3 things I wish I knew before using Salesforce

By: Amanda Zacharias

What I wish I knew before starting my Salesforce journey:
1) I wish I knew that Salesforce was more than a way to store data – provides actionable information for planning and collaboration
2) I wish I knew that it can be integrated with just about everything digital – no more silos of information, it’s all in one place; a single source of truth
3) I wish I knew there were so many possibilities for all the different users of the platform – custom reports and dashboards for easy viewing

My Salesforce journey started because I was working at a small, family-owned toy store. Little did I know that talking to one customer an extra 30 seconds would lead me to a full time Salesforce job. After we had exchanged contact information and I went on the company’s website, I had more questions than answers.
What is Salesforce? Why are there so many names within the system? Why does everything I read talk about customization?

I was interested in a marketing internship, hoping it would lead to something permanent after graduation. Marketing itself seems fairly straightforward, but when you start mixing in Salesforce tools, it can become a bit overwhelming. I never even heard of Pardot before this, and now I am a certified Pardot specialist. Not only do I get first-hand experience in the marketing industry, I get to help create marketing automation processes for others to help grow their business.

More than a way to store data
I wish I knew that Salesforce was more than a way to store data and that it provides actionable information that allows for planning and collaboration.
When I was looking into Salesforce and trying to grasp it at its most basic form, I was told that Appluent helps digitally transform companies. That we can take a company running on Excel sheets and turn them into something more centralized. So in my mind, it was a way of storing data. Until I got to working with it hands-on, I had no way of really knowing all the capabilities of Salesforce. Sure, Salesforce can still store spreadsheets, but it can also create reports and dashboards that are in real-time and updated automatically. So yeah, Salesforce is way more than a storage place for data.

Digital integrations 
When I was first starting with Salesforce, it was a whole new world. Until I realized that it can integrate with something I am more familiar with. Keeping in mind that I started with Salesforce during my last semester of college, I was being exposed to multiple marketing tools and platforms. From MailChimp to HubSpot, there’s an integration for that. That made it so much easier for me to adjust. I was able to work in familiar territory, all the while pushing data through to Salesforce. So the more I used my basic tools, the more data was flowing into Salesforce. Once there was more data within my org to work with I was able to start putting Salesforce to work for me. Even better, is that all the info from these multiple sources is all funneled into a single source of truth.

Custom views
Day 1 of Salesforce I was really just looking over shoulders and getting an idea of how things worked. And then a couple days later, I got set loose with my own custom dashboard and reports to start with some marketing efforts. Little did I know that every department has their own view and dashboard. Meaning, sales has a page for sales. Operations has a page for operations. Marketing has a page for marketing. So after I had spent the last couple days watching and learning the sales dashboard, I was set loose with a marketing page. At first that made me even more confused, but as I learned the system there was such a benefit to having things set up that way! I have a dashboard with all the information I need and it’s full of reports and files that I use daily. Now, I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate through Salesforce without my custom marketing dashboard full of reports.

The sum of it all, Salesforce is a lot to take in, but it’s worth getting to know. And even if you’re going into it knowing nothing at all, now, you know more than I did!
From planning and collaboration of data, to integrations with existing systems and customization for each user, Salesforce is where it’s at!
Within my first year using the platform, I went from a total novice, to a certified Pardot specialist! All thanks to a great learning community (Trailhead), my knowledgeable team of co-workers, and a drive to learn.