Salesforce Admins Podcast

It’s time for another monthly retro on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. In this episode, we celebrate State Fairs as we go over all the top Salesforce product, community, and careers content for August. We also get to meet another member of Admins team: Ella Marks, Marketing Manager at Salesforce.

And with a state fair themem for this month I promise you we talk about quilting room, butter cows, and fried things on a stick.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between Mike and Ella.

Meet Ella Marks

While Gillian’s out, we’ll be going through a rotating cast of guest hosts to give you chance to get to know our team. For today, Mike talks to Ella Marks, our Marketing Manager. She focuses on the programs and campaigns the Admins team runs—you may recognize her name from some of the Trailhead Live chats. And she may be responsible for a GIF or two in her time.

Podcast highlights from August

Ella was a big fan of Matt Skogman’s episode from this month, “The Four Keys to a Successful Salesforce Implementation.” “I felt like I was listening and nodding to every single word,” she was, “just hearing how someone talking about how every business can be a relationship-based business in an industry you wouldn’t normally think of.” For Mike, he thinks you should take a look at Gordon Lee’s episode about how to be more mindful about how we volunteer at the start of our Salesforce careers. 

 

 

Blog highlights from August

We think everyone should pull up Jennifer Lee’s excellent Release Readiness blog post. “I keep this bookmarked on my computer—seriously it’s open all the time—as my source for what the latest dates are coming up for the release and where all those resources are located,” Ella says. And stay tuned for Jenn in the next Release Readiness Live, coming soon.

 

 

Video highlights from August

Mike has done a takeover of the No Silly Questions videos and it’s been a lot of fun. You can hear Mike tell the tale of how Astro became the Trailhead mascot. Ella’s really psyched about J. Steadman’s awesome Tableau walkthrough that gets you started with rich insights and the Tableau Lightning Web Component.

 

 

Make sure to listen to the full episode to hear Ella try her hand at a new game, Friend Food or Fried Fools?

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Direct download: August_Monthly_Retro_with_Mike_and_Ella.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST

On this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Brittney Gibson, the Social and Content Marketing Manager on the Admin Relations Team at Salesforce. She’s the voice behind a lot of our content, so we wanted to give you a chance to get to know her better.

 

Join us as we talk about why Brittney is such a big fan of listicles, what stands out to her about the Awesome Admin community, and what you should do if you’re new.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Brittney Gibson.

An awesomely helpful community.

 

On the Admins Relations Team, Brittney is the person behind the Salesforce Admins handle on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If someone responds to you via one of those channels, that’s Brittney, or really anything that goes on there. She also helps manage the blog, so if you ever have an idea for an article to pitch you should get in touch to work with her.

 

“The Awesome Admin community is super active and excited to be there and chat with each other,” Brittney says, which makes her job really engaging. Something that stands out is just how willing the community is willing to help each other out. “This community is so kind to each other,” she says, “whenever someone has a question it doesn’t go unanswered.” The kindness is incredible and makes the Awesome Admin community stand out.

Why you should never be afraid to ask for help.

 

Obviously, many more people are at home right now than ever before, and that means the way we use social media has changed in the past year. “Everyone has that time when they’re not commuting or they’re not going into an office,” Brittney says, and she’s seen an increase in engagement in the last year.

 

“As a new admin or new person to the community—don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Brittney says, “I’m astounded by how welcoming everyone has been so if you’re new and don’t know something don’t be afraid to ask on Twitter, use the #AwesomeAdmin hashtag.” There are so many different places to get help, so start reading what other people are sharing and feel free to speak up.

 

Be sure to listen to the full episode for more about why Brittney loves listicles, how Mike met Justin Beiber, and, of course, the Lightning Round.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt:
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week. We're talking with Brittney Gibson, who is the social and content marketing manager on the admin relations team. I think it's fun to know the members of our team and by our team I mean the admin relations team because they're the ones that work for you every day. And Brittney is the voice behind a lot of our content. So let's take a moment and have a fun conversation and get Brittney on the podcast. So Brittney, welcome to the podcast.

Brittney Gibson:
Thanks Mike. I'm very, very excited to be here.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah, well, we've added a lot of new people to the team and it's exciting to have everybody on to say hello to our community and have the community say hello back. Let's get started and talk a little bit about, I'm assuming Salesforce isn't your first job but if we can get some insight into what Brittney did before coming to Salesforce.

Brittney Gibson:
Absolutely. Well, I have had quite the journey, I guess you could say. I majored in journalism at Pepperdine in Southern California and right out of college, I was like, "What the heck am I going to do with that?" So, I hopped right into a job that wasn't exactly writing or social at first, I got started as a receptionist actually at Buzzfeed. So, in the media space but not doing exactly what I wanted to do yet. So I got my foot in the door there, made a ton of connections, friend, learned their process. And then that opened up a world of opportunities. I got to do a fun fellowship program with them, where I got to learn their style of writing, listicles, all that fun stuff. And then eventually my time there ended and I moved on to a place called Sweety High, yes, that is correct, Sweety High. It is a teen lifestyle website. So probably stuff you're very familiar with Mike.

Mike Gerholdt:
I mean, I go to sweetyhigh.com all the time, all the time.

