Whether we like it or not, the fact is – nearly half of all Salesforce implementations are ending up suboptimal at best and about a quarter are plain unsuccessful. Of course, this is due to many different reasons, but if you’d need to bet on one then it would be some problem with system adoption. Simply because the rollout of such heavy software is always accompanied by a drastic shift in corporate processes and behavior.
However, those companies where the leadership team is in close cooperation with the Salesforce System Administration department tend to leverage the power of the CRM really well.
This is probably the simplest answer to the old question, how to optimize my new CRM setup? Finding a competent certified Salesforce administrator who shares your business vision is a good place to start. Choosing the right CRM administrator for your organization is of paramount importance because whether you like it or not, the admin is the most important person in CRM implementation.
But before we can discuss how you can pick the right person for this job, we must first establish what a Salesforce administrator position is and how an ideal Salesforce admin job description looks like.
What is Salesforce Administration?
Salesforce administration is a notion that combines in itself such activities as management, configuration, and maintenance of the Salesforce platform. In turn, a Salesforce administrator is a specialist that is responsible for Salesforce running properly and proving the best possible user experience.
Some of the most important aspects of Salesforce administration include user management, user support, data management, ongoing maintenance, security, and system customization.
A Rather Quick Salesforce Admin Job Description
Salesforce administrators are responsible for a number of essential tasks, ranging from assisting users with reports and resetting accounts to keeping data quality high, integrating new applications, and many more.
The data within your Salesforce environment is more valuable than the cloud-based software itself. Moreover, the value of this data increases as new processes connecting sales, marketing, and customer support departments are introduced to the system. Therefore, maintaining the quality of your data feeds and infrastructure coherence boosts the inherent value of your CRM. After all, the productivity of your employees depends upon the system’s environment.
Let’s take a look at various tasks your Salesforce admin needs to perform.
Everyday responsibilities of Salesforce system administrator
There are quite a few tasks that admins would need to tackle in real time. A process may malfunction in the midst of an important report, or due to the absence of one employee new temporary accesses must be granted. Or simply someone could forget their password after cleaning up the cache on their computer and the password must be reset. Any CRM admin spends from two to three hours per week on tasks such as:
- User account management;
- Authentication, and certification management;
- Fine-tuning reports;
- Workflow troubleshooting;
Depending on the size and attitude of your company, Salesforce admins may need to spend an additional hour per week for further reporting on each issue resolution.
Probably the very core of admin tasks lies in the weekly responsibilities. Simply because most things that were working fine last week will go off the rails first thing Monday morning, that’s just how it is. Also, the weekly cycle demands certain very specific tasks to be attended to. Depending on the scale of your system, these admin tasks can really range in the time required to complete, from two hours to more than a day.
- Data export and general system maintenance;
- Data backup and duplication;
- Running data-quality and adoption dashboards;
- Checking login history to spot any unauthorized or suspicious activity;
- Leads and contacts information management;
- Changes in user accounts due to changes in job responsibility or territory coverage;
- Examination of SFDC records and error logs;
- Running various APEX tests of the system to examine any possible bugs or errors that are a result of alteration in authentication rules or data cleanups;
- Taking snapshots of production system metadata;
- Error log monitoring;
Some activities demand admin attention only once per month, but nevertheless, they need to be attended. These tend to be crucial system maintenance tasks that actually determine the health of your CRM infrastructure.
- Managing system updates;
- Data quality check;
- Refreshing the sandboxes;
- Analyzing important fixes to the Salesforce environment;
- Archiving error logs;
- Full system backup;
- Email logs check;
- Refreshing custom settings data and comparing them with a previous period;
Finally, up to a full working week must be fully dedicated to annual tasks such as:
- Archiving or purging documents, storage files, emails and so on;
- Archiving various data fields and histories for audit and compliance;
- Working on a system roadmap.
Of course, all of these activities are generalized and it is obvious that depending on your business model, the task list will be adjusted in one way or another.
What You Need to Look for in a Salesforce Admin
Now that we’ve covered the general responsibilities of a typical Salesforce administrator, we can look at how you should pick the right person for this job. First, let’s start with simple and discuss what NOT to do.
- Don’t pick a member of your IT department. This is the most typical mistake that organizations make when implementing CRM. Sure, the CRM is a technology and your IT people will most definitely be able to manage it from a technical side. However, your administrator has to be very familiar with your sales cycle and the team who runs sales. Non-techy people can go through the Salesforce admin certification guide and be fully trained to manage the CRM. The role of an admin is less about coding and more about facilitating the needs of your marketing and sales departments.
- Don’t make it a team responsibility. If everyone is in charge then no one is responsible. Salesforce is a complex environment that has to be centralized around a single vision. Otherwise, you risk throwing your platform and therefore your entire business workflow off the rails in hopes that it’ll find a way. Quick tip – it will not.
