Give Your Salesforce Training a Boost with Improved Documentation

The goal of any good training program is to teach a person how to successfully perform a task so that you don’t have to (you have other fish to fish to fry).

For example, if you’re training Rebecca to build desks, you eventually want to be able to leave Rebecca alone and have her build perfect desks so you can do something else. If you’re training Steve to cook cheeseburgers, you eventually want to be able to leave Steve alone and have him cook delicious burgers while you do something else.

The same goes for Salesforce training – you eventually want to be able to leave Sarah alone to set up a campaign, update inventory, or run the monthly report so that you don’t have to.

And just like other training programs, effective Salesforce training does not happen overnight.

What makes Salesforce training effective?

If you want somebody to be able to perfectly execute a process on their own, they are going to need to do that process again and again – repetition is key to effective Salesforce training, which means that a one time training session isn’t going to cut it.

But you also can’t be standing there all day as they do their reps, pointing through screens, saying “click here… click there…” until they memorize what to do – that just isn’t practical. You need to provide a resource that does this for you.

Give users a resource to reference during the reps

Create Salesforce documentation that gives your team something to reference other than you every time they execute a process. Great documentation can effectively show your team what to do as they put in the reps (which are necessary for effective training), without requiring you to be involved every time.

What should you include in Salesforce documentation?

When you read the word “documentation,” it probably makes you think of written text in a PDF. It’s not your fault – pretty much everybody writes user guides and SOPs (standard operating procedures) using text in a PDF.

But when I say documentation, I want you to think of more than just words. Documentation can also include:

  • video
  • screencasts
  • screenshots
  • images
  • image annotations
  • animations

Basically anything that can be recorded and reused to teach a concept or a workflow is considered documentation. And it doesn’t have to be a PDF – you can make a Salesforce documentation training website that has videos and easy to navigate job aids.

So go beyond text and PDF. If you can recreate training documentation on a typewriter, you’re doing it wrong.

How to write awesome documentation

There are 3 basic principles to to follow when making Salesforce documentation:

  • Make it task based
  • Use a lot of pictures
  • Make it easily accessible

Do these 3 things, and you’ll notice that documentation will be easier to write (which means you’ll write more of it), and readers will think it is way more helpful (which means they’ll reference it more often).

Make it task based

Don’t document screens and menus – document tasks. Nobody opens up documentation with the intention of learning what every screen, menu, and button does – they want to know what they need to do to get that campaign done so it can go out tomorrow. They want to know how to run an accurate report so they can give the Sales Manager what she wants.

Users just want to follow the steps to get their job done.

For some tips on making task-based documentation, check out chapter 2 of my free eBook, “The Pragmatic Guide to Training and Onboarding Salesforce Users in Your Nonprofit.” I go over some common mistakes, and show you a great format for making task-based documentation easy to write and easy to read.

Use a lot of pictures

If a screenshot can explain what to do, use a screenshot. The easiest way to convey where to click on a computer screen is to have a picture of the screen with an arrow pointing to the button.

In my documentation, I use a screenshot with annotations for each step of an onscreen process. Not only is it easy to read, but documentation becomes very easy to write. I can whip out job aids in no time because I’m not worrying about grammar, punctuation, and the meaning of words – I just take a screenshot and move on. Check out this example to see what I mean.

Here are a few tools you can check out for making documentation with a lot of screenshots:

If you decide to follow this principle, please don’t waste your time using print screen and Paint. For a few extra bucks, you can literally do what would take you an hour in less than 10 minutes using one of these applications.

Make it easily accessible

Even if documentation is amazing, if it’s hard to find, nobody will reference it. Remove any barriers to your documentation being used by making it available right within Salesforce. For ideas on how to do that, check “7 Steps to Creating Your Own Salesforce Documentation Site.” I show you how to create a documentation website and put it in a Salesforce tab.


If you have the right framework and the right tool set, you can create awesome Salesforce documentation that can help you train your team. Do it right, and you will build a resource that can can be referenced instead of you, which means you’ll be able to train more people with less effort.

Jonathan DeVore is the Director of Customer Success for ScreenSteps. Subscribe to his blog where he regularly writes about better ways to create Salesforce training documentation.