Brittney Gibson:
It's really fun actually. It's like a girl empowerment website. So if you are in junior high or high school and you want to feel empowered, I would recommend going to Sweety High. So yeah, I would write content for their blog there. So a bunch of fun stuff. I also created some videos with them. At one point I was asked to go dress up as a Disney princess, which was entertaining. Yes, I'll have to share that with you, Mike. And then actually after my time at Sweety High is where I really dove into social. So I joined a company called Fullscreen and I was working with brands and creators to create some awesome content. So I did a bunch of digital series on YouTube. One of them was called The Guilty Party and it was a digital mystery series where the characters would interact on social. So they all had YouTube channels and they would comment on the episodes and respond to various comments and get involved with the community. So that's where my love for community management and engaging with a really active audience began was there.

Mike Gerholdt:
I feel like we need a really cool title for this podcast episode. That's like 17 things you didn't know Brittney-

Brittney Gibson:
About Brittney Gibson. I love that.

Mike Gerholdt:
Because it's always a rando number. It's never 12 or 15. It's like 17, 32.

Brittney Gibson:
Yep. I know. It's so with 17 sounds like a good number to me. So if I can think of 17 things yeah.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah good one.

Brittney Gibson:
I love listicles, I will never not love listicles. I just think they're fun to read no matter what the topic.

Mike Gerholdt:
And the good news is, if you're used to dressing up, we do that at Salesforce.

Brittney Gibson:
Oh yeah. Well, when am I going to get the chance to do that? I would love to put on a cloudy if I could make a cloudy suit or something like that. I think all of my dreams would come true.

Mike Gerholdt:
I highly encouraged that. In fact, Nick Panter at, I want to say Dreamforce 16 or 17 work a cloud suit. I'll send you a picture of that. I'll put it in the show notes. So that transitions us nicely to one day you will get to dress up while working at Salesforce. Let's talk about what you do on the admin relations team here at Salesforce.

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. So I am the social and content marketing manager. So I am the person behind the Salesforce admins handle on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. So if someone responds to you on Twitter, that's me. When you see posts going out on Twitter, that's me and I also help manage the blog. So if you ever have an idea for a article you want to write, I would be the person that you would reach out to and I'd work with you and collaborate with you on getting your post up on our blog.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah. And busy, I would say because our admin handle is full of Salesforce admins asking questions and responding and posting lots of stuff.

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. It's been really fun. And honestly, that was one of the things that excited me most about this role and opportunities because I know the awesome admin community is super active and just excited to be there and chat with each other and help each other out. And that's a huge deal having a social community like that. So it's been really fun. And I just I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone even more. I've only been here for a few months. So, just starting out.

Mike Gerholdt:
Well, that was actually leads into the next question I had for you, which is, I think for some of us, myself, I've been in the admin community now for 15 years going on 16 next year. Other people have been actually in the community a little bit longer. Some people have been in the community months or a few years. Some maybe even not as long as you. What overall have you seen that's maybe different than other communities you've worked in, in our admin community?

Brittney Gibson:
Honestly, just the willingness of people to help each other out. So this is a different space of what I've worked in before but this community is so kind to one another, just like whenever someone has a question, I feel it usually doesn't go unanswered, someone from the community will hop in and share resources, share best practice that worked for them. Just honestly, kindness. This is such a kind community, which is awesome to see, especially at a time right now, everyone's just really lending a helping hand. And I'm proud to be a part of that because who doesn't want to be part of a kind community.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah, no, it's always had that culture at its foundation, I would say. What have you noticed different in the world of social really, since we got into this new COVID world?

Brittney Gibson:
I would say just everyone's willingness to participate and join in. I think obviously everyone is, a lot of people at least are at home still right now. And at least for me, I am more engaged on social right now because if I'm taking a break from work and my own personal life even, what am I doing? I'm probably on my phone. I'm probably checking Instagram or Twitter or seeing updates on LinkedIn. So I just feel like there is more engagement all round going on because everyone has that time when they're not commuting or they're not going into an office, they're spending their time at home and spending their time on their devices. Not always, I'm not saying it's always a good thing to always be online or on social but I've seen an increase for myself at least. So I can speak to that.

Mike Gerholdt:
Right. No, balance. So you mentioned you're obviously new to the community. I think that's one aspect that you share with a lot of our admins as somebody who's managers a lot of our content, interacts on social with a lot of our community. What is something that you would give as advice to new admins who are joining maybe as a way to interact with our Twitter handle or Facebook page or LinkedIn or et cetera, wherever else we are, YouTube?

Brittney Gibson:
I would just say as a new admin or just new person to this community, don't be afraid to ask for help. That's something I've learned at since starting this role. I am astounded by how welcoming everyone has been. So if you're new and don't know something, don't be afraid to ask on Twitter or use the hashtag awesome admin hashtag. People want to respond and people want to help you. I would also just say absorb the content. For me, this has been the best way to learn, reading the blog posts that we're pushing out, seeing what the comments are on Twitter, seeing what people want to read about and want to know more about really gives you a sense of where the community is at right now. What's interesting, what's trending and just, I don't know, just be open to the possibilities of the connections that you can make through social. And it's honestly awesome that we can connect even when we're not together. So yeah, I would just say join all of these different places in these communities. Get on the Trailblazer community, read what other people are sharing.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah. I'll echo that and I still from 12 years ago, remember when Nick Panter replied to one of my tweets and said, "I think I know the answer but I can't solve it in 140 characters." That also dates me how old I was on Twitter back. There used to be a character limit folks and he said, "Email, I'll DM you my email and we'll solve it over the weekend." I just remember thinking to myself. So there's a guy in Canada that's willing to sit and think about my problem and help me, how cool is that?

Brittney Gibson:
That's really cool.

Mike Gerholdt:
I just found it really cool.

Brittney Gibson:
I love that.

