Start with the Basics According to Forbes, Salesforce is one of the most innovative companies on the planet. This powerful platform is centered on providing the design and development of cloud-based enterprise software for customer relationship management (CRM). In use by 99 companies on the Fortune 100 list, Salesforce can be used for anything from simple contact management tools to completely automated interactive engagement tools for users. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from incorporating this powerhouse of CRM solutions that includes automation, digital commerce, community management, customer service and support, and marketing. It makes sense that you’re considering the jump to Salesforce, but where to start and who to trust along the way can be daunting because you’re not just considering a tech project. This is a complete management overhaul of your internal systems and process (for the better, of course!). And it’s important to have an expert in your corner who knows the ropes. You can not underestimate the need to plan and prepare for this endeavor. To find the right Salesforce consulting partner, you need a follow systematic approach to the process that includes your internal stakeholders along with every person who touches the customer journey. Understanding the significance of your team’s buy-in as the first step is key to the success of implementing your unified Salesforce ecosystem. To maximize the business potential of this CRM, consider these four fundamental questions about your organization before doing anything: Is your organization ready to adopt significant technological advancements in automation, sophistication and management? Do your current IT systems and data sources have sufficient flexibility to support the data quality required to effectively integrate a Salesforce system?Are your budget and schedule expectations in line with functional implementation?Will stakeholders be able to dedicate sufficient time to ensure the success of this Salesforce project? If you said yes to these questions, you’re ready to move forward in your search for a trusted Salesforce consulting partner. But there are a few more things to consider before signing on the bottom line with an implementation partner–like Bitwise Industries–because the right fit will mean everything to your long-term relationship together. Three Things to Look For You need an expert, not an order taker. Salesforce is a dynamic system and organizations jumping into this pool want to make sure their lifeguard is on duty. You want a consulting partner who will ask a lot of questions, understand your business as well as you do, and challenge any inefficiencies that they uncover during the exploration phase. When hiring an expert, allow them to flex their expertise. Part of the deal is leveraging their accomplishments from the 100s of successful clients they’ve already helped to your benefit. Be open to those suggestions and willing to listen intently. An established Salesforce implementation partner will have a systematic approach to onboarding new clients. Trust the process because this investment in time will pay off in dividends over the long run. You need a budget. Or at least a budget range that you can discuss with your potential partners during the interview process. Understand this: Salesforce is not cheap because its potential to transform your business is unlimited. That’s why your consulting partner is so important. They will help you maximize the dollars you spend through the comprehensive and time-efficient Salesforce implementation. Consider all of the cost elements that go into creating this CRM: product licenses, your partner’s services, your internal Salesforce labor, and any long-term maintenance. If you don’t have a budget, you’re looking for a volunteer. (And that’s a grab bag of mixed results.) You need to understand the roles. If you set the bar very high for Salesforce, clearly defined roles need to be adhered to throughout the relationship. This prescribed clarity holds all parties accountable to staying on task and helps your organization thoroughly identify the items that will matter the most to connecting Salesforce to future business growth. You will see positions outlined as Data Architect, Project Manager for Internal Change Requirements, Project Administrators, and Strategic Consultants to name a few. Each one is critical to the success of the implementation, and each person should exceed the core competencies of their assignments. Three Things to Know Salesforce is robust. That is a terrible understatement of the value Salesforce has to offer to your organization. However, there are a few more things to consider before choosing your consulting partner. Understand the real cost of Data Migration. The value of transferring your legacy data into Salesforce is tantamount, but that process is tedious for a reason: it needs to be accurate. When merging data from multiple sources and platforms–staff Outlook Contacts, Excel spreadsheets, varying databases, and even handwritten journal/ledger entries–the complication factor is amplified exponentially. It is not impossible and shouldn’t make you shy away from taking on the project, but it is time consuming to do it correctly and can be difficult to estimate before every stone in the office(s) has been uncovered. Look for Certifications. You want to find a consulting partner that is covered in Salesforce certifications. It’s one of the most actionable ways for an organization to truly see the competency level of the potential partner. Salesforce has a strong cert program and they offer credentials for Salesforce Administrators, Consultants, Developers, Architects, and Marketers. Within each of those classifications, Salesforce partners can be awarded with varying levels of expertise–Registered, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Strategic Partner. Don’t forget about Salesforce! If you know you are going to purchase a Salesforce license, talk to their Account Executives (AE). You can tell them about your project, what you are looking to accomplish, and ask who they can recommend. Your designated AE can help you identify a consulting partner that fits your overall ethos or business line, or give you a certified list of qualified partners in your market for you to explore on your own. A Parting Shot When it comes to running a dynamic and cost-effective business, Salesforce is the future. Their ability to connect organizations with the people they serve is a stellar feat to behold. Finding a trusted partner to walk you through the Salesforce implementation process isn’t a one-and-done endeavor. It can be a mutually beneficial relationship that will grow and stretch over time. That time and shared experiences are the bridge to building trust and a lasting partner. And really, why would you invest all the time and money required to achieve your goals to only work with someone you don’t like. Blah! Let Us Help Bitwise Industries specializes in custom software development, Contact Center-as-a-Service, and Salesforce implementation and administration. Our technology professionals have deep experience applying cutting-edge technology solutions to help business entities of all sizes navigate the technology landscape to find solutions to optimize their operations. If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts. This post was written by Jeff Rickels, Technical Writer for Bitwise Industries. When he’s not writing, he’s trying to figure out how there can be so much amazing music (and some crappy stuff, too) in the Western hemisphere even though they’re all using the same 12 notes. Did you love this blog? Subscribe here for new Bitwise blog notifications.