11 Best Strategies for Effective Salesforce Onboarding (2022)

7 Proven Salesforce Onboarding Practices That Works!

Onboarding a new employee to Salesforce is not a one-time process. It is always a work in progress. No matter how skilled, knowledgeable or experienced your new employee is, he/she will take their own time to get comfortable with the platform.

But, if you have a well-thought-out Salesforce training and onboarding strategy and a few out-of-the-box techniques, then rest assured you can hack your onboarding process to be more effective.

Sales teams with effective onboarding processes experience 10% greater sales growth rates and 14% better sales goal attainment. (SalesforceBen)

As a Salesforce Admin, your priority should be deciding the onboarding process for new team members. This could range from manual training to a completely automated process using salesforce onboarding software. But before you decide what works, look at these eleven proven practices for Salesforce onboarding!

What are the best strategies for Salesforce onboarding?

  1. Salesforce Trailhead
  2. Salesforce Chatter
  3. In-app training with Whatfix
  4. Personal training with Salesforce experts
  5. Traditional documentation and videos
  6. Gamification to encourage Salesforcing onboarding
  7. Assigning an onboarding buddy
  8. Leverage knowledge from the interview process
  9. Apply a change management model
  10. Use a company wiki to store training documents
  11. Provide continuous, on-demand support
Related Resources

11 Proven Salesforce Onboarding Strategies

With the number of people working on the software increasing, the available options to simplify and streamline Salesforce adoption process are also rising. For a novice, there is a plethora of online content to become a Salesforce expert. But it is better to stick with tried and tested techniques for a more personalized and streamlined onboarding process.

Here are 11 best practices to help perfect your Salesforce onboarding process.

1. Learn Salesforce via Trailhead

Since its official release in 2014, the Salesforce training platform, Trailhead has become the most recommended platform for newbies to learn both Salesforce Classic and Salesforce Lightning. Trailhead follows a gamified training model consisting of almost everything on Salesforce organized as modules and units. For a new employee, it is the perfect place to start with Salesforce basics.

Gamification is a potent aspect of Salesforce onboarding. In 2015, Salesforce tested gamification with a technology enterprise with over 25,000 users. After almost a year, the company’s total login percentage was less than 50%. Half of the employees failed to log in, hurting the bottom line.

Intro to myTrailhead

To address this issue, Salesforce worked with their customer success director to create “challenges” that led to achieving Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels and offered prizes over a 10-12 week period. The decision to set challenges for 10-12 weeks was based on the theory that it takes around 100 days to build a habit. As challenges were completed, new challenges were set that built on the newly acquired knowledge. Enthusiasm and motivation continued to build, and within one year, TLP was up to 84%.

Noteable Trailhead Features:

  • myTrailhead: This branded version of Trailhead lets you customize content for your teams. It inspires employees to learn new Salesforce skills as modules are completed and rank within the company’s Trailhead increases.
  • Trailmixes: Trailmixes are essentially custom learning “playlists” that include your preferred modules, projects, super badges, and trails.
  • Trail Tracker: This reporting feature allows you to customize onboarding by assigning specific badges that are relevant to each employee’s work. You can then track and report on progress.

2. Salesforce Chatter app

Salesforce’s collaboration app, Chatter, has grown up to be an effective software that makes it easier for users to engage with each other. Newly onboarded users leverage this platform to ask for advice and help from different people within the organization. This helps them to learn and get used to Salesforce from diverse sources than a single mentor.

Chatter works like a social network right within Salesforce. Chatter is easy to get started with because the setup is similar to popular sites such as Facebook. Plus, it’s a great way to keep employees connected, regardless of their physical location. You’re able to keep the discussion in the open, which increases transparency in communication. It keeps everyone on the same page and facilitates collaborative problem-solving. And when questions and issues are visible to everyone, more people can offer their insights and potential solutions.

