/, Podcast/Salesforce Career Conversations #4: Richard Ferriman

Salesforce Career Conversations #4: Richard Ferriman

Episode 4: Richard Ferriman Salesforce Career Conversation with ROD. After twelve years in the Salesforce ecosystem, Richard talks about his journey, which includes running his own Salesforce consulting company and now heading up sales for a growing consultancy.

[Below is a transcript for your benefit. Please excuse any typos.]

Lee Durrant: Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of RODcast. In this episode, I am having a chat with Richard Ferriman, an industry legend whose been around Salesforce for about 12 years, as of today’s recording. It’s quite an interesting one for you guys if any of you are thinking of starting a business in the Salesforce ecosystem. Richard started his own Salesforce consultancy company many years ago. He talks quite openly about what it’s like to build a Salesforce consultancy from scratch, the ups and downs and quite honest about the mistakes that he made, and if he could do it again, what he would do. You know, the 18 hour days… what’s it’s like to interview people in the Salesforce ecosystem, which there’s always opportunities out there for those guys.

This is what it’s like really to start and grow a Salesforce practice. And also he talks about his passion for what he’s doing at the moment. So it’s a really good chat. Hope you enjoy it.

Hello, and welcome to RODcast with me Lee Durrant. This is the podcast where we learn how Salesforce experts started their careers many years ago, and get under the skin of what it’s like to work in the Salesforce ecosystem. Ever wondered how someone rose to the ranks of a head of practise at a consultancy or perhaps became a CTO? Then this is the podcast to listen to. We’ll also get some real-life tips from them, and advice on what you can do in your Salesforce career. So yeah, hope you enjoy.

So, hello Richard and thanks for joining us mate today on the podcast. How you getting on?

Richard F.: Yeah, very well thank you, and you?

Lee Durrant: I am all right, yeah, looking forward to this one, because you and I go back a long way. I don’t know how long, but it’s got to be more than 10 years, isn’t it?

Richard F.: Lee, I think we’re about 12 years or so man.

Lee Durrant: Oh my God, blimey. And I think people would listen to this and quite like your journey because you’ve done quite a lot of, correct me if I’m wrong obviously, different things in the world of Salesforce.

Richard F.: Yeah.

Lee Durrant: So that’s what this is about really. It’s just a bit of a chat about your journey, from how you got into it, and what you’ve done to be where you are now. So, yeah, I’ll fire some questions at you then. The first one would really be, what, actually what were you doing before, well what was your career plan up until the point where you got into Salesforce, if you know what I mean… did you get into Salesforce by accident, and the sort of journey before Salesforce, if you don’t mind?

Richard F.: Yeah, absolutely, so, I started out in Visio, before it was a Microsoft product, so worked for Visio. From Visio, with them, took that through to it being bought out by Microsoft. I was part of that transition team. Went over to Seattle, working with the Microsoft team there, and then came back and promptly went and worked for IBM Software Group.

Lee Durrant: Yes.

Richard F.: So Microsoft wasn’t at that point where I wanted to go, but I like the ethos of IBM, I liked the branding of IBM and even now, I still can’t go to a meeting without a blue suit and a white shirt, which was very much an IBM way of doing things. They taught me a lot, taught me a lot about process, a lot about sales, a lot about how someone like me can get the most out of a meeting, and a really enjoyable part of my career.

I then fell out, was offered something even better, and the grass is greener and took that, but actually, I jumped a few times through different emerging technologies, which was okay, and it was good, and the emergence of cloud back then, the emergence of very early AI. The emergence of big data was all coming in. How were people starting to use that? I worked for a company which had an overlay to the old green screens.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: And that was very much actually putting a web front-end on things, so this really is going back some time.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, wow. And you’re… it was always from… the actual roles you were doing were very much sales, business development and that sort of stuff, were they?

Richard F.: Sales, business development, absolutely. But I knew that I enjoyed the presales, the BA work, as much as I did the sales work. And so I was starting to look at what was next. I started to work for a process company, back in my hometown funnily enough, and that was going incredibly well, and then the backside dropped out of the financial markets and we hit the crash.

Lee Durrant: All right, so we’re up to 2008 now, clearly, are we?

