Posted by: eliz_beth | January 20, 2014

In the beginning…

First I apologize for the long absence, but would like to invite you on my new journey- today I begin my newest Salesforce related adventure- life as a consultant! I start with Basati today as a Customer Success Manager. While I’ll post on various salesforce topics, I’ll try to put into words my experiences as a consultant- working the other side of the table so to speak. It is an experience I’ve been looking forward to participating in for a while and I appreciate Basati giving me this opportunity!

Why did I want to become a consultant? Here is a list of my reasons why, in no particular order:

1- I wanted to work with customers again
2- I wanted to create in Salesforce again
3- I wanted to be constantly facing new challenges
A- which would make me learn more
B- allow me to apply all that I have learned
C- would be anything but boring!
4- I wanted to work with a team who brought their own flavor and experiences to the table.
5- I do enjoy working from home!

The main reason I had held back from consulting before is typically it involved a great deal of travel. With the cloud being what it is and the savings by not traveling, clients can get more bag for their buck and the door is open to folks like myself who are not interested in heavy travel at this time. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant but don’t want to travel, trust me there are more and more options opening each day.

Do you have any questions about being a consultant you would like me to address or review in the coming months?

Posted by: eliz_beth | January 13, 2014

New year, new adventures…

Hello! Thank you to those who have been checking in here. After a few changes I will be back here to post on all things salesforce!

2014 is going to be an #awesome year! I hope you will join me on the ride!

Posted by: eliz_beth | November 20, 2012

That’s what friends are for…

Once upon a time, I pondered how to make a text field stand out on a screen- not using an image, or going with a visualforce page, or using code. Hey, if you don’t dream big, why bother?

I’d forgotten the conversation honestly, but my friend and fellow MVP Brad Gross had not. Today he has an excellent post on a very interesting hack to do just what I was wanting to do. As he notes, don’t get carried away with it and limit where you do use it. I love that it is such an out of the box idea and hack.

Another great example of the community sharing and helping each other to the betterment of all. He’s helped me, he’s shared the information with the community, I’m sharing here to direct you there– it’s the community circle of life. *queue Disney soundtrack*

Brad, I owe you a beer! Thanks for coming up with an interesting solution!

Posted by: eliz_beth | September 11, 2012

What all the cool kids will be playing next week at Dreamforce!

Preparation for Dreamforce 2012 is in full swing. All the kids in Salesforceland are checking their email for party invites, double checking their RSVPs, revising their agendas over and over again… with all this the regular social channels are all a buzz with the excitement.

Tonight I was looking over twitter when I saw some posts popping up about Dreamopoly from various Appirio employees which referenced a Top Secret URL.

Wait a minute… come on Appirio, first you’re the team to join, second you set the bar for the most awesome party (and hardest ticket to get) at Dreamforce, now you’re teasing us with a game with a top secret url?

So after a moment of pouting I decided I would figure out this top secret url. It wasn’t too hard 🙂 so I shouldn’t have pouted! Appirio has created what will be THE game next week at Dreamforce! A great way to cross the line between physical (you get cards) and social (there’s a site and you need a twitter handle). You’re going to have to meet people to win. It is going to be a lot of fun! One of the cards to collect is socks– SOCKS! If you’re new to the community, Marc Benioff’s socks were quite the thing two years ago- the company who sold them had their site Benioff’d – everyone was hitting it trying to get some of the fancy striped socks!

So without making anyone else wait– you can check out the coolest game to hit Dreamforce since Chatter Bingo at DF10 right here at www.dreamopoly.com Check out a YouTube video explaining how the game will work as well.

Thanks to the awesome and creative gang at Appirio for creating such a cool fun event for everyone to participate in! It’s a great mix of many of the things that make Dreamforce great!

And thanks too, for the invite to the party of Dreamforce for figuring out the link. Now, to go finish my Chatter Me Maybe filk…

Posted by: eliz_beth | July 16, 2012

Thoughts when Registering for Dreamforce 2012

Because you ARE going to Dreamforce, right? It is the Salesforce event of the year and no where will you have a better opportunity to learn more about the options and tools available to you.

