Trailhead 101: Where to Start if You’re an Admin, Sales Rep, Marketer or Leader

“Learning Salesforce” can mean a lot of different things. It might mean learning how to use Sales Cloud to keep

6 min. read

“Learning Salesforce” can mean a lot of different things. It might mean learning how to use Sales Cloud to keep better track of leads and opportunities. Or it might mean learning how to use Marketing Cloud and Pardot to run marketing automation campaigns. For admins and developers, it could mean learning how to build in Salesforce.

You see where I’m going.

Thankfully, you can learn all of these things (and so much more) in one place: Salesforce Trailhead. Essentially, Trailhead is Salesforce’s education platform, offering “trails” (think one-time courses) on all kinds of topics. If you want to learn how to “Build Your Ecommerce Site with Commerce Cloud Digital” — well, that’s a trail. So is “Grow Your Business as an AppExchange Partner.” So is “Learn Salesforce Agile Practices.” Obviously, there’s a ton of content to explore. In fact, if you were to work your way through all of it, it would take you about 20 full days.

And that means it’s totally understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve put together a list of great trails to start with. Whether you’re an aspiring admin, a salesperson, a marketer or somebody in a leadership role, this blog will provide you with one or two good options. From there, we encourage you to keep exploring. Once you know your way around the Trailhead platform, we bet you’ll be able to find more content that’s useful to you.

Trails for Aspiring Admins

Admin Beginner

If your goal is to become a Salesforce admin, this is where you need to start. The “Admin Beginner” trail is designed to teach you the core vocabulary of Salesforce/CRM through a hands-on approach. By the time you complete the first unit of the first module (so, after you’ve invested a whole 15 minutes), you’ll know enough about objects, records and fields to feel comfortable working with them. As someone who started learning Salesforce from the outside in, I can’t properly convey how important it is to grasp these foundational concepts. Imagine trying to understand how a car functions without a working knowledge of the steering wheel or gas pedal.

Of course, this is a long trail, so you’ll also get to move past the very basics. In subsequent modules and units, you’ll cover setup, the AppExchange, object relationships, importing and exporting data, Salesforce Lightning, the Salesforce mobile app and more — all essential for a Salesforce admin to know.

Admin Intermediate

Once you’ve mastered the concepts presented in the “Admin Beginner” trail, it’s time to move on to “Admin Intermediate.” The goal of this second-level trail is to help you take the Salesforce skills you learned in an abstract context and apply them to common, real-world business problems. Here you’ll learn how to:

  • Use formula fields to calculate the number of days left before an opportunity’s close date
  • Create a validation rule to check that a contact is in the same zip code as its account
  • Build picklists to simplify data entry and standardize values
  • Create and deactivate user accounts for new hires and exiting employees

… and a lot more. You’ll close out the trail with a fun project: Building a simple project management app to construct a galactic battle station. If you’re a Star Wars fan (and whoever created this project clearly is), that should be incentive enough to work through to the end of the trail. If not, hopefully the knowledge you’ll gain is sufficiently enticing.

Trails for Sales Reps and Marketers

Build Your Sales Career

For whatever reason, I sometimes spend more time thinking about how admins and consultants create and customize different functionalities in Salesforce than I do about how end users actually benefit from those functionalities. For instance, how sales teams use different aspects of Salesforce for processes like prospecting and discovery.

Of course, before you can understand how Salesforce makes these things easier, you have to understand what they are. This trail is meant as a 101 guide for those new to the world of sales, offering tips on how to succeed and overcome challenges. Here, you’ll learn about developing a contact strategy, defining your priorities and the basics of design thinking. Nothing specific to the Salesforce platform, but that’s what so cool about Trailhead: The topics covered go far beyond the company’s product offerings.

Learn Marketing Best Practices

Somewhat equivalent to the “Build Your Sales Career” trail, this one is designed to cover the basic strategies of digital marketing — not how to use Salesforce for marketing. Topics covered include crafting and delivering emails, marketing automation, advertising and data, and social media. Of course, if you are planning to use Salesforce products like Marketing Cloud and Pardot — or if you already are — you’ll likely find this one extra valuable. In the unit titled “Drive Productivity with Scheduled Automations,” for instance, you’ll notice a screencap from Journey Builder, a Marketing Cloud add-on.

Trails for Leaders

Sales Reports for Lightning Experience

At Torrent, we rely heavily on dashboards and reports to set goals and track them. As a member of the marketing team, I use Salesforce dashboards daily to check how many Marketing Qualified Prospects and Marketing Qualified Leads we’ve earned. Members of our sales team do the same for updates on metrics like Sales Qualified Leads and Closed/Won Opportunities. And if any of us needs to know, say, the number of manufacturing projects Torrent has completed in the last six months, we’ll run a report.

Perhaps most importantly, our executive team uses all of these numbers and tools to make smart business decisions, projections and forecasts. In this way, they’re essential to the health of our company.

And given that we’re a consulting company, we believe every leader should have access to the same tools and know how to use them. “Sales Reports for Lightning Experience” is technically a module, and not a full trail, but it’s still a great way to learn how to create and modify:

  • Opportunity reports
  • Pipeline reports
  • Sales win rate reports
  • Sales management dashboards

By giving you a digestible way of looking at the granular details, reports and dashboards will help you see “the big picture” of your business.

Build and Manage Your Sales Team the Salesforce Way

Depending on what you learn from all those dashboards and reports, you may need to make some structural changes to your company. And if it’s your sales numbers that aren’t looking so hot, you’ll probably want to check out the “Build and Manage Your Sales Team the Salesforce Way” trail. It’s designed to help you plan territories, track important metrics (which you already know something about!), plus hire, onboard and train top sales reps.

Of course, these 6 trails are only a small sample of the Trailhead’s full offerings — currently, there are 102 different trails to complete. And while each one will take a different amount of time to complete, it’s important to note the estimate lengths: Anywhere from 40 minutes to 24 hours. The average is probably somewhere between 2 and 4 hours — still a decent chunk of your day. As you set out to complete trails, make sure to block off an appropriate amount of time on your calendar. Thankfully, you don’t have to complete each trail in one sitting, but you’ll still want to make sure you have enough time during any given work session to really dive into the content at hand.

And if you’re looking for other ways to boost your Salesforce knowledge, check out our latest eBook — Essential Advice from 25 Salesforce Experts (For Salesforce Newbies) — featuring videos from Salesforce MVPs, Trailblazers, partners and consultants.


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