So you’ve decided to go for the gold and get the best-of-the-best when it comes to CRMs for your business: we’re talking about—of course—Salesforce. But, now what? How do you implement and utilize Salesforce to suit your unique business goals and challenges?
Only just starting out, and without a good base of knowledge, a dedicated project manager, a set of stakeholders, and most likely—some skilled Salesforce developers—the process of getting going on a Salesforce implementation can be complex, daunting, and confusing.
Parquet Development is a certified Salesforce partner that was founded to simplify this exact process for all business types and, as a trusted consultant, to ensure that your Salesforce implementation is smooth, painless, and legible for all users. Along with offering our mission-critical Salesforce development services, expertise, and knowledge to our clients, we’ve come up with a checklist to help you define what a great Salesforce implementation looks like, what you need, and how to get started.
You should not do all by yourself: here’s why
First, it’s important to define whether you’re going to be working with a Salesforce consultant, or are going to try it out on your own first. In almost all cases, we do not advise that you try to do this by yourself, unless you have the time (and a lot of it), stakeholder backing, and most importantly, the knowledge to go it alone.
Even with these things, you may run into technical hurdles that cannot be solved, or perhaps you’d like to make Salesforce work in a way that is next to impossible to figure out, but that is technically possible–in almost every case a knowledgeable and experienced Salesforce developer is required to configure the CRM in a way that works for your business or to overcome problems within Salesforce that you are most likely going to encounter.
A professional project manager can also help you dictate and define scalable goals for your business that ensure the CRM will work not just for today and the sets of challenges you face at the moment, but years into the future as well.
There’s also the issue of technical debt or what is the result of–to use a manufacturing phrase– just-in-time SF development, which doesn’t scale to suit your business needs in the future, but merely exists as a model for your current business structures. Technical debt can continue to accumulate until you need to contact a good Salesforce consulting partner.
Worse still, if your current certified Salesforce consulting partner or team of developers is not doing high-quality work on your implementation, you may also accrue technical debt, even though everything works as it should (for now at least).
You may be afraid to change anything once the initial work on your Salesforce implementation is finished. Don’t be—most every problem or process failure can be resolved with the help of skilled Salesforce consultants. Quality Salesforce consulting partners are excellent troubleshooters and detectives, and—though much more difficult once an implementation has already been completed by another party—can certainly fix any shoddy work.
You can find more information on avoiding mistakes when searching for a new Salesforce consultant here.
Find a great Salesforce consultant or agency
So what factors make a Salesforce agency great?
Salesforce Partner status
Is your candidate Salesforce agency a certified Salesforce partner? This is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that it shows they have gone through the proper due diligence to receive partner status.
It’s much the same as finding a great accountant; the first thing to look for is that they are actually a certified public accountant and not just someone who knows a little bit of Quickbooks.
Quality Salesforce consulting firms should have certified team members. You’ll want to ensure that your agency knows at least the core basics required for gaining certifications from Salesforce, but you should also verify that the agency in question has Salesforce certifications that match your needs (e.g., certified in CPQ if you’re trying to implement Revenue Cloud).
Look carefully at previous work your potential consultant has done to ensure that they can competently handle the complexities or unique challenges of similar jobs, as well as has the determination to follow through on difficult implementations.
If a consultancy’s work shows that, like a cohesive orchestra, it can deal with very complex passages of implementation soundly and elegantly, it’s a great sign that they can do the same thing for your business.
Word-of-mouth or testimonials
Have you gotten the thumbs up from others about a particular Salesforce agency? This is always a good sign and the best kind of marketing there is for any organization. If the agency you’re vetting is a Salesforce consulting partner, they’ll also be on the Salesforce appexchange. Their profile should have reviews, so take the time to search for them here. An agency’s website should also contain reviews or testimonials.
Upwork satisfaction (if they’re on there)
If your potential agency does work or bills through Upwork, check through their previous reviews and ratings to see what others have said about their work. Parquet Development’s Jessica Hope, for example, has a 100% job success score and is considered a Top Rated consultant for Salesforce services.
Okay, so you’ve found a great Salesforce consulting partner, now what?
So your potential Salesforce consultancy has multiple certifications, a stellar reputation, and your friends think they’re great. What are the action items that you need to check off to ensure proper implementation of Salesforce, together with your consulting partner?
Questions your stakeholder group should be asking–and your Salesforce consultancy should be following up on
Within you group of stakeholders, you should be aligned on the core aspects of your implementation. Your Salesforce agency will be able to help you accomplish this with input from stakeholders. Some questions you should be asking internally, which you can then relay the answers to your agency are:
- What high-level goals do you need to be accomplished? Triage your goals into integral or must-have, high, medium, and low priority. This will give you a bird’s eye view of your business needs that a consultant can tackle in order of importance. This will also help determine the scope of your implementation with the agency.
