Online Proctoring: My Horror Story

I enjoy my creature comforts. I like working from my couch some days, with blankets all bundled around me, feet propped up, and a cup of coffee nearby. Most importantly I like all of those things in my own house. If offered an opportunity to get coffee at a fancy coffeeshop or make myself a cup of Chock Full O’ Nuts at home, I’m going to pick home. Every time.

So when I learned that certification could be done from home, those many years ago, I signed up immediately. The first online proctored exam I took was not actually for Salesforce. It was my Marketo Certified Expert exam, and I took it in December after signing up for a training course that came with a voucher. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And given that December is prime time for crap weather, I was excited, despite the “it’s not awesome” warnings available online. How bad could it be?

Well…

First my webcam just stopped working. It had been fine, doing its thing, and literally just before it was time for me to sit down and show my stuff, it stopped.

Kryterion was super chill. Their support team rescheduled my exam for an hour later, and I ran out to get a new webcam. Done.

Fun fact: new webcams are better than old webcams. The resolution on my new one was too good, in that it couldn’t match my face because the old picture I had on file for facial recognition didn’t have as high a resolution.

No worries. Super awesome support team reset that. Face recognized. Typing recognized. It was time to take the test. Aced it.

When it came time to take my first Salesforce exam, I figured I had worked out the kinks and could handle anything.

Well…

I just couldn’t log in! After about three or four attempts, calling support, and still not being able to access my exam, we discovered there was a server error on their side. They told me they would reschedule my exam (for free, again, thank you super awesome support team!) and call me when I would be able to log in.

I made myself a drink and watched an episode of the Office. I was halfway through my vodka-cran when they called and said I could get started. Aced it.

I took a few onsite exams after that. Switching it up, I guess. But the testing location was not a huge step up from the headaches I’d had at home, so it was back to online for me.

Testing with a Mac is different. Testing with the new MacBook Pro (with its nearly universally despised Thunderbolt 3 ONLY connections) is actually impossible. Literally. If your external webcam (which you have to use) is connected via a dongle (which is has to be), the feed won’t go through.

For my Pardot exam, it took us about 2 hours to troubleshoot. If not for the super awesome support team at Kryterion, I would still be in the fetal position upstairs. I ended up needing to use the gaming computer to take my exam. Sweet graphics, anyway. I still had to stop like five times to adjust where the camera was or the microphone volume, or whatever.

I’m really not trying to scare you off. Legitimately not my purpose here. But I want you to KNOW what you’re getting into, if you go the online route.

First of all, your test may go way smoother. I had at least two that went off without a hitch. But just in case, keep these things in mind:

  1. If you have a brand new MacBook Pro, just plan on taking the exam onsite or with a cheap-o PC you pick up at Best Buy for like $200.
  2. When they say that you should buy their specific webcam…consider it. I didn’t. I had to buy one last minute, and I just wasn’t going to reschedule. But they have one that works, so you might as well.
  3. Download Sentinel and do your “biometric scan” in advance but not TOO in advance. Like two or three days beforehand is fine. But if you sign up for the exam in June to take in November, just wait.
  4. Be prepared to spend some time getting INTO the exam.
  5. Be prepared to be interrupted DURING the exam to fix something.
  6. Lean heavily on the support staff there. They really are awesome, really patient, and they have the answers.
  7. Be NICE to the support staff. Their job sucks. They just watch a bunch of under-dressed, maybe showered, work-from-home people take exams and get mad all day. And they can help.
  8. Maybe make a drink beforehand?
  9. Definitely eat beforehand – it might be HOURS before you get another chance.
  10. Be prepared to retake the exam. After fighting with computers and getting interrupted and feeling like NOTHING YOU DO IS WORKING, you might not be in the best place to take an exam…so be patient with yourself, too.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’ll probably continue doing the online proctored exams. That is how much I hate driving in snow.

 

Marketo v. Pardot Cage Match: Round 3, Administration

If you’re wondering “why are we talking about administration, if the last round was emails?” Well, frankly, because it was the next thing I thought about. I kept trying to think of a logical order to do these in and just came up short. Then I remembered that this is my blog, and I can do these in whatever order they come to mind.

So let’s talk about what Administration means here.

