With the influx of both Salesforce projects and consultants, it sometimes feels like the process of choosing a Salesforce consultant is as big a project as the actual implementation itself. Whether you are looking to implement Salesforce for the first time or if you need to optimize your existing Salesforce instance, it is hard to find a trusted partner who knows what they are doing and is also a good fit for your organization.
Over the past 6 years I have spoken with thousands of organizations that want to implement Salesforce. Based on my conversations with these organizations, I’ve created the list of questions below to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce consultancy. Since your situation and requirements may change, most of these questions don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers. Use these questions as a guide to see how closely the consultant fits your culture and requirements.
Are you certified?
I recently shared on the CRM Market blog that a Salesforce certification is the easiest way to validate that your consultant has the Salesforce knowledge and experience necessary to handle your implementation. It is also a great way to make sure that the individual is up-to-date on the most recent Salesforce releases. Three times a year (winter, spring, and summer), Salesforce releases new system feature updates. In accordance with these updates, all certified professionals are required to maintain their certification by taking a maintenance exam every release cycle.
What is your previous experience?
You want to work with consultants who have been down this road before. Make sure to ask them the following questions:
- How many similar projects have they completed?
- How many projects have they delivered overall?
- What is the size of their average client?
Do you have any references?
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When you look at previous reviews of a consultant look for the following:
- How responsive is the consultant?
- How knowledgeable is the consultant on Salesforce and your vertical?
- Would the customer recommend work with this consultant again?
Are you focused on Salesforce?
Salesforce is constantly changing and evolving. You want to work with a consultant who knows Salesforce and is focused on it. We sometimes take the below questions for granted but you should know that some of the very large consulting firms have a very small Salesforce practice.
- What percentage of your projects are Salesforce projects?
- How long have you been a Salesforce consultant?
- How long have you had a Salesforce practice focused on my specific vertical?
Are you on Trailhead?
Trailhead is a great interactive learning tool (provided for free) that will take you through the Salesforce Platform. Every skill set is covered – whether you are a developer or a system administrator, Trailhead includes tools to test your knowledge of the platform.
Completing a Trailhead module does not make someone an expert in that specific area. However, one of the reasons we added Trailhead badges to the CRM Market consultant profiles is because it does indicate the individual took time to learn about a specific topic and that Trailhead assessed an individual’s success/completion.
Are you an independent consultant or part of a firm?
If it is an independent consultant ask the following:
- How would you handle tasks that you are not experienced with? For example, if your consultant is not a developer how would they handle the need for custom code?
- Do you have any major events during the timeline of our implementation that would prevent you from focusing on our project?
If it is a consulting firm:
- Are you a Salesforce SI partner?
- Is your firm on the AppExchange?
- How many certifications do you have on the AppExchange?
- What is the CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) on the AppExchange?
- How many developers do you have? How many project managers?
You can use the AppExchange Consulting section to verify some of these questions.
What is your implementation methodology?
The project’s scope of work should include the consultant’s implementation methodology. The project methodology might involve an agile or waterfall framework so you need to make sure that this approach will work best for your team and timeline.
Where are you based?
While I strongly believe that we live in an age where location is meaningless, I would recommend that you work with someone who is less than three time-zones away from you.
What about the price?
I left this question for the end because the answer is obvious when there are multiple options of the same quality and one is less expensive. While it is absolutely not true that the expensive consultants deliver the best work, I would like to caution you to resist the lure of a bargain. Make sure you cover all the above questions before you make your decision and never make your decision just based on the price.
Tal Frankfurt is a serial Salesforce user group leader and an inaugural Salesforce MVP. He is the Founder and CEO of both Cloud for Good and CRM Market.
Cloud for Good (www.cloud4good.com) is a Salesforce Foundation Strategic Partner that works with nonprofit and educational organizations to create and implement Salesforce solutions.