First- I want to state that I do not work for Salesforce. What follows is my opinion and understanding of how the process is set up currently, and what I recommend you do to ease your registration now and in the future.

If you have attended before and:

have access to the address equal to your username – you’re set. Follow along with the prompts, and be sure to reserve your hotel room and training.

do not have access to the address equal to your username The best suggestion I have for you is to follow the instructions for registering for the first time below. Salesforce has changed the policy where before you could modify your email address and username. They didn’t have to match either- so many have registered with a company address but changed the email address to something else they have access to or to a new address for a new job. When trying to register for Dreamforce, it is going to assume the username is also the correct address. If you have completed the registration process but find you can’t access the site or other problem, you can contact registration directly for assistance.

If you have never registered for Dreamforce before:

USE A PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS TO REGISTER! Create a free one from gmail or another provider if you need to. The key here is to register (and therefore set your username) with an address you will have access to independent of your employment. This will ensure if you do change jobs/companies/company changes names, you will retain your details and history in Dreamforce app. However, be cautious of your company’s policies regarding this type of use if they are paying for your attendance.

If you can, do register with a personal address of some sort- remember this is part of the information that will be shared when you badge is scanned so a special account may not be a bad idea, or utilize Gmail’s + option for easy filtering.

Why should I keep to a personal address?

Glad you asked. Basically the personal address for username will allow you to continue to interact in the Dreamforce org with the same history and access to various groups without taking additional steps to reestablish connections. As long as it is allowed, by Salesforce and/or your employer, use something that you can take from job to job and don’t lose your history in the app.

Any other registration tips?
1- DO IT ALREADY! 🙂 If you’ve not registered, get on the ball and do so.

2- Reserve your hotel. Unless you must use corporate travel to book your hotel, check the prices and availability on the site. I have found the rooms to be at a much better discount than through our travel company. Depending on the numbers, show your boss how much you can save to help justify your trip as well. Note- when registration went live, if you skipped hotel selection, it was locked out. Now, if you skip or if you didn’t choose before, you can go back and add it in the app. If you have any further changes to make such as changing your hotel or test registration- you’ll need to contact them directly for assistance.

3- AGENDA BUILDER IS COMING!!! Soon it will be time to select sessions. This year there are more sessions than ever and more available times to attend them. Agenda builder is going to be busy but if you want in to one of the popular sessions, the earlier you have access to agenda builder, the better chance you have of getting in. There is always stand by seats, but why take chances?

4- The Dreamforce App is the place to be! To meet new friends before you set foot in San Francisco, to getting ideas about best practices and solutions to problems- the Dreamforce app can not be beat in my book. For myself, it has been worth the price of admission just having the access to the community. Also in the app will be announcements, chances to catch up with a vendor or partner, sharing of the various gathering.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below (I’ll do my best) or refer to Dreamforce registration:

For more information, please contact Dreamforce Registration and Housing:
U.S./Canada: +1-866-855-3818
International: +1-650-226-0793
Email: registration@dreamforceSF.com

Posted by: eliz_beth | April 17, 2012

Why I’m going to Cloudforce

Next week I am heading to Cloudforce DC with fellow MVP and friend, Amber Neill. We’re taking the train (go green!) and of course made sure we’re on one with wi-fi available. Why are we taking the time to attend a one day event in our nation’s capital? And why would our employers encourage us?

1- Community. I know I say this a lot, but there is nothing better than the community spirit with Salesforce users. When you’re like me and the only person who understands the nuts and bolts of Salesforce in the office, the opportunity to talk shop with others is always welcome and beneficial.

2- Knowledge. I knew before they posted the sessions that I would be able to leave DC with new knowledge about Salesforce. Now that they have posted the sessions, my problem is trying to decide which to attend! Salesforce is committed to sharing the knowledge needed to utilize their systems. They want you to push the limits and find new ways to make the platform work for you to improve your business. In terms of coloring in the lines definition of thinking, Salesforce draws some dotted lines for you to get you started, then offers an eraser and cheers you on to move those lines wherever you want on the page.

