Of the 76,000+ Salesforce certified professionals, Administrators are growing at a rapid pace: 37% a year! For reference, that’s the 4th highest occupation rate growth in the United States. The fourth highest! At the same time, Salesforce implementations requiring at least one integration with an external application are on the rise. Oftentimes these integrations require custom code just to send data out of Salesforce. So why are there so few tools in the Salesforce AppExchange, solving for this frequent business issue, that are built specifically for Admins? That’s exactly the question the team behind Declarative Webhooks asked. And furthermore, why spend thousands of dollars on custom development or learning a new off-platform app when you could implement a 100% native, fully declarative, but extremely robust tool that any Admin can use?
A Brief History of Omnivo Digital
After 6 years of running Omnivo Digital, a Certified Salesforce Partner, and a combined 30+ years experience with the platform, Adam Zuckerman, Jason Sun, and Lucian Ciobanu recognized multiple opportunities in the marketplace. The first one they wanted to tackle? Integrations. After having implemented custom integrations for hundreds of Salesforce projects and having to write custom APEX code to support many, including relatively simple integrations, they thought, “Why do Admins have to search for external solutions or hire developers to resort to custom code when they want to connect Salesforce to third party apps?”, “Why is there an Outbound Message feature in Salesforce that only supports SOAP and not REST, the more popular framework for integrations and exchanging data these days?”, and finally “Why are we having to write custom code for so many of our integrations?”
So, they took their extensive experience with Salesforce development and cross-platform integration and developed Declarative Webhooks to solve this problem.
Here are 3 things you might not know about Declarative Webhooks.
It has a fully declarative interface. True to its name, the Declarative Webhooks tool is one that any Admin can use to build integrations between Salesforce and external systems. The point-and-click experience is key to accessibility, low cost, and time-to-implement, all the things we value in the growing Salesforce ecosystem.
You can build JSON from parent-child relationships and apply filters using SOQL. Declarative Webhooks enables Admins to easily create Callout Templates and data structures using an intuitive JSON Builder. Admins can apply filters with an easy-to-use interface or with custom SOQL, if desired. They can also map data from both related parent objects and child related lists (with filters on child records too!) in the JSON data structure. Additionally, users can use a response builder to trigger multiple response actions. Did I mention you can integrate with platforms no matter what kind of authorization method their API requires?
You can implement a callout in a button, flow, process builder, or scheduled batch. No matter what requirements your business or users have, Declarative Webhooks can flex to meet them. Whether you want to automatically trigger a webhook with a flow or process builder, run them on a schedule, or give your users a button to make the callout themselves, the choice is at your fingertips.
The Hook about Declarative Webhooks
So next time you have a use case where you need to integrate your Salesforce with an external application, before hitting the custom development panic button, give Declarative Webhooks a try! With the free tier, you can create a callout template and up to 100 callouts per month to take the tool for a test drive.
FormAssembly is an all-in-one web form builder and data collection platform.
With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop form builder, FormAssembly makes it simpler than ever to build sophisticated online forms. Users can change the layout and design of their forms to match their company’s unique branding for a seamless user experience, tailoring their forms to their specific use case and audience.
FormAssembly users can build an unlimited number of forms and collect an unlimited number of responses, which can all be found conveniently within the user’s FormAssembly account.
FormAssembly’s robust Salesforce integration helps Salesforce users get more out of their data.
With FormAssembly’s Salesforce connector, you can use form submissions to seamlessly set up records in Salesforce. FormAssembly can be used to create or update standard and custom objects, as shown below. This helps users avoid duplicate data.
You can also prefill forms with data from Salesforce to streamline the data collection process for your customers. This robust integration helps Salesforce users eliminate tedious manual data entry and therefore save time, money, and resources. Visit FormAssembly on the Salesforce AppExchange to learn more.
FormAssembly also connects with other systems and tools, such as PayPal, Stripe, Mailchimp, and many others.
FormAssembly is suitable for endless use cases in all industries and departments, with helpful templates to help you get started.
Thousands of organizations in all industries trust FormAssembly for simple, secure data collection. FormAssembly’s versatile platform is used by large enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses alike, including financial services companies, healthcare organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more. Because the platform is so customizable, it can be used in multiple departments of the same company, with endless use case potential. FormAssembly’s recently updated Template Library makes it easy to start building sophisticated web forms, with customizable, ready-made templates for everything from secure payment forms to medical history forms. You may start FormAssembly for one specific use case, then find other use case ideas while looking through the Template Library. Below, you’ll see an example of a HIPAA medical form template:
FormAssembly prioritizes data privacy and security and is compliant with many data privacy regulations.
FormAssembly’s mission is to help its customers become better stewards of the data entrusted to them. With this mission in mind, FormAssembly offers encryption at rest and compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS Level 1 on all plans. FormAssembly’s Compliance Cloud plan is also compliant with HIPAA and GLBA, making it the ideal data collection platform for handling sensitive healthcare or financial information.
FormAssembly has a world-class Customer Success team.