A lot of marketing automation functionality focuses on marketing (true story). And a lot of comparisons and ratings focus on that. That’s good; it matters. But if you’re responsible for managing the platform, there’s more than email templates, campaign managements, and calendars. There are integrations to consider, user management, and what-have-you.

Round 3 of our cage match focuses on common administration functions: user management, integrations, system maintenance, and certification.

User Management

How easy is it to create users and control their access to the database?

Marketo

If you can read and click on checkboxes, then you can manage users and permissions in Marketo.

marketousers

Users and Roles that can be assigned are managed in the same place, under the Admin section of Marketo.

marketoroleRoles should be set up first, and editing or creating them is simply a matter of checking off the items that the role should have access to. Access and abilities are provided in handy sections – you can check the global setting or get granular, if need-be.
Easy as that.

Adding users is about the same. Simply click on the New button, put in the email, select their Role, provide an access expiration if necessary, and boom – the new user is emailed.

Access to Marketo is not controlled by license, but some functionality – namely the Calendar – is. Keep that in mind.

Pardot

Maybe it’s because I just handled issues surrounding this, but one thing that you must understand about Pardot users – if you want sales reps to see Pardot info in Salesforce, they MUST have a license. And if you want it to be easy for them to access, you MUST turn on SSO for each of them. Not doing so can cause issues.

Point, Marketo.

Other than that, it works much the same. Create  a user, send them an email, and there is no user license cost.

Integration

Beyond integration to a CRM (which is important. I did a session about it!), which is important, how easy is it to integrate with other services?

Marketo

LaunchPoint. LAUNCHPOINT.

For the uninitiated, LaunchPoint is basically a big book of available integrations that just require you to sign into the thing you want to integrate. They have a pretty good list of things that do this.

Is the integration that you need NOT on LaunchPoint? I bet they use REST or SOAP API, in which case you can access your endpoint, userID, and encryption directly in the Admin area of Marketo. They have a host of partners out there that can be setup and integrated in 15 minutes.

As far as Salesforce integration goes, it’s easy to set up and maintain. Create a Marketo user (with its own Profile), put in that user’s information in Marketo, and that’s it. Ok, that’s not it. There’s other setup – creating the fields that are needed, making sure to hide anything you don’t want Marketo to have access to, etc. But essentially that’s it.

From there on out, every 5 minutes there’s a sync. You can sync Leads, Contacts, Campaigns – it all fits together really well.

Your Sales reps can see Marketo information via the AppExchange packages Sales Insights. This creates Visualforce pages that you can add to the page layout (now Lightning compatible), as well as a custom object where ALL Marketo information can be found. Reps do not have to have a Marketo license in order to use these features.

Pardot

Pardot calls them Connectors – a series of pre-built integration between Pardot, certain CRMs, and other marketing software types (webinar platforms, social media platforms, etc.).

They have a pretty good list of options.

pardotconnectors

But if you use something else, you need to know how to create some API integrations.

Connecting to Salesforce here is similar – you create a Pardot user in Salesforce and then use those credentials to create the connection. Then you have to individually map custom fields to Salesforce. Once that’s done, you can use Automation rules to sync the lists that you want, or you can sync individual Prospects. Syncing happens ongoing based on changes and automation rules.

In order for Pardot information to be available to Sales reps in Salesforce, those reps must have a Pardot license, as well. While not necessary, it is also recommended that those users be setup with Single Sign On, too. While this isn’t a big deal in Classic because it will just not load the Visualforce pages, if you’re using Lightning, and the sales rep doesn’t have Pardot access, the page will not load at all.

System Maintenance

I’m going to spare us all. This is the age of cloud-based platforms. System updates happen automatically in both systems – Marketo has 3 major releases and 3 minor releases per year. Pardot has them whenever they feel like. Just kidding! Monthly.

Certification

Getting certified in these platforms are fantastic ways to expand your career, so being able to do so is important.

Marketo

I took the Marketo certification twice. I took it twice because in order to re-certify, you have to take the whole the test again. And it even costs the same!

I don’t get to play with Marketo anymore. There are no training sandboxes or anything like that, so many of my screenshots have to come either from previous presentations or from their docs site. It makes it really daunting to consider re-certifying. There have been some big changes in the Marketo game, and I wouldn’t have the hands-on practice that I’d need to really get in there.