3- Inspiration. I love hearing Marc Benioff speak. He is always inspiring and renews my spirit and enthusiasm for working on the platform. He will not be speaking at Cloudforce DC, that will be Vivek Kundra, EVP of Emerging Markets at Salesforce.com and former CIO of the United States. I’d looked forward to hearing him speak at Dreamforce last year but he was unable to attend. I’m certain it will be a great keynote, long as he refrains from #nextslide we’ll be tickled I think!

4- Connections. I get a ton of, well, spam emails pushing this product or that service for our Salesforce org. The Expo at a Cloudforce is a great way to connect with potential partners and vendors, get a face to face meeting with them to discuss their product and see if it will be a possible fit for your instance. It is also beneficial to hit the official Salesforce areas to see how you could expand your use of Salesforce, see a feature you may be considering turning on, or get ideas on how others use the platform.

5- Happy Hour. After a long day where you’ve learned a lot, a last opportunity to share what you’ve learned or just hang out with some interesting people is always welcome. Come join us at #CloudforceDCHH to wind down before heading home or back to your hotel!

I can’t wait to attend Cloudforce DC and hope you’ll be joining us! Cloudforce is free, so especially if you’re in the area, come on over and check it out!

Posted by: eliz_beth | January 31, 2012

Salesforce Valentines 2012

Two years ago I was introduced to Salesforce.com.
A year ago I wrote a post about my Salesforce Valentines- the members of the Salesforce community who had helped me so much my first year and had welcomed me into the community. Another year has gone by and it has been great. I was honored to be selected as a MVP, presented at Community Conference, met tons of more community members through the Dreamforce app, and built lots of exciting and cool features for work in Salesforce.

In my life before Salesforce, I was a data junkie. I loved creating and running reports- didn’t matter what the question, if I could get access to the data I was figuring it out and finding where we needed to improve or where we were excelling. I admit to feeling my hands were a bit tied when it came to reporting in Salesforce because I couldn’t report natively on such a simple thing as “give me all accounts with opportunities and call reports (a custom object we use)”. In order to pull it off I could run a report on accounts with opportunities, a report on accounts with custom objects and hope for the best when looking or export to excel and play with the data more there. When you’ve used solid reporting tools before, you really do not want to go back to hacking things in excel. Not only is it just frustrating, it’s easy to make a mistake. One of my goals for Dreamforce was to start looking at options to get around this reporting issue. There’s lots of great companies ready to help you – I’ll mention GoodData as one- they were very helpful and quick to answer any questions I had. So there were solutions that would help us, but I honestly wished Salesforce could handle this on it’s own.

At the Analytics Roadmap session at Dreamforce, I found out they’d been working on doing just this. I don’t think you could have found a more excited group of people than those of us in the room who were cheering and tweeting about the news of what *safe harbor of course* was coming.

So we decided to wait and see what Salesforce would come out with officially. I was thrilled to see various ideas being marked coming in next release on the Idea Exchange. Finally!! Then I found out it was coming, in Analytics Edition, for a price that quickly took it off the table especially since we had just upgraded our licenses to Unlimited Edition.

Talking to others in the community, seeing various posts and tweets and comments regarding how others agreed this was needed core functionality I did not feel alone. I watched and participated as things continued, stayed in touch with my account executive, and thought various Salesforce reps had good points into why they were going with an Analytics Edition format instead of including it into the regular licenses. I was really impressed with the passion behind those who expressed their disappointment with the decisions that had been made. It could have dissolved into some horrible trash talking or threats even, It didn’t. People – partners and customers and users used their voice via social media to tell Salesforce they were not satisfied with this structure. The moment had come where Marc Benioff and Salesforce had to “walk the walk” and recognize what the people were saying, what Marc’s talked about doing all year. Salesforce had to make a hard decision- continue the path they’d chosen or change their game plan. They could have gone back and modified the AE license structure to better suit the needs of customers.

They didn’t. They actually listened to us, the community, and heard us when we said this functionality is core to what we do in Salesforce, core to what will make our businesses stronger while using your platform. Core to understanding our data and our business better.

