6 common mistakes when choosing a Salesforce consulting partner

In the late 1990s, as he toiled away on a pet project in his one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco[1], Marc Benioff had no idea he was working on a concept that would become a global phenomenon. He already had runs on the board – a past recipient of Oracle’s Rookie of the Year award[2], the youngest person in the company’s history to earn the title of vice president[3] – but there was no way he could have believed his vision would become as big as it is.

6 common mistakes when choosing a Salesforce consulting partner

How big? A few months ago, global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation ranked Salesforce the world’s number one CRM provider … for an incredible 10th time[4]. It has a 19.8% share of the CRM market, more than its four leading competitors combined[5], boasts more than 150,000 customers across the world and employs more than 72,000 staff[6]. As for praise, it does not come higher than the fact that 99 of the 100 companies on the Fortune 100 list use Salesforce[7].

From renowned global names to small operators and ambitious start-ups, countless organisations have invested in Salesforce for good reason. It is the ultimate CRM for managing customer leads, helping automate sales and delivering business value.

For all its benefits though, some businesses have learned the hard way that failing to choose a quality Salesforce consulting partner to guide an implementation can have a devastating impact. The cloud-based technology may be the leader of the CRM pack but to help ensure it has the best chance of helping your business grow, we have identified six common mistakes that organisations make when selecting a Salesforce consulting partner.

1. Failure to consider business goals

It is all well and good to recruit a leading Salesforce consulting partner but their expertise will count for nothing if you do not understand why you need the solution in the first place. As much as they can provide advice and assistance with implementation, their success relies on being handed a clear vision of a business’s goals and pain points. Before starting the search for a partner, asking a variety of questions can help you – and them - clearly define how your business will benefit from Salesforce. Questions could include:

  • What are your business objectives?
  • How will the solution address them?
  • How do you hope your organisation looks post-implementation?

2. Inadequate research

The Salesforce website proudly boasts there are more than 200,000 certified consultants across the globe “that deliver deep expertise[8]”. While that means it is relatively easy to find a helping hand, it is also easy to rush into choosing a partner without conducting proper research. Rather than roll the dice on an unknown quantity, take the time to investigate potential partners, understand their expertise, evaluate their past projects and seek testimonials from past clients. Appointing a Salesforce consulting partner can make or break an implementation and due diligence will go a long way to ensuring it is the former.

3. Focusing on price over quality

It is a business story as old as time – the lure of a low-cost partner winning out over better-credentialled competitors … and the start of endless headaches. Many businesses have made the mistake of prioritising budgets over expertise and learned the hard way that quality counts when it comes to Salesforce implementations. Cost overruns and project delays have been known to wipe out any initial savings, let alone the worst-case scenario of a project failure. There is a reason Salesforce recommends working with its certified partners. It may be a more expensive option but it is a small price to pay for a higher chance of success.

4. Lack of executive buy-in

Partnering with a Salesforce consultant is exactly that – a partnership that thrives on them being given time, effort and engagement both during the implementation process and beyond. This extends to executive teams, with many projects having suffered due to a lack of awareness or enthusiasm among key stakeholders. Conversely, it cannot be underestimated the benefits that come when business leaders become advocates for not only Salesforce but the process of appointing the best consultants to guide its implementation.

5. No long-term planning

A common mistake among businesses rolling out Salesforce is they cut ties with their consulting partner once the solution has been implemented. Deployment is no time to end such a relationship. If anything, the reverse is true – post-implementation is when the project enters a new phase that requires additional support. This is the time to drive user adoption, troubleshoot issues and ensure that the CRM grows as your organisation does. Tackling these challenges with a tried and tested Salesforce partner who knows the project intimately is not only smart. It is essential.

6. Ignoring the AppExchange

Salesforce has built a passionate community of users, many of whom are only too happy to share their own experiences on the company’s AppExchange. Along with more than 8,000 ready-to-install solutions, the online marketplace features 80,000 peer reviews[9] and is the perfect place to seek genuine feedback from clients about the credentials of various consulting partners. Failing to visit the AppExchange when researching potential partners is a failure to perform quality due diligence.


Salesforce has come a long way since it was an idea rolling around inside Marc Benioff’s mind but the good news is it is never too late to embrace its power. Better still, there are literally thousands of quality consulting partners waiting to help you navigate the path to successful implementation. When it comes to choosing the right Salesforce consulting partner, it’s a matter of learning from the mistakes of others to ensure you team with an organisation that has the experience and knowledge to maximise your Salesforce ambitions.

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