6 Ways that Salesforce Consultants Build Lasting Relationships

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In today's highly competitive landscape, it’s critical to the success of a consulting business to deliver results that meet, or even better exceed, customer expectations. Timeliness of progress, adherence to customer scope and budget are key components to customer satisfaction. But with hundreds of consultants in the Salesforce ecosystem, how can you stand up in the face of serious competition from other big-name and boutique consulting shops? Here are 6 ways to help you deliver an unparalleled experience to your clients that maximizes their ROI, and yours, and ensures that their CRM investment and your relationship continue to grow in the future. Happy Clients = Repeat Business

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Sure, that sounds a little cliché, but it’s really one of the keys to success. To put it in a way that’s more palatable, control expectations – not only yours, but those of your clients. Make sure your Statement Of Work is clear and concise, and written in a manner your client agrees to. Then, as a consultant, it’s your duty to make sure the project stays on track, and on the agreed-upon plan. It’s OK to tell a client that a request of theirs, while certainly valid and beneficial, is outside the original scope of the project and will have to be considered as an add-on or additional phase of the project, to be completed at a later date. Your client will respect you for keeping them on task, as well as keeping to the original budget without time and cost overruns.

Measure Progress & Report Regularly

As a consultant, it’s your job to track your progress toward the project milestones and deadlines. Be sure to do that in a manner that is transparent and available for the client to access, whenever and wherever they want. Tools that operate in a collaborative manner are great for this. As you update information, your clients can see your progress in real time. Be sure to include budget versus actual data here as well. For many clients, the total cost of a project is one of the most important metrics they want to maintain control over, so if any specific items are running heavy (or light) on time/dollars, be sure to highlight that as soon as possible. Open communication is a major factor in project success. For those looking to encourage adoption of Salesforce by senior leadership, a great way of doing this is by utilizing a modern project management tool like TaskRay that’s native to Salesforce throughout the course of the project.

Specialize in the Hottest Technology

A quick review of market demand in the Salesforce ecosystem will tell you that certain areas of business – Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics – are expected to see significant growth over the next 5 to 10 years, and beyond. Additionally, there is an increasing trend towards a remote workforce and the use of offshore developers. Prepare your teams now by gaining knowledge in these rapidly growing lines of business and invest in technologies that make collaboration with remote and offshore colleagues, or even clients, easier. The benefits of the remote/offshore model include a lower cost to do business with, which allows consulting companies to be more competitive in the marketplace. If your team is already stretched thin, consider forming alliances with companies and solutions that already leading the way in these areas and making this internal and external collaboration effortless.

Document Everything

Documentation is a deliverable of any project and critical for a proper hand-off. Your clients will expect you to build out a complete set of documentation that you hand over to them when the project is complete. If your clients don’t ask for that, deliver it anyway! They deserve it. They should have all the knowledge and reasoning behind why you built their solution the way you did, what the purpose for each and every field and object is, how things relate to others, etc. As a consultant, your primary job is to look out for what’s in the best interest of your client. Remember, you want them to have a great feeling about the work you did for them so they will not only recommend you to others, but also ask for your help in the future. Rather than delivering the typical spreadsheet of metadata mappings and powerpoint of end-user documentation and training, which are outdated the moment you deliver them, Spekit provides a solution that’s specifically designed to be a Salesforce data dictionary and that will automatically update with any future changes that are made to the client’s Salesforce org.

It’s easy to get started with Spekit, no hoops to jump through, no high-wires to walk. Just four easy steps:

  1. Connect Spekit to Salesforce: Import the objects, fields and picklist values you want to document.
  2. Create Documentation Dynamically: Spekit makes it easy to document your metadata with rich text and videos or through the use of Knowledge Cards and customized how-tos in the Data Wiki.
  3. Don’t Do it Alone: Centralize your team’s collective wisdom by assigning subject-matter experts to areas you want documented to crowdsource knowledge. Assign Data Experts on your client side to help fill in the gaps on the history of fields and objects during the initial audit period, then assign experts to any new fields/objects you’re creating to have them fill it out with the training material they’ll need for maximum adoption.
  4. Make it Accessible: Access your customized documentation everywhere, in context, or via a searchable sidebar in any window, thanks to the Chrome Extension.

Build a Repository of Resources and Knowledge

Do you find yourself re-explaining the same thing over and over again to different clients? Or do you have go-to formulas or workflows that you document in similar ways for various clients? Create a resource center on your website with How-To Videos and Quick Guides that all of your clients can access. Even better, with Spekit’s unique Knowledge Cards, you can create your own set of proprietary Knowledge Cards for each type of implementation you specialize in that you can then reuse to deliver a consistent, proven experience across multiple clients with ease. Saving you time (=more deals) while setting your client up for success faster.

Tie it All Together for Better Adoption

Completing a project under budget and on time is great. But did you provide your client with a solution that they will actually use and will result in them coming back for more services?

User adoption is a challenge that nearly all organizations face when implementing new technology & new solutions. And as an expert in your field, your job as a consultant is to help companies ensure that this major investment they just made was worth every penny.

One area where there’s a lot of room for consultants to stand out, and even extend their professional services, is with and training. Many clients fail to understand the importance of properly investing in it, and may even be reluctant to paying for it. But as a trusted expert in your field, it’s your job to educate them and help them understand how critical training is to the success of any Salesforce implementation and ultimately, good data. To frame it differently… they just made a major investment into a new system, how can you help them maximize their ROI to ensure that this investment continues to grow in the future so that everybody wins? As research shows, the standard one hour or day-long end-user training session you delivered won’t move the needle much on adoption given that as much as 80% of training is forgotten within 90 days. In other words, training and learning are circular, requiring time and repetition to be properly absorbed and understood.

Giving end-users easy access to this training content and knowledge, directly in their Salesforce workflow is one way of maximizing this learning and adoption. Luckily, with Spekit’s Chrome Extension, there’s no need to do any additional work on your end to achieve this.

All of the documentation (field details, knowledge cards etc) that you created can be surfaced right in Salesforce. In other words, Spekit becomes an invaluable, in context, training mechanism for your clients. They have easy access to their data dictionary, the details behind calculated fields, the business rules built into processes. And your clients can access this information inside Salesforce or from any browser-based application including email, making providing support and answering questions of colleagues that much easier.

To be successful as a consultant, you must consider your own scalability. Partnering with Spekit gives you the ability to build documentation that you can share with and customize for any of your clients. Spekit helps you create the building blocks you need to win.

About the author

Melanie Fellay
CEO & Co-founder
Mel is a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, a Top 100 Female Entrepreneur to Watch, and has been featured across Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and more.
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