Salesforce for Beginners

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By Sharif Shaalan
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    Getting Started with Salesforce and CRM
About this book

Salesforce is the world's leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, helping businesses connect with their constituents and partners. This book will give you a comprehensive introduction to managing sales, marketing, customer relationships, and overall administration for your organization. You'll learn how to configure and use Salesforce for maximum efficiency and return on investment.

You'll start by learning how to create activities, manage leads, and develop your prospects and sales pipeline using opportunities and accounts, and then understand how you can enhance marketing activities using campaigns. Packed with real-world business use cases, this Salesforce book will show you how to analyze your business information accurately to make productive decisions. As you advance, you'll get to grips with building various reports and dashboards in Salesforce to derive valuable business insights. Finally, you'll explore tools such as process builder, approval processes, and assignment rules to achieve business process automation and set out on the path to becoming a successful Salesforce Administrator.

By the end of the book, you'll have learned how to use Salesforce effectively to achieve your business goals.

Publication date:
May 2020


Getting Started with Salesforce and CRM

Once upon a time, before Facebook and iPhones, businesses ran their operations using on-premises software. These operations included managing customers and their interactions with the sales, customer service, and marketing departments of the organization. On-premises meant that the servers that ran this software were within the physical infrastructure of the business. Having the servers onsite meant huge maintenance and upkeep costs, as well as long deployment times for the smallest of changes. In 1999, Marc Benioff and his co-founders started As Benioff states in his book, Behind the Cloud, the idea was to make software easier to purchase, simpler to use, and more democratic, without the complexities of installation, maintenance, and constant upgrades. Salesforce was at the forefront of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing.

Fast-forward to 2019, when reported $13.3 billion in total revenue in FY 2018 and is now constantly expanding the platform and acquiring new companies. This led to the Salesforce economy, which Salesforce projects to have created 3.3 million jobs by 2022. How did Salesforce get to this point? It started as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool; then, over the years, it morphed into a powerful business platform with various clouds, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Community Cloud, and many more.

In this book, we will focus on Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. These two clouds contain all of the core CRM functionality, which is the foundation of all the other clouds and sets up the path for you as the end user or aspiring admin to continue learning.

Salesforce is a platform to build your entire business on. Don't let the word sales mislead you. The platform supports the ability to manage all aspects of a business, including sales, customer service, marketing, finance, and much more, through out-of-the-box functionality and customization.

In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:

  • Understanding the core concepts of CRM
  • Understanding the difference between Salesforce Lightning and Salesforce Classic
  • Learning how to navigate Salesforce
  • Learning about the different search options
  • Learning how to use list views across all objects
  • Learning what Salesforce Chatter is and how to use it in your organization
  • Learning the personal settings options available to end users

What is CRM?

CRM includes all interactions with an organization's constituents. This includes prospecting, the sales process, retention, marketing efforts, and customer service. The core of Salesforce is the out-of-the-box CRM functionality that is provided when you sign up for the platform. There are various editions provided by Salesforce; each edition provides different features and per-user price points. The four editions of the core CRM product are as follows:

  • Salesforce Essentials: A small-business CRM for up to 10 users
  • Salesforce Professional: A complete CRM for any size of team
  • Salesforce Enterprise: A deeply customizable sales CRM for your business
  • Salesforce Unlimited: Unlimited CRM power and support

Salesforce uses the concept of different clouds to bring together specific features. For example, all of the core features of running a sales operation, such as lead and opportunity management, are included in Sales Cloud. Features such as cases and knowledge bases fall under Service Cloud. There are also other clouds, such as Marketing Cloud, Analytics Cloud, and so on. The preceding editions in the bullet list focus on Sales Cloud and/or Service Cloud.

There is also a developer edition. The developer edition is one of the most valuable training tools when starting to learn how to use Salesforce, especially if you don't have access to a Salesforce environment of your own to practice what you are learning. Developer edition orgs are free, full-featured enterprise orgs with less storage and a limit of two licenses. These orgs are made for you to try out and develop features in an environment that is not directly tied to a paid production org. You can sign up for unlimited developer orgs. Regardless of the edition, the core objects are the same; we will cover them in detail in the following chapters of this book.

