Discover how Trailblazer Gracie Prasanson used her passion for continuous learning to challenge herself with a new role and opportunity: a career in sales.
After more than three decades as a manager and leader in food service operations, I decided it was time for a change. When I switched from working on the operations side of food service to the sales side with Jason’s Deli, I immediately felt drawn to the hustle and bustle action that came with it.
And, when I discovered Salesforce through my company’s IT department, everything got even more exciting as I started to learn how I could use it to help both my team and myself grow and continuously improve.
From bootstrapping to a defined sales process
Before my team and I discovered Salesforce, we used a CRM designed for small businesses, along with Excel spreadsheets, to track and grow our sales. Even as we started to expand and I was promoted to Sales Director, we continued to bootstrap with this clunky process. But this all changed when our IT department introduced us to Salesforce.
With Salesforce, we had a built-in accountability tool to make sure team members were hitting key sales goals and recording important data on opportunities. As we tracked progress and areas where team members could improve, we decided the next step for using Salesforce to help us grow and develop was to use it to generate vital insights. So, we built out our sales processes in Salesforce.
It was a big turning point for us when we started establishing processes. Just like having a set of steps for making a sandwich, we created processes for key things that made a sale and flowed through appointments.”
And we had our trusty Salesforce Admin to make it all happen in Salesforce. As we added more defined sales processes to keep us accountable to our goals, we also generated insights to help us continuously improve.
A look behind the Salesforce curtain
When I learned that our Salesforce Admin was moving on and leaving our company, I decided it was an opportunity to look behind the Salesforce curtain. This way, when we welcomed our new admin, I would be more knowledgeable about Salesforce functionality and capabilities. I saw the possibility of collaborative work between IT and Sales. I quickly realized Salesforce could change the way we do business.
When I found out our admin was leaving, I thought, this is my prime time to rip the Band-Aid off, get uncomfortable, and start learning.”
So I started hitting the trails! On Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, I learned about so many different ways to improve our processes, like building out customized dashboards using plug and play options from AppExchange.
The more I learned, the more confident I felt completing tasks like generating reports on my own. For our team, I now had a better idea of how Salesforce could help us work more efficiently and effectively in this work-from-anywhere world.
I’m not a tech-savvy person. My background is in operations and sales, so the learning process has been challenging. But it’s also created such a sense of accomplishment, and I want to keep going! I plan to become Salesforce Administrator certified, so I’m spending more time on Trailhead preparing to ace my exam.
Five tips for sales leaders in growth mode
My journey is all about seizing growth opportunities and taking full ownership of my commitment to continuous improvement. If I can do it, so can you!
Here are my top tips for skilling up and building a successful sales career.
- Document key processes: You can’t replicate success if everyone on your team is doing something different. When we started to build out our processes in Salesforce, it enabled us to “replay” sales appointments to reflect on areas for improvement, such as making sure we have the most effective steps in place for qualifying leads. Key resources like the Action Selling book and LinkedIn articles have also helped us set up and establish successful sales processes.
- Understand how your customers make buying decisions: I sometimes see salespeople setting appointments with customers without first taking the time to qualify the opportunity. When you take the time to understand the process a customer goes through before they buy, including assessing their needs and readiness to make a purchase, this sets you up for success in making the sale.
- Set clear expectations: Whenever you work with your team on a new initiative, including adopting new technology, it’s key to be clear about your expectations for what success looks like. If you’ve taken the time to define your expectations clearly, most people are going to do their best to meet them. For my team, I created a list of non-negotiable expectations that they must meet to stay on the team and be successful.
- Motivate, motivate, motivate: People really respect and value when their contributions are recognized. Recently, our team was working very hard on a huge sales initiative for back-to-school season. After it ended, I sent everyone freshly-baked cookies from a cookie delivery service. On the flip side, when your team doesn’t meet certain goals, it’s about working through it. Look at not only what they can do differently but also what you can do differently as a leader to help motivate or coach them. This will result in a better outcome for everyone.
- Own your expertise: On a broader note—for all Trailblazers—if you want to take your career path to the next level, really hone your expertise. Whether it’s sales, marketing, or IT, dig into that specific area on Trailhead. You’ll not only gain knowledge but also enhance your ability to communicate with and guide your team.
In good company
Not that long ago, I didn’t even know what Trailhead and the Trailblazer Community was. I was just looking at the Salesforce Platform in front of me without realizing I could learn so much more.
Now, I’m more knowledgeable about what the platform offers, including the new features rolling out. And I can ask to implement the features that will have the greatest impact on the team versus having the admin make these decisions.
By taking the time to invest in learning Salesforce, you’re helping your company and team grow and continuously improve—and setting yourself up for success in whatever next steps you want to take in your career.”
This desire to invest in my team, Jason’s Deli, and myself has also been strengthened by those around me. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire and motivate helps you dream bigger and accomplish more.
Being a mentor has also helped me develop my skills and knowledge and evolve. We actually helped each other grow, and I learned that the quest for learning never stops—no matter how much you achieve!
Check out my favorite resources
- Trailblazer Community Group: Release Readiness
- Trailhead: Get Started with Trailhead
- Trailhead: Salesforce Expeditions & Leads & Opportunities for Lighting Experience
- The 360 Blog: The Trailblazer Blog
- AppExchange: Geopointe: Mapping, Territory Management, Maps, Routing & Analytics, Geolocation
- Book: The Four Agreements