What makes someone a bona fide Salesforce expert?
A growth-minded spirit and dedication to ongoing learning separate the Salesforce professionals from the experts. Because the platform is constantly evolving, it’s critical to dedicate time to expanding, deepening, and specializing your skills to keep pace with Salesforce’s impressive pace of innovation. This is how to deliver the most value to customers while building a sustainable Salesforce consulting career.
Upskilling and specialization are some of the most impactful ways to gain a competitive edge and win new projects as a Salesforce expert. However, time is money, and ongoing education takes precious time. Here is how we recommend approaching upskilling to stay competitive as a Salesforce expert.
The best Salesforce experts are upskilling
Expertise, like the marketplace, isn’t static. During inflation or recession, investing legend Warren Buffet says you should do two things: First, invest in yourself. Get better at what you do and who you are. Second, protect yourself with the best protection— a business that doesn’t require heavy capital investment.
Sound familiar? Our survey of independent consultants – some of the most elite talent talent in the Salesforce ecosystem – made it abundantly clear that ongoing education is necessary. However, at the same time, most independents agree that time is money. Billable hours keep the lights on, but upskilling is key to staying current on the latest trends.
Independent Salesforce technical consultant and entrepreneur Tasha Rucker succinctly captures the importance of professional development for Salesforce entrepreneurs.
“…I’m a lifelong learner. I can design my own professional development and it’s funded by me. Whether it’s which conferences to attend, present at, or how to market my brand – I have the freedom to choose. It feels good to invest in myself and my future.”
Why Salesforce experts should carve out a niche in the market
Before going after a new Salesforce certification to elevate your expertise – the key to winning clients, expanding business capabilities, and weathering economic storms – take the time to establish your market niche.
It’s impossible to attract and win over every customer. It also doesn’t pay to get distracted by the next shiny product and the imagined dollar signs that come with it. That said, choose a corner of the market that will allow you to do the Salesforce work you love and excel in it (bonus points if also narrowed by industry.) For example:
- Financial Cloud
- Health Cloud
- Manufacturing Cloud
- Commerce Cloud
Customers recognize good work and will come back for more – more than half of independent consultants’ customer base is repeat customers.
Becoming an expert in a specific cloud and/or industry is also a strategic career move. Repetition and exposure to various use cases and challenges will result in deepened expertise – the hallmark of a good consultant. This will help you continuously win over new project work in your corner of the market.
How Salesforce experts can carve out their niche
Consider this advice from independent Salesforce architect and entrepreneur Lamin Ceesay. He positioned his independent consultancy by first identifying market opportunities aligned with his passions, purpose, and goals to drive solutions for customers.
“To find your market niche, do some competitive analysis. Compare your offerings to consulting firms, other independent consultants, etc. You don’t want to compete with the big players, but you have to find a place to compete and provide value.”
To harness the power of vertical specialization, pick something you’re good at and seek clients whose problems need your solutions. Ask yourself, ‘What do I enjoy?’ ‘What am I really good at?’ ‘What are my unique skills?’ ‘Who would value that?’ ‘What problems can I solve for them?’ Magic happens at the intersection of your unique talents, skills, and desires and the businesses that would value the transformation you enjoy delivering.
Take a bite-sized approach to upskilling
Whether you’re seeking a new certification by adding credentials that demonstrate your expertise or just looking to expand your skills, set yourself up for success by first defining what success will look like for you.
Do you have a knack for relationship-building? Then, you have a solid foundation for what it takes to become a solution architect. Are you technically savvy or love coding? Then, hone in on technical consultant, technical architect, or developer skills.
Knowing what you’re good at and enjoy will also help determine your blind spots. Both are necessary to build a learning game plan that will inform which skills to sharpen and when.
Trailhead makes hitting your target easy and on a customizable schedule. Set measurable goals for learning and choose a certification exam date that’s manageable and practical. Consider your current project load and personal life, then reverse-engineer your learning schedule.
To make your learning schedule bite-sized, download the Trailhead GO app. It boasts an impressive library with over 800 ‘badges’ of bite-sized and dynamic content across various topics. There’s something for everyone, and it’s an effective way to build momentum for your upskilling journey.
Lean on your community for mentorship
The Salesforce Ohana is alive and well. No matter your career path or goals, there are experts who have already walked the journey and are eager to offer their lessons learned. Start with your local user groups or apply to join an expert community like 10K’s. These groups are full of welcoming and supportive people who value collaboration, learning, and leveling up the Salesforce ecosystem one person at a time.
The 10K View
The Salesforce platform is constantly evolving, which means that Salesforce consultants need to be constantly learning. The best way to do this is to carve out a niche in the market and focus on a specific cloud or industry. This will allow you to develop deep expertise in a particular area and become a valuable asset to your clients.
To find your market niche, do some competitive analysis and identify what you can offer that others can’t. Once you’ve found your niche, you can start upskilling by taking Trailhead courses, attending conferences, and networking with other Salesforce professionals.
Taking a bite-sized approach to upskilling and setting measurable goals is important. This will help you stay on track and progress towards your desired outcome. You can also lean on your community for mentorship or to discover new learning opportunities. For example, 10K’s ISV Partner Program connects our Salesforce expert community with industry-leading ISV certification opportunities.
Follow these tips, and you can become a stand-out independent Salesforce consultant who is always learning and growing.