Archives for September 2020

Three Actions to Take Before Scaling Your Salesforce Business with Subcontractors

Since our founding nearly five years ago, the 10K Community has grown to over 400 seasoned, independent Salesforce experts. Many of the Salesforce independent contractors and small-sized consulting companies in our community are not only looking to partner with us to deliver projects but are also looking to build a business, grow their client base, and potentially hire full-time employees.  

Our soon-to-be-released 2020 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report shows that more than 50% of Salesforce consultants are looking to further grow their business in the coming years. Some (22%) through the use of contractors, and some (32%) by hiring full-time employees. Thirty-six percent of respondents in that survey say they are actively using subcontractors to scale their business today.

As COO and the leader responsible for the 10K Expert Community, these numbers have me feeling optimistic. I’ve recently noticed an increasing number of experts asking how they can use our community as subcontractors to further expand their business and take on more clients. This is something that we love to hear.

While taking the time to vet your subcontractors is a must, there are a few other things that are important to consider when looking to expand your delivery capabilities with subcontractors. 

Here are three basic steps you can take to start scaling your time and growing your Salesforce business.  

Include explicit permission to use subcontractors in your client contracts

At 10K, we ensure our client contracts have subcontractor flexibility built-in. So if we realize one of our client’s projects could use the additional capacity to increase the speed of deliverables or cover a skills gap, this guarantees 10K the option to engage additional subcontractors. However, many of the independent consultants we work with don’t explicitly get permission to use subcontractors in their own contracts, nor do they have language around rates or other roles that they can offer.

We recommend baking this option into your client contracts because once a project has kicked off, telling your client you need to bring on more help can be an uncomfortable conversation. Not only that, but sometimes additional support is needed because the project is behind schedule, too complex, or too close to budget. Unforeseeable circumstances are normal, so there’s no shame in providing yourself the flexibility to bring in additional help as needed.

Establish margins that work

Now that you have the flexibility to add people to your projects, how do you ensure you’re charging the right rates so everyone wins? We have seen this done in two different ways. 

Our recommended strategy is to determine rates by role and region. This will allow you to provide clear budget estimates and easily add people as needed without limiting your options. You could even win additional projects as this demonstrates to your client that you have ready access to sought-after skillsets and teams. Another advantage is being able to build more accurate project plans, staffing models, and profit projections. 

Using a blended rate is another popular approach where you define a rate regardless of role and region. We typically see this used with our higher-skilled and more experienced consultants.

While blended rates can make contracts, billing, and operations easier, there are some disadvantages:

You might have to lower what you charge on an hourly basis. But it could also improve the margin of any additional contract you bring in.

Your subcontractor options might be limited. For example, a CPQ project where you priced yourself out of bringing in the people you need. 

Clients might feel taken advantage of. They are paying one rate and will assume you are doing most of the work, but proactive communication in most cases can remedy this issue. 

Prioritize and delegate to gain more time 

Learning how to scale your time becomes an inevitable aspect of growing your business. This can feel like an impossible task when you’re spending hours writing validation rules, creating fields and objects, searching for your next client, chasing payments, and so on.  

The first step in evaluating how you spend your time is to analyze the costs and benefits of your work tasks. Strategic prioritization will help you decide which tasks to delegate to subcontractors so you can focus on the real needle movers, such as onboarding and finding new clients or designing the solutions for your projects. 

It’s easy to get swept away in the weeds of a project, but this cost-benefit analysis is worth it. Should you really be creating all those fields and objects yourself? Could you use a fresh perspective to determine the right solution? Maybe all your client needs is a Lightning Web Component on a page to capture data quickly, as opposed to navigating to a child record and editing it. 

Gain back precious time and consider using subcontractors to accomplish these key tasks:

  1. Object and field creation
  2. Declarative automation and validation rules
  3. Triggers and User Interfaces
  4. QA
  5. Project Management

If you’re eager to start growing your Salesforce business but don’t know where to get started, joining the 10K Expert Community is a solid way to start. We can help coach you through some of these issues and vet subcontractors that would be a fit for you – one of the most time-consuming aspects of growing your business in this way.





How to Vet Salesforce Consultants the 10K Way

By Jared Miller, 10K COO

Since the start of COVID, we know you’ve been hearing a lot about “the new normal” and the new way of working. With the accelerated rise of remote work and restructuring of companies and their traditional workforces (large-scale layoffs, furloughs, etc.), there are now more independent consultants in the ecosystem than ever before. This is a great opportunity for your company to get more out of Salesforce. 

