Tips from a Teacher on Becoming a Top Consultant
Tips from a Teacher on Becoming a Top Consultant

Tips from a Teacher on Becoming a Top Consultant

02/24/2023 by Thomas Passafaro
Add these important skills to your toolkit of Salesforce admin tools.

“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.” - Solomon Ortiz 

Most people who live in a first-world country have walked a path that includes some form of structured education. Whether it be studying to receive a high school diploma, college degree, or technical certification, most, if not all of us, have spent time in a classroom. And many of us have been influenced by our teachers more than any other adults in our lives. I know that I was. That was why I went into teaching. My goal was to achieve what the quote above promises, both in the classroom and on the basketball court. I knew of no other career that would have my total interest. 

That was — until I was introduced to Salesforce.  

My last two years as a classroom teacher were mentally exhausting. They left me asking myself, “Is this the career I want for the next thirty years?” The answer was a consistent no to a career that I had moved 1,200 miles to start and put my all into. Luckily for me, a new neighbor of mine had been in the Salesforce ecosystem for years and introduced me to Trailhead. I was instantly hooked.

The introduction to Salesforce through Trailhead was truly the best thing that could have ever happened to my career. 

Salesforce presents us with an opportunity to grow in ways that are everlasting and valued by those we work with. For me, learning to work with Salesforce meant I was able to use many of the skills I had sharpened as a teacher. I now use these skills to ensure nonprofit organizations are able to use Salesforce to fulfill their missions. 

The magic of Salesforce is in the Ohana too. At no point in my teaching career did I encounter a community that is as welcoming and helpful as this one. This community genuinely wants to see all its members succeed.  

Now with all that being said, shifting into this career path was not easy. 

It included many hours working on trails and studying for exam certifications, which are no joke, but I knew it had to be done to get into a better situation. This was necessary for me, but does not ensure you will get a job in the Salesforce ecosystem. 

Additionally, I’ve included some of the most important new things I’ve learned in recent months as I moved into this new role. What makes Arkus a team of "top" consultants? We don't say that lightly — our team recently passed the 2,000 projects completed mark and is honored to have received a 4.9 out of 5 stars score from our clients (that number above 600 now) on the AppExchange. 

Here are some of my most successful teacher skills that have translated to becoming a top Salesforce consultant that I believe other admins could use, if you aren’t already.

Be Flexible

As a teacher things rarely go as planned. Whether it be students who just don’t want to learn that day, an unannounced assembly, or an evacuation because somebody burned popcorn in the teacher’s lounge (Yes, this happened and Ryan did start the fire). 

Through all that you need to still be able to make class time relevant and useful for your students. So being able to pivot from what was planned to what is more effective was extremely important as a teacher. 

The same can be said as a consultant because even if you have a set agenda in mind when meeting with a client things change drastically if they come in with a different question in mind. You need to be flexible in how you approach their questions or concerns when working on the project and make sure that even with the detour the destination stays the same.

Ask the Right Questions

As I began this career change journey and would go through the different interviews, I always seemed to come back to one aspect of teaching that I felt translated into the consulting world, the ability to ask questions. Not just any questions though but rather the ability to ask the right questions. Teaching students boils down to one thing, are you reaching each individual student, and how. Now you may be asking yourself, how can a teacher make sure they are reaching each student in a class of thirty without taking 10-15 minutes to meet them on an individual basis? 

Easy, teachers are superheroes who can freeze time and read the minds of their students. I am kidding obviously, but only about the powers. The way teachers learn to reach students is through the ability to ask the right questions about a topic to ensure there is understanding. 

The main focal part of this throughout my journey through college and as a teacher was Bloom's Taxonomy. I won’t bore you with the details (you can visit the link below for a more in depth description) but basically, when crafting questions or material you are to break things down into six categories: Knowledge (Remember), Comprehension (Understand, Application, Analysis, Synthesis (Create) and Evaluation. These 6 categories allow you to craft higher-order thinking questions that will help guide the learning experience for the students, I think the same could be said for consultants.

Check out High Order Thinking Questions and Bloom’s Taxonomy for more info on crafting these types of questions. 

On the consulting side, the ability to ask the right questions is to ensure that you, the consultant, understand what the client truly needs. You could ask the wrong questions and still possibly understand what they want done, but the ability to ask the right questions will not only open the right doors for you as you complete the project but will also open the right doors for the client as they begin to think about what they truly want out of the project.

Collaborate with Others

Lastly, and the one that has become more prevalent in schools over the last 15 years, is the ability to collaborate with others. When I think back to when I was a student, I can’t remember truly if my teachers knew who each other were other than the fact that they worked in the same building, but now teachers are expected to work hand in hand with each other in a multitude of scenarios. 

Don’t get me wrong, when I was teaching I loved my alone time, hence the reason I would regularly arrive at work an hour before everyone else so I could work in peace before the day went on. Sometimes you were expected to work with cross-curricular teachers or teachers within your own department to complete a task for the students school-wide. If you weren’t able to work with others things became a lot harder than they should have. 

The same can be said as a consultant as you are constantly working with people on your own team or throughout the company or even with your clients. Being able to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other makes a world of difference when it comes to completing some tasks. If you aren’t able to do that, it could delay the progress you see in your own career.

So there you are. That’s a look at my journey into the Salesforce ecosystem, and my top three tips for skills to take into your work too. I am really looking forward to my future in this community.

Does anything in here help you with a current or possible future transition? Are you a new admin with other lessons you’ve learned too? Have you been in the ecosystem for a while and have any other lessons to pass back to us newcomers?

Let me know! Connect with me on the Trailblazer Community or on LinkedIn. Connect with Arkus through our contact form, or get on our newsletter list using the sign-up in the sidebar to the right.