My Journey from Salesforce Administrator to Lead Consultant

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Shani Naik

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My Salesforce journey is actually a familiar one, I started out as a Salesforce Administrator and eventually progressed to become a Lead Consultant with a top partner. Perhaps this is a career path you are considering yourself? However, there was a time when I didn’t know what Salesforce was so this post is equally valuable for those who don’t know what they’re going to do with their careers just yet.

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Shani Naik, Lead Consultant, 4C

How did I start my Salesforce journey?

Before I entered the Salesforce ecosystem, I graduated from university with 2:1 degree in Marketing and had no idea what sort of career I wanted to pursue.

I discovered Salesforce at my first ‘desk’ job after entering the real world. I was responsible for entering sales deals hosted in excel spreadsheets into Salesforce. For the period of the initial contract, I just did the job needed, whilst building strong relationships with my colleagues and playing practical jokes you’d find in the famous Ricky Gervais series; ‘The Office’.

Following my initial position, I moved on to become a CRM Executive/Salesforce Administrator in another company and was fortunate to work alongside three very different managers. The first was instrumental in getting my technical skills up to scratch. The next was an inspiring figure who helped me build confidence and self-belief, whilst keeping me grounded. And lastly an all-rounder; a great marketer with big ideas and an eye for solving problems outside the box.

Fast forward 18 months, 2x certifications, 4x internal projects (incl.light integrations), multiple guest speaking appearances for Salesforce and consulting partners and I was ready to make what is known to everyone as ‘the big step’.

The big step

What I’m referring to here is the daunting thought many Salesforce Admins and end users have about making the move to a consultancy. Is it the right step? Am I good enough yet? Will I gain more skills? Will I work in industries and clouds I’ve not had the chance to work on before? What does the pay look like? Is it hard work? There are countless questions, and rightly so.

Making the jump to 4C as a Delivery Consultant in Professional Services, I was very warmly welcomed by everyone in the office. Due to my Pardot experience, I gave my new colleagues a reason to approach me, whatever seniority they may have been. I instantly felt like I was contributing and impacting the business. Within months of joining, my manager and team helped me upskill so much, encouraging me to gain further certifications and assigning me all sorts of projects. My main responsibilities were to build Salesforce features designed by my Lead Consultant (LC), and showcase these features to clients. The client exposure is different with every project, but it’s really up to you and your project team to decide this based upon your confidence and competencies. Shadowing colleagues and especially LC’s is something 4C strongly encourages to accelerate the consultant learning process.

After 9 months, I was promoted to Lead Consultant. Now my day-to-day role includes meeting clients to gather requirements and translating this into a Salesforce Solution, in the form of a Statement of Work. Upon agreeing the project deliverables with the client, I am responsible for working with my Delivery Consultants to delegate features for the solutions, guide on the approach, and assist in the build activities.

Being part of the 4C family, no matter what your role, you always have the opportunity to express your thoughts, and provide ideas for improvements. As a collective, we develop initiatives to make ourselves better, from social to training to project delivery.

Where I am now?

Eighteen months on from joining 4C, I am now 6x certified, have delivered over 10+ projects of all different sizes and clouds, been deeply involved in the set-up of our new SMB team (where we’re forecasting massive team growth), regularly take part in interviews, run internal training sessions and have travelled to Copenhagen, Dublin and many niche towns and cities across the UK for our clients. And ultimately, I love what I do.

Journey reflection

I’m a strong believer in the mindset of; “you are a product of your surroundings”. 4C is full of talented and helpful people and combined with one’s willingness to learn, your surroundings can be an amazing incubator for your development. If you work hard, enable others and demonstrate your appetite for high-performance and development; you will benefit hugely.

My Advice

Never stop learning! Due to the rapid growth rate of this entire industry, and the technological revolution we’re right in the middle of, you will never be able to stop discovering new things about Salesforce, upskilling and extending your knowledge. To be a successful Salesforce Consultant you need to confident, hard-working and have an openness to being thrown in the deep-end at times.

You also need to be aware of your soft-skills. The common misconception of becoming a Salesforce Consultant is that you need to know-it-all technically, this is NOT the case. There is always going to be something you don’t know, the key to being a good consultant is to be honest with your clients, but ensure you get back to them with the right answers following some research or collaborating with colleagues. This is how you build a good rapport with your customers, we’re all human after-all.

Salesforce are renowned for having a strong community in which ideas are shared, new releases are voted for, questions are quickly answered by peers, and customer service in the form of creating cases is easier than ever. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have a room full of talented consultants around you willing to help, as we do at 4C.

Being a Business Consultant, first

My final piece of advice would be; to remember that Salesforce is the enabler. Similarly to how I’ve said Salesforce is the wave to ride right now, you must still be a business consultant first! Take your learnings from your previous roles, projects and experiences and think about how a business can alleviate their problems holistically, and how Salesforce can help enable this. Don’t forget, our customers are paying us to guide them, they want their methods to be challenged to ensure it’s fit for purpose, scalable and in-line with best practices to allow them to be successful in achieving their goals.

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