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.
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 around Salesforce 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:
- Connect Spekit to Salesforce: Import the objects, fields and picklist values you want to document.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Salesforce Administrators are vital to the success of any company with a CRM. They handle day-to-day tasks like provisioning new users with ease. More importantly, they are often charged with setting the direction a company takes with regards to process improvement, systems implementation and automation. This is where they can really make a big impact. One way Salesforce Administrators can increase the speed at which they contribute to the success of their company is through the use of Apps from the AppExchange or Chrome Extensions.
Sales Operations play an important role in company success too. Often times they are the unsung heros, making connections, discovering trends in data, and suggesting efficiency improvements that Admins can implement. Sales Ops and Admins, like peanut butter and jelly, are the perfect combination for success.
Here’s six tools every Sales Ops and Salesforce Administrator should keep in their toolbox to maximize their Sales Team’s productivity.
Sales Rep Productivity
Chances are, your company has something it’s trying to sell – a set of products, a consumable good, or a service. One of the best ways to sell more, is to increase your sales rep’s productivity. Using a CRM, like Salesforce, is a good start, but it can be a difficult task to get sales reps to spend the time needed to keep data current. Requiring them to update opportunities, one record at a time, in a browser is a real drag on their time. Search for a record, update the data, save the record. Repeat. Why not use a tool like GridBuddy that allows you to connect to your Salesforce data through a single view that is actionable and doesn’t require advanced developer skills or tons of code to create and maintain?
With GridBuddy sales reps can quickly and easily update multiple attributes on multiple opportunities all from one screen. GridBuddy enforces your access rights and other security features of Salesforce too, and provides a great user experience whether you are sitting at your desk, or out in the field using your mobile device. Not only does your company benefit from more productive sales reps, your sales ops team and your admins also benefit from better data to help drive better decisions!
The one area of business that seems to be most overlooked is documentation. This typically only becomes important when a staffing change is about to take place, and sometimes those changes are unexpected and come completely out of the blue, with little or no warning. By then, it’s all but too late to start thinking about documentation. The moment your Salesforce Administrator walks out the door on their last day on the job, their years of knowledge and history of why the CRM is configured the way it is, with certain processes automated & others not, also disappears.
You can certainly bring in a consultant to dig in and determine all the ins and outs – that’s one solution. You can also see if Sales Ops can step in to help, since they often work closely with Admins. A better solution is to start building documentation now, before you discover a need for it.
A tool like Spekit can easily facilitate and automate the creation of your documentation. Creation of a Salesforce wiki, or data dictionary as the foundation of your data infrastructure and training programs can produce some great benefits like shorter onboarding time for sales teams, better reporting capabilities through easier discovery of what data objects really mean and how they are used.
Training and Onboarding
Training tends to go hand-in-hand with documentation. It’s a pairing that’s been around for a long time and becoming more and more of a differentiator in the recruiting process and ramp-up time of new employees. Sales reps should be busy all day calling on prospects, and closing deals – that’s where the money is. And you want to arm your sales reps with the best knowledge possible, as fast as possible, so they can beat the competition and win more deals. Therefore, access to the knowledge they need, directly in-context is critical to getting your Sales reps spending more time selling and less time looking for answers.
Training on Salesforce has evolved by leaps and bounds in the past few years with the introduction of Trailhead. If you don’t know what Trailhead is, head over here to learn more and get started. Using Spekit’s Chrome Extension as part of your training program allows you to further customize the onboarding and training experience of your new users.
You don’t need to define everything separately, your end users can simply hover or right-click on a field name or a word in Trailhead or in Salesforce to access your company-specific knowledge and definitions within Spekit. With Spekit and Trailhead, the pairing of training and documentation just got even better – like a juicy prime rib, paired with a fine red wine.
As a sales rep, would you find it valuable to know when a customer opened your email? Of course you would! Strike when the iron is hot – time your follow-up communication perfectly so your customer stays engaged and interested in your products and services. Using a tool like Cirrus Insight allows you to manage your sales process without having to leave your inbox and without having to log into your CRM.
Imagine being able to spend more time talking to customers and closing deals – that’s what Cirrus Insight gives you – time. Through its Salesforce integration, coupled with some automation, data in CRM stays current and sales reps are more productive. Set follow-up reminders, use email templates, allow customers to schedule meetings with you without the back and forth emails – Cirrus Insight give you all that and more, right from your inbox!
