Salesforce Staffing: Hiring vs. Outsourcing Options

Salesforce Staffing: Hiring vs. Outsourcing 

If you’ve found your way here, odds are you are a business or technology leader who is already sold on using Salesforce to be a central part of your business operations and technical architecture.  Now, you have to make a decision about how to hit the ground running so that you can reap the most business value from your decision to use Salesforce.  

Depending on your use cases for Salesforce and the size of your team, there are a couple of different options that may work for you in terms of staffing up to accomplish the necessary work.  It is not uncommon to find that the best option for you is actually a mixture of the options we’ll go through below.

Internally Hiring

Internally hiring is often a comfortable idea, because it is probably how most of the rest of your company works in areas like marketing, sales, and HR.  This can be a great decision if you deeply value the structure of working with the same people in the longer-term and are willing to give up some flexibility to do so.  

There are two common challenges with hiring though: speed and talent.  Hiring takes a long time, period. According to Harvard Business Review studies, it typically takes 8 months for a new employee to reach their expected level of productivity (after the time it takes to hire!).  The top Salesforce admin and engineering talent have a lot of choices, making recruiting and retention difficult and hiring costs significant for top talent.  These challenges can be overcome to build a core team internally with Salesforce expertise over time, but it is difficult to move at the speed you want exclusively by hiring internally.  

Consulting Firms

Consulting firms can deliver a full team with great track records of Salesforce implementations to come in and solve your business needs.  These projects tend to be well documented, well staffed, and of course expensive to the client. They also take time to get started, between negotiating the contract, introducing the consulting team to your business, and kicking it off.

One meaningful additional value of using a consulting firm is the clear process and project management.  The best consulting firms have best practices for everything from kicking off a new project to training the users at the end of an implementation.  As a business leader when you’re getting a contract with a consulting firm in place, be sure that there are clear milestones along the way and that payment is attached to truly meeting those milestones that help your business.  This ensures alignment throughout the lifetime of a relationship with a consulting firm.

Due to the significant cost of working with a consulting firm, it becomes really important to define the beginning and end of the consulting.  It’s common to have the implementation done by a consulting firm and then have the maintenance and support work handed back to your internal team, in this case be sure your team gets up-to-speed before the contract ends so they are ready to take over.  In this way, a combination of internal hiring and consulting can get your business where it needs to go if managed carefully.

Specialized Staffing

Pinkus Partners falls into a somewhat more specialized and niche category, what we call Specialized Staffing for Salesforce talent.  We find that specialized staffing is the most flexible and efficient way to augment either (or both) of the above two options. It is much faster and lower commitment than either hiring internally or committing to a major engagement with a consulting firm, so can be used on its own or to easily fill out the skillsets you are having difficulty finding other ways. 

In the case of using specialized staffing, you can tell a company like ours exactly the talent you want (no more, no less) and we will connect you with folks that have already been vetted for those skills and experience with similar projects.  It is generally more affordable than retaining an entire consulting team, particularly if the project is smaller or ongoing. Given the wars for top talent in technology in general, and Salesforce talent specifically, it can be nice to simply have specialized staffing contracts in place without having to worry about the recruiting and retention of hiring internally.  

Let us know if you would like to connect with Pinkus Partners to discuss the needs of your business and how we can help.  

How to Keep Up with Salesforce CPQ

 

The demand for CPQ solutions is growing exponentially. According to a Gartner report, market revenue for CPQ tools is expected to grow by 20% year over year through 2020. This is for good reason, too. Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solutions allow businesses to accelerate sales and recognize revenue faster by quickly configuring products, defining pricing and discount structures, and integrating back-office billing systems.

In competitive industries where the customer can shop around with the swipe and touch of a finger, it is more important than ever to be able to provide a quote with speed and accuracy. The same Gartner study mentioned that being able to quote quickly provides the “highest probability of winning the deal.”

If you are one of these companies considering a CPQ solution such as Salesforce CPQ, you may have already begun your due diligence and research to get an idea of what it takes to implement. You may have even met with an implementation partner or consultant.

If you have, chances are they mentioned that a CPQ implementation is not just a matter of flipping a switch, installing a package or purchasing licenses. From a business point of view, there will be a substantial amount of requirement gathering to determine how CPQ will fit your business needs all the way down to defining your product and pricing structure.

From a technical point of view, implementing CPQ will require data analysis, transformation and loading, reporting, and the technical resources necessary to accommodate any custom business logic.

Maintaining your CPQ solution after implementation leads to an entirely new set of requirements that companies should also prepare for. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

Do you have the IT infrastructure to support the solution?

With Salesforce CPQ, it is important to have defined processes regarding ownership of the solution – who is responsible for changes, enhancements and adoption. It is not uncommon for companies to leave the ownership of Salesforce to the Business users – such as your Sales or Operations team. This may be fine for many implementations, especially ones that utilize out of the box Sales Cloud functionality.

