I recently obtained the Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant credential and in this blog, I share how I was able to pass the exam on my first attempt.
If you are considering the Sales Cloud Consultant certification and wondering not only what to expect but also how one goes about getting ready, be sure to read all the way to the end.
As you might gather, I am pretty passionate about the Salesforce platform and how it can help small and medium-sized businesses to improve their sales performance. I have seen firsthand how a properly enabled Salesforce instance can allow businesses to be truly data-driven allowing them to take their results to the next level. I have also seen firsthand the effects of a poorly designed and/or underutilized Salesforce instance.
That’s what drives me to help companies leverage the full power of their Salesforce org and in that process, I hope to educate and inspire anyone else out there that is also passionate about helping companies as a Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant.
To help you prepare for the exam, I am going to lay out exactly what my plan of attack was, the resources I used, what I think you need to know, and even the study hacks I used to ensure I was absorbing the material.
I have been a Salesforce Administrator for many years and for many different companies but there are a lot of specific use cases and functionalities that I honestly had no experience with leading up to getting this second certification.
Salesforce is a very robust platform and it would be unrealistic for anyone to know every possible use case. That’s why I think it is completely realistic for someone to take a leap toward grabbing this certification, even if you have relatively narrow hands-on experience.
I originally planned to complete everything in about 30-days but was derailed due to some personal stuff so it ended up taking me about 6-weeks. During that time, I committed roughly 3-4 hours (on average) per day to studying and preparing myself.
In my mind, this was a massive step in the direction I wanted to take my career and failure was not an option. I failed the Salesforce Admin certification test the first time around and I was not about to let that happen again.
An important focus for me throughout the process was: “I’m not studying just to pass the exam, I want to come out of this process an expert”. I was already pretty strong with Salesforce but I wanted to really know this stuff and set myself up to be someone whose work speaks for itself.
Before you even start studying, I suggest you make it an objective to be able to visualize in your mind how to accomplish the use cases presented in the exam questions.
To become intimately familiar with the concepts and correct approaches in a relatively short amount of time, there needs to be a method to the madness so I’m giving you the 5 principles that I try to remember when approaching in-depth subject matter like this.
5 Principles for Ensuring Retention
‘“Internalizing’ or “downloading” a bunch of information into your mind is only part of the process of ensuring retention. We also need to process the information. We need to apply, or ‘externalize’, the information in some way. Writing it down and speaking about it are my go-to methods when I’m trying to be mindful of externalizing new information. In this, I incorporate another rule: “Repetition is the Father of learning”. That means, we need to write and speak about the subject matter a lot. Repeatedly, if we truly want to form new neural connections so that we can visualize the scenarios during the test.
Personally, I am very copious in my note-taking. I even use a variety of highlighters in different colors so that my notebook contains color-coded indicators making the process more efficient when I would review my notes. Once again, “internalizing”. I also used small sticky tabs to label important sections in my notebooks, again, to make the review process more efficient. It is important that I am able to quickly reference important details as they arise during the process. It’s a form of ‘connecting the dots’ for me.
Another method of externalizing/internalizing that I used was recording myself using the Voice Memo app on my iPhone. Whether it was recording myself as I spoke out loud thinking through use cases or maybe just recording myself while I read passages from the different resources. The key was actually playing the voice memos back to myself while I was in a relaxed state like walking the dog, resting on the patio, or even as I fell asleep. I would even listen to voice memos while I was on the treadmill.
2. Immerse Yourself
Immersing oneself is a sure way of advancing skills and knowledge in a certain area.
My wife and I took a 10-day trip to Central America many years ago and when we came back my ability to speak and understand the Spanish language had to have increased by at least 20%. I’m still far from being fluent but that short period of time definitely helped improve my ability to speak Spanish going forward.
Following the free learning paths that are laid out for you online is a great start, but finding alternative resources to help immerse yourself in the technology will not only help you with gaining useful insights but will bolster your confidence overall.
Here’s how I tried to immerse myself:
- I tuned into Salesforce and Sales Operations related podcasts
- I read books about Salesforce and the path of a Salesforce Consultant
- I spoke to people and found mentors who know more about Salesforce than me.
- I adjusted my social media settings so that I would consume more relevant content.
