Running the Salesforce Marathon
Running the Salesforce Marathon

Running the Salesforce Marathon

11/11/2022 by Andrew Fretwell
The skills of a marathon runner can be used by an admin to help users cross the finish line at their organization too.

Autumn means three things for New Yorkers: the ubiquity of pumpkin spice, a glorious extra hour of post-Daylight Savings Day sleep, and most importantly…the New York City Marathon.

The NYC Marathon is an incredible event, both for runners and spectators. Since the 2022 NYC Marathon was this month, I am reflecting on the parallels between training and running in the NYC Marathon (which I’ve done once and will do again hopefully in 2023) and a Salesforce implementation. In honor of the five boroughs that the marathon traverses, here are my top five nuggets of wisdom that apply to running the NYC Marathon and implementing Salesforce.

Embrace your new people

Runners are an inclusive, encouraging sort. By joining local running clubs, supporting friends on social running apps, or subscribing to an e-newsletter, you surround yourself with lifelong runners, newbies, and everything in between. It’s a stellar network that provides motivation, better routines, and best practices. 

The Salesforce customer community and ecosystem function similarly. Clients and users abound and love sharing stories and ideas from their experiences for everything from how to solve a reporting issue to recommended consultants. Whether via the online Trailblazer community, Dreamforce, World Tour, or the Nonprofit Summit, you have access to an incredible hub of Salesforce experts, artisans, power users, consultants, and advocates. Your Salesforce journey will go much further if you’re accompanied by happy Trailblazers.

Break up the trek into manageable chunks

26.2 miles is long – incredibly long. When you think about running for four straight hours, it’s easy to concede defeat and give up. That’s why you have to break it up into chunks to make it manageable. Running a 6.5-mile race four times isn’t quite so intimidating and helps you focus on the portion of the race in front of you, not what is still 20 miles away.

A Salesforce implementation can be daunting - changing your data tools and processes for donor management, donations, programs, volunteers, case management, marketing, collaboration, event management, accounting, etc. it’s all too much! Well, it is if you look at it as one monster process. But if we start with donors and donations and get a win, then move on to program data and marketing to get another win, we’ve covered a lot of ground and earned some good mojo, and we keep going onto the next chunk. An implementation is much more digestible when viewed as a collection of wins instead of one undertaking.

Have a prepared strategy for the “quiet middle”

It’s easy to come out of the gate really fast for the NYC Marathon - your adrenaline is pumping, you have a beautiful view of New York Harbor from the Verrazzano Bridge, and everyone is just so excited! The trick here is not to run too fast and to maintain your intentional pace. By the end, the crowds in Central Park will help you will your way across the finish line with whatever is left in the tank.

The hardest place to maintain pace is during the quiet stretches between miles 14 through 22 - where the crowds are sparser, the bridges are steeper, and fatigue in your legs is harsher. That’s where you are most likely to fall off track or give up all together. This is the moment when you need a strategy ready to keep pushing ahead.

A big implementation is the same way. The whole organization might be excited at the kick-off - we’re finally doing it! And then as you get near the finish line you’ll feel the satisfaction of everything you’ve worked for coming to fruition. 

But it’s that time in the middle when you have to focus on keeping your motivation and priorities. There may be turnover, some will lose interest, and many will grow tired and frustrated at some point. That’s where leadership becomes critical to maintaining momentum and being ready to counter the fatigue when you’re slogging your way through.

Savor the course, not just the finish line

Crossing the finish line is sublime. You completed a massive undertaking that you will carry with you forever. But that’s just part of the reward. New Yorkers who’ve run the marathon know that one of the great gifts is being reintroduced to the individual tiles that create the magnificent Mosaic that is New York: the delis and bodegas of Bay Ridge, the tree-lined blocks of Bed-Stuy, the sloping bridges of Long Island City that overlook rustic factories alongside luxury highrises, the hip-hop and salsa fusion soundtrack of the Bronx, and the iconic museums and storefronts of the Upper East Side are all on full display to those running with open eyes. Running the marathon gives you see a chance to see this city anew.

Similarly, completing your Salesforce implementation means taking an in-depth and up-close tour of your own nonprofit. Organizations that successfully implement Salesforce come out the other side a different/better place. Taking a fresh, inquiring look at your tools and processes lets you reacquaint yourself with and rebuild your organization.

When the race ends the journey continues!

Completing the marathon isn’t just an accomplishment, it proves what you are capable of doing. So don’t stop! It should inspire you to stay active, no matter how that takes shape. The marathon is life-changing when it’s the launchpad for ongoing wellness, not just a bucket list checkmark.

Once you’ve closed out your Salesforce implementation, resting on your laurels would be selling yourself short. With three releases a year, strategic acquisitions, and new products introduced on a steady tap, your Salesforce journey always has richness on the horizon. Salesforce is more than just a CRM, it is your gateway to excellence, innovation, and maximum impact. So make sure you get in a good stretch because you’ve got a wonderful road ahead of you!

If you are interested in learning more about Salesforce implementations or running through Prospect Park, reach out to me on Linkedin!