What I learned my first year as a Salesforce Consultant…

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Applying for a new job is daunting. For me, choosing the next step in my professional career carried the trifecta of anxiety inducing questions;

  • Will I gain the right experience to further my professional growth?
  • Will my interests and skill set match my new role? …and if we are being honest;
  • Will my next move contribute positively to my future earning potential?

Starting my first day as a Salesforce Consultant, I felt confident in my ability to be a Consultant. I spent the previous 3.5 years as a healthcare consultant, frequently leading meetings with healthcare executives. In client meetings I knew I could ask the right questions, poke holes in process, tactfully offer recommendations, and package everything into a professional deliverable. My first day as a Salesforce Consultant, I also had absolutely no Salesforce experience. Throughout my first year as a Salesforce Consultant I learned you need a healthy mix of both Consulting skills and Salesforce skills to successfully master process, people, and technology.

My first month on the job, I was given a couple of new client projects to own. Yes, you read that right, I had no Salesforce experience, and was given projects to own. I was worried. As I began kicking off projects with clients, I would stumble over Salesforce terminology as I forced it into my vocabulary to cover my lack of knowledge. One day, out of frustration, I reverted to what I knew; asking questions to understand each client’s process. Conversations began flowing easier, and I was getting what I needed from the client to take back and solution with my manager. I quickly learned that the foundation of any successful Salesforce project starts with a solid understanding of the business process and business objectives. Salesforce is an instrument to streamline and enhance that process further.

At this point in my career, I have been through enough internal tech stack changes than I care to admit. Each change comes with the same wave of thoughts; another step in a process, another password to remember, more time away from my actual job. These thoughts are completely normal! It took me a few Salesforce implementations to realize this is exactly how new Salesforce users were feeling. As a consultant we get emotionally invested in our solutions losing site of the human element involved with the implementation. I quickly learned a roll out is much smoother if you can identify WIIFMs (what’s in it for me) for end users. By highlighting what an end user will achieve by using the platform, you are giving them a concreate reason to use your (no doubt) amazing solution. The WIIFM can be as big as closing more deals and earning more commission, or as small as saving you 10 minutes a day by eliminating an email toggle (by the way, that’s 43.33 hours per year!).

Being new to Salesforce I learned a lot of new technical skills my first year. While it didn’t come as easy as I would have liked, I fell into the usual pattern of Trailheads, Google, and asking my peers. One of the hardest lessons I learned in my first year is to test as the user who will be using the functionality! I know it’s faster and easier to test as an admin but taking the few extra minutes to log in as the user who will be using the functionality will save you and your client time overall. I can’t tell you how many times I passed something off for client testing my first year and got an immediate response back “I don’t see the field.” Insert <face palm>. This is easily avoidable. Testing as the end-user will save you the embarrassment and ensure consultant / client confidence stays intact.

I frequently tell new hires at Solving IT, that taking the plunge into the Salesforce Ecosystem was the single best thing I have done in my career. I wish I could say I spent hours before applying, researching Salesforce and knew it would grow into the one of the largest cloud-based software in the world, but the truth is, I took a somewhat blind leap of faith. I knew learning a new technical skill would make me more employable long term, but I never imagined Salesforce would open the career opportunities I have had in the last 5 years. My first year was foundational and I learned process, people, and technology are the building blocks to customer (and personal professional) success!

 

WRITTEN BY AMY BURROWS