Mike Gerholdt:
So I feel like we interrogated you plenty on the role. If you watched any of the Trailhead DX, Leah McGowan-Hare interview with Mindy Kaling, she had some really good lightening round questions that I actually stole, borrow, creatively copied that I was going to run through with you. So we used to do something on the podcast called lightening round but these are just very quick questions, whatever comes to mind for you. So, and they're fun, they're meant to be fun. Well here's the first question. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Brittney Gibson:
Oh, Ooh. I love all compliments but well, I recently got married and everyone ended up really liking my wedding dress and I was very scared that it wasn't a good dress and I got lots of compliments on it. So that's my most recent favorite compliment.

Mike Gerholdt:
I mean, that's really good. As someone who has a person in their household that watches Yes To The Dress constantly.

Brittney Gibson:
Oh yes. That's a big deal. Validation on wedding dresses.

Mike Gerholdt:
I feel like it is a big deal and it's okay. So then this will be a good juxtaposition. If you could only have one meal the rest of your life, what would it be?

Brittney Gibson:
Pizza. I know that is the most basic answer but no matter what, even if I'm not hungry, pizza always sounds good. So I just don't think I could get tired of it.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah. Okay. Good. The next question. So who is your hero?

Brittney Gibson:
My hero again, not to sound cliche but I fully mean this when I say my mom. She is the best person ever. And I feel like I am the person that I am today and because of her, I think some of my best traits come from her. So she's my hero.

Mike Gerholdt:
That's great. If you could meet one person that inspires you, alive or they could have passed on who would that be?

Brittney Gibson:
Mike, these are good questions. I am going to say Oprah Winfrey. She is just an incredible woman, a role model. And I've been watching her since I was a little girl. She's interviewed so many incredible people, probably has 1,000,001 amazing stories. And just to hear about her life experience would be pretty awesome.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah. Yeah. She's definitely met a few people. Okay. You're stranded on island, what album did you bring?

Brittney Gibson:
I feel like my Sweety High experience is going to shine through right here because I like top 100 pop music, top 10. Recently I have been into Justin Bieber. I hope you don't judge me. This is just recent.

Mike Gerholdt:
The most recent Justin Bieber?

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. I'm going to say it. I don't know if any other admin out there like Justin Bieber but-

Mike Gerholdt:
I bet they do. I've met Justin Bieber.

Brittney Gibson:
You have?

Mike Gerholdt:
I have, he was at a collector car auction I was at and he was selling a car.

Brittney Gibson:
Was he nice?

Mike Gerholdt:
I mean, he's just, he had an entourage and I was standing there and they came by and I just looked over and I was like, "Oh, Hey, you're Justin Bieber." And he's like, "Hey." And we shook hands and took off. He went up on stage and it's like, that was my Justin Bieber moment.

Brittney Gibson:
Okay. Well, yeah, like him, I like a lot of other people too. I like country music a lot. So I don't know, it's hard to choose one.

Mike Gerholdt:
Right. Well, apparently according to the question, you had enough time to grab an album but nothing else lifesaving before getting stranded on the island.

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. And just my Justin Bieber album, that would save me.

Mike Gerholdt:
Okay, last question, five words that describe you.

Brittney Gibson:
Okay. Let's do this, quirky, patient, kind, hard-working, genuine. This feels like I'm bragging but those are honestly what I can think of right now but I'm probably missing another word.

Mike Gerholdt:
There's only five. So that's great.

Brittney Gibson:
Yes, okay.

Mike Gerholdt:
I also think your five changes. Who knows in 10 years or you go back to when you were working at Buzzfeed, maybe you would have had different five.

Brittney Gibson:
Yep, absolutely. That's just right now. I hope that I express these qualities.

Mike Gerholdt:
Well, we will look for the quirkiness on the admin Twitter handle.

Brittney Gibson:
Yes, please do. I want to interact with all of you. So hit me up at Salesforce admins handle, ask your questions, share what you want to read and learn more about. And I'm always happy to accept feedback.

Mike Gerholdt:
Or the album that you would be stuck on an island with, share pizza toppings.

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. Yeah. Let's talk about all of these things.

Mike Gerholdt:
Okay. Great. Well thank you Brittney, for being on the podcast.

Brittney Gibson:
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Mike. That was super fun.

Mike Gerholdt:
Well, it was great talking with Brittney and color me 17 ways to be surprised. I had no idea that she had worked at Buzzfeed, what a neat career start. I think makes me think of the Steve Jobs quote of, you can only connect the dots looking back and not moving forward. Often our careers have all started somewhere else or maybe in process of getting to where we intend them to be. Brittney's start off at Buzzfeed and now she is helping empower admins all over the world. So that is fantastic. Now, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And by the way, did I mention that we have some new podcast swag on the Trailhead store. In fact, every episode when I'm recording these pods, I got my podcast shirt on.

Mike Gerholdt:
I also have this really cool podcast tumbler mug, depending on the time of day, it's usually got coffee in it. So check out the link to that swag, send us a picture. You just met the social and content marketing manager. She's going to reply. So we'd love to see pictures of you in that swag. If you need to know the link it is in the show notes. Then you can stay up to date with us on social. Ironically, that we had a guest about social. We are @SalesforceAdmins, no I on Twitter. And if you'd like to follow Brittney personally on Twitter, she is @brittgibs92 I'll include that link in the show note. And don't forget, you can of course follow my co-host Gillian Bruce, she is @gilliankbruce. And then while you're on Twitter, let's just make sure we round the list out. You can give me a follow too, I am @MikeGerholdt. I will keep you up to date on all the really cool articles that we've got coming out. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the Cloud.

