Episode 18: Peggy Schael Salesforce Career Conversation with ROD. Peggy talks about her career in Salesforce and how she progressed to co-found a training platform to help others to become certified.
Lee: Hello, it’s Lee Durrant here again with another episode of RODcast, where, as you know by now, we dive into people’s Salesforce careers to find you, hopefully, little nuggets of inspiration that might help you in your Salesforce career. I’m really pleased to say that joining me today on the podcast is Peggy Schael who is the co-founder of WeLearnSalesforce. Hi Peggy.
Peggy: Hi Lee, nice to meet you, and thanks so much for having me here.
Lee: I’m really, really thankful that you’ve agreed to join. I think I saw what you do on LinkedIn and thought it’s quite interesting. We’ll see if we can have a quick chat and share some of your story or even all of your story with people that are listening and want to be inspired perhaps as to what happened in your career and how you got to where you are and what you’re doing, and maybe how that can help them as well. I was looking with interest. Maybe a little overview for us first and then we’ll go back to the beginning if you like. Do you mind just telling us a little bit about what you do right now and then we’ll rewind?
Peggy: Yes, yes, of course. I’m more than happy to share my story and I have to add, this is my very first podcast, so please be gentle on me.
Lee: That’s okay. I won’t ask anything too tough but yes, you fire away.
Peggy: As you introduced, I’m Peggy Schael and I am a Salesforce trainer and have been a Salesforce trainer for many years now, and a bit over, I think two years ago, we founded WeLearnSalesforce, our online Salesforce learning platform where you can go and watch video tutorials and get Salesforce certified or do a Salesforce certification training and prepare for the certification and all of that is provided in video tutorial format. You can watch pretty much any time from anywhere you are. That’s where I am right now.
Lee: Where you are right now, brilliant. I’d be interested to find out how you got into it but maybe before that, what were you doing pre-Salesforce? What was your career up to that? I had a look obviously I could see a bit of HR recruitment in there back in the day.
Peggy: Yes exactly. It’s probably not what you expect, someone being in the Salesforce trainer role. I pretty much stumbled into Salesforce. It’s one of the stories I’ve already shared and how I got into Salesforce. I worked for various management consulting companies before I moved into Salesforce. They were mainly roles around event management and human resources and recruitment and staffing, and then a little bit of project management. Pretty much roles that had to do with working with people and getting things organised. Mostly what we called back-office jobs where you would just really work behind the scenes and get people out there.
It had literally nothing to do with technology or in IT and CRM systems, maybe Excel spreadsheets, but certainly, nothing to do with CRM systems or anything like that. I thought this is pretty much where I’ll be working for the rest of my life. Then what happened was that my partner and I, we moved back to Australia. We lived in Australia before and then decided to go back to Australia. We left our jobs, we left everything behind, and moved to Australia. Then I had to look for a new job in Australia, specifically in Sydney. I was looking around and then I came across yet another consulting company.
They had a job opening for a Salesforce project manager, and I thought, “Okay, I have a bit of project management experience,” but Salesforce, I had no idea what Salesforce was.
Lee: Peggy, just a rough idea when this was?
Peggy: This was in 2013. It’s been a few years back now. Time flies.
Lee: Yes, well, you’re not wrong. Nearly 10 years ago then I suppose. Did you get the opportunity then with your project management experience?
Peggy: Yes. I think what happened was I had no idea what Salesforce was. I Googled it, I looked it up and I said, “Okay,” I had a very rough idea of what it was. I applied for the job and they did invite me to a job interview. They eventually hired me as well. I realised that it wasn’t because I had any Salesforce experience or I had huge project management experience. It was more around skills of problem-solving. Then the can-do attitude, the enthusiasm, and passion probably hiring managers are looking for. I think that’s what they were looking for.
They said, “We needed someone as a project manager who can manage our Salesforce instance and to improve certain functionalities and business processes and just really help with that whole process. I think because of my previous experience that I already had in abroad in all of these, let’s call them transferable skills, that’s probably why they hired me, not because I had IT background or because I had Salesforce experience at all.
Lee: That’s the interesting thing about Salesforce, isn’t it? You speak to a lot of people, not just on these podcasts, but just as part of our day job; Salesforce seems to be quite open to welcoming people that you wouldn’t say are “IT people”, that they’re business people perhaps that just can come in and, and as you say, with the right attitude and problem-solving skills, they can learn Salesforce, so that’s also huge.
Peggy: Yes, yes, exactly. I think it’s more how you approach things and pretty much the attitude you bring to it and being open to learn something new and to look outside the box and just come up with some ideas and solutions and make things work. Then you will find a solution. You will find out how things can be set up and can be embedded into Salesforce to make work for the business. It’s really everything coming together, right?
Lee: Yes, that company– we don’t have to name names or anything but did they have Salesforce administrators that you could, as a project manager, manage, or did you still have to learn, to roll your sleeves up and do the complicated stuff?
