Salesforce Consultants are in high demand. As Salesforce continues is rapid growth, the market for great Salesforce consultants is hot. But what differentiates a good Salesforce consultant from a great Salesforce consultant? I’ve gathered a few key tips from fellow industry experts, and here is what we recommend:
#1 – Know When to Say No
This seems counter-intuitive to new consultants. I was guilty of this when I first started my consulting career. When a client would ask “can we do ___ in Salesforce?”, my answer was often “Yes!”. As I learned more about the Salesforce platform, I became familiar with the customization options that exist. That meant I was able to see potential custom solutions to every client request. Anything could be coded, custom built, and/or modified.
But just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. That is where a great Salesforce consultant becomes valuable. Businesses often feel they have completely unique processes. While every company has unique elements, most businesses within an industry (high-tech, manufacturing, etc.) actually have similar overall processes. And a great consultant can answer the question “can we do ___ in Salesforce?” with “Yes, but I recommend this instead.”. Leveraging industry experience lets you justify those recommendations, and proves real value to a client.
#2 – Don’t be Afraid to Push Back
This is another area that I have seen many people (including myself) struggle. It can be uncomfortable to push back at a client. And some clients are not as amenable to your feedback as others. However, it is important to keep in mind that, as a consultant, you are being paid to offer advice and best practices based on your experience. Don’t be deliberately combative, but don’t be afraid to stand behind a recommendation if there is evidence or logic behind it.
It is common for clients to tell a consultant how they want something built or configured. They often have reasons, some valid, some less valid. These can range from “that’s just the way we do it” to “our parent company requires it”. Depending on the reason, a great consultant will know how much to push back. But never be afraid to raise a red flag when something is likely to cause future problems.
I have been part of projects that suffered because of a lack of push back to the client. In an effort to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation in the beginning, we ended up building the solution the client requested. Several consultants had the same concern, but the client did not want to listen to our feedback. As the project progressed, the issues we predicted started to come up. This lead to a contentious engagement. While push back may not have changed the outcome (this was a stubborn client), if we had made more effort to justify our concerns, we may have avoided a very difficult project.
#3 – Understand your Client Team
As a consultant, understanding your client’s project team can really help inform your decisions. You need to know who you are working with, both on a personal and professional level. Depending on the length of the project, you may be engaged for a few weeks to over a year. Take some time to get to know the people you will be working with.
Beyond their job description and hobbies, you should also understand the political landscape of the project. Who is sponsoring it? Who is most driven by the project’s success? Where does your team fit into that?
For example, a project may be important to IT, funded by IT, but your project team comes from sales. In those scenarios, the people you work with may not care as much about a successful outcome. Or your team may be working on several concurrent projects, in addition to other job duties. If they are under a lot of pressure, finding ways to help minimize work load could help you win some favor.
Understanding your team, and what is important to them, separates a good Salesforce consultant from a great Salesforce consultant.
Consulting is a skill. Like any skill, some people are more naturally inclined than others, but everyone has to practice. The more you spend time consulting, the better you become. But you can also get tips from experienced consultants, people who can help you avoid common mistakes and adopt good practices. Have you found any other tips from your consulting life? Please feel free to comment below and share with others!