 




For today’s Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Gordon Lee, Salesforce MVP and co-leader of the San Francisco Nonprofit User Group. This conversation is great for new admins or people just getting out there looking for experience.

Join us as we talk about why Salesforce volunteering at a nonprofit can often do more harm than good, others ways you can show you’re qualified for a new position, and how to volunteer responsibly.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Gordon Lee.

Why volunteering for nonprofits can do more harm than good

A common piece of advice for newly-minted admins (which we’ve given on this very show) is to get experience by volunteering at a non-profit. Gordon, however, disagrees: “If you don’t know what you’re doing you have the potential to mess them up way more than you would at a for-profit that has resources and guardrails in place if things go completely wrong.”

At a nonprofit, you can walk away having left tech debt that they simply don’t have the resources to fix. There are a million reasons why volunteers stop being able to commit the time and energy to that work, and it’s different (and often more sudden) than an offboarding process at a for-profit organization would be. The potential to snowball tech problems is high.

“Most people who want to go volunteer at a nonprofit and gain experience have great intentions, but the problem is you don’t know what you don’t know,” Gordon says, “and if you end up messing things up you don’t even realize how bad of a job it is until you go back 2 years later.” And with a volunteer, the nonprofit has no recourse to ask someone back to fix the problems that have occurred.

How to bridge the trust gap

The Catch-22 in all of this is still the problem of getting your foot in the door. New admins with no experience are asked to prove they have experience before they can get that first job while more experienced admins are often not vetted much beyond what’s on their résumé. So how do you do that without volunteering? 

The problem is that trust gap exists when you’re making a new hire: how can employers know that you know what they need you to know if a candidate doesn’t have work experience? “You need to show the employer that you can do what the job requires, which is very simple: find the business pain and use Salesforce to solve it,” Gordon says.

Ways to show your experience without volunteering

What Gordon suggests is creating a body of work in a dev org you’ve customized to solve problems. Think of some business problems you see out there in the world and do the work to solve them. Then, work on your presentation skills to tell those stories clearly and be able to talk about how they translate to the org you’re applying to work at.

“As a hiring manager myself, I would love to see that,” Gordon says, “if you are able to show me a portfolio and walk me through your use cases and your stories and tell a coherent story clearly and concisely, that will make you a much stronger candidate than someone who justs says they have 8 Super Badges and 2 years of work experience and 400 badges.”

Gordon and Mike talk through a lot more examples and ideas in the full episode, so be sure to check it out and don’t miss the blog post that started this whole conversation.

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Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re talking to Matt Skogman, Vice President of Sales at Skogman Homes. Matt is an executive that every Admin would want to report to, and he tells us how he’s constantly improving his business and is doing that through process evaluation and technology.

Join us as we talk about the four foundational keys that Matt sees as the reason for his success: authority, budget, decision-making, and tech.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Matt Skogman.

A fifth-generation family business implements Salesforce.

Matt runs Skogman Homes, a fifth-generation family business that is one of the largest in Eastern Iowa. “We believe data is value, and the data and information we can collect and how well we can understand our customers has a direct correlation to our success,” he says, “we think that this is going to help us offer better customer service to people interested in building with us and we think that is one of the best investments a company can make.”

“We want to create a system where our salespeople can log in and know exactly what to do each day and be able to prioritize who to contact and be the most efficient possible and make sure nothing falls through the cracks,” Matt says, “we want to make sure that we do what we say we’re doing to do when we say we’re going to do it.” Matt is a salesperson at heart, and having a platform that can help you follow up on all of the things is incredibly valuable.

“There’s a learning curve to all of that,” Matt says, “you don’t just get to buy Salesforce in January and by February you’re using it—this is a long process to get your culture to be thinking about this, to get your system set up and modified to how it best serves your industry and how you sell.”

Why you need to know what data you’re looking for.

When Matt and his team were first getting onboard with Salesforce, there were a lot of conversations about all the data they could collect and leverage. As Matt says, “what we really should have done is taken a step back and said, ‘What data are we trying to get from this? What are we trying to accomplish?’” You need to know what you want to know, you know?

The pandemic created some new challenges for Skogman Homes. While they had model homes open, people weren’t showing up and they needed to figure out what to say to their agents, but being able to look at the data and say what their chances of selling a home actually were based on traffic was incredibly valuable. “Finally, we’re tracking everything,” Matt says, “and so we’re able to make more informed decisions.”

The keys to a successful Salesforce implementation.

Getting adoption is the key to everything: if your team doesn’t use the platform then it’s not going to do you much good. For Matt, the keys to successfully implementing Salesforce are authority, budget, decision-making, and tech.

  • Authority: You need someone with a good understanding of your business processes to help guide your team.
  • Budget: You need to invest resources in the platform and get help when you need it.
  • Decision-making: Leadership needs to be on board with implementation and make decisions quickly based on the insights you obtain.
  • Tech: You’ve got to have tech-friendly people in charge of how Salesforce works with your business, and understand when you need time to troubleshoot.

Getting buy-in throughout your organization is the key to using Salesforce to turbocharge your business.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin.
Now, this week, we are talking with Matt Skogman, who is the vice president of sales at Skogman Homes. Whoa, record scratch. Let me tell you why. Matt is an executive that every admin would want to report to. Matt's focused on constantly improving Skogman Homes and is doing that through process evaluation and technology. So it's not our normal guest, but I love stretching out and getting different voices, and especially getting those executive voices on our podcasts, so that as admins, we can understand what it takes to be successful.
So hear me out on this episode. It's one you're going to want to listen to. I promise it's one you're going to want to share to your executive because we cover the four foundational keys that Matt sees as his success.
So with that, let's get Matt on the podcast.
So Matt, welcome to the podcast.