In this book, we will use the terms environment, org, and instance interchangeably. These three words mean the same thing—the configuration that you see when you log in to a unique version of Salesforce. This can be a development org, a client's production org, or a sandbox. We will cover sandboxes in Chapter 11, Using Sandboxes and Change Sets.

Now is a good time to go to and sign up for your own developer edition.

As we walk you through the concepts of this book, you can follow along on your own org. As you sign up, you will be asked to enter a company name. If you don't belong to a company, don't worry—just re-enter your name for the company name since it is a required field.


Classic versus Lightning

Over the years, Salesforce has had a few UI makeovers to keep up with the latest trends in usability and design. The latest, and by far the biggest, UI change Salesforce has carried out is the introduction of Salesforce Lightning in 2015. This was a fundamental change to the look and feel that Salesforce users were used to and brought with it many new features that are only available on Lightning. Some of these features include the following:

  • A modern UI
  • The Lightning Component framework, which allows developers to build responsive applications for any device with less effort

Many organizations that have used Salesforce for a long time either plan to migrate, or have already migrated to Lightning. When Lightning was released, the older Salesforce UI was renamed to Salesforce Classic to differentiate between the two. The following screenshots show the exact same page in Salesforce Classic and Salesforce Lightning. Notice the option to toggle between the two interfaces. This means any user you grant this permission to switch back and forth between Classic and Lightning. This feature helps with adoption when you first bring users on to Lightning.

This is the UI for Salesforce Classic. Although there is great functionality in Classic, the UI is not modern:

This is the UI for Lightning Experience. As you can see, the UI is more modern and you get a sense of the component-based framework from the home page items, on the left-side of the page:

As an end user or potential admin, you need to make sure you learn how to use Lightning as it is the future of Salesforce. At the same time, you need to be familiar with Classic since many organizations still use Classic or have a hybrid system set up, where some users use Classic and some use Lightning. In this book, we will show all of our examples in Lightning, but I recommend you toggle back and forth to see how the concepts work in Classic as well.

Now that we know what the difference between Salesforce Classic and Salesforce Lightning is, let's take a look at how to log in to Salesforce and navigate to various useful sections.


Login and navigation

Once you get access to your development org, it's time to log in. To log in to Salesforce, you need to go to This is important, as we'll see later when we discuss sandboxes—you have to go to to log in to a sandbox. Your Salesforce username has to be in the format of an email, but not an actual email address. This is a key point since you may have access to multiple Salesforce orgs and the username has to be unique. So, when you set up your account, there is a requirement for an email address, which does have to be a real email address since you will receive your verification confirmation for the first-time login there. The username can be anything that takes the form of an email: so, for instance, my email might be, but my username could be

Once you log in, you will notice all of the tabs at the top of the page:

These tabs will help you navigate to the various objects in Salesforce. Objects can be considered as buckets of information or tables in a database. The Account object holds the various account records, the Contact object holds the various contact records, and so on. We will cover these objects in more detail in the upcoming chapters. You will also see tabs for things such as reports, dashboards, and Chatter. So, tabs are a mix of objects, as well as items you may want to easily access. When you log in, you will always land on the home page, which can be customized with various items that can make your job easier. The home page has components such as quarterly performance and Einstein Voice Assistant, which can be customized as needed. The quarterly performance component allows the logged-in user to see their sales statistics for the current quarter. The Einstein Voice Assistant is an artificial intelligence module that lets you know which customers or potential customers to follow up with using a phone call or an email based on data points, such as the last activity.

In the following sections, we will cover App Launcher, the search functionality, list views, Chatter, and the personal settings that can be applied.

