Salesforce is growing its customer base in Germany as businesses look for a strategic partner to support their future digital transformation programs. Today, 85% of the DAX30 companies are Salesforce customers.
The Salesforce partner ecosystem in Germany and DACH area is growing fast. Research from the IDC from last year projected that in Germany, one of the world's largest economies, Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners will continue to grow, creating more than 60.000 jobs.
That's why it is crucial to take a systematic approach when considering working with a partner. Your ultimate goal should be to find a partner that delivers your solution on time and meets all your requirements.
What should I look for in a Salesforce Partner?
Before setting out on your Salesforce journey, there are some questions you could ask yourself about your business and the challenges you face. These will help you get a better understanding of your needs and help inform your decisions:
- What are my specific business challenges?
- What processes and workflows am I trying to implement or improve?
- What are the results/outcomes we are looking for?
- Do we plan to hire in-house Salesforce developers, admins, etc?
- Do we need any support after the implementation?
- Have I completed the ‘Choose an Implementation Partner’ Trailhead module?
Below, we have provided a detailed overview of essential factors to consider when reviewing Salesforce Partners. Hopefully, these will provide some useful tips and insights:
1. Status & Size
Salesforce Partners come in all shapes and sizes. It is important to know that the partner you choose has experience implementing similar solutions, will stick to the timeline and deliver a solution that meets your requirements.
To help differentiate Partners, Salesforce has set up the Salesforce Partner Program which assigns Partners a status. When looking at the Partner status, there are 5 levels. Each consulting partner level is attained by completing projects, certifications and more. Each quarter, based on Salesforce’s fiscal year, partners are evaluated and may be reassigned to a different level based on their Trailblazer consulting partner score.
- Base Consulting Partner - This is a starting level - These partners have paid a fee to become a base partner and are mostly working with kickstarts and small businesses, etc.
- Ridge Consulting Partner (Silver) - The next tier up. This partner has accumulated points and moved up the ranks. Ridge Partners will mostly deal with small-mid-sized businesses and are very active in their niche.
- Crest Consulting Partner (Gold) - A further level up. Crest Partners are often working in niched industries but dealing mostly with mid-sized businesses while also still working with SMBs.
- Summit Consulting Partner (Platinum) - Summit Partners are experts across many sectors and are mostly engaging with mid-to-large Enterprise and Global businesses.
- Global Strategic Partner - a key difference between Global Strategic Partner and Summit partner is that global partners have offices located in many (at least 7) countries across the world.
Team Size and Roles
Team size is imperative; having the right people, in the right roles, is what makes a project successful. Having enough engagement managers, developers, Tech Leads, QAs, etc. before proceeding is important to be assured of successful delivery.
At Pexlify, we implement projects using the Agile methodology - simply put - we manage a project, in 2-week sprints and involve constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement and iteration at every stage.
2. Experience & Expertise
It is important to consider the field of expertise when choosing the right partner for your business.
For example, a large financial firm will want to choose a partner with expertise in the financial services sector. The significance of knowing that the partner has worked with similar, large businesses in the same sector can not be understated. It also helps to see if the Partner provides case studies and references, highlighting similar challenges and requirements as your business.
A partner with varied expertise will know how to identify and solve pain points and have a deeper understanding of your needs. And while expertise in one industry is important, a partner with expertise in multiple sectors will allow the partner to prepare the most effective and customised solution for your business.
While Certifications do not dictate how much experience and how many projects an employee has worked on, it shows an important work ethic and allows you to see how qualified a partner's employees are and where their focused skills are.
If you are interested in implementing Service cloud in your organisation, you would be more inclined to select a partner with a collection of Service Cloud-related certifications over Marketing Cloud implementation certifications. Likewise, if you will need customised solutions, it will be important for the partner to have obtained developer and architect certifications. Certifications also contribute to the partners' status.
3. Multi-Cloud Solutions
While multi-cloud implementation options are not always the #1 priority, it is something to factor into decision-making when choosing a partner.
If you are implementing Sales Cloud and are considering implementing Service Cloud or a custom Community Cloud in the future, it is not mandatory but would be best practice to choose a partner with experience and expertise in both.
Some recommendations we have when it comes to Multi-Cloud solutions are:
Ensure there is a highly-skilled Program Manager
The thing about Multi-cloud is that the solution architecture can be more complex than you may think. Making sure there is a technical lead that can oversee everything technically is vital to the project. You need to understand your data model and inform key stakeholders of how it will affect their business process.
Finding the Best Team
While it's important to have niche expertise in your team, you want people who understand all clouds and how they work together and know how to run this kind of project.
