Start Salesforce Smart: Contracting a Firm vs. Hiring a Guru

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about upgrading and automating your sales process with Salesforce. That, or you were trying to plan a Hawaiian vacation and got VERY lost.


However, if you’re looking for insight from the top Hawaii Salesforce firm on how to implement Salesforce the right way the first time, you’re in the right place. Let’s get right to the big question:


Should I hire a Salesforce Administrator or Start a Contract with a Firm?


Since Cloud Pacific is a Hawaii Salesforce contractor, you’re probably expecting us to recommend against hiring internally… and in most cases, we do! But we’re not doing it just because we want your contract. For most businesses starting out with Salesforce, the implementation phase is simply not the time to hire. Once Salesforce is fully implemented, optimized, and integrated into your company’s structure in a central way - then it might make sense to begin building your own internal team. And yes, we said team.


Many companies, when hiring a Salesforce Administrator, use what we call the “Guru Strategy.” This boils down to hiring a qualified Salesforce Administrator, slapping them on the back once the ink is dry, and saying “Okay, you’re our Salesforce Guru. Make it happen for us!”


There are a couple of huge, devastating pitfalls to the “Guru Strategy”... which is less of a strategy and more of a naive mistake:

  1. You’re hiring for a job you don’t understand yet. We see clients make this mistake all the time. They bring on someone to implement and manage Salesforce long before they know what their actual needs for the platform might actually be, or what specific skills their Salesforce “guru” will need to have.

  2. You’re hiring a single person to do a team’s job. Salesforce is one of the most versatile, complex CRMs on the market, and that’s a good thing - but only if you have the right team to make it work for you. The Salesforce ecosystem is enormous, with over 1000 apps and growing. Nobody can (or should) be expected to know it all, so even if you’re paying top dollar for your “guru” ...they’re still just one person, and they’re going to fall short.

Making one person do the job of an entire team, well before you even fully understand what customizations you need that team to perform for you, is setting yourself up for disaster. This is why so many clients we see initially believe Salesforce is broken, or not right for them. Sometimes we feel like a broken record: You don’t have a Salesforce problem, you have an implementation problem.


The Roles and Responsibilities of Your Salesforce Dream Team


Whether you’re hiring in or contracting out, you’re going to want a veteran team of seasoned Salesforce professionals. A quality internal Salesforce team, hired full-time by your business, is going to cost around $1 million a year minimum. If that number just made you start to sweat, towel off! You don’t have to (and honestly, shouldn’t) hire a full team out of the gate.


When you work with a Salesforce consulting firm, you can pay for exactly the amount of support that you need from a top-quality team with years of cumulative experience, all while retaining the freedom to scale that support up or down depending on your evolving needs. Just make sure you get an officially vetted Salesforce partner whose recommendation comes directly from Salesforce!


Here’s the dream team that’ll be standing by to craft your custom Salesforce solution if you work with a vetted Hawaii Salesforce consulting firm like ours:


Salesforce Architect - An experienced visionary with 8-10 years experience minimum, the architect’s job is to oversee the crafting of your entire solution, manage every facet of your implementation, and evaluate its fitness. With all their experience in Salesforce, architects are in high demand for their unique ability to identify which of the thousands of Salesforce products and apps are best for your business. Hiring an architect would typically cost around $250k/year, but they come standard as part of any reputable Salesforce firm’s team.


Salesforce Developer - This is your code specialist, capable of crafting from-scratch solutions and integrating them into the Salesforce system. Salesforce comes with several automation tools that require no coding, but if you want something totally custom outside of the standard automation tools, you’re going to need an experienced developer.


Salesforce Administrator - This is the most common Salesforce role that gets assigned the “guru” role, because they have a plethora of capabilities and their rates don’t blow up your budget. Typically, a Salesforce Administrator has at least a year of experience with the platform, and they’re well-versed in how to configure declarative automation in Salesforce that doesn’t require custom code.


Salesforce Business Analyst - The BA specializes in facilitating productive communication and workflow between the Salesforce team and the business users, combining a strong administrative understanding of how Salesforce works with business savvy to ensure that resources are pooled in the right places. The BA’s job is to make sure the Salesforce team has everything they need to clearly and effectively execute the goals of the end users in Salesforce.


Salesforce IT Project Manager - Tasked with managing the high level work of the team, the IT manager keeps every project on track, and has expertise in Scrum and the Agile Methodology recommended by Salesforce.


Salesforce QA/QC Handler - This role is your “beta tester” that performs all Quality Assurance and Quality Control duties for your Salesforce system, acting like a user and making sure it operates effectively and accurately.


