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TrailheaDX 2018 Recap

A great event for developers and admins alike, this year’s TrailheaDX incorporated the hands-on learning of Destination Success to offer attendees a wide range of learning opportunities.
TrailheaDX 2018 Recap

TrailheaDX 2018 Recap

Bootcamp

For the first time ever, TrailheaDX (TDX) attendees had the chance to spend an additional three days in San Francisco to participate in a “bootcamp” of their choice. In these bootcamps, Salesforce educators either prepared you for a specific certification exam or helped you better understand specific features of Salesforce. Whether you’re aiming to pass your first Salesforce certification or working your way towards becoming an architect with years of experience, one of the eight bootcamp tracks was created with you in mind. With knowledgeable and engaging instructors, as well as additional certification prep materials and practice tests, the available resources set you up for success in your complimentary post-bootcamp exam. Best of all, you become part of the TDX’18 group on the Trailblazer Community with the opportunity to reach out to your instructors and classmates even after the event.

Main Conference

Held at the Moscone West Convention Center, the main event was full of familiar product and partner booths, workshop sessions, and keynotes. Coming into TrailheaDX with many integration-related questions, it was helpful to walk around the partner demo area and speak with product representatives. In addition to the information they provided, there were many opportunities to see demos and ask questions in product-specific sessions throughout the event. When your questions aren’t partner-related, Salesforce product booths are only a few steps away, staffed with people excited to answer your questions and demonstrate new ways you’ll be able to customize your org following the upcoming release, including “local actions” in flow.

Arkus at TrailheaDX 18 Keynotes

In addition to Salesforce employees announcing exciting updates about the platform (such as certification maintenance moving to Trailhead!), TDX featured speakers such as Betty Reid Soskin and Mark Hamill. If you haven’t heard of Betty Soskin, her inspirational story is worth a read! She is the oldest active National Park Ranger (not just the kind we aspire to be on Trailhead) and a true Equality Trailblazer. Betty was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and continues to have a huge impact in ensuring that our National Parks preserve the reality of history as it occurred.

TrailheaDX provided attendees with plenty of opportunities to practice their Salesforce skills and understanding through hands-on activities, speeches, and networking with other Salesforce enthusiasts. Overall, I found this event to be extremely engaging and would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to attend!

Please feel free to comment below, on our Twitter, on the Salesforce Community, or chat with me directly @linda_adams646

Preparing for Segmentation

You’re ready to speak to your prospects and customers one-to-one, and that means segmenting your audience...but where to start?
Preparing for Segmentation

Preparing for Segmentation

Personalization is the name of the game; every interaction marketers have with prospects or customers now needs to have some sort of personal touch. It’s no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity. Email and marketing automation platforms help marketers to send personalized content without having to create hundreds or thousands of different versions of the same message. Depending on the platform, the tools may have different names, but they all aim to allow marketers to easily segment their database to send the most critical information to their target audiences.

How do I know I’m ready for segmentation?

It’s not unusual for smaller marketing teams to feel that segmentation is something only larger organizations do. While there is a time commitment, especially upfront and when planning content for the year or the quarter, there is no rule that a database must have X number of prospects before it can be segmented. Here are some questions to ask to know if your team is ready:

  1. Do we categorize Contacts in our CRM, based on their relationship with our organization?

  2. Do we sell a product that may be of interest to different age groups, interest groups, or other diverse audiences?

  3. Do we sell different products and/or services for different use-cases?

  4. Do we have multiple forms on our website, in different areas, that correspond with different requests of our organization (such as product interest, request for information vs donate, etc.)?

  5. Do we have audience members in multiple countries?

  6. Do we struggle to provide content that is valuable to all people visiting our website or receiving our emails?

These are just some examples - the key is that if your database is diverse, then segmentation is worth starting. Segmentation goes beyond using dynamic tags for things like first name; it is about speaking to the interests of a specific group within your global list of prospects.

I’m Ready - Now What?

Segmentation requires planning.

