Five years into my career as a Salesforce Administrator and I’ve learned so much. But just like with everything, there are days where I think “man, this would have been so much easier if I knew about that.” As we grow, we learn, and as we learn, we apply.
This list is not comprehensive, but it does provide some valuable information that hopefully will help you in your quest to become an Admin Hero. I know that having learned these things, I am a much better Salesforce Administrator.
Here are 90 things I wish I had known as a brand new Salesforce Administrator (in no particular order).
1. Analytics can do some amazing stuff. Take some time to learn what you can do with analytics. You’ll be amazed at how a simple checkbox or formula field can completely change the meaning and output of a report. You’ll have users and executives smiling from ear to ear.
2. There is more to Salesforce than just the Sales Cloud. Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly. Become familiar with as much of the platform as possible. Even if your current company doesn’t use another Salesforce cloud service, you’ll need to know some basics if you want to get certified or if you ever change companies.
3. Don’t rush to get your certification. While crucial and valuable, I stressed myself out over passing the exam instead of learning how to use the tool. Take your time!
4. Your role has a significant impact. Get to know your role and the impact you have in the organization. Many times it is far greater than you anticipate. Take the opportunity to leverage your position to drive positive change in your company.
6. Don’t take it personally when someone expresses their dislike for the tool or a process you’ve created and implemented. I remember working with a consultant one time who was presenting her solution to a problem. Her solution was ripped apart. I remember asking her how she doesn’t take offense to that since they are criticizing their work. She told me that it’s not about her, it’s about making the customer happy. Remember, It’s not a slight against you.
7. Executives require a different type of communication than end users. Learn how your executives like to communicate and leverage that communication style in your meetings. You’ll accomplish more and have more meaningful, productive meetings.
8. Executives deserve white glove treatment. Give it to them.
9. The success community is an awesome place to find new ideas and learn best practices. Find a user group in your area.
10. You need to attend Dreamforce. It’s a great place to learn, network and grow. Need to convince your boss? Check this out.
11. Learn to think high level and strategically right from the start. You’ll find that the solutions created will scale better when you can envision the big picture.
12. Don’t wait to vocalize your ideas and suggestions. Speak up at every meeting. You are the expert and deserve a seat at the table.
14. Don’t just join your local user group but engage. As an introvert, it’s hard for me to initiate small talk but I (attempt at least) to do it anyhow. Also, provide feedback to your users group leaders. They’ll appreciate it.
13. Know the difference between record types and picklists and use them correctly. They can both do amazing things but can be used incorrectly sometimes.
15. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to fully understand the requirements. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what is being requested, ask more questions.
16. Use your sandbox for every change. This is a safe place to build and test and should be used for everything.
17. Leverage formula fields to prevent double entry on related records. Formula fields can pull values from similar records and display that data on the related record eliminating the need to click between two records.
18. The Power of One.
19. Create Easter Eggs throughout the system. Make Salesforce fun by adding some humor to use and users will find it less of a burden. Error messages are a great place to start.
20. You can’t learn everything about Salesforce in one sitting, and you probably will find it difficult to learn every piece of functionality. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
21. Create a ideas on the IdeaExchange and vote for every idea that would have a positive impact on your org. No one ever got punched in the face for being active on the IdeaExchange.
22. You can undelete records from the recycle bin for only 15 days. (That would have been good to know).
23. Salesforce updates three times a year whether you are ready or not. Make time to prepare.
26. Permission sets will save you an insurmountable amount of time and frustration.
27. Chatter can be used as a project management tool. Add all stakeholders to a private Chatter group and run your conversations through that group.
28. Track your work in Salesforce. It’s nice to be able to show your value to the organization.
29. Communication is critical. You cannot over-communicate with ANYONE. When you think you’ve communicated enough, do it a little more.
30. Don’t assume. Assumptions can get you into a pickle, and a lot of people don’t like pickles.
31. Remember to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. (Yes, dance parties at your desk are acceptable).
32. Data Loader is a great free way to manage Salesforce data. Use it wisely.
33. Automate everything. No process should be left untouched. Automate as much as possible. You will be loved for it.
34. Create a circle of trusted advisers around you. They can help to prioritize your work, provide feedback or help with the roadmap.