Peggy: Yes. The funny thing of what happened was that there was this IT guy, he was pretty much the Salesforce administrator. I learned how to use Salesforce and how it worked from that guy and then from my boss at the time. She also showed me what she already knew about the system. They were all relatively new to the system and they just used a very small part. I just did on-the-job training pretty much and just clicking around and just getting to know the system all by myself. Then what happened is that my boss at the time, she asked me if I wanted to attend a Salesforce administrator training and I said, “No.”
Lee: Oh, did you?
Peggy: No, I don’t want to do training. I’m a project manager. Why should I go to training? It’s an admin training, but I’m a project manager. I’m just supposed to get the features that people want improvements for and then work with the IT department, like those project management things that you do to put it in that rough sense. No, I don’t want to do it. I don’t need it. She kept asking me over and over, said, “Do you want to go?” Eventually, I said, “Okay, I’m going to go and do that training.” I didn’t know if it’s really going to help, but sure I’d go.
I have to admit, as soon as I went into this training class and the way how the training was delivered and we were walking through and all those things I learned throughout this training, they were literally eye-opening. I never thought it would actually be that good, but I realised that I learned so many things through the training in aspects that I would have never learned throughout the job because in an organisation, you always only use a certain part that that organisation needs at the time. You don’t necessarily get exposed to features of other areas that the organisation doesn’t really need.
You don’t necessarily know what you may be missing out on if you never get exposed to that. That’s what I realised throughout that training that– and I came up with all these notes. I think I can’t remember how many pages I wrote down two, three, four, five pages of notes that I wanted to improve. I realised that there were certain things that we set up in the system that could have done in a much better and more effective way than they were set up at the time. It literally opened my eyes and it just, I don’t know, open the sky to all those possibilities.
Of course, you can’t implement all of that right away but it just gave me all these ideas and inputs. The funny thing I realised later that attending that training would later literally change my entire career.
Lee: Wow, okay. We’ll get to that because it’s an interesting point, I think, that you make. I’ve definitely spoken to, as you were at the time, I suppose a project manager and project managers would look at the Salesforce admin course and think, “Well, why would I need to do that?”
Peggy: Yes, exactly.
Lee: It does sound– Maybe they should change the title of it because an admin sounds like a huge step down for project managers, isn’t it? I think people probably think that if I’m going to go down that road, then people were going to see me as a Salesforce administrator when I think really, correct me if I’m wrong, that Salesforce administrator course just gives you a massive overview of the whole thing, doesn’t it? And it gives you just a great grounding to go on from there.
Peggy: Absolutely. Yes. What I also realised later on in my Salesforce trainer career, with people attending the training that a lot of those people attending were people from organisations in not only administrative roles but also project managers, product managers, business analysts, and all of them came because they wanted to better understand the system so they can better understand what else they can use in the organisation for to improve their business processes. I never really saw it as a step-down. It was more like, “Why should I do this? What does this help me with?” Because I can learn everything myself, right? Yes, it definitely–
Lee: That’s a good message there, isn’t it? Anyone listening to this who maybe is a product manager or isn’t a Salesforce admin and may be thinking, “I probably shouldn’t do that course.” The message would be it’s an eye-opener, everything that can be done as opposed to, like you said, if you’re like us, we’re a recruitment company, we use Salesforce, but there are probably things we don’t realise it can do because we’re recruiting.
Peggy: Exactly. Yes, yes. That’s so true and even throughout the end-user training I was running, I realised how organisations can get into a funnel and don’t actually see other opportunities that they can use the system for where they are not being exposed to. That’s why we keep encouraging, not only people that are looking for a career change and want to get into Salesforce and learn Salesforce administration but also other people that are already in maybe an accidental admin job or in a project management job but they work with the system, just go and do the training because it really shows you all the possibilities that you can potentially use in your own organisation.
Lee: I’m guessing– because my next question is when did you know you wanted to do Salesforce as a career? Was that that point then when you went, “Wow, this isn’t just a system I’m tinkering around with. This is a whole big thing.”
Peggy: Yes. It’s the next funny thing with that Salesforce training that eye-opener, that throughout my project manager job with that consulting company that my boss, the next thing she asked me to do was Salesforce training, onboarding training with new staff and ongoing training with new releases and changes and stuff like that. I said, “No, I don’t want to do training.” I say no a lot, at first. Well, someone had to do it because there was no in-house trainer and someone had to take it over. Then eventually again, I said, “Okay, I’m going to do it because I’ve done the training. I know a little bit better or more about the system. I understand the business processes in the organisation, so yes, I can do the training.”
We started implementing end-user types of training and I actually enjoyed doing them. I never thought I would but I did really enjoy them. For a little while, for a few weeks, few months, I notice that I like the job but there’s something missing in the job. I’d want to do something different and that’s one of the blog articles I wrote recently where I felt like I wanted to do something different. There was something missing but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I thought about it. I knew I really like working with people. I like the system. I didn’t like sitting at a desk all day long.