Richard F.: 2008 and I think a lot of people at that point saw their pipelines disintegrate.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: Nobody really knew what was going on and what to do, and unfortunately that ended with having to leave the role that I was being incredibly successful at, had turned a lot of money for them in that year. Unfortunately, with the crash, in the type of markets, aerospace, aviation, etc, it really did hurt that business. Thankfully they’re still going, and now going really strong.

Lee Durrant: So that was, sorry to jump in, is that when you got first into Salesforce then, around about 2008?

Richard F.: Yeah, so I then went and worked for a small managed IT company in Old Street in London, completely different to anything I’d done before. I started to help to run that business, and the owner went out and moved to Australia, so really left the UK business to function well, it was doing okay, the crash was there. It was centred around charities.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: So very, very different as to what we were doing. We started to look out there as far as what was on the market, and the owner of that business made an introduction for me to the Salesforce foundation…

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: … which was the charity piece, and I believe that’s probably where we had our first conversations, for the first time.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, you’re probably right, I’m trying to think back that far, but, yeah that… so basically you were introduced to them, because Salesforce was an up-and-coming thing, is that why?

Richard F.: There was a lot of on-prem, there was a lot of databases, a lot of people trying to do fundraising, or trying to do people management, mailing-lists, etc. and we saw Salesforce as a tool that they could use. I started to have meetings around the Salesforce ecosystem, started to look for potential opportunities. So it was very much feeling the market. There were only a couple of people in the Salesforce foundation at that time, Salesforce, you know, 12 years ago, was still relatively new to the UK market.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: So started to get out there, it was very much about, finding opportunities, working directly with the Salesforce guys. It was a lot of fun actually. And they were a couple of people in particular that really did, I worked well with, and started to build that business, I think by the end of the first year, we looked at somewhere around 800k of revenue.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: And with that I decided that I would try and do it myself, and my business was created.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, so that’s… so just to pause on that a minute, so you, looking at your LinkedIn at the moment, and I’m sure people will look at that, but you’ve had a whole, so you had a whole career really before Salesforce really, didn’t you?

Richard F.: Oh, absolutely.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, because that’s, so it’s obviously lead you to that point, which is great, and then what you did there was that was the first partner in the UK to focus on charity sector, which sounds mental now, I mean, when you look at how many companies are out there doing it, but that then lead you, as you say, to then deciding to do it on your own, which I know a lot of people listening to this will probably have that thought, or either they have it now, or they might have it in the future.

Richard F.: Don’t do it. Yeah.

Lee Durrant: Well, huh. Well, you know…

Richard F.: It’s way back then, it was when I… and it was the foresight of the guy that I was working for before to see Salesforce, see that it had, there was an opportunity, there was existing systems out there, Razor’s Edge and things like this from Blackpool, but were, I suppose, struggling a little bit within that marketplace. It was very much on-premise. But then, we were also up against the UK CIO, government CIO’s saying that, “Cloud was never going to take off.”

Lee Durrant: Oh yeah.

Richard F.: There was everybody saying that cloud was a waste of time, and what the hell were you doing looking at cloud, just on-premise, on-premise, on-premise.

Lee Durrant: I remember that, yeah, yeah.

Richard F.: Just the most expensive way of doing IT there is.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: Even now we still come across, some people that will only work using on-premise, they still don’t trust cloud, which is madness, because your entire world is based on the cloud.

Lee Durrant: Mm, mm.

Richard F.: You walk down the street and your data’s being collected by the cloud. So, it was very much a big decision for me, for my family to actually go all-in, and decide that we would do that. I think the first deal I did was with Battersea.

Lee Durrant: Oh wow, a good one to go straight in with isn’t it?

Richard F.: A good one, yes, they were lovely. Got on with them.

Lee Durrant: Can I ask really quickly, did you start your company on your own, did you do it with anybody else, did you get funding, all that sort of stuff? Because it’s not easy just to go, “Do you know what, I’m going to quit this job,” where no doubt you’re being paid very well, and start a company. You got to have… because there’s a long period I’m guessing of not earning any money?

