SFDC 101 - Common Questions when Starting with Salesforce

For somebody new in cloud world, Salesforce.com represents quite a paradigm shift. This results into many formal and informal questions in exploring mind. Here are some common questions you may like to be addressed at your first date with Salesforce.com.

Q: What is Salesforce.com all about?
Salesforce.com (SFDC) is a cloud based software platform, most commonly known for it's CRM (Customer Relationship Management) off-the-shelf offerings like sales automation, customer service, marketing automation etc. Around 20% of CRM implementation involves Salesforce.com platform.

But Salesforce.com platform is much more than just CRM. With wide range of capabilities offered by Salesforce.com, we can implement almost all kinds of applications addressing diverse business needs. These include custom business applications, web applications, website & portals, collaboration apps, e-commerce apps, machine learning & AI driven apps, analytics apps, and so on.

Salesforce.com based solutions can be integrated with external systems through industry standard protocols (like SOAP API, REST API, Web Services). Also, applications are enabled for mobile/tablet devices through Salesforce1 app.

More on Salesforce as company and Salesforce.com platform overview are at this link.

Q: Is Salesforce.com a new technology or platform or programming language?
Salesforce.com is essentially a platform built & offered by a software giant named Salesforce (4th largest software company). This platform supports out-of-the-box capabilities (already developed by Salesforce) as well as custom developed capabilities.

Apex is the programming language for custom development on this platform. Visualforce pages and Lightning components are used for custom front end implementations. Programming can be used for extending existing features as well as building new capabilities from scratch.

Summary: New technology - No, Platform - Yes, Programming language - Yes

Q: Does Salesforce.com mean a simple website which offers different CRM features?
While Salesforce.com is accessible over compatible browsers, it's definitely not a simple website. Under the hood there are complex hardware and software architectures which are abstracted from end users including developers. Good news is that we don't need to know those complex, state of the art architecture details while getting started with Salesforce.com.

Take away for now - there is a cloud based platform leveraging architectural marvels and on top of that there are number of out-of-the-box and bespoke applications. And, all these applications are accessible over internet using compatible browsers just like another website like Google, Amazon.

Q: Do I need to know about Cloud Computing for learning Salesforce.com?
Cloud computing technical knowledge/ experience is not must! Basic understanding of cloud computing (what is and how it works) would be helpful to understand working of Salesforce.com.

Q: I don’t have any CRM experience, is there anything I can do with Salesforce?
Yes; Salesforce.com offers number of non-CRM domains and roles. Depending on your background, expertise and interest, you may choose the right-fit one. You may use point-and-click as well as programming capabilities to develop different non-CRM business solutions. Salesforce also allows you to develop solutions around analytics, machine learning, collaboration, web portals, internet of things (IoT) domains.

Q: What is prerequisite skill-set to learn Salesforce.com?
Any software experience or programming knowledge would be enough to get started with Salesforce.com. For experienced professionals, you may use the following checklist for initial evaluation:
  1. Hungry to take challenge of picking up a new software/ programming language
  2. Experienced in other CRM solutions (e.g. Siebel, SAP, MS Dynamics)
  3. Good understanding of OOPS (Object Oriented Programming)
  4. Hands-on programming experience in technologies like Java, .Net
  5. Understanding/knowledge of cloud computing
  6. Experience with other SaaS or PaaS platform
  7. Experience in java script framework like Node.js, Angular js
Not all of these are must though! For example: #1 is critical. Combination of 1+2+3 or, 1+3+4 or, 1+3+6 would make you strong starter.

Q: Can I learn Salesforce myself?

Yes, it's possible to learn Salesforce.com through self-paced-learning. Salesforce offers learning platform, documentation, references, video sessions, and even the development/practice environment for free. All you need to sign-up for a developer edition and start exploration using Trailhead learning platform and/or latest implementation guides.

Q: Salesforce has so many offerings and covers so many areas. Where do I start?
With offerings across technical as well as business domains, Salesforce.com platform is indeed vast. Its easy to lose track or focus even before taking off. Hence, its recommended to keep things simple while getting started. Depending on your interest and background, you may choose either configuration (also, known as administration) or customization (known as programming) track.

For configuration track, starting point can be point-and-click driven implementations. This may include Administrative features, Objects & relationships, CRM capabilities (like lead management, opportunity management, case management) etc. Apex development can be the initial focus area for customization track.

Q: What software do I install for Salesforce? How much I need to pay for the same?
Salesforce is 100% public cloud - which means, no software installation is needed. All you need is browser and a device with internet connectivity. Salesforce offers developer edition (i.e. practice environment) without any fees.

As you move on as Salesforce developer, you may like to have an IDE (Force.com IDE/ Eclipse with plug-in), Developer console, Apex data loader, Force.com migration tool, Workbench etc. All these tools don't need any license/subscription fees.

Q: Does Salesforce allow to write my own code?
Yes, Salesforce allows bespoke/ custom application development. Apex is the language for coding in Salesforce platform. For front end, there are Visual force pages (classic) and Lightning components (lightning).

Q: How do I execute/run my ‘hello world’ program?
There is NO server in Salesforce world for developers to deal with. All you need to do is to write the 'hello world' in an apex class and save it. Salesforce.com platform takes care of compilation & 'deployment'.

To run/test this 'hello world' program, invoke it through Developer Console (Setup gear icon >> Developer Console >> Debug >> Open Execute Anonymous Window) and check out the logs for output (Developer Console >> Logs).

Q: Is it possible to change default Salesforce look and feel (branding, color scheme etc.)?
Yes; Salesforce.com allows to use custom stylesheets (CSS), scripts (JS) and suppression of standard stylesheet in custom developed pages. For lightning component too, custom styles and branding can be implemented.

Q: What is the Salesforce 'lightning experience'?
Salesforce.com currently offers two different user experiences. The default (when you register for a new environment and login) experience is known as the lightning experience. The earlier one (which can be enabled by choosing Switch to Salesforce Classic option) is known as Classic experience.

Q: What kind of career I can build with Salesforce?
Salesforce engagements offer different roles and depending on your aspirations, experiences and expertise you may choose the appropriate one. Salesforce Roles include:
  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Salesforce Developer (Classic | Lightning)
  • Salesforce Architect
  • Salesforce Business Analyst
  • Salesforce Scrum Master
  • Salesforce Functional Consultant (<Product Specific>)
  • Salesforce Integration Specialist
  • Salesforce Data Migration Specialist
  • Salesforce Quality Analyst
  • Salesforce Release/Deployment Specialist

Q: How long it takes to learn Salesforce?
This depends on your earlier experiences and ability to grasp new technical concepts. It should take between 7-15 weeks to be part of a Salesforce project team.

Q: How to keep myself updated with latest release/offerings from Salesforce?
Salesforce makes three release a year and each release is accompanied with respective release notes. But it can bit tedious and mostly overwhelming to follow the whole platform release note. Better to follow release highlights on Trailhead, release specific partner webinars, release preview access etc.

Do you have more questions while taking up Salesforce.com? Post here and we shall address the same. Happy Learning!!!


  1. Thank u sir, it helped to get more insight on salesforce platform

  2. Sir the article was really helpful as it comprises of almost all the aspects of Salesforce. Very informative and clears all the doubts one can have regarding its occupancy, what a person needs to have to opt for it and what are the future scopes and benefits one will get. Various domains in which a person can go ahead.👍👍

  3. Thanks sir. It gave us good insights about Salesforce and opportunities!

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