There were all these ideas, but I wasn’t quite sure. I couldn’t quite grasp what it is and then actually my partner brought up the idea, “Could you imagine yourself being a full-time Salesforce trainer?” I’m like, “No.” Again, I said no but then I started thinking about it. I remember that training that I attended myself, the Salesforce administrator training, that it was so well organised and the trainer was a lot of fun. He made it so easy and in my head, I put myself into his shoes, imagining standing in front of people presenting. I felt like, “Yes, maybe that could be something that I could do,” but I had no idea if it would work out.
Because I was itchy and I felt like I wanted to do something different, I asked him if he would be open to, I don’t know, chat about what it is like to be a Salesforce trainer. He agreed, luckily. I think that’s the beauty of the Salesforce ecosystem and the community, that people seem to be really open to yes, to just check with other people and help and I didn’t know, provide advice where they can. He answered all my questions that I had and he had some really great tips along the way. Then I thought, “Yes, this feels right. This feels like something I could potentially do.”
Then a few months later, he told me that they had a job opening and if I would still be interested. I said, “Yes, sure. Why not give it a go?
Lee: Yes, that’s good. Is that TrainTheCrowd?
Lee: Your first foray. Let’s just be clear, again, in all your background pre that Salesforce role, I know you’ve done a lot of things but training wasn’t really in there, was it? Or did you do some training in the HR–
Peggy: Not at all. That’s the other funny thing there. The only training experience I really had was that end-user training in the organisation throughout that project management role that I was doing. That was really that. Then that brings me back to the transferable skills when I had the job interview with the managing director, I felt like we connected right away. It felt very natural. We had a really great chat and then she asked me to do a little presentation, a little training session with her. She would be the student and I would be the trainer. Then I did, yes, I did what I thought a training session would look like and explained a few things, and apparently, she liked what I did. I got hired.
It wasn’t because I had massive training experience but probably maybe the way I presented it, and maybe the personality. I don’t know, I think there are several aspects that came together and yes, she must have thought that could work.
Lee: Oh, maybe yes, coming into it from a background that isn’t training, you weren’t just a textbook trainer. Maybe that was nice and refreshing, who knows?
Peggy: Yes, I really enjoyed doing that whole presentation thing and explaining something to someone. I’ve always liked that kind of collaboration and hands-on approach, working with people and just helping them if they needed to learn something. Maybe it comes naturally. I don’t know what it is but it just seemed to be working out.
Lee: Wow, nice. It sounds like you found your thing which is great, isn’t it?
Peggy: I think that’s the point that if sometimes you feel like you want to do something different but you don’t quite know what it is, and if you don’t try out something that you’re not sure about, you’re not going to know whether it’s for you or not. If you don’t step outside your comfort zone and just really try out something, you’re not going to know if it’s for you or not. You’ll never find out. I thought maybe I’ll just try and see what happens.
Lee: That’s got you to where you are now. This TrainTheCrowd, roughly when was that?
Peggy: I started with them, I think beginning of 2015. They asked me to get a certification but I didn’t have to have it, but when I started the job, I made sure I get my own Salesforce certification. Then moved into a training consultant role and I started with end-user training, delivering the smaller training.
Lee: For the companies that had just got Salesforce or sometimes companies had got it and just needed to use it better, or a bit of both?
Peggy: Yes, a bit of both. Mostly companies that already considered or already had bought Salesforce licenses. I needed to train up either their administrators or their in-house staff on how to use the system for their day-to-day businesses, yes.
Lee: I’m guessing pre-COVID there’s a lot of travelling around, going to see companies to do this face-to-face, or was it always online?
Peggy: That was mostly face-to-face. That was actually one part of the job I enjoyed. I probably shouldn’t say that too out loud, but I’ve really enjoyed the travelling aspect, but mostly meeting different organisations and different ways of working with the system and different team environments, team spirits, and cultures. Every Salesforce training with every organisation was different because you had to get to know them, you had to understand how they work, and then tailor the training to that organisation. The travelling was one aspect and yes, there was a lot of travelling involved, but I actually didn’t mind, I love travelling.
Lee: You’re still in Australia at this point, are you?
Peggy: Yes, that’s right.
Lee: Right, travelling all across Australia.
Peggy: Because Australia is spread really wide, it’s such a huge continent or country. You had to travel because you had all these bigger cities and companies that were based in all these different places across Australia so we had to travel. I think face-to-face training was still the main way of training. I think people didn’t really think about the benefits of virtual training or online training at the time. I think that came out throughout the whole COVID time. I remember really early on in my Salesforce training job that I brought up this idea of, “Rather than me having to travel to Perth, which is quite a trip, couldn’t we just do that training virtually?”
And there was like, “No, we have this relationship and they want face-to-face.” I was like, “Yes. Okay, maybe later on.” Now, when you look at it now, there are so many more virtual training, online training, etcetera.
Lee: Must have been one of the positives to come out of COVID, isn’t it?
Lee: Things like that, you could probably do more training because you’re not on the road as much, even though you might have enjoyed it, but also the cost, I’m assuming the clients pay for you to stay in a nicer hotel and things like that.
Peggy: Yes, totally. That makes training pretty expensive for organisations because what I’ve noticed throughout some of the projects, or even in between, they realise– the companies are a little bit shy, or they don’t want to spend too much money on training. They’d rather spend money on more licenses rather than training because training can be expensive. I think that helped to lower the costs, but also more encouragement of getting people trained up.
