So how did I command a Seat at the table?
I was recently asked how a Salesforce Admin, like myself, who is building their career on the Salesforce platform can earn a “seat at the table” within their company. I have a voice on key initiatives and architect processes in addition to playing a large role in driving those visions to reality. I have earned my own “seat at the table”.
The simple answer is “Hard Work” and for me it has taken 5 years of it. It’s not an easy overnight task and it’s not even a straight forward checklist of items, but anyone who sets their heart to it – can get there. The hard work has resulted in me receiving the 2 essential ingredients to success in any organization: Trust and Value.
Gain Their Trust
When a company makes an investment in a system like Salesforce, it is vitally important that everyone at that company can trust that system. Users need to trust that it’s going to make their jobs easier and management needs to trust that they can rely on the data from the system. If you can create that trust, people will respect your views and come to you for guidance. Here is how I have earned trust at my company.
1. Keep it simple – My users get frustrated with things that are complicated, they don’t trust me or the process if they can’t understand it. Always customize your system with your user in mind, and keep it as basic as possible.
2. Keep it clean – Dirty data destroys reports. My managers like to know that every time they click on their dashboard, they can trust the results. Keep the duplicates out. Use Validations rules to ensure required fields are populated. Use formula fields to bring in data from other places and keep it consistent, use Process Builder, Flows and Workflow to automate and populate key data, and finally, use your own dashboards to track data quality. You can find free data quality dashboards on the App Exchange with formula fields you can customize to track what’s important to your business, and they are awesome!
3. Know the business – Reach out to the manager of every department in your company. Ask them what their current goals are and understand their processes, both within Salesforce and out. Look over the shoulder of all of your users so you understand how they are using the system and what their pain points might be. This will give you opportunities to offer solutions to automate, streamline and improve their processes. It proves to them that you are part of their team, and they will come to you for guidance if they trust you understand the “big picture” and have their best interests at heart.
4. Be open & honest – Nothing is worse than saying “sure, I can do that…I’ll have it to you in 5 minutes” only to have to go back after 10 and say, “turns out I can’t actually do that” or “that’s going to take me 3 days”. When I stopped making promises, and thinking I had to have all the answers right away, people started to trust my knowledge. Now I always answer a request with “Give me a little of time to play with that, and I’ll get back to you with a time line or let you know if I can’t make it happen.” If I don’t know the answer to a Salesforce question, or even if I’m unsure, I say so, but let them know I will do everything I can to find that answer. That’s when I rely on the amazing Success Community, which provides endless amounts of knowledge…right at your fingertips…for free! If you make a mistake, which you will, own up to it. People trust a person who can say “I messed up, I learned a valuable lesson and now I’m going to do what I can to fix it”.
Prove Your Value
If you want a “seat at the table”, if you want your company to invest in you – you need to prove your value.
1. Show your work – I use cases. I have a dedicated firstname.lastname@example.org email address and use email to case for all of the requests that come to me. Using cases has allowed me to show on a Dashboard, the contributions I make to the company and the exceptional service I provide.
2. Celebrate your successes – If you’re a solo admin like me, this becomes especially important. There probably aren’t a lot of people at your company who really know what it takes to do what you do. If you create a workflow that alleviates 5 clicks for a user, post it to Chatter. If you create an app that helps track a key part of your business, make a video about it and post it to Chatter. This not only educates and updates your users, but it shows the value you are providing daily.
3. Share your knowledge – I have made 23,916 chatter posts in my org (probably 24,000 by the time you read this). Most of these posts are me sharing what I have learned at a webinar, at a user group, at Dreamforce, reading a blog or even just browsing the Success Community. Sharing what I learn with others, makes me the authority on the subject. Showing what I learn at events, proves the value they offer the company, and has given me the ability to get my company to send me to them.
The Salesforce Community has a lot of resources to help you grow professionally and to help you receive these 2 essential ingredients: Trust and Value.
You may not be able to talk your boss into sending you off to Dreamforce the first year, but you can most likely get them to let you out of the office for a couple hours to attend your local user group, or a valuable webinar, all you need to do is show them what you can do with the knowledge you gain there.
Of course, it helps to have a boss who is supportive and a CEO who loves Salesforce, but it wasn’t always that way for me. It took me time to earn their trust and to prove my value, which took ambition and passion.
Keep making noise and someday the right people will hear you…..and they will invite you to sit down at the table.