TAKEOVER: The Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers

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Today we are getting taken over by a special admin-focused episode of The Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers with Trailhead’s very own Dana Hall, Senior Manager of Trailhead Marketing at Salesforce, and Scott Luikart, Salesforce MVP and Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Market.

Join us as we talk about all the opportunities out there for admins and what you can do to get yourself ready.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Dana Hall.

What you need to know about Salesforce admins.

Admins are knowledgeable business leaders that use what they know about the operations of their company to solve problems that come up in day-to-day situations. That can be anything from “why isn’t this one thing working” to automating an entire business process. At the end of the day, the goal is to make things easier for Salesforce users across your business, improve workflows, and enable the kind of data analysis you need to make key decisions.

Training and education on the platform is also a big part of the job. Users need to know what tools they have available to them to help do their jobs more efficiently, so adoption and work processes are a major concern for the job. You have to combine the soft skills of working with people and understanding their needs with the technical know-how to find the right answer to their problems.

A job in global high demand.

Salesforce Admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year, with thousands of new job postings going up yearly. In this episode, Dana talks to Scott Luikart, then the Salesforce admin for Concierge Auctions and now Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Markets. “How I first started learning about Salesforce was as a call center rep for Apple to log into and out of our shifts,” he says.

Later, volunteering at an LGBTQA health organization in Philadelphia, Scott connected with a friend who got him a job that would change his entire career trajectory. “After a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organization,” he says. “Magically, that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered.” With the help of his Success Manager at the time (Salesforce Admins Podcast regular and Head of Trailhead Content Chris Duarte), he was able to learn the best practices he needed in order to succeed.

How the community can help you succeed.

When Scott saw an inefficiency with the way packages were being mailed at his company, he realized there was an opportunity to improve things. He built an integrated solution that took care of a lot of the process automatically, saving everyone time and making things easier. “I didn’t do anything revolutionary—that tool was already there. But by building it in a way that was meaningful to our users they now can sit at their desk, click five or six buttons, mail a package to a person, and then go back to doing what they love,” Scott says.

“The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have,” Scott says, “is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.” If you think this sounds like the right role for you, it’s important to get involved in the Trailhead and Trailblazer community. Online you can pick up the skills you need, and meeting people at live events can help you apply that knowledge, and maybe even find a new job opportunity.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast. I’m your host, Mike Gerholdt, and joining me today, the host of the Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers podcast, Dana Hall. Dana, how you doing?

Dana Hall: I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: If no one has listened to the Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers podcast, tell me what are they missing out on?

Dana Hall: Well, they’re missing out on some pretty great stories. It’s a a podcast that is nine episodes. It’s a series and we talk to different trailblazers and different roles in the Salesforce ecosystem. So each episode is between 15 and 20 minutes and it’s with someone who has a particular role in the ecosystem such as Salesforce Admin, which is the one we’re going to be listening to today.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. I like that. Well, let’s get right to that episode.

Dana Hall: Psst. You’re listening to the Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers on Trailblazer Radio. This is a Salesforce Admin episode. Right now, you might not even know what an admin is, but soon you will and you’ll want to learn more, which you can easily do with the twice weekly Salesforce Admins podcast. Subscribe now on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play. Now here’s our show.

Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall and you’re listening to the Trailblazer brought to you by Salesforce Trailhead, the fun way to learn. Available free at trailhead.salesforce.Com. So if you’re looking to start your career or make a mid career change into a growing industry, then you’re in the right place. What is a trailblazer? We think a trailblazer is an innovator, a lifelong learner, a leader who blazes a trail and leaves a path for others to follow.

Dana Hall: In this series, the Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers, we explore the different career paths in the Salesforce ecosystem of customers and partners. In each episode, you’ll learn about what it’s like to work in a particular role, what skills and qualities will make you successful, and what you can do to get started down that career path. In this episode, we’re getting an introduction to the role of Salesforce Administrator.

Scott Luikart: I think the thing that I would say is so far the Admin is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve increased my career over the last six years more than I had in any previous job that I could possibly do at the time, and so it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Also, it’s the most exciting thing that I get to do every day because every day is different. Some days we’ll be talking about things that are a couple of years away and we have to figure out how to get to them, or I might just be talking about why somebody’s phone isn’t working. And it changes every day, which is super fun.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s got Scott Luikart. At the time of this interview, Scott was the Salesforce administrator for Concierge Auctions in Austin, Texas. A Salesforce admin is a business leader, deeply knowledgeable about how their company operates, intertwined in making all departments successful through process automation. A Salesforce administrator keeps Salesforce users trained and educated, solves complicated business problems, and keeps projects moving forward. A Salesforce admin delivers creative solutions making Salesforce users happier and the business smarter. Salesforce admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year and there are thousands of job postings going up yearly.

Scott Luikart: So how I first started learning about Salesforce was I took a job with Apple as the call center rep working for Kelly Connect. And in that role, they were using Salesforce to log in and log out of your shift, which was really a weird application of the system. And so I was an end user first of the system, and I didn’t really understand what it all could do because we weren’t using it to its fullest capacity at the time.

