Thu, 9 February 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Erick Mahle, Senior Director of CRM at First Advantage.
Join us as we talk about what 2023 looks like for admins and why we have an opportunity to stand out as efficiency experts.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Erick Mahle.
Doing more with less
Erick has seen the ecosystem from a number of roles over the years, starting out as an admin, later working as a consultant, and now on the client side of things as Senior Director of CRM at First Advantage. His wife just landed a role as a junior admin, so he even has the perspective of someone breaking into Salesforce for the first time and starting their career.
It’s a challenging time for a lot of folks, with layoffs and more pressure on everyone in the tech space to do more with less. And we brought Erick on the pod because he recently wrote an insightful article about just that and we wanted to get his thoughts on why admins are optimizers.
The formula Erick uses to measure efficiency
Erick and his team recently implemented Einstein bots in an unusual way. While they were looking into using this technology for customer service, they realized that they could also use it for their sales department, too, to help qualify and assign leads. They also created a screen flow that shows key things in the opportunity that are missing, which helps with the data cleanup needed to do predictive analytics in the future.
The tricky thing about improving efficiency is that there’s not necessarily a clear moment where everyone realizes how much work you’ve done. Erick and his team came up with a formula to track how much efficiency is gained from their projects: they count the number of full-time employees involved in the task they’re improving, the number of times per week that it occurs, and the number of minutes it takes to perform it. This gives them a quick way to evaluate the efficiency gains they could make with automation, which helps them prioritize projects and demonstrate their value to leadership.
How to build trust
To get the ball rolling, Erick recommends the group exercise “Start, Stop, Continue.” You give everyone three colors of Post-it Notes and ask them to write on one color what we should start doing, on another what we should stop doing, and on the third what we should continue doing. You put them up on the wall and talk about them as a group, which opens the door to specific, actionable projects where Salesforce can make a difference.
The most important thing, Erick recommends, is to identify the low-hanging fruit from these suggestions and deliver on them quickly. Once you’ve built that trust, you’ve opened the doors to more feedback, more suggestions, and more wins for Salesforce at your organization.
And if you want to show off your Flow skills, Erick invites you to FlowFest on February 22nd. It’s a 50-minute, hack-a-thon style competition to find the “One Flow to Rule Them All.” It’s free to compete and free to spectate, so join in the fun!
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we are talking about 2023 today. It's been an interesting time, challenges, opportunities, all kinds of wildness happening within the tech space.
Erick Mahle: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Gillian Bruce: Erick, I want to introduce you to our listeners a little bit to give some context to the conversation we're going to have today. Can you share a little bit about your Salesforce ecosystem journey and where you're at today?
Erick Mahle: Yeah, of course. Back in 2010-2011, I was the accidental admin. My background was actually in marketing and sales. Working for small software companies, you naturally get the hat of becoming the Salesforce admin. Always liked it. Equated it to the grownup version of Legos and building things and putting things together. After a couple of years, an opportunity presented itself for me to become an independent consultant in 2013. I pursued the consulting side for several years. I've ran a consulting firm for several years. I've done independent consulting for a couple of years, up until last year, where another interesting sequence of events outside of my professional life kind of lined themselves up.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you for sharing that. You've got such different perspectives from each chapter of your career so far. Congratulations to getting your wife in the ecosystem. I know that's what we do as Salesforce professionals, right? We just want to get everybody in there with us.
Erick Mahle:Exactly right.
Gillian Bruce: I wanted to talk to you today because you posted something really interesting on LinkedIn, and I wanted to get you on the podcast because I think especially as we kick off this year, it's a challenging time for a lot of folks. We've all seen the headlines. We've all heard about layoffs. We've maybe felt the strings getting tightened a little bit in the tech space, maybe put on some pressure from our leadership about trying to do more with less. Really I wanted to talk to you about this idea of really delivering success now in this environment.
Erick Mahle:I think there are the positive marks in it. There's a lot to look forward to, especially as a Salesforce professional. Because in this environment, in this economy that we're currently in, we hear a lot about companies tightening their spend. Unfortunately, a lot of the big companies are doing layoffs, all of them within their own reason. But where our rise to glory as a Salesforce professional comes in optimizations and being able to use the systems that we have today better. It's certainly something that I can talk about from my experience at First Advantage. Over the last six months or so, the overarching theme is how do we get more of what we currently have?
Gillian Bruce: I think you hit on a lot of really interesting things there, I mean, especially when you think of the role of being a Salesforce admin, right? I mean, the idea is to help the business become more efficient by using Salesforce solutions and getting creative in terms of how to figure out how to streamline certain processes, how to deliver data better so that people can work more efficiently and get more deals done faster or help serve more customers quicker. Can you expound upon a little bit some of the things that you've seen specifically Salesforce admins or any Salesforce professional do tactically that have really, really helped deliver that efficiency, deliver that success?
