Companies of all sizes are accelerating their digital transformation initiatives, in response to changes in customer behaviours. Many are interested in implementing integrated, access-from-anywhere solutions. These include customer relationship management (CRM) solutions such as those offered by Salesforce.
Exploring a Salesforce CRM solution is one thing. Knowing which products, applications, and configurations best suits your business is another matter. This is why almost all Salesforce customers turn to dedicated experts to ease their entry into the world of Salesforce. These experts are implementation partners. There is a vast network of Salesforce implementation partners that help businesses achieve their CRM goals.
Let’s look at some of the most common questions people have about working with a Salesforce implementation partner. I’ll also share how you can get the most out of the partner relationship.
What is an implementation partner?
In simple terms, an implementation partner is an organisation that has been reviewed and approved by Salesforce to implement CRM solutions on Salesforce’s behalf.
Each implementation partner specialises in particular areas, industries, or applications. This means that there’s a partner that caters to every need, challenge, business, product, industry, region, and step along the Salesforce journey.
Why engage an implementation partner?
Our CRM solutions cover the entire spectrum of business operations. These include sales, marketing, service, and sustainability. Each product can be bolstered by add-on applications and platform-to-platform integrations.
In other words, the capabilities of the Salesforce ecosystem are endless. The challenge is to select the right product with the configurations and integrations that best suit your needs.
A larger company may already work with multiple technological solutions. They may need assistance in figuring out how a Salesforce product, say, Marketing Cloud, can integrate with their existing systems without causing friction.
A smaller company may be scaling quickly and know that continuing to work with spreadsheets will not support this growth. They may realise that they need to automate their processes, or it’s time to develop more personalised customer experiences. Implementing a CRM solution for the first time can feel daunting.
It is challenging for internal teams or employees with no experience with Salesforce to consider all the variables and implement a new and highly configurable CRM solution. Hiring a full-time employee to take charge of the implementation process can also be expensive.
These are some of the situationally specific reasons that 90 percent of Salesforce customers rely on partner applications and experts.
When is the right time to engage an implementation partner?
In a nutshell: as early as possible.
As with any significant investment, you need to do your due diligence. First, figure out what needs should be met, gaps should be closed, or issues should be addressed. In the case of Salesforce implementation, you formulate a vision of what you want to achieve, which is the ‘what’. Next, determine the ‘how’, which is the most complicated part.
As soon as you figure out your goals, it’s time to bring in a partner. The right implementation partner won’t just facilitate the ‘how’, but they’ll also help crystalise the ‘what’. They’ll help you clarify your success metrics, understand what is realistic, and advise on appropriate products. Finally, they’ll lay out a logistically sound timeline for your implementation journey.
Bringing in a partner late in the game almost always ends in missed opportunities in terms of scope and understanding. The relationship between a customer and a partner is close and collaborative. The only way to ensure smooth implementation is when the journey begins together.
How do I know which partner is right for me?
Certifications and credentials come into play, as does the specific expertise of that partner.
Some partners have generalised Salesforce capabilities. More often than not, they specialise in particular areas or functions of the CRM solution. Some might specialise in Marketing Cloud and customer data platforms (CDP). Others might specialise in harnessing the combined powers of Sales Cloud and Einstein.
Another factor, which has come to the forefront in recent years, is value alignment. People want to work with organisations that share their values. For example, they may choose to work with an organisation that champions diversity and equality, or prioritises sustainability.
Regardless of whether or not these things are top-of-mind for you, it’s important to shop around. Meet with multiple partners. Get a feel of who they are and the way they work. This is an important relationship, so don’t settle for anything less than the right fit.
The best and most comprehensive resource on both partners and products is the Salesforce AppExchange. There, 124,000 experts and 4,700 applications are at your fingertips. You can browse certifications, specialisations, and customer reviews.
What challenges might I encounter during implementation?
I can’t stress enough that bringing in a partner as early as possible reduces the chance of many challenges emerging down the line.
What’s also important is to be clear on what you want to solve and how you measure success over time. Most instances of confusion or dissatisfaction come from a lack of understanding on the part of the customer or the partner.
If both parties aren’t on the same page, then assumptions can be made, and misunderstandings on timelines and capabilities can arise. This makes objectives and success benchmarks harder to reach. As a customer, you need to be as transparent as you want your partner to be. Never be afraid to ask questions more than once. The implementation process can be highly technical and seeking clarification is natural.
Just as you place the customer at the centre of your business, partners place you at the centre of theirs. They measure their success by delivering exactly what you need. Customer success equals partner success. You should always keep that in the back of your mind throughout the process.
Any successful relationship in life thrives on open, honest communication from the outset. An implementation partnership is no exception.
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