Salesforce Admins Podcast

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the Monthly Retro for March. Not only that, but we’re putting the dynamic duo back together as Gillian is back!

Join us as we talk about all the great Salesforce content from March and everything we have to look forward to at TrailblazerDX.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation from our Monthly Retro.

Blog highlights from March

We’re really excited about Slack, and Gillian is excited about J.’s post about creating custom emojis for Slack. Why not make it more fun? She also recommends taking a look at the new compilation of Flow videos, now updated with the latest and greatest.

Video highlights from March

Gillian is a fan of LeeAnne’s and Kara Callaway’s video about how to build a great technical demo. The amount of technical expertise and know-how in one room when these two women get together is something you just can’t miss.

Podcast highlights from March

As more and more Admins find themselves in charge of multi-cloud orgs, make sure you check out our episode with Kate Elliot about her journey and the best practices you need to know.

Get Ready for TrailblazerDX

April 27th and 28th, we’re getting thousands of our closest friends together in Moscone West to do our first in-person event in a long time. Make sure you register now and listen to the podcast to hear about all the things you won’t want to miss.

Podcast swag

Learn more

  • Salesforce Admins Podcast Episode:


Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!


Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast in the third monthly retro for 2022. Hopefully, everything is turning up green for you. I'm your host, Mike Gerholdt. And in this episode, we'll review the top product, community and careers content for the month of March. And to help me do that, I'm joined by a very familiar voice. Is that Gillian Bruce?

Gillian Bruce: Well, hello, Mike. Hello. I am so happy to be back. It's been a while.

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome back to the pod, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you. I am very, very happy to be back. I missed the podcast. I listened, but I missed being on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: And everybody missed you.

Gillian Bruce: Aw, that's sweet. Well, I'm back. And now you're not going to be able to get rid of me ever again.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that's the plan. Get ready for a whole bunch of Gillian episodes.

Gillian Bruce: It's coming. It's happening. I've got them all stored up. It's been a while.

Mike Gerholdt: I can already see Twitter being happy, "Yay, Gillian's back." So Gillian, it's our retro episode, a perfect time for you to come back and kind of look back at some of the stuff that we did in March and anything that stood out for you that we really feel our admin should pay attention to. And then of course, we'll give a sneak peek of that one cool thing that we're doing in April. So stay tuned for that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, Mike, I have to say that coming back into the fold of everything, my goodness, there's a lot of content for admins out there. And so I'm very happy that my first podcast back is to recap some of the latest, goodest, and greatest things. Is goodest as a word? I don't know. I think I just made it up.

Mike Gerholdt: It is now.

Gillian Bruce: Just for this month, there's a ton to talk about.

Mike Gerholdt: We've been busy typing, we're burning up keyboards.

Gillian Bruce: Well, speaking of keyboards, the one post that I really enjoyed was one of my easy getting back into the fold of things was Jay's post on how to make a custom emoji in Slack. Because Slack, let me tell you, the amount of email I have is near zero. So I am Slack all the things and those custom emojis just make it even more fun and engaging. So I enjoyed that post very much.

Mike Gerholdt: I think it's really cool. And I'd be curious, so you should tweet at us and let us know, what is the funnest, coolest emoji you've seen in your Slack feed for your organization? Because I totally think the amount of fun custom emoji level in your organization Slack really speaks to the culture.

Gillian Bruce: It does. For example, so I am coming back after going on parental leave, which is an amazing experience. But I got to actually go into update my status and I found a flashing GIF emoji that just says I'm back and it's rainbow flashing colors. And I'm just like, "Oh, this is perfect." It's loud in your face, "Hi, don't forget about me. I'm here now."

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Yeah. I know almost all my messages have to have some sort of emoji in them, right?

Gillian Bruce: Oh, yeah. You've got to make it fun. Who wants to just read a whole bunch of text?

Mike Gerholdt: I'm sure somebody does. Not me. What about on the video front? Did you find any videos? I refer to you because all of the content I've seen probably. It's good to get your fresh take on it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So there's one video in particular that I was so excited to see, and really it's because it's two just really incredible, technical women sharing how they are such amazing technical, wonderful people and how they share that and basically made a career out of it. I'm talking about the Expert Corner that LeeAnne did with Kara Callaway. So Kara Callaway is a legend at Salesforce. She literally has helped design and execute some of the biggest demos you've ever seen on any main stage or main presentation. She's an excellent resource and she's awesome. So if you have not had a chance to check out that video, it's a way that you can think about putting together your technical demonstrations. So whether you're talking about presenting to your executives or your end users, or trying to share an idea. It's a great Expert Corner. I highly recommend you check it out. It's a great conversation. Just as much Kara as you can consume, I highly recommend it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. If you think about it, when you were last at a Salesforce event or even watching a Salesforce event online, part of it is what you hear, but most of it is what you see. And it's no different when you're an admin presenting to a room full of executives or a room full of users. Part of it's like what you say, "Oh, they're kind of with you." But then you turn the screen on and then you walk them through the demo and the demo sells it, right? Think of it like when you buy a car. It's part reading the brochure, but the other part's driving the car.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah. You really have to see it to believe it. Especially, I'm more of a visual learner, I need to really see the thing before I actually kind of get it. And demos are a very powerful tool for that. And as admins, hey, the more help you can get to improve your demo skills, it will pay off greatly as you continue to progress your career and whatever else you do. So check that video out. The other video related thing this month that I wanted to highlight was that there was a blog post that I think Derry did about how there's all these updated videos for Flow. So Flow is amazing. We have Jen Lee now on the team, who is giving us some incredible Flow content. And there's a sneak peek of it. There's more amazing stuff coming on the way from Jen about Flow. But it's great because there are all these just simple videos to get you going on Flow that are now updated with the latest and greatest. So another good video resource or videos resource for you to check out.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, it's a lot and it's so neat. Speaking of a lot, I love the pod that Jay did with Kate Elliot on multi-cloud administration. I hate to say that we don't pay enough attention to it, but sometimes in our universe you can think of this perfect single instance that solves everything. When in reality, admins manage multiple instances or multiple clouds as well.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah. Our platform just keeps growing and growing. And I think a lot of admins are finding themselves in a position where, "Okay, I have Salesforce that works for this part of the business." Oh, maybe there was an acquisition, so you're bringing in another additional Salesforce instance or you're wanting to expand into another cloud. There are all different types of business units you want to bring the magic of Salesforce to. A multi-cloud admin is a very prevalent thing these days, I believe. I think a lot of admins are finding themselves in that seat. So it was really great to hear how Kate thinks about that and does that in her journey.

Mike Gerholdt: Very much so. Now, speaking of journey, it's like we didn't lose-

Gillian Bruce: Don't stop believing.

Mike Gerholdt: ... a beat because that's a perfect little segue to talk about our journey to this big event that we're doing in April.

Gillian Bruce: Event in April? Hey Mike, you're hosting a welcome back party for me? Thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes, yes. We decided to get a few thousand of our closest friends together at Moscone West, just for you Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: I so appreciate it. I have missed people so much.

Mike Gerholdt: You should.

Gillian Bruce: I'm really excited to just get in there and see people and hug people and see below the shoulder level that you see on Hangouts and Zoom calls. So this is making me very excited. What is this party all about? I know it can't just be about me.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, we kicked around some names. The welcome back Gillian party was one of them.

Gillian Bruce: Not bad.

Mike Gerholdt: But no, it just didn't feel Salesforcey, so we decided to go with Trailblazer DX.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, I like it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. And the DX stands for welcome back, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Clearly, clearly. It's one of the best acronyms we have at Salesforce.

Mike Gerholdt: Right, exactly. Yeah. So April 27th and 28th, if you haven't already registered, you should. And you should register because I'm putting a link to all of the amazing... Not even all. Scratching the surface on the content that we have for admins at Trailblazer DX.

Gillian Bruce: It's a lot. I can't even tell you. I'm so happy that we're doing an in-person event again. Now, if you can't join us, you are welcome to join the broadcast. We will definitely be able to broadcast quite a bit of the content. But if you can join us in person, come on, come play with us in San Francisco.

Mike Gerholdt: Make it happen. Yeah. I was just there. Oh, it's great. And the food, there's so many places to eat in San Francisco.

Gillian Bruce: And you know what? We are one of the safest cities. Throughout this whole last two years, we've had very, very great leadership in the city to keep everybody safe and everybody adhering to the science and making sure that we're doing what we need to do to have the least impact from the pandemic. And we've done really well. And it's really fun because the city's coming alive again, and we're all starting to reconnect. And so you should come and be a part of it.

Mike Gerholdt: Meet your fellow Trailblazers.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: See things in person.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: It's exciting. I went to a movie a couple weeks ago.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, what'd you see?

Mike Gerholdt: The Batman.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, did you like it?

Mike Gerholdt: Of course. Oh, my God. It's wonderful. Not as wonderful as Trailblazer DX though. That sounds forced.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that's an in-person experience versus an in-movie. It's more than that.

Mike Gerholdt: Batman's very much an in-person experience. Let me tell you. It very much is. Very, very much.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. But Mike, you mentioned we have a bunch of specific sessions and content for admins. Can you tell us a little bit more?

Mike Gerholdt: I do. I'll call out some big stuff that I think is obviously worth going. There's obviously going to be a big keynote and a true to the core session. So for veteran listeners of the podcast, those of you that have been around for the last nine years, you know that the true to the core is where you get to ask product experts questions about roadmap stuff. And I think that's really neat. We also have some great breakout sessions. So if you know people like Jeanne Velonis is working on a session she's going to do about study tips for Salesforce credentials. Ooh.

Gillian Bruce: Ooh. That sounds like a very handy session.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. That feels cool. Cheryl Feldman is heavily involved in a lot of the TDX content. She is an admin best practices for user management. There's also a record access roadmap that Larry Tung is hosting. I think that's going to be really cool. We're also doing something where, as of right now, we're calling it Campfire sessions. And they're kind of unique sessions where... Gillian, do you remember that first Trail? At the time we called it Trailhead DX? Where was it? It was across the street from The Warfield. What was that place called, do you remember?

Gillian Bruce: Oh gosh, I forget the name of it. But yeah, it-

Mike Gerholdt: I know.

Gillian Bruce: ... was this kind of tiny, little, tech warehousey kind of space.

Mike Gerholdt: It's exactly how to describe it. But anyway, downstairs, we had these little fake fire pits. I'm not explaining it correctly.

Gillian Bruce: No, they were fake fires pits.

Mike Gerholdt: This sounds like a war room. It's not that. But we had these little campfires and you sit around the campfire. And so we're bringing that essence back again, a little bit bigger. I think I heard like 20 or 30 people campfires. And Jay Steadman, who you've heard on the podcast, is doing a lot of the management for the admin campfire stuff. But there's some really great content that they are putting together, like build stakeholder trust through governance. There's going to be one on the configuration kits that they launched earlier this year. So you can sit around and talk about those.

Gillian Bruce: Which are amazing. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Oh Gillian, you're doing a theater session on the new skills stuff.

