Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to implement Salesforce! Now comes the fun (did we say fun? Maybe nervewracking, exciting, high stakes…) part: choosing a partner to help you bring your vision of a Salesforce-powered organization to life. In many ways, choosing Salesforce was the easy part—now you need to select a partner who will help you realize this vision. Below are six suggestions to keep in mind as you search and vet Salesforce partners.
1. Look for a partner who is “right-sized” for you
If you’re a big operation with a highly complex IT infrastructure, you’ll need a larger consulting firm that has a lot of experience in working with similar-sized organizations. They should bring to the table the required system architecture, technical skills, and experience as well as expertise in managing large-scale organizational change. Conversely, if your organization is small and budget-limited, you should consider firms that cater to organizations with little internal IT capability and smaller budgets. You will be much more important to a boutique firm and your funds will go farther.
2. Get recommendations and check references
You need to work with a highly rated and referenceable company. The first place to look is the AppExchange listing for the partner – you’ll find the aggregate customer satisfaction rating (CSAT) for projects completed over the past 18 months. Salesforce conducts the survey directly with each customer, so you can be assured the ratings are legitimate. The next thing you’ll want to do is ask around; talk to people in your network who’ve been through similar projects and get their recommendations. Finally, once you narrow the choice down to a couple of partners, ask for references and call them. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions about how the project went, the communication style and responsiveness of the partner, ability to stick to timeline and budget, and ultimately if they would work with them again.
3. Go with partners who have achieved the highest level of Salesforce partnership
Salesforce consulting partners are committed to delivering customer success and have access to a robust partner community and myriad resources for support and training. Premium partners (the highest Salesforce.org partner designation) have met the most rigorous standards of Salesforce technical certification and customer satisfaction. They also enjoy unparalleled access to the Salesforce.org Partner Success team whose purpose is to ensure partners have the right information and support they need to deliver highly successful projects for their customers.
4. Think long-term
Your project may only last a few months, but you want a partner who will be at your side for years. It’s like picking a doctor or auto repair shop – you want a trusted advisor who knows and cares about you, so let them know that up front. Plan to treat them like a true collaborator and share your strategic vision with them. They’ll be able to make smarter choices and advise you on the best approach knowing what you have in mind. Remember that the partner wants to keep you as a long-term customer and they know that the only way to achieve that is to deliver long-term solutions that meet your business objectives and are enthusiastically adopted by your staff and constituents. They will also go out of their way to make things right if anything goes wrong.
5. Don’t make cost your only decision criterion
Cost estimates can vary significantly between partners. Don’t let the “number” cloud your judgment about who the best fit for your organization. If your ideal partner provides an estimate that’s not in line with other proposals, ask them about it. It may be due to a different interpretation of the business needs and not an indication that they’re simply more expensive. Determine fit first, then factor in cost. Spending a little more with a partner you believe is a better fit is preferable to going with a partner who gave you the rock-bottom price but may not check your other boxes.
6. It’s all about people
Without question, this is a people business. You want to feel a connection to the team – it needs to feel like a match. Your first conversation may be with a salesperson or even the company founder of a smaller company and you’ll hear all about their history and vision. In that first conversation, get them talking about your organization, similar customers, and their approach to addressing your business needs. Try to get a sense of the company culture and see how it aligns with your organization. Gauge their willingness to push back – this is important unless all you want them to do is follow orders. Ask if you can meet the team you’ll be working with. Project resourcing is dynamic, but if you’re serious and able to move quickly they should be able to introduce you to several key team members including the project manager and lead technical staff. Lastly, find out who the executive sponsor for your account will be – the buck stops with them and you should expect them to offer to meet regularly to review progress and discuss any concerns.