Salesforce Admin to Sales Ops: Where Can You Grow in the Salesforce World?

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If you have the drive and creativity to dive deep into the Salesforce ecosystem, there’s a wide open landscape of career possibilities at your fingertips. Tech stacks continue to evolve in breadth and complexity, tools and teams are becoming increasingly strategic, and revenue operations roles are on the rise. With all eyes in the business on revenue, it’s no wonder that new strategic operations roles are opening fast.

The Salesforce ecosystem is a part of everything your go to market teams do, and operations can offer a wide lens over the entire business. If you want a seat at the leadership table and the chance to move from execution to strategy, now may be the right time to consider a career in operations.

But with such a diverse landscape, how do you decide whether a pivot is right for you?

We talked with thought leaders from the Wizards of Ops community to capture their insights and advice for anyone considering a move from admin to ops. Read on to get the scoop on how to grow your career with Salesforce, and when (and why) you should angle for a switch to operations.

Their highlights:

  • Stay curious! Give equal attention to people, processes, and technology, and think creatively about different avenues to solve challenges.
  • Shift your mindset. Admins spend most of their time thinking about how to execute, while operations consider why you execute and what behavior you’re trying to impact.
  • Learn from others. Experience a “day in the life” of the go to market teams you support to intimately understand how they use technology to support your end users.

Want access to constant learning, networking, and thought leadership from systems and ops peers? Wizards of Ops is a vibrant Slack-based community consisting of leaders in operations, Salesforce administration, consulting, and more. Request to join the WizOps community today (it’s free)!

Below are edited excerpts from interviews with each of our experts.

Dan Grossberg

I’ve had a U-shaped career path, moving from operations to systems administration and integration, and back again. I started as a SDR at a B2B SaaS company, and learned fairly quickly that direct sales wasn’t for me. There was an opening in a new group I hadn’t heard of before called “Sales Operations”. They pitched it to me as an opportunity to work with and analyze a lot of sales data.

The big difference between admins and operations is the wide lens of responsibility, as well as who you have access to and what processes you see. Being in ops showed me how the business functioned from lead acquisition to customer churn.

The biggest reason that I enjoy operations is seeing the results of your work. Building a cool automation, creating reports, or helping to design a process within your tech stack is great. But if you’re not in ops, you often miss the impact of what you do for your teams.

As an admin, you often find yourself receiving requirements from someone else. Because there’s not a lot of information that ties your work to business impacts, your measurements of success are based on project milestones, rather than the outcomes you’re driving.

My biggest advice is to shift your mindset. Successful operations folks are great at asking: Why do we want to do this? What impact does this have, what behavior are we trying to drive, and what are we trying to affect?

You also need to be really good at prioritizing, which means saying “no” often. Everyone wants everything done ASAP. If you’re able to over communicate and document project plans for yourself, you’re able to share the scope of the requests you receive so stakeholders across the business will understand and appreciate your work.

Dan is an operations professional with 15 years experience in B2B SaaS orgs, both large and small. He currently leads the sales and revenue operations function at LeagueApps, a company in the business of powering youth sports. He’s a true technophile, but also holds interests in music (the louder the better) and hockey.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dangrossberg/

WizOps handle: @dang

Heather Bruder

I’ve been in the Salesforce ecosystem for seven years now. When I started, your organization perhaps had a CRO, but otherwise there wasn’t much more than a Sales Operations Manager to strategically support your technology. It’s been amazing to witness the evolution over the past decade.

Working in sales ops gives you the ability to learn so much about the business. One of the most interesting things I’m seeing now are actual jobs out there for strategic operations managers. Leadership is starting to really understand how important ops is for hyper growth companies. It’s responsible for guiding your sales and client success motions, and Salesforce is such a critical piece of that.

I’ve grown as a professional by expanding my skills laterally: I’ve been in order management, a liaison between legal and accounting, handled compensation, worked as a technical systems manager (and now an implementation consultant), and I’ve worked in house as an operations managers and systems administrator.

My advice for admins considering a career in ops is to consistently think about people, processes, and technology. You have to love that marriage, and be flexible enough to realize that while you may design technical processes with the best intent, the people they’re built to serve have an equal stake in how (and what) you build.

I also think you need to have natural curiosity and problem solving skills. If you see a problem, you need to be interested enough to follow the thread all the way through.

Heather is currently the Salesforce Platform Manager at Experity, and has a background in Sales Operations and consulting. With an MBA in Management of Technology and 6X Salesforce certified, she is passionate about the way businesses invest in technology and watching organizations grow. She is based in Decatur, GA where she enjoys urban farming, travel, and spending time with her husband and young daughter.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hvbruder/

WizOps handle: @Heather Bruder

Ben Fuller

I’ve worked as a Salesforce administrator, at an ISV, and as an operations manager handling sales enablement and Salesforce, and recently moved to OnSolve where I lead the internal systems team.

When you’re in operations, you need to be thinking about other complexities across the business. We always ensure Salesforce is the system of record, but data doesn’t need to only flow in effectively, it also needs to flow back out across the tech stack.

If you’re looking to grow into an ops role, your talents and skills from previous employment will transfer but I think you need to start at the ground level to really understand how your technology supports your team. You also have to be willing to get dirty. There are lots of certifications you can get, but anyone can pass a test. The best learning happens outside of Trailhead modules.

You can learn a lot from early leaders who took a chance on you, and I recommend turning that into a mentor-mentee relationship. Salesforce also has a mentorship program (I was a member mentor in it for a little while). For anyone interested in joining or finding a mentor through any other channel, always keep in mind that it’s a two-way street.

Ben is currently the Director of Internal Systems at OnSolve, a SaaS solution delivering critical event management capabilities backed by unmatched industry expertise. He holds over 12 years experience first as a business user and 6 years as an administrator for the Salesforce.com platform. He spends all of his free time in WizOps, and can be found repeatedly changing his avatar, or endlessly bothering Brad Smith.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bdfuller

WizOps handle: @Uncle Ben

One thought on “Salesforce Admin to Sales Ops: Where Can You Grow in the Salesforce World?

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    Great post! There’s no doubt that the possibilities are endless in terms of how Salesforce professionals can combine their skills and interests and create a fantastic career and Ops roles are a perfect “next right move” for many who are looking to elevate their game. Still, as someone who has spent a lot of time in the Sales Ops world, I’d offer one word of caution for Salesforce folks considering this path. Even if you are leveraging the platform and the data, Ops is a very different job than architecting or executing solutions. Given the pace of evolution on the platform, taking yourself out of the hand-on-keyboard game for even a short period will impact your Salesforce skills. You’ll be dreaming of commission structures and territory plans instead of digging into the nuances of all the new Flow functionality. You’ll be working on Board slides and growth plans instead of setting up Einstein prediction builder. There’s no wrong answer here. If you love rev ops and sales strategy, jump in head first! If you love the act of “doing Salesforce for a living” consider the trade-offs.

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