Gillian Bruce: I am. This is going to be, I think our official kickoff and launch of these amazing... All this content that we've been working on for the last year. Well, the team has been working on in my absence as well. And putting together a lot of great, useful things for both people looking for Salesforce admin jobs and people looking to hire Salesforce admins. And so we have boiled it down to 14 key skills. We're going to have a whole bunch of amazing content and resources that we are releasing at Trailhead DX. I'm sorry, Trailblazer DX.

Mike Gerholdt: That's okay. I made the same mistake.

Gillian Bruce: Trying to get with the times here. So you are definitely going to want to, if you can, join the theater session. And if nothing else, pay attention to Salesforce admins on Twitter and pay attention to our website because we have all of that content that we are going to make available at Trailhead... At trailblazer DX and beyond. So yes, that's what we're going to be talking about in my session.

Mike Gerholdt: That'll be cool. We also have a meet the admin relations team campfire. So we're going to sit around a campfire and you can chat with us.

Gillian Bruce: Ask us all the questions.

Mike Gerholdt: Ask us all kinds of questions.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think one of the cool things about this Trailblazer DX, this event, is it's not the grand scale of a dream force or something that you may have remembered in the before times. So it is a chance to really get access to people like the product managers and the evangelists and the different leaders within the Salesforce ecosystem that'll be there. So you can actually ask questions and have conversations. And this campfire format is really great because it's a little more intimate. It's not just a huge keynote room, which we will still have for our main show and some other bigger presentations. But this is a great opportunity to really connect and get more deeper knowledge about the products and get insights into where things are going and connect with others. I miss that. I'm so excited to connect with others.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. It's kind of interesting because I think back to, Gillian, you and I worked the first at time Trailhead DX, now Trailblazer DX, but-

Gillian Bruce: We were working the booth.

Mike Gerholdt: We were stuck at a workflow process. No, process builder booth.

Gillian Bruce: That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: Stuck. I mean we worked, we stood and smiled at a lot of people at a process builder booth because process builder was new then. I mean the event was super small, but I felt like the people level that year, or actually the following year, was it 2016? We kind of got it right when we got in Moscone West. And I think this is going to harken back to that. The right number of people so that you don't feel crowded and you can walk around and kind of experience that Salesforce magic again. I'm looking forward to it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. It's going to be really amazing. So again, please join us if you can, in San Francisco, April 27th to 28th. It's going to be amazing, if you can't make it, don't worry. We will still have great content available to you during the live broadcast and then some content available after. But if you can make it in person, please come see us. Please come see us.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep. And we'll probably do in April wrap up about TDX.

Gillian Bruce: I would guess. So it's kind of a big deal during April. So that's kind of what we're working on.

Mike Gerholdt: Could be a theme. Could be a theme. Anyway, if you want to learn more about all things we just talked about in today's episode, please go to to find so many links and so many more resources. But specifically, the ones we mentioned today. You can also stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @Salesforceadmins. No i on Twitter. I am on Twitter @Mike Gerholdt. And Gillian is on Twitter as well @GillianKBruce. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you at Trailblazer DX.

Direct download: March_Monthly_Retro_with_Mike_and_Gillian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Bear Douglas, Senior Director of Developer Relations at Slack.

Join us as we talk about how the powers of admins and Slack combined have the potential to change how all of our users work within our organizations for the better.

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

Why more channels can help with information overload

Bear and her team write Slack’s API docs, creates SDKs and developer tools, and runs programs for their app directory partners and customer developers—including Admins who may be building custom integrations for their team. “I felt like Slack had the potential to nail what it was going to be like to actually transform work,” she says, “so five years ago, I joined Slack because the platform team was the one talking about how we are going to integrate all of your tools to create an enriched experience.”

One thing they’ve found is that, for most organizations, it’s better to have more channels than fewer. “The more specific you can make a channel, the easier it is to decide whether or not you need to pay attention to that channel and at what cadence,” Bear says, “you can pick and choose what you need to be informed about in a much more granular way that actually can help with information overload.”

Slack’s best practices… for Slack

To get started, Bear recommends having a good template that every team can roll out for their own team channel. This helps create a clearer understanding of how to best take advantage of the platform.

At Slack, they have an announcement channel for each team, both for the people on it and anyone who might want news about the team and what it’s up to. Pinned there, they have their quarterly OKRs, any sort of roadmap deck to show what they’re working on, and a career ladder doc. There are also links to the common tools the team uses on a daily basis, both as a point of reference and for anyone who works with multiple teams across the organization.

Bear also suggests creating a user group for just your team so when you @channel you’re reaching them and not any lurkers you may have. 

Taking advantage of Workflow Builder

One other channel that Slack uses for each team is the “plz” channel, which is for any kind of request for help. They’ve used Workflow Builder to create a way to manage these requests. You can restrict the channel to only accept input from a request form, giving you a structure to determine things like context and the level of urgency.

The Admin Evangelism team at Salesforce uses something similar to field pitches for new content, with a public form that spits out posts to a private channel where they vote on suggestions with emojis. It gives them an easy link to give out in meetings and a clear process for how to manage feedback from around the organization.

“We are a friendly bunch and we really want to hear from Trailblazers and Admins about what they need that we might not have heard from our customers before,” Bear says, so if you have an idea, hop in the Slack community channel or reach out to the Customer Experience team, and stop by to say hi at TrailheaDX.

Podcast swag


Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!


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're talking with Bear Douglas, who is the senior director, developer relations for Slack. Who's Slack? So Bear has the same passion for the Slack platform that we all share as Salesforce Admins for the Salesforce platform. Let me tell you, it comes through, she is one of the coolest people that we have had on this podcast. I'm so glad that she had time out of her day to spend it talking with Salesforce Admins. I think the potential for us to really change how all of our users work within our organizations with Slack is something that admins can drive. Let me tell you, I'm just super pumped for all of the amazing information that Bear shares with us in this episode.
But before I jump into that, of course, you've probably listened to the podcast. So you know that the news I have, "Is that available now on Trailhead? Is it the new module, the essential habits for admin success?" That's right. If you've been around in the ecosystem for a while, the webinar, the Trailhead Live, all the in-person event presentations that we've been doing around essential habits for admin success is now on the Trailhead platform, as a learning module, the link is in the show notes. So after you listen to this episode, head on over the Trailhead, be one of the first Salesforce Admins to get the essential Trailhead badge. If you look at my Trailhead profile. I have a badge, so you should get yours, but now without further ado, let's get Bear on the podcast. So Bear, welcome to the podcast.

Bear Douglas: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: So we're excited for Slack. I love Slack. We've been using it at Salesforce, and I want to make sure that you are on the podcast, so you can talk to all of our Salesforce Admin community, because I mean, I'm a user, but I see so much potential in everything that we do and literally every conversation I've had with you on Slack. I can feel the passion just seeping through that you share for Slack, that we share for the platform, and I feel like it's a really cool thing. So let's get started with kind of where you got started, how you got introduced to Slack, and how you came on board to be the... Is it developer advocate at Slack?

Bear Douglas: Yes. So I'm the senior director of developer relations, and I lead our team developer relations, which Slack encompasses. The group that writes all of our API docs on, where the group that makes our SDKs and developer tools, and then we also run programs for our app directory partners and customer developers. So that's people like admins who are building Slack integrations just for their team, not for any commercial distribution, but that can be really impactful for the organizations that they work for. So we are here to help all of them be successful on the platform and also be their voice back to the product team when they have feature requests, when they have things that they want to see from us and be embedded in the process so that we can be their representatives.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Bear Douglas: Yeah. So that's what we do. I've been at Slack for about five years. Before I worked at Slack. I used Slack. I was at Twitter for a few years before that. In every job that I had had leading up to Slack, we did have some means of internal chat and communications, but Slack felt like a user experience step change that I got really excited about using definitely from IRC or of any other products that really only supported direct message type chatting. A funny story, my older sister, who I very much look up to was the PMM for Google Wave. Do you remember Google Wave?

Mike Gerholdt: I do. I totally tried Google Wave, too.

Bear Douglas: Yeah, and Google Wave was really cool, and I got to be an early beta tester because I had my inside connection to get an account. It was a really cool preview back then in 2010 of what more work communication could be like and how rich it could be and how centralizing communication around topic thread is in many ways, much more powerful than centralizing communication around groups of people, because groups of people have different sets of things that they need to talk about on any given day. If you're trying to find the record of the time, you talked with a given five people that might be your immediate team, it can be very difficult to find things and to have it rich with context about the discussion that you had and so on and so forth.
So there was this promise in those days of what Google Wave could have been to really transform work, and when I got to be using Slack and I learned about the platform vision, which is about bringing tools that you use every day in a lightweight way for quick contextual types of actions, not like you should be creating a Figma design inside Slack that's like a weird, layered, embedded experience, but more like you should be able to discuss the contents of the Figma file and see a rich unfurl. So you don't always have to bounce out to a design doc to be able to discuss whether or not you think something is captured accurately in there, right? So this vision that I had of like, there was a better way to work, and the user experience that we had at Slack was kind of one-two punch of this felt right, and I felt like Slack definitely had the potential to nail what it was going to be like to actually transform work through small incremental changes, through more approachable user experience of how you bring all these things together.
So five years ago, I joined Slack because the platform team was the one talking about, right, how are we going to integrate all of your tools to make this enriched experience? It's been a wild ride so far, and I think we're getting closer and closer every day to making this a reality, not just for the people who are power users of Slack and know all the features and all the details, but people who are having a more average use experience. Because we want to change this for everybody, not just the people who are [inaudible] on the secrets.

Mike Gerholdt: Right, right. No, oh, man, Google Wave. I have not heard that. Sorry to be stuck on that, but I haven't heard that in forever. I remember trying it and thinking to myself, "Oh, email ruined us. We're forever ruined by email," because if you think about it, I'm of the generation that went to the high school library to get online. So I remember pre-computer and post-computer as I was growing up, but I don't ever remember writing letters. You wrote letters every now and then, but I never had a business context for that, and that's what email was meant to be. Then suddenly it's meant to be this electronic version of it, right? Well, now really, the way we use it is just quick one-off notes to each other that since I've started 20 years ago, working in an office, the expediency at which you're expected to answer email is crazy, right?
So I bring that into contact because I feel like the same shift also happened when I went from Word to Google Docs. You would open up Google Docs, and it was just kind of this white sheet. There's no parameters as opposed to Word. The same, I feel is with Slack, right? Like it's this white area that allows for more free communication and collaboration, right? The idea of centering people around a subject or a topic as opposed to, "Well, I have to email these five people," and then there's this whole gross email thread, and then you're like, "Oh, but you forgot so, and so." Then you tag somebody in, and you've seen that, and it's like, "Ah, there's no history here. How do do we get up to speed?" There's not threaded discussions, and then people can't add in a document to really collaborate around it. So, sorry, I just had to nerd out with Google Wave, but I still feel that.

Bear Douglas: But for those of us who experience this other poor way of working, have, I think really grown to appreciate how much easier things are in that type of context. One thing that's very counterintuitive about Slack, or can be counterintuitive if you haven't worked in a larger organization, is that more channels can actually be a better way to work than fewer. Sometimes people think, "Channel overwhelm is going to be absolutely terrible and so we should have a maximum say, 15 channels for this group of 30 people working together." But the more specific you can make a channel, the easier it is to decide whether or you need to pay attention to that channel and at what [crosstalk].