At 10K, we’re vocal advocates for the benefits of utilizing independent Salesforce consultants. Independent Salesforce experts can help you scale on-demand and tailor your system to your evolving needs while avoiding the challenges and costs of sourcing, hiring, and retaining full-time employees. 

So, as a Salesforce customer with the goal of getting the most out of your program, how can you most effectively identify the skilled independent Salesforce consultants who will be a strong fit for your company? Here’s how we do it at 10K. 

First, determine the skill set you need

Before you start searching for the right person, it’s important to know what skills you need for your particular situation and what role is most critical.

Once you’ve confirmed the skills and role, you can start your targeted research. For those who have the knowledge and time to source talent on their own, LinkedIn and Salesforce’s AppExchange are a great place to start. Something to keep in mind, however, is that sourcing and identifying talent is a tedious and time-consuming task. You’ll be searching through thousands of profiles, some that are comprehensive and up-to-date but often lacking essential details. 

You can narrow down the field by checking for Salesforce certifications and Trailhead badges a firm or consultant has earned, but you’ll still need to do quite a bit of vetting. Despite consultants listing a particular skill, badge, or certification, according to our May 2019 survey of 300+ Salesforce program stakeholders, 55% said they’ve definitely had or suspect they’ve had an experience where a job candidate or consultant claimed certifications or specific domain expertise they didn’t have. 

With any large influx of fresh talent into a market — especially a market as lucrative as Salesforce — it’s critical to verify a person’s skill set with confidence before enlisting their help. You can do this through references, test projects, or detailed technical interviews. Something to be aware of, however, is that if the person conducting these interviews lacks technical knowledge, validating a candidate’s skills becomes almost impossible and leaves room for error.  The vetting process can be tedious, so if you don’t have the time or expertise to do this on your own, a partner like 10K who has already pre-vetted the talent on their rosters can alleviate much of this burden.

Get a feel for their soft skills 

The next step is to make sure the consultant you have found is a good fit for your team, your business, and your system. Do they act professionally? Do they ask questions? Do they have the right temperament and communication style to work alongside you or your team? If a candidate can’t communicate or listen well, it doesn’t matter how intelligent or experienced they are.

That said, a candidate’s personality can be a deal-breaker. Before bringing a new Expert into the 10K Community, I always look through their LinkedIn profiles and social feeds. Here are a few things to ask yourself during this process:

Have they spent the time to keep their LinkedIn profile updated? 

What kind of public conversations are they having on Twitter or Facebook? 

Are there any red flags or questionable activities?

Gauge their personality and work style

Once I’ve done a little homework, I’ll request a call (we’re big proponents of video chatting, especially during COVID) to get a feel for who they are and what they’re looking for. During these conversations I also want to know they’ve done some research into who we are, what we do, and our unique business model. If a candidate takes the initiative to research us, they’re more likely to take the initiative in client relationships. Here are a few questions that can help you gauge a consultant’s personality: 

Why did you get into the Salesforce ecosystem? 

What do you love about working on projects and what kind of projects do you want to work on? 

What are some mistakes you’ve made and what did you learn from that experience?

Interviewing is a collaborative process, so I also encourage candidates to ask me questions. By creating an interview environment that feels more like a conversation, candidates are more likely to give candid answers that can help give insight into their motivations, strengths, temperament, and capabilities. It also highlights how they frame questions to get the information they are seeking, which is another strong indication of their work style. 

Consider your values and culture of doing work

These early conversations help me assess their professionalism, passion, and communication style. This also helps me see how they’d fit with our clients and our values. Our top value is trust – dependability, integrity, and honesty. We want growth-minded, introspective people working with our clients. If a person can’t admit to a mistake or constantly blames others, they aren’t going to be a fit.

If we’re interviewing for a particular client situation, then I’ll ask more pointed questions about their specific experience for that situation. Have they worked with clients in this industry before? Have they successfully worked on programs and systems of this scale? If a client has a super complex implementation, having someone who understands that level of sophistication and the interdependencies that come along with it is key. 

These are just some of the practices I use on a regular basis to make sure we have proven talent in our community who are a strong fit for our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about our sourcing process or wondering how 10K can connect you with the hard-to-find talent you’re looking for, contact us today. 

Fresh Off the Exam: Community Cloud Certification Advice From a Salesforce Expert

Q&A With 10K Expert, Rita Leverett

Part of what makes Salesforce so special is its community members and their commitment to driving the ecosystem forward through ongoing education and innovation. With the pandemic, however, we know unique circumstances may have made it more challenging to achieve new certifications. 