Richard F.: There’s a very long period of risk, and I seem to, the last 12 years have been completely about risk.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: And the degrees of risk that you’re willing to take. To my detriment I suppose I’ve always been, I’ve always taken the risks and that was good at times and terrible at others.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: You have to have the mindset that you are prepared to lose everything. You have to be the gambler.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: And when you’re gambling with your family and your house and everything else, you have to be very careful of that. I think 12 years ago, to start your own business, to be the entrepreneur, wasn’t commonplace in any way, shape or form. I think it is now. I think every man and his dog wants to start a business, and sees that as a way to do it.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: And it was, it was scary times, and I think you have to be the salesman, you have to be the accountant, you have to the finance guy, you have to be the recruiter, you have to be every single hap, and you have to play them every single day.

Lee Durrant: Yip.

Richard F.: But the fact that LinkedIn’s there, the fact that you can reach out to people, you have to have the confidence to do that. You have to literally go to the opening of a crisp packet, if you feel that you might get your name out some more. I used to turn up everywhere with my T-shirt on. You know, the corporate T-shirt, and everything else, but if they knew that it was me in my back bedroom, you know, would they have really had those conversations with me?

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: I met some amazing people in the ecosystem that spent a lot of time… that would sit, just meet for coffee, just go and have a beer, just go and have a chat, you were certainly one of those… how could you help, what could you do, you were there. You and Theresa to say, “Okay, well, you know, if we’re going to do this, let’s be partners in a way of, finding you the right people and making it easy for you to take those people on.” And that relationship’s now, been 10 years or so.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, and what was the… so you mentioned about Battersea, so we’ll come back to that, and so how did you get them as a client then? What, how did that come about?

Richard F.: So funnily enough there was, I was working at the time with a couple of people from another consultancy, a much larger consultancy.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: And we went into it together, I fronted it, but I had them as the backup.

Lee Durrant: Okay.

Richard F.: It was again meetings, conversations, people. I think we were, when I first started, I was one of 70 partners in the UK. I think there’s now a couple of thousand.

Lee Durrant: Is that right, blimey? Are you including like ISV’s in that, because that sounds like quite a big-

Richard F.: Absolutely anything-

Lee Durrant: That’s what I’m saying, 70 sounds like a lot, but yeah-

Richard F.: 70 of us in the ecosystem at that time in the UK.

Lee Durrant: Crikey.

Richard F.: I was focused again on the non-profits, and there was a couple more, there was a couple of new partners coming in. There was enough business to go around. We had a very competitive attitude, as you did.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, I know.

Richard F.: [inaudible 00:14:22], but there we go.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: But it was good, and it was fun, and the first couple of years recruiting was hard, finding the right people is hard, maximising that skill base, having people to believe in somebody who is literally running this either out of his bedroom, or slowly but surely out of an office at the top of iron steps, which funnily enough, yesterday got completely knocked down and annihilated for new buildings-

Lee Durrant: Really?

Richard F.: … which was a mad thing, yeah.

Lee Durrant: Oh, yeah, I’ve been there a few times, that’s a shame.

Richard F.: It was, it is hard. Service, the service industry is difficult, and people talk about, “Well I’ll get into it and then somebody will invest in me.” It just doesn’t happen.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: Now I went round a hundred plus investors, pitching a services business, and they just weren’t interested. It has to be about thinking about products, thinking about a problem that you want to solve. Thinking about, looking at the marketplace that you’re working in, and finding the unique aspects to that. But the problem again with that, certainly in our services industry, it’s like the plumber with the leaking tap in his house until the day he retires. The fact that actually, you want to build that stuff internally, but you’ve got to take your guys off of that project to put them on an internal project, and by the time you get through that actually, it’s a really difficult thing to balance.

And that’s why I think there are so many partners out there, but they’re very purely services, and they’re going from project, to project, to project. In some cases doing an absolutely brilliant job, in other cases, not so great.

I think as well, Salesforce isn’t just, put Salesforce in and get the features and the benefits out, you’ve got to understand business, if you’re selling to a business, if you’re trying to transform a business on Salesforce. I would say that anybody whose looking to do a Salesforce project, and I say it all the time, is the people that are coming in to do your discovery, make sure they’re challenging you. And I think that is where you survive, you have to adapt, and we found that very quickly through time, that we couldn’t just be technical and put Salesforce in.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: We had to be a business helping to transform other businesses. And I think that’s how we did rather well for a long time.