Matt Skogman: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, I was intrigued by our conversation that we had a while back. And I'll kick off because I feel like maybe the Midwesterners that listen to my pod probably have heard of Skogman, but tell me, what is Skogman Reality?

Matt Skogman: Thanks for asking. Skogman Homes is a real estate company and we are based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our bread and butter is home building. And how we got started into real estate was my great-great-grandfather immigrated over here from Sweden and came through Ellis Island. He actually worked on the Capitol building in Stockholm, Sweden, and was essentially a carpenter.
My grandfather then grew up very poor in Omaha, Nebraska. He dropped out of high school. And after World War II, he got sick and called a doctor over. That doctor happened to own land, and my grandfather said, "You know, that's funny, I'm a builder. I could help you build on that land." Fast forward a few years, he had built one of the largest home building companies in eastern Iowa. He then turned the company over to his four sons.
So my father and my three uncles then ran the business from the early '80s until just this last year where, in 2020, our generation then bought out our uncles. And so now we are the owners of the company. And we've, like I said, started in new home sales, but over the years expanded into a general real estate company. So we have a real estate brokerage. We have an insurance brokerage, and we also have apartments and rental units around the area as well too.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. No, if you're in eastern Iowa, you usually can't shake a stick and not see a Skogman sign somewhere in the neighborhood. And I did not know it was fifth generation. I think that's really cool to keep something in the family. So you think of you have been around, your company's been around that long. Why was it important for you to get Salesforce?

Matt Skogman: Well, we believe data is value, and the data and information that we can collect and how well we can understand our customers has a direct correlation to our success.
As a fifth generation builder and with my last name plastered all over, we believe that we're in a real relationship-based business, and in that, we want to have buyer profiles and we want to keep detailed profiles and maintain a historical record for future use. So as we start accumulating more data, we can make better decisions about where to invest our time and our resources. And also, Salesforce will give us something to evaluate.
And so, as we think about our family name and our family company, we want this to be more than just transactional. Myself, my sister, my brother, my cousins, we live in the communities where we build houses. So when I walk my dog every night, I'm walking past all of my past customers and future customers as their houses are under construction.
So we believe so much in our product that not only do we live in them, but we live in the communities where we build because we know that we're going to do a great job for our customers that build with us. And we want this to be more than just about one transaction. We want these customers for life. We want them to build their second and third home with us. We want them to recommend their friends and family to Skogman. So we think that this is going to help us offer better service, better customer service to people interested in building with us, and we think that's one of the best investments a company can make.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I would agree. And to that point, I think it's important to point out that when times are good, and it's arguable for certain economic sectors, people don't invest, and when times are bad, they scramble for solutions. And I bring that up because home building is, I mean, I thankfully bought a house a few years ago, but I go on any of the home building apps looking at a home, and literally two days later, it's already sold. I mean, there was a for sale sign on my neighbor's property. I think they stuck it in the ground, turned around and went out to their car and marked sold on it. I mean, it's just booming. And so, with all of that, you can't shake a stick and not have prospects, right? So why is that important for you to get a CRM?

Matt Skogman: That's a great question. And there's no doubt we are in one of the best markets that we've seen in a long time when it comes to housing and when it comes to builders. Builders all over the country have greater demand in a lot of areas than they can even build. And luckily for us, we happened to take over the company at a really good time in the market.
And the simplest answer I can give you about why we decided a CRM in the greatest real estate market in modern times, I would say is we want to get better and we want to create a system where our salespeople can log in and know exactly what to do each day and be able to prioritize who to contact and be the most efficient possible, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. We want to make sure that we're following up with the customers and we're doing what we say we're going to do when we say we're going to do it.
The thing I could tell you is I'm a salesperson at heart. I love sales, and I think like a salesperson does. And so what I can tell you is, is when I'm selling a product, I am focusing, when I look all of my list of leads, I'm focusing on the few percentage of leads that are most likely to close. It's just hard for a salesperson to think about their C and D leads and to stay on top of people who aren't responding when we have other people who are responding.
So Salesforce, we didn't bring Salesforce on to help us sell to our A leads. Our sales team does great there. What we're able to do, where we think we see the biggest opportunity is in our C and D leads, and Salesforce helps us stay on top of those. And we thought what a better time to invest in the future than this year when we have the cash, when we have the success to do it?
And the last thing, as you know, is whenever you're making a change in how your salespeople do their job, and we did it the old-fashioned way for 70 years, and now we're switching into doing it all technology-based, there's a learning curve to all of that and it doesn't roll out right away. You don't just buy Salesforce in January, and by February, you're using it. This is a long process to get your culture to be thinking about this, to get the system set up and modified to how it best serves your industry and how you sell.
So we thought this was a great time to invest and we are preparing for the downturn which we know is coming. And we believe that this is the right time. If you're in a great market, this is when you double down on investing to make yourself better for the future.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, on that positive news, let's talk about process in that case, because I do feel from at least the few times that I've bought a house that the process and some of the ways that you interact with agents change. I would love to know because the pandemic and 2020 is a good example, how often do you reevaluate and evaluate processes with your sales team?