35. Communicate with clarity and leave no room for interpretation. (Yeah, that’s in here again – it’s that important).
37. Understand what your career goals are and how you are going to get there. Take the steps necessary to network with others who can help you achieve those objectives.
38. Quick Create should be turned off. Right now. Seriously, go turn it off right now.
39. Multi-select picklists are the devil. Don’t use them unless there is truly no other alternative.
40. Ask your users to be part of system changes.
41. Train users on a regular basis. Once a year (or less) is not enough. This should happen every day.
42. Sales reps love short, topically specific training videos. Use Jing to create them for free. You’ll be loved by all.
43. You need an Executive Sponsor; someone who will defend you, back you up and view Salesforce as a long term investment.
44. Don’t say “yes” if you don’t have the answer. Uttering the words “I don’t know” doesn’t make you any lesser of a person.
45. Be quick to follow-up with Stakeholders. Don’t allow for questions or issues to go unresolved for an extended period of time.
47. Activate some duplicate prevention tool ASAP.
48. Sometimes, you’ll need to make difficult or unpopular decisions. Be ready. Be confident.
When importing data, picklist fields will accept whatever you have in the mapped column – even if it isn’t a real picklist value in Salesforce. Restricted picklists were enabled in Spring ’16 release, and prevent users from inserting values that don’t exist in the picklist! Super awesome feature!
50. Exporting reports to Excel in .csv instead of .xls will speed up the time it takes to export and open the document.
51. When using the DataLoader or any import tool, name the column headers in your Excel workbook with the label of the fields in Salesforce. This will allow auto-matching to take place saving you time.
52. Turn off validation rules when using the import wizard or data loader otherwise your imports or updates may fail.
53. The Setup search in Salesforce is amazing, and you should totally use it. I had to memorize the location of everything in Setup, but now you don’t have to!
54. Use blank spaces and hidden section headers on page layouts to make records scannable and easy-to-read.
55. Be inquisitive. Ask the question “Why” all the time. Not in a way that gets people defensive but in a way that will generate conversation. You’ll learn a lot and so will your stakeholders.
Activate the Login as Any User feature. This helps with troubleshooting, system setup and more! (Thanks to Mary Pustejovsky for this tip). This feature is now available automatically to all editions except for Professional Edition as of Summer ’15!
57. There is a limited number of scheduled reports and other scheduled activities. Use them wisely and deactivate the scheduled items that are out of date.
58. Make Salesforce easier to use by leveraging sharing rules to limit data noise. (Thanks to Geoffrey Flynn for this tip).
60. Lookup filters on lookup fields can present the user with a dataset that is predefined resulting in a better user experience and cleaner, more accurate records.
61. Escalation rules don’t fire in the sandbox so don’t pull your hair out trying to get them to work. (Thanks to Tami Easling for this tip).
62. The Schema Builder will provide a great visual representation of your data model. You can even create new objects and fields using it! (Thanks to Tyler Swinyard for this tip).
63. Use a full sandbox to onboard new users. It eliminates the need to delete test data from production and gives users the ability to mess with the functionality without creating dirty data.
64. Enforce good data using validation rules and field dependencies. (Thanks to John De Souza for this tip).
65. Document everything. Start with your most important documentation (what would someone need to know to keep Salesforce running if you won the lottery and left tomorrow)? It isn’t the most exciting part of the job, but it will come in very useful multiple times over. (Thanks to Tiffany Parker for this tip).
66. Salesforce provides release notes for every release. Read through these notes to learn and understand the new features and functionality and how it will impact your users. (Thanks to Kerry McDonough for this tip).
67. Change display names on fields in reports to better align with your business terminology or to clarify which fields should (or shouldn’t) be used.
68. Learn to correctly use record types. It will eliminate the additional work of creating new objects and create less complex data relationships making reporting much easier. (Thanks to Tim Andrews for this tip).
69. Create best practices for your organization. For example, have a process to follow when someone requests a new field to validate their request. (Thanks to Jacquelyn Collett for this tip).
70. Workbench allows you to set a specific user’s password to something specific. This is a great way to ease users into a sandbox environment, or if something accidentally happened to a production password that shouldn’t have been changed (like an integration account). See what else you can do with Workbench!