What’s the most important thing about CRM? It’s the data. Good data can make sales happen faster, and bad data can ruin opportunities faster than ice melting on a hot summer day! And where does the data life cycle start? With communications between your sales teams and your prospects. One tool that can help increase the integrity of your data, as well as the efficiency of your sales teams is Conga Composer.
With Conga Composer, you can create PDF, powerpoints or even excel templates that are populated directly from your Salesforce data, removing the manual aspect of preparing invoices and entering that data in multiple locations. In other words, Conga Composer encourages companies to take full control over the communication process with prospects and customers. Document automation allows organizations to create the ideal customer engagement experience while retaining the flexibility to determine how much automation makes sense for their organizations.
How can you tie all these tools together and manage everything easily? You need a project management tool like TaskRay. First off, TaskRay doesn’t care what business you are in. All TaskRay cares about is helping you manage processes and projects quickly and easily. You get multiple views into your projects: Kanban, Gantt-style and even calendar views.
TaskRay provides an easy to use interface, to create project dependencies and assign tasks to individuals, simply drag and drop! And because TaskRay is 100% Salesforce native, it uses the same security and sharing controls you already built into Salesforce. Whether you are running an agile development shop or franchising restaurants across the country, TaskRay can help you manage your projects with ease.
In the end, everyone benefits from sales rep productivity: Sales Ops can make better decisions faster; Salesforce Administrators can build our smarter automated processes; and hopefully all this helps your company’s bottom line grow!
In the wake of the GDPR regulation going into effect last month, most companies have been taking inventory to identify personal data they stored on EU customers. You know what that means: more spreadsheets.
With custom columns, you can add customized, company-specific attributes to your existing Data Wiki terms.
A known competitive advantage that sets companies like Google or Amazon apart is their metrics-driven culture and ability to leverage data to make key strategic business decisions. Unfortunately, companies looking to hop on the bandwagon often share a common problem: their underlying data is a mess. Why? Because their employee-entered data, often in Salesforce, is only as good as the user’s understanding of it.
For the lucky ones, that understanding comes from good employee onboarding and a supporting Salesforce wiki or other documentation around the company’s terminology and processes. For the other 69%*, however, this comes from tribal knowledge passed down from employee to employee, one shoulder tap after another.
Therein lies the importance of investing time in a Salesforce wiki or data dictionary to serve as the foundation for your data infrastructure and training programs. This approach comes with a host of benefits:
1. Get your sales teams selling faster
Remember that time you joined a new company and picked up all of their internal jargon immediately? Yeah, that didn’t happen. There’s a reason why it can take the average employee 2-4 weeks to ramp-up on their new company’s Salesforce org. And the hard part isn’t using Salesforce system itself – most employees have either used it in a prior role or can easily leverage Trailhead to get a quick understanding of how to use the tool.
Instead, the real challenge is learning the intricacies of their internal business processes: When to move your leads from “Working” to “Prospecting”, or how to decipher the meanings and rules behind the custom fields and objects your company has created.
To further complicate things, these fields often consist of acronyms and industry-specific terminology that doesn’t get adopted over-night. Learning the difference between “LTC” and “LTV” is just as obvious to a new employee as memorizing the difference between “ser” and “estar” in their first Spanish class. In short – it takes time and practice.
Having an accessible and detailed Salesforce wiki with all of your fields, processes and other terminology defined is critical to get your teams spending more time selling and less time training.
2. Bring context to your code
Unfortunately, learning the business rules and definitions of your company isn’t limited to your client-facing employees. Ask any software developer you know – the hard part about learning their new stack wasn’t deciphering the code itself – it was bringing context to it. What is that API name referring to? Why does this data point have this data type? Where else in the process is this API name used?
This last example is particularly complicated with Salesforce, as we all know, due to the multitude of formulas, workflows, process builders, triggers and more, that a developer must take into account when looking to understand or make a change to any Apex code.
Database and CRM documentation, whether it’s in the format of a Salesforce wiki or technical data dictionary, is critical in getting your technical, and often, more costly employees up to speed quickly on the application they’re building or the architecture of your systems.
3. Reduce employee errors
If you’ve taken a workout class for the first time, you’ll remember awkwardly staring around the room when the instructor yelled “Eagle pose” or “Burpee” until you found someone to copy, even if they themselves were doing it wrong. That instinct to follow others is natural and in this case, inconsequential. When it pertains to company data, however, errors resulting from telephone games are costly.