Mike Gerholdt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bear Douglas: So for any given project at Slack, we generally have a develop channel, which is for all the engineering chatter. We have a GTM channel, which is about all of the go-to-market activity that might be relevant for it. We have feedback channel, which is meant to be a open forum for people in side the company to pass on product feedback, then the PM can pay attention to in triage, and a few other prefixes for the designs for a given project. So if you search the project name, you'll see all of the different channels that are relevant. But if you are part of the marketing team, maybe you want to be part of the GTM channel and you might want to be part of the design channels, but you're less interested in being in the engineering team daily chatter about what's going on with the development. So you can pick and choose what you need to be informed about in a much more granular way that actually can help with information overload.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I think you're 100% right, and that has to be the biggest eye-opening thing that you tell anybody when they start using Slack is, "No, don't limit the number of channels." Because I could 100% foresee any of my previous employers being like, "Well, as an admin, can you set it up so that people can't create more than X number of channels?" I could see that as the first question, as opposed to thinking like, "No, let's have it be as many as they need," because then you can get as granular as you want.

Bear Douglas: Yes, and we also don't charge by the channels. So there's no objection on the grounds of, "You got to limit the number of channels you-"

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Bear Douglas: The flip side, though, is that you do have to be diligent about archiving channels once they're done. That, I think is something that can fall by the wayside if no one remembers, "Oh, I guess we are done with this project. It's time to spend everything down." Sidebar sections have also been a real game changer for things organized. I think, do you use them?

Mike Gerholdt: We can do an entire podcast on my [inaudible] sections. Full transparency, we got this amazing deck when we went all in on Slack. I think the one thing I navigated to was our team prior to this had been using... Was it Google Messenger or whatever? I think the hardest transition we had was part of our team was on one and part of the rest of the teams that we work with was on something else, and so my Slack was just kind of a whole list of channels and they didn't make any sense.
Then when I saw sections, that changed everything for me and you can use emojis in sections. I love sections. You can clap sections, you can mute all of the channels in a section. That's the best part of it for me, because I was going through today, I was like, "Oh, I got added to three more groups." And I was like, "Well, this is kind of like..." It's like budget and budget planning and sounds, payable stuff. So I just made a whole section of money bags. That's what I called it. Just like money. That's the fun part, is it can be as much of your personality as you want. Whereas some of these other messaging platforms, which we talked about briefly before I pressed record, was like... I don't know. It's like you shoot each other a message, and there's no real context or there's no real good way to share, or you can't find something, but sections are my jam. I probably have too many sections, but maybe not enough. I don't know.

Bear Douglas: Maybe it's like channels. Maybe you just need to be able to know which ones you can mute and how you most easily information. I think it's very individual, and I think our product team did too, which is why sidebar sections are always a user setting and not something that your admin can pre-allocate for you. We got long requests from admins who are interested in having some company-wide sections. So it's a user utility. So you decide, and you can put your money bag emoji wherever you want.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I think the hardest switch for me coming from just... We'll say, email was the... Maybe I'm one of those few people, but the need I feel to burn down my inbox, right? It's like a task list, and then you go over to Slack and there's all these channels and they're all lit up and you're like, "How am I going to get through this all?" And you're like, "Oh, no, wait. This is just information for you to consume on demand." So anyway, we got a little off, we got a little on the sidebar, but so we talked messaging platforms. I think one of the things that really struck me... This was kind of early days of social, and Salesforce still has chatter, was the idea of, I believe it was intelligence.
I don't mean like Einstein. I mean, context plus content, right? Equals intelligence. So you're able to have the discussion in the relevant context so that everybody gets the relevant content. To me, that's where Slack just is so useful. I would love to know from your perspective, because you've been doing this a lot better than I have. I'm fooling around. I'm still trying to stop the VCR from flashing 12. I feel like some days. If we're helping Salesforce, admins get their teams up on Slack, what is the first thing to kind of help them roll out like, "Here's a good, best practice to get started with channels or sections"?

Bear Douglas: I would think that having a good template that every team can roll out for their own team channel would be helpful. So here's what we have in my team channel. It's called Team Devereaux, and it is the channel that we think about for both our team and also people who might be public consumers of news about our team and what we're up to. So that's our announced channel, and things that we have pinned to that channel are things like our quarterly OKRs, whatever goals you have for the quarter, any sort of roadmap deck so that people who are interested in what we're working on can come and browse what's there and also as a point of reference for people who are on the team. We have our career ladder doc posted up in there so that people have that as a handy reference as well, and then we have a few links to common tools and tips that folks on the team are using on a daily basis.
So if for example, you're in the type of role where you have to help our partners dig into any issues they might be having with our API. It might be a short list of common queries that will help you diagnose issues for partners. So all of that information being pinned to a channel can help people who are sort of casually housing, "What is it that your team does?" Get up to speed, but it's also a handy reference for everyone inside the team as well. It's also very useful to create a user group for your team, so that if you need to @mention people who are just on your team, but you need to make sure that they see a notification instead of having to @channel, a public channel that might be full of lurkers and interested folk, you can really just keep it to your team, and having that kind of template so that people don't have to wonder, "Well, what is the correct structure for a team channel and what should be discussed in there that would be helpful?"
Another common convention that we have at Slack that I wish more people knew about too, is we have that team channel and then we have a Plzease channel prefixed PLZ, and that's for when people come in with any kind of request that they want our help on, whether it's, "I would love to bounce an idea off somebody that I'm not sure is technically feasible." Or, "My customer had this question that I could really use help answering." We have a workflow that we've created in Workflow Builder, and if any of you have not used a Workflow Builder before you can find it in the upper left menu, click down, there's a section called tools and Workflow Builder.
What you can do with Workflow Builder is create a way that people put structured input into the channel. So you can say, "Give us a priority tag." So people aren't coming in with urgent things, that'll get marked as urgent or on the flip side, with no context about something that can really wait for two or three weeks that they've popped into channel, and you can ask them to fill out a form to get help and have that post inside the channel.
You can actually set up a given channel so that the only inputs are from that workflow. So you can really make sure that you get structured input from other teams about the help that they're asking you for, and between having the general team communication channel and this sort of Plzease interface for other people inside the company. It can really, really streamline how people can define the way that they should behave with internal teams. And it goes a long way to have these templates.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So you mentioned workflows, which is another thing that I found and my team just went nuts on. We love it. So we have a public channel that we let anybody from the company in, and if they have ideas, the biggest problem we had was a bottleneck of getting information to us, right? Or, "I have an idea for a blog post," or, "So and so wants to be on the podcast," and they didn't know how to do it. So they would find somebody on our team, email them or find somebody on our team, DM them, right? So we had too many front doors.

Bear Douglas: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: We set up a workflow in our public channel that allows them to submit an idea and that actually goes to a private channel that then everybody on our team can review. We have a little voting system that we use emojis for, and then we have a dedicated person that follows up on it. It's so cool.

Bear Douglas: That is cool.

Mike Gerholdt: It changed everything for us, right? We promote it in all of our meetings like, "If you have an idea, go here, click the lightning bolt and select submit content," right?

Bear Douglas: Yep. That's awesome.

Mike Gerholdt: I think, I bring that up because it was so freeing, the amount of visual things you can do to a message to enhance it, I'd love. Right? You can add gifts and there's emojis and reactjis. You can really spice things up as opposed to just sending somebody like, "Hey, do you want to go get coffee?" Right? Kind of thing.

Bear Douglas: Have you ever used the Block Kit Builder to send a beautifully formatted newsletter or-

Mike Gerholdt: I use Block Kit Builder every Thursday to promote the podcast internally.

Bear Douglas: Amazing.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Bear Douglas: That's like a power user pro tip, that I feel like-

Mike Gerholdt: It is, and I'm hoping we can get it a little bit more admin-friendly, because right now I kind of just know the lines of code I can edit, but a little more drag and drop, but that aside. Workflows to me were kind of that aha moment of, "Oh, yeah, this is cool. I really like this." I had the same thing with the Salesforce platform. So I'm curious for you having been at Slack for five years. I would love to know what your aha moment was. What was that moment that you're like, "I am all in on Slack. This thing is going to change work"?

Bear Douglas: Interesting. I don't know that I had one aha moment because at the point that I joined five years ago, I was already sold, and I think it was the cumulative user experience, nice touches that made it feel very friendly, like everything from the hilarious release notes to the moment when you're done reading all your messages and it says, "You're all done. Here's a pony." There was a friendliness to it and an approachability that I loved, but one of the things that I'm definitely most excited about over time is workflows and also some of the UI and UX improvements that we've made that make it really possible to parallelize tasks inside Slack. So recently-

Mike Gerholdt: Tell me more.

Bear Douglas: ... [crosstalk] recently. I mean, two years ago we released a product called models, which are popup overlays inside Slack, and you have to have a user interaction trigger for a developer to pop that up. Meaning I have to click a button or I have to launch a slash command. You can't just pop something up in Slack for me randomly, it's not the web circa 1997. You have to have a reason, and then we made those pop-over models pop outable so that you could have multiple Slack windows at any given time.
So if you were trying to complete a task that was a survey for a recent all-hands or filling out feedback for something that you knew was pending your feedback, you could keep Slack open and not be distracted by that task. You could go do it in another window, and I'm not sure I'm explaining myself all that well, to be honest, but that was a pretty transformative moment in the platform for me, which was the ability to not just have to interact with apps in the channel context. So they could have this separate space where you could take care of tasks.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, that's neat. Mine was, I was an admin in 2006, and I remember setting up my first dependent pick list, and rolling it out and everybody like, "Oh." So you select something at the top, like Apple, Microsoft, or Linux, and then below would give you then... It was dependent on your first selection. So you couldn't select Microsoft iOS 5 or something. Right? I remember setting that up and like rolling it out, and people are like, "That's really cool. That must have taken you forever." I was like, "Yep, sure it did." But just the power of like, "You know, I made a thing that normally looks like it would take code and I just deployed it right away and I could just easily edit it." It just felt super, super powerful. The same with like some of the Slack stuff that we do, it's you can almost kind of have a shorthand, right?
I think that's where I see a lot of this going is CRM 14 years ago when I started was how fast can you get a salesperson to update data records? Now the data record is updated through other systems and/or other interfaces based on contextual information put into something like a Slack. That's a future of CRM, right? It's not, "Did the person go in?" CRM 2007? Was, "Did you update your lead from new to first call?" Please, if you're doing that, you're so far behind. You should be, "No, the salesperson had a Slack conversation with the team about it, and Slack is updating Salesforce on all of these minor data points because the contextual conversation is happening in a collaborative space that moves that forward," right? The reporting in the CRM data is just how we look back and show progress, but the conversation's happening somewhere else. That's where I feel the next five years of CRM is going.

Bear Douglas: Absolutely, [inaudible] more. You can make that an automatic process instead of creating overhead where people have to report back or send information from one space to another, the more successful you are at keeping everything in sync. That's one of the big promises of Slack, is keeping everyone on the same page because everyone has the same view to a channel's data and conversation, and that helps keep everybody aligned.