Matt Skogman: We have to evaluate processes with our sales team really on a weekly basis. We rolled this out at the beginning of the year, and Salesforce as it comes out of the box isn't really set up for the home building industry. So the people who are on the front end are our sales agents, our sales staff. And so what we need to do is we need to listen to them every single week about what they like about the system, what they could change, how they're using it. We need to get their opinions and get their ideas and try them out.
The very best ideas we've heard about Salesforce has come from our users. And so when we rolled this out, we wanted to make this theirs. We wanted them to have ownership in it. And we knew that if we didn't have their buy-in, we would fail.
This whole thing is based, all this data that we're talking about, everything we want to extrapolate from Salesforce, it starts with our sales team entering the information. And so we need to make Salesforce about them and making it as efficient as possible. So constant evaluations every single week, daily, about how this is working, how this is using and troubleshooting in order to encourage them, in order then for them to want to use the product, that's happening essentially on a daily basis.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Yeah. So there's a lot, I mean, there's always stuff that admins work on to improve processes and kind of keep up with things. I'm sure not even in one generation have you gone from signing paper contracts to signing electronic contracts, but if you're sitting back and maybe other executives are listening to this and they're thinking, what advice would you give, if you could go on your way back machine, to Matt previous to rolling out Salesforce?

Matt Skogman: What I think most of us, as we're thinking about our companies and if you're managing people, if you're an executive, if you're an owner, sometimes we see a shiny new product and we say we want that. So Salesforce, this is one. I mean, everybody has heard of Salesforce. And when we were exposed to Salesforce and we started working with their sales team for them to sell us the product, they really talked about all the data we'll be able to pull, all of the data, all of this, and we got excited about that.
But what we really should have done maybe is taken a step back and said, "Well, what data are we trying to get from this? What exactly are we trying to accomplish? What do we want to see from this?" And so taking some time to really think through what your company's objectives are, what you're trying to pull off, what you want to get from the system is worth your time to think about it before, and then setting up some objectives on how you see this rollout to your team going. And what are you trying to accomplish in month one? What are you trying to accomplish in month three to six? And then what are you trying to accomplish further down the road?
So I think we should have been thinking about some of that stuff before we signed up. We got excited, it's data, but what does that actually mean, data? What do you want to actually see out of the software? What data's going to help you?
I'll give you an example. One of the things we got excited about was we wanted to know something relatively basic, where are all of our leads coming from? Where are the highest quality leads I should say, where are those coming from? We buy leads from Zillow. We have leads come in from our website. We have leads that walk into our model homes. And not only do we want to see how many sales did we get from each of those lead sources, but we also want to know how many leads are currently in process at any given time. How many and what status are those leads in from each of those lead sources? What is our conversion rate for each of those? What is our return on investment for each of those lead sources?
And one of the things that we had done was, during the pandemic, we had to shut down our model homes. It was the first time in 70 years they weren't open on the weekends for you to come in and tour our product. And so back in April, we had to have a discussion around should we reopen those? And what was so interesting is we watched that data for 60 to 90 days, and we went back to our sales team and said, "You guys are sitting in these model homes, but we're not getting a ton of traffic." So they wanted to know is this a good use of their time to be sitting out there on the weekends or is there something more effective they could be doing?
And because we had the system ready to go, what we were able to tell the team and show them is that we are closing 45% of the traffic that walks off the street into our models. 45%. That's one of our highest conversion... That is our highest conversion lead source we have. And so, as we think about this, we look at our model traffic as low quantity, high quality. So we might sit in that model for two weeks without anybody coming in, but on that third week, we sell them a $400,000 product.
And so, how we think about that data and how we can then go back to their team and look somebody in the eye who's been working very hard for us and trying to figure out what's the best, most efficient use of their time, to be able to say, "I understand nobody came out and saw you these past two weeks, but if somebody comes out this week, or if you get two people, you've got a 50/50 chance of selling them a home." And so taking that data and really sharing that with the team to be able to look at that helped us make a decision on do we still want to put up these models which are expensive to have, to own, to run, to manage, to staff.
And so that's how we're able to think through our decisions, is, in the past, we would just ask the team, "How's your traffic?" And it's really hard. I'm a salesperson. I can really only think about the last couple of weeks. I really can't go back and say, "Well, three months ago, I had this unit of traffic who ended up converting last week, and that came from the model." It's hard to remember all of this data. And so, you just think about what happened the last two weeks and [inaudible] is that a trend? Is that a blip? Is that an anomaly? This helps us really look at the data holistically to make the best decisions on how we can utilize our time.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And to be honest, it depends on the salesperson when they answer whether it's going to be raining cats and dogs and awesome or not in terms of how they answer.

Matt Skogman: And then it can vary maybe from community to community, from area to area. So all of that. And finally, we're tracking everything. And so we're able to make a lot more informed decisions. And ultimately, our models are open every weekend now. And our sales team understands that if nobody shows up that day or the next day, they understand that next week, something good can happen and so we're sticking with it, whereas maybe in the years past, we would have say, "Oh, nobody came in and saw any of you guys this weekend? Maybe this isn't a good use of our time." Now we're able to make really good decisions because we're looking at data over a four month period versus a two week period.

Mike Gerholdt: One thing you mentioned before we started the call was you felt you had four very important, I'll call them keystones as to how you could move Salesforce forward in your organization and be nimble with it. And it was authority, budget, decision-making. And then kind of your tech mindset. I'd love for you to expand on that.

