A Salesforce Administrator’s Guide From Newbie to Professional

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I knew that I wanted to be involved in business since I was 16 years old. However, I didn’t always know how I would contribute. After earning my bachelor’s degree and MBA in Marketing, I turned to Salesforce to develop technology skills, and this created an immediate opportunity for me to change businesses for the better.

In less than 2 years, I’ve gone from having zero understanding of the Salesforce Platform to becoming a 5X Certified, 7X Ranger, 10X Superbadge Salesforce professional. Going from Salesforce newbie to Salesforce pro in 1 or 2 years is achievable without any background in technology or computer science.

These are my top 5 tips to help new Salesforce Administrators build a successful career.

1. Learn Salesforce with Trailhead

Without Trailhead, there’s no chance I’d be working with Salesforce products right now. I wouldn’t have the necessary skills, nor would I have even had the exposure. I was introduced to Trailhead through college courses at UMass Lowell. Several of my sales and marketing courses in both my bachelor’s degree and MBA incorporated professor-built Trailhead Trailmixes.

Nearing graduation, I was almost a Ranger (100 badges) and was convinced that Salesforce was a widely-used and important technology tool for businesses. I continued blazing trails, becoming a 2X Ranger within a month. Upon graduation, a company that I’d interned at, Fiber Optic Center, contacted me with an opportunity to manage their technology stack with a focus on Salesforce. Since then, I’ve completed more than 550 badges and 10 superbadges, helping me become a 5X Salesforce-certified professional.

My advice for folks just getting started with Trailhead is to search for topics that interest you and then connect the dots for what type of career in the Salesforce ecosystem those dots align with. It’s easy to learn when you’re engaged with a topic. Luckily, Trailhead has no shortage of education on sales, marketing, coding, soft skills, and so much more. I always gravitated to the marketing lessons, and, a full year into my current position, an opportunity presented itself to evaluate and implement Pardot into our tech stack.

2. Find a mentor

Salesforce offers an incredible amount of resources to help anyone learn and utilize product features. Everything from help documentation to live events — and, of course, Trailhead — help Salesforce Admins navigate the platform. Often, your business challenges don’t line up with just one single feature. Sometimes, they require several features or a decision between two viable choices. For these scenarios — and so much more — it’s critical to have a mentor.

Salesforce offers great programs to match mentors and mentees. I happened to meet my (unofficial) mentor, Michelle Hansen, at Dreamforce 2019. We don’t follow a particular structure, but whenever I’m faced with a unique challenge or learning moment, I turn to her and she accelerates my Salesforce journey.

3. Look for what’s next, not what’s necessary

Salesforce releases three major updates every year. That’s a lot of information to prepare for, learn, and implement in just a few months — especially if you use multiple Salesforce products like I do (Sales Cloud and Pardot). I’ve found that, as a Salesforce Admin, it’s easy to focus on your current projects. People in your business will always remind you that they need a new report, field, or user. Making these new releases a priority while getting my current projects done is what helped me stand out as a first-time admin.

For example, no one in my Salesforce org was asking for a way to quickly size up a new sales inquiry. Leads are created from our web requests, and our sales team couldn’t easily determine which lead was most likely to become the always-desired Closed Won record. When I learned about Einstein Lead Scoring on Trailhead, I quietly mentioned it to our Director of Sales and tested it in our Salesforce Sandbox, then unveiled it (with proper instruction) to our sales team. They absolutely loved the feature; it saved them hours of time and ultimately helped them close more deals. Best of all? When you bring something innovative to a department and it helps them, they are much more willing and eager to adopt other pieces of Salesforce.

4. Attend Trailblazer Community Group meetings

There’s no shortage of Community Groups and weekly meetings in the Trailblazer Community. COVID-19 has made otherwise distant groups available to everyone around the world. I myself have attended Community Group meetings in Austin, TX, Boston, MA, and Cedar Rapids, IA — all from the comfort of my home during quarantine.

These meetings double as a way to (A) learn more about Salesforce solutions and (B) network with other Salesforce professionals. Are you looking for a group close to home? Find a Community Group meeting near you.

5. Get Salesforce-certified

Getting certified not only helps you stand out in future job applications but can also help you in your current role. Preparing for my Salesforce Certification exams helped me grow my knowledge of Salesforce faster than what I could achieve in my day-to-day role through projects at Fiber Optic Center. Why? Despite all that we do with Sales Cloud and Pardot, not all features are going to be used in our org. Therefore, if you want to expand your knowledge beyond your immediate role responsibilities, you need another source.

Salesforce Certification exams are extremely thorough. They cover not only the features you use daily but also ones you may have never considered using. Now, when a new challenge arises at work, I’m able to suggest features we aren’t currently using and expand our capabilities.

If you’re interested in Salesforce, enjoy learning, and want every day of your career to be unique, take a look at this Trailhead guide on how to become a Salesforce Admin.

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