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I work for Camping World, the largest retailer of RVs, RV accessories, and RV-related services in the United States. Although the company was started in 1966, we've seen incredible growth over the past three years and now have more than 140 locations all over the US. We've celebrated as many smaller companies have joined the Camping World family, but with this comes the challenge of integrating multiple legacy systems and customer data. And that challenge “Lay” (get it?) firmly on my shoulders.

I'd heard a little about Salesforce before our CIO approached me to research it as a potential CRM system. It looked good, and we needed more of a 360-degree view of our customers. So we cautiously invested in 50 Service Cloud licenses. Then came Dreamforce '13. I was lucky enough to go, along with the CIO and a co-worker, and we were blown away by the possibilities! When we came back, it was a case of “Let's go all-in with Salesforce” and “John, be sure to get this done quickly!”

 

Going all-in with Salesforce

By the beginning of 2014, we had 2,500 full Salesforce licenses. And we had two implementation projects running side by side. I ran the Service Cloud implementation and we had a Partner help with the Sales Cloud side. To get out of the gate fast, we started with an out-of-the-box approach with minimal customizations, which allowed us to be fully deployed by December of the same year.

How was this timeline going to be possible? How could I get up to speed for a successful rollout—fast! It was then that I discovered what was to become my new favorite passion...Trailhead

One minute I was using Trailhead as a resource, and the next it became an all-encompassing challenge.

At first, I did a few badges purely to help me get a better understanding of the product. I started by earning the Salesforce Platform Basics badge. Then I did a few more...and a few more...and now, I have Every. Single. Badge. Trailhead has been the single most valuable tool for my fast-track Salesforce learning. I wouldn't be where I am today without it.

 

A Trailhead pioneer

I'm proud to say I'm a Trailhead pioneer—one of the first to join. And I've been first out of the gate with many of the incredible developments Trailhead has made. I'm a Trailhead Ranger (obviously!), and I secured my vanity URL as soon as they launched:

trailhead.salesforce.com/me/johnlay

I have all the superbadges, my favorite being the Apex Specialist. Since the integration of superbadges into the Platform Developer II certification, I'm also just one exam away from adding this key credential to my portfolio. 

Then came trailmixes, one of my favorite tools! Back in the day, I would do Chatter posts about a great badge I'd completed, encouraging others to earn it too. I developed lists of modules and trails that I would recommend to my project team. Now, I can simply make and share my own “playlist” of content that I need my team to complete.

 

The invaluable tool that is Trail Tracker.

Next came Trail Tracker. At first, I used it to ensure my team was fully up to speed with their Salesforce learning. Then, I looked beyond to the wider business to see who was “blazing their own trails” so to speak. I even found a valuable new team member this way—a keen Business Development Manager who, through the completion of countless trails and projects, proved he had the Salesforce know-how to transition onto my IT team. I also noticed that the people who were dedicating time to upskilling on Salesforce were also becoming the top salespeople in their regions. 

For all my trailblazing efforts, I was honored (and surprised!) to be presented with a Golden Trailblazer Hoodie, a Salesforce Values medal, and an Amazing Admin plaque when I spoke at the Service Cloud Keynote pre-show at Dreamforce '17. And I love my #LifeWithGoldie!

 

“But I love my Rolodex!”

Our Salesforce rollout, although fully executed, has not taken as expected. Teams are still using manual methods over Salesforce. “But I love my Rolodex!” can be heard echoing through the halls. At first, super users in each region had been granted access to Salesforce to make their own changes. This resulted in multiple reports...and processes...and inefficiencies. It's time for a change.

We listened to the feedback and learnings from the teams and decided on a reboot project to standardize data across the business and make customizations for productivity gains. This wasn't taken lightly! Buying an RV is like buying a house and a car combined—two of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. We developed a sales tool, the “RV Genius,” to help our salespeople be successful but there were further intricacies we had to account for. And many teams to get on board.

After a lot of groundwork, we're now (finally!) ready to start the 2.0 Salesforce rollout, code name “Project Trailblazer.” But the question is:

How do we get our 9,000+ employees ready for change?

The answer, of course, is Trailhead (well, the clue was in the project name!). Even though I've been a Trailhead fan for many years now, uptake across the business has not been widespread. I would encourage my team and colleagues to do all sorts of Trailhead badges, but I had no way of knowing if they were actually doing them.

This was the answer. Trailhead is what we need. And it's all here laid out for us.

Now, I'm in constant discussions with the “Project Trailblazer” stakeholders about how we can create and prescribe different trailmixes to various teams across the business and track their progress in Trail Tracker, post-rollout. I already insist that everyone on my team become Salesforce certified (supported by the company) and now I'm adding Trailhead Ranger to that requirement. And, to help drive adoption, we're thinking about how we can incentivize employees to move up the ranks while they're learning too.

 

Learning Salesforce can be fun!

This approach is going to be key to a successful second rollout. Presenting the information in small, digestible chunks will stop people from feeling overwhelmed. Showing them the power of the Salesforce platform will prove that learning how to use it really is going to benefit them in their area of the business. And adding the fun element, the gamification of learning with a healthy dose of competition, is the icing on the cake.

If you're not using Trailhead at your company as a way of driving people to get the most out of Salesforce, you're really missing out.

I've been a believer in Trailhead for a long time. And I have my Golden Hoodie as proof, awarded for bestowing my love of Trailhead and Salesforce across the Trailblazer Community and Twitter. I believe Camping World can use the magic of Trailhead to pave the way for the whole company to find success with Salesforce. What are you doing to drive success where you are?

John is the VP of Information Technology - Applications at Camping World. He is a 3x Salesforce Certified Professional, hoping to make it 5x very soon. He and his wife are huge Disney fans who love to travel, especially to Disney World but also further afield to Europe when they get the chance. If he's not blazing trails on Trailhead, John likes to spend his free time with his grown children and tinkering on his horse farm. He's also an amateur radio operator (aka Ham Radio) and a leader at his local radio club.