With each of these roles filled by a qualified, vetted team member (and ideally, using a team that’s accustomed to working together), you’re on track to optimize your experience of Salesforce. On the other hand, things can go quite differently if you decide to try “The Guru Strategy”...


Guru vs. Firm Case Studies


Now that we’ve talked broadly about why (especially if you’re just starting out with Salesforce) working with a consulting team is better than hiring an employee, let’s talk about what those two choices really look like when it comes down to dollars and sense (that’s a pun not a typo). To do this, we’d like to introduce you to two hypothetical companies: Point Central, and Point Eastern.


Point Central is a nice midwestern company where the CEO is skeptical of contractors, and wants to feel ownership over his own “team.” Based on the advice of some of his advisors, he’s decided to “do this Salesforce thing” and hires a Salesforce Administrator to set it up for the entire company.


That Salesforce Administrator is going to cost this company between $90,000-$120,000 a year with benefits, and when our CEO sees the $300,000 price tag of a Salesforce Consulting Firm’s implementation services, he decides hiring a Salesforce Admin is the right move for Point Central. Three stressful years later, he’s not so sure.


Halfway through his lunch, after another round of harsh meetings and missed deadlines about their broken Salesforce system, the CEO gets a resignation letter from the Salesforce Admin. Burned out by having to do the job of an entire team and not equipped to create all the custom applications Point Central really needs to get their ROI from Salesforce, this Salesforce Admin is leaving for a company where they’re treated better and paid more.


Blood pressure shooting through the roof, the CEO immediately starts looking for a new hire to pick up where the previous Salesforce Admin left off… but there’s no documentation of what they were building within the system, and it would be a fiasco for someone new to come in cold and try to pick up where they left off.


At an after-work happy hour that’s anything but happy, one of the employees finally pitches that Point Central try a consulting firm to untangle this mess. Sure, they’ll have to pay for a total system review that goes back to the beginning, basically starting from square one… but do they have another choice?


Point Central has accrued, at this point, roughly $250,000-$1,000,000 in tech debt with very little to show for it in the past three years. Because they tried to get Salesforce implemented for the low, low price of one $120,000 a year employee, they’re now going to have to pay an external firm around $625,000 to both un-botch their current system AND run a whole new implementation project. Including the 3 years lost to their long-gone Salesforce Admin who was paid $120,000 salary a year, they’ve now spent $985,000 to get Salesforce set up correctly for their company.


That doesn’t even count the 3 years of lost efficiency and revenue they could have made if Salesforce had been properly implemented from the beginning (and the extra whiskey budget for those sad, stressed after-work happy hours).


Now let’s look at our second company… Point Eastern.


Point Eastern is a fast-paced east coast company whose CEO heard the buzz about Salesforce, and decided to do her research. Going off of the recommendation of Salesforce, she chose a vetted Salesforce implementation partner to execute Point Eastern’s implementation, then provide scaled ongoing support.


Within the first year, the firm working for Point Eastern completes the implementation for $300,000. It’s a custom, streamlined execution designed specifically for Point Eastern, all managed by the dream team we listed above (instead of a single Salesforce Admin).


After the system is in place, the partners at Point Eastern’s firm help the CEO evaluate how much ongoing support she thinks they’ll need. They negotiate a competitive support price of $90,000 a year. Three years later, Point Eastern has spent $570,000 total on Salesforce, a full $415,000 less than Point Central, and that’s with Point Eastern’s Salesforce system working as expected for those first three years whereas Point Central struggled.


Their happy hours are probably more fun too.


Conclusion


If you’ve read this far, the answer to the “Guru vs. Firm” question is probably obvious. For 99% of situations, if you’re doing an implementation… you don’t want to hire and subsequently burn out a single employee. You’re wasting time, money, and the incredible potential of Salesforce to serve your company’s CRM needs.


Unless you’re a large company with Salesforce already implemented, optimized, and integrated (and $1 million a year to spend on an adequate team) - you don’t want to hire at all. The unequivocal best choice is to contract a Salesforce consulting firm to do your implementation. Then, firms typically have tiered service contracts that can be built around your budget and need as you scale.


If, as you grow, Salesforce becomes a central part of how you do business, and you have the budget to hire your own internal team, then you’ll also have a model to build on from your experience with your Salesforce consulting firm. You’ll know what skills are important, and you’ll be set up to hire better, when the time comes.


In the meantime, though, find a Salesforce-recommended firm that’s committed to working for you. Come to think of it, we can recommend one: us.


Interested in learning what Cloud Pacific can do to make Salesforce work for you? Contact us here.



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