Mike Gerholdt: As we kind of wrap up, because I want to make sure that [inaudible] cognizant of time. Can I just say I'm so glad that no one's Slack alert went off. That seems like a thing that shouldn't have to happen, but anymore coming out of the pandemic and spending two years on Zoom and GoToMeeting calls. I even saw it on a couple of documentaries about Silicon Valley. You could hear the Slack notification in the background.

Bear Douglas: Yeah. Luckily, I have my pres presenter mode notes about things that I have to turn off and on. So yeah. I'm glad that nothing got picked up, but the work was still happening in the background.

Mike Gerholdt: No, absolutely. Absolutely. So sending admins off, hopefully they enjoyed this episode. We brought up Google Wave. I think that might be the first Google Wave discussion. From your advice and your deep technical knowledge, we have Trailblazer DX coming up. Why, or should admins be thinking about Slack?

Bear Douglas: I'm curious to hear what they're curious about, and I know that's kind of a cop out, but I've given you some of my top tips for channel design. Some of the top tips for creating templates to set teams up for success. So they know what's expected of them, and what good team behavior looks like in Slack. But we are a friendly bunch and we really want to hear from the trailblazers and the admins about what they need, that we might not have heard from our customers before. So I want to make everyone aware of a few channels where they can reach us.
Obviously, if you're going to be at Trailblazer DX, please come and say hello, because there'll be plenty of us there to chat with. But you can also find us at the Slack community in general, which is We love to talk about Slack and our tips and tricks and how we can make it better. We also have an absolutely awesome customer experience team who are friendly and love working with admins on making their experience better, and you can reach them at I know that that sounds kind of impersonal, like an email address, but we're around constantly on email and on Twitter, and we're really excited to talk to you. So do reach out.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, you've got to start somewhere, right? I mean, I remember that my first giving Slack feedback and the response I got was like, "Oh ,wow. You're like a real human that read it." And kind of figured out where I was coming from and was like, "Yeah, we really should have that, and we're probably working on it. We just don't have it right now." I was like, "Oh, my God, who are you people?" So akin to getting these plain vanilla responses right? From when you submit feedback to other companies, and this is like, "No, this is genuine. That's a really good idea. We should be doing it."

Bear Douglas: Yeah. Yeah. We have an awesome team, and a lot of people jump in at various different points. I enjoy helping out in the queue. I haven't done it in some time, but when we launched the redesign, which you might remember was right around spring of 2020, there was a lot of feedback coming in about that absolutely, and so more of us were on deck, and it was a great moment to have that direct connection with customers.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, Bear, I appreciate you being on the pod, and I look forward to hearing about all of the feedback that you got and we should do a follow-up podcast on that.

Bear Douglas: Sounds great. Thank you so much for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: You bet. So it was great to have Bear on the podcast. I look forward to her coming back and speaking more as the Slack platform continues to evolve and empower Salesforce Admins. If you are going to Trailblazer DX in April, find Bear, find the Slack team, hit them up. Start asking questions, because some cool tech that it's really going to help everybody in the organization, and it's just fun, new stuff to learn. So if you want to learn more about all the things Salesforce Admins, go to to find more resources, including any of the links that I mentioned in the episode, as well as a full transcript, of course, you can stay up to date with us on social, we are @SalesforceAdmns. No I on Twitter.
You can follow my co-host Gillian Bruce. She is back. Gillian K. Bruce on Twitter. Of course I'm on Twitter as well, give me a follow. I am @MikeGerholdt. I promise you my Twitter feed will ensure you don't miss a single cool article and/or maybe a fun picture of my dog, worth a follow. Anyway, let's stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We will see you in the cloud.

Direct download: Slack_Best_Practices_for_Admins_with_Bear_Douglas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Jeff Berger, VP, Director of Salesforce Operations at Academy Bank.


Join us as we talk about what’s happened since his last time on the pod and what he’s learned about how to be proactive as a tech leader in your organization.


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

From solo Admin to Director of Salesforce Operations

The last time we talked to Jeff, he was a Salesforce Admin who needed to quickly implement an app to help with the Payment Protections Program (PPP loans). For those of you keeping track at home, that was August 2020. “It was really a watershed moment for Salesforce at Academy Bank,” he says, “it shifted the mindset of leadership and they started to see Salesforce more as a platform on which you could develop custom applications like this.”


The biggest implication of all this is that Jeff has gone from a solo Admin to the head of a Salesforce Department. They’ve moved from sitting in IT to being a part of the Commercial Lending Group and Jeff has a fancy new Director title. “Things have really changed a lot since I was sitting in my house over a weekend frantically building custom objects,” he says.

Show, don’t tell


With a new title comes new responsibilities and for Jeff, that also means taking responsibility for everyone’s ability to get the most out of the platform. “If you’re going to have a Salesforce license at Academy Bank, I have to make sure you can do 100% of your job on the platform,” he says, “and conversely, if I can’t get you to do 100% of your job on the platform, I’m interested in learning how to make it so you do 0% of your job on the platform.” This all-or-nothing approach minimizes the need for associates to do any context switching when they have to jump from app to app.


One thing that has really helped is getting leadership to buy in but getting to that point means finding a way to show, not tell. “You can have a lot of conversations about what a tool like Salesforce could do for an organization,” Jeff says, “but until leadership actually sees it in action I don’t think you really understand.” Delivering a fully-featured custom dashboard on a 3-day-old deployment really opened a lot of eyes.

How to be a tech leader in your organization


“When you’re a younger Admin, you can let the business define the technology,” Jeff says, “but in 2022 technology can be a driver of the business and not the other way around.” At a bank, for example, executives are reading things about the financial industry and digital transformation, but they don’t necessarily know what’s out there or what the tech they already have can actually do.


As a product owner of the platform, it’s really important to have a vision for the future. You need to demonstrate to the organization what you could do with the tool that you already own and it’s your job to push the business a little bit. “There’s this really constructive friction between the technology and business,” Jeff says: the business thinks they know how they want to do things but that’s usually informed by how they’ve always done it. It’s your job to learn new ways to improve on business processes and push your organization to be better.


Podcast swag

Learn more




Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!


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 Jeff Berger, VP Director of Salesforce Operations at Academy Bank. Now, if you recall, it wasn't but a couple years ago that we connected with Jeff when he was a Salesforce admin at Academy Bank about how he built an app in just a few hours and deployed it over a weekend. Now it's two years later, and I thought, "Hey, let's catch up with Jeff and see what he's been up to." And, wow, let's get a little insight into that new title, Director of Salesforce Operations. I like that.
But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news, of course. If you haven't seen it on Trailhead, there is a new module for the Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right. The webinar Trailhead Live/Presentation, you have loved and listened to is now available as a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, I want you to head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get that new Essential Habits Trailhead badge. If you check my profile, I already have it. So now let's get Jeff on the podcast. So Jeffrey, welcome back to the podcast.

Jeff Berger: Thank you. It's so great to be back, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And I say back because the last time we spoke was April 23rd, 2020.

Jeff Berger: A lifetime ago.

Mike Gerholdt: Two lifetimes ago.

Jeff Berger: Yeah, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: But I'll put a link in the show notes. The reason we spoke, you had this, you gave this great presentation at a user group, and you talked about how you created an app in just a few hours over the weekend because if we rewind the clock, there was a lot of things changing in the world in March and April of 2020. One of them was, I believe it was called the Paycheck Protection.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. Paycheck Protection Program. That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: Program. That's the third P.

Jeff Berger: Yes. Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: I always want to say "Act," and I'm like, "No, it wasn't. It wasn't at Act."

Jeff Berger: I've said PPP enough in the last two years that it's definitely drilled into my brain. But yeah, you're right. I work in Academy Bank, and as a bank, there was a lot of pressure on us to help get funds out into the world for the folks who were stuck at home and the businesses who were suffering because of the early days of the pandemic. And I really appreciated you reaching out and pulling me out of the podcast to share my story. I had a chance to talk a little bit about leveraging Salesforce as a platform for this brand new program that had never existed before, and I got to share that on the user group, like you mentioned, with my co-leader Dale Ziegler, shout out to Dale.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh. Hey, Dale.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. I love it. And things have really progressed since then. So it's great to be back on the pod to share what I've been up to.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So that's exactly why I wanted to have you back. I feel like we do a really good job of finding these great stories and then, "Cool," we blast them out into the universe and we just, "Hey, onto the next one." I was like, "Yeah, but there's all kinds of cool stuff that happened." And so I wanted to find out from you ... So that happened, and then we've gone through two years of a pandemic, but the world didn't stop. So what have you been up to?

Jeff Berger: Wow. What haven't I been up to? I think this whole paycheck protection program journey and building this app on the platform, it was really a watershed moment for Salesforce at Academy Bank. Before that, I think the platform was really viewed as one application in the tech stack. It was something alongside all the other apps, and it did one very specific thing for us, in our case, commercial lending. And I think when I was able to jump in with Salesforce and stand something up as quickly as I did and start bringing in applications right away, I think it really shifted the mindset of the leadership at Academy Bank, and I think they started to see Salesforce more as a platform on which you could develop custom applications like this. And it's really, really opened up the hearts and minds of leadership, and I think put more pressure in a positive way on myself and my new department, Mike. I think that's one of the most exciting things to share.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, I mean, last we spoke, you were the department.

Jeff Berger: That's right. I was the department. I was over in IT on an island. Didn't really fit in with the rest of the product support managers. And now I'm over in the commercial lending group. So that's a big change, and I was able to hire a couple of associates. So I'm not a team of one. I'm a team of three now, which is really outstanding, and kudos to Academy for investing in the platform. And I've got a fancy new director title. So things have really changed a lot since I was sitting in my house over a weekend, frantically building custom objects.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So I envision right now, if I was listening to this podcast, which I would, if I was mowing. We live in the Midwest, and I think it's going to snow until July.

Jeff Berger: Oh, gosh. Yeah. I'm more likely to be plowing than mowing right now.

Mike Gerholdt: Don't say that. But if I was an admin, I would say, "Okay, wait a minute. So back in 2020, Jeff built this app. He was in the same position I was." Every time I talk to you, I'm like, "I remember when my career was at that point."

Jeff Berger: Totally.

Mike Gerholdt: So what happened after the podcast? I mean, what tactically were some of the conversations that you feel you had that were instrumental in getting leadership to think of, just one, Salesforce as a platform that you can build on? Because to be honest with you, we put that messaging everywhere, but it's like when you buy those non-stick pans at the mall, in those demo stores. You're like, "Yeah, whatever. They're not non-stick." And then the guy puts melted caramel sugar-

Jeff Berger: Yes. Show, not tell, right?

Mike Gerholdt: And it slides right off. You're like, "Oh, I absolutely need one of those now."

