Today, I am excited to have a new post in the Origins series where we hear from Admin Heroes on how they got their start with Salesforce. Today’s story comes from Deepa Patel. Enjoy!
I was introduced to Salesforce via an AppExchange partner over six years ago. Before that, I was consulting on legal CRM software called Lexis Nexis Practice Management. I have always been in technology starting as a pricing analyst building reports on the mainframe CICS systems in the mortgage industry. After eight years, I moved to selling reporting and analysis software for about 10 years. I started my own consulting practice in 2003 initially providing support for legal CRM.
After working in advanced technologies like Business Objects – Web Intelligence, supporting Legal CRM felt like I was thrown back into the dinosaur age. I constantly kept looking for opportunities to bring myself back into the 21st century. I was struggling financially and life was extremely hard. After about six years of working with Lawyers, I was ready to change my business model and make some money.
I was introduced to AdvologixPM practice management by another consultant in 2009. This is an AppExchange app built on the Force.com platform. When I first started working on the app, I was customizing custom objects that were pre-built by the vendor. It took me a while to understand what workflow rules were and as much as I was able to do custom configuration, I was still a very basic administrator.
Understanding business concepts and data flow in Salesforce was easy for me because of my sales background. Running a business for six years helped as well. But, I needed to gain expertise in the core Salesforce functionality technically. In 2010, I took the five-day training class in San Mateo. The most important things I learned, which I lacked before, were Salesforce security and support functionality. I shut down my business for about a week and studied hard to take the exam. Happy to say, my hard work paid off. I passed my exam on the first try.
After I got my certification, I had the challenge to bring in new business with very little experience. So in order to teach myself, I turned to LinkedIn and joined a few Salesforce groups. I starred looking at the questions that were being asked. For the easy questions, I would answer them right away. For the harder questions, I would build out the solution in my Developer org and come back and answer them later. This became a morning routine for me. I look at LinkedIn even today, every morning and answer the questions I can while I manage the Salesforce.com Professional Network group.
In 2011, I also had the opportunity to take the training to be an authorized trainer with the authorized training partner program that Salesforce has. I went through three to four weeks of rigorous training routine. The most experienced people lead Salesforce instructor lead training. My lack of experience did not help with getting the job. But, the flip side was, that I learned Salesforce in and out. That is what helped me increase my efforts on LinkedIn to support the questions that were coming in.
In the same year, I had an opportunity to partner with another Salesforce consulting partner as a contractor. This allowed me to not only build my own client base, but also work with the partner on their implementation projects. I was starting to build a client base in the software industry and my partner clients were in the financial industry. By the end of 2011, I was supporting all non-legal clients, which was what I wanted to do.
In 2012, I was nominated for Salesforce MVP and I received an email from our fantastic Success Community director Erica Kuhl announcing that I was inducted into the program. I was elated. This was the the beginning for a whole new era with my career.
Salesforce recognizes individuals who are not only leaders in Salesforce, but they spend a lot of time helping others in the community on multiple channels.
The same year I met Bryan Boroughf, a fellow MVP at a local MVP event in San Francisco, and I started working with him as a co-leader for the Silicon Valley User group. I was now expanding my community contribution and I was grateful for the opportunity.
At Dreamforce 2012, I was invited to speak at the Women in Technology panel and that was my first speaking engagement with Salesforce. I was honored and excited to tell my story as a brand new MVP. This was my third Dreamforce and being a brand new MVP, I followed a lot of my fellow MVPs to understand how they presented and prepared for Dreamforce presentations.
By now I was ready to take my Sales Cloud consultant exam and I once again passed my exam on the first try. I was very excited and was determined to get my Service Cloud certification next.
In 2013, Joshua Hoskins, a fellow MVP, started the MVP Office Hours and I started participating in the group. I love this format as it gives end users an opportunity to ask questions and get solutions by the experts. After a few sessions, it became very clear that people were looking for a study group to prepare for their certification exams. Dreamforce was a few months away. I decided to start a group on the Success Community with the blessing of our incredible Success Community director Erica Kuhl. I met with my first group of ADM201 graduates at Dreamforce. The Salesforce Certification Study group has over 1200 members and we now have close to 100 certified members.
In 2014, I decided I was going to work on getting my Service Cloud certification. I took me a while to prepare for it and as much as I wanted to, I was not ready to take it. The consulting firm I was working with decided to change directions and I had the challenge to do my own business development. My certification study group was growing while I was trying to figure out how to bring in new clients. This was a daunting challenge and I ended up focusing a lot on the certification study group then on my own business. Our group grew and I was managing 15 session leaders who were running four to five sessions a semester. We spent a lot of time building the infrastructure that was needed to support a disciplined program.
The experience I gained through this process was invaluable. Early 2015, I decided to start the East Bay User Group. We had our first meeting in January and it was a success. I got my Service Cloud certification at the end of February. I made a public announcement on the Success Community as a New Year’s goal. I put an expiration date to that goal and made sure I kept it. Today, I am ready to take my business to the next level with multiple employees.
What are the key factors to success?
- Setting goals with deadlines. If you give yourself a deadline, you will do everything possible to meet them as you don’t want to embarrass yourself in your own heart.
- Don’t take “NO” for an answer. There will be a tone of people who will discourage you from doing what you are passionate about or want to do. You have no idea how many times I have been told to take a job and give up the idea of being an entrepreneur.
- Build a support group of people who root for you. It is so important to have a group of people who will believe in you and stand by you when you are feeling blah or downright scared. These are the people who will give you the courage you need to keep going forward. I don’t know what I would do with out my friends.
- Most important of all – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You have to believe in your dreams and find the courage to make them come true. Life will always throw you challenges; it is up to you to figure out how you will overcome these.
LASTLY – Go make your dreams come true!