What makes Chatter stand out is that it allows users to take action within the feed. Instead of simply discussing an issue, users can create a support case, update orders, or open up Salesforce accounts directly in Chatter.

3. Real-time in-app guidance with Whatfix

Much like Salesforce Trailhead’s walkthroughs, few third-party websites like Whatfix have been creating extensive flows (guides/walkthroughs) on Salesforce. What makes it different from Trailhead is that it allows the creation of flows and also has several features like converting the walkthroughs into multiple formats for further learning.

These flows, which are basically a series of interactive steps that guide the user through a particular task or feature in Salesforce, can be used by the Salesforce experts to create and design the entire onboarding process. Once it is created, it can be recurringly used as an onboarding & training resource.


Whatfix for Salesforce Adoption Features:

  • Learning in the flow of work: Users are guided through Salesforce features as they complete steps.
  • Automation of flows and in-app answers: For example, if a user asks, “How do I view the number of open leads,” they can choose the walk-through that demonstrates how to view open leads, or Whatfix can automatically pull up the answer (in this case, “7 open leads”).
  • Smart chatbots powered by automation: With the chatbot integration, users can send chatbot commands, such as “create contact,” and the bot will ask a series of questions to fill in the necessary information.
  • Contextual guidance: Balloon tips and suggested walk-throughs are tied to where the user is within Salesforce (i.e., users viewing the Leads tab will see Leads-related guidance).
  • Integration with outside resources: If you have videos, articles, etc., on your company’s internal wiki, they can show up in search results, and the content can be pulled directly into Salesforce.

4. Personal training by Salesforce experts

A great option for training new hires efficiently is a knowledge transfer from your organization’s resident Salesforce expert. Every company uses Salesforce differently, and reading through internal documentation about company procedures all at once can be overwhelming. Your resident Salesforce expert can work with new employees and answer questions in real-time.

Gina Marques of OwnBackup says, “As someone who is leading a team, I would say, take the time to show the new admin how your org is configured even if it’s documented.”

Of course, the man-hours spent on this one-on-one training can make this practice an expensive one. It’s important to balance the positive aspects of personal interaction with an expert and the potential negative effects on labor costs and productivity.

5. Traditional documentation and videos

Traditionally, the most sought out method is sharing multimedia content with your new hires, enabling them to train themselves. This content could be anything from a collection of chapter-wise videos, to lengthy documentation. This has been the most followed practice over the years, but considering the time consumption in self-training, many of the companies look for alternatives.

Start by categorizing your documentation and make it searchable. Consider breaking documentation into “chapters” that address different Salesforce features. The massive amount of information will likely be a lot to take in, but if it’s organized well and searchable, it can serve as a go-to resource as employees learn to work in Salesforce.

Keep training videos short. A Vyond study showed that “75% of viewers watched up to two minutes of the job aid training video.” If a topic requires more than two minutes to explain, break it up into more “snackable” content to keep employees watching.

Another way to avoid information overload is to deliver the videos one at a time. Consider a “daily dose of Salesforce” email that features one training video each day. Then, store all the videos in a central location so everyone can refer back to them as needed.

6. Gamification to encourage Salesforcing onboarding

This is an interesting concept followed in some companies where a credit and reward system is created for existing employees to train the new employees. The experienced employees help their colleagues with their queries and in turn, earn credits for each time they assist. These credits are placed in a league table that qualifies them to win prizes, incentives, etc.

This practice is effective, especially because the competitive nature kicks in amongst the employees and it results in a friendlier working atmosphere as well. In fact, Kotter’s Change Model includes rewards and recognition as an important aspect of effective change.

Don’t limit recognition just to actual prizes; use recognition techniques, such as highlights in daily stand-upsLattice Praise, and shout-outs on Chatter.

It also helps to get creative with prizes. Try a mix of extra vacation days, a free lunch with a coworker, gift cards, and out-of-office activities during office hours.

