your career to succeed.

A working relationship is based on the people more than it is on the work itself.

In conclusion, your ability to understand, refine and continuously ask yourself: “This is what I’m good at, this is how I perform my best, these are my organizational values, and this is how I make a difference” will allow the proper assessment to take place along with achieving higher career success.

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Book Review On: Developing Data Migrations And Integrations With Salesforce – Patterns And Best Practices By: David Masri

Quality of data being in the right place, for the right person, at the right time so it’s actionable is critical to the success of a CRM project.

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While a nice user interface, fancy reports and workflow automation are also important elements in a CRM, these would significantly lose their value if the underlying data that supports these areas are problematic. 

Within this book, we are provided a comprehensive plan on how to turn the most critical and riskiest area of a project involving data migration and integration into a streamlined, low maintenance and high performing process.

As we continue down the journey of digitization and the importance of how data drives so many decisions, the below quote continues to hold true:

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. ~Economist Magazine

Before jumping into the complexities of data migrations, the author takes the reader through reviewing relational databases, data modeling and querying concepts, while also providing the nuances and operational differences between a traditional database and how Salesforce operates to help set the initial foundation.

Salesforce is an API first company, therefore all external interactions with Salesforce must go through it’s API’s. 

Next, David provides the 6 critical attributes that help guarantee the success of a data migration initiative:

  1. Well planned: asking the critical questions (examples are provided)    
  2. Automated: getting the process to be as close to “one click” as possible
  3. Controlled: having a centralized “brain center” to determine the data flow
  4. Reversible: ability to undo full or partial migrations
  5. Repairable: understanding where the original data resides and how it was transformed
  6. Testable: ensuring requirements and business needs are met

Strive to be better with each of your data migrations: better planning, more automation and increased trace-ability. 

As with any major endeavor comes a series of best practices, David provides 40 that should cover every situation you would typically run into. Below are the top 5 which I found to have the greatest impact.

  1. Understand and analyze the source data, while asking comprehensive and challenging questions about the intent
  2. Document, maintain and enforce stakeholder buy-in on the transformation
  3. Do not ignore data problems, they rarely get addressed after the deployment and can cause significant impacts
  4. Partner with a BA to help validate assumptions and your findings
  5. Don’t patch things together during testing, start the process end to end to ensure accuracy, run-times and deployment procedures stay in tact

Scope, budget and quality are 3 factors in any project, when it comes to data, quality should never be compromised.

As with any book, theory only gets us so far, therefore David also provides a real-world use case of a migration project, where the reader will understand how to load and transform 10+ objects. Within this exercise, we’re taught how to use a central control file, cross reference tables, sequencing, dissecting, and explaining the SQL and associate functions, performance tuning, bulkifying and roll-backs.

Migrations are difficult, most have issues and the details are critical. To get better: practice, execute, review, repeat.

Although, the major piece of work is the 1st data migration, the ability to perform data synchronization can be equally as important long term. Synchronization types such as: unidirectional, bi-directional, and 2 way synchronization along with patterns such as: incremental and differential are covered. A few examples of these include: upsert-no delete, incremental date based, full load.

       Understanding how to handle data conflicts when synchronization comes into play is crucial to the success of a project.

While most of this book discusses batch type integrations, David has a few chapters on real-time integrations and UI automation describing options such as, Salesforce API’s, Salesforce Connect, Streaming API’s, APEX Web Services, Platform Events, Embedded iFrame, FAT Client integration and a few others. Within these chapters, we get an understanding of when to use each based on the types of requirements involved.

As any good developer will know, having a solid code library of reusable functionality can be an extreme time saver. Especially when it comes to data transformation as more time than not, customers follow certain data idiosyncrasies that need to be accounted for. David provides examples of the most common. My personal favorites provided includes accounting for CamelCase, Phone number formatting, identifying a good email address, parsing out names, and stripping out spaces, numeric and alphanumeric characters.

Having your tool belt full of the critical tools needed for the job saves time and money while identifies you as a data migration specialist.

The final chapters of this book covers: FAQ’s, an algorithm and associated SQL for detecting duplicates using natural keys, as well as references cards recapping best practices, synchronization and integration patterns as well as suggested reading references.

In conclusion, whether your experience doing Salesforce migrations has been days, months or years, this book should be in your reference collection as I’m confident you’ll either learn or rediscover concepts that can help you become more proficient in your craft.

“The more you read, the more things you will know, the more you learn, the more places you will go.” ~Dr. Seuss.

You can find David’s great book for purchase here:

https://www.apress.com/us/book/9781484242087

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Salesforce Admins – Stay Ahead Of The Curve

Occasionally, I speak with Salesforce Admins and they feel they’re not growing in their current position based on the mundane tasks they’re having to do. Therefore,  I wanted to share a few thoughts to help ensure you’re staying ahead of the talent curve.

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I believe history often repeats itself when it comes to technology and associated skill-sets, so when the job market balances out, so will the pay scale.

  • Being a Salesforce Admin when the role is scarce is exactly where you want to be, but when scarcity goes away, you’re going to need to bring something more to employers to be one step ahead of the supply curve. Being distinct, unique, and having a point of view with the analytical ability to provide valuable insight to solve interesting problems before they occur using Salesforce as the platform will be what employers will always seek out.
  • As more new Salesforce Admins come into the job market since it’s considered one of the initial entry points to start, company’s may begin to turn to Admins that are at a lower salary point to do the job that you’re currently doing. Particularly, if the work being done is not industry specific, is simplistic in nature, and the training timeline to get someone up to speed is relatively short.
  • The access you have to Trailheads and certifications are the same access other Admins have, so pick ones that scare you the most, are considered leading edge, might be the hardest to learn, or can potentially help you become more of an industry niche. If your current employer is not interested in innovation, work on this in your off time while thinking about a transition plan.
  • As you progress in your career, begin (or continue) to build an external reputation where your expertise will be known and company’s are willing to pay “extra” for the additional skills you bring. Salesforce events, blogging and social media gives you plenty of opportunities to increase your brand awareness and to be relevant in the ecosystem.
  • Each day think about: am I learning anything new, increasing my skills, or what is something genius I can bring to the table.  Thoughts like this is the value add that only you can offer, NOT just asking “what are my simplistic tasks for the day” and crossing them off one by one and calling it a day’s work.
  • If you’re currently not getting the opportunities to advance, improve, learn, and skill-up, I believe you’re doing yourself a disservice for career growth, which may eventually lead to being replaced or your salary to stagnate. If your current employer is just looking for someone who is dependable and to get simple things done, that’s not all you have to offer.

Stay ahead of the curve…

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): Customers Losing Their Strongest In-House Technical Talent To Salesforce Themselves

Just spoke to a customer today who had this happen.

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My prediction: they’ll need at least 4-6 months (if not longer) to replace them.

Not good…

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SRTotD (Salesforce Random Thought Of The Day): Salesforce Certs And Internal Career Progression

Have you ever been passed over for a raise or a promotion for not having a specific Salesforce certification?

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Have you ever been denied an internal assignment or project from management for not having a specific Salesforce certification?

Have you ever been shunned by your internal peers for not having a specific Salesforce certification but they needed your help desperately?

If you’re in consulting, has the external client or the internal client facing lead decided to not staff you on the project if you didn’t have a specific Salesforce certification, BUT you had the relevant on the job experience?

I’m working on an article to provide some additional options where I believe your time could be more valuable than the emphasis on certifications (especially when they’re random and don’t drive towards an end goal), but maybe I’m completely off the mark, if all of the above are happening.

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Navigating Through Corporate Politics, Biases, Misalignment, Stubbornness And Ego

Navigating through corporate politics, biases, misalignment, stubbornness and ego is by far one of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to implementing successful CRM projects.

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I had a call with a Salesforce platform owner this past week where he recently joined a new company and his primary objective is to revitalize their Salesforce instance, increase user adoption, bring in best practices, enhance the functionality to better align with business processes and essentially bring a breadth of fresh air to the sales organization.

Now he’s a few months in, and is having thoughts to bail, which I personally hate to see as I think there’s a great opportunity for achievement to be had.

BUT

He continues to hit roadblocks by the company owner who seems to know EVERYTHING that happens within the organization, while wanting to keep such a tight grip on his CRM baby that little progress can be made.

We discussed a few different strategies on how to progress over, under, between, alongside and thru this situation and there’s still some candid conversations that need to be had to further understand what’s driving this behavior.

I’d be interested to hear how others have successfully navigated situations like this before.

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Navigating Through Corporate Politics, Biases, Misalignment, Stubbornness And Ego

Navigating through corporate politics, biases, misalignment, stubbornness and ego is by far one of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to implementing successful CRM projects.

READ MORE

I had a call with a Salesforce platform owner this past week where he recently joined a new company and his primary objective is to revitalize their Salesforce instance, increase user adoption, bring in best practices, enhance the functionality to better align with business processes and essentially bring a breadth of fresh air to the sales organization.

Now he’s a few months in, and is having thoughts to bail, which I personally hate to see as I think there’s a great opportunity for achievement to be had.

BUT

He continues to hit roadblocks by the company owner who seems to know EVERYTHING that happens within the organization, while wanting to keep such a tight grip on his CRM baby that little progress can be made.

We discussed a few different strategies on how to progress over, under, between, alongside and thru this situation and there’s still some candid conversations that need to be had to further understand what’s driving this behavior.

I’d be interested to hear how others have successfully navigated situations like this before.

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Salesforce Certifications, Your Career And Your Time

As the number of available Salesforce certifications isn’t slowing down anytime soon and new ones seem to show up every year, I wanted to provide some alternative suggestions to continue to grow your Salesforce career as it relates to your time.

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Before I get thrown to the lions by the certification emperors, I understand these points:

  • Personal development and continuous learning is extremely important – Certifications (and Trailhead) are a way to grow and demonstrate your dedication to the Salesforce platform
  • Salesforce partners have specific certification quotas to meet to remain in good standing
  • It MAY lead to an internal promotion or a possible job opportunity WHEN comparing you to another individual that doesn’t have a specific certification
  • You’re starting a Salesforce career for the 1st time and a stepping stone is needed
  • You are looking to be a highly specialized consultant/expert in a specific technology (CPQ, SFMC, FSL, etc.)
  • You’re pursuing your CTA and the preliminary certifications are necessary to receive that accolade
  • You’re unemployed or in between projects and want to continue to level up to help occupy your time

Alternatively, these situations are also true:

  • Customers experience problems within their org created by Salesforce certified consultants
  • Certified candidates fail interviews due to lack of hands-on knowledge and understanding
  • The marketing that goes on stating certifications lead to job opportunities is significantly overstated
  • The ability to retain what you’ve learned/passed on your certifications exams drops considerably (as much as 80% after just a few days), unless you’re consistently revisiting the curriculum

Therefore, let’s explore alternatives that I believe have a significant positive impact on your Salesforce career progression, especially if you’re burned out on certification studies or not considered a great test taker, but still want to advance professionally:

  • Focusing on leadership by reading, studying, learning and taking continuous action on becoming a better leader.

