It’s Official: Sales Cloud Consultant

I bit the bullet last Saturday and took the Sales Cloud Consultant exam.

(She writes, as if she hadn’t been studying 1-2 hours per night for the past two months.)

I did the online proctoring, something I said I would not do again. But you know the saying about the best laid plans. It only took 10 minutes to get it set up this time. We’ll call it a win.

I thought about how I wanted to share this, if at all. My natural instinct is to provide some sort of guide, some insight to those that are considering taking it, preparing. There are already some great resources out there, though, and I’m not a fan of reinventing the wheel.

So instead I’m going to give you some honest feedback about what you can expect:

  1. Most people don’t pass this exam on the first try
  2. Your test-taking ability will come into play on this exam
  3. There is a LOT of information covered – both breadth and depth
  4. No matter what you study, there will be things you did not anticipate

I prepared for this exam for almost two months, starting with about an hour study each day and moving up to 2 hours each day a couple of weeks out.

I did what I always do. I downloaded the study guide, prioritized topics based on what I felt the least comfortable with, and I went to work. I used Salesforce’s existing documents, reviewed some Trailhead modules, inspected existing blog posts about Sales Cloud (shout out to Salesforce Ben!), and took copious notes. This method got me through both Advanced Admin and App Builder.

I guess technically it got me through Sales Cloud, too.

If you’re looking toward Sales Cloud on the horizon, here’s the best advice I can offer you: be patient with yourself and DON’T PANIC.

dontpanic

As I write this, I’m cool as a cucumber, ya dig? But literally five minutes before the exam, I could feel my heart trying to rip itself free from my chest. Taking these exams IS nerve-wracking. But guess what – it’s not the end of the world. All you can do is take a deep breath and focus on the question. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to answer the exact way Salesforce wants you to (because sometimes it’s really not clear). Worry instead about understanding the problem presented, understanding the potential solutions.

Having certifications is great. I love it. I love getting my name printed on paper.

But certifications aren’t going to make you a good consultant. Listening will. Empathy will. Curiosity will. A growth mindset and patience will. If you have those things, then you’ll do fine.

And, if you are taking the exam soon and somehow stumbled here, I hope you take a moment to breathe and relax. You’ve got this.

 

 

GTD Newb

I didn’t make a huge announcement, but those that know me probably already know that I made a change and joined the team at Arkus, Inc. So hooray for that.

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via GIPHY

One of the best things about starting with them is that they have a structured onboarding process, and it involves reading and implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. GTD for the initiated.

I read the book before my official start date, and it was eye-opening. To quote one of the Arkus founders, “geeks love it.” I can confirm that. Anyway…I read the book, and me being me, I wanted to drop literally everything and implement it immediately.

That is not realistic during the holidays. There’s stuff to do. Hours in the car. Family gatherings. Festivities. New video games.

So instead I did the holidays thing, and then I did the starting a new job thing. GTD sat in the peripheral, staring at me, poking sometimes, even. I took on some of the “quick win” type things right away; I made lists of actions, had a list of projects, emptied my mind every couple of days. That alone made a difference.

This past weekend, I talked the husband into implementing GTD at home, and the entire weekend was focused on that implementation. We went through our upstairs home office, gathered all of the Stuff and then we processed it. We determined what our ongoing process will look like.

Can I be honest? This is my blog. I’m going to be honest. I don’t know if it’s going to be a stellar success at home. Not for any other reason than I’ve read the book, and the hubs hasn’t. Also he’s extremely action-oriented. He basically has been doing GTD for years, just…without calling it that.

Enter me, his wife, a whirlwind of paper and ideas and aimless, but still voiced and well-intentioned, goals that are forgotten as soon as they’re spoken aloud. Opposites attract.

Anyway.

Day 2 was me getting down into the nitty-gritty for the job things. I’m blessed because Arkus provided OmniFocus to me, the tool for Mac users that helps manage the GTD process. I captured Stuff; I created projects and assigned next actions; I set up some key commands. I am as a ready as I’m going to be. I even set up an action item, deferred to a month from now, to review my process and how I’m using it.

I’m excited.

I’m still new to all this, but I was talking to my mom this morning, and she said “you sound so less stressed. Even a month ago, you sounded so much more stressed out.”

And I really am.

There are a lot of reasons for that – good news about health of friends and family members, making some priority changes, the #ohana…and yeah, some of it really is because of this GTD thing.

It’s so weird for me to write that. You have to understand just how jaded I am about “life hacks” and planners and productivity and self-help and whatever. eyerollI’m the person that looks like RDJ when Cap proudly announces that he understood that reference.

I am not about to sit here and shout to everyone that they need to implement GTD because it changed my life. It has not changed my life. It is a new aspect of my life that is part of a greater change that has happened, and I enjoy it. It helps me; it makes sense to me. Frankly, so does Nerdforce’s great new admin leveling app idea! I can’t wait to build that and potentially expand on it.