71. Export and retain all of your companies data in a secured location. There are several options for data exports which, if not already enabled, should be ASAP. Salesforce is secure, but it’s never a bad thing to be extra safe with your companies data.
72. Leverage the AppExchange. Nearly half of the apps listed are totally free! You’ll find apps of all types and may eliminate the need to build from scratch.
73. Create dynamic dashboards for departments like Sales and Account Management where the metrics for the team will be the same. Dynamic dashboards eliminate the need to create user-specific reports and dashboards saving you several hours of work to create and maintain.
75. Update Search Layouts to provide relevant information when hovering over links. This is a huge usability win for users and makes you look like a hero.
76. Send a quick email to all of your Salesforce users using the MassEmail Users feature. Great for quick updates and announcements.
77. Create data standards and install cleanliness tools to help keep your data clean. Users will find the system far more valuable and trustworthy.
78. Every email template should include a Description (even though it isn’t required). If no description is provided, the Activity related list will show a very helpful “Email:” with no description information.
79. Google Chrome’s user feature is a great way to login to multiple orgs or leverage multiple IDs without crossing sessions.
80. Use custom buttons and a little URL hacking to pre-populate fields for users (or, one of my favorites, select an email template and populate the To and BCC fields).
81. The role hierarchy really does matter and should be used. Don’t think you can get away with skipping this part of Salesforce for long.
82. Make reporting easier by creating your own report types.
83. Audit your Salesforce org regularly. Keeping it clean will keep navigation simple and eliminate the risk of errors along the way.
84. Help your users grow by giving them some independence. Help them to learn instead of doing it for them. Leverage teachable moments.
85. Set goals for yourself. Do you want to grow your career, or become a Salesforce MVP? Map out your goals and how you are going to get there and then take the steps necessary to make it a reality.
86. Volunteer with a non-profit. These organizations don’t always have the ability to hire someone full-time to manage their Salesforce orgs. Help out by offering a few hours a month to an organization you love. They’ll love you back.
87. Your role is important. You have the power to drive huge amounts of change. Learn that early and leverage that power to do good in your organization.
88. Don’t let other’s opinions of your work influence your mood. I used to take it personally when someone didn’t like my proposed solutions. Don’t let it affect your personally.
89. You know more than you think you do. Share that knowledge with others.
90. You are brilliant. You are successful. You are valuable. Repeat that to yourself often.
51 thoughts on “ 90 Things I Wish I Knew as a New Salesforce Administrator ”
Great post Brent!
Thanks Brent for sharing this useful/priceless information on blog. It’s always give me some interesting facts about Sales force Admin.
You are welcome! I hope that it was useful.
What can I say, not 10 things, but 90! Awesome! I wonder if you can remember them all without cheating.
Yeah, it’s quite a list!
Brent, thank you for yet another value-packed post! I’ve got a list of things to go back and check and do now!
Glad it was useful Tim! Thanks for reading.
Saw you mentioned me! I believe the Login As feature is activated now by default in Summer ’15. 🙂
I drafted this so long ago that I forgot about that point! I’ll update the post. Thanks Mary!
This is a great list! Wish I knew a lot of them a year ago! Better late than never, right? Very insightful, thank you!
Yay! Glad you found it helpful Beth. Thanks for reading.
Great post Brent! If I could add one more I would say – Make sure that you have a backup of your salesforce data and metadata!
Great one Ori!
This list was incredibly helpful! Thanks for sharing!!
Glad you found it helpful Carla! Thanks for reading.
Best thing I’ve read to date on Salesforce! I learned so much from reading this and yet gained confidence in seeing that I knew more than I thought I did. Thank you!
Thanks Danielle. It was really fun to write. I’m glad you found it useful!
As a newly Certified Admin (201) and Certified Developer (401) I though this was EXTREMELY valuable. Thanks for the laugh on #38. I’ve read that in many places and actually laughed out loud. Again, it encouraged me with the things I know for best practices and taught me some that I wouldn’t have known until learning the hard way – such as multi-select picklists. I know now! And the whole list was enjoyable to read. Please write more. Your knowledge is invaluable to us newbies.