“There are 5 nonnegotiable characteristics that every effective leader must have: A sense of calling, an ability to communicate, creativity in problem solving, generosity and consistency”. ~John Maxwell (Leadership Expert)

  • Maybe you don’t consider yourself (and don’t care to be) a leader and rather enjoy making a greater impact by individual contribution. Therefore, write more to share your experiences and knowledge with others. This can have a profound impact to be a better analytical thinker by transposing your thoughts to written communication as well as allowing others to see, hear and learn from you.
  • Mentor junior level talent by providing suggestions and opportunities to help them grow. Throw new ideas their way to improve, this will also help you work on your emotional labor by: connecting, interacting, helping, and caring.
  • Think of ideas and insights to help your customer (whether internal or external) do their jobs more effectively/efficiently. Write these ideas down daily, weekly, monthly and present them to the stakeholders and management team to get buy in. There’s always room for improvement within an organization and you can stand out by bringing these ideas up rather than waiting for customers to make all the suggestions.
  • Volunteer to lead up a new group internally. Maybe a monthly Lunch N Learn or happy hour, form a committee to create a quarterly newsletter, be a part of external college recruiting events, start up a monthly volunteer program. This shows a sense of internal pride in helping to unite employees together.

In conclusion, when it comes to allocating your time, remember certifications can be gained by most and it’s an individual accomplishment, but it’s your ability to lead, teach, help, provide ideas and solve interesting problems that will help set you apart. By thinking of how you can provide consistent value to others, your career will continue to take strides, along with a feeling of greater internal satisfaction.

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The Significant Imbalance Of The Salesforce Job Market

As I continue to read about the future of Salesforce job growth and the recent headlines on training more Americans to earn Salesforce credentials, I’m having difficulty understanding how this is going to work out.

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I’ll be the first to admit to drinking the Salesforce Kool-aid on the future economical impact that will be made long term, and I’ll continue to think of ways to encourage others to go after their Salesforce career aspirations, but would also like to analyze where we are and where we’re going.

Let’s recap some of the numbers:

  • According to the IDC*, Salesforce and its ecosystem or partners will generate 3.3. million new jobs by 2022
  • More than 300,000 job postings ask directly for Salesforce skills*
  • Salesforce pledges to give 500,000 Americans (or I think it’s now 1,000,000) the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials and get top jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem**
  • 1.4 Million learners around the world are transforming their careers and lives through Trailhead**
  • Salesforce offers training and re-skilling opportunities through programs like: Futureforce, Vetforce, Pathfinder**

In all these headlines, where are ENTRY-LEVEL positions being discussed?

Entry-level are the majority of the types of applicants that are enrolling in these programs that have no prior CRM, Database, Programming or Business Analyst backgrounds (Veterans, Career Changers, Under-employed, Non-IT College Graduates, etc.).

In doing some additional research:

  • On the Salesforce website (https://salesforce.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/External_Career_Site) they have 1954 open positions, 18 show internships, about 22 came up with my search of entry level (of those 22, many didn’t really seem like tech positions).
  • On the Vetforce website (https://veterans.force.com/VetforceEmployerPartners) they have a list of employer partners, so I took a sample set:

Searched by “Entry Level and Salesforce”

  • Accenture: 149 total, 6 entry level
  • Dell: 188 total, 42 entry level (all Sales related, not Admins or Devs)
  • Deloitte: 122 total , 3 jobs titled Intern or Student
  • PWC: 9 total, 0 entry level
  • Simplus: 4 total, they have a Bootcamper program in Salt Lake City, not sure how many can enroll or if it guarantees a job afterwards
  • Slalom: 125 total, all look to be at least 2 years experience needed

I then searched some of the biggest company’s on the Fortune 500:

  • Walmart: 12 total, 0 entry level
  • Exxon: 0 total
  • Apple: 7, 0 entry level
  • Amazon: 451, most seem experienced only
  • Facebook: 37, 0 seem to be entry level

Switching directions to a generic search on LinkedIn for Salesforce jobs, it’s hard to get a read on the number, as most employers are classifying their positions as entry level, but all the random sampling I did shows at least 2 years prior experience.

Let’s just say there are 50-100 entry level Salesforce positions floating around somewhere and I’m not looking in the right places or my sample set is completely off the mark, my understanding there are many more coming out of these training programs (or taking their own direction to switch careers) to find Salesforce work,

Where are they all expected to go?

Something seems out of balance, or maybe I just need to work on my journalism skills.

References:

* IDC White Paper sponsored by Salesforce, written October 2017

** Investor.Salesforce.com Press Release, May 16, 2019

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Your Salesforce Career: Ride The Wave

For the aspiring Salesforce Developers in the U.S., I wanted to share a real-world scenario of the current market conditions with the intent to cut through marketing hype and often unrealistic salary surveys, but to also provide examples to set yourself apart.

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Also, it was a pleasure to represent them along their way as they evaluated new opportunities.

Reason for exploring new opportunities (short version):

The current company was involved in an acquisition causing it to lose some of it’s original culture.

Their experience (needless to say, a near complete package at their level, IMO):

  1. ~ 3 years of Salesforce development and lead experience for a industry leading consulting company
  2. 5 certifications
  3. Leadership experience – mentoring junior developers on best practices in development and consulting
  4. Speaker at conferences
  5. Internal host of bi-weekly Q&A sessions 
  6. Participated in pre-sales activities/solutioning prototypes
  7. Lives in the Midwest
  8. Computer Science degree
  9. Top notch in personality, communication, professionalism

Their outcome:

  1. Interviewed with 5 companies
  2. Interviews ranged from technical assessments to informal conversations (fortunately, they were already known in the industry)
  3. Received 5 offers
  4. Salary (high 5 digits/low 6 digits)

Their decision:

Not the highest salary but rather the culture of the new company that was a close representation of where they came from when they 1st started their Salesforce career.

Note: they gave me permission to post this with the intent to help others, and I wanted to keep some confidentiality.

Other experiences may vary.

Summary: If you have the desire to do more, be more, and have more and your current company/situation is not allowing that to happen, please don’t just watch the tide go in and out each day, as you deserve to be riding the waves.

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You’re Not A Salesforce Commodity!

Commodity: In economics, where the market treats the good or service as equivalent or to be perceived with no differentiation.

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Examples –

Goods: Cotton, cattle, wheat

Services (which I realize services may not be really considered a commodity): Gas station, dry-cleaners, car wash

In reading a recent article involving a senior level Salesforce professional, he mentioned he felt that the role of a Salesforce Administrator may eventually become a commodity.

Therefore, I wanted to do a little analysis on how the market is doing using LinkedIn as the primary source of data.

In searching for the title of Salesforce Administrator in the U.S. there are 2,305 jobs currently posted over the last 30 days, with each one having on average of 40 applicants, some many more, some many less based on company, city, job description, etc. 

Then I wanted to see how many Salesforce Administrators are in the total candidate pool (irrespective of looking for new opportunities), that number tallies 47,523 with ~10% of those looking for new opportunities (4,724).

Therefore, approximately 2 candidates are available for every 1 job that’s currently posted (very high-level analysis, all things being equal).

Doing a similar analysis for Salesforce Developer openings, there’s 5,453 available positions, with 8,806 total developers in the candidate pool and 10% of those looking for new opportunities (899), so for every developer looking, they have about 6 possible jobs available to them.

Obviously, there’s some variables to this analysis regarding US Citizens, H1-B contractors, experience levels, permanent vs contract, overlap with multiple staffing companies posting the same position, etc. but even with a +- 10% variance, hopefully the numbers are telling. 

But, this article is not about comparing Devs to Admins but rather it’s about differentiating yourself in the Admin space to avoid a “commodity” type situation where you don’t want to be.

Therefore, as your Salesforce career continues to evolve, please start (or continue) asking yourself these types of questions:

  1. Can the work I’m currently doing be either outsourced or given to someone at a lower salary and experience level or even combined into another existing position? Or asked a different way, will the company I’m working for severely feel the impact of losing me?
  2. Am I doing more than just basic administrative tasks day to day and instead building innovative solutions that take significant time, thought and industry/product knowledge to complete?
  3. Do I know if my stakeholders are getting the value that Salesforce offers and if not, what can I do to help influence that?
  4. Am I challenging what is being asked of me in a professional manner while offering creative suggestions or ideas to make things better for the company and end users?
  5. Can I be more proactive and engaging with our end users to find out what they need and want rather than waiting for them to come to me?
  6. Am I willing to tip my toe in uncharted territory to expand my experience level by taking on new projects, leadership opportunities, or possibly getting more involved with custom coding and integration?
  7. Do I stay up to date with the seasonal release notes and/or 3rd party applications by working on prototyping ideas to help my company’s business operations in driving better ways of working?
  8. Do I engage with others by teaching, sharing ideas, collaborating and paying it forward to those less experienced then me?
  9. Am I thought of as the 1st person to turn to across various lines of business as they know that I can get the job done by meeting or exceeding their expectations while not having to ask multiple times for an update by keeping them informed of my progress along the way?
  10. Am I in tune with the strategic direction and road-map of where the company and my department is going and can I lead the way to help contribute to that success?

If you have doubts around any of these, maybe it’s best to ask those in your organization what they think or even have them provide suggestions that they would like to see you take initiative on. 

I realize there might be risk in hearing what you might not want to hear, but the intent is to drive your career forward and continue to find out strategic opportunities to do so.

Maybe these types of questions are already on your annual/quarterly reviews and goals you strive for every day.

The key is for you and the value you have to offer to continue to stay in short supply and high demand to prevent you from falling into a commodity driven Salesforce talent market.

Hopefully, these ideas help you in doing so.

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I Can’t See The Career Forest For All These Certification Trees.

Most of us have probably heard the idiom of not being able to see the forest for the trees, which means getting so caught up in the details to not understand the situation as a whole.

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I often feel this is what’s happening when it comes to certifications, career progression and if the focus is on what’s important.

I’m often asked, Chris, what should my next certification be?

I don’t really know the best answer, nor do I think there is one, but I usually then ask, where have you been, where are you today, and where do you want to go?  

If you can’t answer the latter with a clear definition, then I don’t see how getting another random certification will help you.

But if you can answer that with a clear goal in mind, then you probably don’t need me (or anyone) to answer it for you anyway.

Or to address this million-dollar question on the significance of certifications a different way:

Let’s look at examples of what most Salesforce job descriptions state (if you want to use that as a barometer):

  • Strong communication, presentation and interpersonal skills with ability to present complex ideas in a clear, concise fashion to technical and non-technical audiences
  • Strong business and technical aptitude with an attitude to solve complex problems
  • Team player and able to work well with diverse groups such as Business Users, IT Business Solutions, and other Developers.
  • Ability to support business users during testing and resolve bugs/issues in a timely manner
  • Effective communication skills (written, verbal, and listening)
  • Excellent problem-solving skills with the ability to handle a fast-paced, dynamic environment

I purposely left out the technical requirements, but even so, I haven’t come across any that say: need a 3X, 6X, 22X, 56X certified Salesforce professional.

Maybe at a minimum a Certified Admin or Developer, to get your career started or show a potential employer that you’re willing to put in the effort to learn, test, retool, etc.

Or if you’re becoming a specialist in a specific area (CPQ, Marketing Cloud, Field Services, Architecture, etc.). And then many times, even these specialist certs are often a nice to have and not must haves.

Additionally, let’s also look at the top 10 skills for 2020 by the World Economic Forum:

1.      Complex Problem Solving

2.      Critical Thinking

3.      Creativity

4.      People Management

5.      Coordinating with Others

6.      Emotional Intelligence

7.      Judgement and Decision Making

8.      Service Orientation

9.      Negotiation

10.   Cognitive Flexibility

Do you think certifications get you any closer to these top 10?