When you read FormAssembly’s reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange, you’ll notice many mentions of their reliable Customer Success team. All customers receive unlimited world-class support, and Compliance Cloud customers receive priority support with 1-hour response times guaranteed 24/7 Monday through Friday.
FormAssembly offers Implementation Services for organizations that need extra support with customization and getting started. Packages include onboarding assistance, group training, and other options to help customers get the absolute most out of FormAssembly. FormAssembly also has extensive support documentation and helpful resources readily available for customers. Want to experience FormAssembly’s powerful, Salesforce-connected data collection platform for yourself? Sign up for a personalized demo or start a 14-day free trial today, no credit card required.
Special guest post from Allison Wolf, Social Media Manager.
Never heard of Digitsec, Inc.? Here’s 5 things you should know to about them.
1: We’re a young startup that packs a powerful punch.
DigitSec, Inc. was founded in early 2017 by our CEO, Waqas Nazir. Waqas had spent the previous 8 years working as a cyber security consultant for Fortune 100 companies and had amassed a large amount of knowledge and insight around SaaS application security design. After noticing a gap in the marketplace, he created S4 – SaaS Security Scanner for Salesforce. It was an instant success with clients and has continued to make waves in the Salesforce industry ever since. Shortly after the company was founded, DigitSec became a registered ISV partner with Salesforce – allowing us to join the AppExchange and help a greater number of people.
(EFD – Do you know the S4 process?)
2: S4, our SaaS security scanner, does a lot more to protect your data than other security solutions on the market.
With our patented white-box fuzzing, S4 can rapidly identify injection flaws other security scanners on the market aren’t able to detect. This enables us to offer vulnerability tracking for risks like authorization bypass, stored cross-site scripting, and Lightning components XSS – all of which are not currently offered by other similar security solutions. Learn more about the other risks and vulnerabilities we cover here.
(EFD – Check out the list of risks and vulernabilities covered…it’s quite a list!)
3. Salesforce security is more than what we sell – it’s what we practice every day.
At DigitSec, a commonality between employees is our passion for security. Everyday we think about how we can improve our solution and better protect Salesforce users. One of the ways we do this, is by looking ahead and keeping track of data privacy trends and compliance laws. Leading up to the GDPR for example, we devised our security scanner to account for each of the law’s relevant security regulations. By acting right away, we helped many companies meet compliance levels before it was too late – saving them from heavy fines and potential breaches.
(EFD – I’m sure many companies are glad to have you looking out for their interests when it comes to privacy and compliance laws!)
4. We put a high value on the relationships we’ve developed in the Salesforce community.
There’s hardly a Salesforce conference out there we haven’t been to and had a wonderful time at. We love our ever-growing Salesforce Ohana and can’t say ‘thank you,’ enough to the people we’ve met since the company first started. You’ve been our friends, our customers, and even our mentors.
Here’s Digitsec’s CRO Ryan Smith with Salesforce Trailblazer Community notables Lauren Touyet and Zachary Jeans. Photo taken at London’s Calling, February, 2017.
(EFD – The Salesforce Trailblazer Community is what brings us all together.)
5. We offer a free version of our SaaS security scanner you can test today.
At the end of the day, we want every Salesforce user to be able to have secure data. If they’re not aware of the risks their platforms face though, it’s hard to help them. That’s why we created a free version of S4. With one click, Salesforce users can scan their instance and receive a detailed report of the risks and vulnerabilities confronting it. You can test out the free version of S4 here.
(EFD – Be sure to check out the free version and get your detailed report.)
EFD – Thanks, Allison, for bringing the value of Digitsec to my attention and allowing me to share it with others.
Special guest post from Alex Hirniy, Head of Skyvia Platform.
Never heard of Skyvia? Here’s 5 things you should know to about them.
One:Skyvia is a product of Devart, a well-known vendor of a data connectivity solutions.
Devart is software development company with 20+ years of experience in creating the database tools for developers and administrators. The company has more than a dozen product lines and is trusted by over 40k of grateful customers, including companies from Fortune 100 and Fortune 500.
4 years ago Devart entered the cloud data integration market with Skyvia – at that time a simple Salesforce data loader tool. From that time the product has evolved greatly. Now Skyvia is a full-featured cloud data platform suitable for solving a wide range of business data-related tasks. Skyvia supports over 30 major cloud applications & databases and has over 20,000 of devoted users from companies of different sizes and industries.
(EFD – Are you one of the over 20,000 already using Skyvia?)
Two: All-in-one platform for a wide range of data-related tasks
Skyvia is an all-in-one cloud data platform with support for all major cloud and on-premise data sources. It solves a wide range of data related tasks, including no coding data integration for automating data workflows, managing data via SQL from web, exposing data as an OData endpoint, and protecting it via a secure cloud-to-cloud backup. Skyvia is an intuitive and easy-to-use web product that provides a convenient GUI to configure and automate your data-related tasks.
(EFD – Check out the supported data sources…it’s quite a list!)
