1) What was your first job? Attempting to sell double glazed windows out of a call centre. Picture a large room, everyone with auto-dialers, and many hours of rejection.
2) What positives do you see that have come out of the COVID pandemic? I’m a huge fan of remote/flexible working and trusting employees to manage their workload in their own time. The COVID pandemic has forced a lot of companies into this new way of working, and I hope that this trend is a permenant one to support a proper work/life balance. In addition, I think the pandemic has also made people more empathetic. The past 18 months have been drastically different for people depending on factors such as their job, family commitments etc, and I think COVID has made us all aware of that.
3) What is the best tech innovation you have come across in the last 5 years? The low-code/no-code movement has taken off in the last 5 years. It’s enabled non-developers like me to build powerful automations and integrations. Overall this is pushing forward companies ability to adapt and innovate at an accelerated pace. Salesforce are setting the gold standard for this with tools like Flow.
4) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or got? I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” quite early on in my career, which a lot of people would say is the best self help book ever. It lays out fundamental rules in dealing with people that have stuck with me in my career, as well as personal life.
One “Rule” that I use on a weekly basis is ensuring whoever I speak to, I remember their name, and the pronunciation of their name, even if it’s complicated. The beauty with video-conference calls is that you can often use YouTube to work out the pronunciation of a name before you meet someone!
5) How did you end up working in/with Salesforce? I was working at another cold calling job after graduating from University when I managed to land a graduate IT Consultant role. I had no idea what I was going to be consulting on until the day I arrived, and it turned out to be Salesforce! I feel extremely lucky in this respect, because it was complete luck I landed in the ecosystem.
6) How do you use Salesforce in your job today? We use Salesforce to run the entire operations at SalesforceBen.com. We use Sales Cloud for selling, as well as managing the qualification process of our authors. We’ve heavily customised the platform to also allow us to manage our content process, from idea to publication. The fact that most of our team are Certified Salesforce Admin’s means we have a lot of knowledge in the business to expand the platform internally.
7) Any advice you can give for people starting out in Salesforce? Immerse yourself in every way. Go to user groups and go to networking events. Get on Trailhead, sign up to blogs and YouTube channels and things like that because there is so much to learn. Also, knowing the ISV landscape, I think, is very important because you know you might be building a custom app or something whereas an already existing ISV solution will do it just fine.
There is so much to learn in Salesforce, and the more knowledge you can absorb, the better of an asset you can be to your company. Networking is also extremely powerful in Salesforce. Although the number of Salesforce professionals around the world is in the millions, the ecosystem still feels very small.
8) Are there any good Salesforce resources (websites, groups, meetups etc) that you would recommend? Yes, there is one in particular that comes to mind - Salesforce Ben! I would recommend signing up for individual blogs that have specialisations.
9) What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen Salesforce used for? There is quite an “old school” business in the financial industry. They deal with a lot of physical letters so they have implemented a robot that sorts, scans and loads them into Salesforce.
10) What do most companies get wrong when it comes to Salesforce? Back when I ran a Salesforce Consultancy, the SMB market would often fail to invest in post-deployment support. Salesforce is expensive, you have the licenses, and the implementation cost, and when you tell customers they need to invest in staff, or a managed services contract with a consultancy, this can often be a hard sell.
However, the amount of Salesforce implementations that I’ve seen over the years that have been neglected is huge. This then means the customer needs to spend even more money correcting the issues and re-implementing the system.
11) What do you wish was better about Salesforce? As you would expect, Salesforce is a sales & marketing machine. This means that a lot of their marketing material can sometimes come across as fluffy, confusing, and full of buzzwords, as opposed to being helpful and transparent.
On the flip side, this is why a lot of people get their content from SalesforceBen. As we try and speak a common language to Salesforce professionals.
12) What’s hot in Salesforce right now? Slack. Salesforce spent a cool $27.7B on the collaboration tool back in December 2020, nearly double their previous acquisition spend on Tableau.
The potential to create the ultimate CRM/Collaboration platform is huge, and whilst Salesforce has released a bunch of nifty integrations between the platforms, the potential is yet to be realised.
13) What could Salesforce recruiters do better? In my experience, Salesforce recruiters tend to be pretty on the ball. The best ones I’ve dealt with have a real deep understanding of the market, the different roles available at different companies, and even have a grasp on some of the features that Salesforce offer after taking some Trailhead modules themselves.
For recruiters that don’t have this knowledge, I would recommend signing up to Trailhead ASAP. Salesforce professionals are passionate about what they do, and if they are speaking to someone who doesn’t understand the vast market, it will put them off dealing with you.
14) What tasks drive you mad? I’m quite a creative person so whenever I have to do monotonous tasks, it drives me a bit loopy.
15) Netflix or Prime or other (please specify)? I’m ashamed to say I subscribe to pretty much every streaming service, but I would have to say Netflix is No.1 in my eyes.
16) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? It’s got to be Japan. I’ve travelled to a fair few countries but I don’t think anything tops how unique Japanese culture is.
17) What tech content do you consume/follow/listen to? I follow Crypto and the tech surrounding it. I got pretty burned after buying at the top back in 2018, but have recently started looking into it again after the practical applications look more promising. I’m also a fan of the amazing work some companies are doing with psilocybin assisted therapy for the treatment of depression and PTSD.