That said, since the start of COVID, we’ve been so genuinely impressed by our experts’ enduring engagement and ability to adapt. That Trailblazer drive and commitment to learning is what inspired us to create our first Certification Scholarship Program at the beginning of the year. 

Promoting a culture of learning is a priority for 10K. Not only is ongoing education a core pillar of successful COEs, it’s also essential in getting the most out of Salesforce. Upskilling with new certifications, especially in high-demand areas, can advance a Salesforce expert’s career and provide a competitive edge. For our scholarship program, 10K Experts were able to apply for one of the following high-demand certifications: Configure Price Quote (CPQ), Community Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Mulesoft, or Field Service Lightning. 

Despite the trying circumstances of the pandemic, our certification scholarship recipients are in the process of completing their exams and eager to share their insight. For first-hand advice from our experts fresh off the exam, stay tuned to our blog.  

Q: Which tools or resources did you use to prepare for your certification exam and would you recommend them?

I used a combination of Trailhead and the FocusOnForce Community Cloud study guide. I found these to be incredibly helpful and would recommend them for anyone studying for this particular exam. 

Q: Why Community Cloud? Was there a specific reason you chose this certification?

Community Cloud wasn’t my first choice because I was already studying for the Platform Developer II certification, so I would have chosen that if it had been offered through the scholarship program. I have the most work experience in Community Cloud and I was confident I could pass the exam on the first attempt.

Q: Was the Community Cloud exam what you envisioned it would be or were there any curveballs?

I felt that the answer to some of the questions should have been “None of the above.” For example, there was a reference to Files Connect, and my studies referenced Salesforce Connect so I wasn’t sure if that was the same thing or not. Salesforce Connect was never listed as an answer, so that threw me off a bit. This made me a bit nervous during the exam but it worked out okay in the end.

Q: If you’ve completed a certification exam before, did you notice or feel COVID had any impact on the process?

I was planning to wait until after COVID to take any more exams, but with the scholarship program, I figured why not! I had the option of taking the exam online without an external webcam. I didn’t take advantage of this because the testing center was open and I was allowed to use scratch paper. I must have my scratch paper! Also, going in person we, of course, had to wear a mask and sit socially distanced (although that’s not too far from the norm for these exams). The atmosphere definitely felt a bit different, but I was glad to be able to take it in person. 

Q: Do you have any plans in-store with your new certification? 

I currently have six active certifications and one retired one, so with Community Cloud, I’m hoping to be more marketable. I also have a bit of work experience with Community Cloud already, so I look forward to opportunities that will allow me to work more with it. 

Looking for more resources to elevate your Salesforce learning and development? Check out our “Ask The Expert” webinar with Trailhead SVP Amy Regan Morehouse.

“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: Salesforce Change Management for Dummies

We can all probably agree that the last six months have seen us all go through more change both personally and professionally than any other six-month span in our lives.

For that reason, and because change management is one of the key pillars in our Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook, we decided to address it in our latest “Ask the Expert” webinar. Hosted by 10K’s CEO Nick Hamm, we took a deep dive with the co-founders of Montage Learning, Sarah Risen-Robertson, and Lizz Hellinga. 

You can also view the captioned recording here. 

Is change management just for big companies? Why or why not?

While people tend to think change management is something only big companies do, that’s certainly not the case. However, while working with a smaller company enables one to move quicker and be more agile which makes change management seem as though it can be easier, you should be cautious and treat change with care and thoughtfulness regardless of the size of the company.

Ultimately, change management is about building trust and getting people to go on the change journey with you.

That said, the sooner you can start to develop those best practices, the more likely your stakeholders, team, employees, and whoever else is involved in whatever change you’re implementing, the less resistance you’ll find, and the better it is for your organization and your customers.

Where should I start on the change management journey? 

First, let’s define “change management.” It’s the set of tools, resources, processes, skills, and principles used to manage change. In terms of things you can do today to start enabling effective change in your organization, here are five places to start:

  1. Understand and communicate the “why” behind the change
  2. Planning
  3. Knowing your stakeholders
  4. Communication
  5. Empathy and listening

In addition to executive buy-in, what other roles in the organization are important to have onboard and engaged as part of a change management process?

While having executive support is essential, also having your super users on board, who can be your internal champions, is huge. Start by identifying them at the beginning of the process so you can engage them throughout the process and understand who else can champion the change and fan the flames of excitement for it.

When you talk about building trust among your stakeholders and finding out who your stakeholders are, what are some tactics that you would use?

From a stakeholder perspective, try to understand anyone who is involved, map out the process, and if you have time and resources, start to ask those who are in the process who else should be involved. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in your project. The better you understand who they are and identify them, the better it is for the project in the long run.