Jeff Berger: Yes. I totally agree. I always say one of the things people at work have heard me say this a million times, Salesforce is a really expensive application, but it's a really cheap platform. And my job, I feel like I really have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the platform effectively, and that means figuring out ... If you're going to have a Salesforce license at Academy Bank, I have to figure out how to make sure that you can do 100% of your job on the platform. And conversely, if I can't get you to do 100% percent of your job on the platform, I'm interested in learning how to make it so that you do zero percent of your job on the platform, right? Because what we don't want is to create an environment where our associates are contact switching and jumping around from app to app.
So back to your original question about what specific conversations do we have, your point about the non-stick pans in the store I think really hits home. You can have a lot of conversations about what a tool like Salesforce could do for an organization, right? But until you actually see it in action, you being a leader of that organization, I don't think you really understand. It wasn't so much the conversations that I had in that moment or directly after that moment. It was, "Hey, we've been live for three days and I can give you a fully featured dashboard with drillable reports where you can hit the little refresh button and see applications flowing in every single day." I mean, there's nothing that executives ...
I always joke dashboards and reports are a gateway drug, and executives just eat that stuff up, right? So showing how the platform is impacting the organization and leveraging the platform itself to do that spotlight is just mission critical, right? I think I talked about this last time I was on the podcast, but I would just reiterate. If you are not taking advantage of the reporting and dashboarding capabilities on the platform to showcase the automation that you're putting in place, you're really doing yourself and the platform a disservice because it's really difficult for especially non-technical executives or executives who maybe think more in terms of dollars and cents.
When we start talking about things like flow and process builder and things like that, their eyes glaze over, right? But if you can translate that into dollars and cents, or minutes and hours saved, "Hey, I built this automation and I have it right to a custom object that tracks the time that it saved every single time that the automation runs, and now I can put in black and white on a report page that we've saved you hundreds and hundreds of minutes since we put this in place," that is a huge win. And that's something that you can take right to the bank.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Oh, nice metaphor there. Take it to the bank.

Jeff Berger: Thank you. Yes. I try to get it in.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, I see what you did. But I love what you said because I think it's analogous to how tech and maybe the whole Silicon Valley movement is, is you've done a thing. Now what's next?

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: You wake up and you hustle the next day, the next day, the next day. I mean, it's not you just put this thing out, sat back, "Cool. I built this app. Look at how awesome I am."

Jeff Berger: Right. Right.

Mike Gerholdt: What can we do next? What can we conquer next? And I think that ferocity of just going after things and not sitting still.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It's analogous to how people can really go about their career. There was a time in place in the US where you graduated from college and employers knocked at your door. Now they don't. They don't.

Jeff Berger: No they sure don't.

Mike Gerholdt: You've got to go to them, right? You've got to hustle, or you go back home and live in your parents' basement.

Jeff Berger: Yep.

Mike Gerholdt: It's the same with you. I think because a lot of the questions that I would envision having as an admin, "Oh, I built this thing. Now what do I do next?"

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: What are you doing next? Right? What is your vision? And it sounded like your vision was, "I've got to do this thing. I've got to find these pain points."

Jeff Berger: Right. Vision is such an important word, Mike. I would say when I think back to an earlier part of my career, I was probably more satisfied with doing what I was asked, I guess, and I'll explain what I mean. When you're a younger admin, a more junior admin, you take projects as they come, and the business really defines the technology. And one of the things that I think I've learned as I've grown and matured is in 2022, technology can really be a driver of the business and not the other way around. And what I mean by that is, again, executives are leaders.
I'll use the bank as an example. The types of materials that leaders are consuming at a bank like Academy, they're reading banking magazines and they're watching banking YouTube videos. And yes, there are many conversations in banking, like in all industries, about digital transformation and about technology, but they don't necessarily know what's out there, and they don't even know what's right at home that they already own. Right?
And so I think as an admin, or to put it more broadly, as a product owner of the platform, I think it's really important that you have a vision for the next six, 12, 18, 36 months, and that you help demonstrate to the organization, sometimes in real practical terms, and sometimes in more esoteric potential terms. But I think you need to demonstrate what you could do with the tool that you already own. And I think you need to push the business a little bit. There's this really constructive, I don't know, friction between the technology in the business, right?
The business thinks they know how they want to do stuff. A lot of that has probably been informed by how they've done it in the past. And that's not inherently a bad thing, but getting somebody who could be a little annoying coming in and poking the bear and saying, "Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, I did this cool trail on Trailhead that taught me about how the best companies do service, and I noticed that we are not doing service that way. So what if we try to do service more like these other companies?" Right?
So yeah, vision is really, really critical. And being able to communicate effectively that vision to the key stakeholders in the organization and rally the troops, it's all really critical. I always say that my secret weapon is my theater background and my ability to read a room and really have empathy for the stakeholders that I'm working with. It's really easy in those types of conversations to write off folks like, "Oh, that's just how you've always done it, and they don't know anything, and whatever, whatever," but I think you just have to stay positive and understand that everyone in the organization is doing the best that they can. And it's about getting everyone rowing their ores in the same direction on a boat built out of Salesforce.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, there's a lot of metaphors to impact there. That's-

Jeff Berger: Yeah, yeah. I'm Mr. Metaphor.

Mike Gerholdt: I think one thing that I'd be curious to know how you addressed and what came out of it and maybe what you'll change or not, do different, is we talked shortly after it felt like the world went into lockdown, and you and I had a great discussion of just how we even unpack groceries because that was a thing.

Jeff Berger: It was.

Mike Gerholdt: Forever, different generations will be marked by things they did. My grandparents saved all the butter dishes. I never went to school with Tupperware. I always had a butter dish with my sandwich in it.

Jeff Berger: Your Country Crock, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, yeah. Everybody ate stuff out of Country Crock. And I feel like, I'll call it my generation, is going to be marked by, "Oh, you're the generation that wipes down its groceries."

Jeff Berger: Oh, yeah. I was putting them in sinks full of soapy water.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I know. We all were.

Jeff Berger: It's wild.

Mike Gerholdt: We all were.

Jeff Berger: Crazy.

Mike Gerholdt: But along with wiping down groceries, we also went into, I'll call it virtual office mode. So everything was a hangout or a GoToMeeting or Zoom or whatever. As you went through those two years, obviously, you were successful because you got promoted, but you had to do user training, user acceptance, user feedback. That was all virtual. When we started to record this pod, you were in the office.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: A lot of people are going back in the offices. Truth be told, we know that some people never really left.

Jeff Berger: Right.

Mike Gerholdt: And some people couldn't. The people that had to work in the grocery stores and stuff, they didn't really have an option to work from home.

Jeff Berger: That's right. That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: What did you find will you keep as habits or as things that you picked up during the pandemic that actually were effective, and what are you excited to you go back to?

Jeff Berger: That's such a great question. I think one of the things that I'm going to retain is the empathy of engaging with somebody in a new environment, like we all were. Right? I think when you think about doing end user training, for example, or collecting user feedback, in the before times, I think there was a lot of assumptions being made or, I don't know, you took for granted the fact that folks were a cube away or an office away, and if somebody needed help, they would just get up and walk and ask you, right? But the reality is they weren't. They weren't doing that, even though you thought they would.
And the pandemic and doing everything virtually forced me and others to make a concerted effort to reach out and get in front of people and say, "Hey, I haven't seen you in three weeks. And I know when we were in the office, you would stop by my office once a day and ask me a quick Salesforce question, right? Well, now that's not possible. So I have to carve out time to, and I want to carve out time to sit with you, whether that's one on one, whether that's office hours, or however you want to frame it." But you really have to put the user front and center in a way that I think it was easy to forget about when we were all physically in the same location. So I would say that I'm going to be better in the future, whether I'm in the office or not, about engaging my end users in a proactive way and less of a reactive, break/fix case management type way. And I hope others do the same.
I think it's been really powerful to see the feedback roll in on the types of office hour sessions that I've been having. People who have been using the application for a long time are reaching out and saying, "Hey, I love that you did this. I love that you're doing more of these. I'm learning things that I didn't know were possible, and I thought I knew everything about Salesforce." So that's just been really exciting. And I would say the other thing, too, is being more open to bringing in folks from outside your traditional footprint. Again, I want to say kudos to Academy. I was recently going through the process of hiring an associate and very, very typically, I think, our bank has stayed focused on our physical footprint in Denver, in Phoenix, in Kansas City. But this time they said, "You know what? We get it. Go cast the net wide. Go national. See if you can find the best fit for our organization in Montana or in New Hampshire or Florida."
So that's been really awesome to see, and it's not just in my department. I think it's really opened up the bank, more generally, to being flexible, even as we're returning to work, right? I guess it's a little bit of a two sides of the same coin. So I would say keep it open and have empathy, right? And be proactive in the way that you reach out to those users and engage them, maybe in a way that you didn't before.

Mike Gerholdt: I think that's amazing because the ability to bring staff on that are from other parts of the United States, or world, depending on where you want to go, just adds such variety to brainstorming and creative problem solving that helps enhance the experience for everyone, right? It makes it more fun to come to work.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It makes for better solutions. I do agree. Boy, there for a while, I think we were a little bit spoiled with ... I'll say spoiled with online user groups because I could just pop two, three user groups off a day and-

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And user groups that I could hit maybe a Sydney in the evening. I could hit a New York in the afternoon, and it was perfect. And physically, I could never make those.

Jeff Berger: Sure, sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It was so interesting to join and have people on. I believe I was on the Springfield, Missouri user group, and I was on there because I still have connections from when Zac Otero was down there.

Jeff Berger: Oh, sure. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And we were speaking and talking, and they had people on from different parts of India. They had a couple people on, I forget, from different countries. And it was so interesting because you know that maybe that never would've happened.

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Right? Like, "Hey, let's get on a plane and fly 23 and a half hours from India to go to the Springfield, Missouri user group."

Jeff Berger: Absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: [crosstalk]

Jeff Berger: I think it's helped to, I know in your role, you're always on the hunt for new stories to tell, and I think for better or for worse, I think for better, it's really opened our eyes to some folks that were ... They were doing great work, but we didn't know about it.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Jeff Berger: I'll shout out Terry Miller, recent MVP. He was doing some awesome stuff, but I don't think the admin community, writ large, would've known about it if we didn't all get forced online and had to scour for materials. And then there was Terry with all sorts of great learning sessions and content. So I think it's really neat. It's been certainly a silver lining to the move online. And I think the same is true in our day-to-day jobs as well, right?
It opened up the conversation to include more folks because it was easy for anybody anywhere to jump on a Zoom. When maybe, traditionally, those same meetings would've been a little more closed off. That would've been limited to the people on that floor or in that building or in that region. And now it's really easy to pull in branch managers from across our entire network and share best practices. And we're all comfortable and familiar with that motion in a way that we weren't 24 months ago.

Mike Gerholdt: So speaking of "ago," we did a Dreamforce, and we'll do another one this year. They keep popping up. But one thing that we rolled out that I thought was really cool, and we're working to expand on this. So more to come. But I would love to get your take on we added Salesforce admin skills in our Dreamforce keynote, and I'll put a link in the show notes so you can see those skills. But this was a lot of research done by the team gathering feedback. We sat in on focus groups. We did a lot of stuff with various analysts to hone down, "What are those skills that admins need?" And we did that because, to be honest with you, some of the other tech personas are to the point that they're stereotypes. I mean, that in a positive way. The way that I always put is ... I'll change up my story. You can go to the grocery store and the cashier, pending you get a cashier, because I love self checkout. But-

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah, I'm a self checkout guy.