Tonight they responded. Analytics Edition – bucketing, cross-object reporting and more– will be part of the licenses. You can read more about it hereAE goes GA for free.

So this year my Salesforce Valentine is you Salesforce.com. For being an example and a leader in this new bueiness world. For listening to your customers like no other company has before. For showing the world it is easier and better to listen to us now than to wait to see what a ledger line item might say down the road.

You’ve got my business, I’m not going anywhere and I’m advocating that we continue to expand our use of your platforms. Thank you Salesforce– I’ll always be your valentine!

Posted by: eliz_beth | January 10, 2012

Review – Salesforce CRM Definitive Admin Handbook

Late in 2011 I was contacted to read and review a new Salesforce book, Salesforce CRM: Definitive Admin Handbook by Paul Goodey. I’m a huge fan of anything that will improve someone’s knowledge of Salesforce and looked forward to reviewing it.

Then I received it. (Disclaimer- I was provided a free pdf version of the book by the publisher. I have no previous ties to the publisher nor to the author)

It’s not a bad book- there wasn’t glaring problems and the information itself wasn’t poor. Without getting into a lot of gritty detail here is my short list of pros & cons:

Pro- I like paper manuals. Sometimes paper just works better for me as a format and I’m about as electronic as it gets.

Pro- Covers a lot of information.

Pro- Found a few things that I wasn’t immediately aware of (didn’t realize you could export reports to the background for example, which would allow you to run reports that would otherwise time out).

Pro- Shout out in the Acknowledgements to the Salesforce community and how great a resource it is.

Cons- Dry dry dry. I love Salesforce and reading and it couldn’t keep my attention like other resource books have (Salesforce for Dummies and The Salesforce Handbook – I easily recommend either of them, note publication dates as Salesforce updates often if coming across discrepancies)

Cons- editing issues. I didn’t read this to check for edits, but sometimes they just jumped off the page at me. For example, when discussing changing a formula to keep it within the limits, the reference is to keep removing the sales tax field sales_tax__c. However, in the example the sales_tax__c field remains the same in both examples and the number of instances for other item prices changes. Very very confusing for someone who may be reading and a beginner to formula writing.

Cons- Omission of important information during discussions. For example: Bravo for writing about the exporting reports but boo for not including the permissions on the profile which are necessary to have once Salesforce turns it on. Lots of what I would consider to be incomplete information for a book toting itself as definitive.

Cons- No addressing of the possible outdated information in the book or identification as to what version the information is based on. With 3 updates a year, you need to have a reference as to when the printed text was valid. Bonus for point users to where they can get updates for the book or at least see the changes coming to Salesforce.

Cons- Shout out omission in the acknowledgements. The Salesforce user community has two core groups– the Force.com side for developers/coders, and the success site Answers group which focuses more on questions posed by typical administrators. For a book written with the intent of being for administrators, I’m puzzled why the main administrator site is not mentioned – success.salesforce.com/answers. Additionally twitter is mentioned but no reference to where/what on twitter. No discussion of the official Salesforce handles to follow or how to best ask for assistance with the #askforce hashtag from the community.

Overall, I can not recommend this book without major reservations. It addresses only Enterprise, Unlimited, and Dev orgs, noted only in the preface under “What you need for this book”. Listings should make it clear it is not for Professional or Group editions. It doesn’t address/explain the Salesforce update cycle and how you should take it into consideration or find out more about the next release. I also noted that a book which claims to be the definitive administrator handbook was written by someone with only the DEV 401 certification. Having at least the administrator certification ADM 201 would go further in establishing the author’s expertise and credibility, ADM 301 would be best.

There’s nothing in this handbook that would give you reason to purchase it versus simply reading the Salesforce Help provided free with your org. Help provides more details and is kept up to date.

This said, what is really needed by administrators is a resource where they can learn about best practices among other Salesforce users, keep up to date in regards to releases, and create solutions for their issues. For now, after learning the basics, the next best thing in any administrator’s interest is to get involved in the community- through social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc), the official Salesforce site, user groups, classes, Dreamforce, Cloudforce, and if you’re a non-profit, working with the Salesforce foundation.