Three: Easy Salesforce integration and backup
Skyvia’s goal is to automate routine tasks and data flows and save your time. It is a completely no coding solution both for IT professionals and people without any technical skills. You can use Skyvia to integrate Salesforce data with multiple cloud and on-premise data sources, ETL your business data to a database for archiving or analysis, expose database and cloud data via OData to access it directly from the Salesforce interface via Salesforce Connect, etc. All the integrations are configured in an intuitive UI and can be flexibly scheduled for automatic execution.
In addition to data integration, Skyvia platform offers a daily automatic backup for Salesforce. Skyvia stores your backups in a secure Azure GRS storage, and at any time you can restore your data directly from web browser in just a few clicks.
(EFD – Backups stored in Azure – wait a sec, that’s Microsoft!)
Four: We value our clients by delivering the best support
Skyvia team adheres to customer-oriented approach. We use best customer success practices in order to help our customers with on-boarding and assist should they have questions later on. Our customers address us the way they like: at our Support portal, via an online chat in the application, or just schedule a demo/on-boarding call with a technical specialist and management.
As a result, we help our customers to set up their accounts and solve even the most difficult scenarios quickly and seamlessly.
(EFD – The support portal looks similar to the Salesforce Trailblazer Community Answers forum.)
Five: Skyvia future plans
Skyvia’s mission is to provide a universal product for solving all the data related tasks in one platform suitable for companies of any size. We constantly improve Skyvia’s usability, performance, add support for more connectors, and we plan to significantly increase the number of supported cloud applications in near future. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority.
Currently, our team is developing a new product – a visual designer for automating workflows in a company and providing a true trigger-based integration. Find us in Facebook or Twitter and keep updated about our future releases and improvements, or try Skyvia right now.
(EFD – Check you their story, and be sure to check out the app.)
EFD – Thanks, Alex, for bringing the value of Skyvia to my attention and allowing me to share it with others.
Special guest post from Prasad Raje, Founder & CEO, StatX.
Never heard of StatX? Here’s 5 things you should know to about them. (EFD – I had never heard of them until getting connected to them leading up to Midwest Dreamin’ 2017.)
One: StatX is to desktop browser apps what Salesforce was to on-premise apps.
Salesforce was built on the promise of “No Software” and was one of the pioneers of business apps in the cloud. StatX is taking this to the next level of “No Desktop”. We are a pure mobile app because this is the ubiquitous computer that is in the hands of 2.2 billion people and mobile use and traffic now exceeds desktop. (EFD – I wonder how many people are reading this post on a mobile device right now.)
Two: StatX is a complete re-thinking of business mobile apps.
Our design philosophy for StatX is that we do not want to re-create a miniature web app on mobile. Users do not want to click and explore or spend as much time in mobile apps as they do on the desktop in a web app. StatX is a complete re-think from the ground up of the mobile use case in a simple, beautiful, easy to use app. (EFD – So StatX is kind of like mobile phones were back in the 1980s…a totally new approach to an old problem.)
Three: StatX relieves pipeline anxiety.
StatX with Salesforce brings sales progress to the user instead of requiring constant attention, keeps teams in sync in real-time for faster communication on deals, presents deals and dashboards visually together for efficient consumption, enables easy succinct updates on deals on mobile to improve sales data quality and improves user adoption of Salesforce. See it in action in this demo video or try it for yourself by downloading the mobile app or try the Test Drive in AppExchange. (EFD – You’ve said a mouthful there – a very important mouthful: in sync, real-time, faster.)
Four: StatX is like Google Now™ for Business.
StatX also connects to other data sources in the cloud like QuickBooks, MailChimp, GitHub, Google Sheets or even desktop Excel to bring visual, succinct information to mobile for fast consumption, change updates and easy collaboration. We have built a general platform that we can build connectors to any REST API in the cloud – eventually we will open this for 3rd parties. (EFD – Check out the integrations page on their website for more details.)
Five: StatX founding story.
StatX was founded by Prasad Raje and Pablo Bellver. Prasad had previously sold his enterprise cloud software company (Instantis) to Oracle. Pablo had co-created Google Now as one the first engineers on the team. They joined forces to create StatX to bring relevant information to business users on mobile (full story). (EFD – Check you their story, and be sure to check out the app.)
EFD – Thanks, Prasad, for bringing the value of StatX to my attention and allowing me to share it with others.
Special guest post from Irene Samozdran, Content Marketer, PDFfiler.
Never heard of PDFfiler or DaDaDocs? Here’s 5 things you should know to about them. (EFD – I had never heard of them until seeing them at the Chicago World Tour in June, 2017.)
One: About PDFfiller and how we created the DaDaDocs integration
Let me introduce you to PDFfiller, a company that has been on the document solution market since 2008. We provide a PDF editor, eSignature solution and form builder combined in a single platform. This year we crossed the benchmark of 300,000 customers and decided to take on the strategy of building partnerships with other companies our customers use. Lots of our clients use Salesforce every day. They often struggle with the document management, having to download every document, edit it in another application and upload the results back to Salesforce. This is why we created DaDaDocs for Salesforce. (EFD – I had a great conversation with Gal Steinberg from PDFfiler at the Chicago World Tour. So good, in fact, that it led to DaDaDocs becoming a sponsor of Midwest Dreamin’ 2017.)