7. Assigning an onboarding buddy

The buddy system is a way to welcome people to your organization and create a unique experience for them to start with. Practiced in Salesforce itself, the new hires are assigned an onboarding buddy, who is the go-to person for the first few months. The onboarding buddy is responsible for onboarding the new hire onto the CRM platform as well as getting him/her comfortable in the workplace.

Salesforce onboarding can be stressful, particularly for new employees who don’t know their coworkers well. Provide a go-to person who can answer questions, support, and help ease the transition into the new role.

While a Salesforce onboarding buddy will need to be knowledgeable in all things Salesforce, their assistance should go beyond the CRM. New hires should turn to their buddies for everything from questions about company culture to where the coffee creamer can be found.

Make an effort to pair buddies that are most likely to hit it off. Consider the new hire’s personality, and find a likely friend within your team.

8. Leverage knowledge gained during the interview process

Your team is bound to gather some useful insight into the new employee’s skills, experience, and learning style throughout the interview process. Use that information to design a customized onboarding process.

Maria Alvarez of Internet Creations says she’s always learning how to work information she learned from interviews into the onboarding program. “We conduct two practical skill-based interviews for most of our roles, including Salesforce developers and admin/consultants, and make sure to address skill gaps and strengths to build a custom learning program.”

Personalized onboarding shows your employees that you want to help them get up to speed easily, not force generic training on them. Plus, you can cut back on unnecessary training. Employees with previous Salesforce experience can simply merge their accounts to avoid repeating training modules.

9. Apply a change management model

Whether you are introducing Salesforce to existing employees or onboarding new hires, Salesforce onboarding is a major change. With the help of an established change management model, you can make the transition run smoothly.

Introducing Salesforce is a strategic transformation change. Large-scale, complex transformations like this call for detailed planning, continuous progress monitoring, and ongoing support. Both Kotter’s Change Model and the ADKAR Model would work well for this type of change. In fact, in our piece “Applying the Enhanced 8-Step Change Model,” we walk you through how to use this model for a Salesforce migration process.

10. Use an internal wiki to store training documentation

Everyone learns in different ways. Utilizing various training materials allows you to provide options, but everything should be easily accessible in a central location on a company wiki.

Not sure what to include in a Salesforce onboarding wiki? Try these different methods to create a diverse knowledge base:

  • Transcribe meeting recordings.
  • Transcribe and caption videos to make finding specific sections faster.
  • Use Whatfix’s easy content creation tool to create video tutorials without any coding or IT experience required
  • Include a FAQs section.
  • Use Whatfix integration to pull information directly into Salesforce.

11. Provide continuous support

Salesforce onboarding is an ongoing process, so your support should be continuous as well. As Salesforce releases new features and your company grows, it’s crucial to keep your training materials updated.

Task your resident Salesforce expert(s) with updating documentation and training on a regular basis. They should also continuously seek feedback from new employees about the onboarding process and incorporate it into training.

Salesforce is always introducing new features, which is exciting, but it also means training materials can become outdated quickly. It’s crucial to stay on top of Salesforce updates; as Salesforce evolves, so should your onboarding process.

Next steps: Implementing SFDC onboarding practices that work

Statistics say that, when a new employee onboarding is done correctly, it leads to higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, decreased turnover, better performance levels, career complementing, and lowered stress.  

It allows you to foster employee engagement and growth from the very first day. So maintaining the spirit by engaging them with interesting, interactive elements in the onboarding process is vital.

As you decide which combination of Salesforce onboarding practices best suits your company, consider factors such as labor costs and how different training methods may affect productivity.

Automated and self-guided training options free up established employees’ time and allow users to learn at their own pace. However, many people benefit from personal attention, particularly when they are first getting started. A varied onboarding approach ensures that different learning styles are addressed.

For a perfect onboarding experience for the new hires, you must make sure that you follow a balanced approach, taking the time to consider all the little things that your employee will need to succeed at their job while you keep the expenditure on a leash.

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