App Launcher

On the upper left-hand side of the page, you will notice a few tiles under the cloud icon. These tiles take you to App Launcher, where you can access various apps in your Salesforce instance:

Apps are a collection of tabs that can be customized. Changing the apps will change the tabs you see in your navigation. Some good examples of things you will see when you click on this tile are the Sales and Marketing apps. The Sales app has things such as Leads, Contacts, Opportunities, and other tabs that are used for the sales process. The Marketing app has these same tabs, along with the Campaign tab, which is heavily used in marketing. You will also see All Items, which shows you all the objects in case you need to access one of them and it is not a part of the specific app you have chosen.


At the top of the page, you will notice the global search bar. This search bar allows you to enter any search term and returns any object where that term is included. In the following example, I searched for grand hotels. Notice that Salesforce returns the Accounts, Opportunities, and Contacts where this term is present:

Once you have looked at the top results, you can narrow the search down to a specific object and refine the search further, if needed:

In the preceding example, I narrowed the search down to the Opportunity object and further refined the search by setting the Stage filter under Opportunities to Closed Won.

List views

List views are one of the most useful tools available to Salesforce end users. They allow you to sort, prioritize, and analyze records that are important to you within a given object using filter criteria. You will notice that whenever you click on a tab that is connected to an object, you will always land on a default view called Recently Viewed. This view shows any records you have recently worked on:

You can create as many list views as you need to help facilitate your work. For example, let's say you are an account manager and you only work with accounts in California. Let us see how to build this:

  1. Click on New to create a new list view:
  1. On the next screen, enter the list view name, California Accounts. The API name is the name used for development/coding purposes; this name is automatically set based on your list view name. As you will notice, the API name cannot have any spaces, so underscores are automatically entered in place of any spaces in the name.
  2. Here, you can also set the sharing settings for this list view. The view can be private, shared with all users, or shared with a subset of users:
  1. Next, you can choose your filters. You can filter by the accounts you own or all accounts and you can add multiple filters. For our example, we want any account where the billing state or the shipping state is CA. The filter logic allows you to set the AND/OR logic. In this case, we set it to 1 OR 2 since we want any records with the billing or the shipping state set to CA as shown in the following screenshot:

Create a few list views in your development org (organization) to get the hang of using this feature. As you do this, use different objects to see the different field options you have within a specific object and think about the use cases where you may need list views in a business context. Now that we have learned about login and navigation, let's take a look at Salesforce Chatter.


Salesforce Chatter

Chatter is a real-time collaboration tool within Salesforce. Think of it as Facebook within your organization. You have your own profile, you can share updates, you can create groups (see label 1 in the following screenshot), you can upload files (see label 2 in the following screenshot), you can see users that follow you (see label 3 in the following screenshot), you can follow other users (see label 4 in the following screenshot), and much more! You can access your profile by clicking on the icon at the upper-right side of the page or by clicking on the People tab. Your profile will show the groups you belong to, the files you have shared, people you follow, and people that follow you:

If you scroll down on your profile, you will see your feed:

The feed includes any posts you have made, any posts you follow, or updates to tracked fields on records you follow. The actions can be customized to include more than the post, poll, and question action.

If you click on the Chatter tab, you get an expanded view of the feed:

This view allows you to further refine your feed (see label 1 in the preceding screenshot), post new updates (see label 2 in the preceding screenshot), and view recommendations from Einstein (see label 3 in the preceding screenshot). Now that we have looked at Salesforce Chatter, let's look at some of the personal settings options.

Salesforce Einstein is the artificial intelligence offering of Salesforce. Some limited Einstein functionality comes out of the box and is included in features such as the Chatter recommendations you see in the preceding screenshot.

Personal settings

To round out our general overview, let's take a look at some personal settings:

  1. To access your personal settings options, click on the profile picture at the upper-right corner of your screen, then click on Settings:

On this page, you will see all of your options under a set of categories on the left-hand side:

  1. Under each one of these categories, you will find some personal customization options. Under My Personal Information, you have the option to add the following information:

These are the following features in it:

