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8 Soft Skills Every CRM Developer Needs in 2018

by Sirius People

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Estimated Reading Time: minutes

Have you been rejected for a role even though you met all of the technical criteria?

Do you have trouble getting recognition for your work?

Do you struggle to get other people to complete tasks that relate to your project? 


You can be an exceptional developer, but unless you invest in improving soft skills such as communication, negotiation, collaboration or commercial acumen, you risk limiting your career progress and missing out on the best jobs in the market.

Most CRM developers are heavily focussed on improving their technical skills. However, this is in direct opposition to employers who see technical skills as a baseline requirement and are instead heavily focussed on finding tech candidates who have strong soft skills and are able to collaborate effectively with other team members and departments (e.g. marketing) as well as strong communication skills.

A 2018 West Monroe Partners research report found that 98% of HR leaders believed that soft skills were important for tech candidates looking to secure a role. More than two-thirds also revealed that they had rejected highly skilled tech candidates that lacked soft skills. And even if you do successfully get the job, no matter how exceptional your technical skills, there is a high chance you won’t progress further within the company unless you are able to demonstrate strong soft skills.


“98% of HR leaders believed that soft skills were important for tech candidates looking to secure a role.”


Why you should care about soft skills

So why are soft skills so important when it comes to getting promoted, gaining a higher salary and getting the pick of the projects?

Technology and CRM platforms like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics, in particular, sit at the core of a modern organisation. The CRM system is used by employees across multiple departments and is frequently integrated with many other critical business systems from customer service, warehouse, finance and marketing.

As a CRM tech professional, you need to be able to adapt and adjust your approach when dealing with different stakeholders and must be able to distil information to a non-technical audience, including decision makers. The days of the tech team hiding in the back room are long gone and the complexity of the CRM strategy is increasing rapidly.

Possessing strong soft skills means you are equipped to navigate the inevitable challenges or conflicts and work collaboratively to achieve better outcomes.


Differentiate yourself from the crowd

Jobs in tech are amongst the most in-demand jobs in the world at the moment. To be successful you need to differentiate yourself from other candidates out there who also have strong raw technical capabilities. By building on your soft skill set, you can set yourself apart from other applicants.

Once you are selected for your dream job, it is then your soft skills that help you develop the relationships you need to be successful in the long term. Developing and nurturing strong relationships is just as valuable as being able to complete technical tasks as it helps to build trust, share knowledge, and create open lines of communication with people across all parts of the company.


8 skills employers are looking for in CRM developers

1. You can communicate with a non-technical audience

Skip the jargon and technical language. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to non-technical audiences without losing their attention. As soon as someone’s eyes start glazing over, they begin absent-mindedly nodding, or aren’t asking any questions, then you’ve lost them and the conversation won’t provide any benefit for you or them.

A study from the International Association of Business Communicators in the UK showed that high-performing organisations were twice as likely than average ranked ones to promote the use of jargon-free language. This is because reducing jargon not only makes it easier for people across the entire organisation to communicate more easily but also reduces any confusion that can lead to costly errors further down the track.

Practical steps:

  • Seek feedback from non-technical peers on your communication style

  • Use communication tools such as diagrams to aid in disseminating information to non-technical groups

  • When describing technical concepts, simplify them to the point where you pretend you are explaining them to a 10-year-old

  • Avoid industry-specific or technical jargon

Recommended Reading:

How To Win Friends & Influence People By Dale Carnegie


2. You leverage collective knowledge

No one is expected to be an expert at everything. It is important to leverage the knowledge of other staff within your company as well as useful information that can be readily found in online communities such as StackOverflow or Salesforce forums. This both increases your knowledge base and leads to being more effective at problem-solving. Businesses want CRM techs who lack arrogance and who will seek to get the best solution for the project. Don’t spend a lot of time on a problem that could be solved more quickly by seeking support or advice.

This also closely ties in with sharing your strengths with your colleagues and turning to them to assist you when needed. If you know Salesforce and Apex inside out but aren’t as proficient with Oracle, then use this as an opportunity to share your knowledge with your colleagues and pick their brains about areas where they have greater expertise. This is especially important in the tech environment where technology, software and processes can change rapidly. If you don’t keep up to date either by teaching yourself in your own time or learning from others in the workplace, there’s a good chance you’ll rapidly fall behind.

Practical steps:

  • Join forums or online communities relevant to your role e.g. Salesforce developer forum

  • Establish regular knowledge sharing with colleagues


3. You actively collaborate

Being able to work together with team members and other departments is vital. Becoming siloed and failing to properly collaborate with colleagues not only means you are not being as effective at completing tasks and projects as you could be, it is also likely to lead to you stagnating in your role.

Most CRM projects require the successful collaboration of multiple people and if those people don’t work well together, sharing information and communicating effectively, then this leads to delays in completing projects successfully.

Practical steps:

  • Make an effort to connect with team members and stakeholders on a personal level

  • Pick up the phone occasionally. Often breakdowns in communication can be solved with a quick phone call

  • Go out of your way to see how you can assist others without expecting anything in return

Recommended Reading:

Give & Take By Adam Grant


4. You structure your time effectively

While your job title might not say Project Manager, it is very useful to learn to see all tasks in your role as projects, no matter how large or small. This is especially true if you regularly work with platforms such as Salesforce. The rapid release cycle, certifications, and new products that emerge mean that Salesforce professionals need to be constantly completing small projects or goals to stay skilled and remain effective in their role.

