When I first was introduced to Salesforce I didn’t know anything about CRM at the time. As I jumped into the deep end and started self-training through the available videos in 2009 I had no idea just how versatile the platform would become. The initial training videos were nowhere near as comprehensive as the current Trailhead training platform. As the years have progressed there have been times when I have thought “this would have been easier if only I had known this in the beginning”. I have picked the top 3 things I wish I had known in 2009 as I started immersing myself in the world of Salesforce.
- There is more than Sales Cloud to the Salesforce platform. Get to know Service, Marketing and App Cloud. Your company may only use one Cloud but App cloud is available to everyone and can open your platform up for customization and integration through multiple API’s. The more acquainted you are with all of the Salesforce Clouds the more likely you’ll be able to pass certification (if you want too) and if you ever end up moving onto a new company using a different Cloud.
- The Success Community is amazing and very friendly. Any questions or concerns you have there is someone willing to give suggestions and solutions. Every single question I have posted in the Success Community someone has responded and helped me think thru a solution. There are numerous Salesforce groups on LinkedIn with open membership who respond to posted questions and concerns as well.
- Sandboxes!!!! I had no idea what a sandbox was the first 3 years of Salesforce diving. Now every change, new field, or validation rule I build is activated and tested in a sandbox. Everyone has at least one developer Sandbox, though it’s limited on the amount of data that can be put in it at least you can safely test all of your changes to ensure success. Activate it as soon as possible and start building and testing.
Of course as you go along in Salesforce, building Sandboxes and positing in the Success Community remember you know more than you realize. Everyone is willing to share, educate and succeed together. Salesforce is one of the best IT and CRM Companies in the market. This is not because of the platform alone but because the people who work for Salesforce and those who work within the platform itself that make it one of the best CRM’s available. I wish I had known just how much would change in the last five years, I would have blogged sooner.
How to increase User Adoption of your CRM platform? Remember everyone struggles with this regardless of what industry they are in or what platform they choose.
The biggest struggle any company with a CRM platform has is boosting and maintaining User Adoption. However long it has been since you implemented your CRM platform user adoption will always be an issue. With a platform like Salesforce it can be a daily struggle for any Administrator to keep User Adoption up since they regularly upgrade Salesforce 3 times a year. Some releases are bug fixes but majority of them introduce new services or products and as well as upgrading and improving current ones. With a company like Salesforce that regularly upgrades and fixes their own instances for all of their customers at once Admins for smaller companies may struggle to keep their users up to date. Not every user is tech savvy or a quick study.
I find that as an Administrator I struggle with keeping up user morale and convincing my users that Salesforce is a good system. It gives you a 360 view of your customer relationship regardless of what industry you are in. How do you convince a group of users that a system like Salesforce is worth investing their time and energy in? Salesforce is good for making things simple. I find as an administrator it’s my job to translate the complexity of the system into simple easy to understand steps. Training, training and more training is what will boost user adoption. A companies Salesforce team cannot expect that once they train their users that the buck ends there. Most companies have multiple programs to run their businesses and not everyone will remember what was trained during their initial days on the job. Refresher training is a must! Small power sessions I find are the most useful. When you get a couple of users from different departments together in a mini session you get better feedback.
I also believe it is the Administrators job to not only know the system inside and out but they should know their business. You can expect your users to get the most out of their CRM system as it stands out of the box. It has to be molded to their industry, to their business styles and processes built to make the users jobs easier and more efficient. An administrator and developer cannot expect a company to get the most out of their platform if they lack the business knowledge to translate their needs to the system. If those in charge of a platform do not understand their users how can they expect their users to understand their system?
Salesforce has quite a few tools to help boost user adoption. They suggest metrics to help boost adoption by reporting and measuring who is actually logging into the system and using it. I find that the rewards and badges they have created under Chatter works wonders. My company boosts different locations so not all employees work face to face. We find that Chatter allows us to connect socially and professionally. We share company events and good news via chatter but we also reward each other for jobs well done. This has boosted morale across the board as well as adoption. As users get better acquainted with Chatter and seeing their fellow team mates using it they start exploring the possibilities more. Another way you can boost adoption is showing your users how the system can save time and building processes that stream line data for them. Salesforce has plenty of ways to automate services as well as saving time when it comes to reporting that may be used weekly, monthly, and annually which can be set up automatically to run on a clocked basis.
Regardless of how many users you have or how intricate your build your platform it is always a good idea to stay organized. It allows you to keep track of training users across the board as well as planning for upgrades which Salesforce schedules and announces at least a month before it is due to launch. It is always a good idea to have a communication plan to keep your users informed of any changes that may be coming including any training you may be putting together. Keeping your users in the loop and even encourage suggestions they believe could improve their job and experience. This will get them into the CRM conversation and forces them to really take a look at the platform and see the potential it has and not just another burden or task to complete.