Two: What DaDaDocs brought to Salesforce
The main job of the DaDaDocs integration is to simplify complex workflows with documents, cut them down to minutes rather than hours and run every issue entirely within the Salesforce iframe. In a single integration, Salesforce users get an intuitive PDF editor, eSignature platform and form builder for data merging and collection. It means that any problem with documents – adding a customer’s notes to an offer, sending documents out for signature, using data from Salesforce objects to generate contract templates – all these issues can now be solved without leaving Salesforce. We’ve organized a comprehensive kit that should streamline complex business processes on the back end, so you won’t ever have to worry about paperwork again. (EFD – It sounds complex and somewhat confusing, but after watching the demo on the website, it looks like they made it easy! )
Three: Guiding customers through configuration
We understand how complicated setting up a new app can be, which is why we provide full customer support 24/7. When a new customer gets DaDaDocs at the AppExchange, we provide a 7-day free trial. They receive an email with detailed instructions for getting started and a link to contact customer support directly. Our support team is happy to walk anybody through the configuration process. (EFD – Customer support can make or break a deal…just like it can make a meal great or take a restaurant off your list completely!)
Four: How we believe in contributing to IT self-education
At PDFfiller we believe in self-made success. This is also the reason we support educational projects in local IT-communities. Our engineers conduct regular meetups, participate in conferences where they can share their experience and everyone can learn from common mistakes. (EFD – That’s what I like to call giving back to help others grow and learn.)
Five: The philosophy of businesses going green starts with a paperless office
We started this company without a big idea but eventually understood the obvious truth right in front of us. Taking all your documents to the cloud and running a paperless office is the first step to green entrepreneurship. We believe it’s important to do your part for better and cleaner environment. We’re proud to provide a product that helps businesses make that change. (EFD – I used to think that going paperless was far-fetched idea that wouldn’t happen until way out into the future, if it could happen at all. With technology like Salesforce and DaDaDocs, the future just might be here now.)
EFD – Thanks, Irene, for bringing the value of DaDaDocs to my attention and allowing me to share it with others.
I had what I thought at the time was the greatest job in the world. The work was interesting and challenging, and I was learning something new every day. Then one day I had a meeting with my manager and the president of the company. We talked about the $110 million dollar federal loan program I was managing, and how soon we should be ready to submit paperwork for our first reimbursement. We talked about the processes we built to insure that all of our I’s were dotted and our T’s crossed. Then the president of the company asked one question that neither my manager nor I had even thought about. (I wish I could recall the question, but I’ve slept some since then, but not much, as you’ll see if you keep reading.) Suddenly all my efforts to be ready to make that big submission by “x” date, went out the window. Suddenly it seemed like I was expected to battle a huge wildfire in 70 MPH winds with only a pint of water and extinguish the flames in 30 seconds! (Ok…to be honest, I was given a deadline of 3 weeks, with what seemed like an insurmountable amount of work to do.) I simply responded in conversation that what was expected was a pretty tall order, and I wasn’t sure there was enough time to get it all done.
The Beginning of the End (or is it…)
The president of the company then asked me “Eric, how much sleep do you get every night?” I responded with “about 6 hours, why?” He quickly replied with, “Good! That means you have 18 hours a day where you can be working to solve this problem and meet my deadline.” WHAAAT did he just say?? (Look out; it gets a little ugly next. I was a lot younger and a lot less diplomatic than I am now.) I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, you don’t pay me enough to work those kinds of hours, and I have a family that I enjoy spending time with. You have unrealistic expectations and there is NO WAY I can get all that done and meet your deadline.” Yep, you read that right, I just bad-mouthed the company, how much (or how little) they were paying me, and not only insulted the president of the company but also and his relationship with his family….ALL IN ONE BREATH! (For future reference, I would advise against such a thing.)
That Very Next Day…
After I had my “little” altercation with the company president, I got called into my manager’s office and was told I had 6 weeks left at the company and that the next Monday I would start training my replacement. Well now, that’s a pretty clear example of cause and effect. Ouch…Ok, I’ve got six weeks to find a job. I can do that!
And Then Reality Sets In
The job market in Southern Indiana in late 2005 turned out to be lousy. I did manage to get one interview during those 6 weeks. I also managed to get zero offers. My wife was a stay-at-home mom back then, and we also had her aging and ailing parents living with us, so until I lost my job, I was the income source for the entire family. Sure, my wife’s parents were receiving Social Security, but they were lucky to be able to make it through the month with enough cash to buy their food and all the medications they needed to survive another day.
Not UNemployed but way UNDERemployed
The next two and a half years were very difficult for me and my family. Employment in my chosen profession was difficult to find in my home town, and when I did find it, the jobs were temporary at best. So I did what any good husband and father would do, work multiple part time jobs in order to be able to pay the bills and keep food on the table. There were days that, between all the jobs I was working, and travel time, I would only get four hours to be home with my family, and most times, we were all sleeping then.
Enter the Salesforce Ecosystem…almost
Back then, I did a lot of job searching by looking at the Sunday newspaper classified section. I remember seeing and as for a company hiring technical support agents, computer and customer service skills required. I applied online and a few weeks later, late on Sunday afternoon, I got a call from a recruiter asking me to take an online test & if I could be at the company’s office at 7am the next day for an interview. She also wondered if I could start right after the interview, assuming they liked me. “Sure”, I said. I can do that…it would mean rearranging my schedule with a couple part time jobs, but for regular hours at decent pay, I was willing to take that chance, even though they said it was an 8-week, short-term assignment.
I passed their test with flying colors, for the job, and after 3 days of training, was live, on the phones and providing world class support to that company’s clients. The 8 weeks came and went. I began to wonder how much longer they would need me. The call volume on the particular product I was supporting was never that heavy, so the trained me on how to support several other products. I came right out and asked, “Should I be looking for another job soon?” “Don’t worry about that,” I was told. “We will give you a few weeks’ notice if we need to cut you,” my manager said.
The Longest 8 Weeks Ever…
Eight months later, the company’s HR department called and said they had a direct hire role in the contact center available, and wondered if I was interested. Well sure! Why wouldn’t I want to work only 1 job with good money, normal hours and benefits? Sign me up!!
Wait, you mean I have to interview for the job I’m already doing?
Yes… I had to formally apply and go through interviews. Meh…no big deal. The one thing being “under employed” taught me was interview skills. I got plenty of interviews, but few good offers and on roles I didn’t really want. My first interview for the role (remember, this is for the role I am already working, it would just be a status change and more money) was with the VP of Enterprise Business Solutions. She was in charge of the contact center, and a whole lot more, and she was at HQ in San Diego, so it would be a telephone interview. The call went something like this…
I have just one question to ask you…
Why are we wasting both our time having you on the phones talking to our customers, when your skills could be put to a much better use elsewhere in the company?
My (almost) smart-ass answer…
Because that’s the only job you have open. I know, I just looked at your website.
So…maybe I STILL do not know when to shut up…
“Yes, I know, but I’m working on approval for a new role that would be perfect for you…a Business Analyst role. You can help us roll out Salesforce.com to the contact center,” was the reply I just heard. Then the VP told me to tell HR I did not want to be flipped over to a direct hire. Whoa…back that bus up. You want me to turn down a sure thing for a role you hope to get approved? That kind of makes me feel like Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) in the movie “Speed” -> https://youtu.be/l7jRaGBtVww
Fortunately, I took a chance, and shot the hostage. Not literally, I did NOT shoot anyone! More accurately, they took a chance on me. I told the VP in the interview I had never heard of Salesforce.com, and she still said, “So…do you want the job?” I gladly accepted her generous offer. I also listened to her when she said, “Find a user group and get connected so you can start learning.”
She created a monster!
My first user group meeting was in Chicago, and it was the same day as the Chicago stop of the Salesforce World Tour, or whatever they called it back in 2010. That one event was like knocking over the first domino in a long string of dominos. After that, I spent 1 to 2 days a month going back and forth to user group meetings all around the Midwest. After a few months of that, I decided that I couldn’t be the only Salesforce user in Southern Indiana so I decided to start a local user group. My first meeting had 6 people at it, but it’s not the size that counts. It’s the interactions and creative, crowd-sourced problem solving that matters!
Fast forward a few months …
Early summer, 2010, and it’s getting closer to Dreamforce. “Can I go?” I asked my manager. “I’m sorry…the budget is shot. We can’t send you this year.” Most people would simply accept that and say “There’s always next year.” Not me. I thought to myself, “If I can’t go to Dreamforce, I’m going to bring a little bit of Dreamforce to me.” And the idea for Midwest Dreamin’ was born. Apttus was one of the companies who became a sponsor of that inaugural Midwest Dreamin’. Al West, now Senior Vice President, Global Sales at Apttus, was my first connection. That very first Midwest Dreamin’ took place in May, 2011, and the Galt House Hotel played host to about 100 Salesforce enthusiasts. In 2014, when the second Midwest Dreamin’ took place, it was at Chicago’s Navy Pier with 500 people, which grew to almost 800 in 2015.
Suddenly a Salesforce MVP
I remember it well; it was April 10, 2013. The day I was first awarded the title of Salesforce MVP. I’m not really sure what I did to deserve that award. I’m not big on the Answers board like Steve Molis is. In fact, I’ve asked way more questions than I’ve answered. I’m not a super technical, awesome developer like David Liu is. I’m more a clicks kind of guy, not code. I’m not the consummate Admin like Leyna Hoffer. I’ve had admin rights in orgs, but I’ve always been more the analyst. I’m just a regular guy who seems to have a knack for connecting people together. I was only leading what I liked to say was the smallest Salesforce user group in the world, the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group, but I also proudly said I likely had the highest percentage of attendees to registrations, averaging about 85% of registrations actually attending, and there was that little thing called Midwest Dreamin’. Yes, being named an MVP was a total surprise, and actually more of a surprise than most people know. I didn’t access my personal email from work back then, and I had mobile data shut off on my cell phone when the announcement came out so I missed it. I discovered I had been awarded the title of MVP when I connected my cell phone to a Wi-Fi source at lunch and it started pinging like crazy. I missed a bunch of emails and tweets from current MVPs all congratulating me. For what I thought…then I checked my email and discovered the official “You’re an MVP” email.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…What’s it like being an MVP?
I get asked that a lot…and it’s not really an easy question to answer, at least for me it’s not. I could simply say it’s awesome and leave it at that, but those of you who know me, would never let it end there. So, I’ll describe it like this – there’s a lot of pressure on the MVPs, however, I would say that 90% of it is self-inflicted. Sure, there are certain things MVPs get early access to, or have knowledge of prior to the rest of the Salesforce Community that we are bound by a non-disclosure agreement to keep confidential, and there are plenty of opportunities for MVPs to provide feedback directly to Salesforce Execs, but I think the inherent pressure comes from not feeling like we deserve the honor bestowed upon us. I don’t think any of the MVPs were doing what they did simply for the purpose of becoming an MVP. I really think the MVPs are just a little more passionate and a little more vocal than your average community member, and they feel driven to a sense of accomplishment from knowing they helped someone solve a problem. So i think, to some degree, when MVP status is awarded to you, it’s like the clock starts ticking. You know, that 15 minutes of fame clock…everyone wants their moment in the sun. Everyone dreams of being rich and famous. I don’t think there’s been a scientific study done that would prove being a Salesforce MVP will make you rich (in the traditional monetary sense) but I know most of us MVPs feel richly blessed to have made friends from all over the world through the Salesforce Community. And then, thanks to events like Dreamforce, we get to meet some of those people in person and that is yet another blessing. Of course, with anything good, there’s typically a dark side too. When I first became an MVP, a few of the more seasoned MVPs told me to expect LinkedIn to blow up with offers to connect from recruiters, and that the number of followers I have on Twitter would likely grow exponentially. They were right. It seems everyone wanted a piece of me. Within 3 months of first being named an MVP, the number of followers I had on twitter doubled, and there STILL isn’t a week that goes by without me receiving at least one or two emails or LinkedIn messages asking if I was interested in working for some company, or working through a recruiter that now I don’t recall the name of, or what the companies do, where they are…or if they are even in the Salesforce ecosystem! Obviously, they made a huge impression on me. (And that, my friends is sarcasm. One more thing I’m kind of famous for.)
Aside from the things I touched on earlier, like early access to knowledge, easy access to Execs (and product managers), MVPs enjoy some other perks. We do have reserved seating at the major Keynotes at Dreamforce, we also get preferred seating at World Tour Events, but those are only perks if you can attend those events, and if you choose to sit with the other MVPs. Personally, I’d give up the good seats in a heartbeat if I was in the middle of a conversation with a seasoned community member, or a even a first time Dreamforce attendee who wanted to see the keynote, but didn’t want to be lost in the crowd without a familiar face to share it with. (That’s not just me blowing smoke either…I’ve done both of those. Just ask Kristin Puttika about the Dreamforce 2014 keynote.) I say this every week in my “Bacon” blog series – “For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared” because I firmly believe that WHO you know is (slightly) more important than WHAT you know, because who you know can get you access to information you need. Because who you know can get you connect you to others you NEED to know. Because who you know can lead to GREAT things!
Flashback to Dreamforce 2014…
A week or so before Dreamforce 2014, the Salesforce MVPs got an invite to a half-day training & demo with Apttus that was occurring on the Friday morning just after Dreamforce. I thought about it for all of 10 seconds, clicked the link to attend, and then sent an email to a couple of friends that I would need to change our plans from a morning walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, to an afternoon walk.
I’ll spare you all the details about the entire week, since probably everyone reading the post would have been to Dreamforce at least once and simply leave this Twitter conversation here:
And with that one defining moment, my desire to be associated with Apttus was born.
Why I chose to work at Apttus?
You mean you don’t get it already? Apttus is all over the CPQ and CLM space…world-class, industry leading solutions for Configure, Price, Quote as well as Contract Lifecycle Management but Apttus also has a hidden gem, a secret weapon, if you will, in the battle against poor Salesforce adoption.