Mike Gerholdt: Depending on your cashier, "Oh, hit. Did you find everything okay?" "Yep." Blah blah. "So what do you do?" So in other industries you could say, "A bus driver. I'm a tow truck operator, a welder, a construction manager, or plumber," and they know what you do.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: They have an idea of what you do. In the tech world, there's a lot of different roles, a lot of different identities, but you could say, "Oh, I'm a software developer or just developer," and they, "Oh, okay. Probably writes code." Right? They would mostly, depending on the generation, either have like some crazy Sandra Bullock internet movie in their head or a computer hacker, right? But for the most part, it's like write code. But if you say Salesforce admin, they just look at you.

Jeff Berger: Oh, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Right? And so we put this out so that we have a common language of skills. All that to say, if you're still listening, I would be curious to know over the last two years you went from Jeff Berger, "I create apps over the weekend," to director. What of these skills did you lean on harder, and what skills are you looking to grow?

Jeff Berger: That is an incredible question. Salesforce admin has always been a tricky name, right? It's a tricky role to nail down. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And the answer to what skills I leaned on, I think it's important to call out. They may not be the skills that you need to lean on out there, listening right now, because as a Salesforce admin and somebody, like myself, who's bounced around from company to company and seen different orgs at different levels of maturation, I think you learn really quickly that every Salesforce story is different. Every org's journey is different. Every company's journey with the platform is different. And so I just want to put that caveat out there that one size does not fit all, and depending on how long ago your implementation was, how well your implementation went, how bought-in your executive leadership are, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, your results may vary.
So definitely take a look at the skills that Mike's going to put in the show notes, because I think they're all spot-on for different parts of the Salesforce org lifecycle. But for me, I'll say one of the first things that comes to mind is change management, change management, change management. Change management is such a challenge. And obviously, for me, it first reared its head in the context of this very specific app, right? This very specific, "Hey, we've got a new paycheck protection program and we need to train everybody not only on how to push the buttons to make the computer do what I wanted to do, but also the ins and outs of the actual program itself."
At the end of the day, we were underwriting loans, basically. Right? And so that's not something that you can just immediately jump in and do without any prior knowledge or any tools on the platform that can help guide you. Right? So I would say change management, both for that specific app, and then ongoing as I continue to try to tackle more use cases and bring more lines of business onto the platform. It's just been paramount. I'll share that over the last month, we've added another 25 to 30 users. And for the first time, we've started to engage our retail banking centers and our retail banking center managers. Up until this point, the platform has been commercial lending only, really. And that's been really exciting. But boy, has it really required a lot of change management training documentation to support this new user group who didn't have Salesforce experience for the most part, certainly didn't have Salesforce experience that was specific to our org and all of its idiosyncrasies.
So I'll say one more time, change management has just been paramount. And then I think to get to change management, to get to, "Okay, what are the things that I'm actually implementing, and how do I need to skill up my users to be able to use these tools?" To me, it's learner's mindset and designers' mindset, right? Learner's mindset has been relatively easy for me because I was new to banking when I joined the bank in 2019. So I've been forced to have a learner's mindset since I got to Academy Bank. But accepting that you don't know everything, no matter how many times you've built the same flow at five different stops, it might be a little different the sixth time, and you have to keep that in mind, right?
And then I think the designer's mindset is really critical because it's really easy to get, and I will say I'm the first one to admit I've done this. It's really easy to get caught up in the exciting tech aspects of Salesforce. Like, "Ooh, look at the cool thing I can build with Flow. Ooh, let's use orchestrator and build something awesome. Wow, look at the amazing things I can do with lightning app builder." And sometimes, and again, I've been guilty of this, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what you're really designing for, which is an end user, a business user, a specific task or job to be done.
And so really thinking about it, putting the customer front and center, customer here being your internal users, but I guess if you're dealing with experienced cloud, also your external users, and taking a step back and going, okay, let's pretend for a second that I don't know anything about Salesforce and I'm a new retail banking center manager who has to figure out how to engage my customers on this platform for the first time. What can I do as an admin or an app builder or a developer to design a user experience that is intuitive and that helps me, certainly, accomplish a given task with as few clicks as possible in the most efficient way possible, But also while teaching along the way, to a certain extent, leveraging the guided nature of what's available within the toolkit, whether that's a display text in a flow, whether that's some of the in-app guidance that's available now.
But you really have to make the platform be the one-stop shop for that end user. And having them jump out to some policy document or some process document that's saved over here on SharePoint, it's just going to increase friction and make it more challenging for that user to serve your customers. So I would call out those three, the change management piece, the learner's mindset, and the designer's mindset as the ones that I've really leaned on a lot over the last 24 months as I've continued to build my Salesforce empire and bring on more lines of business. But every single one of these skills, I think, is critical. And I use every single day, whether I'm consciously acknowledging it or not.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that was a loaded question anyway, but I appreciate your answer. And I think you really nailed it by saying everybody's journey is different and the skills that I leaned on might not be the skills you need to lean on. Right?

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: So-

Jeff Berger: Absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: That was great. Jeff, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to fill us back in on what's been going on the last few years. Hopefully, we don't go two years before we check back in.

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: At this rate, you'll be-

Jeff Berger: I'd love to be back.

Mike Gerholdt: ... president and CEO or something.

Jeff Berger: I'm coming for Brett's job.

Mike Gerholdt: So if that happens, let me know. It'd be fun to interview you.

Jeff Berger: Yeah, thanks. Appreciate it. This was a real blast. Thanks again for having me. And I just want to thank you and everything that the admin team does to support all the admins out there. And I think the steps you're taking with things like putting these skills out here, they're going to go a long way towards the admin community staking their claim again within the Salesforce ecosystem. So thanks for that.

Mike Gerholdt: I appreciate it. Thanks, Jeff.
It was great catching up with Jeff. I always appreciate hearing how admins are succeeding in their role. Jeff has a whole crew of people in two years. That is very exciting. That is the power of constantly staying focused on your career, focus on the skills that you need to succeed, and building really cool apps. I bet there's some really neat stuff there. And shout-out to the Kansas City user group, Dale Ziegler. Of course, if you're in Kansas City, Dale is the person to connect with.
Oh, and totally go and have barbecue. Man, I mean, that sounds cliche, but that was one of the best times that Dale and I had. So I'm going to have to get down to Kansas City again and have barbecue with everybody. But if you'd like to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to to find more resources and links to everything that we mentioned in this episode, as well as the full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no "I," on Twitter. My co-host Gillian Bruce is @GillianKBruce, and of course I am @MikeGerholdt. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next step episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: How_Salesforce_Admins_Can_Be_Business_Leaders_with_Jeff_Berger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Scott Beeler, Lead Solution Engineer at Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about using Slack for sales and how Scott uses it on a day-to-day basis to process his job function.

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

Why Slack and sales go hand-in-hand

“My job as a Lead Solution Engineer is to be the conduit between our customers and Salesforce to ensure that whenever we enter into a new sales motion we have the appropriate specs for the customer and align the Salesforce specs accordingly,” Scott says. He comes from a Sales background, starting out as an Account Executive calling leads, but he heard about the work that the Solution Engineers several floors above him were doing and the role sounded perfect for him. When he had an opportunity to interview for it, he did a lot of hard work and got a lot of help from his network to ace it.

Doing the job involves coordinating between a number of folks spread out across different areas and levels of the Sales organization. Scott’s talking to the Account Executive, technical folks from Enterprise Architecture, Sales support, folks who manage post-sale, contracting, procurement, security, and more. He used to rely on Chatter so the transition to Slack was tough, “but the more that we as an organization forced ourselves to use Slack the better it became to collaborate with my colleagues to stay organized and get everyone together on the same page to progress the deal effectively,” he says.

Slack best practices to keep everyone in the loop

One of the best practices Scott and his team learned from Slack is to make account-specific channels to maintain organization. It gives you one place to go to get all of the information you need to begin working on an opportunity. Scott also recommends checking on bookmarks, where team members can pin key resources at the top of every Slack channel. You can also take advantage of threading to have, for example, a thread for a specific meeting that hosts all of the deal prep, dry runs, and even conversations during the presentation.

The result is kind of like a radio station you can tune into about the account that can dramatically speed up the ramp time to get a member of your sales team involved in the conversation. And tools like threading cut down on the notifications unless you need to be involved in specific conversations, with mentions allowing you to assign work and questions appropriately.

Better transparency through Slack

The real question, Scott says, is “how can Slack empower sales organizations to be more effective in their role?” At the end of Salesforce’s fiscal year, Scott’s manager created Slack channel dedicated to the deals currently set to close. At the end of each day, their sales reps had to input the status of the deal and any resources they may need to move it along and close it. There was more transparency but, more importantly, it empowered folks like Scott’s area Vice President to bring in the resources needed to close those deals.

When Scott had a demo instance break minutes before a big presentation, he was able to jump into Slack and use global search to look through keywords in specific channels for that demo org. He was able to find someone who had his exact issue and learn how they resolved it.

There’s so much in this episode, to be sure to listen to the whole thing for Scott’s tips on rolling out Slack and why it’s important to let people make mistakes so they can learn how to make it work for them.

Podcast swag


Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!

Direct download: On_Using_Slack_for_Sales_with_Scott_Beeler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Kate Elliott, Senior Manager of Success Strategy and Global Programs at Salesforce.


Join us as we talk about her perspective on being a multi-cloud Salesforce Administrator.


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

How Kate became a multi-cloud expert


As time goes on and businesses continue to expand and explore new products, the likelihood that you may be the Admin for multiple clouds increases, so we wanted to talk to Kate. She’s 10 times certified, a five-time 5-star ranger who started in the education field, jumped to a consulting firm where she learned how to implement Marketing Cloud, and then became an accidental Admin. She learned everything she knows from Trailhead and eventually worked as a Success Guide to help customers with Marketing Cloud, the majority of them being multi-cloud customers.


When J. met Kate, she was the only nearby, and also the only Marketing Cloud expert. “Every time I think about a career advancement, a lot of it was from learning what other people do and truly taking an interest,” Kate says.

Why terminology gets confusing in multi-cloud 

Marketing Cloud is very different from other platforms. “When I went from an end-user of CRM to implementing Marketing Cloud I remember being shocked,” Kate says, “there are a lot of terms that are the same word but mean something completely different in each cloud.”


Thinking about her end users and who she was building things for helped ground Kate. “I thought about what they wanted and how they wanted to do their jobs,” she says, “at the end of the day, my end users that I’m building for on both platforms want to be able to see what they need to do clearly, understand the steps as simply as possible, and make sure that they don’t do anything that will harm their relationship with their end-users.”

Take a step back from the technology

While Kate would build her priority list from what she was hearing from end-users, her best piece of advice is to make sure you’re translating from what they’re asking for to what they actually need. You run into this even more in cross-cloud work because many different industries use the same terms but they mean different things, especially with regards to reporting.


“What you are hearing from end-users or leadership or both, potentially, requires so much translation and parsing back what these terms mean in this context from the person who’s telling you it,” Kate says. Even more problematically, you can end up with solutions one cloud platform but not the others. By stepping away from the technology and prioritizing business operations, you can better implement and configure the technology.


Podcast swag

Learn more



Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!