Lee: Obviously now, we’ll get to where you are at the moment. I’m just curious to see if you think that there’s a real career path now for people to become Salesforce trainers? Because I know we never touched on how many people are trying to– The ecosystem needs more people, so there are more initiatives such as WeLearnSalesforce. What would be your advice to someone who’s listening to this, and maybe they hadn’t even thought of being a Salesforce trainer? They maybe thought, “I’m either going to be a Salesforce administrator then move through the functional route, be a consultant, or maybe a solution architect one day, or project manager,” or the other way, which is developer and technical architect.
Peggy: Yes, absolutely.
Lee: Just now I might be thinking, “Hang on a minute, training could be for me.” Is there any advice you would give to someone who might be thinking, “Hang on a second? Maybe I’ll have a look at that.”
Peggy: Yes, absolutely. I do agree that we do need more Salesforce trainers because with the Salesforce ecosystem and all the Salesforce jobs, and the demand increasing so much that Salesforce training is an important aspect, but getting people trained up, we need more trainers. I can already tell there are more trainers popping up and I think that’s important because getting a proper Salesforce training is important to just learn things in the right way, and just to have long-lasting results. Getting into Salesforce training roles, because you’re learning Salesforce yourself, but by giving or training people on the other hand side you are giving something to them.
You help them with your experiences, with your advice, and show them how to learn Salesforce in a more effective way. Getting into a Salesforce training role, there are lots of Salesforce training partners that work with Salesforce trainers to deliver the official Salesforce classes, similar to the TrainTheCrowd, and similar to the job I did at the time in Australia. That’s definitely a career path to go for, absolutely. It’s probably not so much known because when you look at Salesforce jobs, in certain job portals, they’re mostly around administrators, developers, architects, and consultants, etcetera, but you don’t really see trainers out there.
What happens is that Salesforce works with Salesforce training partners that have to be authorised by Salesforce, and you have to go through an official Salesforce Certification Program. You really have to learn how to deliver a class, and understanding what it means to deliver training contents, how to deal with people in the room, how to keep them engaged, how to answer questions, how not to answer too many questions, because you want to engage or encourage people to help themselves because after training they are on their own. These skills that you’re learning throughout that training program, sorry, Salesforce Instructor Certification Training, that you’ll learn.
There are some aspects to being a trainer where you want to have some form of skills to know how to deliver because I’ve been working with people, with consultants, especially, they’re great at asking questions, and they guide you in certain directions, but they can’t really explain things. They can’t really tell you, step by step, how you should do this and that, and why and so it requires a little bit of skill and understanding how to deliver a training. I think it does help to go through a bit of training, learning process where you learn how to deliver a training.
I had to go through that type of training myself at my time at TrainTheCrowd, and that really helped me understand better how to deliver these classes. If you wanted to become an independent trainer like myself, it also helps to maybe do a bit of an education program, how to teach people, how to educate people, that will help you to add that to your administrator’s certification, or your own experience with Salesforce, understand how to deliver that type of content, and then go out and offer training yourself, absolutely. I think you can absolutely do it.
We’ve done it ourselves. Yes, I had prior Salesforce experience, but you know Salesforce, you’ve learned Salesforce, you’ve got some form of experience, you’ve got certification, you can totally train other people.
Lee: Yes. Then I suppose one of the things with learning styles, that must be quite challenging, because I don’t know how many people you have in a class at any one time, but if it’s only up to an organisation, it could be quite a few people. Everyone’s going to be different, aren’t they? Some people like to learn by watching something, some people like to learn by doing something, and other people need information, other people don’t. Do you have that sorted so you’re going to get all those bases covered and you’re hitting all the learning methods?
Peggy: That’s what we thought. We want to provide a platform where people can choose based on their own learning styles because everyone is different, as you just said. That’s why we have the video tutorials that people can watch, and I take them through, explaining the learning concepts, and then we do some follow-along exercises, and then they get to do some exercises on their own. With that, we provide a study workbook that people can download and even print if they wanted to, and then use it to write down some notes or to review what they’ve learned throughout the video or/and we also have practice exams where people can test their knowledge so they can find out what they know and what they don’t know and use that to fill some of the learning gaps that they might still have before they run into the official certification exam.
We cover the full range and people can go and pick and choose. They can get the full package and if they feel like they just want to get the workbook or just the practice exams, they can totally get everything, standalone and upgrade later if they want. We have something for everyone, and they can choose their own learning experience. It’s all there, you just go explore, you can even get free access. Before you purchase anything you can have a look, you can see me in action, and find out if you like the style and the way how I teach. If you like it, you can even get a sample of the study workbook and the practice exam.
You can get a look and feel and see if that’s something you like. If you like it, you can purchase it.
Lee: I should point out now that we’re up to speed now. Now, when you’re referring to “we” you’re now referring to WeLearnSalesforce, I’m assuming. At what point did you make the leap from TrainTheCrowd to becoming a co-founder of WeLearnSalesforce? What triggered that?
