Back when I had a chili red Mini Cooper, my father taught me how to change its oil. It seemed an easy enough maintenance process I could do myself and he’s always been a whiz with cars.
(I like to tell people he named me after Carroll Shelby, the famous car designer, racing driver, and entrepreneur best known for the Shelby Cobra and Mustang. Whether or not that’s true he’s neither confirmed nor denied...)
But that poor old Mini had some engine issues and I didn’t have the right tools for the job.
In that way, Salesforce can be a lot like a car. When it’s working right, it can help you move fast. There are regular maintenance needs, like when a new release hits and offers more features that can improve your processes. There are also times you need an expert to get under the hood and fix things that aren’t working properly and slowing down your team.
Getting the right consultant to take a look at your Salesforce platform is like getting a mechanic to check out your vehicle. If you want to keep moving, it’s only a matter of time until you need an expert with that breadth of knowledge and experience.
So how do you choose the right one for your needs?
What to Consider Before Choosing a Salesforce Consultant
Consultants have hands-on experience working with many different issues inside Salesforce. They’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and what doesn’t provide a good return on your investment. They can dig into your business requirements and recommend ways to streamline or fix a process while adhering to your schedule and budget.
That said, they don’t know your business like you do, so information gathering is key to a successful relationship. A common misconception about hiring a consultant is that after a process meeting or two, they’ll go away for a month and come back with a working prototype that tests with no errors and can be installed the next morning.
Being so hands off may sound appealing at first — who wouldn’t want to take a task off their to-do list entirely? — but without your input and feedback, that solution may not be the right solution for you. And now it’s back to the drawing board with even less budget.
When you hire consultants, those first information-gathering meetings should be just the beginning. A consultant worth their salt will want to coordinate regular meetings to discuss progress, next steps, timelines, and answer all of the questions that arise.
They’ll want your active input and feedback into the solutions they’re designing to ensure they fit your needs and processes. So while the heavy lifting of this task can certainly be taken off your to-do list, plan to spend at least a couple of hours per week communicating with your consultant so things keep progressing smoothly.
What to look for When Choosing a Salesforce Consultant
The best consultant for your company is the one that:
Has Salesforce experience that matches your needs.
Clearly communicates throughout the sales and project process.
Provides informed recommendations and doesn’t say “yes” to everything.
Will help you become more self-sufficient.
The Right Experience for Your Needs
You’ll want to have a clear set of expectations for a consultant before you can judge this. Do you want a consultant to be your admin until you find another? Do you need to implement CPQ or another specialized, complex Salesforce functionality? Is a local presence important to you? Make a list of what you want and when you want it, determine a budget, and then start your conversations with potential consultants.
The best consultants are transparent about how they work. Period. They’ll be able to clearly communicate what’s possible based on your timeline and budget, how they’ll work with you, and what you can expect of the relationship. They’ll answer your questions as quickly as they can and provide guidance for your decision making. They should either express their enthusiasm to work with you or let you know if they wouldn’t be a good fit for your needs. Either way, they should be clear in their communication with you.
How vs. Why
You may have some ideas about how to solve a particular problem, and your consultant has probably solved a problem like it. Similar to clear communication, a good consultant should also let you know if a solution won’t work, isn’t maintainable, or is based on outdated technology. They’ll want to provide value to you and your team, so their focus should be on the why and solving for that. Why do you want this kind of solution? Why does the process look like that? Expect them to dig deeper into what you’re trying to solve. A good consultant’s primary focus is the why, the how will follow suit.
They Provide Value Even After The Relationship Ends
At the end of the engagement, your major business goals should be met and your Salesforce instance is running smoothly. But who’s going to keep the engine running? If it’s the right time to get your own admin, consider having the consultant help interview and assess candidates. You’ll want to decide on the cultural fit yourself, but your consultant is a great resource for the skills part, especially knowing the skill level needed based on the complexities of your Salesforce org. Whatever the future holds for your organization, your consultant should have you positioned to meet it head-on.