Jeff Susich is a seasoned Salesforce user who knows sales, marketing, customer support, and a myriad of business functions. He loved Salesforce so much he became certified in it and began to teach other people how to get the most out of the software. In this interview, Accelebrate's Julie Halpersberg asks Jeff all about the different Content Management Systems out there, why he loves Salesforce, why he enjoys training, and what advice he would give anyone starting out with Salesforce. Jeff recently sat down with us to discuss his background and the life of a trainer. Here's what we found.
For the entire video interview, please visit https://youtu.be/_RbYZTFMKq4
Accelebrate: Thank you so much for doing this trainer spotlight. You have been doing Salesforce for training for quite some time, I'd love to hear about how you got into it.
Jeff: I got into it because I was originally a user. Years ago, I was a VP of sales for a company, and they were using paper files. I went to the CEO and I said, we got to do something different here. So, I got Salesforce.com and I was the system admin. I was the classic, ask-to-know system admin, had no idea what I was doing. I used SalesForce.com, I pulled up all my reports, and I'd export them in Excel, then I'd all my calculations in Excel, because I knew Excel, but I didn't know Salesforce.
And then over the years, I got to be better with SalesForce.com and then at one point, I really wanted to go down to SalesForce.com path. So, I learned Salesforce, got some certifications, and I started my own consulting business. To date, I've done about 180 implementations of Salesforce. I work by myself, I'm an electrical engineer that went to the dark side of sales a number of years ago, and so I know sales, I know marketing, I know customer support, I know all those business functions, so I can handle having discussions with a lot of people because I've worked all of those different areas.And so, at some point I was contacted by Salesforce and they asked me if I'd be interested in teaching classes for them. I've been teaching classes for Salesforce now for coming up on 4 years. And of the 17 different classes that I teach for Salesforce, there's only a few coding classes that I don't teach, but everything else I teach.
Accelebrate: How do you think Salesforce compares to other CRM's?
Jeff: Well I've used almost all of them, the difference is the scalability for one. I mean, I have customers that have two employees, and they very effectively use SalesForce.com. I have other customers that have ten thousand employees, and they very effectively use SalesForce.com. It's a scalable solution that almost any business can use. You should look at the different types of businesses that use SalesForce.com, that's the thing about it, it can be configured for just about any kind of business, size of business and industry, that you'll see that's out there.
Accelebrate: What if I'm one of those ask-to-know admins you were saying, like yourself at first, where would you start with Salesforce? What would you learn first?
Jeff: If you're the ask-to-know admin, the first thing to understand is really the data access model. Who should see what? That's fundamental to Salesforce. Is being to understand how to set that up so that various users that need to see certain things, but shouldn't see other things, lets you understand all that. I'd say the data access model is probably the primary thing to understand when you initially set up Salesforce. And it's complicated now too by the fact that there are two user interfaces right now on Salesforce.There's a classic interface, which has been there forever, and the lighting interface, which has been around for about 4 years. New customers are highly encouraged by Salesforce to use the lighting interface, but there is still a lot of customers out there using the classic interface. So, it's a complicated situation right now for somebody that this thrown into their lap. You're the new system admin, figure it out. There's a lot to figure out currently with SalesForce.com. The biggest challenge is keeping it simple. That's the biggest challenge that I find. When I find Salesforce customers that are saying, 'we don't like using it,' the users don't like it, it's always an issue of simplicity and training.
That's the other big thing, is training. Salesforce doesn't have user training classes, they don't. Salesforce has classes for special lists, that use certain clouds, they have classed for system admins, they have classes for developers. There's not a lot user training for Salesforce.com users. And what ends up happening you see, is the accidental admins are responsible for that. And a lot of the times, they don't even know the platform well enough to even train the user. So that becomes an issue with Salesforce as far as the complexity, and users really being able to get in there and effectively use it.
Accelebrate: How about for more advanced users or admins? What are your tips and tricks for them?
