In the realm of Salesforce consulting, it is often emphasized that the client’s satisfaction is paramount. The goal is to ensure that the client’s expectations are met. Considering clients are the ones who pay the big bucks to get the job done, it is understandable why these sentiments prevail.
However, this client-centric approach has fostered a culture of ‘pleasing the clients’. Sometimes this is done at the expense of building an optimal solution and making the internal teamwork crazy hours to meet the client’s requirements. In this article, I’ll explore how a Salesforce Consultant plays a pivotal role in shifting the focus from being client-centric to solution-centric.
What Makes a Great Solution?
To adopt a solution-centric approach, it is necessary to understand what makes a solution great. The outcome of a great solution relies on integrating four important elements:
- Effectively leading a team
- Achieving clarity with requirements
- Executing the solution effectively
- Managing client relationship
As a Salesforce Consultant embarks on project delivery, they keep these elements at the forefront and execute them effectively. Here’s a breakdown of how they accomplish this…
The Consultant Prioritizes Their Internal Team
A consultant is the captain of a ship and leads the voyage with the goal of reaching a solution – and a group of crew members (developers, admins, QAs, technical architects, and project managers) is working alongside them toward that solution. So, how can this ship reach its destination if the crew members are not the first priority?
A consultant ensures that they are available whenever any team member needs them. They create an environment where the team members can openly communicate about any challenges they face – technical or personal in nature. The consultant promptly addresses and collaborates with the team to overcome any obstacles that hinder progress.
The consultant should consistently keep these three questions in mind:
- Are my team members completing the work they are supposed to?
- Are they feeling overworked?
- Do they need assistance with some stories/bugs they are stuck with?
A big satisfaction for the consultant is when the team members express their desire to work with them again on future projects!
The Consultant Understands Business Requirements Inside and Out
The foundation of a successful solution is the underlying business requirements. The consultant has a clear grasp of what a client is looking for. Now, it may not be possible to know every little detail of the requirements – but a consultant clearly knows the core functionality that is being asked for.
To achieve this level of understanding, they:
- Conduct multiple sessions with clients.
- Pose probing questions to uncover the true intent behind the client’s requests.
- Ensure a clear picture of the client’s needs is formed in their mind (through emails and one-on-one chats).
- Comprehend not only what the client requests but also why they need it and how the solution will address their current challenges.
- Work closely with business analysts in writing the user stories.
While there may be times when the consultant is tempted to accept the requirements at face value to please the client, the true value arises when they question, probe, and offer alternative perspectives to approach the problem.
The Consultant Makes the Solution Come Together
Once the consultant ‘sees’ the requirements clearly, they work closely with their internal team to bring those requirements to life.
They collaborate with admins, developers, and technical architects to identify the optimal way to build the solution – such as using Flows, Apex, creating record types, or configuring picklist fields.
Personally, I disagree with other consultants who get too much into the weeds of working out the technical intricacies of the build. While sometimes there is a need to roll up your sleeves and try to figure out why a flow is not working, or address a high-priority bug that impacts the business – a consultant shouldn’t get too involved with ‘the trees that they lose sight of the entire forest’.
They’re like a chess master or a puzzle solver who believes in the power of delegation – the consultant guides their team in assembling the puzzle pieces while maintaining a comprehensive view of the evolving solution.
The Consultant Deals Effectively With Clients
So, what is it that clients truly desire? Naturally, they want a functional solution as the end product. This is given. But what are their expectations during the solution-building process?
Let’s examine the situation from their perspective.
A client’s company generally consists of two groups of employees:
- The first group consists of individuals from the business side who contribute to generating revenue or support those who do (e.g. sales, customer service, marketing teams).
- The second group consists of technical professionals who provide the necessary infrastructure to support the first group.
Typically, it is the employees from the second group who engage outside vendors or consultants to build the solution. To acquire vendors:
- They must create a proposal and get approval from their superiors to secure enough funding. That means they are now under scrutiny from their managers and other executives.
- From a pool of vendors, they must select the one they believe can deliver the desired solution.
- The chosen vendor should be able to complete the solution within the allocated budget and timeframe.
- Most importantly, the solution that is developed should satisfy the requirements of the business side individuals (as they are the ones who will be using the technology).
Amidst these internal pressures, they need to put faith in this new vendor with whom they have never worked to build a technology they may not have used before.
In such circumstances, a consultant plays a crucial role in assuring the clients they have made the correct choice by selecting them as their vendors. Here’s how they achieve it:
- The consultant demonstrates their expertise in the offered technology (whether it be sales cloud implementation or integration with SAP).
- They engage with the business side by asking relevant questions and conducting thoughtful analysis to understand the specific business problems they are trying to solve.
- They maintain clear and effective communication with both sides (business and technical stakeholders) by using multiple emails or additional sessions if needed – to provide a vision of the solution being developed for them.
- Sometimes, there may be internal politics with the client’s company, but the consultant avoids taking sides to gain favor from one client over another.
- They gain confidence from the clients not by simply trying to please them, but by prioritizing the solution and effectively guiding them toward it.
To break free from the culture of simply pleasing clients, a consultant needs to shift their emphasis toward building a truly effective solution. To accomplish this, it’s important for a consultant to prioritize their team members above everything else.
They need to invest time to understand client requirements and then delegate the task of solution building to their team. Ultimately, the consultant becomes a reliable guide to the client by establishing trust and fostering effective communication.