Erick Mahle:Automation is one of the biggest things. For us, one of the key things that we've done that made a significant impact was a pretty significant undertaking for our company in the short timeframe was to implement Einstein Bots. We use Einstein Bots. We're going to start using it for customer service, but we actually initially started using it for sales to filter out leads and qualified leads accordingly and using that to be able to assign to folks. That level of deflection helped save a lot of times. It saved a lot of meetings that our BDR team had to go and qualify them and see if they were a real lead, if it was a genuine prospect, and who it needs to be assigned to.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. I mean, those two things you described, personally I love that because those are things that admins can do and deliver completely by digging into the technology and being able to build that out. Einstein Bots have been around for... I remember, I think we did podcasts about it when they first came out. It was three years ago, four years ago maybe. Such a great way to provide a very simple solution that just takes a little bit of thought and build out from an admin. I think the other thing too that you talked about, about basically delivering data and getting those insights that are surfaced.
Erick Mahle:One of the interesting things that we started doing internally is that we came up with a basic formula to track how much efficiency we'll gain out of different projects. We actually put that on the other departments when they're asking us for efficiencies in Salesforce and to calculate that for us or put a rough guess. It's three components to the formula. It's the number of full-time employees involved on whatever task we're doing, the number of times per week that this task in particular occurs, and how much time per task per each individual task. We multiply that out and we calculate how much time we could technically save if we were to automate.
Gillian Bruce: I love how it's gamified almost. It's like a competition like, "Oh, you want me to work on your idea? Well, then you need to help me fill out the rest of this formula so that I can prove that this is going to deliver real value." I mean, gosh, it's such a clear combination of factors that then... I mean, it doesn't take a lot of explanation to really understand how that works, right? Pretty clear. I'm just imagining happy leaders who are like, "Oh, you saved us 300 minutes a week. Oh, you saved us multiple hours every week." You guys give internal awards of like, yes, I delivered the most impactful solution this week.
Erick Mahle:We haven't gotten to the point of handing out awards yet, but certainly it's useful in our company. Because while I'm not going to say it's rare, but I would say it's uncommon, our Salesforce team actually reports under sales operations where I think the majority, not a vast majority, but the majority would be under IT. Sales operations is actually measured under efficiencies. Our KPIs are to drive X number, X percentage of efficiency across the board, across the different teams. It was a perfect fit in terms of how we wanted to track this, because it immediately just helps put on the dashboard, hey, here's how we're doing as a department on one of our main KPIs. It was a big game changer for us, to be honest.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I think that's interesting you talking about the org structure a little bit and having the Salesforce admins and the Salesforce team sit within sales operations or revenue operations versus just a traditional IT. I actually don't know. I've talked to many admins who actually sit more in the sales or RevOps land versus IT, and I think to your point and the way you just described it, I think there's a lot that if you're sitting in a traditional IT space, learning a little bit from that sales culture, from that competitive culture, from that very drive efficiencies, KPIs, I think that might be a really good methodology to think about, especially if you're not currently in that space.
Erick Mahle:I'll add one thing, because I've seen in my consulting days companies that they want to get ambitious and do things with Salesforce, but there's just not enough buy-in. If everything that we talked about right now seems like far-fetched like, our sales team or is not going to get behind this or whatever, one thing that usually gets the ball rolling, it's an exercise, I can't take credit for it, but it's called Start, Stop, Continue. It's out there. It is a super simple exercise that will get people talking. You get everyone in the room. Everyone writes their own things they need to start doing, need to stop doing, and things that we're doing today that we want to make sure we don't lose.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. It's a great tip. I have been through many a Post-it note feedback sessions in my time. And it is. It's an amazing way to just get the brains working and get the wheels turning about, oh, what's possible? Again, like you said, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Oh, there's some themes here. I think especially given the environment that we're all in, asking to do more with less, it's such a great way to really enable that prioritization that's so important when we're trying to really focus, be efficient, and really find ways to deliver those impactful results very quickly.
Erick Mahle:Of course. This will be our fourth time doing this. It started as a bit of a wonder if it was going to catch on. But at the end of February now, we'll be hosting our fourth FlowFest. This is a global live competition hackathon style where we're going to put I think over 200 competitors from across the world for a chance to be the FlowFest champion. We're going to put them through a series of challenges, and we'll get to do a final head-to-head battle, which is going to be new for this FlowFest. Typically, we get over 2,000 people that have signed up. It's really exciting. For us, we treat it as an educational event.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, that sounds like so much fun. I cannot wait to join. I will for sure be there. Thank you so much for sharing that with us, and thank you for organizing such a fun event.
Erick Mahle:Yeah, yeah. It's funny, because the person who I've started with, the founder of Salesforce, Ben, Ben came to me, I remember, and he sends me the screenshot of the text message. Every now and then he's like... He asked me, he's like, "How many people do you think will show up on the first one?" I said, I don't know, maybe 10, maybe 100 people. I think we had something like 1,600 people register on the first one alone. It kind of was a little bit of an overnight sensation. We had to re-engineer that competition.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, that's so cool. I love that you're running it on Salesforce. That's even better. That's the best.