Thanks Donnie! I’m glad you found is useful and fun to read. Thanks for the comment!
Great stuff to know/learn from 1-90!
There a lot of tiny tips that can be added to the list. We all know that devil is in the details.
My suggestion for this list is the Translation Workbench.
Basically you can translate the whole system in a language not fully supported by Salesforce (very helpful for multilingual orgs)
There is one thing most of the admins forget. Custom objects and their tabs cannot be translated in the Workbench. Use Tabs and Labels in the Customize section!
Simply – Use the Translation Workbench smart!
That is a great tip Yana! I’ve used it in the past and it is a pain, but once you get the hand of it, it can do some powerful stuff.
Very insightful, Thank you.
Love, love, love this post!
I started my first job as an Admin 7 weeks ago after a making a complete career change, and your blog and this post have been an ENORMOUS help! I’ll see you at Dreamforce Brent! Thank you so much!
That is awesome Zac! I’m glad that this post helped! See you at Dreamforce!
Great Post..Very Helpful…Thank you..
Really very valuable points to think of.
I had been thinking of changing my career from Prod support to Salesforce. Just did not had any idea where to start and what to do. I checked the jumpstart link. A small confusion, if I don’t have any experience in SF and I want to study and clear exams, how to deal with it? I have created the developer login as you have suggested in the blog. Thanks again..
HI Vasu! The best way is hands on. With your Developer Org, start working through Trailhead (https://developer.salesforce.com/trailhead). This new tool gives you the ability to work in real-time through scenarios in your own Dev org and win badges and points. Pair this with your reading and other exercises, and you’ll be golden!
Brent, I am a newbie as Salesforce Admin in a startup. Your blogs help me alot. Point #90 a much needed for all the Salesforce Peers.
Awesome! I’m so glad that I could help! Be sure to return the favor!
#91(?) Google Chrome’s Device Mode (in Developer Tools) allows you to view Salesforce in Salesforce 1 layout (iPhone/iPad). Gives the view back after Lightning took it away for IE.
Awesome!!! thanks for these points as well as other posts!
Good Work Admin hero..
This is a great post thank you 🙂
Also Tip 52. “Turn off validation rules when using the import wizard or data loader otherwise your imports or updates may fail.”
Just a Suggestion. 🙂 it may help someone out there..
You could add to your validation rules some criteria that the Admin Profile or Role ID (or the the user specifically who uses the data loader/import wizard ) are excluded from the rules when performing dataloads/Imports if regularly doing so.
(NOT($User.ProfileId = ‘xxxxx’)
Great tip Chris! Always a great option.
Great tips! Been admining (?) for 6 months now, so much to learn! I’m fortunate enough to find myself going to Dreamforce 2016, but I haven’t found any good advice on what to attend: too much information overload on most sites, or too much generalizations. What’s your advice?
Focus on what’s important now. What’s happening in your org that you need to learn more about? What areas of the platform do you want or need to learn more about? Focus on these topics and don’t get distracted with the other items? Also, every session is recorded and posted on YouTube so don’t feel like you have to attend everything. You can find all of the sessions you don’t attend online later.
Great post! Reminded me to turn off Quick Create in my new org!
Hi Brent, newly qualified ADM201 here. I think your post is great and have no doubt it will aid me in my role.
Thanks for sharing all the valuable points!!
Hi, thanks for the great post!
I have one update for #49: “When importing data, picklist fields will accept whatever you have in the mapped column – even if it isn’t a real picklist value in Salesforce.”
There is a “Restrict picklist to the values defined in the value set.” checkbox under Picklist fields’ settings, thus you can decide whether you want to enforce defined picklists values or not. This may be a new feature, though.
I probably should review this list again! Restricted picklist are new in the last few releases. I’ll update the post!
Hi BRENT DOWNEY,
All the posts are very informative for me as a SALESFORCE DEVELOPER AS WELL AS A
ADMIN to visit your site. Thanks for sharing such a useful post with us. Keep Sharing new ideas and this 90 things were just awesome 🙂
Thank you, Prem! I appreciate that!
Hello Brent, nice blog to share. This post is very informative.
Thank you very much! I appreciate the feedback.
Great post !