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A couple of years ago, tech journalist Gene Marks wrote a popular story for Forbes about the common reasons Salesforce adoption fails. He lists a few frequent pain points ‒ reps who won’t adopt, executives who expect too much ‒ before getting to a piece of advice that likely strikes a chord with most companies trying (and failing) to painlessly integrate Salesforce into their sales process.

Invest in an administrator,” he writes bluntly. “Every successful CRM system…has a strong administrator behind it.”

What struck me about this bit of advice was not its novelty ‒ we’ve written before about the value of a great SFDC admin ‒ but instead the message underneath: the success of your Salesforce instance rests squarely and unambiguously on your admin’s shoulders.

Admins: Share Our FREE Salesforce Guide with Your Sales Team»

To illustrate this point, Marks tells the story of Kathy, the “best CRM administrator [he] ever met.”

“Sweet and loving most of the time, Kathy becomes a fierce and vicious defender of her data when it comes to HER system. She owns it. She knows the system backwards and forwards…She takes full responsibility for its success.”

The implicit backstory here is clear: Kathy is a model SFDC admin because she covers up the mistakes everyone else makes, handles all the frustrating grunt work, and spends a lot of time dealing with people who hate and don’t understand Salesforce.

And if I had to bet, I’d wager that there’s a pretty good chance Kathy drinks fairly heavily.

Misery Loves Company

Kathy’s not alone.

The unenviable plight of SFDC admins has become so well-known that it often trends on Twitter under the hashtag #WhySFDCadminsdrink. If you’re ever in the mood for some gallows humor or stories of startling incompetence, I definitely recommend checking it out. (We’ve been known to get in on the fun ourselves.)

Here are some of my recent favorites:

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Want more hilarious #whySFDCadminsdrink tweets? Check out this great roundup by @brentdowney from AdminHero.com.  

A Brief Musical Interlude

Still not convinced that the pressures of a Salesforce admin’s job lead to trouble? Here’s a song recorded last year titled “That’s Why Admins Drink.”

“It was 5pm on a Friday night
when she came to my office with that look in her eyes
I knew right then and there I should have left at 4.
“But I rolled up my sleeves, started clicking away
and I got her that report, wound up saving the day.
I heard her breathe a sigh of relief and she left my door.

“It’s just another day in this life of mine,
cleaning up the messes in the nick of time.
Sometimes I feel like it takes me right to the brink,
so I hope you don’t judge me
and think that I’m crass.
I lean back and I tip this glass,
because that’s why admins drink.

“They asked for an answer that I didn’t know,
so I hopped online and I asked Steve-O.
Could almost hear him laugh out loud when he said ‘you’re screwed.’
Then I asked my developer to write another trigger
and prayed that his ego won’t get any bigger,
but he’ll do anything I ask if I bring him food.

“It’s just another day in this life of mine,
cleaning up the messes in the nick of time.
Sometimes I feel like it takes me right to the brink,
so I hope you don’t judge me
and think that I’m crass.
I lean back and I tip this glass,
because that’s why admins drink.

“I’ve got 13 passwords that need resetting;
I’ll have 23 more before lunch I’m betting.
But I can do them all right from my phone,
so bartender pour me another JD.
Make it a double now if you please,
Bossman thinks that I am working from home.

“And Dreamforce is coming and I can’t wait
to share all my miseries with those who relate,
to clear my mind and get my life back in synch.
So let me buy another round for my friends,
make a toast to our users and all make amends.
This is all on expense, so what do you think?

“It’s just another day in this life of mine,
cleaning up the messes in the nick of time.
Sometimes I feel like it takes me right to the brink,
so I hope you don’t judge me
and think that I’m crass.
I lean back and I tip this glass,
because that’s why admins drink.”

Breaking the Cycle

By this point it should be pretty clear that Salesforce admins are under a lot of pressure. They have an enormous amount of responsibility on their shoulders and they’re often forced to solve problems no one else can or cares to figure out for themselves.

But this just raises the next logical question: What can admins do to remove some of the pressure they’re under? And this is the hard part, the million-dollar question.

Here are 3 ways Salesforce admins can make their lives easier:

  • Get support. Admins sometimes feel like it’s them against the world, but this is far from the case. Just because being an admin is a job few people want doesn’t mean it’s a job few people respect or support. In fact the opposite is true. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the executive team at your company to have them give you the support you need, whether it be moral or tangible, such as more budget, the right tools or a bigger team. Even though they sometimes feel like they’re an island (or  a one-man wolf pack), in reality the best admins are those who seek support when they need it.
  • Increase empathy. Related to the point above, one thing that makes being an admin harder is letting the difficulty of the job diminish the empathy admins feel for the people they’re helping. It’s not salespeople’s fault that Salesforce has a steep learning curve. In fact, feeling like a martyr actually makes admins worse at their jobs. Avoid this fate by taking a step back and thinking about what you can do to make the lives of your co-workers easier, not harder.
  • Empower salespeople. And if you make the lives of the people you work with easier, you will also be making your own life easier. This means finding tools and content that help you answer fundamental questions in batches instead of ad hoc. It also means finding resources that make communicating complex concepts a little easier. We recently published a guide to getting the most from Salesforce for this very reason. Resources like this might not eliminate every question, but they can at least reduce the number of times you have to answer the same questions.

It’s no secret that Salesforce admins have an extremely difficult job (and may indulge too much because of it), but all hope is not lost. Jobs for Salesforce admins are on the rise, and there are a lot of great resources for admins who want to advance their careers. It’s just a matter of learning how to deal with the (admittedly large) stress of having the success of Salesforce squarely on your shoulders.

So here’s a toast to you, Salesforce admins.

Mike Baker
Mike Baker is the Content Strategy Manager at InsightSquared, where he helps distribute original eBooks, articles and guides about data-driven sales and marketing. He has a BA in English and Journalism from Oberlin College.
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