Pardot

I’m working on my Pardot certification right now, but I can tell you this – sandboxes and an entire certification track of training. There are so many resources out there, and recertification is like Salesforce’s process. Take a release exam. You stay up-to-date on those new functionalities and changes, and you are golden.

Salesforce, as a whole, makes certification a relatively painless process, so that the only really difficult part is the actual exam. Which is the way it should be.

Summary

Administering any platform application is going to come with some challenges, but those challenges should not be caused or exacerbated by the platform itself. Software is designed to make people’s jobs easier, and while being the administrator doesn’t mean using the platform to streamline our own job, it shouldn’t be hard, either.

Marketo and Pardot both provide easy ways to support users and customize the platform, with the exception of certification, Marketo wins this round.

 

 

Marketo v. Pardot Cage Match: Round 2, Sending Emails

Edited to include a note on Marketo’s Email Editor v2.0

First of all, disclaimer: Marketing Automation is not just for email automation. It does a lot more than that. However, for a small team that is just starting out with Marketing Automation, this is likely where you’re going to start, so that’s where we are now.

It also is something that should be considered as part of any and all marketing initiatives. It’s easy to think that “email marketing” and “sending emails via Marketing Automation” are the same thing, but they are not.

Email marketing is a channel of marketing.

Sending emails is the ability to send an email to a prospect – be that via email marketing, specifically, transactional emails, drip campaigns, or even internal messaging.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s how I’m breaking down this round of the cage match:

  1. Planning: this involves the process of planning what and when to send
  2. Designing: this involves the ease of creating the email – can you clone something you’ve built, how do templates work, etc.
  3. Sending: this is pretty straightforward. How easy is it to send the thing you’ve planned and created?
  4. What I am NOT covering: Dynamic content in emails – I will be handling things like this in another post.

These are exceptionally broad-stroke sections, I realize. A lot goes into planning. But since every team does planning just a little bit differently, I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty here. I’ll give examples, though, don’t worry about that.

Continue reading “Marketo v. Pardot Cage Match: Round 2, Sending Emails”

I’m Learning Pardot

I am taking the plunge.

When I accepted my new job offer, it came contingent upon my finishing a few more exams, including at least one for Pardot.

I thoroughly enjoy marketing, and I’m a big fan of marketing automation (if it’s not clear from my speaking sessions always including it), so I’ve decided to tackle the Pardot cert first.

I realize that doesn’t seem like a big deal. “Ok. A certification. Great. Don’t you have some of those?” Yeah, I do. And I’m not writing this to reinvent the wheel and provide a “how I passed” overview. First off, I haven’t taken it yet, so that would be premature and a little conceited. Second, those exist.

The only reason I felt this news needed any sort of nod is because I ran a Marketo shop, and I have at least one purple piece of swag in my possession. My backpack from Marketing Nation is pretty much my favorite – it is the perfect size for my work computer, and it carries more than it seems like it would.

The fact is, Marketo doesn’t allow re-certification if you’re not a customer. That puts me in a bit of a bind. When I left my last company, I knew that the day would come when I have to remove “Marketo Certified Expert” from my resume and LinkedIn. Frankly, that sucks. I earned that. Twice, in fact because Marketo’s exam maintenance consists of re-taking the exam every year.

My cert is up in December, so until then, I can call myself “MCE,” but afterwards…well, I need some feather in my cap.

And so it begins.

Your Best Untapped Resource

If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with your vendors. I loved my software platforms, enjoyed learning more about them, but after daily calls from various people, I became wary of the sales pitches. Even if I was reaching out to THEM for information. Catch 22.

As I’ve moved into my new role, I’ve endeavored to keep in touch with those vendors, though. At the end of the day, many of them were sad to see me go, wished me well, and really did just want what was best for me and my org.

I borrowed a half hour from one of them to ask them more about what they do and how they can help admins out there get the most of out of their software.

In the interest of fairness, I am not sharing the name of the company of the person I interviewed. Our Friendly Neighborhood Sales Rep (FNSR) has worked for a few software companies, most often in sales roles, and agreed to share some of those insights with me.