Peggy: That’s a good question. Again, I think I’ve worked for TrainTheCrowd for a bit over four years. My partner and I, we got a little bit itchy both, and we felt like, “Oh, we want to do something different.” Then what I noticed, throughout a lot of the classes and other end-user training that people were coming to me asking, “Can we have this in video format? Do you have something that I can refer to and that I can review the learnings?” I said, “No, I don’t really know of anything.” Then I thought, “I don’t know, something like this doesn’t seem to be available in this classroom style and something that they can grab and just review.”
I thought maybe, “Why not see if we can produce the training contents in video format?” At some point, we came up with this idea. It didn’t really dawn on me yet, but then we thought, “People keep asking for videos. Why not try and just convert all of that, what I did in the classroom, convert that into videos and provide it on a platform that people can access from anywhere, anytime, and even throughout their job?” Because when you learn Salesforce, there’s so much content, you can’t possibly remember everything. I always told my students at the end of the week, “I’m sure you’ve already forgotten 50% of what you’ve learned throughout the week, which is totally normal.”
I thought having something that they can go back to and watch again, that will be super beneficial. Even throughout the job, if you are faced with a specific request, and you can’t remember how it worked, and how you need to set it up, you can go and just watch the video, refresh your knowledge, and then go ahead. I even had some successful students, come back to me and say, “I actually used it throughout my job because there was this issue and I watched the video, and it helped me refresh my memory.”
Lee: Brilliant. When you started WeLearnSalesforce, what year are we in now with that?
Peggy: That was at the end of 2019, just before COVID hit.
Lee: Quite good timing.
Peggy: Yes, it was good timing. I think that was good that we were already online but because we’re still a very small company, and we’re not that well known yet, it takes a bit of time to get the word out there that we are here. We had these awesome training. We still have to get the word out there. I think it was a good time.
Lee: Here’s an obvious question, and maybe a harsh question; someone’s out there now, and they’re on Trailhead, which, as far as I’m aware, is all free. At what point do you think that person needs to go, “I need to do a bit more than just Trailhead.” I know there’s a free route in WeLearnSalesforce, but at what point do you think someone goes, “Right, I now need to probably start to invest in my career a little bit and spend some money with WeLearnSalesforce.” Actually, just to stop myself mid-flow, I’m assuming is it individuals that are paying or is it companies that are paying? Who are your target customers, I suppose, is probably a better question first?
Peggy: I think they’re multiple questions in there. They’re actually really good questions. I think it comes back to your learning style and whether you’re a more self-sufficient learner or you’re someone who prefers a guided approach. If you’re a more self-sufficient person who is happy to work around the free contents on Trailhead and follow the trail mixes that they provide with the little learning modules that you can work your way through and prepare for the certification, that’s great for people who are more self-sufficient.
I noticed that on Trailhead when you’re looking for something very specific, it can be a little bit hard to find exactly what you need to learn.
It’s very text-based. Yes, they’re implementing more and more videos, but they’re more ad hoc, and they’re not in an organised structure, in the way that we think we’ve put that together in our training. If you feel like you’re confused, you’re not sure, are you learning the right things that you need to prepare for your certification, then that’s probably the point where you should consider a form of more structured and organised training. That’s where WeLearnSalesforce and other platforms come in, where you can have a look and see if that’s something you want to do.
That’s probably where it makes sense to pay for training because you get a structured, logical approach, and you learn how to build up your knowledge as you go. You learn in a very effective way that prepares you, that fills some gaps that you may be missing. Sometimes people feel like, “Oh, this is too expensive. I’m not sure if I can afford this,” but when you actually get a Salesforce job, that investment in your career will pay off within the first few days, literally.
Lee: I don’t know how much you would charge. Is it a subscription type agreement that you have?
Peggy: We’ve actually just changed our pricing model, so I’m glad you asked. People can now choose from different pricing options to really find something that works best for their budget that they have. Yes, we have a subscription model where you can enroll on a monthly basis, you can cancel on a monthly basis, or you can sign up for a half-year enrollment, or you can even get a lifetime enrollment. That’s the one where you can take it away with you even after you got certified, and you can even refer back to it throughout your job or whatever. We’ve got these various options, and people can choose what works best for them.
Then coming back to your other question regarding, “Are companies typically paying for certification or training, or should you invest yourself?” It depends. When organisations implement Salesforce, or they have ongoing changes, they typically pay their accidental admins or people that they need to look after the system, they would pay for them and send them to training. That’s typically what the official Trailhead academy classes are for. They are primarily targeted at business customers that implement Salesforce and that need to train up their staff such as system administrators, product managers, project managers, business owners, and so on, so it’s often targeted at them.
Of course, depending on their budget, they would pay for a official Trailhead academy class, or they would look for alternatives like us, which has a different experience because it’s all video-based, it’s online, it’s on-demand. It’s not live, not yet at least. We are considering live training. Our training are more for people that want to do it for themselves, to improve their skills, maybe to progress in their own career. That’s our main audience, for people that are looking to either get into a Salesforce job from scratch, or to improve their Salesforce skills like advanced administrators, or sales consultants, these are the certificate training that we are going to add on.