Dana Hall: Well, Scott had been introduced to Salesforce at his job as a call center rep, it wasn’t until he started volunteering at a local nonprofit that he really got exposure to all that Salesforce can do.

Scott Luikart: I was volunteering at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, which is an LGBT health organization and helping get people tested for HIV and STIs. I met another volunteer there and he asked me to apply for a job at his company and they were using Salesforce, so I did. And after a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organizations. So at that time we bought Service Cloud Communities, Knowledge, Wise Agent, a few of the different products that Salesforce offers.

Scott Luikart: And my VP was like, “Hey, now you have to implement them in the next six months.” So magically that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working in the admin in the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered. And so fell in love with it. Got to meet Chris Duarte. She was my success manager at the time and she really helped me learn those better practices that maybe I wasn’t doing. And now have just been in love since, and been at four different companies since then.

Dana Hall: Fun fact, the Chris Duarte he mentioned is now the head of all the awesome learning content on Trailhead. Small world. So Scott clearly loves being an admin, but what is a Salesforce admin really?

Scott Luikart: I think a Salesforce admin is someone who really has a passion and an ability to learn. We all have access to reading the help documentation. We all have access to reading the like … and participating in Trailhead. We all have access to these really amazing tools that are there in front of us, but you really have to want to solve challenges and you have to want to make somebody else’s day better by doing X thing that you’re going to build in a system. You just made it so that people don’t have to click 20 time because they hate clicking 20 times to do this one function. You might’ve just saved them time, you might have reduced time on task, you might have changed the way in which they do something so they’re not continually frustrated. I think I show hospitality to people through technology because I’m able to get to know what they care about and help fix those things that are problems for them.

Dana Hall: Salesforce admins work alongside management, streamlining processes, and keeping the bottom line moving forward. One small but important example of how a Salesforce admin can help streamline business processes is when Scott saw an inefficiency with the way routine packages were being mailed at his company.

Scott Luikart: A thing that we do at my company is we mail people packages. And people get off the phone, and they put this package together and they put all the items in the package, go to the FedEx machine, print the label, and then take it to the front desk and leave it on the front desk and have FedEx come in and pick it up twice a day. And that takes time and it’s kind of annoying and cumbersome, so we integrated a mailing system to Salesforce that actually puts these packages together for us and mails them out the door.

Scott Luikart: I didn’t do anything revolutionary like that tool is already there, but by building it and putting it together in a way that was meaningful to our users. They now can sit at their desk, and click five or six buttons and send a package to a person; and they get to go back to doing what they love, which is calling customers or potential customers to sell their products rather than putting a package together.

Dana Hall: Being able to jump in and simplify a business process like the over 50 packages that his colleagues were mailing daily, not only makes you the office hero, it improves business by saving time and money, which the leadership will love. Besides the ability to spot inefficiency, Scott also believes it’s important to be an investigator and ask questions.

Dana Hall: As a Salesforce admin, you’re going to get a lot of requests. And it’s always a good idea to dig in a bit and make sure you understand what the person is asking for and why they’re asking for it. That way you can decide what the best solution is.

Scott Luikart: So really being able to push past, do this thing and ask, but what is it that we’re trying to achieve? Why is it we’re trying to achieve that and how are we going to achieve it? Who are we going to work with? And once you know, basically those four questions, you can start looking at what tools are being offered to you, right? But you get to make that decision when you know the what, the who, the why and the how of the thing that’s actually being asked. Because people want to make it easier on you as an admin, so they just tell you the thing that they need. But you could find a better option, potentially, because you’re the person that’s trained and trusted to know the system by asking some basic questions and really then going back to your desk and testing it out.

Dana Hall: While being a Salesforce admin is definitely a technical role, Scott believes that some communication skills may be the most important for this role. Scott believes it’s important to be a patient listener and a clear communicator. So many people at your work will be using Salesforce in their day-to-day and they’re going to be looking towards you to help them do their jobs better. These people may not actually know all that is possible with Salesforce, so you have to be patient, listen to what they’re requesting and make sure they’re aware of what is possible and recommended.

Scott Luikart: Because if I start talking about Email-to-Case, people stop listening because they don’t even know what I’m talking about. But if I can tell them, “Hey, every time an email is sent we can route it to Salesforce. It can create a case and then I can alert somebody that there’s a case waiting for them.” And then I have buy-in. But if I say, “Yeah, we’ll just turn on Email-to-Case then like it’ll work.” That’s a much different story and people aren’t like sign me up for that thing because they don’t know what it’s going to do.

Dana Hall: Being a patient and empathetic listener and communicator will also be helpful for when your end users might be struggling to figure out a solution to their problems.

Scott Luikart: People will frequently have a lot of passion when they tell you about those problem that they’re facing because it’s probably annoyed them for six months and you’re just now finding out about it or it’s just now becoming so burdensome that they can’t continue during on job. It’s typically like you’re lifting some weight off their shoulders and helping make their experience better, but also helping tell them that it’s going to be okay because you have this really great solution and coming in and providing that.

