Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re speaking to Pat Solum, he’s a Salesforce MVP and the co-leader of the Sioux Falls Salesforce user group. Pat’s Salesforce origin story is simple: once he saw the figurative Salesforce Bat Signal, he immediately connected with his community. This connection to the Salesforce community enabled him to master many different technologies. Now he’s ready to share some of the most valuable tips and tricks for Admins that he’s learned in his career.
Join us as Pat shares how he became involved in the Salesforce community and what inspired him to create User Group Office Hours. We’ll also hear about the essential skills Admins need to have, as well as the products he’s most looking forward to in 2017.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Pat Solum.
Embrace the community.
Pat started in a Marketing Manager position and, “really quickly, Salesforce became my favorite part of my job,” he says.
The Salesforce community is a huge part of why he loves what he does. “There are certain people who, if I hadn’t met them, I would have flunked out of Salesforce in my first year,” says Pat.
As Pat explains, “I found the Answers community to be really, really engaging. I would have what I thought were really dumb questions. I’d post them out there. Low and behold, an hour later I’d have exactly what I needed to do my job. I got really hooked on it.”
That’s when he discovered User Groups. “Everyone in these User Group meetings was so engaging. Really quickly it became this really contagious community,” he says.
Start a User Group.
Looking to connect with the local Salesforce community, Pat and his co-leader, Sarah Gall, started the User Group in Sioux Falls. Unsure of how to begin, Pat started User Group Office Hours, which is now in its second year. “We’ve been able to help a lot of different User Group Leaders, new and old,” says Pat.
Connect with other Admins.
When asked how his career has changed since starting with Salesforce, Pat says, “My career has just exploded. Salesforce has opened up so many different avenues for me, personally and professionally.”
“This whole idea that Salesforce uses Ohana, it’s not just talk, it’s real. There’s so many great life long friends that I’ve met through here. They have helped my career by helping me learn new skills and have allowed me to connect with amazing companies,” says Pat.
Prioritize and communicate with users.
So, what exactly does an Admin do everyday? Pat says, “the biggest thing for me as an Admin has been prioritization. Looking at your email, looking at the different tasks I had open for that day and being able to prioritize what needed to get done right now and what could be delayed. I always have the philosophy that if it takes five minutes or less, just knock it out and get it over with.”
Another was talking to his users. He always asked them, “How is Salesforce working for you? What can we do to make Salesforce more efficient for you?” He often spent time talking to the business stakeholders to make sure they were getting the right data out of Salesforce. “It was a very busy job. I loved it,” says Pat.
Be the calm in the middle of the storm.
When looking for a Super Admin, Pat says the quality he would look for most is someone “who could be the calm in the middle of a storm.” He goes on to explain, “You get a lot of things thrown at you as a Salesforce Admin, and you have to be someone who can’t get rattled. You have to be someone who can prioritize their time and focus on the important tasks. Also, someone who can defend the decisions that they’ve made in a diplomatic way.”
Pat also believes that the ability to learn the technical aspects is crucial. “There’s so much great information out there through Trailhead, the Success Community, and Answers that the technical aspect of learning the Salesforce platform is almost secondary to the time management and diplomacy side of being an Admin,” says Pat.
Don’t get randomized.
“When you get a user request, you have to be 100% sure why they’re asking for it. Sometimes a user will ask for a feature, but then you discover that it’s because they don’t know how to run a very simple, fundamental part that’s already in the system,” says Pat.
As he explains, a lot of being an Admin is “making sure that the feature the user wants is really as important as they think it is. Then being able to diplomatically tell them no or find other stakeholders to make it part of what Salesforce does for your users.”
Looking forward to Spring 2017, Pat says he’s most excited about Lightning even though some Admins are still intimidated by it. “What we need to ask is, ‘is my end user’s experience better in Lightning or better in Classic?’ If it’s better in Lightning, that’s where you need to be. It’s our job to figure it out to make it easier for them, not vice versa,” says Pat. That is, ultimately, what you should use to drive your decision about what you build and what your end user sees.
For more insights, make sure to follow Pat Solum on Twitter (@Sodakforce).
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