After leaving Oracle in 2016, I found myself with some free time to think about my professional future as a CRM expert. With 18 years of SFA, CRM, Marketing, Service, Order Management, Loyalty, EAI etc. on my back and experience with three enterprise-class CRM software suites, the decision to add another one to support my fledgling company came easy enough.
As it turned out, choosing the next CRM tool to dive into was a no-brainer. I wasn’t blind to the fact that Salesforce was not only leaping from one record-high to another while hoovering up Siebel (and other vendor’s) talent over the past years.
Where to start?
If you are in a similar situation, having spent more than a decade with the most complete on-premise CRM tool and maybe risked a look at the Cloud, then the question is always: where to start?
If you ask (or google) experienced self-made Salesforce experts, the answer is unison: Trailhead!
And indeed, having spent the last 25 years teaching in IT, I have to pay respect and bow deeply before the good people who stand behind the hundreds of modules many of which come with a hands-on validated exercise.
And the best thing: It’s absolutely free! The only investment you have to make is your time.
And time you will need aplenty to finish all the trails for your role (Business User, Admin or Developer), collecting badges on the way. So if your time is limited because you have a day job and family, choose your trails wisely. If you’re a techie and a Salesforce noob, then you want to dive in to Admin trails first and then tackle the Developer trails.
If you find the “Beginner” level to easy, jump right into “Intermediate” or even “Advanced”.
Be a Developer
If you have a techie mind-set, then you will soon learn that your path is the Developer path. Along my journey into Salesforce, I have met with a lot of people who are holding up their Salesforce Administrator certificate like a banner for all to see, but trust me, if you really want to understand the inner workings and development tools that exist (in vast quantities), then adopt a Developer attitude.
One great resource to start is the Salesforce Developers portal, which provides you with links to Documentation, Books, Tools and blogs.
You’re Part of Something Big
In my other life, I am part of the Siebel CRM Community to which I contribute with books and blog posts. There are tens of thousands of people making a living with the “mother of all CRMs” and rightly so.
But one has to admit that the heyday of Siebel CRM is over and Salesforce is the not-quite-as-young-as-you-think kid on the Cloud. The freshly branded Trailblazer Community has hundreds of thousands of very active members and I found the forums and other links there a great resource.
While self-paced, free learning is a great thing, there is often a need to find a more structured approach when it comes to build up knowledge for your implementation teams or end users.
I joined the ranks of certified instructors with Salesforce University in summer 2017 and am since delivering in-class an online trainings.
Later in 2017, Salesforce merged the University branch into Trailhead, so the branding – and lack of a dedicated University portal – might be a bit confusing.
Nevertheless, there is a host of training classes available, click here for a list.
The rite of passage into Salesforce is to become certified. Not just “Salesforce certifed”. Hell no, they have dozens of certifications and the first test is to figure out which one to take 😉
The Certified Salesforce Administrator (with its ‘advanced’ sibling) has become something like the Salesforce driver’s license and almost everyone who intends to make a living with Salesforce has it.
So when you feel all pumped after landing your 100th badge on Trailhead, after having taken some classes or perused other online resources, you register for the certification exam of your choice and find a date.
Most certification exams are proctored, ie you are watched. Since I live in a remote neck of the woods, I love the online proctored option where you need an external webcam to allow the proctor to check on you.
Salesforce is doing a great job in providing a learning path for literally everyone who is willing to invest some of their time. With this approach, the company has not only herded in what must be hundreds of thousands of certified individuals but also created a very open and active community.
If you have questions regarding your education path and career with Salesforce, blacksheep CRM and our partners will be glad to help. Please find the comments or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
have a nice day