Lee Durrant: And in that space as well, there must have been some really good projects, that, where, because you’re working withplaces like Battersea, where you feel like the project has really helped in some way do something good, as opposed to, just another CRM system for a sales company, or a sales department, do you know what I mean?

Richard F.: Yeah, I agree, I agree with that to a certain extent. I think, yes, if you’re working in a non-profit type environment, you’ve got to be careful, they’ve got very limited budgets, but I think everybody does. Yet, you can make a difference. It’s not the easiest sector to work in.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: But at the same time, yes, you do get a lot back from it, and I spent a lot of time over in Kenya at St. Martins School, which is a big project that Salesforce have been party to for a long, long time. But going out and teaching Salesforce and investing the time and energy into that school has been life-changing, quite honestly.

Lee Durrant: Brilliant.

Richard F.: But I think it’s at the same time though that you have to, whatever market you’re in, whether it be finance, whether it be China, aviation, whether it be charity. At the end of the day, it can’t always be about, “Well they’re a charity, so, we’ll do it for this, or we’ll do it for that.” It’s got to be about their outcomes and making sure that they get the right solution.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: And I think sometimes, and through the last 10 years or so, the charity to business has clouded. I think you’ve got to just set forth and look for the outcomes on a Salesforce project, and make sure that you meet those outcomes, whoever you’re working for.

Lee Durrant: So to that, the Kenyan school you just referenced, is that one of your most, would that be your most proud project, which is one of my questions for later, but we can talk about it now?

Richard F.: It wasn’t really a project, that was more volunteering I think-

Lee Durrant: Oh I see.

Richard F.: … if you’re looking at, I don’t know, proud projects. It would probably be Battersea. There was a lot went on in there, a huge amount if, across the board now, with, if you go in and you’re looking for a dog-

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: … all of that through Salesforce, right down to blood tests for the animals, and everything else is taken down in Salesforce.

Lee Durrant: And you guys put that in did you, you done it for them?

Richard F.: Yeah.

Lee Durrant: Cool.

Richard F.: I think, I mean obviously over the last few years, I haven’t been party to it, but it’s obviously evolved and everything else, so. They… there were some very, very, good projects. There were some not so good projects, and ones that were very difficult and everything else, but I think that’s the same in any business. I think as it came through and it was, that business closed, it was time to move on.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, so before we go into that there, something just popped into my head, did you, at one Salesforce world tour, do I seem to remember you being part of Guide Dogs for the Blind, and that project, or that initiative where they were walking around, the dogs were there weren’t they, do you remember that?

Richard F.: Yeah, I think that was after my time, but it was certainly we did some work for Guide Dogs puppy management and everything else, so yeah, there was some good ones in there.

Lee Durrant: Puppy management on Salesforce?

Richard F.: Yeah.

Lee Durrant: What?

Richard F.: Oh, everything from conception, right the way through to the dogs actually being given to their new owners. Obviously there, the dogs have to be a very particular temperament, and so Guide Dogs greed, breed their dogs, so I was certainly there at the start of that project, and it was all about actually the process of going through the conception between the dog and the bitch, and making sure that there’s a puppy at the end of it.

Lee Durrant: Mm, okay.

Richard F.: So, yeah, I think that was an interesting project, but actually I think that was finished off by the old company, that I had started way back when.

Lee Durrant: Oh okay. So before we go beyond the company that you owned, a question that I don’t ask many people when I do this, because it’s usually about your career and everything, but I’d be quite interested to know how difficult you found it to find good talent in the Salesforce space, even though, we’re talking about, well 2011, I’m looking at LinkedIn again, in 2011 to 2017 you were the MD of that company. How difficult is it, because you also mentioned earlier on, a little saying you said earlier on about the grass always seem greener, which in the Salesforce space, is definitely a thing, isn’t it, because you’ve got the likes of me and everyone else now, just if you’ve got Salesforce experience, people are just all over you, aren’t they?

So it must be difficult to find them, and I’m not necessarily talking about your experience with recruiters, I mean genuinely, just generally sorry, trying to find good people, that can do the job, that are interested in working at a consultancy, and want to work with you and do a good job. What was that like, how, because I mean, I kind of know the answer to this, but I’m just interested in getting your opinion-

Richard F.: Mm.

