Career Profile: Sasha Manford

By September 28, 2020September 30th, 2020Articles, Careers

Can you explain what your role is as CMA’s Salesforce Administrator?

I like to think of my role as marrying the business requirements of Carl Marks Advisors and the technological capabilities of Salesforce. Salesforce is an extremely powerful platform and it can really move a business forward if it’s managed properly. So, I look at how our team uses Salesforce to understand what can be done better, and then I customize the platform to our needs.
I manage all aspects of how our firm uses Salesforce, including coding and customizing the system, monitoring data quality, and creating and running reports. In addition, I make sure everything is running smoothly on the platform and, if it’s not, I troubleshoot and fix it. I also work with our team to go over what exactly Salesforce is, how Carl Marks Advisors uses it, and how to be productive while using the platform.

You’ve also done promotional marketing for Salesforce. How did you get in involved and what does it mean to be a Salesforce Trailblazer?

I got involved with Salesforce through an organization called PepUp Tech, a nonprofit dedicated to training and improving individuals’ skills in STEM. As a student there, I had attended a Salesforce bootcamp and, afterwards, the founder of PepUp Tech, who had become one of my professional mentors, helped me find ways to become more involved with the Salesforce organization.

A Salesforce Trailblazer is someone who continuously evolves professionally and advocates for the platform because they believe it can change a business. I’ve been able to go to the Dreamforce and TrailheaDX conferences and speak on multiple panels, take different professional development courses, and have been a guest on Salesforce’s official admin podcast to share my experience with the platform.

More than anything though, being a Trailblazer is about creating a path for new users and empowering others through technology. Several times throughout the year, I volunteer as a PepUp Tech instructor for their Salesforce virtual academy and bootcamps at Monroe College and BMCC. Salesforce also has an amazing mentorship program called, Trailhead Mentorship, where I work with two mentees to teach them about the platform and, hopefully, help them get a job in the field.

How does a technology like Salesforce or other CRM improve a firm’s bottom line?

Salesforce can show a corporation what its capabilities are and how its business can run more effectively by providing a deeper understanding of their customers. That’s why it’s so important to manage it correctly ‒ you can really impact your bottom line.

For instance, if a firm has only focused on a certain type of deal, Salesforce can run a report using historical data to see if it makes sense to diversify. It can account for revenue, staffing costs, pitch statistics, everything. However, in order to have accurate results, it has to be managed correctly and users really need to pay attention to the data that they’re inputting. If you put bad data in, you’re going to get bad results. But if the data is correct, you can really see what’s working.

What career advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

When I was 22, I thought I was going to be doing something completely different with my career. I had no idea that I was going to be in this type of role. So, I would definitely tell myself to be open to new possibilities, since that could lead you on a path you really like.

When I graduated from college, I thought my career was destined for advertising because that’s what I studied. I had had multiple internships, was involved with several organizations, and even had a radio show. Somewhere along the line though, it clicked that it wasn’t for me. It was a hard realization that what I had worked at for so long wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. But, ultimately, it was the best decision I could have made.

Is there one tool within Salesforce that you think is far too underutilized by firms across the board? Why?

Not enough companies know about or take advantage of Salesforce’s security tools to monitor who views, accesses and edits individual records. These tools can have a big impact on data integrity. We’re all human and mistakes happen. With the right controls set up though, it’s much easier to fix any errors. If more companies used the security correctly, it would eliminate a lot of incorrect data.

What’s the biggest mistake you see firms make with Salesforce and/or other CRM tools?

There are two. The first is that companies don’t customize Salesforce to their firm’s needs. Salesforce is an amazing platform, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s meant to be shaped to a business’s specific profile, needs and goals. People get frustrated that Salesforce doesn’t “work,” but it’s often just not set up correctly for their organization. The platform could be anything a business needs it to be, but it does need direction.

Secondly, across the board, companies do not empower and train their users enough. If users don’t feel confident about the platform or don’t understand it, they won’t use it or they will use it incorrectly. That leads to poor data, results and reports.

That’s a great thing about Carl Marks Advisors. We are very conscious about making sure our employees have a strong grasp of Salesforce and access to any resources they need. As a result, everyone really wants to take advantage of what Salesforce can offer.