How to Become a Salesforce Consultant at any Age: My Trailblazer Journey

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It can be easy to feel like you’re too old for a career change, and even more so if you’re considering moving into an IT role. However, I’m here to tell you that you are never too old to pursue a career you feel passionate about, and I should know, in the space of a year I became a trailblazing Salesforce Consultant at the age of 38.

In this article I want to explain how you too can become a Salesforce Consultant and I have some specific tips to make the transition easier and less intimidating.

“Prodly”

How it all Started

I was living in Gouda (you know, like the cheese?!) and I was quite unhappy and dissatisfied with my work as an IT consultant (non-Salesforce related). I was having drinks with a neighbour and after venting some of my frustrations, he suggested I try a new career in Salesforce.

I had been working in IT for 20 years, so I knew about the company Salesforce, but only by name and reputation as “those CRM guys with their Software as a Service”.

“No way”, I said, “I’m too old”! My neighbour’s wife laughed at me, while explaining that she had given up her job and started her own business at the age of 47, so I was definitely not too old.

My lack of technical, hands-on experience was my second objection. Not to be deterred, my neighbour told me about Trailhead, a free and fun way to learn about Salesforce.

That’s how it all started…

How I became Passionate about Salesforce

The next day I created a Trailhead Account and my journey began. I was surprised by how fun and engaging the learning platform was. The content was well written, accessible and funny, while the gamification (scoring points and collecting badges) compelled me to keep learning.
Trailhead gave me a detailed insight into the Salesforce platform, it’s features and it’s beautiful, intuitive interface.

I felt inspired and super excited at the thought that I could be a consultant and able to help companies implementing Salesforce.

I also felt reassured that I didn’t need to be able to code to have a career in Salesforce. Trailhead demonstrated the impressive declarative programming features that I felt sure I could learn.

I was sold. This is what I want to do!

How to Become a Salesforce Consultant

To achieve my goal of being a Salesforce Consultant I needed to skill up, get certified and find a job. No small feat. Here’s how I did it.

Start with Trailhead

First, I started studying with Trailhead every evening, logging multiple hours for weeks in a row. The aim? Score badges, collect points and gain a deep understanding of the Salesforce platform. You really should start with the basics in Trailhead. For example with the Sales Cloud Basics and the Salesforce Platform Basics trails.

Become a Certified Salesforce Admin

I knew it was critical to get certified as a Salesforce Administrator in order to achieve my goal to become a Salesforce Consultant. Not only would it demonstrate my skills and knowledge, getting certified in my own time would show how passionate and enthusiastic I was.

I used two main tools:

  • Trailhead
  • Focusonforce

Trailhead:
Trailhead combines theory, scenario based learning and hands-on experience doing exercises in a dev org.

I recommend the Trailmix Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential.

Focus on Force:
But Trailhead alone isn’t enough to pass the Salesforce Administrator exam; you need to know a (seemingly) absurd level of detail about Salesforce functionality. For this I used Focus on Force.

I recommend purchasing the exam guide and the practice exams pack; together they cost just shy of $40 and are well worth it. Focus on Force is all written content so it can seem quite dry and tough going, especially for the visual learner, but I would stress that this content was key to my passing the exam. The practice exams are written in the same style as the actual Salesforce exam so it can help make you comfortable with the question tone and format.

My study strategy has paid off and now, one year later, I’m also a certified App Builder, Sales Cloud Consultant and CPQ specialist.

Invest a Little Money and a Lot of Time

When studying alone you have to be highly motivated and able to hold yourself accountable. I made myself a promise that I would get to Trailhead Ranger status within 4 weeks and that I would be a Salesforce Certified Administrator by the time I started my first job as a Salesforce Consultant.

I was happy to invest both time and money in my pursuit of a new career. Salesforce study materials are mostly free(!) but it’s worth paying for things like Focus on Force if you’re serious about achieving your goals.

I also invested a significant amount of my time, approximately 2 hours a day, for 3 months in a row.

Potential employers know it takes serious effort and commitment to study in your own time, paying for materials and the exam itself. It demonstrates intrinsic motivation and a drive to achieve your goals.

Use Your Enthusiasm to Sell Yourself

Most people, me included, don’t like to “sell” themselves during an interview. It can feel awkward to talk about your achievements and success. Instead of feeling like you’re boasting, just let your natural enthusiasm, drive and motivation shine through. It’s perfectly ok to let potential employers know how keen you are and how passionate you are about Salesforce. You should feel proud of the effort and hard work you have put into your studies.

Overcoming Obstacles

I was met with several obstacles when it came to finding employment as a Salesforce Consultant. Don’t be put off!