Polymath: To start out, why don’t you describe a day in your life?

Friendly Neighborhood Sales Rep: My job is to generate sales for our team from existing customers – signing up for new products and things like that. I get into work about 8, and we have a daily team huddle at 9. Then I go through my action item list – usually following up on emails from the night before or going through a follow-up list, like from webinars or visiting key webpages.

P: What do you like best about your job?

FNSR: I love helping customers get stuff done. A lot of the calls I handle – I feel more like tech support because I’m helping people solve problems. I might help them make better use of a feature they have or maybe get their admin some training. I can find resources for them, if I don’t know the answer. I enjoy the feeling, getting off a call, knowing that my customer got something out of it. And working for a software company, you know, we have a pretty laid back atmosphere.

P: I enjoy that, too, working in the software industry before and now from home. My casual Fridays are a lot more casual now. So what do you like least about your job?

FNSR: The uncertainty. Working in the tech industry with so many companies starting and growing – it can be tough to go through growing pains with a company.

P: That goes both ways. I’ve worked with platforms where, in a single year, I’ve had two or more Account Managers.

FNSR: Yeah; that’s something that happens, you know? If someone gets a great new job, and they leave the company, can’t really be mad at them, but it needs to be communicated really well.

P: Good point. I guess somewhat in that vein, what do you wish your clients knew about what you do?

FNSR: Just because I’m a sales representative doesn’t mean my sole objective is to sell them something. I do love getting a sales opportunity, but I’m going to get plenty. I feel like it’s (the job) perceived in a negative light, but the truth is, I can be a valuable asset. If you want to learn more about a new feature before, in the future, jumping into a sales cycle, then it’s my job to teach you about it. And it’s your decision if you want to buy in the future.

P: What advice would you give to an admin having issues with his or her enterprise software?

FNSR: The customers who struggle the most are the ones who expect the software to work by itself. The software doesn’t run itself. You have to learn how to use it; I don’t get mad at systems I use when I don’t know how to use it. And the most successful customers are the ones that really work with the software and their reps. There are a lot of people there to help them, and they don’t have the problem of not knowing what they don’t know because they’re talking to their reps about their issues, what they’re using or not using.

P: So don’t try to exist in a vacuum?

FNSR: Yeah. I know sometimes customers struggle getting in touch with people – they call their rep, and maybe the rep is on vacation. Remember that there are other channels. Go use the chat function on a website or a Contact Us form. If you want the quickest response, contact the sales team; even the call isn’t for them, they are going to answer, and they will get you in touch with the right people.

P: So don’t fear the sales man, I guess. Thank you, FNSR, for your time today and sharing some insights on getting the most out of our software partners.

 

 

Lessons Learned: Vocabulary

jargon

Linguistics is a truly fascinating subject, if you think about it – the study of how people communicate, how words are formed, changed over time. The same word in the same language may mean something different, depending on where you live.

It might also mean something different, depending on what software or platform you’re using and discussing. That can cause issues in a business setting.

Let me take you back in time to a conference room in Holland, MI, where a ragtag bunch of marketers (and their CCO, and a marketing consultant, and a commercial intelligence director) are sitting around a conference table.

One of them, a short young woman is waiting patiently for her boss’s boss to finish his question.

“Who are the people getting the nurturing emails?”

“Any Leads associated with the Engagement Program.”

“And Contacts?”

“Yes.”

“Contacts are in the Program?”

“Correct. Well, any Contacts that the Sales Directors have added to the Campaign.”

“What Campaign?”

“The nurture Campaign…whatever we end up calling it.”

“Ok, that’s what I’m asking about, then. Who are the people getting the nurturing emails?”

“All of them. As long as they are added to the Engagement Program.”

….

We’ll leave them there for now.

You might be a little confused, too. Sure, if you read English, you probably understand, in general terms, what all of those words mean. In the context of this conversation, it might even be possible to glean what exactly is happening. But I can assure you that at the time, it was not very clear, and the conversation went on for a while before I realized I was transitioning between platform-specific terms with the ease of someone who had greased their gear before going on a luge.

My point is – I forgot that the same things are often given different names, depending on the platform you’re using. Something about intellectual property law.