Full show transcript

Jay: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, we are talking with Kate Elliott, senior manager of success strategy and programs at Salesforce, about being a multi-cloud admin. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the essential habits for admin success. That's right. The webinar/Trailhead Live/presentation, you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new essential habits Trailhead badge. Now let's chat with Kate.
Hello, you wonderful admin. Welcome back to another episode of the Salesforce admins podcast. I'm very excited because I'm joined by a colleague that I've had the pleasure of working with for a number of years here at Salesforce. I am joined by Kate Elliot, who's a senior manager of success, strategy and programs here at Salesforce, but that is not what we are going to talk about. We're not talking about her current role. We're talking about her perspective on being a multi-cloud Salesforce administrator. As time goes on and admins like yourself continue to explore new products and your business continues to expand, the likelihood that you may be admining multiple clouds continues to increase. We want to make sure that you are reflected and your interests are reflected in our conversations. So Kate, could you say hello and give yourself a little bit of an introduction to those folks out in the Salesforce ecosystem who have yet to learn who you are?

Kate Elliott: Sure. Thanks, Jay, and thanks for having me. It's nice to meet you all, meet you wonderful admin. My name is Kate Elliot, as Jay said. I'm based in Indianapolis. I currently work for the success strategy and program team. I am 10 times certified. I'm a five time, five star ranger. So big fan of all of our enablement here at Salesforce. I actually started my Salesforce career as an end user in the education field and then I jumped to a consulting firm, so to a partner, where I learned how to implement Marketing Cloud. From there, because I had been an end user for CRM, I became the accidental admin for this partner and I learned CRM all through Sales Cloud CRM, all through doing Trailhead. That's the entire way that I learned how to do it. I have a lot of experience with doing marketing cloud implementations, being the CRM admin, helping cross-cloud folks kind of get their bearings. And where I met Jay, at first, was working as a success guide, so helping our customers with Marketing Cloud and the majority of them being cross-cloud admins. So I guess the high level overview of who I am and why I'm here.

Jay: That is part of who you are and you are so much more, just like all human beings. You are your job and a million. You contain multitudes. That's what I'm saying here. Okay. So you brought up a really good point, I think, in where you and I started to interact with one another. We talk a lot with Salesforce admins specifically about the power of Salesforce administration by walking around. It's a little acronym that we call SABWA. Mike [Gerholdt] coined the term a number of years ago, and this idea of interacting with the people that are using the system that you are administrating. And in our case, we were colleagues that were sitting on the same floor, but we were kind of in different functional groups. If I recall correctly, you were the only individual that was sitting in the [clumps] nearby. It was also true that you were the only marketing cloud expert in the clumps that were nearby. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems right. Yeah?

Kate Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. That's absolutely correct. When I first joined Salesforce, speaking of us containing multitudes, what was really funny is my daughter was six months old, so everyone thought I had just come back from maternity leave. So they were like, "How did I miss you before?" I was like, "I'm brand new." I was the only success person who was office-based in Indianapolis. We had, I think, a couple people in various roles that were remote, but yeah, I was the one who came into the office and it was so amazing. Honestly, I love that acronym. That is, I would say, probably how I have advanced, every time I think about a career advancement. A lot of it, even before Salesforce, was just because of that, of learning what other people do and truly taking an interest. You just learn so much about yourself and about them and how you can help. It's always just led to really cool things for me.

Jay: Yeah. We talk a lot with our admins about this idea of having a learner's mindset and being curious and spending time with the people that are around you. What I like about the story between you and I and the other folks that we worked with, I'm now in Chicago, I'm no longer in Indianapolis, and the same is true for a number of the people that we used to work with, but I remain in touch with many of my former colleagues from the success guide group, what I enjoyed was, there was no functional reason for you and I to have a conversation. There was nothing related to the work that I was doing, or the work that you were doing, that necessitated either of us having a conversation with one another about anything professional whatsoever. But we got into this mode of like, Hey, here's a new employee.
You were interested to learn what we were doing. We were naturally curious and wanted to talk to you. We started to learn that there were some gaps in knowledge for people on the floor, myself, yourself, so we started having these conversations about what's it like in marketing cloud, what's it like in our core sales and service clouds and CRM. This conversation, I think, really enriched the work that everyone was able to do. For those out there, if you, dear admin, are unfamiliar with a success guide, this is a post-sale role. Our job is to meet with Salesforce customers after they've made a purchase and make sure that they're getting as much value out of the product as possible.
Based on the training that we were receiving at the time, it could be really difficult to advise someone if they were a multi-cloud customer, because you'd have a core engagement. Then, if they wanted to do something with marketing cloud, we had to kind of pump that over the fence. Even having conversations to figure out where we needed to connect our customers to help them be successful was very, very difficult and it was a huge boon to have Kate available to have conversations about not only her CRM experience, but also her marketing cloud experience. And then, as somebody who's been out there in the wild, working in a business, how did a business use both?
It's important to note that Sales Cloud technology, Service Cloud, anything that we refer to as core, that technology, while integrated with Marketing Cloud, or potentially integrated, depending on your particular implementation, you can have Marketing Cloud by itself, you can have Sales or Service Cloud by itself, you can also use both of those clouds together via a connector or integration, but that doesn't mean that admining, those two products is the same by any means, or even that functionally what you're trying to achieve is the same, or even there might be some settings that are key differences.
So Kate, you called out that you started as an end user of CRM, and then you moved into a role where you were doing a Marketing Cloud implementation, and then from there, you kind of had to backpedal into understanding CRM implementation, as well. I was wondering, for the purpose of the conversation with the admin that is listening in right now to this podcast wondering, "Okay, there's another cloud over there. How can I start to understand its purpose," what was your journey? Obviously you had that end user experience, but how did you, beyond Trailhead, start to engage with this idea of marketing automation, as well as customer relationship management? What was the process that you used to get there?

Kate Elliott: That's a great question. For learning Marketing Cloud, I read everything I could get my hands on. So Marketing Cloud and learning it is quite different from learning CRM. I think if you start with CRM and you start as a CRM admin, I actually think there's a little bit of a disadvantage when you're trying to learn Marketing Cloud because it's governed so differently that it's shifting the mindset, really. How I really approached it when I went from an end user of CRM and then when I got to the job, when I was suddenly implementing Marketing Cloud, I remember being shocked because the first day, when I was looking at Marketing Cloud, I was reading all the documents that they'd given me and I was expecting it to look just like CRM or the core product.
So then, when I actually dove into Marketing Cloud, it took me a while to orient myself in terms of, "Oh, when we say data here, this is what we mean when we say it. Here, this is what it means over here." And there are a lot of terms that are the same word, but they mean something completely different in the different clouds. So that took me quite some time to kind of wrap my head around to say, "Oh, when you mean campaign, for example, in Marketing Cloud, this is what they are. In core, this is what they are."
So I really took the approach of just having, to learn Marketing Cloud, to having to throw out almost all of my preconceived notions of what this would be and just learn it as something new and make the connections where I could so that I could see the similarities and the differences. Then, when I went back to being a CRM admin, it was honestly building on some of the fundamentals that I learned being a Marketing Cloud admin, because that was the first platform where I had been an admin, and then really trying to play to the strengths of the different platforms with how I approached just the role of the admin. I can go on and on about those features, but I'll pause there. Is that getting at your question in terms of the approach?

Jay: Yeah, I think it does. You've explained that there are some common fundamentals. There are two things that I kind of want to expand on in what I've heard you say. The first is, I'd love to know a little bit more about these common fundamentals. You had mentioned this idea of taking the preconceived notions that you had about one tech stack and just leaving it over there so that you can really understand what this thing is over here and then you started to make connections between them. So what were some things that you found to be fundamentals or some common skills that were necessary between CRM and marketing, for example?

Kate Elliott: So one big common theme, I suppose, that really drove me when I was learning both platforms and trying to make the connections was that in both platforms... So I guess background about me in terms of we all contain multitudes, I started my career in education and I was a teacher. So that's the context for of this, as being an admin and being in charge of both of these tech stacks. When I was thinking about the end users, when I was thinking about the systems that I was setting up, it was so clear to me that in both systems, what everyone wanted was it to be simple. Everyone wanted to know exactly who they were reaching out to. In both systems, having duplicates is not a great thing, but we handle them very differently. So it was a lot of what the similarities were to me were thinking about my end users, thinking about who I was building this for and really what they wanted in terms of how they wanted to live their lives and do their jobs.
That really changed my mindset in terms of how I would train people on both platforms, how I would think about how to prioritize what to build, was really just on, at the end of the day, my end users that I'm building for, they want to be able to see what they need to do clearly, understand the steps as simply as possible and make sure that they don't do anything that will harm their relationship with their end users, so having duplicates or reaching out to the wrong person at the wrong time. I think it holds true for CRM and Marketing Cloud. I just think that theme is there in both tech stacks, but if we get technical, I mean, I would say at the end of the day data structure is a big one, which the Marketing Cloud data structure functionally is very different than CRM, just in terms of how it works, but just this concept of knowing what is, if you do a one to many relationship, what's your one, when you think about parent records and just sort of how you would structure something in a Visio chart or something like that, I really saw a lot of similarities and comparisons with the data model that more naturally comes in the core platform and what people wanted to build in Marketing Cloud. It just made a lot of sense to me personally.

Jay: Yeah. I love this. So what I'm hearing is that you've got these kind of functional blocks to focus on, like data quality is what I consider a functional block or a concept. The users of CRM. Again, we have to think about purpose. This is a conversation that I have with admins very frequently and the internal team here and audience relations and admin evangelism. I'm really purpose driven. Why are people using the systems? Customer relationship management or CRM sales or service, it's all about knowing who your customer is, the behavior that they've taken, so that you're able to either sell to them or serve them and make sure that you're resolving their issues. Same thing is true for the platform, for the most part. If you're making custom platform apps, typically you've got some kind of customer component you're going to be interacting with.
When we look at marketing, we're thinking about the same thing. How are we communicating with people? We need to make sure that data is fresh, that it's up to date, that it's not duplicated, because at the end of the day, if we are ill-informed as Salesforce end users, in other words, if that data is incorrect and we fire that data off to somebody in an email template in Sales Cloud, or in a journey in a mass email over in Marketing Cloud, what we've just done has stubbed our toe and kind of frustrated the customer. Nobody likes an email that says, "Dear First Name." And no one likes an email that says, "My name is Jay," which is really, really unusual. I will often get emails that are just made up names, like, "Dear, Justin," and I know that it came from some kind of marketing automation. So this idea of data quality, that's an idea that seems to be in common across these clouds. We need that data quality so that our users can trust that the systems are going to deliver the value that they're looking for. Does that sound accurate to you?

Kate Elliott: Absolutely. And just to build on it a bit more, I think what data quality sometimes is, definitely, I think very admin focused, admin centric sort of language, but to your example with having the wrong first name, what it really means to the people that you admin are serving, your customers, what it really means is that you know who they are. I can't tell you, and I notice it more because I work in email marketing, so I notice all the various email things, but it is very frustrating when you feel like you have a relationship with someone or a brand or a company or an institution, then they communicate with you as if they don't know who you are, especially if that's something that you feel is very important to you. It can be incredibly frustrating to not have your wishes or your needs or who you are respected.
So to me, I just think so much of what it comes down to and what it comes down to with data quality is just really keeping that really just front and center of almost everything in either platform and again, how you handle it is very different, but it's just that trust, it's just that it's the building block of the relationship, it's the building of the marketing campaign. Yeah, it's a really key topic that was just pretty clear to me, especially as I became a more experienced admin, especially as I've helped more and more Marketing Cloud customers with what they're trying to do. It really comes down to that at the end of the day.