- What are your current pain points or problems? These will be indicative or constitutive of your goals and should dovetail with your high-level goals.
- What are some current processes in your old CRM that need to be duplicated in Salesforce? Salesforce developers will be able to mimic any process that your current system is using that you need to run exactly as-is.
- What doesn’t work right now? And what needs to be done to fix it? Making a rubric of action items that need to be fixed, newly created, or optimized is an effective tactic when working with a Salesforce consultant. These are your small-term or lowercase goals that will be more technical and give your agency a strong idea of the kind of work that needs to be completed.
- How do you envision a successful Salesforce implementation? What do you see happening once your agency has finished implementing Salesforce? How will the new and old processes unite together to form an entirely new and better way of doing business?
Prioritizing or triaging requirements is an integral part of every individual implementation plan. The more detailed you can be in your answers, the better for your agency to create an action plan that best suits your business needs.
Salesforce project management 101
Any Salesforce agency worth its salt will have a dedicated project manager and use a variety of management tools that they use to streamline the process of tackling everything from one-off or ad hoc jobs to the full, big-picture implementation. The tools they use may integrate or be the same as some of the tools you are familiar with or currently using, such as Trello or Monday.
How will you be keeping in contact with your agency? Will you be in touch with the actual people who are doing the work, or is there a dedicated, knowledgeable point of contact for the agency that is your go-to for whatever, whenever. The PM will facilitate timelines and budgets, can assist with internal adoption, and much more.
How often will you receive updates? Sticking to a calendar for milestones, as well as receiving regular updates on work that is being done is par for the course, so if you feel like you’re being left out of the loop or not receiving updates regularly, (along with poor work or other mitigating factors) it might be a sign to switch agencies.
How will tasks be assigned? A dedicated project manager will assign both tasks for your team (if needed), as well as assign tasks for the agency to complete.
Make sure your current CRM (or another system) manager is on hand for the transition period. It is likely that your Salesforce consultancy will need to be in regular contact with this manager, at least in the beginning. Designate primary stakeholders for the Salesforce implementation process. It’s unlikely that you would be reading this article if you weren’t at least a stakeholder, if not the primary.
Testing, testing, and testing again during implementation. This is a must. When setting up automation, make sure your agency is testing internally or sharing individual emails with you. Anything that is business-critical should be rigorously tested within the platforms used before even thinking about rolling out a campaign.
Ensure a successful transfer of knowledge and Salesforce skills from agency to your company’s user base–while it’s always a priority, even necessary, to have a certified Salesforce development team on your side, you don’t want to end up in a position where you are completely dependent upon your agency for every little thing.
A good Salesforce agency should expedite the passing of a torch, in that knowledge should be shared widely and where appropriate to designated stakeholders within your business so that you feel empowered to use the full range of your new CRM’s functionality, and that you can take charge post-implementation, while also having your consultant stand by for additional help where needed. A good Salesforce consultant should do both–pass on skills and also be there for you when you need it after a project is complete.
I have a Salesforce partner, but I think I want to switch—what are the warning signs of a bad Salesforce consulting partner?
If you have the feeling that your Salesforce agency isn’t up to the task, is erratic when providing updates or not updating you at all on progress, clearly doesn’t understand your specific industry or unique business needs, or myriad other issues that are proving to be problematic for your organization, trust your gut—it may be time to switch agencies.
Below is a list of common warning signs of less-than-stellar Salesforce agencies.
Common warning signs of bad Salesforce consultancies and even worse implementations
These are things you want to avoid at all costs. Cross off your list if you do not have any of these common problems:
- Technical debt (see above)
- Productivity hampered or not increased – The entire reason for the existence of Salesforce is to increase productivity
- Poor data hygiene
- Sales process overcomplicated
- Process automation (flows, processes, rules) that does nothing, goes nowhere, or worse, has a negative impact on efficiency
- Poor user adoption and user experience
- Unclear goals or expectations
- Irregular updates, or none at all
- Going over scope or over budget (hidden costs or fees apply here too)
Salesforce implementations can be hard, but don’t give up! There are ways to ensure a successful rollout by working with a certified Salesforce consultant. A good consultant will help you customize Salesforce to fit your company’s needs, train your employees on how to use it to its fullest potential, and provide ongoing support. Hopefully, this article has been of some help in your search for a certified Salesforce partner.
If you need immediate assistance, Parquet Development is here to help with all your Salesforce issues from initial implementation to deep, in-the-weeds technical debugging and everything in between.
Drop us a quick line here or reach out to us on social media and we’ll get the ball rolling on a successful Salesforce implementation for your business today.