Lee Durrant: … on how that was?

Richard F.: I think Salesforce, if you think about Salesforce all that time ago, there was a very limited pool of people who knew Salesforce, so it was in some cases the fact of bringing people from a, normally a Java background would fit Apex rather well, we were quite heavy into coding back then, where now coding is a lot more limited I think. It’s certainly a lot more about configuration now.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: But I think finding, and more so retaining the talent, is hard work, is difficult, keeping those people motivated. They’re getting a phone call from people like you every single day, even every single hour of the day.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: You know, I’ve got this great new opportunity, I’ve got a great new opportunity, which actually it’s a shame, because it’s hard for them, the minute you put Salesforce on LinkedIn, it’s an open door.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: It actually takes, it’s very hard work, certainly for a good candidate, because they’re being hit every three seconds. And that’s my negative about recruitment. And when you’re managing that, you’re trying to manage, the sneakiness of recruiters who are constantly doing it, but everybody’s got a job to do, and it’s why I think from day one I stuck with you guys, because I felt that you had a different way of working in that way. It was about relationships. It was about knowing people in the industry. It was about that.

I think to actually get that talent, it evolves continuously as it moves away from a lot of code, into a small implementation, a lot more configuration, we’re back now to business analysis, we’re back to understanding what a business problem is, back to understanding how to solve that business problem, from a technical perspective. But Salesforce isn’t technology to me. Salesforce is transformational change-

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: Coming away from doing things in a very manual or protracted way. And you’re using Salesforce to actually align your process, before you can put it in, what is your process, what do you do, how do you do it? And to find people who can challenge that in a business environment. To find people who can challenge a CEO of a 40, 50, 60 million pound company and say, “Well, why do you do it like that?”

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: Hard. And there’s very particular people that can do that, and when you find them, you hang onto them for all you’ve got.

Lee Durrant: So I think I remember having a conversation with you a couple of years ago about, well, that you almost had to get to a point where you accepted that your lifespan of an employee was maybe, if you were lucky, 18 months, 2 years, because of what we just, what you just mentioned. Do you remember that conversation?

Richard F.: Yeah, there’s a different approach as well that, and I’m certainly seeing it in people who are doing what I did 10 years ago, that are doing it now.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: Or looking for a role. There is, I suppose we’ve got a market that’s incredibly saturated. We’ve got Salesforce growing at a ridiculous rate. We’ve got, trying to find those great people out there. Normally they’ve setup a business themselves. They’re trying to do the entrepreneurial thing. That lifespan is difficult and certainly dependent on your location, do you have a, do you do, what’s your working policies, can you work from home, do you have a ping-pong table-

Lee Durrant: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard F.: … is there a bar attached to it? All of these things, work is so much more social now. And I think for the smaller businesses that can’t compete with the, a different style of working. And that’s always going to be difficult for the one, two, three man bands, because actually you’re paying people the same as somebody whose saying, “Well come and work for me and,” it’s the Google-esque environment… come and have some fun.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: So I think I’ve heard of, and just in the last few weeks, I’ve heard of five or six partners that have ceased trading, just simply because they can’t find people-

Lee Durrant: Really?

Richard F.: … or the right people, which is a shame, but I think the problem again with the Salesforce industry is that everybody is trying to do it, so every developer is thinking, “Well, I’ll go and setup my own business and make more money doing it.” The problem is we’re now at a saturated place, and I think that will consolidate as a market, it did, it consolidated about five years ago with Tquila and Bluewolf and some of the others.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: I think that round of consolidation is going to have to happen again at some point, just to reduce the number of partners that are set out there for Salesforce. I think Salesforce themselves as well are becoming a lot more brutal.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, yeah. Can they get more brutal?

