Making the Move: From In-house Admin to Salesforce Consultant

Today’s post is a guest post from David Akina of Shift3 Technologies, a Bitwise Industries company.  David was a true driving force behind the first-ever CenCal Dreamin’ event held in Fresno, CA, in January 2020.  He’s a Developer Fellow, and through Shift3, Bitwise Industries, and their Geekwise Academy, he is helping to activate human potential – check them out.

 

Photo by Jake Hills 

 

Just over three years ago, I was approached by a colleague. “You should apply for the new Salesforce Administrator job.” More than a colleague, he was a friend — a friend whose opinion I valued. I was unhappy in my present sales management role and he recognized how I’d gravitated toward the Sales Operations responsibilities of my position. I had become an accidental admin of our previous CRM. I actively and aggressively learned our business processes, even though they were outside the realm of my responsibilities. I had never touched Salesforce. But that simple statement planted a thought in my head that has radically altered my career path.

Over the next nine months, with the help of an incredible Salesforce Consultant, I led the effort to migrate our business from an antiquated, client-server CRM, with 25 years of data, to Salesforce. On time, and on budget, we achieved our go-live for 75 users in several different functional groups, with some VERY strong personalities.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t do the heavy lifting. But I learned from the best. I learned to build Salesforce in a way that served our business well. I credit the success of the project to our consultant’s philosophy: “Our goal is not implementation…it’s adoption.” If the system is useful, it’s useless. Plain and simple. 

I discovered almost instantly I wanted to do more. I wanted to build Salesforce orgs. During that nine months, I committed myself to learning as much as I could, gleaning every valuable skill to improve my odds of success. What I learned has changed my life. 

If you have aspirations to move beyond your current role, you can do it. There’s only three things you’ll need: Dreams, Self-Awareness, and Drive.

Dreams

Stephen Covey’s second of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the End in Mind.” Set a goal for yourself. What do you want to do? Where do you want to be?

For me, it was becoming a Salesforce Consultant. I researched what Salesforce Consultants do. Since I was working closely with one, I listened to every word he said. I listened to WHEN he said them. 

A largely overlooked part of moving forward is mentorship. Find someone in your network who has achieved, in whole or in part, what you desire. Approach them and ask them to teach you. Learn everything you can.

Self-Awareness

Not just for Salesforce Administration, this is an invaluable tool for LIFE. This is where it gets personal. Moving from Point A, your current position, to Point X, your goal, will vary person to person. Spend time to reflect on what you need to make the move. Know yourself. 

What’s missing between where you are and where you want to be? Technical knowledge? Business acumen? Industry knowledge? For me, it was a lack of project management and Salesforce Administration skills. Easy. There are millions of resources to teach me those skills. I dove into Trailhead, earned my first certification, and asked approximately 12.7 million questions, give or take.

If you’re having difficulty identifying the area(s) where you need the most growth, ask your mentor. Be honest with him/her/them about your struggles and shortcomings. Listen to his/her/their own story. The more honest you are, the more valuable the feedback will be.

Drive

Here’s the easy part. Just go for it! You are the only thing that can hold you back. That’s what’s so amazing about Salesforce!

As with anything Salesforce, your professional development is an iterative process. Your success will be dependent on your continuous efforts to analyze, plan, execute, test, evaluate, and adjust. Your drive will determine how well you continue to grow.

Making the Move

Truth be told, there’s never a good time to make a move. Life will always provide reasons for you to delay. Don’t! 

Post Go-Live, I continued in my role as Salesforce Administrator for a year, managing and building based on new requirements. After nearly 11 years with the company in four different roles, I moved on. I joined a Salesforce Consulting firm and worked remotely/on-site. I certainly hadn’t mastered project management and Salesforce Administration skills, but I learned enough to allow me to take the next step. For the next nine months, I continued to hone my skills and discovered even more to learn. That’s the funny thing about learning. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Let that be an encouragement. You’ll never learn anything. But you can always learn more.

Eight months ago, I was given a new, exciting opportunity. I now train underserved populations in Salesforce Administration. I now train others in project management and Salesforce Administration skills. I still don’t know everything, but I can teach what I know. I’ve earned three more Salesforce certifications and my team now has a combined ten certifications of their own. This is the most rewarding professional experience of my life.

But my journey doesn’t end here. I am continually learning and continually reaching. My current mentors have helped me identify the next skills I need to develop. My quest continues.

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