Lee: Makes sense. Like you said earlier on, individuals in the market that we’re in at the moment, says as long as I’ve been doing Salesforce recruitment, it’s always been more opportunities than there are the right people. I think COVID has exacerbated that. If you are looking to get into it, not that it’s all about money, but the financial rewards are there. If you invest a little bit upfront in yourself and you’ve got the right attitude, there’s definitely opportunities out there. It sounds like you’ve got it set up then so that if someone– You don’t want to go down the road of learning development when you are, a bit like you said about yourself earlier on, you don’t want to sit on a laptop all day. If you are a people person, you’d want to go down the functional route or even the trainer route, you never know.
Peggy: Yes, exactly.
Lee: It’s nice to have that guidance. I think I’ve heard that before about Trailhead that sometimes people can go down a rabbit hole, and they’re learning what they don’t really want to be learning.
Peggy: That’s right.
Lee: I think if you have that guidance is quite good, I think.
Lee: It sounds like you guys, you train people to get certified. In the world we are in with Salesforce at the moment, certification versus experience is the debate that we often get as recruiters. You get someone I guess like yourself back when you mentioned being a Salesforce project manager. I don’t need to get certified as an administrator, I’m a project manager. Do you think there’s an element of people need to just get the balance right between their experience and the certifications they’ve got? Obviously, you do get a lot of people that seem to spend a lot of their time gaining certifications, but not necessarily much experience.
Peggy: Yes, that’s right. I think there are two aspects to it. One is getting the certification probably in most cases, especially if you are new in the Salesforce market, is your entry into the Salesforce job market. It’s pretty much the first milestone that you want to get because if you don’t have a certificate, you are probably not going to get looked at by recruiters, and you probably know that better than me. That’s one aspect. The other aspect of getting Salesforce experience of course is very important because experience helps you really understand the business usage and the business-specific solutions and really understanding how the system is actually being used.
If you’re new in the Salesforce job market, you don’t have that experience. Where do you get it from? This is probably a tough question. There are certain ways where you can get experience. Probably three I can think of right now. One is really look into the Trailhead superbadges. I know a lot of people talk about superbadges and recruiters might get tired by superbadges, but they are based on real business challenges. The superbadges are meant to be done on your own. I’ve done it myself, they are really hard. You run into issues and you really don’t know how to solve them.
You have to test things out in different ways to find a solution and to finally get that verification to move on to the next step in the superbadge. They are even protected by Salesforce so you are not supposed to help someone with a superbadge. They’re really meant to gain your own experience and to really try out and see how you can fix a problem because that’s what is going to happen in your Salesforce job. That’s one way to really practice your skills and really get your head around the problem-solving approach and how to find a solution, especially if you run into an error. You are definitely going to get errors throughout the superbadge. They are really hard, and that’s what they’re meant for.
I’m really glad Salesforce has put them in place because that’s pretty much a bulletproof way of practicing your skills. Another way that I encourage people to do is, and I really need to get the word out there more, create your own experience. You can build apps in the Salesforce Trailhead playground, or even get your own developer org and build your own apps. Just look around businesses and how they work and think of scenarios that you think could help them improve their businesses.
There are different ways of doing that. You can just look around your own environment. Look at your bakery, look at your sports club, look at your optometrist, I don’t know. Any business around you and think how would that– Let’s take a sports club, for example. A sports club consists of members and sponsors and donations, and equipment. Then think of how could that be managed in Salesforce. Then try and replicate that in your own app and objects. Try to set that up in a system yourself and build your own experience. You can present that throughout a job interview or even add that in your CV, et cetera.
Lee: I’m glad you said that.
Peggy: Yes. I think that’s the best way. Don’t just copy someone else’s idea. Just really think of something. Probably the best or the most unique way is just to really look around your own environment, and just take your pharmacy or something like that and just build something on your own. If you really can’t come up with an example, maybe have a look at these Salesforce customer stories. Salesforce has an awesome page. I think it’s Salesforce.com/customers or customer stories. I can’t remember, but you’re going to find it when you Google it.
You can even filter by industry or by cloud and then look at customer stories and how Salesforce helped them improve certain processes. It’s not going to tell you how exactly and the exact steps and customizations, but it gives you some idea of what was improved. Then maybe take that and then come up with some ideas of how would you set up the users and the context of what’s an opportunity. When you think of a donation, what is a donation? You can use opportunities for donations. Just come up with some ideas and how that could work. I think this is a really great way. If you don’t have on-the-job experience yet, just create your own.
Lee: I think you have a third, but before we jump into that, I’m glad you said that. I think that is gold because the amount of times we do say something like that to people– If you think about it, let’s say you’re excited and you love football as I do and you mentioned the sports club. You’re not doing Salesforce, you’re doing something else, but you want to get into Salesforce, then absolutely create this system for your local sports football club, let’s say. You get it on your CV. I think people maybe are a bit shy to put things like that on their CV.