Because it is becoming part of my life now, it’s going to pop up occasionally in this blog. If you are interested in GTD – what it is, trying it out, what-have-you – then feel free to search tags for it, go to the sources listed below, or reach out and ask. I will stumble through whatever answers I might have.

And in the meantime, I can cross this off of my action list. Done.

It feels later than it is

And I’m studying, but I keep staring at this empty page, “Person Accounts” written neatly and definitively at the top.

Person Accounts.

What a strange string of words to the uninitiated.

I had two client calls today, during which I attempted to pack everything I know about the Salesforce architecture into a neatly packaged, five-minute explanation. All to find out if I needed to configure a junction object.

I’m still not sure if I need to build that junction object.

So here I am, at my dining room table, just shy of 9pm, and I’m studying for my Sales Cloud exam (next Saturday. No pressure.). All I can think about is how strange Person Accounts sounds.

I should be studying, committing to memory the fact that, yes, you can flip the switch on Person Accounts (by contacting Salesforce and requesting it, of course, complete with business reason), that you treat a Person Account like a Contact, and I should be considering, as a Consultant, the option of simply creating a “Household” Account record type.

But instead I’m staring at the words. Not thinking. Just staring at them.

I write when I can’t think. Realistically, I just need to step away from a bit. Stop thinking of Leads, Contacts, Opportunities, custom objects, schema…Person Accounts.

It’s been a long week. Not bad. Just long. Did a lot of work, a lot of studying. I saw Hidden Figures (got a whole post about that coming…eventually). But it has been long.

So just a bit more. Just Person Accounts stands between me and the weekend and a few hours of quiet and maybe some Deus Ex.

Back to it, then.

Lessons Learned: Record Type IDs

Yeah. I forgot I started this series. I’m only human.

I remembered it when I was thinking about this story I’m about to share (names and places changed to protect the innocent), so here it is.

(BTW, I was inspired to write in this style by the creative work of my friends at Nerdforce!)

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-4-20-31-pm

I’m a professional, see; I don’t configure big changes in Production. I do it in a sandbox, like the big shots.

The changes were easy – one record type that needed some minor adjusting. A field added here, another field removed, a picklist value added there. Some workflows. It was the kind of work that I had done hundreds of times before. I know how to write a formula, know about adding the picklist value to the record type.

The only hiccup? A validation rule that needed to fire for other record types but would’ve spelled bad news for users of this one.

But I’m not just any dame. I’m an Admin. I didn’t break the rule, but I bent it, making sure that my record type could slip in under the radar. I knew I wanted to be precise, so I added NOT(RecordTypeID = [long string of random numbers and letters]). It’s nothing I haven’t done before. It takes a lot more than record types to get under my skin nowadays.

And my client? Another satisfied customer.

After only two hours of work, I created my change set, pushed to production, and disappeared into the night.

Then things got quiet.

Too quiet.

Until my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Admin! Thank Benioff! We’ve got a real problem brewing down here.”

“Oh, yeah, what’s that?”

“Well that record type, ya see, it’s workin’ great except that no one can save a record. There’s a problem. It’s flashing red, and it don’t look good, kid.”

Undeterred, I flipped open my trusty laptop, “Tell me what it’s saying.”

“It’s an error message. It wants us to give it a value in some field, but we ain’t got the picklist. It’s sayin’ it won’t give up the record without it. What are we gonna do?”

I had to think fast. I had tested that very validation rule. Playing it cool, I asked, “Are you getting this error every time?”

“No. We didn’t even know it knew about this record type. Should we just…give it what it wants?”

“Don’t do that. But give me a minute to think,” I assured the client.

Like the flash of a muzzle, the answer came to me. Yeah, I had done this before, but here I was, caught like a fly in the syrup. Like some two-bit beat admin with something to prove and nothing to back it up with.

The change set. I should have caught it sooner, should have known. It had been staring me in the face. But I had to make sure.

“Let me call you back,” I said.

I hung up and stared at the screen for a minute. So this was how I would be done in.

I opened the validation rule. There it was – that 18 digit code. 18 characters between me and solving this case. I knew the answer; I wasn’t stupid, but I had to look anyway. I opened the record type. Different ID. The switch had been made right under my nose.

I’m no fool, and no change set was gonna best me.

I copied that ID, replaced it in the validation rule and saved. Not about to look bad in front of my client, I tested the change. Purred like a kitty cat.

The ringing on the other end was shrill, like it was shouting the client’s concerns.

“Admin?”

“Yeah, it’s me,” I smirked, “and I solved the problem. You won’t be getting that error message again.”

I waited while they tested it, and I disappeared during the celebration. They would be fine, I knew.


So the moral of the story here should be pretty simple: don’t hardcode IDs in your formulas or validation rules in a sandbox. Because they will be different in production.

Understanding multi-tenant architecture (which I swear, I do!), it makes sense. You can’t have the same unique identifier in two separate orgs. That would create chaos. And a sandbox doesn’t get any special treatment.