In my opinion, maybe a few, but what about the rest?

Doesn’t the job description mentioned above tie to most of these?

Wouldn’t you want to spend most of your time figuring out how to excel in these other areas such as dealing with people, emotions, stress, awareness, coordination, failure? 

I think the primary way to do that is on the job, taking on projects, throwing yourself to the wolves, getting bit a time or two, learning from it and trying again.  Even if it’s not in a Salesforce role but being in a position where you gain experience in these areas and then to be able to articulate, refine and correlate these concepts in a conversation or interview.

When most are thinking of tangible certifications as the way ahead, you need to stand out with your personal experiences, challenges and shortcomings that make you unique and only apply to you.

Don’t let the certification trees impede your vision of seeing the career forest in front of you.

Disclaimer: I am 0X Certified (as I’ve failed the Admin and Dev exams), although daily I do some variation of:  write, receive, review Salesforce job descriptions, as well as speak to hiring managers, internal talent acquisition personnel and Salesforce professionals of all backgrounds. Prior to that in the trenches as a technical CRM hiring manager, delivery manager, solution architect and an Accenture career counselor. 

While I don’t believe I have all the answers, I enjoy sharing ideas to help challenge the status quo and marketing hype. Hopefully, this article allows for a slightly different viewpoint on what I (and hopefully many others) think matters when it comes to career growth.

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: Advanced Apex Programming – Edition 4 By: Dan Appleman

While there is no doubt there is an abundance of Apex programming documentation for both the novice and the advanced developer available, we often find the material is too broad or potentially written by a marketing or tech writer rather than day to day developers.

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Dan’s book on Advanced Apex Programming is written by a seasoned developer (himself) in which he provides real-world concepts about Apex design patterns, best practices, and solutions to greatly increase your Apex programming proficiency.

Since this is the 4th edition of Dan’s book, a few items to note of significance:

  • Primary focus is on SalesforceDX and Lightning
  • Rather than unmanaged packages and zip files, the sample code is provided in Dan’s GIT repository
  • Code examples are broken out and associated by branches in GIT to directly associate to the chapter being discussed for easier correlation
  • Due to Salesforce’s continuous re-branding, Dan uses terms interchangeably whether we’re talking about force.com, the Salesforce platform, or the Lightning platform

Two of the core concepts that Dan initially covers which help in the core understanding of Apex development are:

  1. Understanding how Apex interacts with the underlying Salesforce system as a whole
  2. In depth understanding about: Execution Contexts, Static Variables, Bulk Patterns and Governor Limitations

These philosophies may be common place for an experienced Salesforce developer (probably 5+ years), but for those who have a traditional Java, C#, VB, .NET, and other structured language background, these are concepts (and associated challenges) that directly relate to cloud computing, particularly on the Salesforce platform.

Let’s dive into what some of these mean for a Salesforce developer and how one leads to the next:

  1. Execution Context: Multiple triggers on an event can cause the developer to have no control of the order the triggers execute in causing massive confusion and unwanted outcomes (i.e. trigger calls another trigger that calls a workflow that then calls another trigger).
  2. Using static variables: Allows a developer to help control the Apex execution, context and scope to help prevent code being called multiple times undesirably, while also running into Governor limits.
  3. The understanding of Apex limits and how it has a profound impact on your architecture and design patterns. Although, most developers will rarely run into SOQL query limits, this book helps enforce the importance of: bulk syntax, using Before versus After triggers, caching data results, and limiting the fields you bring back in your queries. Other limitations that Dan covers include limits on CPU time (particularly in bulk operations), DML operations, Heap Size, Call Outs/API’s/Emails and 24-hour limits such as Batch Apex, Future Methods, Queueable and Extended Apex.
  4. Bulk patterns: one of the most important patterns that Dan educates the reader on is bulk patterns and if you can think and design your code to handle bulk operations, you’ll be able to build more efficient solutions up front, versus writing code for a single object and then having to convert it later.

To the novice developer, they may never imagine how their process could run into a governor limit, but Dan provides examples of how processing 1 piece of logic without taking bulk into account could quickly escalate into problems, not just in the internal processing, but also at the external web services layer as well.

The next area that Dan drills into further is best practices around architectural and design patterns along with possible underlying issues that may be presented.

  1. Collections: how to keep track of only the objects that need to be updated to help improve the efficiency of your operations. For example, triggers and how to programmatically provide better predictability within your application by maintaining a centralized trigger framework that controls the order of execution.
  2. Asynchronous operations: how to work around not being able to make a callout to web services within a trigger, the number of callouts you’re limited to, the amount of data that you can pass, the timeouts associated to external server’s response times. As well as the value and drawbacks to: Batch Apex, Scheduled Apex, Future Calls, Queueable Apex and Platform Events.
  3. Application configuration: Database objects, custom settings, and custom metadata and determining which is the best approach based on your specific requirements along with the design patterns to work around query limits by combining the different solutions.

The third section that Dan covers which is probably the most important as it has the biggest impact on the outcome of your development success: testing, debugging, and deploying your Salesforce solutions with a strong emphasis on SalesforceDX, as this tool is now fitting more into the modern development methodology many of us are used to such as source control, automated testing and building, as well as continuous integration.

As most developers know, when it comes to debugging and diagnosing Apex, the 3 essential areas that are involved are:

  1. A way to reproduce the issue
  2. A way to capture data about the issue
  3. A way to modify the code to remedy the issue

If you find yourself running into constraints among these 3, Dan provides some ideas and examples to overcome them by building a diagnostic framework.

  1. Creating a diagnostic instrumentation class that acts as a call stack to quickly find where the problem lies versus filtering through unnecessary lines in the debug log.
  2. A centralized trigger dispatcher that allows every method to have its own exception handler to account for the annoying, cryptic error messages a user receives (Apex: Unexpected Exception, Null Pointer Exception, blah, blah, blah).
  3. Creating a custom object to monitor users 24X7 to overcome limitations of the debug log size (which I believe has also increased over the last few releases based on developers feedback).

When it comes to unit testing, traditionally, developers make sure their code doesn’t break other developer’s code, but when it comes to Salesforce, the bigger challenge is the declarative metadata update that an admin makes and the adverse impacts it can have. Due to this, Dan advises that functional and integration testing should be a higher priority versus unit testing and provides these 4 test patterns:

  1. Centralizing object initializing for easier code maintenance
  2. Using Test.loaddata to allow for loading test data from a static resource
  3. Organizing tests into classes with multiple test methods to allows tests to relate to each other
  4. Using the @Testsetup annotation to initialize your data for all your test methods for a given class

Additionally, Dan highlights the importance of building every unit test as a bulk test and to make sure your batch size is configurable. This will allow all the benefits for bulk testing at almost no cost in relation to validating the functionality of your batch handling and assuring your processing meets the required Salesforce governor limits.

When it comes to managed packages, Dan also has you covered, regarding some of the challenges with namespaces and the behavioral differences with these such as:

  1. Inability to access custom settings that are not part of the package
  2. Duplicate fields that appear in SOQL queries

Dan provides suggestion to these either with SalesforceDX using namespaced Scratch Orgs or by having customers make modifications to their existing code and to use custom metadata. Additionally, the book also goes into detail regarding best practices for designing managed packages using Dynamic SOQL and Dynamic Apex.

The last great point the author points out regarding Apex development and the maintenance of your Apex code, is that coding makes up about 10% of a projects lifecycle and the other 90% includes requirements gathering, design documentation, testing and maintenance. Therefore, once code has been deployed, the costs of a bug increase dramatically, and not just bugs from a developer’s error, but when metadata changes occur such as a workflow, validation rule, flow or lightning process, as well as Salesforce’s seasonal releases which are uncontrollable.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this book covers much more than writing code, but rather how to create patterns and frameworks to help reduce the maintenance costs. This includes, centralized exception handling, defensive programming to account for metadata changes, and better diagnostics to help monitor your application.

Outside of these concepts, Dan also recommends the use of SalesforceDX as your single source of truth, using a testing Sandbox to stage and test your metadata changes, and lastly having the proper internal governance and change management processes in place, which I think we can all agree always can be better.

This book can be found on Amazon at:

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: Salesforce.com Lightning Process Builder And Visual Workflow

Although the title of Jonathan’s book seems very niche to only a few of the declarative capabilities that Salesforce has to offer, this book provides much more than that.

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I was pleasantly surprised while reading this book, as it allows the reader to get a better understanding of development best practices as a whole, not by showing you snippets of code or a few steps in a workflow, but rather how to take small pieces of business logic from real world business cases, during the requirements gathering process, and breaking them down piece by piece from business to functional requirements and then to create an overall process design or blueprint to be used. Jonathan then applies the tools such as Visual Workflow and Lightning Process Builder to achieve the functionality requested within the business cases.

As we all know, the goal (and sometimes the challenge) of software development or configuration is understanding what, how and why one approach is better than another and why using a declarative feature may make more sense than a programmatic one. Jonathan provides context about the significance of using the Salesforce declarative tools of Lightning Process Builder and Visual Workflow with these major themes:

1.      A graphical UI is available for easier user and developer comprehension

2.      Simpler and quicker maintenance and troubleshooting

3.      Version control and roll backs

4.      Inherent knowledge transfer as the tools are relatively self documented

Additionally, one of the key attributes that Jonathan points out is when to use a Visual Workflow versus a standard Workflow rule as each tool has its own set of strengths and limitations. Jonathan does this by providing graphical tables, screen shots and other visuals or resources to help illustrate these as you build out your process.

Not only does the author take his readers from the ground level of starting out with a simple business case to get us started and then builds upon it with more complex business requirements as we get comfortable with the tools, he adds humor and wit along the way. This approach helps keep the reader in tune, especially as traditional tech books can become a little dry after the first few pages in. Jonathan also points out best practices throughout to help ensure a great design is being achieved. 

Some of the value a traditional Salesforce developer would see within this book is how Jonathan calls out how some of the requirements “could” be met with an Apex Trigger, but to also show how Lightning Process Builder was able to meet the same requirement just as easily without the additional overhead and maintenance with writing code. But, he doesn’t say “clicks not code” is the “end all, be all”, as he also points out scenarios where complex logic calls for the developer to use Apex if additional capabilities and flexibility is warranted. He then follows up with the “power combo” by providing examples of how to combine both declarative and programmatic capabilities into one solution to provide the best of both worlds.

Outside of just Lightning Process Builder and Visual Workflow, this book also takes the user into other necessary responsibilities such as migrating the process throughout the environments, and also discusses how to troubleshoot and debug problems along the migration process as well as once they’re into production.

In conclusion, I think whether you’re a Salesforce BA, Salesforce Admin or Salesforce Developer, having Jonathan’s book in your library would definitely be a good reference book to have as going back to the basics of foundational business analysis and rethinking how to best approach a business problem utilizing Salesforce’s declarative capabilities will help keep concepts, techniques and approaches top of mind.

You can find Jonathan’s book on Amazon at:

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What To Watch Out For In Tech Candidate Scams.

With the surge of demand in technical talent, I believe the amount of fraud on the contractor market has sky-rocketed. I often post the situations I’ve ran into over the years to help educate (and hopefully, occasionally, entertain) the community but wanted to recap everything that I’ve experienced to help prevent you running into the same situation.