One of the easiest ways to segment an audience is to allow the audience to segment themselves by using a subscription preferences page. Most marketing automation platforms make it easy to build this page, an alternative to a universal unsubscribe where potential interests, contact cadence, or other preferences are made available for a subscriber to choose.

Chances are, if you have ever unsubscribed from an email, you’ve seen one of these. The Medium blog, Really Good Emails, made a handy list of some of the best ones out there. 

If done right, a preference page will allow your audience to segment themselves. Their preferences can be tied to lists that are used for sending specific content to those people who specifically requested it. The result? More opens, more clicks, and fewer unsubscribes, as people get the content they want.

Before you have a preference page, however, you need options for your audience to prefer. Their options should not be infinite; think about clear, large groups to start.

  • Products or services offered

  • Regions your audience may live in

  • Age group

  • Relationship with your organization (donor, volunteer, client, etc.)

  • Frequency or timing of contact

  • Causes that are important to them

  • Level of engagement

Not all segments need to be included in a preference page, and not all preferences need to define specific messaging. The key is having ready-to-use lists that will help you cut down on the time it takes to send communication to your audience.

Planning categories is great, but you also need to ensure you have the data to make that possible. Starting now, review your data - what information do you have available? Do you know which products your audience is using? Do you capture region data? Do you have a place to store that data, even if you don’t ask for the information today? Make a list of the data points you need to build the segmentation then find and fill the gaps.

Get Started Today

Segmentation is a great way to help guide messaging and speak more directly with your audience. It’s also easy to adjust. As your company changes, your messaging and targets might, as well. Keep it flexible and review segments frequently - they don’t have to be right the very first time.

You have everything you need to start segmenting your audience. It doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t require complex tools. Review your database, think about your audience, and start planning!

Have you thought about segmenting your database but did know where to start? Have some more tips on segmentation? Share your stories with us on Twitter, on the Salesforce Community, Facebook, or chat with me @thesafinhold .


Can You Automate This? Or, A Salesforce Admin’s Guide to Negotiating Business Process

Automation in Salesforce is great for well-defined processes, but what if you’re asked to automate something and find it to be less than well defined?
Can You Automate This? Or, A Salesforce Admin’s Guide to Negotiating Business Process

Can You Automate This? Or, A Salesforce Admin’s Guide to Negotiating Business Process

Often as a Salesforce Administrator, you will be asked to automate something on the platform for your organization. With tools like Process Builder, there is a lot you can do without even a line of code. Sometimes the request will be clear, and you can get right to work in a Sandbox building out the details. Most of the time, though, you will at least need to ask some follow-up questions, and this may lead to a circumstance where you find that the rules for when and what should happen are unclear even to the people requesting the automation. When this happens, it may be the case that this particular thing cannot be automated, but more likely is the case that the process just needs to be better defined. While it may not be your role, formally, in your organization to define business process, you can support your team in meaningful ways to help them arrive at a conclusion that will allow you to build some super Salesforce stuff.

Collect

The first thing to do is make sure you fully understand the request from the users’ perspective, including why it is needed, where it fits in overall business process, and what its implications are in your Salesforce setup. Don’t be afraid to ask why something is needed and ask for the specific purpose and expected outcome--this information will help you define the solution.

Anytime you are building automation you need to think of exceptions, edge cases, and data scenarios, to ensure that these are handled and there are no unexpected results. Don’t rely on users to think of every parameter that would define whether or not a requested automation should run for a given record. Carefully review the fields and relationships and existing processes that could intersect and follow up with your users with specific questions about what they would want the outcome to be in various specific scenarios. It may help to start drafting things in a sandbox to surface potential issues or unexpected results and help you visualize alternatives.

It is often helpful to ask what the process needs to be agnostic of Salesforce. Sometimes users get very caught up in how things are, and you need to help them think beyond the parameters of what they are accustomed to doing; after all, as an admin you know that the platform is constantly evolving, and there may be different ways to approach something than what’s in place or what was possible when it was originally built. This also might be necessary to define where a request fits in the overall business process and for you to understand what that overall process really needs to be, so you can suggest a solution that supports the real need, not just an ad-hoc request.

