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Finding a Trusted Advisor

When you hire a consultant to help you with your Salesforce implementation, you’re hiring them because you have a problem you need help with whether it being moving from another system to Salesforce or working to enhance your existing Salesforce instance. If you knew exactly what you needed to do and how it should be done you wouldn’t need to hire someone or you’d hire a contractor to just carry out what you need.

What you really are hiring a consultant for is to have a trusted advisor to guide you through your Salesforce implementation or enhancement engagement. Let’s talk for a moment about what trusted advisors are and are not and what you should be looking for when you hire a consultant.

Trusted advisors are not order takers. Sometimes you may think you know exactly what you need and how it should be done in Salesforce, but if that were the case you should be hiring a contractor to carry it out. Embrace that your consultant’s role is to ask probing questions to understand your needs and then allow them to figure out the best way to achieve that within Salesforce.

Consultants should help you see things from a fresh perspective and challenge your assumptions. Most of us are so deep in the weeds of the daily processes we use in working with our data and we’ve become so used to the workarounds and limitations of what we’ve been living with in our current system. We need someone to help us see our data needs in a fresh new light.

Trusted advisors don’t substitute their judgement for yours. A consultant should help you think through decisions and give you supporting information but leave the final decision up to you. You are the one who has to live with this system and use it every day, so ultimately it is your decision.

As a follow up to that, trusted advisors don’t force things on their clients. They are on the side of the client and attempt to find the best solution even if it is different from what was originally sold to you.

A trusted advisor should be honest and you, as the client, should be open to and embrace that honesty. Sometimes we, as clients, get excited about a product we saw a demo for or a cool tool we heard about. We might be convinced that we should structure our system a certain way, but if the trusted advisor we hired tells us it would be a bad idea to implement a certain product, it is important for us to remember that is their role and part of the reason we hired them. Consultants have their clients’ best interests at heart and are always on their side.

Another trait in a good consultant is that they get to know you and your processes, as well as or better than you know them yourself. Setting up Salesforce is not one size fits all process. To design a system that works best for your organization, your consultant needs to truly understand your work.

Trusted advisors have passion for the work that they do daily. It is that passion that ultimately makes them the craftsmen they are. That passion is infectious and can go a long way to getting reluctant staff members on board with your Salesforce project. I listen for that passion when I’m hiring a new consultant to work at Cloud for Good. Hearing a prospective consultant talk about how much they love Salesforce and how excited they get about working with data is crucial.

A consultant can possess great technical expertise but if they don’t have the qualities and skills described above, ultimately your project will not be successful. Every nonprofit organization is different and has different needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and that is the beauty and power of Salesforce. It is nearly endlessly customizable. To get the system that best fits your organization’s needs, you should find a trusted advisor to translate your processes to the best configuration for your organization.

So how can ensure that you’re hiring a trusted advisor and not just a consultant for your Salesforce project? Read reviews on the AppExchange. Did you know that in addition to Salesforce apps, you can search for Salesforce consultants on the AppExchange? If you click into the AppExchange listing for a consulting firm you will see a tab for reviews. Read through them and look for words and phrases related to qualities identified above to find your trusted advisor.

Another key piece of homework you should do when hiring a trusted advisor is to ask for references from former clients. When you speak to them ask whether the consultant or team they worked with possessed the qualities outlined above.

When I worked for a nonprofit organization and was in charge of our Salesforce implementation, unfortunately the first consultant we hired was simply that, a consultant and the result was an implementation that really did not fit our needs. For the second round of enhancements, I spent quite a bit of time vetting firms for the right consultant. The result was a trusted advisor who was instrumental in the success the organization is still having today using Salesforce.

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