- I kept notes and visuals hung up in my work area (and next to my bed, on my bathroom mirror, and on the fridge) so that I could always see them.
3. Frequent knowledge-checks
For me, frequently checking my retention is where it all comes together and where I’m truly able to form those new neural connections. It is important that I was honest with myself when I tested myself so I would remove all the visual references I had hanging up around me. I put my notebook away and did my best to simulate a true testing environment. The frequency at which I would take and retake the Practice Exams increased as I approached the day of testing so that my mind was accustomed to how I needed to be able to process the information.
Have you ever noticed how your best ideas come to you while you’re not thinking about them at all? Unplugging allows for the concepts to float around in your mind freely so that they can organically form new neural connections.
It’s different for everyone but there is a point of diminishing returns when you study too long without stepping away. It’s when you’re away from your laptop and going about life is when you will be suddenly struck with ideas and will find yourself identifying blind spots.
5. Practice Visualizing
When you’re away from your laptop going about life, try to conjure up anything new that you came across recently in the material. Practice visualizing the steps, the screens, and the various options. As I mentioned earlier, the ultimate objective of your studying and preparation is to be able to quickly visualize how to accomplish specific use cases during the exam. Learning is a skill and being able to accurately visualize things is the most important element.
Now that you have some useful principles to lean on in your approach, here are some things I think you need to know. I have done my best to list below the top 25 features and use cases that you will want to be ready.
25 Things You Need to Know to Pass the Salesforce Sales Cloud Exam:
- Remember the different phases of the Roll Out Plan, and the associated milestones, deliverables, and sign-off points.
- Remember that Process Builder is used for updating related Parent or Child records.
- Remember that Process Builder cannot loop through Opportunity Product Line Items.
- Know the correct use cases for Lightning Sync and Outlook/Gmail integration.
- Know the functionality of Salesforce Connect and Salesforce-to-Salesforce.
- Understand use cases involving external systems and platform events.
- Make sure you study Account Hierarchies and associated access levels.
- Familiarize yourself with the Campaign planning process and how the Campaigns and Campaign Member features operate.
- Change Sets for data migration is a specific area that comes up.
- Understand the use of Visualforce in conjunction with Workflow Actions.
- Know the implications of Public and Private sharing models.
- Know when to create new record types and page layouts to support different types of Sales Processes.
- How to configure Approval Processes and associated automation is important.
- Know the specific metrics used to measure both implementation success and actual sales cloud success.
- Know Mobile in general but remember that Dynamic Actions are supported in the mobile app for Custom Objects.
- Know when to use 3rd party tools from Salesforce AppExchange for data cleansing and complex quoting processes.
- Remember that Roll-up Summary Fields must be directly related through a Master-Detail relationship.
- Remember that Validation Rules are designed to ‘verify’ that data meets specified standards.
- Enterprise Territory Management and Collaborative Forecasts are important features to study. Be sure to understand the considerations and capabilities when the two are used together.
- Knowing the record limits of Import Wizard and DataLoader.io isn’t enough for this exam, you will need to know the other determining factors for these solutions.
- Remember custom Lead Conversion always requires the use of Apex.
- Know Multi-Currency and Advanced Currency Management features are. In that be sure to narrow down on how they interact with Reporting functionally.
- Know how Person Accounts work and what a company should consider if they use them in their sales processes.
- Customizable Campaign Influence is a capability that you will want to familiarize yourself with.
- If the question implies two (2) groupings, the correct Report Type is Matrix.
I really hope this helps you, but please do not take this as an exact guide of what to focus on during your studies. I simply went back over my notes a few days after passing the exam and made notes of things that stood out to me.
Let’s move on to the 3 primary resources I relied on to prepare for, and pass, the Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant certification exam.
3 Resources to Help You Pass the Salesforce Sales Cloud Exam
- The Salesforce Administrator Certification
I obtained the Salesforce Administrator certification about 9-months ago and that process definitely helped me foundationally to pass the Sales Cloud certification. However, I found the Sales Cloud exam scope to be much more comprehensive.
That might seem obvious to some, but I honestly walked into the process thinking “how hard could it be to focus on one cloud solution, when I just had to learn several?”. I found pretty quickly that my thought process was flawed. This time it wasn’t about having a high-level understanding of multiple Salesforce Cloud solutions, but more about being hyper-familiar with a multitude of use cases and considerations in one cloud. As a result, the questions on the Salesforce Sales Cloud exam were more “technical” than the Admin exam.