By identifying something as a project, it helps you to break it down into manageable and clearly defined steps, helping you maintain momentum in moving towards completing it. This means that complex tasks are instead viewed as a series of smaller goals and as you complete each one the sense of achievement keeps you motivated and fixed on the end goal.

There are many opportunities in the Salesforce ecosystem across a variety of skill types and levels of proficiency. But they all require you to be able to effectively manage your own work and to ensure your knowledge of the platform remains up to date. As your career develops, it is also very useful to be able to discuss the successful projects you have been involved in, and if you are used to defining everything you do as a project then you will become more comfortable clearly articulating what you have accomplished.

Practical steps:

  • Break down your workload into smaller tasks

  • Ensure individual tasks are completed according to priority and deadlines

  • Make sure you record the key tasks you have completed and share them with your boss


5. You are commercially astute

Your boss wants people on the team who are commercially astute and who understand how development activities align with commercial goals for the company or client. This means fully understanding the commercial repercussions of each of the projects you are delivering.

Sometimes it can seem easier to just hide behind your screen rather than actually talk to the people you are solving problems for. But understanding the commercial drivers behind a project and the overall commercial goal can often be a great motivator once you understand “Why” you are doing the work.

In addition, by being aware of the bigger picture, you can but also better understand how your work fits into the overall project and start to factor in other non-technical elements into the work you are doing.

Practical steps:

  • Speak to your boss or the project leader to understand the end goal of the project and the expected commercial outcomes

  • Talk to staff from other departments across sales, marketing, and finance so you can understand how the work you are doing will be used and their expectations

  • Talk to your boss to understand the 20% of the requirements that will have 80% of the impact

  • Shadow users while they are completing essential tasks in the CRM system so you can understand the business and practical implications of changes

Recommended Reading:

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman


6. You prioritise the end goal

Being able to effectively manage your workload and identify which tasks or activities are the highest value doesn’t just benefit you, it benefits everyone you work with. It means you work more efficiently as well as ensuring that you and your colleagues are always focusing the most amount of time and energy on the most critical tasks. As a tech professional, it’s easy to get buried in the code and forget that the end goal is a system that enables sales and marketing teams to generate new business with maximum ease.

If you can prioritise your tasks and deadlines, then you can also identify early when you need to involve others, delegate responsibilities or seek assistance from vendors in order to meet deadlines. People like to help one another achieve common goals but rarely like to do it at the last minute and with no notice.

Practical steps:

  • Keep your focus on the key goal of the project and regularly self-check that what you are focused on is actually a priority (rather than a personal puzzle!)

  • Think about that task you are dreading doing, often it’s the most important and you will feel a lot better once you’ve completed it

  • Proactively manage expectations around delivery timeframes

  • Seek help well in advance of the deadline if you are struggling with a task

  • Focus on the 20% of tasks that will deliver 80% of the results required from the project

Recommended Reading:

The Little Book of Big Decisions By James McGrath


7. You speak up on important issues

This doesn’t mean your colleagues should never stop hearing the sound of your voice but you shouldn’t be afraid to vocalise problems that you’re facing. You should be prepared to discuss issues directly with managers or team members so that important information or roadblocks don’t simply disappear into Slack chats or a chain of emails that don’t lead to a resolution.

Identifying issues, workshopping them with your team and implementing solutions is much more useful than spending hours trying to solve a problem that you don’t have the tools to fix or staying silent on something that’s important.

Practical steps:

  • Speak up in meetings if you find an issue. If confidence is an issue, speak with a stakeholder who attends the meeting in advance so you know you have support in the room

  • Be solution focused rather than problem focused

  • Focus on resolving the problem as a team rather than on who’s to blame


8. You thrive in the company culture

Although hard to clearly define, cultural fit is the glue that holds high performing organisations together, create happy and productive work environments, and makes talent want to stick around. Ultimately you need to be aligned with the company vision and culture.

Organisations want to hire people who fit with the team socially as well as having the required technical skill set. Not being able to assimilate or not fitting in with the team will prevent you from being promoted or involved in certain projects. Being likable goes a long way.

If you have a clear idea of the type of company that you want to work for and understand the type of attitude and commitment that companies are looking for, then you should integrate well with the company culture and people will recognise you for helping to add to it.

Practical steps:

  • Make an effort to engage in the social activities offered by your company

  • Be honest with yourself during the hiring process and avoid taking a job that ‘sounds good’ if the company culture doesn’t align with your values


Take the next step

Today’s tech industry is complex and demands a lot from its professionals. Employers and candidates both need to recognise that soft skills are just as important as technical skills in a modern CRM tech role. Actively focusing on improving them is a great way to give yourself a competitive advantage in your career and become a more well rounded and knowledgeable professional.

It takes time to hone your project management, commercial and communication skills but by acknowledging that soft skills require practice and patience to develop, you are also helping to place yourself on a path of continual development that will serve you very well in the long term.

Should you wish to progress your CRM career please take a look at our current live Salesforce developer jobs, Microsoft Dynamics developer jobs or give us a call for a confidential discussion on how we can assist you.