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  • Samantha Colvarro

The Salesforce Platform: What Does That Even Mean?

And, What Does A Career on Salesforce Look Like?

I graduated from college in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music for Vocal Performance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. Three years later, I started working on the Salesforce Platform. I was hired at for my knowledge of customer service and box office management (skills that I acquired through my degrees and background in the arts!) but I knew nothing about Salesforce - I had never even heard of it!

But, as an artist, I had a valuable understanding of what it took to learn something new. I was constantly learning, be it a new song, or learning lines, or dance moves, breathing techniques, the list goes on. But, perhaps most importantly, I understood that you improve through practice.

Developing Salesforce skills is similar to what many artists do, repetition of tasks until you have mastered them, understanding basic concepts and building on them, and seeing how everyone’s unique contribution comes together to make something complete, and it’s these reasons that I believe artists are perfectly suited for Salesforce careers.

So, what is the Salesforce platform?

When I explain Salesforce to some of my less-tech-savvy friends and family, I equate it to editing a document with Microsoft Word or Google docs. Most people my age used those products in school, or have jobs where they use them to work cooperatively. These are tools that are used for work, and so is Salesforce! However, Salesforce isn’t a word processor, it’s essentially a database used primarily to help companies manage their Sales and Service. Technically a Customer Relationship Management system or more commonly known as a CRM.

Keeping track of your customers, and your relationship to them is important for every kind of business. Nonprofit organizations might use a CRM like Salesforce to track donations and to reach out to donors for annual #GivingTuesday campaigns. Realtors might use these systems to keep track of houses they are selling and people they are selling to. Plumbers might use it to keep track of house calls so if someone calls twice in a week there is a history of work they have done, who did it, and when they can come back. And Spotify might use it to make your yearly wrapped playlist and track what you listen to to personalize your daily mix playlists! (Spotify really does use Salesforce, and so do these other well-known companies)

Right here, you can see all kinds of people use Salesforce including non-profit administrators, realtors, and plummers - but do these people have a career working at Salesforce? Probably not. Their daily work may be documented in Salesforce, they may use it to track their selling, their service, and their relationships, but Salesforce is the tool that they use, just like the word processors I mentioned earlier. So what does it mean to have a career on the Salesforce platform? Well, these people are the bridge between the system itself, and the people using it. Here are a few examples.

  • Salesforce Administrators - (or Admin for short) these people are in charge of one Salesforce account for one company. They make sure it is set-up to run well, customize it to make users happier (such as creating reports, or dashboards, or making things easier to use) or to integrate it with other systems, keep documentation on how it runs, and if something breaks, it’s up to them to fix it. This is the actual job I have!

  • Consultant - these help companies that operate on Salesforce. They come in, set up, assist, or build what they are contracted to do, hand off the finished product and documentation, and then they may never work with that company again. Consultants might work for a company with other consultants, or they might be hired directly by companies on a contract basis.

  • Customer Service/Support/Success - while they go by a lot of different names, these are people who are similar to consultants, but typically do the job after the consultants are done. They are the long term assistance, and if something breaks or goes wrong, they go in. They aren’t in charge of managing the system like an admin, but they can help when called upon, like a Consultant.

  • Developers - people who write code on the Salesforce platform, sometimes also called engineers. Most things in Salesforce can be done without needing to know computer code - using Salesforce’s declarative or “point-and-click” interface, but some complex requirements (such as sophisticated reporting) need lightweight coding which I found pretty easy to learn.

  • Architects - This is the top of the proverbial Salesforce careers pyramid. A mix of admin, developer, and consultant, Architects are a master of all trades. Think of architects the same way as architects for buildings. They imagine the structure they want to build and create a creative plan for others to build it.

And these are just a few examples - there are so many more including junior and senior positions, managers, salespeople, marketers, designers, the list goes on!

With all of these options and such a big platform, how could you ever find where you fit in? Like most things it’s best to start with the basics, which is what we are doing at - helping you get started, and eventually to pass the Salesforce’s “Certified Associate” certification exam. From there, once you have a general understanding of what Salesforce is capable of, you can branch out, learn new things, specialize, and find what you enjoy most about working in Salesforce.

So, what is the Salesforce platform? A way to connect with customers or patrons, and manage those relationships. And what does a career on Salesforce look like? With some practice, and hard work, a career on Salesforce can sing like a symphony, and leave an impact!

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