Fri, 15 March 2019
This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we get to sit down with Brian Millham, President of Global Customer Success and the thirteenth employee ever at Salesforce, to hear some tips on dealing with senior executives and the importance of admins.
Join us as we talk about why tough feedback is key to your career path, why admins are key to Salesforce success, and how to communicate with executive leadership.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Brian Millham.
The early days of Salesforce.
Brian joined Salesforce in 1999 as the thirteenth Salesforce employee. “Back in those days, we talked a lot about on-demand software or software as a service, the ‘cloud’ term didn’t even exist back then,” Brian says. Throughout his time with the company, he’s worked primarily in sales, with some experiences in alliances and business development as well. “The early days of Salesforce were not as glamorous as they are today, for sure,” Brian says, “but it was a fun time.”
“For me it’s been an exciting evolution,” Brian says, “I was very lucky to be able to learn iteratively through the years.” From Sales Cloud and Service Cloud to MuleSoft, Salesforce has evolved through the years and Brian has been along for the ride. Now on the Customer Success team, he gets to see how the scope of the platform is changing companies every day.
The tough feedback that makes a great manager.
Many Salesforce admins find themselves in management positions, and Brian has some great advice. For one thing, looking for incremental gains through smart hires is vital if you want to keep growing and work efficiently at scale. “Don’t rely on the past to get you into the future,” Brian says, “bring in new people with new perspectives.”
For another thing, you need to not be afraid to have honest conversations. That goes both ways. You need to be willing to give tough feedback at times when someone can hear it, but you also need to be able to make changes to your own leadership style and listen closely when someone is being honest with you. “Some of the best learnings you have are not from your successes but from the challenges instead,” Brian says. Ask for the hard feedback you need to hear, and don’t be afraid to be honest with your team.
“We live in a world where we get to place the customer at the center of everything that we’re doing,” Brian says, “and we have the ability to go help companies accelerate one of their priorities.” As companies start to think differently about customer engagement and touchpoints, the platform also opens up opportunities for new people to work with new tools to do amazing things with those insights.
“I was just with a customer last week who was telling me a story about an admin that built an application that sat adjacent to the product that we’d sold them. No technical skills when they joined the company, but they were able to come in, understand the business requirements of the users, and then built this application that is the most used application in the entire suite of products,” Brian says.
How to talk to executive leadership from someone who does it all the time.
Many solo or part-time admins are out there trying to figure out how to get support from leadership to add people to their team. The bottom line is that someone in your organization has made the decision to invest in Salesforce. They want it to succeed, so the key is figuring out who that is and helping them understand why they need someone who owns adoption, customizations, and fundamentally understands the technology.
When Brian talks to executives, he really stresses the importance of making sure that you’re setting yourself up to get value from your investment by making the right personnel decisions. “The number one hire you must have after you buy Salesforce is a rockstar admin,” he says.
In his current role, Brian has a lot of experience talking to executives and leadership. “You need to make sure that there’s clear understanding around the business value you’re getting from Salesforce,” he says. “Make sure you’re tying value to your because executives really want to know what the payback is in any of the work that’s being done out there.”
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Full Show Transcript