Salesforce Consulting - Vetforce & Transgender Inclusivity

On January 22, The United States Supreme Court cleared the way for a ban on Transgender personnel in the military.  What does that mean for Transgender Salesforce Ohana in & around Vetforce events? Two founders share their experiences: One is part of the Transgender community; the other is part of Vetforce. Read as we share our reasons for building this somewhat unconventional bridge between competing consulting agencies, and why it makes us stronger when we choose to work together, instead of against each other.

The Right Mindset for a New Salesforce Consultant

Congratulations, you have decided to join the elite ranks of the Salesforce consultants. Chances are you were lured in by the high pay, amazing Ohana and plentiful job listings.  So you put the title on your resume and are looking for work now. The nice thing about becoming a Salesforce Consultant is there is no Degree to earn first, and you technically don’t even need a certification to get started. You can just jump in and get started whenever you want. There are plenty of Trailhead badges to help you learn your stuff, trail mixes and more. After you have done all your book learning and you start to do some real consulting you will start to see what trailhead can not prepare you for; the life of a consultant. 

High Pay: There are so many pretenders in the world of Salesforce that when you find a really good consultant who knows what they are doing its almost like meeting a mystical creature of legend. When your Database is falling apart, you are stressed out, you need someone who can save the day literally. Running into overpriced consulting companies, and job seekers who have no clue is a complete nightmare. Many customers are extremely untrusting because they have been burned so badly in the past. This is what causes the desperation on behalf of the customer. This is the reason people pay so much money for Salesforce Consulting. 

Ohana: This is not a joke, it is real. Ohana is the living breathing network of Salesforce people who care for each other, we are the ones building each other up and including everyone. We are the lifeline of the Salesforce culture and we are like family to each other. You might ask, “Why?” 

Salesforce as a company has always been a huge advocate of giving back. Some of the earliest consulting companies were certified B companies. Almost everyone who started working in Salesforce early on was thrown into the position not having a clue about salesforce. The ‘accidental admin’ is a very real thing. You can’t get a degree in Salesforce so you have to start out knowing nothing and only learn via job experience. Learning, you get help from other people who know salesforce too. Having mentors, teachers, friends, family who are there to support you learning a new trade is what creates the Salesforce Ohana. As grateful as we all are for becoming Salesforce superheroes, we all take the time to pay it forward. We train new Ohana, we set up events to give back, we contribute to each other in times of need, we open our homes to each other with Ohana BNB. 

Plentiful Job Listings: There are still more open Salesforce jobs than there are Salesforce experts, new salesforce consultants are sprouting up everywhere but still many companies want to hire seasoned experts. The fact is, there just weren’t many Salesforce consultants back in 2011 who are available for hire today. Most of the top consultants are locked into a Salesforce implementation partner and are not on the market for hire outside the consulting firms. The number of people who are under qualified, and pretending to have what it takes causes the turn over to be very high, and the jobs that get filled, quickly open back up again. 

If you are the new kid on the block, you can fast forward past some difficult times by remembering to always be humble. Pay it forward, by sharing what you know with everyone, all of the time. Be honest with yourself and your skill set, it’s ok to say ‘I don’t know’ and go look for answers. Being an expert does not mean having the answers all the time for every question - its about being able to find the answers quickly. Listen to other Ohana, and take people’s advice, learn from other peoples mistakes and avoid learning the hard way. Don’t be a lone wolf, you are not as strong on your own as you are as a group. Support one another, offer to help other people, teaching is a great way to learn.

TrailheaDX Equality Networking Event

ZOMG It was so much fun!!! I am so extremely grateful to have been able to attend such an amazing event!!! The leadership team presented strong powerful speeches and were extremely approachable after the event. Even being an introvert (you would have never guessed right?) I was comfortable approaching several of the leadership members. They all offered words of advice and encouragement. 

One woman gave me a few contacts to reach out to so I can ask for - even more advice - about being a woman starting a salesforce consulting company. Another woman encouraged me to start my own groups and told me a little about the process in general. I spoke to another woman about having disabilities and being in the tech industry, I shared with her about my experience being part of my college’s Disabled Student Services since I have severe anxiety, we talked a little about mental disabilities and how that is addressed within the Salesforce Ability Force employee group.

She mentioned a panelist she was working on for Mental Disabilities and I offered to help since I have experience speaking to groups about anxiety and self harm. She was a powerhouse of knowledge and I have a great deal of respect for what she said regarding disabilities. I asked her what she thought about “partial disabilities” for example, I am blind in my left eye, I’m not 100% blind but it still impacts how I live my life. She said in her opinion there is no such thing as a partial disability people should not be judged on how severe their disability is, because one persons experiences can’t be compared to another.

The last woman I spoke with helped me out with my Bingo game and she gave me some guidance on making it to the keynote tomorrow at 4 with a keynote only badge. She also told me she worked on the Diversity trailhead which not only have I seen but its where I got my inspiration to do the micro-agressions Dreamforce talk. She sincerely encouraged me to apply and I did!