    • Advanced User Details: This page contains the fields on your user record that you can edit.
    • Approver Settings: This page allows you to set a delegated approver—your manager—and approval email settings.
    • Authentication Settings for External Systems: If you are connected to external systems, you can adjust the settings here.
    • Change My Password: This page allows you to change your Salesforce password.
    • Connections: This page shows any OAuth connections or third-party account links.
    • Grant Account Login Access: This page allows you to grant login access to Salesforce customer service or a third-party app provider as needed.
    • Language & Time Zone: This page allows you to set your time zone, locale, language, and email encoding.
    • Login History: This provides an itemized list of all of the times you have logged in.
    • Personal Information: This provides basic information from your user records, such as your email address and phone number.
    • Reset My Security Token: This allows you to reset your security token, which is needed to access certain tools.
    • Security Central: This shows the detailed account activity, which displays all of your sessions.
  1. Next is Display & Layout:

Here you have the following options:

    • Customize My Pages: This allows you to choose what related items show up for you for each object.
    • My Social Accounts and Contacts: This allows you to adjust the settings to enable your social accounts and contacts, as well as Twitter and YouTube videos related to leads, accounts, and contacts.
  1. Then we have Email:

Here you have the following options:

    • My Email Settings: This page contains the options for setting your email name, your email address, automatic BCC as an option, your email signature, and your email subscription settings, which allows you to opt in and out of things such as Chatter email digests.
    • My Unresolved Items: This page has the settings for items that had no match when synced through third-party email integration. We will cover this page further in later chapters.
  1. Next is Chatter:

Here you have the following options:

    • Email Notifications: This page allows you to set your email options related to Chatter.
    • My Feeds: This page has an option to automatically follow any records you create.
  1. Next is Calendar & Reminders:

Here you have the following option:

    • Activity Reminders: This allows you to set defaults for reminders related to tasks and events. We will cover reminders in detail in Chapter 2, Understanding Salesforce Activities.
  1. Then we have Desktop Add-Ons:

Here you have the following options:

    • Files Connect Offline: This page has a direct installation link for Files Connect.
    • Salesforce for Outlook: This page offers a step-by-step guide to setting up Salesforce for Outlook.
  1. Next is Import:

Here you have the following option:

    • Data Import Wizard: If you have permission to import data, this page will take you to the launch wizard.
This overview is meant to give you a quick look into some very useful functionality. Make sure you review these items in your development org to get a feel for how they look and function in the Salesforce environment!

Now that we have looked at some of the personal settings, let's summarize what we have learned so far.



By now, you should understand the core concepts of CRM and the difference between Salesforce Lightning and Salesforce Classic. You should also now know how to navigate Salesforce and understand the different search options available to you. You should know how to build a list view, what Chatter is and how to use it, and what personal settings are available to you.

This is a good time to review what you have learned in your development org and see whether you can answer some questions.

This chapter will help us review all that we have learned in the development org and will help us answer all such related questions.

Now that we have an overview of Salesforce, we will start our deep dive into the application, starting with activities in the next chapter!



This is a good time to review what you have learned in your development org and see whether you can answer some questions:

  1. What is the Salesforce economy?
  2. What does CRM stand for?
  3. What are two advantages of using Salesforce Lightning?
  4. Are all tabs objects?
  5. What is an app in Salesforce?
  6. What does a global search return?
  7. What is the default list view that appears when you go to a tab for the first time?
  8. What is Salesforce Einstein?
  9. Which personal setting allows you to grant login access to Salesforce customer service?

Further reading

About the Author
  • Sharif Shaalan

    Sharif Shaalan was first introduced to Salesforce as an end user in 2007. His range of experience, from a sales rep to technical architect, helped him successfully lead more than 100 implementations including projects that were showcased on the main stage at Dreamforce. In 2013, Sharif was chosen as a Salesforce MVP, and in 2020 he was inducted into the Salesforce MVP Hall of Fame. Sharif is a regular speaker at Salesforce conferences and has obtained more than 10 Salesforce certifications. He is the founder and CEO of Agile Cloud Consulting and continues to be an active Salesforce community contributor

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Latest Reviews (2 reviews total)
Easy purchase, good customer service
Great basic book for not only Beginners but for intermediate to expert to review past lessons and practice real world examples.
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