Salesforce CRM: The Definitive Admin Handbook at Packt Publishing

Salesforce CRM: The Definitive Admin Handbook on Amazon

Alternative resources I can recommend:

Salesforce for Dummies – Amazon
— great resource for non-techy types. Note this is 4th edition, published in October 2010, so it is not up to date. Basic principles remain the same and it’s the least “techy” of all the resources.

The Salesforce Handbook – website
The Salesforce Handbook – Amazon
Great resource book – more technical than the Dummies book but easy to read for those ready to dig deep. Doesn’t seem like a reprinting of the Help documents. Authors are well respected members of the Salesforce community.

Posted by: eliz_beth | November 15, 2011

Facebook settings and Social Contacts in Salesforce

So, you’ve turned on Social Contacts in Salesforce.

You know the drill – pull up a contact, click on the social media icon of choice, look for the contact and if you find them, click to associate it with the account. You can pull their picture to use in Salesforce as well- in theory it is a great way to enhance contact information.

That is, until you try it, per my previous post. Twitter is not too bad if the person has their name associated with the account. I’m still dismayed that there is no way to manually enter the handles and you’re forced to search. Which again, works great if they have their name on it but if you want to associate their corporate account it will be impossible to do so.

LinkedIn – see the previous post. I have learned since then the access is LinkedIn’s product. So if you have access to LinkedIn via Salesforce, it comes with all the standard access they provide at a premium. Not sure how I feel about this as LinkedIn would/should have good business-related data, I can’t imagine companies happy to shell out for licenses to tools to make it easier for employees to job hunt. Just a thought.

Facebook – Here’s the big one. I found myself!!! Ha ha! Actually in talking it through with some fellow MVPs, especially Judi Sohn, I figured out why even though I was logged in with my account, why I couldn’t see me.

Basically even though you are logged into Facebook with your valid access to even begin searching, it treats it like a public search. So you can only find those who have allowed themselves to be searched (for example, if you google the name, their account page comes up- not just references to other places they’ve posted on FB). Here’s where it gets even better- you go to privacy settings, How You Connect and can choose Everybody for the first three. Per Facebook and common sense, this should open you up to be searched by anyone in Facebook. So changing this could make me see myself? Nope. I’ve got it set for everybody to search for me. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and gotten back in touch with them due to that setting.

So if I’m set up to be able to be found by users (in theory anyone connecting from Salesforce) why couldn’t I find me?

Because of THIS setting: Go to Privacy Settings again, then Apps Games & Websites. At the bottom is Public Search which is defined as: Show a preview of your Facebook profile when people look for you using a search engine. Click on the edit settings button and it’ll take you to a page where you can check on or off to be included in public search. The exact message is: Public search controls whether people who enter your name in a search engine will see a preview of your Facebook profile. Because some search engines cache information, some of your profile information may be available for a period of time after you turn public search off.

You must have this checked in order for the search to work from Salesforce. I don’t care for this because if it is off, if you’re in Facebook, you can find me easily. I don’t need/want my profile to be searchable via Google. Due to the privacy concerns over the years with Facebook who would want this turned on – I feel risky enough leaving other settings to everybody!

So if you’re trying to find yourself or a contact and keep getting error messages or no results, odds are this is the problem. Which I find very very strange as you’re supplying your user credentials, so you should be able to view everyone you have access to. Otherwise why deal with individual accounts and let admins have a master account to log the instance against if Facebook insists.

And of course, no means to enter in the Facebook profile ID either so you can’t manually enter and test to see if it will work. At this point in time I think you’re 50/50 – it may work if you could force it to go to a profile, but even if you’re “logged in” it may not accept it and still give you whatever generic information is available.

I love where Salesforce is going with social contacts. I love what the information could do for improving customer relations. I just think they’ve fallen short of what was possible with this version of social contacts. While the process they set up is cute, what I would give for standard profile fields users could update directly without question- and have a place on the account records as well for twitter and facebook pages at least.

Hopefully we’ll hear more about what may come in New York City, at Cloudforce – November 30, 2011. Hope to see you there as well- I can’t wait to hear Benioff talking about the next steps!