Jay: I think you covered that really well in saying that for you, whether or not you were trying to put a feature into Sales or Service Cloud, or if you were trying to bring some value on Marketing Cloud, it was the business prioritization of the business value of that feature that would really determine what you were going to deliver. You were connected to the needs of your end users and that is what created your burn list in order. A number one feature for your end users is the number one feature that you are going to try and build into the system, whether that is Sales Cloud or Service Cloud or any other cloud.

Kate Elliott: Yeah. So much of it is also interpreting what people really mean when they say things because so many-

Jay: Ooh, talk more about that. Talk about translation.

Kate Elliott: Yeah. I think, as a cross-cloud admin, that becomes your number one skill to develop is the translation, because I will talk to cross-cloud admins, especially in my previous role, I've talked to them all day, and it would be questions like, "Oh, my end user says that they want this campaign, but I built it in core and it's not reporting in Marketing Cloud," is a very specific example, "So I must be doing something wrong in all these things." What it came down to is, well, that's not how that feature works in Marketing Cloud. When they said campaign, what they really meant was that they want to understand how this particular initiative is doing over time. They were using the word campaign because that is what marketers use. That's how marketers talk and speak, especially in particular industries. And we have technical features that are called campaigns, but they're not necessarily the same thing.
You run into that so much with cross-cloud, because reporting's a big one. Which cloud doesn't make sense to pull out the data, which cloud doesn't make sense to do segmentation and all these things. When you are hearing from your end users or hearing from leadership or hearing from both, potentially, it just requires so much translation and really parsing back, "What do these terms actually mean in this context, from the person who's telling me it?" Because oftentimes, especially with certain buzzwords, I've worked with many admins and I've been guilty of it myself, where you build out this beautiful thing and you're like, "This is it. I did the term that you said. This is right," and then you kind of show them or you do a check-in and it's not what they meant at all. It's just especially true with cross-cloud, in my opinion.

Jay: It feels to me like, I'm taking a couple of notes here on the side, and this idea of what you're talking about is a time investment. To translate is to sit down with someone, understand what they mean, maybe take that back to your desk, think about it, consider it, and then that starts to form into a new idea that you can use and apply to technology. All of that costs time. As our admins out in the ecosystem can tell you, and as you know from your own experience, spending time, that is often our most restricted commodity. The resource that we have the least of is time. If we had infinite time, we could give everyone everything. But what I love that you've laid down here is that the value of spending that translation time, it is directly correlated to the quality of the solutions that you are configuring, and that gives you end user value. So that time in translation directly contributes to the impact that your marketing journey or your lead management in CRM, those things become more valuable because you're spending time translating. Is that accurate?

Kate Elliott: Yeah, I think absolutely. Just to build on it, what you run into with cross-cloud admining in terms of the translation and it being worth the time spent, there are some situations that you run into that honestly are a little bit counterintuitive with just how the platforms can work together. Without kind of taking that time and taking a step back, I've worked with cross-cloud admins who have heard feedback from various end users about a particular topic, and they were like, "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We handled it, we handled it, we handled it," and then it was like six or eight months later and as it turns out, they handled it in one platform and not the other, so they were actually sending emails to the wrong group of people because of this.
Where it gets tricky in my mind, in terms of the time investment, because I completely agree with you, time, oh, if only we had an extra hour in each day, I hear that, I hear that so deeply. I think you do kind of get this with the repetition and with understanding the people who you're working with and how they communicate with you. You eventually sort of learn the things that, if something's kind of bothering someone for a while, it might be worth a second look. It may not be the full process, but I think you eventually kind of get into what's worth a small investigation, a medium, or a large investigation to kind of see what's going on. But I will say, within the marketing platform especially, we used to say all time, a lot of times the marketing platform can be the expression of the core issues, because-

Jay: Ooh, interesting. Yeah, because it's downstream, right?

Kate Elliott: Yeah.

Jay: So folks, the issue here is, if we've got an integration between Sales Cloud or Service Cloud... Well, let me go simpler. If we've got Sales Cloud and we're trying to do lead generation or we're trying to manage conversions, getting people to purchase, we'll have data in Sales Cloud that will then move over to Marketing Cloud. If somebody's purchased, we might kick information back over to Service Cloud. We might even have email communication that goes out based on those service experiences, so we could go back to Marketing Cloud again. So when I'm hearing this idea of the expression of CRM, we have this phrase, garbage in, garbage out. If CRM sales is full of garbage, then you are automating and marketing that garbage in Marketing, which might put more garbage back in Service, which might put more garbage back in Marketing, which sounds like a whole lot of garbage.

Kate Elliott: It really is true. That's exactly what can happen. That's where it is very hard when you have that burn list, when you have all these things to develop and you have these different platforms, because if you get to the point where you're like, "Oh. No. I did whatever, a contact cleanup in Marketing Cloud yesterday. We should all be fine." Well, with the sync, unless if you fix some things on the other side, that may all be wiped out 20 minutes after you did it. That's where you start getting into these issues with, again, translating what people are really saying, trying to understand what they're seeing on the reports and how they're interpreting it, because I have worked with admins who have built entire reporting suites to try to solve the kind of quote unquote, reporting problem, but it was really a data problem and the report were actually right. Because the numbers were skewed, they thought that they had to be wrong. It wasn't. It was a problem with how the two platforms were working together and some of the fixes that they made on one didn't translate to the other. So that's where it can be very helpful to just read all the signals.

Jay: Something that I'm hearing in the way that you're describing this, I think, is perhaps a really valuable approach or piece of advice for the admin who's listening in right now. We're talking about technology, which is true. Salesforce makes Sales Cloud, we make Marketing Cloud, that's technology. But we're also talking about truly business workflow. And when we say business workflow, that's agnostic of technology. Business workflow is, as a sales rep, I need to receive a number of warm leads from marketing. I then need to touch those leads by sending emails, phone calls, in-person appointments, in the hopes of selling them something. We map all of those things into technology with a variety of tools. What I'm hearing you explain is, by prioritizing the business workflow or the way in which people do things, operations, I am better able to understand what I should do in the technology. So taking a step away from the technology can actually help you better implement and configure the technology.

Kate Elliott: Yeah, that's exactly it. I think, with cross-cloud, it's just especially important to do, because you are touching different technologies that work in different ways, that work in concert in some ways and in other ways there's tweaks you have to do on either side. You really have to understand what you want that business process to do to ensure that it's happening everywhere it needs to happen. I can't tell you how many panicked calls or emails I've gotten from admins because all of a sudden they realized a new technology feature and they're not sure how it fits into the business process because they're not actually sure what the business process is.
A lot of times what the help and the guidance that I would give as a success guide was actually taking three steps back from the technology to figure out, what did you actually want it to do? And how did you want it to be expressed within the Marketing Cloud platform versus your core platform and is that what's actually happening? And then from there we can go on into enablement and making sure how can we build structures to kind of keep these processes locked down? But it all has to start with, what do you actually want to have happen and where? And from there, you can kind of-

Jay: Yeah. What is actually happening, right?

Kate Elliott: Yeah. Yeah.

Jay: That's a huge distinction, as well. What do you want to happen and where do you want it to happen? Do you think it's happening right now? And is it actually happening right now? I love that. And I love that it's true, regardless of cloud. I have a question, as we're approaching the end of our time here, to those that say, "Eh, learning more than one technology is just too demanding and I don't think that it's possible," what do you say?

Kate Elliott: I say that it is demanding. I will not deny that learning multiple technology platforms is demanding. But it is certainly not impossible. I think everyone can do it. I graduated college a political science major. I taught in K12, I did college recruiting and then I ended up doing implementation, and then I ended up being a CRM admin, and then I ended up working at Salesforce. I think we all take such interesting career paths to get to where we are. But more than that, I think learning other platforms helps you understand the first platform, because it helps you understand where their capabilities or functionality that I really wish this platform had, and for me, it just increased my curiosity. It increased my curiosity to understand why I could maybe do something here and not there. And then I'd understand, "Well, how do people do it over here? And how do people do it over here?"
You can just start comparing and contrasting, and that is really where a lot of the deep learning comes in. If we think about again, showing my teaching roots, Bloom's taxonomy, that's really where you get to the deepest level of learning is where you start getting into comparisons, evaluations, and synthesis. And to me, that is what is so cool about Salesforce, is that we have all these different platforms. They all have their nuances and everything else. To me, what it does is it sharpens my awareness of what's happening on other platforms because you have something to contrast it with. So you have other ways of thinking, you have other priorities that you can learn from, and this is all still one happy Salesforce product family, so they all work together in different ways. To me, it really sharpened my knowledge and I think it made me a lot more analytical about what I was doing and it also deepened my empathy so much with my end users when I was learning a new platform, because it made me remember, "Oh yeah, I also remember when I didn't know what this word meant and this is a new term."

Jay: I love that. If I were to put bullets of most important things, using multi-cloud exploration as a way to deepen your empathy for end users, to me, feels like a great thing for admins to consider. That's something that I think we can all sit down and think about a little bit. Is there a way that I can explore this technology that I've been tasked with or that I have the opportunity to investigate and how can that deepen my understanding of what my users need and what their user experience is? And that's particular compelling to me because I've interviewed a number of the most recent guests that've been on the pod. Almost all of them have brought up this moment where they could opt into doing something at an implementation moment or not.
What I'm finding uncommon from a lot of our guests, yourself included, is like, "All right, great. Well, if I have this opportunity to learn this technology, I will dive into it using my unique perspective." You brought up being a teacher. We've had musicians and we've had people who've worked in gym operations recently on. It's really interesting to hear how those things start to inform your perspective as you're approaching new technologies. So I love that you're trying to educate your end users and to do that you need empathy, and so you're using your exploration of various clouds to bring that empathy to the table for them. Well, Kate, this was fantastic. I always love chatting with you and I really appreciate the time that you spent talking with me today and talking to the admin community. I'm curious, would you be willing to share some marketing cloud resources with me outside of this recording so that I can put them up on our blog?

Kate Elliott: Sure, sure, absolutely. Yeah. There's a lot of really great marketing cloud resources out there. As I said earlier, some of it looks different, it feels a little different in terms of the content and the approach, but there's a lot of really cool resources out there.

Jay: Awesome. Well, thanks again, Kate. Really appreciate you coming onto the pod and can't wait to talk to you sometime soon. Maybe we'll I'll give you another invite to have you come back and talk about another brilliant idea.

Kate Elliott: Anytime, Jay. Anytime.

Jay: All right, we'll see you.

Kate Elliott: Thanks.

Jay: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce, go to to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this podcast, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @Salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. Gillian is @Gilliankbruce. Mike is @MikeGerholdt. I am @Jay__mdt. Stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: On_Multi-Cloud_Administration_with_Kate_Elliott.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT