If You Find Something That Works…Stick With It!

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. 

Speed Dating, a play in eleven acts

Act 1 – The User Group Leader monologue As the leader of a Salesforce User Group sometimes I find it a little challenging to find content that group members want to see and hear. Sure, every time there’s a new release, we can talk about that, and once in a while a member does or discovers something really cool that they are willing to share, but what do you do with the other meetings, where the members of your group give you very little input on what they need or want to learn about? You’ve got to make the meetings worth the members time and efforts to attend, and content is king!  It drives attendance at the meetings. (Legal Disclaimer – the attached YouTube clips contain explicit language, as they are from movies with rating of PG13 – Hitch and R – The 40 Year Old Virgin)

Act 2 – Setting the stage Speed Dating, according to Oxford Dictionaries – speed dating (noun): an organized social activity in which people seeking romantic relationships have a series of short conversations with potential partners in order to determine whether there is mutual interest. Now I know what you are thinking, speed dating, yeah, right.  Like that ever works. You are probably even remembering the speed dating scene from Hitch, or the Date-a-palooza scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin, where, in both cases, things just didn’t end well.  For the purpose of this blog, I would suggest a slight modification to the definition as follows:  speed dating (noun): an organized professional activity in which users of Salesforce.com seeking knowledge about available apps have a series of short presentations by AppExchange partners interested in sharing best practices and value propositions in the hopes of forming a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Yes, that’s what the last meeting of the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group was…a speed dating event.

Act 3 – Global Tech & Resources – RPaaS – Recruting Platform Charlie Havens, Vice President of Client Services with Global Tech & Resources says that both employers and applicants think a lot of time and energy is wasted in the typical hiring process. How many of us have sat down to be interviewed and were greeted by someone stating that they are here to interview you, and then they ask what position you have applied for? Charlie thinks that hiring systems should help you hire the right person, not just track applicants, and that is precisely the reason GTR’s RPaaS was created. RPaaS treats the hiring process just like a sales process with distinct stages the opportunity, excuse me, applicant goes through, from sourcing and qualifying to interviewing and on-boarding. Check out RPaas on the AppExchange and make sure you are hiring the right person for the right job at the right time.

Act 4 – Kona DataSearch – KonaSearch – Advanced Search for Salesforce Dave Hall, CEO and co-founder of KonaSearch says that Kona DataSearch allows you to search like nothing else! Search inside and outside of Salesforce.com, with the complete solution. Kona DataSearch is scale-able, integrated, secure and advanced, and Kona DataSearch does fuzzy and full-text searches on active and archived records. It can even search multi-value picklists! Check out Kona DataSearch on the AppExchange and filter your search from 300,000 records down to one without even touching the search box!

Act 5 – Data Cleansing Solutions – CRMfusion – DemandTools, PeopleImport and DupeBlocker Brent McCormick, Sales Manager for CRMfusion likened data flowing into a Salesforce Org to the water system in nature, where rain drops are individual records, rivers and streams are data imports of many records at a time Like water in an eco-system, data in a CRM must be cleaned and maintained to provide your Salesforce users with clean, accurate, and reliable data. CRMfusion offers DemandTools to clean and maintain existing Salesforce data (de-duplication; data standardization and normalization; importing/exporting etc.) and DupeBlocker and PeopleImport to help identify and prevent duplicate records from entering Salesforce. Check out CRMfusion on the AppExchange to clean and protect your data.

Act 6 – Content Management – SpringCM – Manage It, Content and Contract Management John Garvin, Account Executive for SpringCM said that work gets done around documents, and you need to be able to access documents, like contracts, anywhere, on any device. That’s what SpringCM’s Manage It™ for Contracts enables your team to do. Using Manage It™ for Contracts, you can build agreements quickly with pre-approved templates and data pulled right from Salesforce. Check out SpringCM on the AppExchange to streamline your contract process.

Act 7 – Data Backup – Spanning Cloud Apps – Spanning Backup for Salesforce  Chris Pinkston, Sales Representative for Spanning Cloud Apps, says that data backup is not glamorous, but it is necessary. With Spanning Backup for Salesforce, not only can you originate your backup from in Salesforce, but you also get in app, ,on page restore capabilities. Spanning Backup for Salesforce doesn’t just backup your object data either, it backs up everything including chatter and attached files as well as your metadata. Check out Spanning Backup for Salesforce on the AppExchange, and protect your data with automated backups.

Act 8 – Enterprise Resource Planning – FinancialForce – ERP, Financial Management, CPQ, PSA and HCM Sally Sullivan, Account Executive for FinancialForce tells us that walls create problems. Those walls come from disparate systems, and the problems caused impact technology, visibility of data, time & cost of operations, and more importantly customer relationships. FinancialForce has developed an ERP system that is native to the Salesforce1 platform so not only is it mobile, but it also breaks down the walls and solved problems. It’s modular approach allows customers to pick and choose the apps they need to customize a solution. Check out all the FinancialForce apps on the AppExchange, and get your ERP up to Customer Speed.