So really, you have a few options here:

  1. Temporarily turn off the validation rule in sandbox and remember to update it in production.
  2. Make the change in sandbox and duplicate in production.
  3. Don’t use the ID – use the name. You can always change it later if need-be.
  4. Don’t ever use Record Types
  5. Don’t ever use Validation Ruls

Disclaimer: Numbers 4 and 5 are not actually options. 

Either way, something like this isn’t the end of the world. But it is definitely good to keep in mind, especially if pushing changes to production late at night or early in the morning when users are less likely to be active, but you’re caffeinated and raring to go.

Also…full disclosure: this has happened to me more than once. I hope that by sharing my story, I will actually keep myself from repeating my mistake.

Have you learned this same lesson? A similar one that involved using hard-coded IDs?

 

 

Resolve

If I haven’t mentioned it thousands of times before, I went to college to study writing. Both of my parents are writers, and I had big dreams of becoming the next Maxwell Perkins. Things worked out a little differently.

I haven’t lost my love for writing (she types in her blog), and I haven’t lost my love for language – all of it. Morphemes, phrases, clauses, tropes, schemes, diction. Nothing that I learned in college has proven to be useless; as a Salesforce consultant, I communicate a lot. Even were that not the case, I still enjoy it all.

For my senior seminar, we had to read The Professor and the Madman, which is a compelling tale about the history of the Oxford English Dictionary. Worth the read, even if you’re not big into that kind of thing. What set the OED apart from other dictionaries at the time was that it provided the spelling of words, the meaning, and the background of those words – when did it come into being? When did its meaning change, if ever? All fascinating things.

Taking that a step further, Bill Bryson wrote about the history of the English language in his book The Mother Tongue – another very good read, if you have the time (obviously you do, right?)

Words change over time, frequently because of changes in society. People start to use a word ironically or sarcastically, and the word changes. That’s the beauty and frustration of the English language.

It’s January now, and that means the time for resolutions. I read this blog post about New Years being a time to drop old commitments, rather than take on new ones, and it got me thinking about words. I thought about the word resolution, how it’s used to describe a way to solve a problem. Which made me consider the word resolve.

Resolve means to close an issue or come to conclusion, but it also means strength of will. Do you have resolve? How will we resolve this problem? I wondered how we, English speakers, came to the meaning.

Resolve entered the English language in the 14th century from the old French resolver or the Latin resolvere. The original meaning was to loosen or unyolk; it described freeing something or oneself, not shackling to something new. Through the typical indirect, winding way that this language tends to use, it came to be what it is now.

I haven’t made a real New Year’s resolution in years. It has always felt empty to me, like a silently understood and agreed upon thing in society – we all are meant to make resolutions, recognizing them as void contracts with ourselves. No one expects others to keep to their resolutions. I imagine the whole thing started with someone drunkenly proclaiming that this would be the year they changed things for themselves. Did that first resolution maker follow through?

So this idea of giving up something, rather than taking on more, led me to the etymology of the word resolve, and I find myself thinking that maybe all of this comes back full circle. What was old is now new again, right? It’s a common trope in literature, trying to recapture the glories of yesteryear.

This is where I make some grand statement amount refusing to make a resolution because of its emptiness, the void contract, instead proclaiming myself free of the burden. Eh. Why bother?

I have goals this year. 2016, while not my favorite year, was good to me professionally. I worked hard, and I reaped the benefits. I’m ready to do more. More certifications, more engagement, more…Salesforce, more Ohana.

But words can change. 100, 200…500 years from now, the words I use today might sound different, mean something else. But actions will always be the same. Helping someone, offering a hand, lending an ear – these things will never change the rewards, the sacrifice, the connection. So rather than shout to the rooftops or the servers about what I aim for this year, I will continue trying to do. To be.

Happy New Year

 

 

Happy Holidays

Dear #ohana, I humbly submit for your approval this highly plagiarized and marginally altered version of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Because nothing says Christmas more than over-used tropes and sloppy satire.

In all seriousness, you are my #ohana, and I wish you all safe and happy holidays.

Twas the week before Christmas, or just thereabouts;
Not a user was stirring, in Contacts or Accounts;
The records were updated and cleaned with great care,
Knowing that deals soon would be there;
The admins were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of badges danced in their heads;
And Astro in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains on a new winter app,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Cloudy the goat, and Codey the bear,
With a little old genius, white hair so sublime,
I knew in a moment it must be Einstein.
More rapid than eagles his insights they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Contacts! now, Campaigns! now, Accounts and Contacts!
On, Leads! on, Emails! on, Answers and Contracts!
To the top of the feed! the top Chatter wall!
Now update! update! automate all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the insights they flew,
With all the Release Notes, and Sir Einstein too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each Cloudy hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Sir Einstein came with a bound.
He was dressed in a suit, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Notes he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the datasets; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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.