Whereas from my point of view as a Salesforce recruiter, I’m going to take what you’re doing on that project and pop it right at the top of your CV to say, “Look, in my spare time outside of whatever job I’m doing, I’ve built this app for this football club. It does this, this, this, this, and this.” Then all of a sudden, you can go door-knocking at actual football clubs, maybe get a foot in somewhere. I know for a fact that some premier league football clubs use Salesforce, I’ve heard of that somewhere. That’s true of any industry you might be interested in, isn’t it?
Peggy: Exactly. Yes.
Lee: The music industry. Again, like you just said, think of creating something for that industry, get it on your CV, and attack that industry and go, “This is what I’ve done, do you want to interview me?” It’s definitely a way in. I know that Salesforce is certainly looking for people with industry knowledge to come in Salesforce rather than the other way around. That’s a great tip. I don’t think there’s any problem with people putting it on their CV because so many times you’ll talk to somebody and they’ll tell you that they’ve built this thing in their spare time and it’s not on their CV. You think, how are you going to sell yourself as a Salesforce person?
Peggy: Exactly. Yes.
Lee: Maybe you’re working in retail or something and you want to get out of that and you want to become a Salesforce expert, then certainly put what you are learning on Trailhead, put what you’re learning with WeLearnSalesforce, and whatever you’ve built for the industry you’re really quite passionate about. You’ll get an opportunity from somebody because the passion will come out on it, and people will love the fact that you’ve spent your own spare time building that system. It might not be the best system in the world, but they’ll be able to see that you’ve thought about it, hopefully.
Peggy: Yes, exactly. That’s probably where your question earlier regarding should you get more certifications and just focus on getting certifications. Yes, certifications can be an entry into a specific Salesforce job that you want, but I think the experience is more important. Spending more time on doing something like that, build your own, create your own experience is probably as important as getting your next certificate. Maybe just take one step at a time, get a certificate, but make sure you get experience as well because that’s what really counts in the end.
The combination of the two is definitely how you really stand out of the crowd, how you show that you can think outside the box. That you have those problem-solving skills. No one expects you to be perfect. Even if your solution that you present or you put on your CV is not perfect, that’s okay. That’s why you have a team. You have the whole Salesforce community that you can reach out to, you can ask questions, you can collaborate. If you get stuck, you will find someone that you can ask or you can Google it, or you can go to Salesforce help.
It’s an incredible documentation platform where you find a lot of information about certain processes and certain features if you’re not sure. No one expects you to be perfect. I would always encourage people to put that on their CV or even on that LinkedIn profile in the little description box, or in your education area or volunteer in– I’m not sure what it’s called, I think additional something. Definitely make sure you put it on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t be shy. They only know that you have the skills when they can see what you’ve done. If you don’t put it out there, they won’t know.
Lee: Exactly. You mentioned recruiters and internal talent acquisition people, that’s what they’re hunting for constantly is Salesforce certifications, obviously, but also what have you actually done with that knowledge. Of course, it’s great if you’ve got a job and you’ve worked on Salesforce there, but if you’re showing people that in your spare time you’re building stuff, somebody’s going to see that and give you an opportunity, I think. Definitely. Did you say you had a third because that’s only two, isn’t it?
Peggy: Yes. When you said spare time and do that on your own, I think another aspect that you may, but I was a little bit hesitant with this one, is doing volunteer work. There are volunteer opportunities out there. I believe there’s much more in the US market than there is in UK from what I heard. I’m not sure. We’ve done volunteer projects in Australia, in Sydney as well. I noticed that when I did a volunteer, it’s a great way to really practice your skills and to really help another organisation get a specific process set up, but you’re only there for a very limited time and when you leave, they’re on their own.
They can’t call you and say, “Oh, we’ve got this issue or something didn’t quite work out.” You’re gone. Yes, they can try to reach out to you and if you have time, you can still help them, but you’re going to be away and then they’re on their own, and then they have to sort it out on their own. It’s a good way if it’s maybe a small project that can’t really go wrong, but if it’s a bigger project, I’d be careful putting my hand out there because if you don’t have as much experience yet, you may not fully grasp the bigger picture, what they need.
I remember at the time when I worked in that little volunteer project, they were super grateful, but I remember the guy following up with me afterwards, and I tried to help him. Some things just didn’t work out exactly the way they were looking for, so it would have required more time to work out the solution and some of the features were limited at the time as well. It’s always a bit of a tricky thing. I think if you raise that at the start of the one side project, look, I can help as much as I can, but just be aware when I’m gone. I’m happy to help, but I’m just only here for a limited time.
Lee: Nice as well. Certainly, I think the first two are absolute gold tips, aren’t they? The third one is if the opportunity comes along. We’re now up to speed then, we learned Salesforce. People obviously can add that into their Trailhead learning and everything else. What’s the future hold for you guys? Are you still only in Australia? Because it’s digital, I suppose you could be anywhere.
Peggy: Yes, the company is based in Australia. I’m currently based in Europe.