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Unfortunately, as a recruiter, we get caught in the cross-hairs with our customers who trust us, and if they have not experienced this situation before, come to us for an explanation, with the perception that we might have been in on it, often causing a relationship (and even future business) to be lost.

Obviously, I am not saying every contractor is a problem if we have to reschedule an interview, but I’ve learned to tread extremely lightly now whenever any of the below signs occur:

1.      Resume and LinkedIn profile doesn’t match with past project, companies, dates, etc.

2.      LinkedIn profile doesn’t exist or doesn’t have a picture associated to it

3.      Resume looks very generic or cookie cutter with what you’ve seen before from other candidates

4.      Resume has different fonts throughout like they’ve cut and paste from other resumes

5.      Photo ID and the candidate taking a Skype video interview doesn’t match

6.      Skype video has a bad connection with delays

7.      Candidate has their hands close to their mouth holding a headpiece, so you cannot see their mouth

8.      The candidate is very animated during the Skype call, moving their head back and forth so it’s hard to get a feel if they’re lip syncing

9.      Extreme delays in the voice and visual during a Skype call

10.   Backdrop to the room where the Skype session is taking place has a bed sheet or some other low-end noise barrier

11.   Phone call has a great deal of background noise (traffic, cars honking, etc.)

12.   Candidate must reschedule the interview multiple times with throwing every excuse they can your way

13.   Candidate delays an interview by any more than a day

14.   Candidate wants to do remote work only

15.   Once candidate answers the call and the interview starts they abruptly need to reschedule as something came up

16.   Candidate provides references of non-work phone numbers or non-work email addresses

17.   References are very hard to get a hold of or once you do, the references are very generic with their answers

18.   References do not have a LinkedIn profile

In summary, if anything seems “off”, then there’s a good chance there’s a problem brewing.

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: Learning Salesforce Lightning Application Development By: Mohith Shrivastava

As many customers transition their Salesforce applications from Classic to the Lightning Experience, they are also thinking of ways to allow their users to be more productive and efficient in their day to day activities.

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Therefore, within the Lightning Experience user interface, there are a series of out of the box tools available such as Flow, Process and Application Builder as well as pre-built Lightning Components that a Salesforce Administrator can drag and drop into existing Lightning pages to fit into the “clicks not code” paradigm to provide a better user experience.

While this book briefly touches on those capabilities, this reference guide is geared for the developer who has a more complex and specific set of requirements, where they need to build custom Lightning components to achieve success. To do so, new components are developed with HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to ultimately create a component bundle to expand Salesforce’s out of the box capabilities for areas such as: Lightning Experience, Communities, Mobile, Outlook, Chatter and API’s.

Within this book, Mohith Shrivastava covers the concepts that are available within the Lightning Framework such as the building blocks to form a Lightning bundle, as well as capabilities such as Lightning Flows, Lightning Data Service, Locker Service, and Lightning Out. Lastly, additional development concepts are covered such as Debugging, Performance Tuning, Unit Testing while utilizing the SalesforceDX CLI (Command Line Interface), providing code examples from Github. 

This book provides plenty of examples along with screenshots and a general overview of concepts and I highly recommend the purchase of this reference book to grasp a more in-depth understanding of all the moving pieces involved within the framework.

Below is a summary of each chapter.

Chapter 1 – Intro to the Lightning Framework

An intro into the core components that make up a Lightning app and the architectural differences between the client and server communication and data rendering as a user interacts with the system.

Additionally, Mohith provides a good diagram of the Lightning component life-cycle between a user clicking a button and what happens behind the scenes of the component markup, JavaScript, Controller, JavaScript Helper and Apex controller classes as depicted below

Finally, we are provided an example of how to create a “Hello World” Lightning component using the developer console as well as how to utilize the Lightning Design System to style and format a component.

Chapter 2 – Exploring Salesforce DX

Within this book, Salesforce DX is the development tool of choice and is used in all examples provided. In this chapter, Mohith explains how Salesforce DX is used as a source driven development workflow in utilizing version control and the Salesforce DX CLI (Command Line Interface) to help adopt a Continuous Integration process.

Also outlined is the process and the CLI commands to install DX, the Developer Hub, create a new DX project, build a scratch org, and to set up Visual Studio extension pack. Lastly, we’re shown a good example of the life-cycle and workflow using all the above-mentioned tools to develop a Lightning component, as shown below.

Chapter 3 – Lightning Component Building Blocks

In this chapter, Mohith explains the parts that make up a Lightning component and how they’re used. This includes the component markup (CSS, HTML), the JavaScript controller and the helper. Additionally, we’re shown how to wire the JavaScript client-side controller to the server-side Apex controller.

We also explore examples of how to control the layout and sizes of the Lightning Components to help increase the visual appeal to the end user.

Lastly, we’re shown a diagram of the series of events and actions that takes place between the client and server which really give a great depiction of what is happening technically behind the scenes.

Chapter 4 – Lightning JavaScript API

The JavaScript API is one of the critical pieces that make up the Lightning Component framework. In this chapter, we explore the various JavaScript functions and API’s that are supported, as well as the rendering cycle using the renderer file. Also brought to light is security via the Locker Service to help ensure malicious content and unauthorized access does not occur.

Furthermore, Mohith dives into the functionality of the Renderer JavaScript file and how it’s used if you need to create custom logic for your DOM (Document Object Model) manipulation.  Below is an example of where the renderer file is located and a workflow of how it’s used.

Concluding this chapter, we get an introduction to the Promises API which can help when you have nested callback that can be a challenge to debug and maintain.

Chapter 5 – Events in the Lightning Component Framework

The event driven model is the core of what the Lightning Component Framework uses based on a series of Publisher/Subscribe events using either the application or component event model. In this chapter, we are educated on how component events differ from application events, as well as how to create, register, fire and handle each type of event. We are also provided examples along with associated code to explain how a series of components can communicate with one another such as a child component taking action when it’s corresponding parent triggers it. Lastly, we are shown the optimal design pattern to help make debugging Lightning events less cumbersome.

Chapter 6 – Lightning Data Service and Base Components

One of the new features within the Lightning framework is the Lightning Data Service which provides a developer the ability to take care of Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operations as well as field level security inherently within the service. Historically, this was needed using APEX coding on the server.  Below are examples of the client/server interaction comparing not using LDS and using LDS.

The idea behind Lightning Base Components is to accelerate development by utilizing the out of the box components and design patterns available to you in SLDS (Salesforce Lightning Design System). 

This chapter provides example on how to use both custom and base components to rapidly achieve LDS functionality as well as the offerings that base components have such as: carousel, tree, data table, etc. to help provides a base set of common functionalities to get a developer going in their development work.

Chapter 7 – Using External JavaScript Libraries in Lightning Components 

To give your Lightning Components additional functionality, a series of external JavaScript libraries can be used, some may already be familiar to a seasoned developer such as JQuery, as well as others that include Chart.JS, Moment.JS, React.JS and Angular.JS. Although, some libraries are not compatible with the Lightning Locker Service, this chapter provides examples of how to make them Locker Service Compliant by using the Webpack Bundler to handle unsupported reference in the library.

Additionally, covered in this chapter are examples of how to make the client-side JavaScript call out to external sites, as well as how to have your Lightning Component communicate with VisualForce or any other I-frame embedded within a Lightning page.

Lastly, using the Lightning:Container component allows for a SPA’s (Single Page Applications) written in React, Angular, Vue, etc. to load inside the Salesforce Lightning Component. We are also shown some of the limitations of this approach with regards to performance, storage and offline caching.

Chapter 8 – Debugging Lightning Components

For any developer, the capability of debugging will always be needed. Here we are shown how to debug the front-end JavaScript code (if you’ve done any APEX development before you should be familiar with the server side debugging techniques) and APEX debugging is not discussed.

Within this chapter, we walk through the Salesforce Lightning Inspector tool to explore ways to inspect issues associated to the events firing and receiving, as well as performance bottlenecks. Additionally, we go through examples and techniques of using the performance optimizer, how to set breakpoints, parsing and catching exceptions, streaming logs, and using the replay debugger in the Salesforce DX CLI. Below is an example of the Lightning Inspector.

Chapter 9 – Performance Tuning Your Lightning Components

As a developer, having a performance problem can cause all your development work to quickly loose its appeal. In this great chapter, we explore preferred options and specific “gotchas” that may cause performance constraints within your Lightning Component and techniques to correct them.  Below is an example of that interface.

Some of the recommended and non-recommended approaches mentioned are using storable actions, avoiding Aura:If in the Aura:Iteration, rearchitecting the solution by moving logic to the controller to create markups conditionally, using the Lighting Data Service, limiting data sets and leveraging the Lightning Base Components (rather than new components from scratch) among many other examples.

Chapter 10 – Taking Lightning Components out of Salesforce Using Lightning Out

Another concept with Lightning Components is the ability to take custom built Lightning Components out of the Salesforce platform to use with any other web application that supports JavaScript, HTML, CSS that might have been built on various technologies such as Node.JS, Heroku, WordPress, Sharepoint, etc. or within the classic VisualForce page.

In this chapter, we are provided some examples of how to deploy Lightning on VisualForce pages and on a custom Node.JS application as well as diving into some of the limitations to consider as not all events and components are supported nor work outside the context of the Lightning experience.

Chapter 11 – Lightning Flows

As most Salesforce practitioners are familiar with declarative features of Flow and Flow Builder, we can integrate Lightning Components within these to provide additional capabilities to meet specific user requirements.

We are provided an example of how-to set-up a Flow using Flow Builder, how to run that flow in the Lightning Experience, then debug the flow and lastly how to add custom components to the flow builder. From these, the author takes the reverse approach on how to embed Flows inside a Lightning Component to pass variables in and out based on a Lightning Component firing and the flow running logic to pass those variables back to the Lightning Component that called it.

Chapter 12 – Making Components Available for Salesforce Mobile and Communities

Utilizing Salesforce Lightning Components within the Salesforce Mobile App and Salesforce Communities can provide the user with a more personal and appealing user-experience.

Within this chapter, Mohith provides step by step instructions and screen shots of how to develop a UI on the Mobile app, and how to set up your Chrome browser to simulate the user experience while providing context on global and Lightning Quick Actions.

Chapter 13 – Lightning Navigation and Lightning Console API’s

In this short chapter, we’re introduced to additional capabilities to enhance the productivity of the user with techniques such as: allowing the user to navigate to various components, pages and tabs by using the Lightning console to provide split views, work spaces, tabs and a utility bar using API’s to do so.

Chapter 14 – Unit Testing Lightning Components

Just like testing APEX on the server side, a developer will need to unit test their functions on the client side. Within the Lightning framework, Salesforce provides a Lighting Testing Service (LTS) which is a set of wrappers for Jasmine and Mocha JavaScript testing frameworks. Jasmine is the primary framework explored in this chapter as Mocha still needs additional libraries to be effective and is the newer of the 2 available.

This chapter, we are given explanations and examples of the different parts the make-up Jasmine, such as Suite (like a test class in APEX), Spec (similar to a test method in APEX), Setup and Teardown (equivalent to @istest setup), and Spies (the same as stubs that prevent actual server calls to be made). Additionally, discussed are the various wrappers that are available from the Lightning Testing Service as well as recommendation on the different test cases.

