Salesforce now helps enterprises to streamline various facets of a business ranging from sales to product delivery and customer support. Salesforce is so popular for being a great system off the shelf, but it can help individual businesses the best when you customize these resources to fit your needs aptly. As the initial implementation and customization can be a bit complicated, it is best to hire a consultant who can help you get the most out of Salesforce CRM.
Choosing a Salesforce consultant
A good Salesforce consulting partner should have enough experience and skills to implement the industry best practices which will help you to administer your business successfully and further grow it. But how can you choose the best one who is reliable? Their hundreds of consulting partner for Salesforce and many of them are officially partnered with Salesforce. Apart from that, there are freelance consultants too who may effectively meet the needs of small-scale organizations. So, here we have listed some tips to consider while hiring a Salesforce consulting partner.
Check for their expertise.
Experience is a crucial factor, but there are some primary skills to check for, which may help to identify the best ones out there.
- Sales skills – You may have to work closely with the consulting partner to implement automation of the sales process. As far as this need is concerned, it is crucial to check if your consultant has any sales experts or people with sales operations management expertise in the team. Only they can provide critical and practical insight and advice on developing and deploying sales strategies.
- Project management expertise – The practices you devise on Salesforce environment aren't just virtual, but have practical implications in the real-world project management environment. This has to be properly managed across various teams and departments to achieve the set goals. An ideal Salesforce consultant will have resources with solid experience in project management to ensure that your Salesforce implementation is done perfectly. They need to handle various aspects of project management to ensure that the projects are running on track, proper execution of delivery, and successful post-implementation training. Check for PMP professionals to do it for you.
- Related technologies – One major objective of hiring a Salesforce consultant is to assist with integrations to the existing systems and other add-ons systems. So, it is important that you choose only experienced hands who go exposure to various technologies to integrate with Salesforce integrates from primary software applications to more comprehensive apps like Quickbooks or mail clients.
You may use your peer network to find out a recommended partner or can get recommendations through Salesforce communities. Look for suggestions of others who implemented Salesforce for the businesses of your size and needs.
You have to hire an advisor, not an order-taker
Expert advisors are more expensive than just order takers. The real consultants are those who have seen a lot of projects like yours and know the applicable conditions to run it successfully. Order takers are those who do what you tell them to do. When it comes to the crucial task of Salesforce implementation and customization, you need the former. Along with this need, try to find a consultant who possesses expertise in your industry domain and experienced in managing similar organizational model. Some partners may be good at service-based industries, whereas some others may have in-depth knowledge of product development industries.
Set a budget
If you don’t have any budget while hunting for a consultant, you may end up with some pro-bono volunteers. When it comes to expert Salesforce consulting, you get what you actually pay for. You have to consider the budget while talking to the consultants and make sure that they round it to the ballpark figure.
Know the migration costs
You shouldn't underestimate the work and cost involved in migrating all your legacy data to Salesforce. Salesforce is soft to handle, but your data isn't. This is more so if you are trying to merge data from many excel sheets, Outlook contacts, or your email database, etc. If not planned properly, data migration can be a complicated affair. It may be so hard to estimate the cost, but usually, for a long-existing business, it can be expensive as 5% to even 40% of the budget. But, doing it is worth each penny as data is the most valuable asset for any modern-day business.
Roles to consider
Further, we will discuss some key roles one should consider while planning for Salesforce consulting.
- Strategic consultant: Salesforce is a very powerful platform which can be effectively used for any simple tasks like contact management to advanced tasks like developing a highly interactive tool for customer engagement. If you have higher aspirations with Salesforce, then you have to look for a strategic consultant who can walk you through the process through the mission and convert you to an expert by self.
- Requirement Architect / Data Architect: Check how your consultant will build your unique requirements? Also, check how do they hand it off to the developers, and when do they agree to the scope of the project as before or after the analysis?
- Change management consultant: For bigger organizations, it is not enough to consider the technology project, but you need to gauge the needs of the entire change management. Many consultants may provide you with only basic assistance here, but failing to do change management with greater care may derail your entire operations overtime.
Some other key roles to consider are technology project management consultant, organizational project consultant, project admins, etc.
Once if you identify the apt provider and going ahead with the customization process, then it is important to trust your consultants and then go further through a phased approach to the project. It is also important to ensure ongoing support while finalizing a consultant. Salesforce implementation and customization is not a one-time process, but an ongoing affair for which you need to maintain a long-term healthy relationship with the consultant. For a wide and deep Salesforce implementation, you should get a partner who has a clear-cut long-term account management program in place.