Dana Hall: As a Salesforce administrator, your job is to keep your company’s instance of Salesforce running smoothly and effectively so your colleagues and end users can get their work done. Besides mastering the technology of Salesforce, you’re going to need to brush up on the soft skills Scott just reviewed.

Scott Luikart: All right. The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.

Dana Hall: So now you know some of the skills necessary to succeed in the role of a Salesforce admin. If you’re hearing what Scott is talking about and thinking this role might be a good fit for you, you’ll want to check out Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, and the Trailblazer Community, which is our community of Salesforce users who meet in person at local events and online at trailblazer.salesforce.com.

Scott Luikart: What can people do if they want to find out it’s being a Salesforce admin is right for them? The thing I think that is the most powerful is getting involved in the Community and trying things on Trailhead. In person, we have these really awesome user groups where you can go in and have in-person sessions and learn about different products, learn about different ways to roll things out. I think the Community is the best way to stay involved. It is only by being a part of the Community, in my opinion, that I get to learn about what other people are doing as often.

Scott Luikart: Every month or every couple of weeks, I can go to a local event and talk with somebody doing some really awesome stuff that I never would’ve thought of and I get to hear the full story behind it. I really love getting to talk to somebody about the reasons why they did something and asking follow-up questions and learning, “Oh, okay, well, you did that. Maybe I can change it for my use case and do this thing that I’ve been wanting to achieve for the last six years, but just couldn’t think of a solution. And you just did it, and now I can help borrow what you did and make it our own for my company.”

Dana Hall: One of the great parts about working with Salesforce is the community of individuals from all around the world who get together in person and online to learn and help each other build awesome things with Salesforce, and you can get started learning on your own at your own pace and for free on trailhead.com.

Scott Luikart: Trailhead has taught me so much more than I ever thought was possible with the platform. Trailhead is a free platform for anybody to start learning. Trailhead comes with a free playground, as we like to call it. And that playground is actually an account. It gives you the full platforms that I have as an actual company that’s using Salesforce. So I can set up Email-to-case, I can set up leads, I can convert leads and see what that looks like in the system.

Scott Luikart: And then the coolest thing about Trailhead is that not only are you learning about the platform, right, you’re reading and then you’re doing some stuff inside the system; but, when you want to complete the challenge that they’ve presented you with like in leads and opportunities for Lightning Experience, you have to convert a lead. Well, in a normal learning system, you just say you did it, but Trailhead actually check to make sure that you did it correctly and gives you feedback along the way to make sure that what you did is the right thing, and that feedback is so cool.

Dana Hall: And as we start to wrap up this episode, Scott has a few more pointers for you.

Scott Luikart: Yeah. The things that I think people should do at the end of listening to this podcast is go sign up for the Trailhead account. It is your playground, it is your learning platform where you get to complete modules, earn badges, increase your rank up to Ranger. And then after you have that login, go to trailblazer.salesforce.com and register for the Community and see what we’re talking about, the questions we ask, and get connected with your local user group. There’s hundreds of user groups all around the world. So if you want to learn about B2B marketing and some marketing platforms that support the B2B market or the B2C market or nonprofit, we have all of these different content areas where you can become engaged with other like-minded individuals, who you can meet in person close to you or even a virtually.

Dana Hall: Salesforce admins are in demand. Scott has been able to take his skills and move all around the United States knowing he would always find a role as a Salesforce admin. In fact, after recording this episode, Scott accepted a job working as a Salesforce admin for Whole Foods in Austin.

Scott Luikart: I have not been unemployed since I started in the Salesforce ecosystem, and that I’m very grateful for. And so I have the ability to, one, move to some really cool places like Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Texas. But also if I want to stay in Austin, I’ve now worked at three different companies in the same town doing Salesforce, and so there is a lot of possibilities. There is a lot of growth and you just have to find what works for you.

Scott Luikart: A thing that I think everybody should know is, I believe that you interview for the boss. I don’t think you interviewed for the job. You can do Salesforce anywhere. You want to make sure that you find a boss that loves and supports your career as much as you do, and that they keep it pretty real with you and help move you along as much as you’re willing to do for the company.

Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall. And now that you’ve heard what it’s like to be a Salesforce admin, let’s talk about some smart next steps on this career path. First things first, head to the Trailblazers podcast page trailhead.com/trailpod. That’s T-R-A-I-L-P-O-D. There, you’ll find resources paired with every episode, including a curated learning path to build your admin career on Salesforce for free with the Trailhead. You’ll also find information on the credentials you can earn to stand out from the pack and attract the eyes of hiring managers and recruiters. And don’t worry, we have classes and workshops to prepare you for these credentials. And when you’re ready to register for one of them, don’t forget to use the discount code Trailpod for 10% off.

Dana Hall: And remember, learning is always more fun with friends. Check out trailblazer.salesforce.com to meet millions of Trailblazers from across the globe or right in your backyard. So make sure to say hi to us on Twitter at Trailhead with the #trailpod and on Facebook at Salesforce Trailhead. Now’s your chance to get started on your next adventure. See you soon at Trailhead.com/trailpod. See you on the trail.

Speaker 4: Brought to you by Salesforce Studios.

Speaker 4: This has been a Trailblazer Radio Production.

 

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