- The free Salesforce Trailhead Online Learning Environment
I have been a big fan and user of Trailhead for a long time so naturally it was the first resource I tapped into.
Here’s a link to the Trailmix for the Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant Credential.
The Trailmix is a good fly-over but the Focus on Force material proved to be more thorough and a bit more relevant.
The greatest part of Trailhead is the free Playgrounds that you are able to use during hands-on challenges. Most people learn best through hands-on experience so I encourage you to make the most of this free resource. Did I mention that it’s free?
Tip: Use the Playground environments to practice some of the use cases that come up in the Focus on Force lessons, not just what is required to complete the trail.
- Focus on Force
Focus on Force is not a free resource but is completely worth the investment.
The Study Guide contains 13 Lessons and the Practice Exam package has 11 Topic Exams with 4 full Practice Exams. There are some other bells and whistles, but these items were the core of it for me.
Each Lesson is broken into 4-6 sections that are very detailed. Each section is anywhere from about 25 slides to 75 slides.
The Lessons are specifically designed based on the objectives listed in the Sales Cloud Consultant credential overview and do a great job of calling out key terminology, capabilities, and considerations. There are Salesforce screenshots and other useful visuals like graphs and charts that were massively helpful for me. I printed many of them and hung them up in my work area.
At the end of most Lessons, they have a section called Scenario and Solutions. These really helped to bring the concepts to life.
The first thing I did when I gained access was take one of the Practice Exams so that I could get a baseline of how ready I might be. I scored 52%. I suggest doing the same. You might actually surprise yourself. I was shooting for 100% even though to pass the actual exam you only need to score 68%. My baseline score was not far off that but in my mind, I was only at about 50% ready.
In terms of approach, I would study each Lesson in the Study Guide one at a time. After each lesson, I would take the associated Topic Exam but I would usually wait until the next day. I would purposely create gaps between studying a lesson and taking the Topic Exam. This way I could get a better sense of whether or not the material was ‘sticking’.
I also made a routine of investigating the questions where I knew I guessed but still got the answer correct. It was important to me that I understood why I got it right.
Another point that I should highlight is the importance of slowing down and paying close attention to the wording used in the exam. When I would go back over the answers I got wrong I noticed that I was consistently getting a handful of questions wrong that I knew the answer to but in my haste or because I wasn’t focused, I made the wrong selection.
The system will allow you to retake exams as many times as you need to, which I found to be very helpful. I would retake the questions I got wrong and would select the ‘check after each question’ option so that I could use these areas as a catalyst for more research as I was backtracking my results.
The actual exam questions are similar but don’t think for a second that memorizing the questions in the Focus n Force Practice Exams will help you pass.
Lastly, and trust me on this. Do not schedule your actual exam until all the Study Guides are checked off. All the Topic Exams and all the Practice Exams should be greenlit as well (76% or better). I didn’t schedule mine until I had all of them at around 90% or better.
Focus on Force was a great resource for me and I absolutely plan on using their resources again.
Before I sign off I’ll leave you with a few additional resources that I used to keep myself immersed in all things Salesforce:
- The Salesforce Career Playbook from Focus on Force. I recommend reading the entire book but for the sections that tie directly to the Sales Cloud Consultant path, see pages 69, 206, and 305.
- The Salesforce Admin Podcast. While this is not a resource designed to help one pass Salesforce exams, it’s a great tool for helping you remain immersed in the subject matter of Salesforce design and optimization.
- Follow David Giller on Social Media. He drops useful insights and even adds comedic and motivational touches which makes content entertaining.
Here’s my last study tip: If you have not heard of them or given them a try, I highly recommend listening to Binaural Beats while you study. I had never tried them before this process and now I’m hooked.
If you take one thing away, remember this: Don’t study to pass the exam, study to be an expert.
Oh, and be sure to double-check your appointment time… I accidentally scheduled mine for 3:30am the first time around and didn’t realize it until 3:30pm when I went to log in on the day of my big exam. Definitely, not my finest moment. Note: The testing center was gracious enough to let me retake the exam at no additional cost as a one-time courtesy.
Good luck and much success.