Enter X-Author for Excel
X-Author for Excel is a game-changer. It levels the playing field and makes the point of entry to get data into Salesforce as simple as the Excel spreadsheet your sales team is already using. So what’s the big deal? Everyone knows you can import data from Excel into Salesforce. Here’s the secret sauce: with X-Author for Excel, you do NOT import data. X-Author exists as a ribbon inside Microsoft Office applications that brings all your Salesforce controls and inherent security to your Excel spreadsheets. Using X-Author, you simply define fields in Excel that you want to map directly back to fields and objects in Salesforce. Every time a change is made in Excel that change is immediately reflected back in Salesforce. EVERY change, EVERY time. And guess what? You can use X-Author with any, yes, any, object in Salesforce, including related AND unrelated, standard AND custom objects! Can you just imagine the power you can put into your users hands? I said users, not sales teams. That’s because anyone can use X-Author for Excel. Your sales teams, your marketing personnel, even your Salesforce admins will see the power and convenience that X-Author brings. And what’s even better, is that X-Author is a managed package, which means that the custom objects, tabs and apps within X-Author do NOT count against your Salesforce limits.
Here’s my top 10 reasons why you should attend Dreamforce updated for 2015:
10: Networking…its a fabulous place to meet people who think and act like you. Don’t be scared, introduce yourself! You could very well be talking to your next coworker or manager, or even discover a solution to a challenge you have been facing! (Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards!)
9: Exercise…with all the sessions and activities spread out over Moscone’s 3 buildings as well as a half a dozen or so hotels in the area, you might end up dropping a few pounds from all the walking you’ll do. (Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and charge up your Fitbit!)
8: Knowledge…Keynote sessions, hands-on training sessions, breakout sessions, even pre-conference training session…who knows what all you could learn! Even without knowing who the keynote or breakout session speakers are, or who the special guests during Marc Benioff’s keynote will be, I’m 100% certain you will learn a lot! (Be sure to take notes – on paper, on your phone, or on your iPad. Whatever your note-taking device of choice is, keep it handy! You’ll need it!)
7: Awesome…yes, be prepared to hear that word quite a lot. Many will describe the event as Awesome or Outstanding. (Guilty as charged, Your Honor.)
6: Get Social…That’s right, Dreamforce isn’t really just an 8 to 5 event. Social gatherings, dinners, parties and even concerts await the adventurous soul. After Dreamforce, be sure to hook up with your local user group, so you can keep the Dreamforce feeling all year long! And if that’s not enough, keep an eye out on the Success Community and Twitter for amazing community-driven regional events like Midwest Dreamin’, Forcelandia, and Snowforce.
5: Charity…Don’t just take things away from Dreamforce, give things away! Give back some of your time to help out great causes. Look for the Salesforce Foundation volunteer events and GIVE! Give like there’s no tomorrow! Because if you don’t, for some people who rely on the organizations Salesforce & Dreamforce support, there may not be a tomorrow!
4: Swag…who doesn’t like a freebie? T-shirts, portable charges, stress balls, t-shirts, pens….you name it, someone is probably giving it away, just for stopping by their booth and letting them scan your badge. Some things are a random drawing, others, just yours for the taking.
3: Partners…be sure to carve out time to visit the Cloud Expos. Many AppExchange partners will be there to give you live demos, great reasons why you need to extend your Salesforce org outside the box, and pick up some cool swag along the way. You can also connect with Salesforce experts, interact firsthand with Salesforce products, and hear success stories shared by customers at the Salesforce Campground.
2: Rub elbows with the elite…the MVPs and User Group Leaders. Those people are almost overly passionate about the Salesforce ecosystem, but guess what? They are people too, and love helping others gain knowledge and overcome challenges!
And my number 1 reason to attend Dreamforce this year:
1: Community…What’s that? It’s the culmination of all of the other top items rolled into one neat little package. It’s that intangible benefit you get from being part of a group that is fast approaching two million strong. It’s that awesome feeling you get when racing between sessions with over 100,000 of your closest friends. It is Salesforce…it is Dreamforce. And its AWESOME!!!
It might seem a little pretentious of me to make such a bold statement, but I am predicting the weather for a very small portion of Chicago. What’s even more audacious is that I’m making this prediction for a couple days that are still more than 30 days away!
I predict that Chicago’s Navy Pier will see cloudy and windy weather on July 9 & 10, 2015.
Now I sure hope that Peter Coffee and Dan Darcy don’t take that statement the wrong way, because sometimes when people say that others are ‘windy’ it could mean ‘they like to talk just to hear the sound of their own voice.’ In THIS case, the wind I am referring to is simply the breeze that comes off of Lake Michigan. That’s it, pure and simple. And the cloudy, well, do I really need to explain that one?
The Opening Event
Midwest Dreamin’ 2015 kicks off on July 9th at 4pm with an Opening Reception for attendees sponsored by Salesforce.com, the Salesforce Success Services team and the Salesforce AppExchange. Come join us! Check in as early as 3pm, browse the expo hall, enjoy some food and drinks (served from 4pm to 7pm.) This is prime time to mix and mingle with some of the brightest minds in the ecosystem. You’ll have a chance to hang out with some of the MVPs and enjoy the Demo Jam, where some of our sponsors will each have three minutes to showcase their apps, while our Master of Ceremonies, and 4-time Salesforce MVP, Joshua Hoskins, keeps everyone on schedule and entertained.