Of course as the CRM Administrator I believe my first priority is to be positive and encourage my users to believe in our platform. I am here to encourage my users to use the system. I prefer to call myself a Chatter Cheerleader and Salesforce Supporter. If I am not using the system to the fullest then my users will not either.
Salesforce Social Media tool Chatter Actions can improve your business processes and increase your user adoption. Dive in and find out how Chatter can make your life easier.
Salesforce created an amazing Social Media style social tool to bring the aspect of Social Media into your Salesforce platform. For the last month or so I have come to a better understanding of just how powerful a tool Chatter truly is. Chatter at its most basic form is to encourage users to connect and interact over record types and feeds especially if they work in different offices. By using Chatter in the most basic form you can follow important records and get updates on work flows without having to send emails back and forth. Chatter was started with the intent to help reduce death by email which many of organizations experience daily.
As an administrator I have started to create and build what we call Chatter Actions that go above and beyond just the social aspect of Chatter. It allows for record updating without having to do a constant scroll down a record type to update fields especially in regards to opportunities and how pipeline items are constantly needing to be updated through their sales process. Actions can be built to update specific fields without having to scroll and edit the full record page and click save. Actions can eliminate a couple of steps you have to take when typically updating a record.
Actions not only work on the regular platform but also translate beautifully to the Salesforce1 mobile app. If you are a company eagerly using the mobile app to use Salesforce especially on the road Chatter Actions and Global Actions can be used and seen easily in the mobile app without any problems. This allows you to update a record while out of the office by using a simplified layout in the publisher action rather than trying to scroll and update on a mobile device which is not always easy to do on a smartphone.
You are probably wondering what my point is? My point is a good majority of companies see Chatter at the basic onset and think this is only a social tool that their employees might use like AOL Aim for personal chatting that may not be business related. You may look at it as an interesting way to get updates on important records and interact with potential SME’s within your own company for information sharing but not much that could or would impact your business processes directly. I beg to differ, take a moment to dive into what Chatter Actions can do and you may find that this social media tool can not only improve your business processes but increase your user adoption. Your users will find their work flow to be faster and easier allowing them to save time which means you (the Company as a whole and the Boss) save money. I think that translates to a win-win situation so why not try it out? I bet if done correctly you will become a Chatter Action Champion.
Empathy in business is bound to ensure you find more results with potential customers than compassion alone. Having spent over 5 years as a sounding board to customers in a contact center I know without doubt empathy wins. The ability to understand someone’s frustration and thinking goes along way with connecting and eventually successfully servicing your customer.
People know when you are empathetic and when you are scripting. There is a fluid natural way of talking to someone in customer service while trying to truly understand the problem they present you with. When talking to someone and being scripted there is more of a robotic way of interacting that is stilted and even leaves room for not actively listening. Customers will express their aggravations about the situation at hand and if someone is trying to follow a script rather than communicating openly the customer will know instantly and shut down.
There are pitfalls to acting as if you are empathizing too much. You can sound as if you are a broken record if you continually say “I understand” without articulating their problem back to them proving you understood the situation at hand. Empathy is when you have placed yourself in someone else’s emotional shoes. You can connect and understand the range of emotions they are going through because you are putting yourself figuratively in their place.
Sympathy and compassion are feelings but not as powerful or as compelling as empathy. Compassion is a good tool and is the starting board towards learning to be empathic. You would not be able to truly empathize with someone unless you have first learned to have compassion for your fellow-man. Empathy is a step higher than compassion and sympathy.
Empathy tends to be stronger with those who have similar experiences or a strong imagination. If you have not experienced the same situation but can imagine how you would feel should it occur to you then you can successfully empathize with your fellow human. You are able to connect on a higher level with your customer and truly come from a place where you want to solve their problem and build a true rapport with your customer then the end company of increasing their monetary value.
A truly valuable relationship builds on common ground has nowhere to go but to expand and grow. A real commitment and change can spread as fast as discontent. Happy customers are just as likely to spread the word as upset and angry ones will. Empathy not only enables you to better serve your customers but also will enable you to grow and improve within yourself as you connect and understand those around.
Welcome to a new year and resolutions abound. I find that I never keep my resolutions so I have stopped making promises I know I do not intend to keep. This does not mean there are habits I should ignore or not strive to improve this year. As a mother to young children and adult step-sons I find the most difficult task is finding a healthy balance between work and life. There are scholarly articles about this very subject. I have stumbled across many social media blog pieces about estimated number of Americans who did not take a vacation day in 2014. There are those who need thrive on working. They relax while doing their job because it fulfills them. Majority of us though are working a job to get from point A to point B. Those of us working for other means are the ones who need to start using our vacation days.
