Why an organization might need a new Salesforce agency
Organizations seek out Salesforce agencies for plenty of reasons, but scenarios that precede or necessitate this kind of search generally include:
- A company recently signed a contract with Salesforce and has new products or tools that require implementation
- An existing (perhaps even long-time) Salesforce customer is dissatisfied with the way their org has been customized or configured
- You have an idea for your Salesforce org that requires custom development work
- A previous agency or consultant did custom development work that you don’t understand and need audited, reviewed, and/or potentially updated
Why choosing the right Salesforce agency is so important
Whatever the reason, researching and meeting with potential new Salesforce agencies can be a stressful experience; choosing the “right” Salesforce agency can potentially make or break your business. Shoddy or disorganized Salesforce work can result in:
- Poor user adoption and/or user dissatisfaction
- Inefficient, non-functioning, or conflicting automation
- Messy, disorganized data
- Frustrating sales processes
- An overly-complicated org with too many moving parts to keep track of
- Disappointment with Salesforce (some companies might even find themselves tempted to throw in the towel altogether and start fresh with a new CRM)
8 Mistakes to avoid if you’re actively searching for a new Salesforce agency
It’s clear that choosing the right agency (and the right relationship) is a critically important step, though unfortunately not an easy one. If you’re on the hunt, better your odds by reviewing the following mistakes we’ve seen companies make time and time again.
1.) Don’t settle for a vague scope or proposal
If you’re seeking a Salesforce agency’s help for a full-scale implementation or a complex project, the scope or proposal they provide should not be perfunctory. Good scopes of work are detailed. At a minimum, you should expect estimates around total cost (or expected hours, depending on your financial arrangement), timeline, the individual tasks or development work required, and the order in which these tasks will be completed.
Additionally, be wary of jargon-filled proposals that are difficult to understand. Remember, this is a document the agency has created for you, not their internal team; there’s no reason for it to be indecipherable. Don’t hesitate to ask for a new version if you’re dissatisfied with or confused by the proposal you receive.
2.) Don’t let the agency wholly dictate how the relationship and/or project will work
Most agencies have their own ways of doing things, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If you like their process and it feels like something that will work for you, give them license to guide the project as they see fit.
But if there are things you’re uncomfortable with (e.g. frequency of status updates, level of responsiveness, estimated timeline), advocate for your needs. A good Salesforce agency will be flexible and should adapt its processes (wherever possible) to better accommodate your expectations.
3.) Don’t underestimate the importance of project management
Done right, a fully customized CRM like Salesforce—one that fully meets your needs and expectations—is an incredible asset for your business. But Salesforce projects can be complicated, with many moving parts and interdependent tasks involved. The best way to ensure that a complicated project will be deployed according to plan is to find an agency with excellent project management skills. To do this, ask the candidate agency exactly who will manage their project, and then meet with them directly. Ask them the following questions, wherever appropriate:
- Do you use a project management platform to manage and assign tasks? If so, which tool do you use?
- Will I have a designated point of contact I can rely on for questions and status updates? Will it be the same person throughout the project, or should I expect turnover? Will this person be easy to reach if my issues or questions are urgent?
- How thoroughly do you scope, document, and plan your projects? How is the timeline determined?
- How will Salesforce developers be assigned to tasks, if development work is needed? Who manages the developers?
- How frequently will I be updated on the project’s status, or provided with demonstrations of completed work?
Many of our clients have had poor experiences with a former agency’s project management skills and methodologies. If your organization has suffered through a chaotic project in the past, you’re bound to have very specific concerns. Be sure to voice them, and that these concerns are fully and sufficiently addressed.
4.) Don’t get pigeon-holed into a financial arrangement that doesn’t work for you
Depending on the size of your Salesforce project, there should be many different types of financial arrangements available to you. Common examples include:
- Retainers, or fees paid in advance in order to secure services as they arise (typically appropriate for organizations that know they need a lot of ongoing work and feel confident they will use the hours they’ve paid to have available to them)
- A one-time project fee, with or without deposits or milestone payments (typically appropriate for a simple project with clear requirements that can be completed quickly)
- Ad-hoc support (most appropriate for companies that have inconsistent needs and wish to only pay for the support they actually use)
During your interview process, ask the agency or consultant about the different financial options they offer, and which they recommend for your project. If you know you need help but suspect it’s not going to be consistent or even required on a regular basis, push back if they suggest a retainer. At the same time, if you know you need quite a lot of consistent help, question the suitability of an ad-hoc arrangement (you might end up with a substantially larger bill each month than you budgeted for).
Outside of the general financial arrangement, be sure to carefully review the work the agency has scoped. If their quote doesn’t match your budget, there may be opportunities (depending on the complexity of the work) for outsourcing some of the scoped work to your internal team instead (even if that requires training beforehand). Whenever possible, a good Salesforce agency will employ flexibility and creativity to help you stay within budget.
5.) Don’t gloss over details about the people doing the actual work
Most complex Salesforce projects don’t just involve a lot of moving parts—they often involve a lot of people. If your project requires a team of developers, be sure to ask questions about them. Here are some questions we suggest asking:
- Will you be communicating with the developers directly? If so, are there any language barriers or time zone discrepancies you will need to navigate?
- If you will not be working with the developers directly, will they be available to join calls if there are technical questions?
- Are the developers skilled in the products or tools they’ll be working with? Do they have certifications?
- Is the development team expected to stay consistent, or has there been a lot of developer turnover within the agency?
6.) Don’t forget that the agency’s specialties and skillset should align with your specific needs
It’s not uncommon to get excited by an enthusiastic referral or a slick website, but there are many different types of agencies out there–and not all of them share the same offerings or skills. There is some knowledge transfer between products and tools, but you’re better off choosing an agency skilled in the exact product or tool you need help with. An agency that specializes in Salesforce CPQ, for example, is going to struggle with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, even if their team is otherwise very dedicated, agreeable, and competent.
7.) Don’t minimize the importance of a good personality fit
Finding an agency or consultant you get along with might not seem like a big deal; after all, if they get the work done properly and they get it done on time, why should it matter if you personally enjoy interacting with them? But Salesforce projects are complicated enough on their own, and mixing in a strained working relationship is only going to make it more painful. As an added bonus, choosing an agency that you share an affable relationship with will naturally lead to better communication and overall efficiency.
8.) Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have all the answers
Most of the (potential) mistakes we’ve covered so far apply to the agency you’re interviewing, but this one is for you and your team. While you should never just blindly accept everything an agency is telling you, you also need to—once the concerns above have been addressed—eventually put your faith and trust into the agency or consultant of your choice.
Make no mistake—you know your business, and you know what your business needs—but a high-quality agency knows the tools and products you need to achieve your goals. If they’re qualified to handle your project, they will also know the right and wrong way to go about it. You might have a very specific vision or strategy in mind, but trust that they have good reasons for it if they encourage you to consider a different approach. Continue to advocate for yourself, but do your best to be receptive to their input and feedback.
If your organization is struggling to find the right Salesforce agency for your project, don’t hesitate to reach out. If we’re not the right fit for your needs, we can definitely point you in the right direction.