Also consider that users may not be aware of how the way they use Salesforce intersects with other parts of your organization. One group may want something to update automatically, while another may need to maintain manual control. Be sure to talk to all affected stakeholders before implementing new automation. When there is a conflict between different users needs, even conflicts between how different users understand the overall process, you can present these finding along with potential solutions back to the organization.

Present

It’s very much possible to surface conflicts of process and needs without creating a conflict in your organization. In fact, what you are doing is helping your organization define its business processes better and thus work more efficiently. Keep that in mind and you set yourself up as a broker of peace and progress. Here are some tips for effectively presenting the problem back to the organization to reach a resolution:

  • Give insight into how you arrived at your conclusions, including information about the original request and what you have found and attempted, as appropriate to the audience.

  • Provide potential solutions and be open to additional suggested solutions from stakeholders. These solutions could present a potential change in overall process, which you can couch in the technical explanation if you are concerned you may be perceived as overstepping your bounds (though I argue that such suggestions should be expected and valued from a good Salesforce admin).

  • Treat everyone’s needs as equally important and valid, even when they are superseded by the negotiated solution. Show that you have considered and measured pros and cons of potential solutions.

  • Have visuals, so you have something to show, not just talk about. This may be a demo of options in a sandbox, an outline of business process in a flow chart or bullet points, or, often, all of the above. You may want something someone can take away from a meeting, such as a chart of pros and cons of different solutions or process maps before and after, so decisions can be made with full information.

Iterate

Don’t expect to be able to resolve all questions or conflicts in the first pass, and don’t get discouraged if your initial suggestions are shot down. It is important to take feedback and incorporate it seriously. If gathering further information continues to point towards your original plan, be prepared to explain why. Iteration is an important part of the design process even before you build anything. It’s ok to go back to users with questions multiple times to get all of the information you need to make the right design choices and get buy-in and decisions from stakeholders.

Elevate

Wherever you sit in your organization, as a Salesforce administrator you provide the best value by incorporating skills that go beyond the technical, like project management and change management. Salesforce administration will often require you to operate like a business analyst, whether formally or not. It may feel scary to be working through solutions and resolving business processes with your organization’s leadership, but if you communicate effectively and take feedback seriously, you will elevate your own value along with facilitating important solutions and decisions for your organization.

Do you have a story of how you’ve helped define business process for your organization as a Salesforce administrator? Feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @ifitfloats.


Punta Dreamin 2018 Recap

Had such a great time in the beautiful Punta del Este in Uruguay for a fantastic community event led by Aldo Fernandez. After attending this event, I can certainly say, the Salesforce community is thriving in South America.
Punta Dreamin 2018 Recap

Punta Dreamin 2018 Recap

The Structure

This was the smallest of the community driven events I have ever attended. It’s also the only one that I’ve attended outside of the United States, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. What I got was quite surprising - tons and tons and tons of content - real educational and inspirational content, as opposed to marketing content, which I feel like sometimes takes over the “officially sanctioned” Salesforce events like Dreamforce and World Tours. Language barriers aside, I learned a lot during Punta Dreamin’. The format was really simple: open with a keynote (mostly in Spanish so it was a bit lost on me), breakout for back to back sessions, break for lunch, more back to back to back to back to back to back sessions (yes, this is how it felt), and lastly with closing remark by Don Robins (more on this later).

Me Speaking

I had the honor and privilege of speaking during one of the many breakout sessions. I spoke about working with remote teams and gave tips for everyone to learn from, no matter which side of the remote team they were on. I called it 10 Tips for Working with Remote Development Teams. It went over pretty well from what I could tell. I got lots of questions during the Q&A portion, and it was more well-attended than I thought it was going to be, especially since I did the talk in English (though I should add, everyone at the event spoke English).

Best Sessions

The Free Stuff with Phil Walton. Great tips here on all the free resources that are out there to learn all about Salesforce, from admin beginner all the way to hardcore developer and architect. Phil even brought some SWAG with him to juice up the crowd.