Why are empathy and active listening important?

Listening is the most underrated skill both among admins and Salesforce consultants. As the saying goes, “click a mile in someone’s shoe.” Sit and shadow them to understand pain points, get to the core of how much swivel desking they are doing, such as toggling between five different apps, and so on. Having empathy and understanding about what your end-users and stakeholders are going through is only going to benefit everyone involved, so schedule a few minutes with them. They will feel valued and it builds trust. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard.

For a huge change, it’s difficult for one person to do everything. How else can you leverage those stakeholders and super users to be more effective than just a solo admin?

Super users are a great way to empower your colleagues. As a solo admin, you should understand who the communication comes from. You might think it needs to be top-down and come from an exec, but sometimes that can be a little harsh. But when you have a super user who is a peer and colleague of other end users who are leading that messaging, it can have a bigger impact and get people excited. 

Understand the stakeholders and who you could elevate by giving them an opportunity to communicate.

When is it time to bring in an outside firm like Montage Learning? Why are companies coming to a company like yours and what are key indicators when people know they need outside help?

There are a few reasons why any company would want to bring in an outside firm like Montage. The first is when the change is big. If you’re planning for more than 30-60 days of a rollout and training people, oftentimes you’re going to need extra support. Second, you might have limited bandwidth, where you have a lot to do but not a lot of time to strategically put this change into place in a meaningful way. Third, if your team lacks the skills or experience around change management, it’s important to bring in an outside company to help you focus and be that outside voice that can ask you questions and get you on the right track down the path of change.

Additionally, given that not everyone has change management skills, but you consider change important to you, bringing on outside help is a great opportunity to invest in some of your employees to get them leveled up on change management skills. It’s one of the best ways to elevate an admin’s career. 

How do you know if your change is actually effective?

The easiest way to do this, which too often people don’t do, is to determine KPIs at the beginning of the project. Change management aligns with what you’re expecting the end-users to do, so establish a set of metrics at the onset. Also, this will help you down the line when you want to do an even bigger change and you have the metrics to show the value and impact of your last set of changes. You’ll have more buy-in from people when the time comes to go bigger.

What are some of the communication tactics that you’ve found to be effective?

First, meet your users where they are and where they’re comfortable, not necessarily where you want to bring them. Then, consider making a predictable plan for every change so that people’s expectations are set. Depending on the scale of change, for instance, do we need to do recordings? Do we need to do quick sheet walkthroughs? Create a predictable plan of what you need to do so that when people come to you for change, they know you are going to communicate in these methods.

When it comes to L&D (Learning and Development), what are some of the tools that you’ve seen that have been effective, regardless of budget?

  1. In App guidance prompts. This is a free feature available to everyone in Salesforce and you can put in on a page and set by profile, how often it shows up, etc. 
  2. Picklist values.
  3. Camtasia is a great, easy-to-use video editing tool, so you can do recordings of step throughs of what you’re showing people to do. You want people to know where to go to get their answer and this is a simple, easy way to do so. Whether it’s a Google drive or share drive or within Salesforce, set expectations on where they can find answers.

In our last webinar, we talked about myTrailhead. Have you all seen any companies successfully use that as part of their change management strategy?

Yes, we were actually in the pilot program for Salesforce and we used it to completely revamp onboarding for a company. Using myTrailhead, we moved all of our onboarding from day one kind of stuff online to myTrailhead so people could go through it at their own pace, come back and reference it, and have all the information they needed. Then we turned our in-person orientation into more of a cultural immersion and we had some amazing statistics come out of that, including reducing the cost around orientation by 50% just by moving it to myTrailhead. We also reduced the number of questions from new hires by around 75%. myTrailhead is a powerful tool when you want to implement change.

What do I need to be effective with myTrailhead?

Understanding L&D principles is invaluable because you need to effectively define learning objectives. You also have to be really specific on what you want the learner to do as a result of completing those modules. So having some of that background is helpful. myTrailhead is an incredible tool but you have to think about what you envelop it with because it’s a part of your training strategy, not all of it. Is there coaching that can be involved? Do you need staff to do some stand and deliver after they complete a trail on a new product? Think beyond just myTrailhead.

How do you manage change remotely for distributed teams (for instance, in the era of COVID-19)?

Once again, empathy is so important to change, especially now. Approach everyone with grace because you never know what they’re dealing with. Take time to talk to your stakeholders. Also, meet your team and users where they are by making the content bite-size and consumable. Not everyone can operate within the standard 9-5 realm anymore so the more flexibility you can provide, the better.