Jeff: For the more advanced ones, well Salesforce about 3 years ago, put all kinds of training online. On Trailhead. These are free classes, module's that are online. So there's a wealth of things that are online right. There're different tracks there that you can pick if you're an admin, a developer there's a bunch of things that are online. There's also a bunch of user groups that are out there. Every urban city in the country, in the world really, has a Salesforce user group. And joining those groups is really an important thing because you'll be with other people that are in the same situation as you, that you can learn from.
That's the big thing, is being able to move into that realm where you really understand it more, you have all those online, free training module's through Trail Head. But you also have a lot of classes that can be taken, formal classes, virtual classes, live classes that can be taken. And that's an important thing because Salesforce.com is a moving target. There are 3 releases every year, and each release brings all kinds of new stuff to Salesforce.
So it's not as if it's something you can learn, and then just walk away from and say I'm good with that. It's really important to stay up with SalesForce.com, and its one of those things that's very oriented around certifications too.
Accelebrate: I love your recommendation on read-ups. What other resources do you recommend, whether it's videos, blogs podcasts, books...
Jeff: Yeah, there's a lot of good blogs that are out there. There're blogs that are specifically addressed to system admins, or developers, there's a lot of those that are out there, a ton of those that are out there. There's a ton of YouTube video's that are made too, and there's a lot of Salesforce partners that are out there, that have their own websites, their own blogs, and there's all kinds of information that is out there.
That's one of the unique things about Salesforce is, you'll find two companies that are competitors to each, and they both use Salesforce, they will cooperate when it comes to Salesforce.com, they'll cooperate. For instance, if I need to write a formula in Salesforce, and I just don't know how to do it, you could go out there and look at all the technical documentation and figure that out, your best move is to go to the Salesforce Success Community, and say, I'm trying to create a formula to do this, and give them the actual field names, someone will write that formula for you within half an hour, almost guaranteed. There is so much help out there from other Salesforce.com users, it's almost like a cult. They help each other, people help each other, it's a unique thing in software that I've never seen before.
Accelebrate: What are your favorite features about Salesforce?
Jeff: Probably my favorite features are how quickly Salesforce can be customized. You can create custom objects, and custom fields in just a few mouse clicks, that's the amazing thing. I'm old enough to remember software-
Accelebrate: Without any coding knowledge?
Jeff: Yeah, I'm old enough to remember software applications where if you wanted to make any change to the software like that, printing custom fields, custom objects things like that, you would have to contact whoever owned the software. And they would come back to you and say, well that's going to take 6 months and Twenty thousand hours for you to do that.
It's all point and click in Salesforce. The declarative functions in Salesforce, meaning the ones you can do with a mouse, are amazing in Salesforce. What you can do without creating code in Salesforce is amazing. You can create records, delete records, create automations all without writing code. You write code as a last resort with Salesforce.com because the declaring functions are so powerful in there, that's probably my favorite thing is, all the things you can do with a mouse and never have to write code.
Accelebrate: That's great. I totally agree, the more you get to know Salesforce, the more you realize how powerful it is, but when do you think someone should consider transitioning from being a Salesforce admin, to say, being a developer?
Jeff: It kind of depends on their background a little bit, in terms of whether they have any kind of background, and they can easily roll into that, but even without that, there's all kinds of ways to go down that path. I know people that had no coding background whatsoever, and they went down the path with Salesforce, and they became coders. Anybody can do it. If you really understand just how to use Excel, that's kind of the basic that's all you need.
If you can understand Excel, you can code in Salesforce, you can get to the point where you can code. There're all kinds of resources that are out there, there's help that's out there, if anybody wants to go from system admin to coding, it's not a hard thing to do, its more of a question of, what do you enjoy doing? What's your background? What's your likes? Your dislikes? What are the kinds of things you enjoy doing? What are the kinds of things you don't enjoy doing?
Accelebrate: What do you like most about being a Salesforce trainer?