An example is when a new employee wrongly moves an Opportunity record to the next stage in the process because their teammate incorrectly taught them to. Not only will this throw off your pipeline forecast, it will also affect your organization’s ability to rely on these metrics to measure KPIs around your revenue or business processes. This problem is accentuated in large or growing companies where, due to the large amounts of data, these individual errors often go unnoticed for longer periods of time.
Having your processes properly documented in your Salesforce wiki using Spekit and easily displayed in-context to the end-user can decrease the room for misinterpretation.
4. Integrate and report on data easily
- “Hi – I’d like to pull a report on the average portfolio amount by account but can’t find it”
- “Oh – that’s because on the account record that data point is called account size”
Does this scenario sound familiar? Probably more than you’d like to admit it. Similarly knowing that irr_c in Salesforce maps to rate_return in your internal database is not obvious to your developer either. It’s perfectly normal for companies to have multiple ways of defining a single term within their organization – our language wouldn’t be nearly as rich if it weren’t for synonyms. That said, when it comes to data reporting or system integrations – this can be a real pain.
This is especially true when handling the integration of databases that do not share the same vocabulary but do share similar data, such as when inheriting the CRM or database of a company during an acquisition or merger.
Capturing all of these synonyms and mappings in a single data dictionary or Salesforce wiki will reduce the constant friction and context switching endured by development teams and marketing analysts alike. The result: More time spent on getting stuff done.
5. Reduce costly turnover
Similar to that awkward moment felt by the new friend who didn’t understand the inside joke, lack of proper documentation around your company’s business terminology can easily make new employees feel lost. Your business jargon is often unique to your company and deeply embedded in your culture. Unfortunately this feeling confusion, or worse, stupidity is not discriminatory towards experience.
I’ll always remember hiring a brilliant VP of Ops who in their first few weeks of joining, had to constantly forward internal emails to me because a metric or acronym was referenced that they were not familiar with. This feeling only gets worse when you’re in a client-facing role and expected to respond to customer inquiries promptly. It’s no surprise that 24% of turnover happens within the first year of an employee joining their new company. At an estimated turnover cost of 33% of an employee’s annual salary, these consequences aren’t cheap.
In conclusion, in today’s age of Big Data, new roles like “Chief Business Intelligence Officer” and “Data Evangelist” are emerging every day. The market for AI-powered Business Intelligence or analytics tools is also increasingly competitive, with some of the largest data companies like Salesforce rolling-out their own game-changing analytics solution, Einstein.
I’ll be the first to admit that documentation is a pain, and often the last part of the process that anyone wants to be responsible for. But any well-documented organization will tell you that this investment is well worth the improved data quality and long-term efficiencies around faster development and onboarding as outlined above.
What’s more, there are new solutions that help make this process easier than ever. Spekit, for example, is uniquely designed as a hybrid between a Salesforce wiki and data dictionary that meets the documentation needs of your technical and non-technical employees alike. It comes with a Chrome Extension that lets all users access your documentation directly in their workflow without ever leaving their browser. The best part: We have a free tier that you can use to create beautifully enriched help text for Salesforce, starting today. Click here to learn more about how Spekit can bring sanity to your Salesforce
*Survey conducted in October 2017 by Spekit
Spekit is excited to launch three new features to improve your training & documentation with our Salesforce data dictionary. Check them out for yourself in our self-serve demo.
1. Import and document your picklist values
Does your team struggle to remember the steps required to move an Opportunity from “Prospecting” to “Working”? Using Spekit, you can select a mission-critical field like “Opportunity Stage” and import each picklist value into Spekit. You can then define the requirements to move from “Stage A” to “Stage B” at a granular level. Your end-users can use our Chrome Extension to access these definitions directly in Salesforce by highlighting the picklist value in question.
2. Toggle between columns
Spekit is designed to be the source of truth for business knowledge on your data for all employees, not just Salesforce users. That’s why we created the data wiki in a user-friendly, tabular format. Our new Custom Toggle feature lets technical users adjust the data points displayed in the to meet their particular use case. You can use this to help bring business context to your code for technical teams.
3. Import Installed Packages or System Objects
You can now document any object in your Salesforce data dictionary, including Installed Package Objects and System Objects by going to the Object Manager screen and importing any object of your choice.
That’s all for now folks. Make sure to email email@example.com to get started or share your feedback!