Richard F.: They’ve got to… they’re doing the right thing. You need the certs, we’re dealing with a particular partner manager at the moment who is excellent, but he’s driving us very, very hard to make sure that we’re doing all the things that we need to do, to make sure that there is customer success, and I like that. I like the fact that it’s doing that, and they’ve also, Salesforce are also changing, being a lot more conciliatory with partners and wanting to work with the right partners, but you’ve also got to know how to work with Salesforce, and I think that takes, it certainly taken me 12 years to work out how to do that.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, and as you mentioned, that owning your own company was a, I’m guessing, a great experience and journey, but where you’re at now is sort of different isn’t it? You’ve decided to almost go back out and just do what you love, you know, on your, not on your own, I appreciate you’re working somewhere now, so, what was the thought process there, was it like, “Do you know what, I just want to go and just take the stress away and just let someone else worry about all of that for a bit, and, you know, now?

Richard F.: Yeah, like for many different reasons, I closed my business, some very personal.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: Other’s were the marketplace, I think some inexperience, I think it’s very, very hard to run, to manage and to make a business profitable. I think the many, many sleepless nights and pacing at three o’clock in the morning as anybody doing it will testify to-

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: … so because of certain aspects of my child’s health, I decided to not do 18 hours again, every single day, seven days a week. And that’s what it is. And for anybody wanting to start a business, get used to it.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: That’s what it is. There is no other way of doing it. And-

Lee Durrant: As well, do you know, I’m talking from my experience a little bit, it’s hard to stop doing it, do you not think? I know you had a very good reason, but do you find it now quite difficult to kind of switch off after eight hours-

Richard F.: No. No.

Lee Durrant: … and watch a bit of telly? Yeah it’s-

Richard F.: I work now because I enjoy doing it, if I’m-

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: … going to work late, or I’m going to do a Sunday night, or last weekend I worked all weekend because actually what I’m doing right now is exciting, and what I’m doing right now with VRP is something I feel quite different to what I’ve been able to do before. And actually focus on some of the ideas I had through the years, I’m being given the challenge to go and put them into action.

Lee Durrant: That’s good to know, because look you are, people won’t know this, if people who don’t know you won’t know that you are an ideas machine, aren’t you?

Richard F.: Well hopefully, I think what we’re trying to do is not something that hasn’t been done before, but I want to do it and certainly watch this space for that, working very closely with Salesforce. My leadership team, they’re giving me the breadth and depth to be able to go and do it, and that makes you want to work. It’s not a stressful 18 hours, it’s a fun 18 hours. But yeah, I can still switch off when I need to, and go and be with one of the four kids and go and enjoy and do whatever. Even have a holiday, my goodness me.

Lee Durrant: Yeah. Well that’s, good for you. Well that is, that’s another thing I think that some people, they look at the success of companies, and assume it’s just going to be easy, but you’re actually right, it’s hard work, you can’t necessarily go on holiday.

Richard F.: We can do an entire podcast [crosstalk 00:32:53].

Lee Durrant: We probably could. Well yeah, and I don’t want to scare people off, because, you want that.

Richard F.: What not to do as far as your business, but I think there’s a big fallacy out there about, “I can start a business, Salesforce will buy me, and I’ll make millions.” It just doesn’t happen. It just isn’t like that.

Lee Durrant: I was going to say, unless you mentioned about developers and maybe if they come up with some app that’s not yet been done, but I mean we getting to the point now where surely we running out of ideas, aren’t we? There, everything’s-

Richard F.: I don’t think we’ll ever run out of ideas. I think the Salesforce platform can still be adapted to many different things. There’s many, many, many different apps that still could be created on the Salesforce platform. It’s expanding its reach across businesses. It’s not CRM. It is a platform. We’ve got commerce now, marketing, sales, service, the whole plethora of business front-end tools, and now back-end tools that Salesforce can well and truly handle.

But as we grow forward, we’re getting very excited at the moment about AI, about voice AI, within Salesforce. Standing in a shop and being able to tell Alexa to order next week’s consignment, or whatever, and behind that Salesforce doing all of that work in an automated fashion, just by voice. We really are starting to look at some really exciting things on the platform.

There are a thousand more apps that could be fitted around that. But you’ve got to get there first. You’ve got to have the mainstream ability to be able to do it. And you’ve got to get it released and out on the Salesforce platform very quickly. But if you do it well, there’s some huge dividends to be paid if you get it right. But you might be one in a thousand that get it right.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, yeah. What’s your, you’d be a good guy to ask this actually, what’s your take on the Alibaba acquisition recently, do you know much about that, is it something to be excited about?

Richard F.: I don’t know. I haven’t seen that.