However, CPQ is considerably more complex. With Salesforce CPQ, a technical team is highly recommended. A recent study provided by IBM Bluewolf noted that when IT has control over the use of the Salesforce platform, the business is ‘3x more likely to be optimized for ongoing innovation, use more of its features, as well as ‘coordinated process improvement’ (The State of Salesforce, 45).

Do you have the bandwidth to hire or train permanent Salesforce resources?

In an article by Salesforce about preparing for CPQ success, the author recommends Admin and User training as two of the five necessary components of maintaining a successful CPQ implementation (How to: Prepare for CPQ Success).

Finding the necessary professional resources can be expensive and training current employees may not be feasible for your business. In addition to the hours of training necessary to become a competent platform user, CPQ will demand users to keep abreast on areas to improve and optimize.

For these reasons and more, it may be appealing to contract your CPQ ongoing maintenance. Check out our other blog post on reasons to contract Salesforce work: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/4-reasons-contract-your-salesforce-project-grant-ongstad/

What are other important Maintenance activities your team should be aware of?

From a maintenance standpoint, most professionals agree that on-going house cleaning activities will need to take place in the following areas:

Products and Pricing: Is your product and pricing structure accurate? This includes cleansing of duplicate products or contradicting pricing rules.

Workflow and Approvals: Do the approval processes still reflect agreed upon business rules?

Quotes and Contracts: Is the language and terms accurate in quote and contract templates?

Conclusion

There is plenty of work to be done before and after implementing a CPQ solution, including creating support plans and assigning maintenance responsibilities.

The key to success is often careful and diligent planning. Although an investment in Salesforce CPQ can yield a significant return on investment, it is important to consider the long-term investment that will have to be made to keep things running smoothly.

Whether you are just beginning your CPQ implementation or have already gone live and could use some additional support, visit Pinkus Partners at www.pinkuspartners.com and get matched with a Salesforce Certified CPQ Consultant within 24-48 hours.

4 Reasons to Contract your Salesforce Project

Social Media Trends LinkedIn Post Header

For even a small company, implementing and maintaining a Salesforce instance will require the help of certified professionals. With an increased demand for Salesforce professionals and the wide range of technical knowledge needed for many projects, consider these reasons to contract your Salesforce work.

Save Time and Money

The hourly rate of a Salesforce consultant may seem high when compared to a FTE, but after healthcare, paid vacation, sick pay, and 401k match – it is likely you will realize a substantial cost savings contracting at an hourly rate instead. Many consultants will provide their own resources, including software licenses, cell phones and laptops – substantially reducing the cost and time of an on-boarding. A Salesforce contractor will also provide for their own educational development, including maintaining certifications. During tax season employers also can avoid the headaches since they do not have to worry about employee withholdings. In most cases consultants can take a simple 1099.

Quickly Scale Resources

The scope and demands of your project can change drastically in a matter of days, requiring an increase in resources or a specialized, high demand skill set. Working with contracted professionals allows you to quickly scale up or down when needed. Salesforce consultants usually have certain areas of specialization such as APEX development, creating responsive lightning applications, or implementing and maintaining a CPQ implementation – just to name a few. Most staffing firms have a network they can quickly call on when needed. After a project is completed, scaling down is as simple as deciding to do so, without the hassle of dealing with typical off-boarding processes.

Technical expertise 

Hiring a full-time employee requires a considerable level of research, candidate hunting and vetting. Other than a resume and a few interviews, it is difficult to verify expertise, competency level, all while considering if the candidate is a cultural fit. This puts a strain on employers and candidates.  On the other hand, a specialized staffing firm’s competency can be measured by the talent they have readily available. Look for a staffing firm that provides customers with Salesforce certified and highly trained subject matter experts. These firms are able to offer Salesforce resources with the business experience required to fit in and make sure the project stays on task. When it comes to working on and completing projects, contractors are battle tested – they have worked on a variety of implementations, developed and tailored complex solutions, designed around multiple use cases, and have encountered all the exceptions and ‘gotchas’ along the way. These specialized Contractors are aware of ‘best practices’ when it comes to Salesforce solutions and are familiar with the design principles to ensure your solution is scalable for future initiatives. Since the majority of C-Level Executives rank a Salesforce project’s implementation time as their number one concern (Bluewolf, the State of Salesforce), and the best companies are aligning Salesforce to prioritize new initiatives based on both impact and time-to-value, bringing in specialized Salesforce resources with hands on experience is a critical component of a project’s success

Availability

Contractors are used to working whatever hours are needed to get the job done. They often work with significant time constraints and have a history of delivering successful projects under pressure. A full-time employee may have a few opportunities to prove themselves but a contractor knows they can easily be replaced if they do not perform.

