Selecting a Salesforce Implementation Partner
Updated: Mar 2
By Shannan Hearne, Summit Technologies Marketing Specialist
Once you've decided that Salesforce.org is the right CRM solution for your organization, the next step is to choose an implementation partner to work with. As the resident marketing and SEO specialist at Summit Technologies, I can tell you that as often as any term relating to Salesforce is searched for, “the best Salesforce implementation partner” or consultant or firm ranks right at the top.
Any Salesforce partner can proclaim themselves as “the best” while a good ranking on the Salesforce AppExchange is an indicator you can trust. Just because they show up at the top of the Google searches is only proof that they excel at search engine optimization. Or invest heavily in pay-per-click advertising. Even the fact that they are geographically local is only an indicator of their location, not their capabilities. Ultimately you have to find and select a Salesforce implementation partner who is right for your organization.
Here are a few tips to consider when making this decision:
Look for a partner with experience in your specific area of focus, your industry, your business model, or any other criteria that makes you unique. Salesforce is a versatile platform which can be modeled to suit many companies, and different partners may have different areas of expertise. It's important to find a partner who has experience with the specific process or use case you are interested in.
Seriously consider engaging a potential Salesforce partner to do a discovery independent of your implementation so you can feel confident in their recommendations knowing they understand your business needs and technology requirements. This smaller investment can lead to greater ROI on the major investment in software licenses and implementation services.
While we are on the subject of costs, approach your Salesforce implementation partner search with a ballpark budget in mind. You aren’t looking for the cheapest or the most expensive solution, necessarily, but there is no point in discussing at great length a five figure project with a seven figure potential partner. If you have opted to do a discovery prior to your full-on Salesforce partner search you will have a fairly good understanding of what your unique project should entail and cost.
Consider a partner's track record and reputation. Look for partners with a history of successful projects and positive customer reviews. Focus on Salesforce integration partners with a long relationship with Salesforce, with a wide range of satisfied customers, and an internal team that can encompass all your development and customization needs. Ask if your Salesforce implementation partner’s track record includes expertise in data migration. If you have existing data in legacy systems which may or may not be 100% clean and accurate your Salesforce partner is going to need to understand how to help you clean it up. Data migration whether handled in house or outsourced can quickly become 5-40% of an entire project’s cost.
Evaluate a partner's communication and project management style. A good partner will be able to clearly explain their process and keep you informed throughout the project. Your Salesforce implementation partner team should include a delivery manager and an account representative that clearly understand your needs and communicate well with you on a regular and timely basis.
Take into account the other tools in your technology wheelhouse and ensure they are in your Salesforce partner’s wheelhouse, too eliminating costly learning curves or downtime where one tool breaks another. If your Salesforce partner won’t be working hands on with these ancillary systems make sure they are able to work well and during normal business hours with the owners of the ancillary systems.
Look for a partner with a proven process. A partner with a well-defined process is more likely to deliver a successful project on time and on budget. If your Salesforce implementation will be delivered in stages ensure that your Salesforce partner has the bandwidth required to get you from start to finish.
Consider a partner's ability to adapt to your organization's needs. The right partner will be able to tailor their approach to meet the unique needs of your organization and the key stakeholders for your Salesforce project. Not only does your consulting partner have to be able to adapt but they must be skilled in helping you and your organization adapt as well. Implementing Salesforce is not just a technology project but for many companies an entire change management process. A skilled Salesforce implementation partner will assist, coach, monitor, and advise throughout the process ensuring maximum adoption and success.
Before you select the partner who will work hand in hand with your organization to implement a fully customized Salesforce solution identify the primary project sponsor or administrator within your organization and involve them in the search process. Your project sponsor is not only a primary stakeholder in the Salesforce implementation but your new most valuable player because they bring to the table both the institutional knowledge of how your new Salesforce system was designed and deployed. They are also the key person who understands how your company works, who needs to be involved in major implementation decisions, who needs to be present for all Salesforce training and sync meetings, and where the coffee is stored. Seriously, this individual will be nearly as key to the success of your Salesforce deployment as the Salesforce partner you employ.
Finally, seek out a partner who can provide you with ongoing support fostering a long-term relationship. Salesforce is designed to grow at scale as your business grows. Your future Salesforce development goals are easier to reach if the same team gets you from start to finish. And a tremendous amount of time can be saved when each step or phase of your process does not require a large knowledge transfer from one partner to another.
By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the right partner for your Salesforce.org project. Your Salesforce Account Executive may be able to point you in a good starting direction based upon consulting partners he has worked with in the past. Salesforce has a list of partners on their website. A quick Google search can provide you with a wide variety of potential candidates as well.
Wherever you start your search, make sure that you end it with a solid Salesforce implementation partner who will be with you for the long haul.
Summit Technologies would be thrilled to be considered in your Salesforce implementation partner search. We seek to maximize our clients’ Salesforce return on investment with a proven project management and delivery strategy. Contact Summit Technologies to learn more.