If you are evaluating Salesforce Marketing Cloud (or really any other Salesforce product), you will need to decide whether to involve a third-party company or in-house resources to configure your account correctly. If you are using a third-party company, I recommend that you choose one that has followed the necessary steps to become registered to provide Salesforce Services. These companies are called Consulting Partners or System Integrator (SI) Partners.
Working with a registered Salesforce Partner has many advantages, which include:
● Significantly reduced learning curve
● Assurance that you are implementing the platform following industry and Salesforce’s best practices
● Increased speed-to-market
● Other knowledge that may be helpful beyond the configuration
The Salesforce Partner Ecosystem consists of more than 1,000 companies that provide professional services around their platform, so understanding what differentiates one partner from another is critical when making an evaluation of your ideal partner.
Since 2012, I’ve fulfilled several roles in various capacities within the Salesforce platform. I’ve implemented more than 30 projects myself and helped my team implement hundreds of different projects in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I decided to use that experience and take some time to put myself in the shoes of the decision maker and think about what questions I would ask if I were looking for a partner:
Do they have an AppExchange profile?
AppExchange started as a store where companies could list their integrations with Salesforce, but it has now evolved into the hub where customers can also find consultants that they can align to their teams.
If a partner is serious about their Salesforce offering, they will have a profile on this site. You can find partners by doing a simple search in https://appexchange.salesforce.com.
What is their Customer Satisfaction Score?
As part of the Salesforce consulting partner program, for every completed project, the Consulting Partner can submit a customer satisfaction survey to their client with which they are rated in a variety of categories (communication, quality of work, knowledge and a couple of others). This score is published on their AppExchange profile, as well as the quantity of completed projects over the past 18 months.
As you can imagine, partners with good scores and a good number of completed projects are probably better than those with a score of zero. This doesn’t mean the partner that has a zero in customer satisfaction has done zero projects, but it does mean that they probably haven’t spent the time to send surveys to their customers.
Can they share real demos?
When you meet with a potential Consulting Partner that you like, and you are discussing a particular use case, if they are experienced enough, they should feel comfortable with jumping into a demo account and walking you through how they would tackle a specific challenge. This will bring you peace of mind, as you will know that if they are comfortable answering questions on the fly, they will perform well when they are in a more formal working environment.
Do they have a proven delivery methodology?
Knowing the tool is one thing, but knowing how to deliver it is another. If I were evaluating partners, I would like to understand their delivery methodology, what documents they produce, and I would even ask for actual examples of such documents. This will enable you to validate if there’s a good cultural and operational fit with your team, and whether the partner is focusing not only on getting the job done, but getting it done right.
Are they in compliance and insured?
Depending on the industry you are working in, compliance and liability should be a big decision factor. Any good and trusting partner should have at minimum Errors and Omissions, Professional Liability and Umbrella Insurance policies, and they should be able to provide a certificate for these very quickly. Additionally, PIC and SOC-2 compliance can be critical when choosing a partner that would handle a lot of your PII (Personal Identifiable Information) data.
I hope these topics give you some food for thought for making informed decisions. When you are investing in Salesforce software, you are probably also going to invest in a third-party company to help you implement it. With this in mind, partner investment is as important as the dollar investment in the license investment because it can determine how you can maximize the use of the platform, while adding value to your business.