This is not a good way to start another year. The holiday season is over but as parents we are already starting to plan for the next one in the back of our heads. We are seeing everything we want to give to our children and maybe even to ourselves. These ideals and material things wear heavily on us. Because if this we force ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time as we make ends meet or try to propel our careers ahead to this imaginary place where everything will be better.
This mindset of “sacrifice now for a better future” is not real if we are constantly sacrificing now every day but never actually getting to our ideal future. Finding a healthy balance between work and life can help clear the cobwebs and may even motivate you in the areas that need better focus. There are studies that prove taking a vacation day (even just one day!) to rest and recoup makes you a better employee. There is a reason why companies give their employees vacation days. They know their employees who regularly take vacations come back recharged and better than before they left.
There are small ways to make big changes. Taking the time to get up an hour earlier in the morning to spend with your partner, children or even just reading can make a huge difference. There are articles and blogs written by people who have started these small habits and from their own personal experiences have seen the benefits of just taking small amounts of time for themselves. I have found when I have a difficult task at work and I am hitting constant road blocks that the answer comes to me when I least expect it. I have forced myself to go and play with my young children making up silly stories and just laughing with them and all of a sudden the answer to my work problem presents itself. Why? This is because I stopped stressing over it and relaxed. The endorphins cleared the clutter and I was able to think clearly without anxiety because I was calm. This also helps keep us healthy. The more leisure time and rest we give ourselves the more we are able to avoid getting sick especially during the winter months.
You do not have to start a crash diet or make unreasonable promises about going to the gym 7 days a week. Small changes make the difference. Getting up an hour earlier and playing with your kids can help your energy level. Going to bed early instead of staring at your work computer for an extra few hours while not getting anything productive done can make a difference in how well you sleep. Reading before bed can help you fall asleep faster especially if you are reading an actual book instead of a lighted screen. Small baby steps to change engrained habits is what will make a New Year’s resolution successful and make you see a difference not only in how productive you are at work but at how much you enjoy your personal time.
Social Media has revolutionized this generations way of communicating. Information is shared instantaneously on a global level in a way it has never been capable of at any point in history. We are living in the age of technology that past generations could only dream of. The premise of the book 1984 does not seem so far-fetched now that we have a bracelet that can project an image on your wrist replacing a smart phone. It is a matter of time when it will not seem so unreasonable that a car will fly and be fueled by recycling (FYI that was a Back to the Future Reference in-case you missed). But as with any changes one should be cautious of the information being shared.
Everyone has experienced junk email, junk snail mail, and marketing scam phone calls. It should not come as a surprise that the same is now a constant daily practice on every social media platform. There is nothing wrong with double checking and triple checking a source before sharing bad information and news with your followers. It is always good practice to avoid falling into a scam trap. With the advances being made on a daily basis in technology scammers are making just as many advances. Viruses and malware are spreading even faster, are more complicated and can expose things we never intended to share.
There seems to be a belief that now that we live in 2014 and have made leaps and bounds in the field of technology that it has translated to how we handle our personal experiences and lives. This generation growing up now as preteens, teens and young adults have no sense of decorum or privacy. Every experience needs to be showcased as if we all live in fishbowls. The problem with this mentality is once something is out there for the whole world to see in the black hole that is the internet it cannot be taken back. Your opinion, your experience, your personal life is now fodder for anyone globally to dissect and ridicule.
This takes the concept of “Reality TV” to the extreme. Everyone is feeding off of other users’ experiences or what they say they have experienced. The younger generations are not learning to converse with their peers or elders. They take information on an open platform as it is without first checking the sources to confirm the information is accurate and real. We live in a culture of instant gratification which is impacting the direction in which our world is headed in. Students are no longer opening a book to confirm the source of a bit of information so there is a constant spread of bad history, incorrect news and a constant flow of negative opinions and damaging experiences to people who do not deserve it.
Social Media along with the technology we have at our finger tips are powerful tools. These tools can change lives, can spark a revolution for good or bad if used correctly. Everyone should know how to use these tools but as with everything there should be a disclaimer or an unspoken rule that we do not forget that they are tools only and to constantly question the information presented. We should want to continue to practice the habits our teachers gave us in researching papers or essays in school. Beware the power of Social Media on your personal life and question something that is spread so easily but has no real source to show its worth. Social Media is going nowhere it is here to stay. We have embraced it and there is no reason that we shouldn’t. We just have to remember we have to live and enjoy our lives so we can share real factual experiences instead of living vicariously through someone else.