TrailheaDX Keynote Events

TrailheaDX day 2:

Big shout out to the twitter group I am lucky enough to be a part of. These folks have been cheering each other on and I will admit, I feel kinda like a cool kid being included in it. The 10am Keynote today was inspirational, as expected and the level of diversity and inclusion is just one of the many reasons I am so happy to be part of the salesforce extended ecosystem. After the keynote I met with a colleague I don’t usually talk to much. She shared how she came to move here from China and we had a very nice lunch together. 

Back at the Moscone center I stopped at the equality booth and picked up some stickers, went over to the Startup Valley and learned about the incubator program - sounds really great but as a single mom its literally impossible for me. I got a little work done before going to the 4pm Equality Keynote with Tony Prophet. I was sad to see the turnout was smaller than I expected, but I was happy to be a part of the crowd. The panelist on the stage sharing their experiences was extremely moving. One woman spoke about being transgender and the process of changing her entire identity. I related to some of the things she was saying in my own way. Another woman from Israel shared how she was only 1 woman in 300 men to code in the Israeli army. She took that knowledge to apply it to creating an AI program to detect discrimination in computer correspondence. Absolutely remarkable work and inspirational. The third woman spoke about using technology to detect child trafficking. Her work was so powerful, both Miranda and I were on the site looking into how to volunteer. As if all of that wasn’t powerful enough the super duper whammy came next. 

On our way out we kept seeing these women in tech signs. I asked someone about it and they pointed us to this women event, they let me in with my keynote badge!! I listened to the woman speaking about her company, getting enough funding, and the difficulties. Then she started speaking about her mission and her work. She talked about how the text message program she has lets children text for help, and its not just children, its anyone who needs help. She talked about the statistics they are able to collect on mental health and how this is revolutionary for the industry. The key words they use to sort the queue.  She talked about the kids being cutters and I totally started to lose it. Having been a cutter as a child I really know I could have used that kind of support. These kids and adults need the support. Knowing what her company does for people made me want to drop everything I am doing with my own company and work for her. I hope to be able to support her in the future in any way possible. 

So meanwhile, the TrailheaDX party rages on somewhere but not having a full pass, I couldn’t go. Miranda and I opted to go to our little spot at Girahedelli Square. We had a great meal and talked about everything going on, how nice it is that we get to do trips like this together. By the time we got back to the hotel room we both passed out.

TrailheaDX Before the Event

Time Management:

Had a customer recently tell me he was not sure about how I was supposed to finish the 17 hours of work left on the project knowing I am attending TrailheaDX. I had some initial feelings of indignation, “How could you even ask that, I’m the wonder woman of Salesforce. Of course I’m going to get this work done!!” but then I thought a bit more humbly, it's a legit question. So I’m writing this and thinking to myself, how do I balance things, how can I make sure I do have enough time for everything and everyone in my life? I don’t actually have an answer for this question so hopefully I can figure it out here. 

Top priorities in my life: 

  • Three beautiful kids 10& under!
  • Loving girlfriend
  • Owner of a startup
  • Contract employee

I need to make time for everything and balance it in a way that makes nobody feel like they are not my top priority. Sometimes this means when I’m on the road driving to a networking event for my company, I have to pull over to take a customer phone call for my other job. Or while on a 3 day vacation with my girlfriend I have to forego an entire day so that I can kickoff a new contract. Sometimes I’m late picking up my kids from daycare because I have to finish up the last few hours in the week. There are certainly more sacrifices I have made for my work compared to the flip, not my proudest confession. The good news, the story doesn’t stop here. 

Since my work demands me to be available literally 24/7 I manage to find hours in the day where I can spend time with my kids in the dead middle of the typical work week. “Whats that? You can’t make our 2:30? Oh not a problem!” Click. “Hey kids, who wants ice cream?” Lucky for me my partner works in the Salesforce world too, and she has enough flexibility both at home and at the office where I can drop in and have lunch with her regularly throughout the week so we see each other quite a bit at times other couples may not be able too. In the spirit of finding that work life balance, for TrailheaDX she actually is with me for the event, so between work and networking we still will be able to have a few nice dinners together while we are here. 

I don’t think balancing life is about never making any concessions or keeping people happy all of the time (you can drive yourself crazy attempting it). Its about making sure everyone in your life knows you care about all of your priorities and they know they are one of those priorities. Its about giving everyone the security that you are always there for them and you will do everything in your power to make sure their needs get met. 

Consulting myself out of a job, and PROUD of it!

I was visiting a particularly busy - and difficult to get ahold of - customer who was having issues using their Salesforce system. We are not just talking run of the mill end user difficulty, I mean they had restricted IP ranges at both the company level and the profile level preventing people from logging into Salesforce entirely. Their previous consulting company was no longer doing business with them and they were afraid to go to another consulting firm which is why I was brought in via K2 as an individual contractor.  The first conversation I had with their CEO included some exasperated mentions of giving up on Salesforce completely, the Account Executive was prepared to lose the customer. (Sometimes it really feels like there are Salesforce customers out there who are treated like stray animals, they are thrown into the cold all alone, untrusting and afraid? Ok I'm exaggerating...)