Matt Skogman: So I've talked to a lot of people, and we've talked to people in our industry, we've talked to people out of our industry. I have a friend, one of my old roommates from college, who used to work for Salesforce. And I spent a lot of time over these six months kind of picking people's brain.
And what was unique about our situation is I've talked to other builders, I've talked to other people who rolled out Salesforce, but they just couldn't get the culture. They couldn't get the team to really buy in. And we believe we've accomplished that here. We believe we have high usage, which is really one of the hardest things to do. If you can get your team to use it, everything starts there. The second our sales team stops using the system, it basically goes to complete junk because it's all garbage in, garbage out, as you and I have talked many times before.
So we need usage out of it. So the question then is how does somebody drive usage? And one of the things that I think that I started with was, I don't like the word authority because it sounds too militant for me, but we have a seven person sales team here in eastern Iowa and I work very closely with all seven of those people. And they trusted me to buy in to the system.
And so, as we're working together, I used the word authority, but I don't need to use an authority. They worked with me to buy into it as well too. And they knew I was spending a lot of hours trying to get this right for them, and they committed, which was great.
So you need that commitment. And at times, maybe another organization might need to step up authority if they weren't using the system. So somebody who's right in the field using it needs to be able to get the team to use the system. And usually, I would like to use the carrot versus the stick to drive that, and that would always be my recommendation.
So you need someone there to really get people to use the system. So I look at that as, we said the word authority, don't like the word, but for lack of better words, we can use that. You need somebody with some authority that's using the system to make sure others are using it as well too.
The second thing I think you really need is whoever is that, I'm going to say authority, because I still don't like saying it, but I'll say it again, is I think you need that person to have a very good understanding, in our case, of the sales process. If you're rolling out Salesforce for a operations, then you need that person to be uniquely understanding how the operations of that business work. So this person can't be somebody who just tells the salespeople how they should sell. They really need to work closely and understand that sales process.
The other thing we talked about was a budget. As an owner, I am able to make decisions on how we invest our resources, and I can make them rather quickly. So at some point in February as we're doing this rollout, I thought I needed some help. I was able to quickly find help, hire help, report to my board about what I was doing, but they gave me the latitude to make those decisions very quickly. And so I'm able to make some decisions really, really quickly there.
So those are the three big one. What was the fourth one that we had said?

Mike Gerholdt: You had said really a technology mindset.

Matt Skogman: There you go too. I guess that would be the last... Yeah, you're right there, is I believe that I love this stuff. I've told you before. I love Salesforce. I think it's so cool what we're able to do and I just get excited when I talk to people about it.
So the last thing, the last ingredient I think you need to be successful is whoever's that front end person who we talked about has some of the authority, who understands the process, who's able to make decisions quickly, they've got to be a person that embraces technology and they've got to be someone who's okay troubleshooting some of the snags that come up when building out a software.
And so those four ingredients made me uniquely qualified in our team, uniquely able to roll this system out successfully. And when I've talked to other teams, what we found is, is you've got somebody who understands the process, who loves the technology, but they're not a manager. So they're not able, when people don't use the system, they're not able to have those weekly calls to help them use it, to meet with them, to figure out a way and show them how this will help the salesperson make more money.
This isn't about Big Brother. This isn't about watching everything they're doing, and it feels like that to a salesperson in the beginning. This is really about we can make you more money more efficiently, so really having that person talk through and drive usage, because all it takes is a couple of salespeople in this market to stop using the system. And they're going to continue to sell homes in this market. If we deleted Salesforce tomorrow, we'd probably still set record sales. Now we wouldn't have as many as we'd have with the program, but my board would get off my back this year about sales just because the market is so good.
So builders can still be extremely successful without using a software like this, without having all of this data in 2021. Now, let's rewind back to 2009, 2010. If we get into a market like that, builders are going to need to do everything right in order to sell houses. And that means their sales team needs to be as efficient as possible and do everything right. And that means we can't let those B and C leads fall through the cracks. We've got to nurture those.
So thinking about ways that you can put that whole kind of suite of skillsets together into your leadership team who's in charge of rolling out Salesforce, that, to me, was what made us successful, is that we were kind of uniquely qualified in all four of these areas. And I honestly even kind of, as I think through and talk through this, is we've got a builder in our builder group who we're close with that has 50 salespeople. Well, you don't have to be a genius to know it's probably easier to get seven people to buy in than 50 and three different sales managers.
And so all of those things made us successful in this rollout. And in other industries, other people will face some of those challenges that if you had 200 people you've got to use this and train them on, that's going to be harder than seven or eight.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think what I hear is if you wrap up authority, budget, decision-making and technology, it really comes down to trust. And if your board and your organization trusts you and they adopt a nimble mindset, then that's the only way it works. And they gave you that trust. They've given you the freedom to be nimble with it, and you've ran with it.
And to your selling point, when times are good and you're paying attention to your C and D leads, then when times are bad, it's not going to feel that way because you know how to pay attention to everything that's coming in the front door and you've set yourself up for success that way, as opposed to having to scramble and refactor when the market adjusts.