Lee Durrant: Right. I’ll have to look at that and make sure whether they’re right, but it was announced a few days ago, I think. So I haven’t even had a chance to even look at it, but so. Are you, I was going to ask you what you’re excited about, but I think you’ve probably covered that, to be fair. Do you, thinking about it from the point of view again of people that might be listening to this that are looking for work, or at some point they’re going to be interviewing and stuff like that, what was your interview style like? When you had people come and see you, what was that like for you? Was it all about how hands-on they were, or what they came across, and I know what you just said about being able to pushback, is probably very much the personality, but how did you do that, and so that people that are listening can perhaps see it from the point of view of the interviewer?

Richard F.: I think interviews are, interviews need to be a showcase. Interviews need to be a very two-way business meeting. Gone are the days of sitting there with a panel of five people, quizzing you until you fall into a pool of sweat and give up. It’s, people don’t or shouldn’t work in that way around interviews. I knew within minutes if I was going to hire somebody or not hire somebody on meeting them. I think there’s still the fact that you come prepared. You research the business that you’re coming to.

Lee Durrant: Mm.

Richard F.: I used to do a lot of lectures, come workshops at Hackney College, and I used to call them shiny shoes. If nothing else, walk in with a pair of shiny shoes, because actually, it says that you’re prepared for that interview, that you respect the fact that you’re walking into somebody’s business, that you’ve done your research, that you have questions, that go in with a pad, with a pen and pad, and actually you’re writing questions, you’re treating it as a meeting. You’re challenging what they’re doing.

Don’t just go and answer questions, and then at the end, walk out again. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a tech job or sales job or whatever, sit there in front of that interviewer, you are interviewing them for you, as much as they are interviewing for them. And if you-

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: … get that right, it’s the perfect interview.

Lee Durrant: Brilliant.

Richard F.: I’ve had interviews of people who’ve turned up in jeans and T-shirt, and just said, “Well, you know, do you want me to start tomorrow?” There was a very short silence and the door closed.

Lee Durrant: I can, yeah. And based on what you told us right at the beginning, your background, I can understand that you want, you’re still going to want people in a suit and tie, but yet some companies, believe it or not, I’ve genuinely had a company tell me this, if someone turns up for interview wearing a suit and tie, then they won’t get the job because they don’t understand our culture. They wanted them to turn up in ripped jeans and flip-flops or whatever.

Richard F.: So that may be a newfangled way of doing things. I still think that, you know, if you’re going to go for a serious job in a serious business, that, you don’t get, ties are a thing of the past, absolutely, but-

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: … you want to be smart, you want to be prepared for an interview. If you walk in in flip-flops and somebody takes you on, fair enough, well done, but are you actually going for a serious job, or are they going to stick you in the core with everybody else? You have to shine. Your career in that company starts on day one, and that’s the interview. To my detriment I think in some cases I wanted to push people, I wanted to give them as many opportunities to go up in their career. There are some that just didn’t want to do that. They were really happy just doing the job that they’ve come for, that’s all they wanted to do, they wanted nothing else other than that, and they just wanted to do that job.

Other’s wanted to, to climb a ladder and to learn and to do other things, which is fantastic. But I still will always believe that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your background, etc. University degrees don’t, I’m not interested in all of that. But what I’m interested in, is if somebody came in to ask for a job, and they looked smart, and they had their questions, they had done their research, they came with some optimism and some enthusiasm, then they were 99 percent there.

Lee Durrant: Mm-hmm (affirmative), brilliant.

Richard F.: If they walk in looking at the ground, and it’s well whatever… that is going to be their attitude in your company, and the best companies survive because their employees are committed and want to work.

Lee Durrant: Yeah, brilliant tip.

Richard F.: If the flip-floppers all want to go together, fine.

Lee Durrant: Flip-floppers, yeah. Well, yes it’s a great… I mean it’s common sense isn’t it really but, you’d be surprised the amount of people that still do go to interviews and have the assumption of, “Well, you know what, I’m a Salesforce expert. I’ve got five other interviews going on so, do your best.”