Knowing your Customer
Knowing what channel your customers use will allow you to focus all your efforts on that channel first and then move to other channels.
As of 2018, 38% of Salesforce customers are multi-cloud while 62% are single-cloud, and 92% of revenue comes from multi-cloud customers. Multi-cloud customers spend over 10x that of single cloud customers.
4. Discovery Phase
At Pexlify, the ‘Discovery Phase’ is a vital step in our implementation process. This is when we can sit down with your team (virtually or in-person) and really understand your challenges and requirements.
From there, we can start mapping out the solution and share detailed prototypes for further discussion and design purposes. This phase is also when a partner can push the boundaries of your processes and design a solution that will meet, and hopefully, exceed your requirements and expectations.
At Pexlify, we prioritise being transparent during our discovery phases. You do not want a partner who rushes the project and fails to implement a solution to the highest standards. This can be expensive and may result in delays, as more tasks and scope are added to the project due to poor requirement gathering in the first place. In some extreme cases, you may need to find another partner to undo or fix the problems from the original implementation. Therefore, it’s vital to discuss all outcomes, scenarios, problems, recommendations, delivery schedules, etc. to have a full understanding of the required solution.
Taking the requirements from the discovery phase, a partner should build out a prototype for reviewing purposes.. Seeing a functional, working prototype will not only help you envision how your system will look and feel but help you understand the processes in more depth, helping you and the stakeholders see the true value.
Statement of Work
Once a client is happy with the discovery and prototypes, usually, the partner will give the client a Statement of Work (SoW). The SOW typically includes the scope of work, detailed requirements, delivery schedules, team profiles, and commercials. Once everything is agreed and signed, work on the project can begin.
When it comes to the delivery process, transparency and realistic timelines are important. A fully equipped team and a detailed plan are what will help get a project completed successfully and on time.
In our implementation process, we prioritise communication with our customers. We communicate everything through daily stand-ups and always keep our customers up-to-date on progress.
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At Pexlify, we offer support during the implementation and Go-Live phases of the project. However, it is important to consider if continued support is required after the project is completed and rolled out.
Partners may offer a number of support services once a project is finished. This can include basic managed support services such as fixing minor issues or implementing new workflows, all the way up to a complex Centre of Excellence (CoE). A CoE is a partner team embedded in an organization that works across business units (BUs) or product lines within a BU and has leading-edge knowledge and competency in that area.
Managing support plays a crucial role as the Salesforce platform is constantly growing and changing. With 3 major updates a year (Spring, Summer and Winter) it’s important to stay up-to-date. Finding the right partner that will support your business needs and be there for you when problems arise is vital.
7. Referrals & Partnership Level
When it comes to referrals, looking at a partner's customers isn’t the only option. Positive referrals and feedback from Salesforce AE’s (Account Executives) is just as important. If you are having Salesforce implemented, knowing that a partner has worked well and has a good relationship and reputation within Salesforce is helpful.
Once you have narrowed down your search, it is important to consider the level of partnership with Salesforce. Are they an ISV partner too? Do they provide apps that would work well for your business? Do they have industry-specific Accelerators that can speed up implementations?
Partner’s Vision and Values Are Similar to Yours
It’s important to know how your partner conducts their business. Your business mission reflects how you do business and it should be a guide on who you do business with. You can research this by checking their mission statement and speaking with referral customers and salesforce AE’s.
Quality vs Price
While Price can often be a deciding factor in a selection process, it’s important to note that definitive pricing can only be given once a partner knows your exact challenges and what kind of solution you require.
"Price has no meaning without a measure of the quality being purchased." - W. Edwards Deming
We understand that many businesses have a specific budget set out for projects but the price can vary depending on the type of implementation and the requirements involved. It’s more important to have a successful, scalable solution from the outset rather than to save costs at the beginning.
It is hard to define functionality-to-price and quality-to-price factors, especially when each project can vary in scope. Here at Pexlify, we understand this and are focused on building relationships and trust with our clients, with quality and expertise as a cornerstone.
Some questions you should consider regarding pricing and quality:
- How customised do you want this solution to be? Or do you prefer an out-of-the-box approach?
- Are you willing to change or challenge your business processes?
- Do Your research and don’t settle for a partner if you are not satisfied with the solution they’ll provide.
- A good partner is one that invests time and resources to understand your business
- Choose a partner that challenges you and questions processes.
- Consider the Long-Term partners that can support your organisation from implementation as you grow.
So why should you choose Pexlify as your implementation partner?
Besides our successful track record, unique implementation and adoption methodology and a list of happy top-tier clients, Pexlify is focused on adding value, challenging processes, pushing the limits and finding innovative solutions to meet all of your needs.