Jeff: I've enjoyed teaching. I enjoy the challenge of teaching, typically, when I teach a class, I have a bag of high-quality chocolates, and if anybody during the course of the class, asks me a question that I cannot answer, they get rewarded because I want to learn too. I want to be challenged, I want that bag of candy to be empty every class that I teach, because that means that I'm learning too. So I like the challenge of it, I like seeing students come in there and the light bulb go on, it's an enjoyable thing to see people get to that point with Salesforce where they freely feel like they know what's going on, and they can go further with it. So, it's the challenge of teaching, the challenge of taking somebody who knows very little about somebody and in a number of days, being able to teach them enough skills where they can be on their own.
Accelebrate: Do you have any advice for the children or teenagers, just like the kids who want to get into Salesforce consulting, training, development in the future, where do they start?
Jeff: Don't be intimidated by it for one thing. Anybody can do it. I've seen people with almost no background, no technical training that barely knew how to use a laptop, that are now Salesforce system admins and developers. I've seen it happen. The biggest thing is to get over the hurdle of, I'm not a technical person, and this is technical stuff. Because you can figure it out. And a lot of people have done that. And I would say if you want to go down that path, I know nothing about Salesforce stuff, but I want to learn about it, anybody can get a free license at SalesForce.com. You go online, go to the website, you get your own license, for free. And start playing around with it. And between that, and all the resources out there, Trail Head resources and those kinds of things, you can be a self-taught expert in SalesForce.com in a pretty short period of time.
I've told people before, that for a lot of kids that go to college, parents send them to college, don't really know what they're going to do in life, don't have a plan for their life really, go to college, don't necessarily have a major in mind, for some of those kids that are going down that path, the parents would be much better off, as would they, then instead of spending Two hundred fifty thousand dollars on that college education, send it down to SalesForce.com path, take the rest of that money, which is considerable, put it into a Roth 401k for them, for later on in life, and send them down the SalesForce.com path. They'd be better in off in doing that, and they'd have their retirement money waiting for them at the end of their career, they're all set.
Accelebrate: Great. What do you like to do outside of Salesforce training and consulting?
Jeff: Well, my wife and I like to travel. I've been to 29 countries, I've been to 49 states, I need to get to Alaska. We like to cook. So, wherever we do travel, we're always putting some research into cooking, and restaurants, and local food and those kinds of things. We both really love to travel, that's kind of our thing. Even with the companies that I've been to, I've never set foot in Asia, I've never set foot in South America, so there's plenty of countries left that I haven't been to that I really want to travel to. And curiously enough, SalesForce.com is presented in about Thirty something different languages. With a stroke a mouse, it feels foreign. You can present in all those languages if you wish, it's pretty magical in terms of the capabilities of it to be used in different countries, in different languages.
Accelebrate: Awesome, very interesting stuff. Is there anything else our viewers should know about you?
Jeff: Well, I would say this, if you're a new SalesForce.com customer, find yourself a partner to work with you. I know that's one of those things that I probably should say, and I'm a partner and a consultant, but don't go down the path of being an Ask-to-know admin, and doing the implementation, and not knowing what your doing, and getting frustrated with it because you don't really know that well, there's a lot of partners that are out there. Get some help from a partner when you first launch SalesForce.com and then you the ask-to-know admin, you can become proficient enough at some point where you can do that. But get started off right. Get your implementation done correctly when you get going and always focus on simplicity, get rid of the stuff you don't need, you show only the stuff that you need and you use things like email integration and those kinds of things, to really make it a useful to for the users.
Because if you can't show that SalesForce.com has made people that are using it way more effective at their job, it's not set up right. Because you should be having that effect on at SalesForce.com, that it is markedly impacting the business. For executives, for management the biggest thing is reports and dashboards because that what really shows the impact of SalesForce.com, if that's helping the company, it should be evident in the reports and dashboards
Accelebrate: Great advice. Where can you find those partners you were mentioning
Jeff: You go to Salesforce help and training and they're all listed there. All the partners are listed there. You can find small ones, large ones, ones that specialize in different various things, but all Salesforce partners are listed in the help and training. It gives description of them, the size of the partner, what they do, where they're located, all those things.
Accelebrate: Fantastic. Well thank you so much for your time Jeff, it means a lot and I really appreciate your joining today. Looking forward to working with you more in the future.
Jeff: Thank you, been a pleasure talking to you.
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