Erick Mahle:That's how you got to do it. It's got to all be powered by Salesforce.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. I love it. Well, FlowFest coming up, what'd you say, February 22nd?
Erick Mahle:February 22nd is the next one.
Gillian Bruce: Another thing I know in your role, Erick, you have helped build Salesforce teams. You have a Salesforce team. For folks out there who maybe are transitioning, maybe they are looking for a new job, or they are thinking about it in this space, what tips do you have for them as they're moving to their next Salesforce role?
Erick Mahle:For me, one of the big things that I'd recommend is that as you're going through the interview process, make sure you understand the team that you're working with. Make sure that you're taking on a challenge that unless you have double digits years worth of experience and you're going into a leadership position, make sure that there's someone more senior than you in that organization, because you really want to make sure that you're continuing to learn. That's on the client side, in particular. If you're on the consulting side, you're going to have tons of peers that you're going to be able to learn from.
Gillian Bruce: I think those are some really interesting tips, being able to demonstrate selecting from a few different options and why you would select that option as a solution. And then I love the tip from the employer too. I think we do often have questions of especially people who are new to the ecosystem or trying to get their first role, we know it's challenging because you don't have the experience and everybody wants the experience. On the flip side, especially if you're trying to get your first role, you don't want to be the only Salesforce person at that organization. Because if that's your first role, you're going to be overwhelmed and you're not going to have anybody to learn from.
Erick Mahle:Equally, just another way to phrase it as well, is that you were mentioning, just like it may be your first job or your first venture in the Salesforce ecosystem, you have to imagine this could also be the company's first venture into hiring a Salesforce expert. They might not necessarily know what to expect, and they might be trying to figure out as they go. That is something that you also got to keep into consideration. Maybe cut them some slack, but also be aware of the position that they're in to see if that fits into what you're looking for.
Gillian Bruce: Well, and then you're also charged with explaining and consistently advocating for Salesforce, right? Because oftentimes if it is the case that the company is brand new about Salesforce and you are a brand new admin and this is your first job, you have a lot on your plate because you also have to explain consistently the value of Salesforce and why they should continue to invest in it, which is a lot to do. I think that's some of the themes that we've been talking about right now, Erick, is talking about how you deliver those efficiencies and prove those efficiencies and what you've been able to deliver value-wise.
Erick Mahle:I've been in this ecosystem for 13 years, and I've used the same quote across all 13. The best way to summarize this is Uncle Ben's old quote from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. It rings true every single time. With a tool as flexible and as powerful as Salesforce, again, as you're coming up, you do want to make sure that you're working in an environment where you can assess everything that the tool can deliver and be able to identify which is the best path forward. Yeah, totally.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. It's great when we can have a quote from Marvel. Is it Marvel or DC? It's DC, right?
Erick Mahle:I think it's Marvel, but someone might correct me terribly fast once they get to hear this.
Gillian Bruce: My husband will be very angry at me if I got that wrong, which I probably did anyway. I mean, it's a great quote. It is. It's true. The power of the platform is immense, and it's more than just the platform, right? It's the power of the role, and then the role that you have within your organization to help your users and to help the organization as a whole. Erick, before I wrap, if you were to have one message to share with any Salesforce professional, Salesforce admins, Salesforce developers, anybody working in the Salesforce ecosystem for 2023, what is the one message that you want to deliver to them?
Erick Mahle:This is the year of optimization. This is the year of learning tools that will help you optimize, help companies consolidate. We're talking about automation like Flow. Flow Is just blowing up right now. You have integrations with systems. If you want to get a connector, there's a lot of great no-code connectors out there that allow you to start connecting your database with others. We talked about the example that we use at First Advantage of using Einstein Bots to be able to deflect and spare employees from having meetings and save that by running qualification process ahead of time. This is the time to increase your skillset and things that can help optimize an organization.
Gillian Bruce: I think that's great. I think it's actually a pretty empowering message to share with anybody working in the Salesforce ecosystem, especially Salesforce admins, because we can do this. We got the tools. We got the skills to do it. I really appreciate you, Erick, you coming on the podcast and sharing your outlook, sharing your expertise with us today. Hey, let's look forward to a really strong 2023 for the Salesforce ecosystem.
Erick Mahle:Yeah, it's a pleasure being here. We can talk Salesforce all day. Big pleasure. I'm happy to help share my message and hopefully this gets to help a couple of folks. If one person gets something out of this, I'm more than happy already.
Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Erick. Appreciate it.
Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Erick for taking the time to chat. I loved some of his ideas about what the outlook for 2023 is for Salesforce administrators I thought were pretty inspiring, pretty optimistic, gave me some interesting ideas about how to think about the role of a Salesforce admin in this current climate of everyone trying to do more with less and trying to really drive efficiency and deliver success, prove the value that you're bringing to the organization. The formula he shared about how he calculates the efficiencies delivered by what he and his team have built I thought were really interesting, focusing on prioritization.
Direct download: 2023_Outlook_for_Salesforce_Admins_with_Erick_Mahle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT