Learn from the Experts: Q&A With Salesforce Administrator, Jin Daikoku

By Neha Singh Gohil | Updated: 28 Oct, 2013

Jin Daikoku currently works with a number of Bay Area startups as a freelance CRM consultant. He started out as a Salesforce.com sales rep in 2009, before leaving to run sales operations for Zenprise in 2011. Jin is administrator and advanced administrator-certified by Salesforce.com, and was an early member of the "Chatterati," a group of early adopters of the [then new] Chatter product within Salesforce.

Here are a few of Jin's tips and tricks for Salesforce admins.

What are the traits of a successful CRM administrator?

A successful CRM administrator is someone who likes to keep up with the latest technology. CRM is constantly evolving, and the administrator needs to always be learning and thinking about how new features can be leveraged to add business value.

Another key trait is someone who is logically and mathematically oriented. I’ve never had to do any calculus or trigonometry on the job, but a little algebra goes a long way. Sometimes, the business can demand doing something that the CRM hasn’t accommodated for out of the box and the administrator needs to come up with the least clunky solution.

Lastly, a successful CRM administrator is someone who is meticulous. Over time, a CRM implementation becomes more and more complicated. Unless the administrator has done a good job of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs and thinking through how all the moving parts will work together, everyone suffers and the system becomes unusable.

How did you decide to be a Salesforce administrator? What sold you on the job?

I used to work in sales at Salesforce.com. Prior to working there, I barely knew anything about CRM, relational databases, or programming. In the course of selling the product, I became intensely curious about the technical aspects of the platform and took it upon myself to leverage all of the training resources available internally.

Eventually, I was presented with the opportunity to join a startup as their Salesforce.com administrator. Although I was nervous at first about the career change, I ended up really enjoying it and learning a lot.

What is the difference between a CRM administrator and a user (i.e. a member of the sales team)? How should CRM management be divided between the two?

The difference between an administrator and a user is like the difference between humans and vampires. Seriously. It’s way too easy for a CRM administrator to say “we need to require this all the time,” and “let’s put in these 15 steps to change the stage of an opportunity,” since they’re not the ones who end up working with the consequences of those customizations on a day-to-day basis.

I don’t think CRM management should be divided between the two at all. The closer an administrator is to the users, the more they’ll identify process improvements and bottlenecks, and they’ll always keep ease of use in mind. It’s best if the CRM administrator works closely and communicates frequently with users. It also definitely helps if the CRM administrator was a user at some point in their career.

What's the largest sales team that you've worked with as a CRM administrator? Are there unique challenges that differ with team size?

My specialty is startups, so the largest sales team I’ve worked with was only 40 people. That said, customer support, marketing, engineering, and partners were also using Salesforce.com in that instance, so there were about 500 users in all.

The biggest challenge in working with a larger team is in keeping user permissions and various processes in sync with each other. You’ll end up having a handful of custom permission profiles and need to make sure that users have access to everything they should have access to (and don’t have access to the things they shouldn’t have access to, like exporting the entire database or deleting opportunities.)

What is your least favorite part of the job?

On occasion I have to be the messenger of bad news. Someone will say, “I need a report that shows this!” Then we realize that we haven’t setup our data model to report on metric XYZ effectively, and the best thing we can do is make the changes to track the information going forward.

What are the key considerations in choosing the right CRM for a company?

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I’m outrageously biased on this one. Does the CRM you’re choosing start with “salesforce” and end in “.com?”

Jokes aside, the main thing to consider is what the company’s long-term vision is for CRM. There are many choices today and some are more economical, easier to use, focused on a particular niche, or require less customization. The question I would ask myself is, “Where do we want to be with CRM in 3-5 years? Will we just need basic contact management and deal tracking, or is the business going to require advanced automation, integration, and security?”

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Which CRM reports does your team tend to create and use the most?

From a management perspective, we really like to see trends over time and have our fingers on the pulse of our sales pipeline. We use reports like won last week, lost last week, pushed (close date no longer in this quarter) last week, created last week, and pipeline trends by day this quarter and next.

At the user level, one of the most useful reports is activity, which is the driver of new pipeline and sales. We like to have activity leaderboards and pipeline and win leaderboards as well.

Are there any specific field customizations that you prefer?

I like to track lead to opportunity conversion rate, and the way to do that is to add a custom formula field called “Converted to Opportunity” (or something like that) on Leads. The formula is IF (ISBLANK(ConvertedOpportunityId) ,0,1). Then you can reference that formula in reports to see what % of Leads became Opportunities for the given time period.

Any words of advice for new CRM adopters?

Start with the basics. Get adoption up before adding complexity and advanced capability, and then invest in a really good administrator or consultant.

What's your top trick for Salesforce administration?

Not sure if this qualifies as a “trick,” but I really like to use the sandbox or a developer org to try new things. There are so many resources available at developer.force.com, and the workbooks there are invaluable for learning. If you’re serious about Salesforce.com administration, sign up for a developer organization and go through all of the free workbooks.