Chapter 15 – Publishing Lightning Components on the AppExchange

Once a Salesforce Lightning App is developed and tested, a managed package can be created and published on the AppExchange for other users to install and use. Mohith takes us through the various steps to be able to do this such as creating the proper namespace, creating the manage package, documenting your components using the Auradoc file, providing the design file to allow admins to configure attributes to drag components to the Lightning App Builder, Community Builder or Flow Builder, and lastly publishing the component on the AppExchange.

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether you’re a developer that’s new to the Lightning Framework or have been developing Lightning Components for a few years, this book should be a part of your reference collection as it provides great examples and explanations along with helpful screen shots to help expand your expertise within the various layers that are involved with Lightning Component development.

This book can be found on Amazon at:

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: ROI From CRM – It’s About Sales Process, Not Just Technology. By: Brian K. Gardner

When businesses think of CRM, they’re often thinking of the technology that is being used to capture information to create more meaningful relationships with their customers along with the latest and greatest features within those technology offerings to help improve their business processes.

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Within, Brian Gardner’s book ROI from CRM, and taking his 30+ years of industrial sales experience, he determined that technology alone was not going to solve a business’s problem to increase revenue, but rather an underlying series of questions around the internal operations of a company that needs to be addressed first to help determine how to improve an organization’s bottom line.

In Brian’s book, he provides the reader with his history of being a sales rep early on with his father’s corporation Breard-Gardner Inc. , a U.S. Process Control and Instrumentation Rep/Distributor and Service company servicing the Gulf Coast, to illustrate some of the challenges he was running into with not having a functional system in place to help with building account profiles, activity logs, historical sales information, cross-sell/up-sell opportunities and sharing information across the multi-divisional organization. To tackle this, Brian decided to host a series of software vendors to present potential solutions to his problem and this is where Brian determined a fundamental challenge existed:

All the vendors didn’t understand the complex nature of industrial sales and  were showing technology based on a core CRM product along with massive amounts of customization needed to address the industrial sales life-cycle process. 

In Brian’s frustration, he decided to team up with a technology expert and build their own CRM product called Selltis, which ultimately gained popularity within the industrial sales industry allowing Brian to sell his homegrown CRM product to the masses. 

During this adventure, Brian learned how important process, not technology alone allows a company to achieve greater results, but since technology is inevitable to get there and so many companies emphasized the wrong part of the equation, Brian addresses how a business can determine a return on their investment by using his SalesProcess360 CRM Audit 5 step process which includes:

Conduct a thorough Sales Process Review

Performing a Sales Process Gap Analysis

Setting up a CRM Roadmap Matrix

CRM Phased Roadmap Execution

Review and Assessment (CRM ROI Calculator)

Within these 5 steps, Brian’s book contains many questions to get the reader thinking more about their current environment and processes, while also providing a few reference scorecards with common examples to help drive the discussion.

Brian initially focuses on outlining how businesses should rethink CRM not as a cost but as a revenue generator and how an increase in revenue by as little as 1% can help offset the cost of the CRM technology, if the right processes are put in place 1st. 

Two essential examples, Brian outlines are:

Quote Follow-Ups: by either providing the user a reminder or automating the process entirely.

Leveraging Data from other Departments: to further understand the complete 360 degree view of the customer.

How do you determine ROI from CRM?

To answer the above question, Brian provides a straightforward and simplistic approach, along with actual examples, by using his ROI Calculator which is outlined and available on his website at: ROIfromCRM.com. 

Below are the basic inputs that are evaluated:

Annual Sales

Average Gross Profit Margin

Number of CRM Users

Monthly Fee per User

Startup Cost (Implementation costs, training, data importing, etc.)

Ongoing 1st year costs (maintenance, ongoing professional services, etc.)

Based on this evaluation and what Brian has historically seen, the cost to implement CRM is (and should be) less than 1% of the company’s current additional sales gross profit once implemented. For example, if it cost $28,600 to implement a CRM, and the company has annual sales of $20,000,000 and a annual gross profit of $4,000,000, they would need to generate an additional $143,600 in sales based on a 20% gross profit, which is .72% of the company’s current sales. 

Calculations below:

$28,600 (Cost of CRM) / $4,000,000 (Gross Profit) = .72% (Cost to implement CRM)

.72% (Cost to implement CRM) X $20,000,000 (Annual Sales) = $143,600 (Additional revenue needed to justify CRM cost)

Additionally, Brian provides some additional cost/benefit examples to calculate time spent doing manual number and data crunching, costs of losing a sales rep which includes no documented activity, management’s time to get a new rep up and running, and the time the new sales rep to understand the sales process.

Next, Brian explores the top reasons why CRM projects succeed or fail and highlights, based on his experience, only 20% of industrial companies perceive they are getting the ROI they are looking for from CRM.

The primary reasons fall into 4 major categories with the highest being company culture implications:

Incorrect Expectations (misunderstanding of TCO, wrong CRM vendor)

Data (bad/inconsistent data, islands of data stored in various locations)

Management (murky vision, prioritization)

Culture (Too much too soon, no internal champion, not positioned as a team solution, limited training, IT is taking over without business involvement)      

After understanding the reasons why CRM projects may fail, Brian jumps into the most important aspect to get the highest ROI from a CRM system by explaining how utilizing the front end (lead to order) of the sales process is critical for success versus the back end (quote to order). Within this front-end process, this book asks challenging questions about how to monitor and track the various aspects up front to determine where the gaps and inefficiencies lie.  

For example:   

How are you qualifying a lead up front before too much time and resources is spent in the process? Are you asking the right questions to confirm the lead is really interested in your product or service?

How are you defining the criteria to move the lead to an opportunity? Does it have real potential to move to the quote stage?

What is your evaluation criteria to determine if the potential customer is worth quoting in the 1st place and is it time well spent?

Is your quoting process consistent across the organization with the same format, pricing, discounts, product SKU’s?

Brian then goes into details and a few formulas as it relates to leading indicators on the front end of the sales process and uses load input goals to help drive revenue growth and take action early in the process rather than the end of the quarter or year. This is where Brian uses his Secret Sales Formula by taking the Sales Goals, Base Recurring Business, New Opportunities and Close Rate Percentage to determine if the goals will be met and if you have your CRM set up and how being utilized correctly can gain instant visibility in how your team is performing on their Sales Goals by:

Setting expectations regarding what new load input will be needed

Train on these expectations with the how and why

Monitor against these expectations (things that get monitored are the things that get done)

Finally, Brian takes us through a few additional chapters around the following areas:

Taking a phased approach to your CRM implementation and the recommended phases to take to help maximize the ROI

Emphasizing the training aspect of the why, not just the how and what provides a company a competitive advantage (it’s not its products, service, experience, people)

Considerations for vendor selection along with a Vendor Scorecard

In conclusion, Brian uses his decades of experience in Sales and CRM involvement in this great book, ROI on CRM, so if you’re looking for a simple, yet highly effective approach to think through ideas and to challenge your front-end sales processes to drive revenue while leaving technology out of the equation, this book is highly recommended.

You can purchase ROI from CRM from the below Amazon link, as well as checking out Brian’s website at: www.salesprocess360.com for some of his available material for download as well as learning more about the services he provides and customers he has helped.

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: Practical Guide To Salesforce Communities By: Philip Weinmeister

As more businesses think of new and innovative ways to continue to capture data to understand and analyze the who’s and what’s of those interacting with their products and services, the concept of a community is increasingly becoming more important to have users engage and collaborate while having their needs addressed in a very personalized way.

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Historically, concepts such as a company website and employee/partner portals provided a way for customers, employees and partners to view or reference a company’s products, services and offerings to allow some form of self-service, and to ultimately, reduce the costs of customer service reps sitting by a phone fielding calls or emails. The challenge companies were faced with in this old paradigm, was determining how users are interfacing with these self-service tools and then how to provide a better user experience while capturing better and more relevant data internally to make future decisions.  

Within Phil Weinmeister’s Practical Guide to Salesforce Communities, he describes how Salesforce Communities can be utilized as a platform and a digital hub by better connecting people and enabling business processes to drive bottom line results while gaining better insight to a user’s interactions, experiences and current or future needs. Furthermore, Phil also explains why traditional websites and portals are missing the mark and how Salesforce Communities are now considered enterprise ready, specifically with the Salesforce Lightning framework technology and how Salesforce Communities are gaining high popularity. For example, in 2018, there are 18K active Salesforce Communities (7K of those built on Lightning) and 225M potential Salesforce Community users as essentially every Salesforce user could also become a Community user.

In exploring Phil’s book, I find he covers everything from A to Z in this guide, and he has the credentials to back him, specifically being the 1st Salesforce Community MVP and working directly with the Salesforce Community internal product engineering team to discuss his implementations, what his customers are looking for in new releases, and ultimately how to make the product better. As Phil provides details on everything Community related, there were a few key concepts that I found the most useful which is in no means comprehensive and I advise a reader to go through the guide in detail for a better understanding of all things associated to a Salesforce Community.

Planning for Success: before Phil jumps right into showing his audience how to do any type of configuration work around Communities, he explains the importance of planning, with the key takeaway being the vision led approach versus features and capabilities. Specifically determining the “why’s and the what’s” to engage and empower customers, to enable partners and to equip employees, before addressing the “how’s” regarding fields, objects, profiles and the processes of creating records.

Another key aspect of this planning exercise that Phil points out is the importance of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to help drive Salesforce Community success. Good examples of quantifiable KPI’s that Phil mentions include: Member Registrations, Logins, Page Views, Record/Data Creation.

Licenses: I found that the Salesforce Community license model can get a little confusing, as it’s not a one size fits all set up and if an Admin does not know how licenses can be best utilized, the cost can grow exponentially. In the licenses chapter, in an easy to follow model, Phil breaks down the different types of licenses, the capabilities of each type and the most cost-effective way to use licenses based on the audience member’s intent in what they’re looking to achieve, how often they will be logging into the system and the companies plan (reference the vision concept in the above Planning for Success). 

Community Templates: the templates that Salesforce offers out of the box helps provide organizations with the core functionality and features to support their basic requirements to get them started with Communities, while allowing companies to gain efficiency in utilizing best practices and lower cost of ownership on the base product. After providing this overview, Phil then drills down into how Communities can be expanded upon to create custom functionality using areas such as: Lightning Bolts, Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) for building Lightning components, Flow, Process Builder, etc. Phil also stresses the importance of how Lightning capabilities have really improved on what Communities has to offer compared to the traditional Visualforce and Tabs architecture.

Phil then drills down in providing a step by step visual approach, asking logical questions to the reader to help refine their Community functionality, along with explaining real world examples of how to utilize and organize Community Builder and Lightning Pages/Components.

Community Management: typically, any chapter in a technology book that discusses user management, administration and set-up can be dull, but Phil keeps it interesting as some of the features offered within Salesforce Communities are worth utilizing. Many readers are familiar with this functionality being put in action with the Salesforce User Group Communities. These include the ability to flag inappropriate content, upvoting and downvoting Q&A dialogue among the community users, gamification by utilizing reputation levels using a point system and lastly suggesting relevant content based on a post of how many other people are discussing the same or related topics. Lastly, a new feature that was recently released was the ability to suggest an application based on a specific chatter post, one example Phil provided was suggesting a Trailhead module when a user asked about a specific functional area of Salesforce that they did not understand.

