10 Features every Salesforce Professional should know

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Admins/Devs/Consultants are a key part of any business that has a Salesforce implementation, they keep things ticking over as well as expanding Salesforce to include new departments and features.  Being a well rounded Admin that understands all of Salesforce’ features is imperative and definitely key if you would like to get certified. One of the biggest benefits I see to knowing as many features as possible in Salesforce, is that you will use more standard functionality that already exists, rather than going down the custom/code route.  This guide is going to highlight some areas that every Salesforce Admin should be able to implement and use, but if you can’t, don’t fear! I’m going to include links to the relevant trailhead modules and other resources to scrub up on your knowledge. Then we can just keep the secret between you and me before anyone finds out.

Custom Objects, Fields & Relationships

In essence, Salesforce is simply a database with a bunch of related tables, columns and rows. Obviously it is a lot more than this but it is essential to learn the basics first. As well as the standard objects and fields that come with your Sales or Service cloud product, you can customize Salesforce with your own. Understanding the different types of relationships that link objects together, the different types of fields that can be used and the implications of using these is a foundation learning step.

The Data Modeling trailhead module that will teach you all of this goes through 4 modules; Understanding Custom & Standard Objects, Creating Custom Objects & Fields, Creating Object Relationships & Working with Schema Builder.

Security Model

The Salesforce security model is a bit of a beast to tame, but it interacts with everything you do in Salesforce. The security model encompasses features like profiles, roles, permissions sets, sharing settings, field level security, object permissions and the list goes on. Knowing each of these inside out is key to giving your user base the best user experience and keeping your data safe.

The Trailhead module called Data Security takes you through a systematic approach to look at how access to controlled to different aspects including, your overall organization, objects, fields, records and more.

User Management

Being a Administrator means one of your most important responsibilities is making sure that all users can access every part of Salesforce they need to do their job. As well as roles & profiles to control what the User can do and see, you have a lot of user related permissions.

In this User Management trail, you will learn about how to control what the users can access and also how to add new users.

Page Layouts & Record Types

A natural precursor from learning about fields and the security model is page layouts & record types. These two features are directly linked but have very different applications about when and how to use them. One of the best things you can learn about these two features is when one might suit better than the other.

The App Customization Trailhead module will not only provide you with the tools to modify a page layout but also how to customize compact layouts on mobile devices as well as customizing actions. Record types are not yet featured in a Trailhead module but Salesforce has a fantastic cheat sheet to scrub up on your knowledge.

Reports & Dashboards

If you are just getting to grips with Salesforce or are making the transition from Salesforce power user to #AwesomeAdmin then there’s a good chance you have had a lot of interaction with Reports & Dashboards. However, if you haven’t dove into this world yet then this is a good chance to do some exploring. Reports & Dashboards are the main end goal for some executive management teams and therefore are critical to the business.

The appropriately named Reports & Dashboards trail is fantastic to get started. There is A LOT of information here. This is mainly due to the fact that there is just so much to learn, from building reports, to using report formats and transferring this into pretty little dashboards!

Workflows & Process Builder

Once you’ve got the basics of the Salesforce CRM nailed down, it’s time to go onto automation. Workflow rules and the process builder are great ways of using clicks not code, to automate complex business processes. Workflows can be triggered by an event like Opportunity Stage = Closed Won and can have various actions like field updates, send email and create task. The process builder is the “new age” of workflows and has more actions like, post to chatter and create record.

The Trailhead module called Process Automation takes you through a detailed course of which process automation tool to use and why, it also goes through step by step tutorials.

Validation Rules

As well as automating your CRM, you want to make sure that no bad data gets in, making reporting and searching for your data harder. Validation rules determine whether the data entered into Salesforce is valid or not for a specific record. For example, let’s say every time a new Opportunity is created you want to know what the lead source on this was, we can create a rule to make sure this is filled in every time.

The Formulas & Validation module will take you through how to create these formulas and turn them into Validation rules, it will also take you through how to use formula fields as well as Roll-Up Summary Fields.

Importing & Exporting Data

When the topic of Importing & Exporting data comes up, one has to be very careful, especially with Importing. Salesforce has a number of tools that are embedded in the application, downloadable separately and third party applications that can help you with this. It’s vital to know the differences between each of the tools and their features to allow you to pick the best one for the job.

The Data Management Trailhead will help you do exactly this, it takes you through multiple tools to help you with importing & exporting data, the benefits, the features and also how to use them. A must for anyone that hasn’t dived into this yet.

Change Sets

Change sets are a vital part of administration for people that use Sandboxes to develop and test new features to deploy to production. Change sets work by pulling together groups of fields, objects, record types etc that are used in a new piece of functionality, then moving these over to Production in a neat package. There are risks involved when doing this and it’s not as simple as described above.

The Change Management Trailhead module takes you through the risks and precautions you should take when deploying changes and deploying from the sandbox to production.

Lightning Experience

If you’ve been using Salesforce for a while, you know just how important and drastic the new Lightning Experience is. If you haven’t heard of the Lightning Experience before, it is a completely redesigned interface for Salesforce that has been relatively unchanged in 16 years or so. Even if your company isn’t thinking about moving to this new layout straight away, it’s very important to make sure you know how it works, what its limitations are and how to roll it out.

The guys over at Trailhead have anticipated this and given us 5 whole trails to play with, LE Basics, LE Development, LE Features, LE Roll out, Lightning Reports & Dashboards

2 thoughts on “10 Features every Salesforce Professional should know

  1. Avatar

    Hi Ben,

    I like this list and it made me think of something I believe is really important for those who’d like to launch a CRM project and need to embark managers on the common vision : the “Did you know…? list”. From my experience, most managers have very little knowledge of what a CRM could bring to their organization and business beyond visit reports, dashboards and basic sales metrics. There is an enormous gap between what Salesforce can offer (IQ, Lightning, Thunder, Wave, Marketing…) and what managers know about CRM.
    To me, a project should start wiht a questionnaire around “Did you know CRM could do this or that to your business”, so very much oriented to benefits for project sponsors. Would you happen to have such a list of benefits in mind?

    1. Ben McCarthy

      Hi Fabien,

      I don’t have a list like that to hand but it’s a very good point. Salesforce is obviously primarily chosen for Sales benefits but the amount of other departments it can help is amazing. I will bear this list in mind and try to come up with something for it.



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