Talent Hub are regularly approached by candidates who are looking to transition into Salesforce roles from other software solutions such as SAP and Siebel. With the much publicised shortage of quality Salesforce candidates in Australia and New Zealand, we spoke to Daniel Klarnet who successfully made the transition to see how he went about it, what skills were easily transferable and if this is a viable option for companies who are struggling to hire Salesforce professionals.
Tell us about your career before Salesforce?
Life before Salesforce for me was working with SAP for over 14 years. I started my SAP career as a Logistics Consultant, specialising in the area of Sales and Distribution. I worked my way up from Functional Consultant to Senior Consultant and then travelled to the UK. After returning from the UK I became a Solution Architect and Project Manager and worked for a SAP Consulting partner focussing on the mid-market space. Specialising in SAP SD, I touched on some CRM and also did some SAP CRM training courses but it was clear that SAP were playing catch up with Salesforce and in 2013 I made the move across.
What made you decide to leave SAP behind and move into a Salesforce role? How much did you know about Salesforce at the time?
The biggest driver for me was the opportunity to join a market leader. Salesforce were really gaining momentum both globally and in Australia which made the move very attractive.
When I first went forward for the Salesforce Solution Architect role with Salesforce I didn’t know too much at all about the platform or Salesforce’s offerings but there is so much information online so I was able to delve in and get a clear understanding.
Your first Salesforce job was working for Salesforce themselves. What was the role and how did you enjoy working for Salesforce?
I was hired by Salesforce as a Senior Solution Architect and spent 3 years working there. It really is a great place to work and you are surrounded by very, very smart solution experts. Working for Salesforce enables you to work on some of the most complex and dynamic projects around so it is challenging but really rewarding.
Salesforce is a very collaborative environment, and also very global, so the opportunity to work across a variety of different projects across different industries very much exists. Typically, the types of projects that salesforce get engaged in are the more complex, or newer areas of salesforce, to ensure the right architectural groundwork is set.
What were the biggest challenges when you made the move? How did you overcome them?
Learning the solution was obviously the biggest challenge when I first started the role. Coming from a SAP background I had to get my head around the speed in which a Salesforce solution can be delivered. I was used to projects taking 12-18 months and now I was able to offer a solution and add value to a client within 12 weeks.
The support network at Salesforce was fantastic. There are always people on the same journey as you and at people at similar stages of that journey too so there were always people to talk to and to learn with/from.
What was the initial induction like from Salesforce?
There was an 8 week ramp up period from the day I joined the business to the day I went onto my first project. In this time I attended a boot camp in San Francisco where I was given a great introduction into the business and found out a lot about the history of Salesforce and the culture of the company.
I also dived straight into my certifications and training. You are given 6 months to achieve the 5 core Salesforce certifications – Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Developer, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. As an employee of Salesforce you are given access to the same support network and training material that premier clients get so that is really helpful when working through the exams.
Internally there is also a great support network for new starters, with lots of chatter groups to ask questions and get help. The support network is there for all new starters globally, so you really can find people who are in a similar position to yourself to work with, and to bounce ideas off. There are some publicly available mock exams and flash card sites, which were really great in being able to put in study on the train etc.
Which SAP skills have you found to be easily transferable into Salesforce Consulting?
The ability to translate business requirements into a process and articulate what a company want in their technical solution is technology independent. The workshop skills that I had learned in SAP and the ability to question a business and really tease out their requirements were easy to transfer. Processes in SAP are key to any solution and once defined they are very hard to change so getting the requirement right is vital. Salesforce is a lot more fluid but defining requirements is just as important.
Coming from a logistics background, the overall sales process is fairly similar, however salesforce typically only manages it up to a certain point. In most projects, there is an ERP system that integrates with salesforce (sometimes SAP) to hand over to the sales system. Having and understanding and appreciation of this process from the ERP side helps to ensure that the salesforce system is set up correctly, and passing the right data to ensure a seamless process, end to end.
What was the hardest thing to get your head around when moving into the cloud from on premise?
With Salesforce you have the same front end access as the users. This can make it a bit harder to get information out, without having direct table access, and the ability to query the back end data. There are obviously ways to get it, from reports, or developer tools, so it’s just learning the new way to get at the data.
Also the speed of releases is incredible and understanding how configurable the Salesforce platform is compared to SAP took some getting used to as you can do so much without the need to code, the options are far greater than with SAP.
Have you ever questioned your decision to move into Salesforce or have you always felt it was the right move?
No, never. I am always engaging with interesting clients and working on challenging projects. I now have a quicker and more flexible way of meeting my client’s needs.
Do you feel that both functional and technical SAP professionals could move into Salesforce roles?
Yes, I believe that both could make the transition. Unlike in SAP I feel that Salesforce Developers need to be able to engage at a business requirements level as they are working in smaller teams and the delivery model is agile. Functional consultants should have the soft skills and then it’s all about learning the platform and Developers would need to learn the coding language but it is definitely possible.
What advice would you have for anyone who is interested in transitioning from SAP to Salesforce?
Do you research, get on Trailhead and the Developer orgs. The Salesforce community is great for learning and there is so much information online so dip your toe in the water and get involved.
Obviously if you they are coming from a Sales/CRM background then the move will be easier but companies are now building more traditional ERP like functions on the Force.com platform that people with experience with the heavy SAP processes could be very useful.
How do you feel the future is shaping up for Salesforce?
Firstly I would just like to point out that this is a purely personal view, and I have no inside knowledge of any specific direction or products that are on the roadmap.
I think that the future is all about bringing further evolution to the platform. Things like CPQ, Field Services and some of the more structured ERP typical functions is where the platform could be heading – bringing the non-traditional CRM processes on to the Salesforce platform.
The flexibility of Force.com and the rigger and processes of ERP – bringing those worlds together is where I think the future lies.
In the Australian market, I see the future as being more accepted at the enterprise level, and becoming more involved in the top end of town. There is always pockets of salesforce in a lot of clients, and I see the future as bringing these pockets together, and ensuring the right oversight and governance is across these areas.
You can see more information on Daniel’s career here – https://au.linkedin.com/in/danielklarnet