Additionally, Phil also explains functional areas that are currently utilized in other Salesforce clouds (Service, Sales, etc.) as well as some that are specific to Community cloud. These areas include: access management such as sharing and visibility of a record, field or object; user authentication; community membership; sharing sets and sharing groups.  He also highlights, provides examples and comparisons of process automation which include Workflows (e.g. to send welcome emails to newly registered community members), Flow (e.g. allowing a user to determine their warranty status of a product), Process Builder (e.g. posting an update to a chatter feed when a new community member joins).

From a personalization point of view for Community management and as companies continue to try to learn how to customize their user’s experience without the need for heavy programmatic solutions, Salesforce Communities is allowing for a more personalized way by using declarative features without the need for heavy Apex or Visualforce. This would allow user A to have a completely different layout and experience than User B. Phil provides notable examples and diagrams to help a Community Administrator configure this, by using branding components within the header, footer, navigation, chatter feds, etc. which can then be based on the user’s location, domain, user or record type.  With utilizing these capabilities, Community User 1 based out of New York with Record A, Record Type 1 can have a vastly different layout and experience than Community User 2 based out of Tokyo, with Record B, Record Type 2.

Lightning Bolts: as Phil points out, Lightning Bolts terminology may have gotten construed over time, so he dedicated a complete chapter on what these are since they are one of the most noteworthy features to come out of Community Cloud. He describes Lightning Bolts as the ability to deliver a packaged community solution which includes the companies complete picture of how they are addressing their business challenge. Within this context, a Lightning Bolt includes: Themes (for the overall look and feel), Layouts (Page-specific UI), Pages (Component Containers), and the Components themselves (Standard and Custom). Phil steps through building these from the ground up as well as how to deploy them.

Other areas: The last area of the book highlights additional Community topics that would be at least another 200 pages if Phil went into significant detail on, but he does discuss at a higher level around Community capabilities that tie into Analytics, Moderations, Deployment, Salesforce App (aka Salesforce Mobile), Search, Messages, Notifications, Chatter, Marketing Cloud, Einstein, CMS Connect, as he did not want to lose context of the importance of these areas that help enhance the Community capabilities.

In conclusion, Phil wraps up the book around the significance of continuous learning and brings to his audience many great references such as relevant Trailhead modules, his personal blog (The WeinBlog), the importance of the Salesforce seasonal release notes and lastly the known players in the Community industry and their associated Twitter accounts.

Whether you’re looking to step into Communities for the 1st time, or you’re looking for ways to further enhance what your Communities are capable of doing, I highly recommend this book to be in your collection. Phil’s book can be found on Amazon at:

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The CRM Recruiter’s Top 25 Interesting Facts On Salesforce’s Beginnings

As we hit almost 20 years of when Salesforce 1st started (1999), and the company continues to have massive success in not only the CRM market but all of cloud computing, I was interested to read a little more about how Marc Benioff started the company and how some of the ideas the company now embraces were brought about.

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In this short excerpt, I highlight 25 facts that intrigued me the most in Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud, The Salesforce.com playbook, co-authored by Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce and Carly Adler, award winning journalist for Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, Time and many more well-known publications. 

While I’m not a Salesforce employee, some of the facts may be outdated but were part of the book’s publication in 2009.

1.      Larry Ellison, executive chairman of Oracle, was a mentor to Marc Benioff and allowed him to work part time (and take an extended leave of absence) to begin building Salesforce while still working at Oracle. Ellison was also on the board of directors at Salesforce and invested $2 million to get the company up and running.

2.      The original idea of the marketing message of “No Software” received significant push back as it promoted a negative message (which is considered a cardinal sin in marketing) as well as there was still software involved so the message wasn’t completely factual.

3.      Clever marketing strategies that Salesforce used: hiring actors to protest software at Siebel user groups; offering rickshaw rides with donuts and coffee with Salesforce advertising; renting taxis for passenger’s coming into a Siebel conference to be pitched to as well as leaving marketing brochures in the car seats; issuing press releases on the day of its competitors earning calls.

4.     Metaphors created along some of Salesforce’s innovation:

Salesforce.com is Amazon meets Siebel

AppExchange is the eBay of enterprise software

Force.com is the internet’s Windows operating system

5.      Pioneered the “try before you buy” model, by offering 5 free licenses, to gain valuable feedback from customers and to help revise the design and user experience. For example, the create new account button was on the right-hand side, causing it to go missing on some monitors, was initially provided by a customer.

6.      On the onset, Salesforce’s primary customers were small .com businesses who were flushed with .com venture capital cash, and then with the .com crash, Salesforce almost filed for bankruptcy as it was $1 to 1.5 million in negative cash flow every month.

7.      Salesforce utilized the “land & expand” sales technique which traditional software companies did not do. Salesforce would start with one division to allow a customer to limit their risk, take a small position and experience the benefits before making additional purchases.

8.      Venture Capitalists tried to convince Salesforce to offer 2 products, 1 on premise (for enterprise customers) and 1 cloud based (for small businesses). The team felt this would be a nightmare to manage and broke their philosophy of “No Software”.

9.      In 2005, when Salesforce’s production systems went off line causing negative publicity, they decided to create trust.salesforce.com which allowed full transparency and accountability to provide real time information on system performance and security. This idea was inspired from eBay.

10.  Salesforce has on demand architecture which allows the company to see broad patterns of user behavior to understand what features customers are and are not using.

11.  Customers originally did not have a way to customize their screens, rename fields, create new objects, etc. causing customer annoyance with the Salesforce object naming conventions that may have not been relevant to specific industries (for example, in healthcare: Hospitals versus Accounts, Patients vs Contacts)

12.  As customers started asking for more and more applications and capabilities, Salesforce could not keep up with the development internally, which they then opened up PaaS (Platform as a Service), which led to Apex, VisualForce and Force.com

13.  The 1st internal app built on PaaS, was Volunteerforce, used by Salesforce employees to manage their internal volunteer hours.

14.  IdeaExchange was created for harnessing customer’s ideas on how to enhance the Salesforce product. A similar concept was then used by Dell which led to Dell notebooks offering the Linux operating system, as well as Starbucks coming up with the Splash Sticks.

15.  The 1% movement in the form of products was not inspired by Salesforce internally, rather directly from Non-Profit Organizations that Salesforce was already helping financially to then take advantage of the free subscriptions being offered. This also led to Google.org (the charitable arm of Google) based on Marc delivering his story to Stanford where Larry Page and Sergey Brin were in the audience.

16.  The 1st Salesforce customer in Europe was based out of the Salesforce Dublin office and was a mere 35-pound (46 U.S.D) sale.

17.  The launch into Australia was unique as there was already a company called Salesforce that was a call center outsourcer, so trademark infringement came into the picture. During this resolution, a simple 1-page contract considered “light & love” was created to help resolve the dispute by removing the legal jargon.

18.  Marc originally seeded Salesforce with $6 million of his own money, then raised additional funding from friends and family as VC funding was an uphill battle; eventually $65 million over 5 rounds of venture funding from 1999 to 2002 was raised. At the time of this book publication, Larry Ellison’s initial $2 million investment was worth more than $200 million.

19.  Initially, Salesforce wanted to go public on the NASDAQ, then Marc was convinced by his CFO that going public on the NYSE would prove that Salesforce could fit more in line with the traditional, older generation, well-established companies versus the up and comer, new and edgy, companies that were on the NASDAQ. 

20.  Salesforce ended up being the 1st .com on the NYSE and was the best performing IPO of its time gaining 56% on its debut in 2004.

21.  When the stock symbol, CRM was formed, SFA was also thought of but Salesforce wanted to be known for more than just sales force automation.

22.  The acronym V2MOM stands for Vision, Values, Method, Obstacles, and Measures to depict Salesforce’s organization alignment.

23.  As Salesforce begin to recruit, they knew they couldn’t compete with some of the more well-known tech companies, so some of their selling points were offering: agile development, innovation away from client-server technology, and most importantly developers could see their code make it to production in 3-6 months versus not at all with some of the bigger companies.

24.  The #1 characteristic that a candidate should have is the desire to change the world via technology with an interest in giving back.

25.  Finally, 3 rules that helped Marc Benioff in his success and inspiration which was also the work of Albert Einstein:

Out of clutter, find simplicity

From discord, find harmony

In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity

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The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: The AMPScript Guide – The Definitive Scripting Manual For Salesforce Marketing Cloud By: Eliot Harper, Adam Spriggs

With what’s known as the 4th industrial revolution upon us, the voice of the customer is that they want to be addressed and marketed to in a very personalized way, and rightfully so, as they know the information exists and therefore companies should utilize this data to help gain their interest.

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Any other approach that does not lean on this information will continue to lose customer attention to those competitors that do. To be able to market to the customer effectively, specific approaches need to be taken and the AMPScript Guide provides you with the complete set of techniques, functions and real-world examples to allow you to send highly sophisticated and personalized messages using the Salesforce Marketing Cloud while integrating various data sources.

Within this guide, all the core areas are explained in detail along with example scripts to use within your own environment. Furthermore, the guide provides every function available to you, along with the definition of what that function does, the return value it provides, and the arguments it needs (along with the type, description and whether it’s required).

Below is a summary in a Q&A format that I believe will be the most useful before you dive into this reference guide completely. Additionally, I found this book to be a good refresher of overall scripting concepts and best practices. If you’ve been a programmer for years, many of these concepts may be basic or if this is the 1st time jumping into programming/scripting, this guide will help provide more context and you’ll learn that most examples use simple syntax allowing for easy comprehension.

What is AMPScript?

AMPScript is the server side scripting language for Salesforce Marketing Cloud where the scripts are interpreted and executed in real time when the content is rendered, and in the order it was written, therefore it would be written at or before where the personalized content should appear.

Do any of the AMPScript functions resemble how Excel uses functions?

Yes, many AMPScript functions (15 in total) are identical to Excel only with slight naming changes e.g. “Sum” in Excel is the equivalent to “Add” in AMPScript.

How should variables be used?

Declaring and setting variables should be used with the proper naming conventions and in the order of sequential operations. These variables allow the concept of write once and utilize many times when the associated functions need this information, which prevents unnecessary overhead and potential performance impacts.

Can AMPScript use some of the traditional functions that other languages use?

Yes, AMPScript uses traditional function calls such as: conditional statements (if, else, elseif), process loops (for, do, next), and string operators which are case insensitive.

What type of strings does the Marketing Cloud use?

Marketing Cloud support 2 types of strings (attribute and string based):

Attribute String Examples are: Email, Subscribe, Journey Builder, Mobile Connect

System Strings are: Email Date, Email Data, Email URLs 

How does Marketing Cloud allow for integration with other systems?

Yes, Marketing Cloud API functions allow for 3rd party systems to interact and transfer data using the SOAP protocol allowing for retrieving data beyond the regular data extension look ups. This guide provides a full list of all function available, along with the arguments that are used, descriptions of those arguments and example output.

Is AMPScripting the only way to customize your solution?

No, there is also Server Side JavaScript (SSJS), which this guide also dives into and allows for more complex scripting using concepts such as: Arrays, Array Functions, and JSON parsing.

What are the best practices mentioned to utilize AMPScripting within Marketing Cloud?

Place a majority of your code at the top of the email/webpage for ease and maintenance

Use descriptive variable names to match field names for easier future reference

Avoid nested, in-line AMPScript functions to display variables in the body of the email

Use pseudocode along with comments to capture the big picture of your AMPScript end goal

Align your script blocks for easier readability (e.g. if, else, endif, for, next)

Use modularization for shared content areas along with the conditional if/else statement

Utilize content syndication to pull data from news feeds, ecommerce sites, local channels

What are some of the best techniques to troubleshoot AMPScripting issues?

