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What Makes a Good Salesforce Admin?

Cirrus Insight. Female Salesforce Admin standing with her computer.

Whether you’re looking to make a career change or just getting started in your career, you may have heard that you should learn Salesforce. The platform is well established and still growing with new customers. There are endless opportunities to be had, they say! Salaries are great!

Even Forbes is saying you should get yourself trained up and the ROI to your career is essentially guaranteed.

While all of that may be true, it’s important to consider if a role in the Salesforce ecosystem is right for YOU. Just because a role is well paid & available (ahem, Wall Street interns) doesn’t mean it’d be a good fit. At our local Salesforce Saturday gathering and User Group meetings, I see new faces often. Some skill up and find a role, and some seem to fade away or struggle with finding a job. What traits do we see successful Admins seem to have in common? Let’s take a look.

Is it the right fit for you?

The Admin role involves a lot of problem-solving sparked by a continual desire to optimize processes. Many see the Admin as an order taker - create this user, build a report, add a field. But this isn’t a role like a waitress or a cashier where the faces will vary but the general tasks stay the same. Moving between restaurants, a waiter will learn new systems and processes - but in general, they work in a predictable structure with defined escalation paths. We’ve all had experiences with better cashiers and waitresses than others, but overall their role is fairly similar day to day.

As an Admin, you are the one creating that structure for your end-users. You’ll be presented with ideas and requests for changes to that structure, and you will have to use critical thinking skills to come up with and implement appropriate solutions.

Given that your “customers” are your internal users, having strong communication skills will be key to the Admin role. When someone comes to you with a request - or even a solution of what they already decided they need - the Admin needs to feel comfortable asking why and probing further to get to the root of the requirement.

The actual function of adding a field might be straightforward, but is adding a field the right answer? Is it something that we have to ask users to provide, or can we derive what they need based on other data? If we do have to ask the users to provide the details, when and how should we prompt them to do so? Too many required fields and validation rules and roadblocks will frustrate your users and increase the likelihood they enter garbage data just to be able to save a record.

Cirrus Insight. Man working at desk.

Asking these questions upfront will help reduce the likelihood of technical debt you’ll need to revisit down the road.

Sometimes, in spite of asking all the questions and getting to the right solution, once you build and demo it, they may change their mind. Or maybe someone new joins the company and wants to make process changes.

An Admin needs to roll with the punches and be comfortable embracing change — failure and roadblocks and shifts in priorities are to be expected. Sometimes the beautiful thing you built will never see the light of day, and the thing that makes the most impact is a checkbox that took you 2 minutes. An Admin needs to be strategic and able to balance both the big projects and the small asks. It can be easy to get into the minutiae of how to deliver a solution, but understanding the greater impact of that solution on the business as a whole is also essential.

It may seem obvious, but an Admin does need to have technology savvy and ideally familiarity with similar systems. Even if it’s experiences from your personal life which can translate, you will be representing Salesforce to your company and you need to be comfortable with software terms.

Given how quickly technology is evolving — and for Salesforce that includes 3 releases a year — you will need to be a self-starter eager to continue learning. This will be key to check in on as you start your journey — as you start through those first few Trailhead modules (maybe even our Trailmix) does it spark a desire to learn more and keep going? Are you thinking about how you wish you had Salesforce at a previous job and mentally designing the solution you would’ve wanted? That creativity will serve you well throughout an Admin career! Some solutions aren’t straightforward but if you don’t settle for no and learn to leverage the resources and communities available to you —it’s ok to ask for help! — most often you can find a way to get where you need to be.

If you made it this far and still think this might be a good career fit for you, check out this Trailmix to get started, and see if you’re left with a thirst to learn more. One of the advantages of a Salesforce Admin career is that it’s a skill used across industries. From banks to real estate, software to 3D Printing, hotels to healthcare, profit or nonprofit, businesses globally are relying on the Salesforce platform. If you decide to join the ecosystem as an Intentional Admin, Trailhead is a great place to start.

Next, we’ll dig more into your options for skilling up, including guidance for self-taught paths as well as paid programs. In the meantime, feel free to check out our episode of Serious Insights for Admins where we discuss Org Admin vs Consultant roles to get you started thinking about where you’d like to land!

Kristi Campbell
Kristi Campbell

Kristi met Salesforce in 2007 and it didn’t take long for her to ask process improvement questions and become an Accidental Admin poking around the Setup menu. A frequent User Group attendee, she started the Charlotte Women In Tech chapter and Salesforce Saturday meetup mainly because enjoys meeting new people and hearing how they do Salesforce. You may have seen her on stage at Dreamforce, with the Southeast Dreamin Planning Team or at other Dreamin events cuz she just can’t get enough. She is a Hall of Fame Salesforce MVP, a swagaholic, a voracious reader and addicted to dog snuggles.

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