Matt Skogman: And we talked about the learning curve earlier. You don't buy Salesforce on January 1st, and within 30 days, you're up and running. This is a long process. This is weekly. This is daily. This is you working with your team to help them understand. We troubleshoot stuff all the time. The team finds bugs that I've accidentally created and they help me fix them. They find things, "Well, wouldn't it be easier if we did this?" I'm like, "That's a phenomenal idea. Let's actually do that." Then I'll go back to my Salesforce partner and try to have him help think through this.
And so yes, there is a rollout process that takes months and months, in fact, in some cases, maybe a year. And if you wait until your sales are really bad, you don't get to turn it around right away. It's going to take you a year to get this up and running.
The other thing is, is if you don't have a bunch of leads coming through, in bad times, it's harder to utilize the system, whereas now we have a ton of leads coming through, or over the last year or so, we've had a lot of leads coming through. So it's easier to tweak and be nimble there.
And then you made a good point, the board, I really couldn't be more lucky in that they've given me full autonomy into doing this and they believe in what we're trying to accomplish. And yeah, now that you say it, they believe in me that I can get this done because they've allocated a lot of resources to this to make this whole thing work. And I didn't have to go in and beg for approval. I just kept saying, "This is what we need. This is what we're going for. This is where we're going. Let me show you what we've already accomplished." And they're like, "Keep going, just keep going."
And so that also, there's probably that fifth ingredient that I guess we didn't talk about, but that's having the organization, the decision makers, the owners, the CEOs, all of those people all bought into this. Because if it wasn't like that and the board said, "Nope, we're going to put a cap on this or that," we wouldn't be where we are today.
So that is a really, I'm glad you brought that up, that is one of the things that really helped us become successful, is that my family and everything has given me full autonomy to roll this out as best we can.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, it's interesting you use the word rollout, and I think that implies that there's a finish line. And what I hear is you've spent the last year, year and a half not rolling out Salesforce, but using technology and process to improve your organization. Because if you're constantly improving, then there is no finish line, right? I mean, I've owned a home now for 20 years. I'm never done with my house. You're always painting a house. You're always improving the house.
I think businesses are the same way, right? You get technology. There was a start, there's no finish line because you haven't looked at your rollout as, "Okay, we're done. We have the most perfect sales process ever." Maybe this week, but next month is September and you might need a different process for September. So it to me sounds like you've changed and become a continuous improvement shop as opposed to a rolling out process.

Matt Skogman: That's a great point.

Mike Gerholdt: Not to split semantics on you.

Matt Skogman: No, no, I think you're right. I keep saying rollout, but you're right, this will never... I'm looking at this, it's like a child. It's like they're never going to... I mean, I have a two and a half year old son and I have an eight month old son, and I'm 37 and I know my dad and mom probably still look at me like, "He's still a work in progress."

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah. You're never done.

Matt Skogman: So this will never... My wife will definitely tell you I'm a work in progress. But this system that we have is just kind of a part of something bigger that we're doing. And I think you're right, that it's never going to be done. I thought when we rolled it out or when we signed up a while back, I thought, "Oh great, at this point, it'll be ready to go." It's like I'm never going to stop tweaking this and changing it and making it better. We're never going to stop getting feedback from our sales team, the people on the field about how to make this better, how to make their jobs easier, how to make them more money.
So this'll be an ever-changing process. And I think one of the things that our generation is starting to think about is we think Skogman Companies really wants to be a technology company that sells houses, not the traditional home builder. So we can really leverage so much in technology to make us our best self, to take care of our customers better than we've ever been able to take care of them before, and figure out the best ways for us to utilize our resources. So this is just one tool in our ever-changing technology kind of mindset in order to make us the best company we can be.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I've used the metaphor often, especially where I live, there's a railroad crossing and I've often thought the fallacy of the railroads in the early 1900s when they dominated shipping traffic across the United States, they failed to view themselves as a transportation company and they saw themselves as a railroad company. And had they leveled up, everything would be Northern Pacific or whatever you see going by you. It would be planes and there would be no brown trucks, right? Because they would have thought of themselves in a different perspective.
And I like your perspective. You think of yourself as a technology company first that builds homes, that's a very different vision for the next five generations of your organization.

Matt Skogman: And my grandfather would be shocked at the data that we can pull today and what we're able to do. So, yeah, so I think he'd be proud of where we're going and how we're able to utilize the best products to make our company as strong as it can be.
And like I said, I'm going to keep going back to this, I live in the community where we build houses. I mean, this is about the customer. This helps us serve our customers even better. This helps us serve our staff, our salespeople. The people that go out there every day and work so hard for our company, we can help make them more efficient. We could to help make them more income. And that's really the flip side of that I think all executives and people need to be thinking about, is ask yourself how is this going to help? How is this going to help you serve your customers? How is this going to help you serve your employees and your staff that works so hard for you every single day? How can you help them be the best at their job?

Mike Gerholdt: I think that is the perfect note to end the podcast on because continuous improvement feels like that's something we can all embrace right now. So Matt, and thank you for taking time out. It's always good to chat with you. It's an interesting time and your company is doing a lot of really cool stuff. And I feel like you're really embracing that forward-looking mindset. And I love that you're a technology company that happens to build homes.

Matt Skogman: We're getting there. I appreciate you having me on, Mike. And I appreciate you thinking of Skogman in the way that you do. And if there's anything I can help you with in the future, I'd love to do this again.

Mike Gerholdt: You bet.
Okay, was I right? That was an awesome conversation we had with Matt. I love those four foundational keys that he brought up. I agree, authority, budget, decision-making, and really that technology mindset. I mean, as an admin, I want all four, please. Santa, put those under the Christmas tree this year.
And I think the last one, and it's one that admins can all really strive for, is being nimble takes trust, and an organization, in order to be nimble, needs to have that trust in you and in the processes that they're evaluating and working on improving.
Now, if you'd love to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And hey, there is some new podcast swag in the Trailhead store. I don't know if you've seen it. I've got my podcast shirt on right now. I love the bright blue cloudy shirt. I have coffee every morning out of that tumbler. It's very cool. Pick up your swag. Send me a tweet with a picture of you and in the swag. I'd love to see it. Link is in the show notes.
Of course, you can stay up to date with us on social. We are @salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. My co-host, Gillian, is on Twitter. You can give her a follow, @gilliankbruce. Of course, I am @mikegerholdt. And with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.




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