Posted by: eliz_beth | November 7, 2011

Social Contacts in Salesforce.com

Day 7 of Blogaday November…

I’m a firm believer in social media. Where I work– well, not so much. A few of the gang are signing up on LinkedIn, a few others on Facebook. The market we work in is only recently opening up to the world of social media so I’ve not had requests to add related fields to track any of this sort of detail.

So how excited was I when Salesforce announced they were adding social contacts in Salesforce? Extremely! I looked at it as a way to work with our sales team to give them insight into the competition, into their contacts, into what the word is on the street they’re not standing on directly.

Then social contacts rolled out. *sigh*

I’m not even touching the fact you have to pay to search and link to LinkedIn. That’s on LinkedIn and I’ll leave it that I am not thrilled with their pricing. Especially when you can access and search for free already.

Twitter and Facebook connections are currently free and fairly easy to use in principle at least. After playing with it this morning- this is what I got using myself as the contact, in an UE org:

Twitter – actually I came up quickly in the results. It was easy to figure out which one was me because I cheated- I know my twitter handle and my picture associated with my name. 🙂

Facebook – no go. My profile was not one of the 20+ results returned.

Salesforce has my name, my address, my email address used for the two systems involved, and phone information. From what I can tell, it only passes on the first and last name to the service to search. Which if your name is something unique like Pilot Lee or Dweezil Zappa, great! Odds are it will find you. If you’re like me and have a relatively common first/last name or have an even more common name – John Smith anyone? – then searching from the CRM tool is going to be difficult at best. In fact, if I put my full name that I have on my Facebook account in the search field, it still can’t find me on Facebook! Really?

Social media and social contacts are relatively young, practically newborn in my market. I want them to embrace what social contacts can give them – wouldn’t you like to review a customer’s timeline and get insight on if it would be a good time to cold call them? Frustrating as it is to wake my users to the concept of social media, giving them this tool is going to make it more difficult for them than solving a problem many don’t see as existing in the first place. The tool is too simple and there is no means of bypassing the connector. So if you did know my name as it is used on Facebook and wanted to connect my profile to your CRM instance- it would be impossible. Or you could try and keep refreshing for every Elizabeth Davidson on FB hoping you’d see my profile pic (and praying I didn’t pick that moment to change it). Same goes for twitter- if you have a common name – if their name is used at all with the bio, you’re at the mercy of luck.

Here’s what I think needs to happen to make this a truly game changing component to Salesforce:

1- Someone knock some sense into LinkedIn on their pricing. Really. Especially for those who already pay for their services.
2- Standard fields! There is no where to enter the information directly- you have to use the search and the problems with that I define above. Ideally, you’d have a place to enter the contact’s twitter handle. It would be available as a reportable field as well. There’s individual links for FB users that could be used here also.
3- If the requirement for the user to have their own log in to the service can not be changed, how about making it possible for the admin to set up an account. Think about this:
JimSales has a great relationship with ClientA
JimSales decides to add ClientA’s Facebook account to their CRM
JimSales signs in as himself to make the connection and view it.
(We’ll say he’s successful in finding ClientA)
ClientA has posted something personal, possibly not safe for work
JimSalesBoss comes by, sees ClientA’s highly inappropriate post on JimSales’s screen. ClientA didn’t mean to get JimSales in any hot water, he’s even got JimSales on a private filter and never expected JimSales to see this at work.

See where this gets very quickly? If the client and user have a relationship outside of the work environment, that’s great. But it could lead to some very uncomfortable circumstances even if Salesforce is only showing a feed from FB, not storing the data.

Having an official account which may not have any interactive activity may be the way to go to avoid problems and be able to see accounts consistently in the company.

Just some thoughts on the rollout– again, I love the idea, I would love to have the ability to use this and get my users involved, just the functionality leaves so much to be desired. I look forward to seeing how this develops!

Update:
Thanks to Judi Sohn, we were able to figure out why I couldn’t see myself. There are two settings in Facebook you have to correct to make sure your profile is viewable by the general public. Post coming soon to explain as it’s a bit more than you’d think.

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