Use AttributeValue & Empty functions to confirm data exists

Always use RaiseError to avoid unwanted emails to be sent

Strip out HTML and gradually add AMPScript blocks to determine where problems occur

Place debug values after variables are set and/or before conditions or inside of loops

Use Try/Catch blocks to understand what’s being caught as an exception (Server Side JavaScript)

What are examples of the most useful techniques of AMPScripting within this guide?

Customized messaging based on brand loyalty such as if the recipient is silver, gold or platinum

Providing individual coupon codes for each email that is sent and then determining when that coupon code has been claimed

The ability to reference news, weather or maps based on the email subscriber’s geographic location

Sending personalized SMS messages utilizing MobileConnect

Integrating social sharing such as providing references to content from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. into your email messaging

For more info on this book and to purchase, please go to: https://ampscript.guide/

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The CRM Recruiter’s Top 10.5 Takeaways From: Beyond CRM Basics: An MVP Guide To Expand Your Knowledge And Grow Your Career By: Deepa Patel

Deepa Patel’s book: Beyond CRM Basics, provides a great look into what a CRM project entails, and emphasizes the primary role of a CRM Business Analyst. Whether you’re a newcomer to a CRM project or a multi-year experienced professional, every chapter has insightful tips regarding how a CRM implementation can be completed successfully and what your role as a Business Analyst plays in each step along the way.

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Additionally, the inspirational success stories provides a reader great examples of how others have taken their CRM career from knowing very little about CRM to a high-level professional career using Salesforce as the primary application.

I recommend reading the book in its entirety to get the full breadth of understanding and value. Below are my top 10.5 key takeaways to get you started:

1.      Discusses the most essential functions of a BA such as determining how requests impact the entire business, and why the request should be done, not just the how.

2.      Highlights the importance of documenting the business process up front, along with the tools to make this process effective.

3.      Provides a summary of all the various phases of a typical CRM project lifecycle along with all the parties that are involved.

4.      Emphasizes the most important skill of a BA such as listening and being committed to having an open dialogue with the business by asking open ended questions while challenging assumptions.

5.      Articulates the core philosophies of an CRM implementation life cycle:

Emphasize the ‘keep it simple’ principle

Do not try to replicate the existing system, rather investigate revamping and enhancing the current processes

Have the BA define the test scenarios as the users may not know enough about the application yet

Place adequate emphasis on user training (pilot program recommended)

6.      Recaps that project failures are often due to improper business analysis in the following ways:

Incomplete requirements gathering

Lack of strategic alignment

Poor solution design

Missing features/functionality

Gap in meeting business needs leading to lack of user adoption

Poor change management and governance

7.      Demonstrates that project success metrics can be measured with some of the below examples:

User Reports: Logins, record creations

Data Quality Reports: Incomplete records, stale leads

Business Performance Reports: Opportunities with No Activity, Cases with past SLA’s, Lead Conversions, Pipeline by Owner

8.      Discusses how to better market your skills using some of the below methods:

Be specific as possible, employers do not want a generalist

Key words to use: Responsible for, led, accomplished, expertise in, hands-on

What is the ROI you provided: Money saved, users served, time reduced

Social will continue to differentiate you: LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, sharing, liking

9.       Shows key ways to progress your career by using others success stories, for example:

Recommended for everyone to try consulting in their careers

Getting involved with local Salesforce communities, if there is not one near you, start one

Look for opportunities in demanding situations by highlighting Salesforce’s capabilities

Answer questions that are posted on the Salesforce community page to help increase your skill-set

10.    Summarizes the career progression of multiple Salesforce professionals providing examples of how they all started their Salesforce journey.

10.5. Provides great references to additional material to help you continue to learn more about how CRM projects are correctly implemented along with the capabilities Salesforce offers.

This book can be purchased on Amazon.

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The Right CRM Team Structure – Do You Have It?

It took years of planning. You (and a team of colleagues) spent months evaluating vendors, gathering requirements, building your CRM solution, and testing the product.

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You’ve just deployed a new CRM tool, had a major upgrade to an existing tool or released new functionality that will change the way your client facing staff interact with clients. You are finally done and you can take a victory lap as the hard part is over – but is it?  Operationalizing the tool and driving adoption is a constant challenge and one that needs a team of professionals to ensure the investment you have already made delivers on the promise to drive revenue, change the sales culture, and provide a better client experience. You’ve accomplished the WHAT, now it is time to prove the WHY. It will take an (small) army of relentless CRM pioneers to get the job done and push the boulder of change up the hill. 

While there are various and well documented reasons why some CRM solutions fail to live up to their promises, one that is often overlooked is the need for a solid, knowledgeable and enthusiastic team of professionals that manage the post- deployment production needs of the tool.  This team of CRM Professionals is a business team and they act as the liaison between technology and the business in order to drive adoption, promote process change and encourage the cultural shift that was envisioned by the project sponsors (senior management). “Without a doubt one of the single most important factors for success is the realization that efforts like these are not just technology programs but really business transformation efforts that are always triggered by the business but rarely truly owned by them” cautions Hazem Gamal, an independent consultant to the financial services industry.

The purpose of this white paper is to identify some of the key roles and their functions that should be considered for post-implementation to achieve the proper return on your overall CRM investment.   This list is not meant to be exhaustive but rather directional and depending on the size of your installation, these roles may even be combined depending the size of your user base and complexity of the processes your CRM tool supports.  While this research does not mean to imply that the formula below is a ‘one size fits all’, the functions of each role are critical and plays an important part in your overall capacity to fulfill on your intentions. It is fine to combine some of these roles but none of the functions should be overlooked. “CRM should be a living breathing thing that should adapt and change to business needs” says Chris Trivers, Senior Vice President of Sales Force Effectiveness at TD Bank. Chris adds “In order to accomplish that aspirational goal, the business needs a great CRM team for the implementation and for ongoing support. The CRM team plays a critical role translating business needs into the CRM tool. The CRM team acts as internal consultants translating the business needs to the IT or external consulting team to ensure that functionality is implemented in the appropriate manner”. 

1.      Head of CRM: This role is the lead role and most critical role of any CRM implementation. The Head of CRM (sometimes referred to as the Director of Sales Applications) is often an after thought or tacked-on to an existing role that already has significant responsibilities or provides critical functions to the organization (i.e.: Head of Marketing, Head of Sales, Chief of Staff, etc). Failure to define this role correctly or combining it with other functions, increases the risk of failure and allows the mission and scope to expand impacting the success of your CRM implementation.  This person is the ‘business owner’ of the tool and drives the overall strategy, vision, management, roadmap and direction of the tool. As the CRM strategy lead, the Head of CRM will often work with the Chief Sales Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Operations Officer and sometimes, depending on the size of the implementation and company, the CEO. The Head of CRM will also work with the project management office, the developers, middle-management and all levels of end users to be ‘the voice of the client’ where client is defined as an internal employee/end user.   

2.      Project Manager: Often times, the role of a Project Manager (PM) is delegated to the technology department (IT). For technology driven projects, this makes complete sense and for the technology pieces of a CRM project, this is appropriate.  However, CRM is a BUSINESS driven cultural shift that is supported by the tools and the technology department. Having a project management role in the business and giving it the authority to drive the business agenda is essential to the success of your post-implementation projects.  Far to often, the business sponsor thinks the heavy lifting is complete after the first release or the completion of a major upgrade. The ‘heavy lifting’ is continuous as the business needs change and adapt to market and industry fluctuations. The business must remain agile and fluid in order to maintain competitive.  Unfortunately, while the business is fluid, the technology is sometimes viewed as rigid and often unable to change as quickly as the market demands. When the management of the various CRM enhancement projects and initiatives are driven by IT, the CRM strategy begins to morph into a rigid ‘process obsessed’ black hole causing confusion and dissension from the people you are trying to serve (client facing staff). 

3.      Business Analyst: Similar to the Project Manager role, the role of the Business Analyst (BA) for a CRM project should sit within the business and strive to align the sales culture with the technology and industry best practices. Chris Trivers suggests “that the BA’s be certified in the CRM platform that the company has selected and that the ratio of 1 BA to every 500 users for large scale implementations is recommended”.  Most vendors offer an educational path for certification that should be leveraged so that you do not over customize the tool. To be clear, there is still a place for both a Project Manager and a Business Analyst within IT, but the majority of these resources should sit within the CRM professionals business team as they act as internal consultants that translate requirements and system limitations from the two clients they serve (business and IT) .  There are several ways that CRM focused BA’s can be aligned within your organization. Some firms focus on and assign projects as they are identified. Others, and a best practice for consistency, is to align your BA’s with ‘domains’ or areas of expertise like Marketing, Service, Reporting (BI) and Sales. 

4.     Culture Change Agents / Trainers / CRM Evangelists (CCA): It is best to avoid using the term “trainer” when describing this essential role and the people that inhabit it.  “Trainer” minimizes what this team does as they are the heart of the CRM professionals team. Christopher Hopper, a leader in CRM staff recruitment sees this role as one of the most critical. “This individual is responsible for nurturing and consulting within the end user community to address their concerns with the application and drive the benefit of the change in business process”.  “A CCA’s role is to keep ‘Spreading the word’ while providing the directions to the final destination of culture change says TONY BUSACA, President of the CRM Forum. “The CCA develops the blended learning approach to help client facing staff adopt and ABSORB the new processes, the various tools and the overall mindset that is really what CRM is all about” says Jason Faux the CCA Manager of a Global Team at a major financial services firm. CCA’s connect the dots between data and clients, business processes and performance, clicks of the mouse and business value.  CCA’s provide the communication strategy, the infrastructure to support the tool and the voice of the end user back to the BA’s and the Head of CRM for further development and alignment. “I like to think of them as ‘user advocates’ who, as a result of thinking like your users, are the best at helping them adopt the CRM system into their daily routines and also offer the most insightful opportunities for improving the overall CRM effort” adds Hazem Gamal.

5.      Data Governance or Data Quality team: Without quality data, your CRM system will either fail or be perceived in a negative way. This means that the value of your tool will always be in question and you will find yourself constantly playing defense in an environment that requires and offensive strategy for success. The CRM vendor you choose is not responsible for the data migration during the loading process or the quality of the data that is captured post implementation.  If your strategy is to delegate the accuracy of the data to client facing staff (sales executives) you will never have clean data. While the goal is to automate as much as you can to eliminate the creation of the bad or duplicate data, the automation process if often slow and happens of a period of time and through multiple releases. Therefore, establishing a data governance team that inputs, reviews, aligns and adjusts data in order to maintain quality is critical. While this can de completed through off-shore resources, when your data governance team maintains the hierarchical structure of your company along with the quality of all data, a best practice is to maintain this role within the business (sometimes the technical team) to ensure alignment is maximized.  