In this case – Marketo Programs are the capsule for an entire marketing initiative (thanks, Gaines, for getting me the answer to that one), where Campaigns are a Salesforce object that track attribution for Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities.

For me, using the terms interchangeably, as I mentally moved between the two platforms, was easy. I understood the waterfall of events:

  1. Sales Director adds a Contact to a Campaign (or, more accurately, tells someone else to do it)
  2. The Contact is added to the Campaign, and in the next Salesforce-Marketo sync, the Lead record for that individual is added to the Program and given a Program Status
  3. The Engagement Program (think: drip campaign) does its thing and captures that person’s interactions with our content
  4. The Lead’s Program Status is changed, and in the next Marketo-Salesforce sync, that information is pushed back to the Campaign
  5. The Campaign Member junction object now has a new Campaign Status for that Contact
  6. Reports for all!

It made 100% sense to me to move back and forth between the terms. Because that was the flow of information.

But while I might be a walking dictionary of “Jargon Sam Has Learned,” I don’t have pages that people can flip to. The CCO couldn’t pause me, scroll through a glossary, and then press play. And I, in my wanting to be back at my desk and no longer in a meeting, just explained in the quickest way I knew how.

The meeting, of course, just went on longer, accordingly. And then we had a second meeting.

meetings

I would love to say that that happened only once, that I realized my mistake and, moving forward, chose my words more carefully, choosing instead to deliberately explain any and all platform-based decisions in a way that would make sense to anyone.

But then this wouldn’t be a lesson learned “the hard way.”

This happened so many times. Like all the time. I just couldn’t stop myself from throwing around Objects, Records, Tokens, and Flows. And it wasn’t until I was practically out of breath that I saw the glazed-over look in their eyes.

A system admin for a non-tech group like Marketing needs to be able to translate. Over time, yes, I learned to do that. I learned to get out the jargon because I couldn’t help myself, then go back and offer a more clear explanation.

Why is that so important?

Adoption. Validation.

If your users, internal customers, stakeholders, what-have-you cannot understand what you are saying, they will not understand the value that you or your platform provide.

It seems simple. This wasn’t news to me. But in practice, I often fell short.

So how did I combat this?

I continued to use the terms; I didn’t dumb down my content or what I said. But I made sure to also include explanations. After a while, the conversation would have gone more like this…

“Who are the people getting the nurturing emails?”

“We can select any existing Contacts in Salesforce or new Leads in Marketo and put them into the Engagement Program in Marketo. Sales Directors can add Contacts via the Campaign in Salesforce, which is connected to the corresponding Program. Once they do that, Marketo will take over, sending them the emails in a steady drip. Once they respond, we have a Campaign in Marketo that will automatically update their status, which will then sync back to Salesforce, and give the Sales Director visibility into their Contact’s interaction.”

Still uses all the fancy terms I was tested on for certification, and it describes what the platforms will be doing. It makes me sound super awesome for being able to do that, too, right? They don’t have to know that it was all the matter of about 10 clicks.

When have you used jargon to the detriment of getting your point across? How do you combat the temptation? Comment below or tweet to @thesafinhold.

Lessons Learned: An Introduction

Remember Jack Handey?

Yeah, ok, full disclosure – I was going somewhere with that, and then I started looking at Jack Handey quotes and 15 minutes later, I don’t remember why I brought him up.

Which brings me to my point: I have made some hilarious mistakes in my life. I’ve made some not-so-funny ones, too, but who wants to read about those?

Some of those mistakes were all about Salesforce and/or Marketo. Some were about working in general. Some have been ridiculously specific, or immediately apparent, or…I mean, you get where I’m going here.

Think about when you offer to help someone. I bet money (not a lot. I mean, like $5) that you have said, at least once, “I’ve learned about X the hard way, so if you have questions, let me know.”

You’re offering to share the lessons you have learned through trial and error, so that your friend/family member/vague acquaintance/barista/frenemy/etc. doesn’t have to.

My own mentor said it to me just the other day, so in a stunning act of plagiarism (not really. Please don’t sue me) I decided “BLOG SERIES!!!”

So that’s what this is. Well, not this one in particular. This is just an introduction. But anything worth sharing should be adequately introduced, so here we are.

standby