- Don’t give it to your top sales reps. They, most probably, will not be good at administering the system. Working with people and working with cloud databases are two vastly different things. The set of skills required to become a successful Salesforce administrator is very rarely correlated with one of a salesperson. Besides, your top sales reps are probably needed elsewhere.
So, if those seemingly logical options are not valid, who should you pick for a position of a successful administrator? Here are the 8 must-have characteristics of your Salesforce admin:
1. In-depth knowledge of Salesforce products and cloud services
Above all, Salesforce administrators need to be well-versed in all of the company’s cloud services and products. They should possess unquestionable expertise in the platform’s features and capabilities, including Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and others. With this expertise, they’ll be able to modify and alter the system to meet the particular needs of the company better than anyone else on the team, justifying their role.
2. Strategic and analytical thinking
Successful Salesforce administrators tend to exhibit strategic and analytical thinking. They are able to assess current company procedures and pinpoint places where Salesforce might provide value. They can also get valuable insights from sales, marketing, and customer service by analyzing data and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). With the use of these insights, the company can make decisions and put into action a number of plans that will improve productivity, efficiency, and overall corporate performance.
3. Communication skills and a customer-oriented approach
Salesforce administrators also need to be skilled communicators. They must be able to translate the needs and struggles of various teams inside the business into workable solutions. And when dealing with end consumers, administrators should be able to respond quickly to their questions, offer guidance, and provide the best possible user experience.
4. Understand the vision
When answering the question, what do Salesforce administrators do, many forget one simple thing – your admin tries to align the technology with your business requirements. Therefore the very first quality you need to look at when choosing the right person for this job is how well he or she understands your vision.
It is no use to put someone in charge whose vision for the CRM environment doesn’t play well with the direction you want to move your business towards. Knowing the overarching objectives of a company and having a vision that serves the ongoing initiatives for ongoing innovation will ensure alignment in priorities between your Salesforce administrator and leadership. Remember that an admin can have a great and efficient vision, but maybe not the one you need right now.
5. Experienced project manager
You put a person in charge of developing and maintaining your entire sales funnel on a technical side. This is a job that requires multi-tasking, working on deadlines, cooperating with many people and serving the rest of the team. Not everyone can jump on board and do the job right away, but it is your responsibility to place someone who has a proven track record in organizational skills and management.
The understanding of the platform will come later, but these skills don’t develop that easily.
6. Familiar with the corporate sales process
The CRM is a key tool in managing your sales and marketing team and the team’s sales funnel should serve as a foundation for the entire IT environment, not the other way around.
You’d want to make sure that software will meet its intended objective. In order to accomplish that, the person in charge needs to be familiar with the existing sales process. Even if your company is in the early stages and it doesn’t have a clear sales funnel, it is even more important to put in an admin who has a broad understanding of the sales process in order to adjust the system to any changes and enhancements.
Naturally, you’d want a software administrator to be familiar with technology in general. Because there will be time when the admin will be fully overwhelmed with sorting out the database and analyzing system performance. So, you’d want to hire someone, who first of all, has an understanding of what a database is (that’s a great interview question, by the way, that’ll help you out unqualified people really fast).
Second, the admin should be someone who is not afraid of googling staff and searching forums for some obscure piece of information.
8. Natural team player
At the very core, being a Salesforce administrator means managing the system so that others can use it without giving it a second thought. And, obviously, someone who enforces the process to serve his comfort above the team is not a great pick for the job.
Just like with all things in life, there has to be a balance. A Salesforce administrator should not be a despot, but at the same time having a vision and managing systems means saying sometimes no to people and working towards that grand business vision.
So, ideally, you are looking for not just a team player, but also someone who commands a certain respect in your team with conviction and resilience, and a good deal of authority.
How Many Salesforce Admins Do I Need?
The answer to this important question will massively depend on a number of factors such as the complexity of your Salesforce implementation and the volume of user activity. The main factor by far, however, is the number of users on the platform.
It’s widely accepted that, on average, you’ll need 1 full-time Salesforce Admin per 75 users. If your company has around 30 users, for example, count on needing only a part-time effort; and if the number is a couple of hundred, you may want to get business analysts involved on top of the standard admin workforce.
Some of the possible combinations for various company sizes you can find in the table below:
|User base||Employees involved|
|<75 users||1 full-time or part-time administrator|
|75 – 149 users||1 full-time administrator + 1 part-time administrator|
|150 – 300 users||1 business analyst, 2–4 administrators|
|301 – 500 users||2 business analysts, 4-6 administrators|
Do You Need a Salesforce Admin with Certification?
At some point in time, you are going to ask yourself, do I need a Salesforce administrator with Certification? And the answer is most definitely YES. Don’t even second guess it or try to bluff your way out. No matter what, you would want to have a person with proof of understanding in the area of Salesforce CRM. For your leadership team, this essentially reduces certain risks in implementation and user adoption.