Peggy: In Germany. It’s an online platform and it’s available for everyone. Everyone can jump on it. I believe with our new pricing model. Maybe it’s easier for certain markets to join our training. We are always here to help out. If someone struggles with budget or anything, they’re more than welcome to reach out to us. We had students ask for discounts or we had students ask for a way to help them. We can find a way to help everyone, so just reach out.
If you’re not sure if the training is for you, you can also reach out and ask questions. Pretty much anywhere. It’s online. There’s no limits to time and space literally. Yes, we have a lot of students from the US. We have students from India, we have students from Australia. It’s growing. We can see people from different countries joining. It’s global.
Lee: Good. Absolutely. A lot of our listeners are probably in the UK and in Europe, but hopefully, it’ll help them as well. What is the future for WeLearnSalesforce? Is it just to keep going, keep trying to train as many people as possible all over the world? You mentioned possible live lessons and things like that.
Peggy: Yes. Definitely, as you said, there is a need for Salesforce training and the demand as well. Training as many people as possible is our goal because we believe in training. I understand myself how important it can be and the benefits of getting trained up. Yes, that’s absolutely one aspect. Adding more certification training to the platform is one of the goals within the next two years. Also offering live training because I know for myself, I really enjoy live training and I know there is a demand for live training when you have a specific time and specific period that you really focus on and you can commit to.
I know that helps people so that’s definitely something on the horizon as well. Probably more towards next year, but it’s going to come out. We’re always looking for additional ways to learn Salesforce and to provide learning opportunities. We’re more than happy to, if anyone has more ideas, what they would like to see. We’re so open to feedback. I think feedback is so important to understand what people need, how we can help them. Let us know.
Lee: Good. How do people reach out to you? Obviously, we said it’s WeLearnSalesforce but is that the website in your details on LinkedIn?
Peggy: Yes. Definitely, on the website, we do have pages on LinkedIn and Facebook. I think these are pretty much our main channels. The LinkedIn group, which is also WeLearnSalesforce on LinkedIn as well as on Facebook. We do have a page and a Facebook page. You can reach out, or Messenger if you want, or just join our groups. We typically respond to any requests or message within 12 hours, which depends on the time zone that you are in or we are in. Typically, we respond within minutes if we can. If it’s nighttime here and daytime elsewhere, then obviously it takes a few hours more. These are our main channels, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Lee: Cool. I can’t believe an hour’s gone already so quick.
Lee: Was there any other bits of advice or any other little tips, or do you feel like you’ve got everything that you wanted to say at this point?
Peggy: One thing I thought of that really stuck with me was this quote that I heard a little while back. It goes like this, luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation and it’s so true. I realise that myself in my everyday life, not just my personal but also my business, life is whatever you do, the books you read, the things you do, the practice you do in Trailhead, the people you meet, reach out to the Trailblazer community, ask questions. All these things that you get engaged with, that you expose yourself to will take you to where you are meant to be.
If we are talking about a Salesforce job, your Salesforce dream job, if you really keep practicing your skills, build your own app, reach out to the community, become part of Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups, and get to know your Salesforce peers, it will take you where you want to go. If you don’t do anything, nothing’s going to happen. Sit and wait is not what you should be doing. Really just get out there, practice, and reach out to the community. I think that’s the best way to really move into your Salesforce career in the job market.
Lee: You mentioned about comfort zones earlier on.
Lee: We all have a comfort zone, and we’re all scared to step out of it.
Lee: Once you step out of it a little bit and you do that thing that’s scary a few times, you realise that actually, it’s not so scary.
Lee: Looking back at your career, we get a little joke about it, but you said no a couple of times. Those nos became yeses, and look at where you are now. I’m not saying that people should say yes all the time, but certainly be more open.
Peggy: Exactly, yes.
Lee: Especially when opportunity meets preparation, if you’re willing to say yes, then–
Lee: The Salesforce market, there’s opportunities everywhere.
Peggy: Yes. Don’t be shy. If you don’t have any IT background or any specific industry knowledge, Salesforce helps you get there. You find so much on Trailhead. You can really learn the aspects that are required and just really get out there, don’t be shy. Literally, as you were saying as well, there is probably job roles for pretty much anyone in any type of aspects, not just the back end, the IT side, or the technical side. There’s also the business side, the business analysts, the product managers, et cetera, et cetera. There’s so many opportunities. If you’re really keen and you’re really passionate, you are going to find something.
Lee: Absolutely. It’s a great message and I really appreciate your time. All the best with WeLearnSalesforce. It sounds brilliant.
Peggy: Thank you so much.
Lee: I’m keen to keep my eye on how things go for you, especially across Europe and the UK and everything. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time we speak on one of these and we can see how you’re getting on and keep in touch.
Peggy: Yes. Glad to have another chat.
Lee: Just a reminder, WeLearnSalesforce, if you just stick that into LinkedIn or Facebook, by the sounds of it, you’re going to find Peggy. Peggy’s surname is Schael. I’m saying correctly which I’m quite impressed. S-C-H-A-E-L. Peggy, thanks so much for your time. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. We will, as I say, keep an eye on your progress and see how you get on.
Peggy: Yes, thanks so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure and would love to jump on another chat at some point.