Salesforce is a powerful tool. However, like any tool, its effectiveness starts and ends with the craftsman using it. Contracting a Salesforce professional can ensure the best craftsman for the job.

Visit us at www.pinkuspartners.com to hire experienced and certified Salesforce professionals. Whether you are just beginning a Salesforce initiative or need year-round support, we can help during any stage of the process.

Life After Launch: 8 Ways to Maximize Your Salesforce CPQ Investment

After spending time, energy, and resources on an effective Salesforce CPQ roll-out, the time has finally come to enjoy all the benefits your new configure, price, quote software has to offer (and is expected to deliver).

So, what are the most important items to focus on to ensure smooth sailing with Salesforce CPQ?  Here is what Salesforce CPQ customers and Certified Salesforce experts consider to be most important in Life after Launch.

Life After Launch

If you completed a Salesforce CPQ implementation, you may remember the feeling you had on the day the solution was launched into production – aka ‘go live.’

All the planning, the effort, the project that was on your mind 24-7 – now finally complete. You may have wanted to take a nice vacation after that, maybe a trip to Cabo, maybe even tour Europe.

But then a couple days passed, the excitement wore off, and you came back down to earth and realized that the journey with Salesforce CPQ was just beginning.

While I may not be able to promise you that vacation to Cabo, I did compile a list of what Salesforce CPQ customers and Certified Salesforce experts consider to be the most important items to focus on during life after launch with Salesforce CPQ.

1. Increasing User Adoption

With all the benefits Salesforce CPQ adds to a business, if users are slow to adopt this new technology, your company pays the price. It can be challenging to get users away from what they’re accustomed to. Ask any sales rep if they rather spend their time selling or learning a new system, and you’ll be met with more than a few eye rolls. But if that new system is Salesforce CPQ, your sales reps should be itching to get their hands on a tool that is built specifically to help them close deals faster and make their jobs easier.

Therefore, companies need to ensure a smooth transition to increase adoption. Capturing and analyzing usage metrics, providing relevant training resources, and soliciting user feedback to improve outcomes is essential. In addition, providing quick resolutions to any problems your users may encounter is necessary to ensure they are less likely to revert back to old habits.

2. Ensuring Clean and Accurate Data

Data cleansing itself can be a full-time job, especially when dealing with large volumes of data from multiple channels. Validating and maintaining clean and accurate data is essential for your business. Luckily, Salesforce offers a variety of tools and functionality to help manage duplicate and incomplete data. This functionality, when leveraged by your team’s experienced Salesforce professionals, provides your company with invaluable information. Clean and accurate data ensures insightful and accurate reporting.

3. Leveraging Insightful and Accurate Reporting

Sales teams can effortlessly create their own reports and dashboards. Unfortunately, they may not always be useful or accurate. It is not uncommon for companies to spend thousands of dollars on Business Intelligence reporting professionals. Make sure to utilize your company’s Salesforce resources for their expertise when building reports and dashboards that are useful at every level – from the rep on the field interested in their pipeline to executive interested in quarterly performance.

4. Driving Innovation and Improvement

Salesforce knows that the way to stay at the top is by constantly improving and innovating. Make the most of your implementation by keeping abreast on Salesforce news and by identifying ways new or upcoming Salesforce products, services, or functionality can help improve your process. As your business evolves, so will your solution requirements.

Leverage your Salesforce employees to effectively manage and reinforce your current state, but also provide a road map to future innovation. As your product line or pricing structure evolves, your reports will stay relative and up-to-date. In addition, you are preparing your company to take advantage of Salesforce AI capabilities (Einstein) to help identify new insights. See our article on Salesforce Einstein for a good read!

5. Managing Workflow

Salesforce CPQ is all about the workflow – a succinct handoff from the sales rep through the hierarchy of approvers and all the way to billing. In a growing company, this workflow may change quite often. As your process, team, and products change – you’ll need to stay on top of automated workflows. Make sure you have a team in place that can quickly address any holdups in your automated approval process and can make the necessary updates and changes as needed.

6. Managing Templates

Your legal team may need to add a new addendum to a contract, make a change to terms in your quote templates, or your design team may agree on a new header design. Between all these changes, it can be difficult to manage accurate templates that are used in multiple places. Ensure that the most accurate templates are being used by your team so your customers receive consistent and accurate messaging, and your legal team isn’t hit with any surprises.

7. The Development Lifecycle

Your typical Salesforce user and potentially even your power user may not understand best practices of the development lifecycle. With growing expectations and regulations being put on businesses, it is important to be able to point to a clean audit trail of changes made to your production environment. Salesforce experts can help build and maintain a clean deployment plan from development, to stage, to production as well as properly store, deactivate, or remove old metadata.