6.      Process Owners: Without the process owner, the work of everyone else is often lost, or at best, not fully realized.  Process owners pick-up where the CCA’s exit the development cycle and often work with management to operationalize the change and breakdown the barriers of resistance to adopt the process (and tools) by Management.  Unlike the other positions, this role is best described through example: Let’s assume the Chief Sales Officer has mandated that each client facing sales professional must complete 15-20 client interactions each month (meetings, conference calls, sales presentations, etc.).  The best way for Management to measure the performance and effectiveness of these interactions is through the CRM tool (which is hopefully embedded in Outlook or whatever email platform you use). However, what often happens is that a process or governance model is not established in order to operationalize this new metric.  This is where the process owner steps into the mix and works with the BA, the reporting team and the CCA’s to develop a playbook that unifies the various tools that have been developed in order to coach, provide feedback, measure the effectiveness and evaluate the results of the mandate. Process owners attend the meetings, they lead the conversation, they establish the best practices, and they create the attestation processes that confirm the behavior. Once the new process becomes “standard operating procedure”, they move on to the next process, the next team and the next enhancement.  They ensure that the money that is spent for development is leveraged in meaningful and strategic ways that drive culture change.

7.      Business Intelligence Expert (BIE): The data contained in your CRM system is invaluable for measuring the experience of your customer from prospect to client – and beyond.  Let’s face it, regardless of the platform you use, pulling data from your CRM system and aligning with internal data or external sources to tell a more robust story is what management is looking for. Providing data in a way that allows for data driven decision making is often justification for the expenses associated to a CRM implementation. The BIE works to define and develop business intelligence solutions. The BIE is tasked with developing purpose driven reporting and often responsible for drawing business conclusions from the data as they have a unique view of the data. Furhtermore, the BIE is an expert in creating reports that are both relevant to the business and actionable in what the next logical business action is required.

Additionally, even though you have bought a cloud based solution, once the business team is set up, a technology team supporting the new CRM application will also be needed.   The technical team has many critical roles as well and many areas of responsibility that are unique to the technical accepts of the system. Three roles are listed below for consideration:

1.      Technical CRM Project Manager:  As the CRM system continues to gain traction and increasingly drive the sales, marketing and service strategy within the business, it is inevitable that additional needs will arise as the business changes and the scope of your CRM tool expands.  The CRM Project Manager (PM) manages the technical details and day to day development of the tool to ensure that the solution aligns with the requirements and is delivered on time, on budget with the expected functionality. Additionally, no matter how careful we are, new bugs will be found, and future projects will be born to extend the use of the application. The PM will then be responsible for controlling the outcomes of those requests while ensuring budget, resources and timelines are adhered to and reported back to the Head of CRM and associated stakeholders.

2.       Technical Architecture Lead (TA):   Is responsible for ensuring that out of the box functionality is leveraged whenever possible (80/20 rule), vendor enhancements are incorporated correctly as when needed, and the flow of data in and out of the system is streamlined and aligned to corporate standards and best practices.   The TA should be the most technical person and experienced team member specific to the CRM technology being implemented. Yes, this means you are looking for or should have persons with the various certifications needed to be considered an expert in the tool being deployed. Their role includes setting up a series of standards and best practices to help ensure the 80/20 rule is being applied between using the declarative configuration features versus highly customized code where the out of the box features cannot meet the business requirements. Additionally, the TA will be coaching, mentoring and managing the junior developers ensuring consistency across coding patterns and developing skills to ensure personal advancement and development. Ultimately, the TA provides the green light for any migrations of the application through the various environments after thoroughly confirming the stability, consistency and business requirements have been met correctly

3.     External Consultant: With the approval of the new tax code, the role of the external consultant becomes more attractive not only to the employer as it helps reduce overhead and costs, but also to the Independent consultant that can work independently and enjoy the new tax benefits of being a entrepreneur.  Having an external resource that has worked on several projects across various industries can provide significant value. Yes, they can be the objective third party between the business and I.T., but they can also help get things done in a systematic and diplomatic way as they are void of the political positioning that is sometimes present with large projects and foster significant change.  Ensure that your external consultant is a subject matter expert in the specific CRM functions and application that’s been selected at your firm. While understanding the tool is critical, do not underestimate the importance of selecting a resource with a solid understanding of your business, the overall industry and the scope of your specific implementation. This role is particularly effective when a System Integrator (SI) is involved and the external consultant can play “good cop, bad cop” between the client demands and the SI doing the work. The external consultant needs a strong personality as they will often get pulled in two different directions with competing agendas, but when it’s the right, qualified individual playing the role, the outcomes of your CRM system will increase tremendously.

So WHY are these roles so critical for you to understand?  A successful CRM deployment is only achieved when the right mix of people, process and technology is deployed.  Often times, we focus on the technology. Once the technology is determined, a focus on the business process and the alignment of the system to that process becomes the primary focus. “CRM programs focus too much attention, resources and BLAME on the technology and tools. In order to remotely realize any of your business goals you must provide equal commitment to the alignment of business processes and as we are discussing here, building a thoughtful community of support to achieve your visions in the mid to long-term” adds Hazem Gamal. But while CRM missions and strategies seem simple and straight-forward, the impact of the change the system will bring to the business is often underestimated.  Change management is something that needs to be addressed daily and reinforced with each enhancement. The expectation that a cloud-based system needs little support is a misnomer. While the total cost of ownership is reduced from an IT perspective, the cost benefits seen on the IT side do not translate as easily to the business side. CRM is a business tool and the business support is essential for success. 

For more information about developing a CRM governance model or in finding the technical resources to support your CRM implementation, please contact Edward Garry at Diolachán Consulting (Edward.Garry@diolachanconsulting.com) or Christopher Hopper at The CRM Recruiter via LinkedIn or (Chopper@imperastaff.com)

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3.5 Marketing Tips To Salesforce Career Advancement

As a Salesforce Professional, I imagine your phone, email, mailbox and pager are ringing off the hook weekly with new Salesforce positions being proposed to you, but are the inquiries that you’re receiving opportunities for career advancement or are they a downgrade to your current position, a lateral move or possibly not even a good match for the skills you possess?

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have external recruiters and internal talent/HR departments only reach out to you with a position that aligns directly to your Salesforce skills and career goals?

Listed below are the top 3.5 tips to market yourself to help ensure the inquiries that you’re receiving are helping your career growth to be the best Salesforce professional you can become. I realise you’ll still get pestered about Salesforce Technical Architect positions now that you’ve recently acquired your Salesforce Administrator certification, but hopefully the concepts described below will eliminate some of your frustrations working with recruiters.

1. Your LinkedIn Headline

The 1st area that a recruiter will be looking is at your LinkedIn Headline (after seeing your pretty/handsome smile, of course). Within one sentence, less than 20 words, convey what’s unique about who you are and what you do, not just your job title. Examples such as Salesforce Administrator, Salesforce Developer, etc. is the same title most others Salesforce professionals have. A headline telling your audience a little more about the value you provide will be much more distinct as well as help you appear confident in your profession. For example:

Senior Salesforce Developer – Providing Solutions to Customers Toughest Technical Challenges Senior Salesforce Administrator – Using Declarative Features to Solve Complex Functional Processes (Estimated Project Completion 12/31/2017) * Salesforce Lightning Analyst – Ensuring Users Understand the Value the Lightning Experience Provides (Satisfied in My Current Role) * Salesforce Architect – Providing Best in Class Solutions Around Security, Data Migration and Application Integration (Open to New Opportunity Discussions) *

*Note: If you’re currently satisfied with your current position, I suggest mentioning that. If you’re on a contract with a known end date or currently on the market, state that as well.

2. Your LinkedIn Summary

Providing more context in your LinkedIn Summary, recruiters can drill down into the details without having to read a CV/Resume. The LinkedIn Summary is where you would define what you’ve already accomplished, in addition to what a good opportunity would look like for you, especially if you have specific career goals in mind. I believe the more specific you are, the better. Additionally, this should help recruiters determine if they should contact you based on the job description they’re recruiting for, comparing it to your previous experience and ultimately, what might be of interest to you for the future.

The type of questions to answer include:

What you’ve done and what you like to do (specifics help) What your ideal position would be (industry, location, environment, remote, travel, even salary/hourly rate) Please do not contact me about (be blunt)

3. Your Resume as a LinkedIn Article

Since LinkedIn provides you the ability to publish articles, why not make your resume one of those articles and keep it up to date with your current achievements showing that you’ve worked on the latest technologies?Resume suggestions: Do not use generalities describing your experience. For example, if you’re a developer please omit statements such as: developed custom objects, fields, labels, etc. Keep your experience relevant to the type of position you’re applying for or interested in. You may want to have a few different versions of your resume based on the job description If you do not have the actual experience, don’t have it as part of your resume. A recruiter may drill down into that specific area and if you cannot speak to it, you will lose credibility Unless you’re looking to be in the same role in each of your future positions, try to show versatility demonstrating career growth The great debate of resume length will continue, more is seldom better, precision and relevancy will prevail (2 pages is optimal, 3 can be acceptable)

3.5. Your LinkedIn Introduction Video

If you really want to stand out as a top-notch Salesforce candidate, provide a 60 to 90 second introduction video summarising your experience as part of your LinkedIn profile media content. This will not only provide a recruiter or a company with your presentation and communication skills, but also the ability to articulate the specific skill set and experience you possess.

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Recruiting Industry – 1 Year In – More Difficult Than Expected!

As I just completed my 1 year anniversary in the I.T. recruiting industry, primarily in the role of new business development, I thought it would be helpful to share 3 initial thoughts to potentially help those thinking about moving into this field and/or to open-up some additional dialogue for the experienced recruiters when they were initially starting in the industry to determine if it was what they expected. For me personally, it was much more difficult and here’s why:

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1.   Your Network Is Limited – coming from over 17 years in the I.T. delivery and consulting industry, I thought it was going to be a no-brainer and once I stepped into recruiting, my extensive network would be beating down my door asking for my help. How foolish! 

In my experience, most of your network either:

a.    Works for a company that has a preferred set of vendors and isn’t interested in adding others

b.   Uses only internal HR for filling roles

c.    Has higher priority concerns

2.   Client Prospecting Is Tough – prospective clients are constantly being pitched to about services and product offerings via phone and email. Most will not return your voicemail and most will not return your email – especially the 1st one, or the 2nd one. Why would they?

What is your value proposition that distinguishes you from the rest of the pack? Hint: whatever you think it is, it probably isn’t. With an exception that is very few and far between, you find a prospective client who has an immediate, dying, urgent position to fill and they’ve struggled for weeks or even months to fill it, then they might give you a shot which will take plenty of time and energy to find a qualified candidate for. If it was easy, they would have filled it by now.

Challenges to overcome with prospecting:

a.    Finding the right prospect at the right time that can use your services

b.   Being able to engage and differentiate yourself with the prospective client when the opportunity presents itself

c.    Consistently facing “not interested”, “no thanks”, “call me back in 6 months” objections

3.   Emotional Roller Coasters Occur Weekly – over the last year, I’ve experienced more emotional highs and lows than I thought were possible. Finding new clients to give you an opportunity to help is a challenge, and  can be very rewarding initially, but then there are so many things that can go wrong from that point forward that can spoil it all.

Classic examples:

a.    You find what you think is the perfect candidate, then find out the role has been filled already

b.   The client agrees to the interview, then the candidate is no-where to be found or has lost interest

c.    The client wants to make an offer to the candidate and the candidate choose to take another offer

Anyone that’s been recruiting for a while can probably relate to all 3.

In summary, I would encourage anyone that’s on the fence to jump into such a rewarding and challenging career, but please keep in mind what may seem to be a less difficult career than anticipated really is much, much more.

I welcome anyone to reach me directly to share more.

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