As many professionals in the Salesforce ecosystem, I did not expect that my career path would lead to becoming a Salesforce Consultant. Moving to Chicago shortly after I graduated from college, I launched my career as a Business Development Representative at a startup technology company. While my heart at the time told me I despised this role, in my head I knew I was developing valuable skills. I persevered and eventually transitioned to another organization where I took on an outside sales role. I still had the same head vs. heart experience in this role, however the opportunity to interact with clients face-to-face and with a more consultative approach was a major improvement.
Experience and networking eventually led me to a sales role at Solving IT. Once again, I reluctantly started a new sales position, but this time under the Salesforce umbrella. I quickly took an interest in the technology, the businesses I was working with, and the challenges they were seeking to overcome. I found myself wanting to stick with clients once the sales cycle had ended and projects were underway. As our business was beginning to evolve and grow, I expressed an interest in transitioning to a Project Management role. I am fortunate to work for a company like Solving IT, that has continually invested in my professional development and gave me the opportunity to make this transition. Little did I know at the time, but this decision led to the kickoff of my first year as a Salesforce Consultant.
My first year as a consultant was like drinking through a fire hydrant. I was learning more than I could digest but was insistent on becoming a master across all clouds. All in all, each of these learns led me to the conclusion that there is always more to learn. By keeping continuous learning in mind, I’m constantly striving to think of new ways to solve problems for my clients (plus, Salesforce will change, improve, or retire whatever you’ve mastered at some point anyway!)
While I did learn a lot about Salesforce specifically (Woohoo, Certifications!), I also learned that Salesforce expertise is not everything as a Consultant. At the end of the day, we are responsible for understanding complex business problems and asking the right questions in order to effectively leverage technology for solutions. That said, asking the right questions inevitably brings up needs or ideas that clients have never considered. Fluid conversations and changing requirements lead to changes in scope and alignment on priorities. I initially despised these conversations. It is human nature to avoid difficult conversations and always say “yes” to keep your client happy. After a handful of difficult lessons learned, I found that always saying “yes” leaves you and the client in a less than ideal situation. As a partner to my clients, I have found it is my responsibility to present options based on business requirements, cost, and ROI. As consultants, we should provide the details to help guide our clients into making informed decisions instead of forcing a solution to fit a client’s budget.
As a Salesforce Consultant, every day is a learning experience. Being able to jump in full force my first year gave me the exposure to learn quickly from my mistakes and my successes. The resulting growth propelled me into my biggest takeaway by the end of that year – that I had established a new career path for many years to come.
WRITTEN BY MEGAN WINTERLAND