Cloudy, With a Chance of Awesome
Please don’t forget to come back to Navy Pier on July 10th! That’s when the main event happens with even more awesome stuff. Check-in will open at 7:30am, and the man once known as the Master of the Dreamforce Demos, the one and only, Dan Darcy, now Salesforce Senior Vice President for Worldwide Product Readiness, will take the stage at 9am to kick things off with his rendition of ‘Thrift Shop’! Ok, that part is a joke, Dan will not be singing, to the best of my knowledge, but he will be sharing a great story with us for our opening keynote!
The REAL Deal
Next up will be a hand-picked lineup of some of the community’s best and brightest, as they all take the stage in a great rendition of ‘We Are The World’. Sorry, that’s a lie too. As far as I know, none of our speakers will actually be singing, but they will be sharing some fantastic content, covering topics like: Chatter, Women in Technology, Platform, Not for Profit, and more! If you are looking for interaction on a more intimate level, be sure to check out the Circles of Success where you’ll have the opportunity to participate in an interactive, moderated round-table discussion focusing on best practices, with topics including Lead & Opportunity Management, Data Integrity, Driving Success, How to Boost Sales Performance and Change Management.
And the Oscar goes to…
Of course an event like this would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Please make sure to spend some time visiting with them in the expo hall. The hall will be open from 8am to 4pm on July 10th. There’s so much goodness in the ecosystem that you don’t know what you don’t know until you see it! The sponsors are there to help you learn and extend your efficient use of the platform.
How Can I Get in on All This Greatness?
Are you a user, admin or developer? Attend Midwest Dreamin’! Register today to beat the price increase. Are you a partner? Sponsor Midwest Dreamin’! We still have some opportunities available!
See you at Chicago’s Navy Pier on July 9th and 10th!
What’s the biggest challenge facing a user group leader?
Finding a place to meet? No, sorry, that’s not it. You can meet anywhere, a park, the library, someone’s office. You could even meet at someone’s house!
Deciding on what time of day to meet? Nope…that’s only a challenge for the very first meeting, then you ask the group what’s best for them.
Getting people to attend? Uh…NO! People seem to want to attend user group meetings, so if you build it, they will come.
Deciding on what food and beverages to serve during the meeting? Oh come on, people will eat almost anything, as long as it’s free!
Finding interesting and engaging content? BINGO!!! We have a winner! DING, DING, DING!!!!
I seem to have found a way to solve the content issue, and I blogged about it in an earlier post: Speed Dating. In this post, I share what happened during the 2nd half of the March 19th meeting of the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group meeting. (For details on the first half of that meeting see my Lightning post.)
Will you go out with me?
Isn’t that really what an appexhange partner is saying when they offer you a free trial? It’s like a test drive on a car, but it usually lasts way longer than just a few minutes. Most appexchange partners will give you 15 to 30 days to test out their product, to prove the worth to your management, before you start paying for it. That’s pretty cool, and if you ask me, a great marketing tool!
I’m a no-good, two-timing CHEAT!
Well, not really. But I did speed date with four different appexchange partners at my last user group meeting.
Arrowpointe Corp. – geopointe – Scott Hemmeter, CEO & Founder of Arrowpointe says that with geopointe, you can “unlock the where in your data”. In addition to simple mapping, geopointe gives you advanced routing, optimization and navigation. Imagine what could happen to sales if you not only giving your sales reps a list of who to call on each day, but also the most efficient order and routes to take. Please visit Arrowpointe geopointe on the appexchange at: https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N300000016ZHeEAM for complete details.
ContactMonkey – Outlook Integration for Salesforce – Alex Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of ContactMonkey says that with Outlook Integration for Salesforce you can create and update deals in Salesforce without leaving Outlook. In addition, you can automatically add your emails to Salesforce to save time. ContactMonkey also tracks email opens, clicked links, and determines which email subject lines get the most action. Please visit ContactMonkey’s Outlook Integration for Salesforce on the appexchange at: https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N3000000B4mHkEAJ for complete details.
SteelBrick Inc. – SteelBrick CPQ – Nate Fish, Account Executive, says that with SteelBrick’s Next Generation CPQ you can configure, price and quote anytime, anywhere and from any device. SteelBrick uses standard Salesforce price books, can deliver quotes to customers in Word or PDF format, and documents are automatically saved in Salesforce for easy tracking, auditing and compliance. It’s built 100% on Salesforce and even works on the Salesforce1 mobile app. For complete details, please visit SteelBrick on the appexchange at: https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N300000016cxaEAA.
Arkus, Inc. – Clone This User – Justin Edelstein, Chief Information Officer of Arkus, Inc. says that with Clone This User the administrator can look up an existing user who will serve as the basis for a new user, enter a name and email, then generate the username and password immediately. And what’s even better is that this can be done from your desktop or via Salesforce1 on your mobile device. For complete details, visit Clone This User from Arkus, Inc. on the appexchange at: https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N3000000B5jTkEAJ.
That’s not cheating, is it? All four Apps do something completely awesome and different.