“We can hire two juniors for your salary”

When it was time to look for a job, one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was justifying my salary. As a more experienced candidate (more work experience, not more Salesforce experience), with a whole host of industry knowledge and soft skills, I commanded a higher salary than a junior member of staff.

To some employers this begged the question “Why hire him when we can hire two juniors for his salary?”

This is very short sighted as it ignores all the benefits of hiring someone with more years of work experience. These experienced candidates will come with all the soft skills needed to be a successful consultant. As we’ve seen, technical skills can be learned, but soft skills and general work experience take a lot longer. The effort to train and manage two juniors will end up costing the company more in the long term.

Summary

It might seem like a lot of hard work and effort, but pursuing your dream career is always worth it. Whilst you may face some obstacles, the Salesforce ecosystem is growing, with more and more jobs being created. With the right skills, experience and enthusiasm, there will be a job for you.

As for me, I’m very thankful that I found an employer who was primarily sold on my enthusiasm and believed in me. Growteq gave me the opportunity to do a job that I absolutely love and I look forward to learning even more!

16 thoughts on “How to Become a Salesforce Consultant at any Age: My Trailblazer Journey

  1. Avatar

    Another scenario is that you come from a no-IT domain, so lack of whole bunch of IT basic concept as well as IT project experience. Yet still trying to learn more about technical stuff to stand out. bigger company said that they don’t need a junior and start up said that they don’t have time to guide a junior. Yeah, that’s me.

    1. Thijs

      Hi, I would think that as soon as you can show that salesforce Admin Certificate, that the biggest concerns about lacking IT knowledge would disappear. And when this certificate is the result of your own intrinsic motivation, then possibly the lacking it project experience won’t be a dealbreaker.

      Good luck.

  2. Avatar

    At 61, albeit with 20 years of CRM consultancy experience under my belt, I landed a Salesforce Admin job 2 years ago which took me back to what I loved most: the hands-on work of getting stuff to work. I used exactly the same tools you mention and can vouch for their value. Trailhead and Focus on Force took me through 2 Admin certifications in 3 months, at minimal cost. I agree with everything you write in this post: make your age and experience an advantage, make a case for improving the balance in a mixed age team and get lucky in finding an employer who gets that. Once employed, a humble attitude helps.

  3. Avatar

    Sir, I want to gain knowledge in CPQ and later get certified. Could you please help with study material. My email ptushithavarma#gmail.com

    1. Thijs

      Hi, this content really helped me: The Salesforce Cpq fast path webinar is great content in preperation of your cpq certificate.

      https://go.salesforce-partners.com/l/349921/2020-03-23/3pspx

      But my first cpq project experience was also very helpful. By the way, when you don’t have a project, you can just create your own. Just make up your own demo environment but really challenge yourself to get the details worked out.

      Good luck,

  4. Avatar

    Laura Bergner Owens

    Reply

    Ok. So, 38 is REALLY young to think you are too old to change careers. I’m 56 and you have REALLY inspired me to keep at it! Thank you, young one. Now to get my certifications and convince someone to hire me! I need to save this and read it every day for motivation. 🙂

    1. Thijs

      Hi Laura, thank you very much for you nice reply. I agree, 38 is way to young to think your old. But that feeling was primarily based on earlier disappointments. Years ago I already did a first attempt to step into this career path (I even tried a job as Microsoft CRM consultant ☺️. I know). But I didn’t succeed then. I understand why. I didn’t have enough to offer. I couldn’t prove my intrinsic motivation. Just saying “I believe I want this” was not enough.

      It is a shame that there are still so many employers that focus on “old skool metrics” like age and degrees when hiring. Chances are that coaching 2 juniors takes more time than coaching you. And chances are that you are faster capable to satisfy customers, because you probably have better communicative, analytical and empathic skills. It takes juniors years to develop those.

      Good luck!!

  5. Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your journey! My journey closely parallels yours except in a few key aspects: I started with Mike Wheeler’s course on Udemy before plunging into Trailhead and FOF. To overcome the experience gap, I began volunteering before I had even earned my Admin certification. Also, I am considerably older than and quit my job in IT/Operations Mngmt at 50, which puts me at a distinct disadvantage (not to mention the gender bias as well). Still, I continue to grow and learn and offer my consulting services to nonprofit clients when I can find them as well as look for an employer that will give me a chance. It’s not an easy path, but it’s one I am happy to have taken.

  6. Avatar

    As someone who moved from hospitality to salesforce and having cleared admin certification and being active on trailhead I feel that I have the capability to do my job well as a jr consultant but the reality is that most employers in Uk do not want to give a chance to people who are fresh.

    Despite salesforce pushing new talent the companies are sadly very close minded here in Uk.

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