Salesforce Integrator, how to choose it ?

Wed 14 October 2020

When you or your management decide to launch a CRM project, the publisher is chosen first, and then it is the integrator’s turn.

While it may be simple to select the right technological solution, it may be different for the partner who will accompany you on the project and afterwards.

Indeed, for the solution, you will certainly take into account its functionalities, its responses to user needs, its technical aspects and its cost.

But what are the criteria for selecting the right Salesforce partner?

Before presenting you with a few keys to help you make your choice, we would like to clarify one point: the relevance of being accompanied by a Salesforce integrator.

Salesforce explains that the configuration of its platform and modules is very simple, particularly thanks to drag and drop. No lines of code are required if you keep the standard functionalities. Unless you have in-house resources with expertise in the Salesforce solution, we recommend that you use a service provider. This will ensure that the project is completed on time, meets your needs and complies with Salesforce best practices. The service provider with the expertise will help you build up your skills in the administration of the Salesforce CRM solution and provide advice on how to optimise its use on a daily basis.

1- What is a Salesforce integrator?

We talk about an integrator, service provider or Salesforce partner.
But what exactly is it?
In the Salesforce model, only the publisher sells licences. Partners cannot position themselves as resellers. Nevertheless, they offer the projects to implement the CRM solution and the related evolutions. Their role is to support you throughout your Salesforce lifecycle.

With Salesforce’s strong growth, its ecosystem has become dynamic and multi-stakeholder. Different types of organisations are positioning themselves as Salesforce partners.

Here are the main ones:

Large ESNs: we refer to international firms with thousands of consultants on different technologies or services. They mainly work on major accounts or major projects.

Medium-sized NSEs: generally, these are players operating only in France. They have centres of expertise and advice on Salesforce and other solutions.

Pure player: these are players with expertise centred on Salesforce, enabling them to have a privileged relationship with the publisher and its ecosystem. In addition, they often have in-depth expertise in certain business sectors or Salesforce clouds.

Freelance: often coming from a Salesforce partner, these consultants have decided to become self-employed. They are called upon for specific needs or to replace the internal administrator.

In addition, the Salesforce integration team sometimes works on very complex, strategic projects or projects requiring in-depth knowledge of one of the Salesforce clouds. It can also complement the project team set up at the partner’s site.

More than fifty integrators are active in the Salesforce ecosystem.

How can you be sure of their quality and reliability?
Salesforce has set up a label to certify trusted partners. Until now, it has been divided into 4 categories: registered, silver, gold and platinum. These categories were based on the number of certified consultants, the help provided in generating business with Salesforce and customer satisfaction. Recently, the label has been further refined to certify Salesforce nail integrators and industries on the same criteria.

By certifying integrators, Salesforce assures customers that they are trustworthy partners identified with the vendor’s teams and used to Salesforce implementation projects.

2- What are the criteria for choosing a Salesforce integrator?

As seen above, the first criterion is to validate that the integrator is indeed a Salesforce-certified integrator.

But you need to include others in your rating grid.

We share the main ones with you:

Expertise: If the partner is certified, this implies that it has overall mastery of the Salesforce platform. However, if your project includes specific Salesforce bricks, you should check that the partner has this expertise.

So for Einstein Analytics and Tableau nails, it’s not just a question of knowing how to make reports. It’s also about mastering what BI is and the advanced configuration of these solutions. The same is true for topics related to Marketing or CPQ clouds.

In addition, if you encounter business or industry-related problems, some integrators have specialisations and can contribute their expertise.

A quality partner is not just a partner with a technical understanding of the Salesforce platform. Beyond translating your needs into a technological solution, it must speak the same language as you and understand your business processes. In this way, they are not simply executing your requirements. He is in a position to challenge them by providing you with advice and experience.

Certifications: We have seen that certification as a Salesforce partner is one of the guarantees of quality. The same goes for consultants. Salesforce offers to validate the knowledge acquired through some thirty certifications. Some of them require functional knowledge and knowledge related to specific nails. Others focus on technical skills. Depending on your project, we recommend that you pay attention to the certifications of the project team members proposed to you.

As it is often time-consuming for teams at integrators to go through certification, you may also want to pay attention to badges earned on the Salesforce training platform, Trailhead. This is an indicator of the level of curiosity of the consultant and a way for them to quickly develop their skills on a Salesforce module or functionality.

Project methodology: Generally the project phases proposed are similar from one partner to another: framing / design, construction, test and acceptance then deployment. Nevertheless, some integrators can bring complementary elements in these phases to optimise collaboration or initiate change management.

Moreover, if your teams work in agile mode, you will need to check that this methodology is also mastered on the integrator side.

Finally, some projects require specific support, such as deployments in foreign sectors, projects in housing estates or Salesforce multi-cloud projects. The partner will then present the appropriate methodology in detail.

3- How do you validate the choice of partner?

In order to make a more in-depth assessment of the relevance and seriousness of the Salesforce integrator, you can carry out several verification actions.

Meet with the project team: When the partner submits the sales proposal, he presents the constitution of the project team consisting of a project manager, functional consultants and developers. Integrators add a project manager to provide more focused project management and to secure the budget and schedule aspects. Often the project manager is present during the pre-sales phase. He collects the relevant information enabling him to put together the team best suited to your project, but also to begin the transfer of the context.

Another point of vigilance in pre-sales, the project proposal is the first deliverable you will receive. The attention and rigour paid to the readability of its content provides elements of reassurance on the future quality of the project.

Finally, a serious Salesforce partner takes the time to present the project proposal to you to ensure that the project scope and estimated workload are fully understood. This alignment of expectations establishes a good basis for communication and the foundations of the relationship.

Because the success of a project does not only depend on skills, expertise or methodology, it also depends on people.

You will work with the consultants for several weeks, or even several months for the most important projects.

This relationship usually continues afterwards through maintenance services or upgrades. It is therefore important that you feel confident with all your project contacts.

So during the selection phase, check all of the criteria we have mentioned above and also stay tuned to your feelings.

Clotilde LIETARD, Business Manager