Richard F.: Look and that’s great, but they’re always, that’s I think there is a point, and I think we’re already starting to see it, that it’s not that easy anymore. People are a lot more cheesy when it comes to who they’re going to get to work for them, and I think again it’s predicated by lots of people setting up their businesses and everything else, and then, I don’t know. I think at some point it will come to an end, but we’ll have to see.

Lee Durrant: Cool, now I’m, I can’t believe it’s 45 minutes already. So and I appreciate and I’ve got to let you go, I normally ask what people are excited about, and you mentioned you’re loving what you’re doing at the moment with VRP, so if you want to wrap it up with a very quick kind of what you doing and why you’re excited by it, which I think you’ve already touched on to be fair then.

Richard F.: What I think, I’m, we’ve got 300 plus Salesforce configurators, coders, etc. in our Belarus and Poland offices. These are people who have worked on everything from Facebook, to Coca-Cola to LinkedIn, to Rolls Royce, they are awesome. And I think what I’m enjoying is bringing that awesomeness out, as far as they’ve been almost, there is this fallacy about, “Well if they’re offshore, and they’re in an Eastern European country then they’re not going to be as good as somebody in the UK.” Which I just think is an absolute load of rubbish honestly.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: The only difference is there can be a slight language barrier, but if they speak Russian as their native tongue and 99.9 percent of my colleagues speak English, sometimes better than I do.

Lee Durrant: Hmm.

Richard F.: They are, it’s an incredible hub of talent and enthusiasm, and so we’re looking at certainly exploiting that, and there’s a lot of our customers in the UK doing that. We are working very closely with Salesforce to make sure that we’re doing repeatable quick starts, getting people on multiple different clouds, expanding what people are already doing. It really is an exciting time for VRP, and the leadership team I’ve chosen from ex-Tquila, we’ve got ex-Salesforce, we’ve got the CEO’s an entrepreneur, all looking now to build what is going to be the next global consultancy platinum partner.

Lee Durrant: Yeah.

Richard F.: And it’s really, really exciting to be in, on the ground floor and watch it grow.

Lee Durrant: You’re, honestly Richard you know this anyway, you that we love you, but you’re the sort of person I could just talk to for hours. This maybe the first of many with you, if you don’t mind? Because you’re always great, and your journey from what you’ve… from before Salesforce to where you are now, has been really good. I’m very pleased that you’re so happy, and it sounds-

Richard F.: It’s been emotional, if nothing else, it’s definitely been emotional.

Lee Durrant: Yeah. No and people can look you up and I know you’re quite open to accepting connection requests and stuff like that. What I’ll do at the end of this is probably, well people can find you on LinkedIn anyway, you are on there aren’t they, but I’ll share your LinkedIn with people and stuff like that. But thanks for being such a brilliant guest, man. As I knew you would be, and it sounds like you’re in for an exciting next few years with what you’re doing. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with you on that one, but mate thanks for a great interview and hope to speak to you soon?

Richard F.: All right, great.

Lee Durrant: Thanks mate.

Richard F.: Thanks very much.

Lee Durrant: So my thanks there to Richard Ferriman, for what I suspect might be the first of quite a few podcasts with him. As he’s obviously got a lot to say about his journey and it was brilliant. Hopefully you’ve got some great information there and some takeaways from me, with him were… if you’re going on interviews, which no doubt you will be at some point in your career, then do your preparation, dress smart, have questions ready on a pad, treat the interview as a two-way interview, you’re talking to them just as much as they’re talking, interviewing you, show enthusiasm. I mean it sounds obvious, but obviously that feedback from Richard there is quite important I think? Also, I think if you’re looking to start your own Salesforce business, then just understand that it’s hard, for every company that probably succeeds God knows how many fail?

And as Richard discussed in their 18 hour days, seven day weeks, it’s tough to find good Salesforce talent as well from what he was saying. Not just tough to find them, but tough to keep them, especially with all of the opportunities out there in the Salesforce world, where it just seems that the grass is always greener somewhere. So yeah, a really, really good interview, hope you enjoyed it, and I will be sharing online all the details with the show notes and what have you. So keep your eye open for that.

Of course please, any comments, if you want to make them, that would be great, and if you can share them with your friends as well, that would be fantastic. And look forward to the next RODcast which will be soon. Thanks very much.

2020-02-21T10:26:46+00:00 Career, Podcast|