8. Integrating with Other Applications

If your company’s data doesn’t only exist in Salesforce, you’ll need to put some effort in managing your integrations. We know many vendors may brag about their ‘seamless’ integration, but mistakes happen! Between incorrect mapping, user errors, or data anomalies, a hold up in the integration process can lose you a potential customer. Make sure you understand the common applications that integrate with Salesforce CPQ to keep everything running smoothly.

Managing so many moving parts can be a challenge without the right resources in place.  Stay tuned for more content in the coming weeks to help you stay on top of the most relevant Salesforce CPQ and Quote-to-Cash news and updates. If you missed out on reading through the 485 pages in the Salesforce Spring 2018 release notes, you can find a summary of the 9 changes for Salesforce CPQ and Billing in the newest release right here: Coming Soon: 9 New Salesforce CPQ and Billing Changes

 

Coming Soon: 9 New Salesforce CPQ and Billing Changes

Salesforce release notes show 9 improvements on the way for Configure Price Quote and Billing tools. Get the full scoop here.

Salesforce recently published its Spring release notes (all 485 pages of them). It took a couple pots of coffee, but I was able to hone in on the #1 concern of Salesforce users – Salesforce CPQ.

Instead of having you slog through all 485 pages of release notes, I’ve pulled the most relevant CPQ news together in the post below.

An Expanding Market 

Most people in the SFDC ecosystem know that Salesforce acquired SteelBrick for $360 million. This is a clear signal from the SFDC powers that be that Salesforce CPQ is a key area of opportunity for the company. Both users and analysts seem to agree. Gartner predicts the CPQ market will continue to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 20% through 2020. If those numbers hold true, you’ll be hard pressed to find a company not using a CPQ tool in a couple years.

Ever looking to round out its company-wide utility, Salesforce also revealed enhancements to Salesforce Billing. These updates will provide SFDC users with “flexible invoicing, custom reports, and simplified payments.”

By automating both quoting and billing, Salesforce is leading the way in providing companies with a full quote-to-cash solution. Why is that important to SFDC users? The sooner you can provide a quote or send out a bill, the sooner you’ll be able to realize revenue from customers (and the sooner your customers will realize the value of your services, of course!).

If you’re interested in tapping into this CPQ revolution before you end up labeled a laggard, read on to learn more about the 9 Salesforce CPQ and Billing changes launching this spring.

Salesforce CPQ: Improved Line Selection and Contract Status Visibility

Create and manage your quotes and orders with Salesforce CPQ. These changes apply to both Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic.

1. Choose Multiple Lines in Salesforce CPQ Visualforce Pages

Your sales reps now have an easier way of selecting several options in certain Salesforce CPQ Visualforce pages. Users can shift-click to select several lines at the same time.

2. Track Contracting Job Status

You can now track the status of background contracting jobs. The spinner provides visibility by showing your contracting job progress. Add this component to your existing order page layouts.

3. Use the Prorate Multiplier for Order Products

Salesforce CPQ order products now show the prorate multiplier field. This field inherits its value from the quote line and is used to calculate the order product’s total price.

Other Changes in Salesforce CPQ

Changes made to order product fields and line-level contracting

4. Line-Level Contracting on Related Orders Products Is Retired

You can no longer create a contract from percent of total, covered, or bundle products at the order product level. Instead, create a contract with these objects through the order record.

5. Customize Billing with Dynamic Invoice Plans

Dynamic Invoice Plans offer more flexibility for how and when you bill customers. Define dates, service periods, or project milestones that are outside the standard monthly, quarterly, and annual billing cycles.

For example, you can bill 10% of an order product’s total amount upon activation, 25% on first delivery, and the remainder after final delivery.

6. Manage Tax for Your Credit Notes and Debit Notes

Our tax calculation process lets you estimate tax for your credit notes and debit notes before you apply it. If you need to change fields that factor into tax calculation, you can do so before you commit tax to the credit note or debit note record.

7. Use Improved Reporting Tools

Useful reporting tools and out-of-the-box templates show snapshots of your accounts and transactions, and provide examples of how Salesforce Billing can help you work better.

8. Manage Invoices and Payments Seamlessly in the New Payment Center

The updated Payment Center offers a more intuitive and faster process for settling accounts. Customers have more flexibility for paying all or part of an invoice, crediting an account, changing credit card or bank details, and tracking payments in a simplified, intuitive user interface.

9. Added Flexibility with Prerated Usage for Order Products

If you have usage ratings that are defined by another source, or charges not covered by standard usage ratings, you can include them as prerated usage.

So what do these changes mean for Salesforce customers?

Salesforce.com’s CPQ and Billing is an offering that will only continue to get better. With an automated, end-to-end, quote-to-cash-solution, expect your business to see accelerated sales cycles, more closed deals, and quicker revenue recognition.

Are you struggling to get the most out of your Salesforce instance? Learn how we can help match you with a Salesforce CPQ expert to help you get the most out of your investment.