Act 9 – Project Management – Bracket Labs – TaskRay Eric Wu, CO-Founder of Bracket Labs says that TaskRay takes project management and makes it as easy as sticky notes on a virtual white board. You can drag and drop tasks to a prioritized state, and reassign a task simply by dragging the Chatter Face to the task. Yes, that means TaskRay has Chatter Integration! TaskRay is also 100% native to the Salesforce platform meaning that it’s incredibly easy to integrate project management with your existing Salesforce data and the app is infinitely customizable using standard Salesforce admin techniques. Check out TaskRay on the AppExchange, and take the work, out of teamwork!

Act 10 – Excel for Salesforce – Apttus – X-Author for Excel Jules Ehrlich, Vice President and General Manager for Advanced Solutions at Apttus says that X-Author for Excel transforms Excel from a stand-alone productivity tool into a real-time user interface for Salesforce. You keep the familiar Excel look and feel but you work in Salesforce. You can update opportunities, create quotes, and assign territories. Anything you can do in Salesfore, you can now do in Excel with X-Author for Excel. You can even use unlimited related or unrelated, standard and custom objects to create, retreive, update, delete or upset data across an infinite number of Excel worksheets. Check out X-Author for Excel on the AppExchange, so you can work in Excel, and be in Salesforce.

Act 11 – The Closing Act The Salesforce AppExchange is a great place to go shopping. If you have a need to accomplish a task, collaborate with people, exchange data with other systems, prevent duplicates, safely back up your data, or create reports and dashboards that will wow management and foster adoption, it is definitely time to go shopping! Most, if not all creators of apps will let you try it before you buy it with a free trial period of at least 14 days.There are apps for nearly every industry. There are apps that are designed for Salesforce1 mobile users. There are apps that are even totally free to use, even after your trial period ends! I challenge you to go visit the AppExchange and NOT come away with at least one app to try on for size!

Thank you, part two…and a preview of things to come!

You know that song “Hook” by Blues Traveler?

“It doesn’t matter what I say
So long as I sing with inflection”

Hook by Blues Traveler

I’m not so sure I agree with that statement. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Blues Traveler, and I do hope they make an appearance at Dreamforce 2013, but, in my opinion, most times it really IS what you say, and not how you say it.

In my last post, I thanked colleagues, friends, coworkers and others in the Salesforce community who have inspired and influenced me. In this post, I extend those thanks out to the ecosystem and feel the need to express gratitude to partners who have helped me on this journey over the past 4 years from rookie Salesforce.com business analyst to Salesforce.com MVP.

Forest Yule from Silverpop, thank you for having faith in me and my crazy ‘Midwest Dreamin’ idea for a regional user group event. I appreciate all the support you have given me, and continue to provide to all the Salesforce user groups.

Darren Cunningham from Informatica, Al West from Apttus, Mary Beth Kush from Acumen Solutions, Andy Thoe from Bluewolf – thanks go out to all of you for your support of the user group community.

Cast Iron, DocuSign, NextGen Consulting and JAUST Consulting Partners – Thank you all for your support to the user community as well.

Without all of you, Midwest Dreamin would have remained an idea in my head.

A lot has changed since May, 2011, and I wish I could have made Midwest Dreamin an annual event since then…but there’s always tomorrow – so…be watching, be on the lookout, there very well could be a Midwest Dreamin 2014.

What can you do with Salesforce (dot)com ?

Some friends of mine who really don’t know much about what I do for a living keep asking me to explain my job. That’s not an easy question to answer. I’m an analyst, and for those of you who are analysts, you can understand why that’s not an easy question to respond to. For those who are not analysts, I’ll try to enlighten you.  An analyst is someone who analyzes thing. Too simple ?  Yes.  Way too simple.  In my case, I tell people that I spend my time looking at data trying to determine the story it is telling. And it really doesn’t matter what kind of data you are looking at, or even what the source is. All data has a story to tell that can reveal some fascinating things about the nature of business, of people, and of society in general.

I have been an analyst for many years and in many industries: higher education; small-box retail; big-box retail; an airline; and a ‘mom and pop’ consulting firm, just to name a few. The one thing I found that was consistent among all that, is that people have a need to understand data and what it means. They want to know more, and more. In today’s terminology, I suppose I could say I am a Data Scientist.

By now you are probably wondering, how does all this tie into Salesforce.com…please bear with me just a little longer. I promise to make the connection.

When I started writing this post, my first ever blog post, I had an agenda in mind. I wanted to compare my career as an analyst to the cloud computing / CRM giant, Salesforce.com. But as I kept writing, I kept coming back to one theme: Asking an analyst what they do, is a lot like asking “What can you do with Salesforce.com ?”  The answer to that question is really quite simple: You can do almost, if not everything your business needs to do to succeed with Salesforce.com or an app from one of the scores of Appexchange partners.

Perhaps the best response to that question is truely a better question: “What can you not do with Salesforce.com?” And personally, I think the sky is the limit…the possibilites are endless, so jump in, sit down and start driving. I can’t tell you where your journey will lead, but I can promise you it will be a facinating ride!

So much for a deep, thoughtful, analytics-based reply.  Perhaps in my next post, I’ll delve deeper into the numbers.  Actually, I won’t, since my next post is almost ready.

Here’s the teaser to have you come back to read the next one:  Passion, what matters most and a Fiat 500 crossing the country in preparation for Dreamforce 2012.

Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read my historical first blog post.