Building User Experiences with the Lightning Design System with Stephanie Rewis. Stephanie showed off the SLDS CSS library and how to build apps leveraging it. She even showed off a really amazing little element to add to existing “legacy” Visualforce pages - check out my tweet about its magic.

  

   

Lightning Component Magic with Greg Rewis. I was very skeptical going into this session with Greg. It was going to be a hard sell from the start. Up until this point I’ve been fairly down on Lightning and Components in general, but Greg turned me into a believer. He did some pretty “magical” things up on that stage - can’t wait to see what is coming next on the roadmap to componentize all the things. His big “magic” moment was when he completely eliminated the need for Apex to do DML operations on records that were viewed in a component, simply because they were related to the record that was in context. The use case was we had a lookup to another record in another object and he placed it inside a custom component that was written with a minimal amount of code and was able to edit data on the looked-up record and have the page all refresh at the same time. No more refreshing entire pages to see components interact with each other. Lightning data services at its finest.

  


Closing Keynote with Don Robins. If you watch one and only one session, watch this one; you will not be disappointed. There was a lot of chatter afterward about how this one session was worth the trip all on its own. Don breaks down an extremely complex subject to its very core like the professional instructor that he is - success. This could have been a TED Talk - so impressive.  

  

 

A great event, even though I didn’t understand some of the content that was presented in Spanish, due to my own ignorance obviously (it’s as though I didn’t even take Spanish classes for 5 years in school). This was fine by me; I still got the spirit of what was going on, and I could see and feel that there was some magic in the air. Such a thriving community and a great event, can’t wait to do it all again in the years to come.  

Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @JustEdelstein.


GTD Weekly Review Tuneup for the New Year

Your GTD Weekly Review practice could use a tune-up in the new year, here are some things to consider.
GTD Weekly Review Tuneup for the New Year

GTD Weekly Review Tuneup for the New Year

Like anything done fifty-two times a year, the Getting Things Done Weekly Review can get a little stagnant, a little “ho-hum” or completely mundane. The new year is a good time to step back and look at your Weekly Review with a questioning eye. Is it ready for a tune-up?

Evolution

Think of your Weekly Review as part of your GTD journey; it is going to evolve as you evolve. Your responsibilities and areas of focus change from year to year, so why not your Weekly Review? If you have a repeating project in an application, open it up and read through the items with a critical eye. Do they all still make sense? Are there tasks that were there to build a habit you now possess? If you are just following the David Allen script, think about building your own custom template, adding and omitting as you go.

Fight Fear

Change, in any form, can be hard, and change to your Weekly Review can seem like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Try taking a moment to think about your Weekly Review from a higher perspective, asking a few questions along the way. Have you picked up any new inboxes recently, such as new social accounts? Are there places in your life where people assume you will be looking and you should review weekly? Do you have all your professional and personal projects captured? Do you think about that weekly? Maybe you should.

Bloat

Another issue with the Weekly Review can be the bloat of being added to over a long period of time. This happens a lot if you are using some task management system where you can quickly add things to your Weekly Review. Now is a good time to review your review and see if there are task or items that should be their own projects. Remember, your Weekly Review is not time to “Do” it is time to “Review.” Go through each item and ask yourself does this really need to be done weekly? Is it making my Weekly Review take longer than it should? Could I remove this and make its own project that repeats on its own schedule?

What Attracts & Repels

Lastly, pay attention to your Weekly Review as you do it and notice if there are tasks that attract you. These would be things you are happy to do and almost can’t wait to get done. For me this is getting my physical desk inbox to zero -- nothing like scanning and shredding on a Saturday morning. Also notice if there are things that are repelling you in your review. For me this is reviewing my lists in Evernote. Sometimes it just feels like a lot to review, so I try to get through it fast. If you find things that attract or repel ask yourself why and see if you can re-word those tasks to make them feel more friendly and doable. Another trick is to add a task you like to do, “Start mood music,” right before something you don’t like to do, “Review all lists,” as a way of easing into it.

How is your Weekly Review or GTD practice coming along? Post a comment below, on our Facebook pagein the Success Community, or directly at me @JasonMAtwood


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