Taming the Dragon - (or making the SFDC Admin your friend)

Not applicable

I just got off the phone with a client who is just about to hit the “sync” button. It has taken us a lot of time to get to this stage, but it was time well spent… let me explain.

The vast majority of the migrations to Marketo that I have performed (and there have been a lot), have made the decision to migrate somewhat inside of a marketing bubble. Meaning nobody spoke to Tom, the Salesforce Admin, about what the implications might be for him, or more importantly, his data. Now admittedly, that is because Tom, the Salesforce Admin, is a bit surly, and fiercely protective of his SFDC data. You can’t win with that guy.  Needless to say, that means when I call Tom and start talking about the Marketo integration, I can feel him sending white shards of hate through my heart center before we even get through the introductions.

I totally empathize with Tom; he is kind of like the dragon protecting the gold in the cave (and I am pretty sure Tom LOVES The Lord of the Rings movies, and kind of likes that analogy anyway).  SFDC data is VERY valuable, and his job is to insure its integrity. The data that he is charged with is the lifeblood of your sales organization.

Invariably, what puts any SFDC admin at ease is when you present them with your migration plan. Mostly because, when you show them this plan - and I mean like a real document - It lets them know that you understand that the struggle is real; you value their role, and take them seriously. This is, of course, emphasized by the fact that your plan will include them in very real ways. 

Below are some tips to help insure your SFDC sync goes smoothly, and with any luck after the sync, Tom will invite you to his next Lord of the Rings party.

  • Use a sandbox! Even if it might cost you a little extra money, use it! Your SFDC admin will appreciate that you are taking your time and not trying to rush through this integration.  The sandbox will allow you to test and make sure that the sync is working as expected.
  • Use a data dictionary. This is a spreadsheet that you will use to document all of your fields both in SFDC and in Marketo. This will not only document mappings, but it will also document what permissions that Marketo will have on each field. If you are using Marketo Professional Services, your consultant can provide you with a blank dictionary to use, but if you are going it alone, this document is easy enough to create on your own.  Just make sure that you document the friendly names, API names, permissions, and mappings.
  • Understand the vernacular. Remember that in Marketo, Leads and Contacts are both called “leads”. This can become infuriatingly confusing for an SFDC admin. Circumvent this by using the correct vernacular when appropriate, and showing them how they can tell the difference in Marketo. (refer to the SFDC Type field)
  • Have a plan in place for duplicates. Duplicates can be a costly issue in any sales organization. Occasionally, duplicates are purposeful… but usually, they are the bane of Tom’s existence. Put Tom at ease by explaining how Marketo de-dupes, so that he knows that Marketo won’t further add to his duplication nightmare. Then further explain how you can set up Marketo to send an alert when a potential duplicate is created.
  • Custom objects, person accounts, etc. – Plan how you want Marketo to interact with these items, and understand the limitations that Marketo has with dealing with these items. Document all of these on their own tab in your data dictionary.
  • Restrict Marketo’s permissions to only what it absolutely needs.  If there is no reason for Marketo to be able to overwrite something, block that access. If you don’t want Marketo to be able to delete a record, block that from happening. Most importantly, involve Tom in this discussion.
  • Make your SFDC Admin an authorized support contact. This will put them at ease, knowing that they can go directly to support to solve a sync issue.
  • There will INVARIABLY be sync issues. The most common sync issues happen when the Marketo sync can’t access certain records. That’s ok, just send the error to your SFDC admin, they will investigate, and will see that there is likely a section of leads that were inadvertently blocked from the sync. He’ll fix it, and those leads will be updated on the next sync cycle. As frustrating as these sync errors are for you, they will actually put your SFDC Admin at ease, because that means that the sync is working as it is supposed to… only syncing EXACTLY what they tell it to.
  • Lastly, when the sync to sandbox is completed, TEST EVERYTHING, and document your test scripts. When your SFDC admin has approved the tests, ask if they are comfortable repeating the process in production (I go so far as to include a column in my testing document for the SFDC Admin to initial that they have reviewed the test). This is a huge step for them, and you want them to be very comfortable, so involve them in the process.

These are some very basic tips, but they will help you formulate an internal plan for a successful sync. The key to this going smoothly is good communication and involving your SFDC team from as early in the process as possible.  I also suggest that you continue that relationship by having regular meetings to discuss, not only the sync, but ways that you can improve your data. Because at the end of the day, these people aren’t just the dragon guarding the gold, they are also the wizards that can help you manipulate the data in very creative ways.