Well, we sat down and rolled up our sleeves, cleaned up the IP ranges, ripped out all the custom configuration the other consulting firm put in place, fixed the profile permissions and reviewed why we need to redo the company security model with a whiteboard session explaining the relationship between Organization Wide Defaults - OWD, Profiles, Permission Sets, Roles, and Sharing Rules. It turns out in 3 hours we did so much that the rest of the 37 hours for the month they didn't need.  If you are a customer hopefully you are thinking about picking up the phone and calling me. If you are a consultant hopefully you are about to throw a rock at your computer because I'm not supposed to say these things. I know the work I did could have been wrapped up into a good 40 hour SOW, and I know I lost the work because of it. I DON'T CARE! As the founder of Wise Ami I want this company to be build on integrity even if it means I consult myself out of the job. 

As it turns out, because of those 3 hours of work this company stuck with Salesforce and even plans to expand their use of Salesforce (Their Account Executive is happy now). They called me back to help them with the new work and I feel pretty good about it.

Customer Success Story - Sentè Labs

Sentè Labs: 

Sentè was my very first project working with K2 Partners and fortunately for me it is one of my favorite success stories. With contract projects being a vast variety of different flavors, I do consider myself lucky to have gotten off to such a great start. Without any further delay, lets jump in and talk about what made this experience so great. 

Originally the good folks over at Sentè just wanted a few reports to track some sales metrics they were having some difficulties reporting on. After the initial meeting, and discussing of what they were looking for, I was set up with access to their system. At this point I took a look around and noticed they were exclusively using the Accounts object and one custom object to track their business. I was able to see how they had set things up, and how this data architecture would prohibit using Salesforce's built in design. They were essentially fighting against how Salesforce should work. 

So I went to my drawing board and started to find a plan to correct this data architecture. A plan that would make the sales process work like the finely tuned clock it should be. This would have the reps using Leads, and converting Leads that are ready to have a demo and buy. After presenting my brain child plan I could tell it was not yet very clear why I wanted to overhaul their process somewhat dramatically. After all, this old process was working, well sort of. 

I drove over to their corporate headquarters and we met in person for a 4 hour review of the new plan. I was able to explain to them clearly why the native Salesforce Lead to Opportunity process is the best way to use the system, how it will scale for the future and keep their pool of Accounts cleaner. After this meeting I could see the plan was much clearer, and there was a certain excitement building. 

Then I went to work. I moved all the data in their Accounts, Custom Opportunities, Custom Opportunity Lines, and created true Leads, true Customer Accounts, and moved the Opportunity data to the native salesforce Opportunity. Once this work was done, I was able to make the reports they had asked for in our first meeting. They were so happy with the new process. Not only did they renew the contract several times, but they also gave me a glowing review on my LinkedIn profile. 

 "Ashley is very attentive, knowledgable and quick to turn around projects. She helped transform our CRM platform which quickly turned into measurable sales outcomes. She had a robust knowledge of and was pinnacle to the implementation and tracking of our various business KPIs. I would without hesitation recommend Ashley and will continue working with her on future projects. " - Aaron Hasnain, Marketing Director at SENTÉ

Password Manager... zzZZZZzzzZZzzzzZz

Password Manager... zzZZZZzzzZZzzzzZz

If you have read past the headline I applaud you! Password security is one of those things everyone wants, just not today. Its a pain to get started, and as much as we all want to be secure, we also don't want to put the time in to make this happen. (Please tell me its not just me?)

I found myself copying and pasting a password while troubleshooting.. wait for it...

Live Agent

What exactly is Live Agent? How does it work? Is it better than the competitors? 

Live Agent is a great choice if you: 

  1. Use the Service Console or plan to start.
  2. Need at least some of the extra bells and whistles (no custom code requires)
    1. Manager spy ability
    2. See what the user types before they send it
    3. 3+ way chatting and transfer
    4. Skills based automatic chat routing
    5. Limit on how many chats one person has at a time
    6. Dynamic On/Off switch
  3. Have users who spend a majority of their time in salesforce. 
  4. Use or plan to use knowledge articles in your chat. This one is more than noteworthy. 
  5. Want to report in Salesforce on your chat statistics, how many, how long etc.
  6. Want to create a Salesforce case for some or all chats. 

For companies who live inside Salesforce and do not have a group of dedicated enterprise developers to leverage, Live Agent is a great value. There is no code required to set it up unless you want to get fancy with the pre chat or post chat forms, and it's inside salesforce just like your cases and articles. Speaking of articles, if you want to use Salesforce Knowledge in your chat, you are basically going to have to use live agent, unless you plan to whip up an extensive amount of custom code. (not that I wouldn't love to help you with that, but hello $$$)

If you are looking for something cheap, and you don't need to have it connected much with salesforce then you will probably want to go with one of the competitors. In some cases this will require you to log in to the chat provider's site, so there will be another set of credentials for your reps to remember unless you have company wide single sign on and you get that up and running. 

Buyer Beware, some of these so called "Salesforce Native" chat solutions are actually just glorified Iframes and complicated logic to save information into salesforce. Exercise caution when anyone but Salesforce tells you the application is "Native"

And of course, if you want to know more.... pick up the phone and call us! 760.468.3655