Headshot of Sheetal Chougule next to text that says "Skills for Success: Communication."

Develop Your Communication Skills as a Salesforce Admin

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Welcome to our “Skill for Success” series. In this post, we’re focusing on the key admin skill of communication. Let’s dive in!

The technology world is progressing very fast, and companies are looking for leaders who understand both the business vision and the technology that can help transform their vision into a reality. When we look back at history, it’s clear that all great leaders possess the critical skill of communication.

For Salesforce Admins, communication skills are key for achieving success in your role. Whether you’re gathering requirements, replying to an email, sending a meeting agenda, training end users, demoing a product feature, or presenting an idea in a meeting, all facets of your role require you to have strong communication skills.

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my career in the Salesforce ecosystem, and having good communication skills has played a key role in my journey. In spite of having good communication skills, a few years ago I came to realize that I was missing something. The moment stakeholders started to explain a problem, I would go straight to designing a solution in my head as they spoke, and in this process, I would lose some key information. I was not actively listening. Then, a lightbulb went on in my head: Communication isn’t just about conveying the right information, it’s also about receiving the right information.

For many of us, active listening can be a struggle. If we’re not focused, we miss critical information which can result in re-work, missed requirements, delayed timelines, and, ultimately, a lack of credibility and rapport with our stakeholders. The good news is that becoming an active listener is not out of reach for anyone. There are steps you can proactively take to become better at this skill. I started watching webinars and reading articles on ways to be a good listener. It was tough initially, but I consciously made small adjustments to my working style every day. For example, I started to read through entire email threads before hitting the “reply all” button to ask a question that was covered in a previous email.

I learned my lesson the hard way, but my patience, dedication, and hard work paid off. Now, I want to use what I’ve learned to help you better understand the key aspects of communication and how you can utilize them to be an #AwesomeAdmin!

What is communication?

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” — Peter Drucker

Communication is an essential part of our lives, both personal and professional. If we can’t communicate, we fail to develop an understanding of each other. The way we communicate and the mode and channels of communication are constantly evolving. Although conveying information to others is a fundamental aspect of communication, it’s important to remember that communication should always be two-sided. That is, you need to first be a good listener.

A good way to validate how effective your communication has been is to validate the response to it. Did your communication have the intended result of shared understanding? Did it assist the receiver of the information in some way? As an admin, you should be asking yourself these types of questions. Some everyday instances where admins need to communicate effectively include:

  • Gathering detailed requirements for a large project in order to build a solution
  • Asking questions about the big picture vision in order to solve problems and drive success
  • Receiving and providing feedback to stakeholders
  • Designing and documenting processes to improve efficiency

Although the channels of communication evolve over time, one key aspect remains the same: conveying and receiving information.

Why is communication important for Salesforce Admins?

As a leader, I’m responsible for my team. Often times, I’ve seen a team member struggle to explain simple implementation logic. Technically they are very strong, but when it comes to providing more information to a group of stakeholders in a meeting, they aren’t able to do so. Sadly, this impacts career progression, as the ability to effectively convey your thoughts is a crucial skill. When interviewing potential employees, I focus on not only how many answers the candidate got right but also how well they explain them. It’s easy to train someone in technical skills, but training someone in effective communication is a lot harder.

As admins, we communicate with many different stakeholders, from business and technical, to managers and teams, to end users. To effectively connect with all of them, we need to modify the way we communicate. Below are some communication examples you may encounter in your role:

  • Business Stakeholders: It’s important to understand the big picture, ask the right questions, gather detailed requirements, and drive the conversation toward shared understanding. Ask clarifying questions to ensure all stakeholders are aligned.
  • Managers and Teams: It’s often our responsibility to relay the detailed requirements we receive from business stakeholders to our managers and teams. We need to do it in such a way that the team understands both the business vision and the technical scope.
  • End Users: Communication should be simple, concise, and clear. Documentation should have more of a walk-through style, as opposed to lengthy documents where end users must sift through countless pages of irrelevant information before finding what they need.

Employers today look for Salesforce Admins who have not only technical skills but also soft skills, as well as the ability to suggest ideas to improve the business. Preparation is a key element of effective communication, whether it be preparing a demo of new features for end users, pitching an innovative idea, or putting together a slide deck for an upcoming meeting. When it comes to communication, conveying more in less time is often a key goal—and this takes practice!

How can I learn and develop my communication skills?

Admins can leverage their communication skills to succeed in every aspect of their careers. If we cannot communicate our bright and innovative ideas, we will fail to reach the success we deserve. So, what can we do? Here are a few tips I’d like to offer:

  1. Develop best practices.
    This helps stakeholders avoid common mistakes while also understanding any limitations. For example, we can develop standards on how to best design and build quality reports and dashboards.
  2. Document current and proposed processes.
    This helps to not only create a shared understanding between stakeholders but also identify improvement areas and even onboard new employees. For example, map out where the inefficiencies in the current process are and how these will be mitigated by designing a flow.
  3. Publish your learnings.
    Publishing your learnings in a Knowledge article helps improve your thought process. It also helps others who may experience the same problem, saving time for everyone.
  4. Demo the latest features.
    This helps increase adoption because stakeholders will better understand the potential of the Salesforce Platform. For example, you might prepare a short demo of the top five new features in the latest Salesforce Release, showing stakeholders how these features can help make their lives easier. You may even design some slides to present to stakeholders, which can also help further their understanding.

Communication is also a means of connecting with people globally and building your network. Being an introvert, I used to have a fear of writing anything or asking questions during a call. There came a time when I realized this was holding me back in my career. Technically I was good, but I had to do something to overcome this. So, recently, I published my first blog and received tremendous response—and if you’re seeing this, know that you’re reading my second blog! Improvement and learning are never-ending journeys, so here are some quick tips:

  • Find a good mentor: The Trailblazer Mentorship Program is a great place to start.
  • Review emails before sending: Check for spelling and grammar, and make sure your message is clear.
  • Publish blogs: Sharing your experiences with others in the Salesforce ecosystem is very rewarding, even if it’s a simple topic.
  • Attend community events: Observe how the presenters deliver their sessions.
  • Get connected: Use the Trailblazer Community, LinkedIn, and Udemy to connect with others and take advantage of all the great resources out there.

Communicating well is crucial for achieving both your personal and professional goals. Effective communication helps create shared understanding and also gives your stakeholders confidence in your ability to get the job done. As an admin, understanding the business vision and being able to communicate this to others is key to your career success. So, go forth and always strive toward effective communication because you’re an #AwesomeAdmin!

Take these three steps to build your success:

  1. Explore the new Salesforce Admin Skills Kit to learn how to represent your skills when applying for admin jobs or preparing for performance reviews.
  2. Share these skills on social media using #AwesomeAdmin, and tell other admins three skills you’re going to commit to developing this year.
  3. Revisit admin.salesforce.com next Tuesday for the next blog post in this series!

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