How to Become a Certified Salesforce Administrator
If you want to train or encourage your employees to become certified Salesforce administrators, the first question that you might ask yourself is: who would be qualified to be a Salesforce administrator?
If you take your time and go through countless success stories, and comments on Admin Hero or other community forums, you’ll see an underlying pattern that most people had their background in something other than Salesforce. Currently, more than 80% of all professionals in this area have less than 10 years of relevant experience.
Of course, there are numerous possibilities and multiple certificates to obtain. And naturally, you’d wonder, which one is right for your company at the time. Typically, people tend to look at two distinct paths – Administration and Development. Which ones should you take and at which time?
The Admin certification deals with everyday CRM problems and tasks, while The App Builder exam is focused on the knowledge of components and best practices within the CRM. At the same time, on the development side, the courses are focused on your skills with Apex and Visualforce.
Probably the best place to start is to undergo the Salesforce Administrator practice exam, followed by Advanced Administrator and closing the skills with App Builder certification. Between these three, your admin will have a universal set of skills, upon which a more niche-specific knowledge of the Salesforce database structure can be built.
Even if you are considering leading your employee on a development path, these three exams are still a good place to start and will provide an understanding of best practices, use cases, and security of the Salesforce CRM environment.
Regarding the information available – there is no shortage here. From community forums, official documentation, and official Salesforce training courses to YouTube videos, there is virtually an endless supply of learning material ready for future Salesforce administrators.
Salesforce Admin Salary
Another common question is how much does it cost to hire a certified Salesforce administrator?
On average across the US, most Salesforce admins earn between $54,000 and $79,000 annually. It is a relatively new area, and therefore very competitive. However, there are still many admins working without professional certification.
The majority of mid- to large-size companies require at least the most basic level of certification for the job position. Admin training is extremely valuable in the eyes of your potential employer. Generally, a Salesforce administrator’s salary rises by $20,000 per year, when they go from having none to simply one certificate.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that having Salesforce development certificates and experience will further increase the demand for administrators, due to their versatility in skills.
Salesforce Consultant vs Admin
As we’ve established, a Salesforce administrator is someone who has intimate knowledge of the CRM and they are experts at general platform management, business analytics, maintenance, user support, and user training.
It’s also worth noting that there are cases of “accidental administrators” – employees that have demonstrated certain IT skills and have slowly grown into the role without necessarily training for it.
Such cases are nearly impossible for Salesforce consultants, however. They have to be qualified, certified specialists since they are the people in charge of overseeing every step of the Salesforce implementation process, from the ideation of the solution to user acceptance.
In other words, consultants most of the time are needed at the initial stage – when the company only begins to use Salesforce; whereas admins are there to sustain the stability of the system once it’s up and running. But it doesn’t mean that consultants can’t be involved in day-to-day activities – usually, companies keep in touch with consultants in case they need to upscale or get some more optimization guidance.
Salesforce Admin vs Developer
Contrasting an administrator to a Salesforce developer, it must be said that the latter is the more technical and creative role. Good Salesforce developers will have coding experience and good all-around technical skills – for instance, Java will be useful to know since Apex, the coding language used by Salesforce is based on it. On top of that, since Salesforce queries are written in SOQL, a language that is largely based on MySQL, they’ll also need to be familiar with the latter. Lastly, in addition to Apex, they’ll also need to work on Visualforce, which is mostly based on HTML and CSS, with Lightning and Lightning Web Components being important as well.
Salesforce developers spend most of their working days creating apps and putting new ideas into action to further develop the company’s tech stack. At the same time, usually, the position requires more than just programming. To translate business requirements into practical Salesforce capabilities, Salesforce Developers must also be able to collaborate with their colleagues in sales, customer support, and marketing. Finally, once a solution has been created, Salesforce developers are also responsible for quality control, testing, issue fixing, and producing user documentation.
Third-Party Salesforce Administrators
Sometimes it’s near to impossible to have the right person for the job. He or she needs appropriate training and the system itself is too complex, needing a professional administration right now.
In that case, it is a good idea to look for third-party Salesforce administration services. Typically companies like ourselves offer companies a full Salesforce Kick-Start package that will include management and improvement of your newly deployed Salesforce environment at the early stages of its lifecycle. This is done, so your business can fully leverage the power of new IT infrastructure without missing a beat, while at the same time training employees, under the supervision of industry experts with a proven track record of success.
If your company requires a consultation, regarding the implementation of Salesforce, or you require a third-party vendor to administrate your CRM platform, you can always count on Outsource Management Inc. (OMI) as your trusted Partner. We are first-class experts in CRM integration and implementation services. OMI is the go-to resource for emerging mid-size companies that embrace CRM, Marketing Automation and Sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche.