Archives for November 2022

From Layoff to Entrepreneur: How to Become an Independent Salesforce Consultant

There’s a familiar formula playing out across the tech world right now. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, and it certainly won’t be the last. 

Soaring Stocks x Unsustainable Growth + Economic Turmoil + Inflation  = Tanking Stocks + Spooked Shareholders + Widespread Layoffs 

Business is a numbers game, and that’s fair. We understand that. 

But what’s not fair is that real lives are left stranded after the calculations. Employees are considered family until one day, they’re reduced to just a number. An unnamed resource with a price tag – this has become the cost of doing business in tech. 

If you’ve been affected, it’s okay to grieve

The recent layoffs at Salesforce, Meta, Twitter, Amazon, Lyft, and many other tech companies are disheartening. If you’ve been affected, we are sincerely sorry. 

Getting laid off is an incredibly difficult life event. Please take some time for yourself to grieve. Throw yourself a little pity party and let the dust settle before pressuring yourself to “get it together” — self-reflection and rest will pay off tenfold. 

It won’t seem like it now, and maybe not for a while, but getting laid off can be an unexpected opportunity for change. No one wants to be shoved blindly out of their comfort zone, but this moment can pivot your career trajectory for the better. It can help you build momentum for change. 

Use the momentum for change

Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss? Or what would it feel like to be more flexible with your time and projects? Have you ever said to yourself, “I should just start my own business?”

No more office politics. No more wondering when or if your position will be eliminated. No more bending to the bottom line. No more bureaucracy. 

Being independent means you drive your success. The road will be bumpy, but all the independent consultants we know say the journey is worth it. Especially when customer demand continues to grow amidst an economy prime for contract talent. 

If you’re a Salesforce expert with at least three years of consulting experience and can’t stop imagining what it could be like to just do it, then this guide to starting your own Salesforce consultancy is for you. 

The difference between independent consultants and freelancers 

Establishing an independent consulting business isn’t a band-aid between full-time jobs. It’s a commitment. 

Here is how we define an independent consultant versus a freelancer: 

There is absolutely no shame in freelancing if entrepreneurship isn’t your bag (we go into detail on how to make that determination below). If the ideal scenario is to land another full-time job or you simply need more time before going all in on your business, then freelancing while applying to new roles is your best next move. 

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?”

Be honest with yourself. Not everyone is cut out to start a business, and that’s perfectly okay. 

The idea of being your own boss is sexy – many people envision more money, more flexibility, and more security. The potential for those benefits is very real but not guaranteed. There will undoubtedly be times when your income is unstable and/or you are working 80+ hours weekly.

When the going gets tough, what will drive you to keep going? We created this downloadable checklist to help guide this thought exercise. Here are a few questions to start with:

What’s your “why?” for starting a business?

What problem do you really want to solve?

How will you be able to solve that problem better than anyone else?

10K’s CEO, Nick Hamm, started his entrepreneurial journey years ago (after seven years entrenched in various roles within the Salesforce ecosystem). He saw a problem and knew he had a good solution. Nick saw firsthand how hard it was (and still is) for Salesforce customers to find good talent. At the same time, a lot of great consultants were going independent. This created a diverse network of top talent that was not easily accessible to customers – that’s how 10K was born. 

Lay down the foundation for your consultancy 

Once you’ve got the ethos of your independent consultancy on paper, it’s time to structure your business and make it official. This is what will differentiate you from a Salesforce freelancer. It’s also a strong selling point for customers considering your services.  

Establishing a business sounds daunting. However, when it boils down to it, there are only four steps to make it a reality. Here are the four first steps you should take:

Find the right circle of advisors

While it’s great to have a mentor to help you with the technical side of starting a consultancy, it’s equally as important to establish a go-to network of specialized advisors. They will play a crucial role in your support system and help with strategic decisions. We recommend enlisting a CPA insurance broker and attorney. 

Establish an official business entity 

Establishing an official business entity – LLC, S corp, etc. – solidifies an official transition to entrepreneurship and symbolizes the commitment to independent consulting as a full-time job. 

An established business entity is also a non-negotiable formality for many potential customers and partners. They want to work with experts who are protected from liability and can provide a non-personal social security number.

Separate personal and business finances

With an official business entity in place, it’s time to get the financial back of the house in order. Choose a trusted financial institution to open an official business checking and savings account. 

It is crucial to keep personal and business finances entirely separate. Mingling accounts and their activity – personal and family expenses, business expenses, business income, etc – will inevitably create a nightmare when it comes time to file personal and business tax returns. 

Create a contingency plan

If we have learned anything since 2020, it’s that life is unpredictable. No amount of research, foundation-building or financial planning can insulate business owners from the inevitable curveballs. Contingency plans provide peace of mind and actionable steps if business doesn’t go according to plan A. 

When you’re ready to take action, we go into more detail for each of these four steps in this article.

Promote the hell out of your services 

Being the boss also means owning sales, marketing, and branding. You are the face of your business. As soon as you start taking steps to make your consultancy legally official, make it official with your network. Promote the hell out of yourself! You are your most knowledgeable and loudest advocate. 

Jeff Mevorah, an independent Salesforce Technical Consultant, recommends that budding independents should “Think like an entrepreneur and get yourself out there. Tell everyone about your new journey. At first, I was hesitant to post on LinkedIn and promote myself, but I realized I had to get out of my head. My network has shown me an outpouring of support. It’s also a major source for project leads. The Salesforce community is incredibly supportive.”

Prepare for client intros

Do your homework

A good consultant performs ample due diligence before meeting a new client. Research should always include basic knowledge of the client, both the individual you’re meeting with (if you know who you’re meeting with), the company, and their industry. Earn conversation points by arming yourself with relevant industry trends and challenges so you can confidently speak to their pain points. 

If someone is setting up the call for you, such as a delivery partner or agency, don’t hesitate to ask for a prep call. At 10K, it’s our priority to ensure every expert is prepped and confident for their new client intros. 

Master your 1-minute elevator pitch

Like resumes, your elevator pitch shouldn’t be one size fits all. It should be tailored and tweaked for every client intro and the needs you hope to solve. 

Take the first 30 seconds to discuss your overall career background and 30 seconds to highlight your skills as they relate to the client’s project/industry. Outline a relevant example or two to demonstrate how your experience is a value-add. For example, “For a financial services client, I performed XYZ; for a technology start-up, I performed XYZ, which increased LMNOP and decreased QRS, surpassing client expectations.” 

Offer metrics when you can and advocate for your skills – clients want to know you can be an effective partner and help solve their problems. 

Sharpen your soft skills

Clients want to feel confident about your ability to parachute into a project, jive with stakeholders, and get the job done. Your personality and communication style should shine. 

Listen first

A great consultant listens, intending to pick up verbal and non-verbal messages. Ask questions for clarity and provide feedback to prove you heard and understood what the client said.  

An active listener can hear what’s not being said by listening between the lines, such as a shift in tone or body language. Picking up what the client doesn’t say is an advanced communication skill that helps make a difference in complex problem-solving.  

Be humble

It’s important to present yourself as an expert and show authority in your skillset. However, there is a fine line between confidence and condescendence. How you ask questions and comment on the client’s situation matters.

For example, tame your surprise and reserve judgment if you disagree with an approach they have taken in the past or don’t understand how their organization/processes are currently set up. Instead of saying, “Oh, so why did you wait until now to implement Marketing Cloud?” offer them support with, “You’re making a great first step toward leveling up your XYZ with Marketing Cloud.”

Practice empathy

Clients sometimes express or show frustration while describing their business problems, especially in initial conversations and discovery. Let them know you are invested in solving their challenges and adjust your tone and body language accordingly. It takes vulnerability to admit there’s a problem and ask for help, and giving clients your empathy can make a lasting impact. 

Join a community like 10K

There is a lot of pressure and unique challenges that come with being an independent business owner. It can be a lonely venture at times. That’s why we are so proud of 10K – a community dedicated to connecting the growing global population of independent Salesforce consultants. 

If you’re interested in speaking with our Chief Talent Officer, Kristin Langlois, about going independent, please contact us today. We’re here to answer your questions and help launch a new career you can be proud of. 

Do Companies Expect Too Much From Salesforce Administrators?

If you walked into a room full of Salesforce veterans today and asked them how they got their start, many would tell you they began their career as a Salesforce Administrator. 

Admins have historically been jacks of all trades, with a breadth of knowledge across different areas of Salesforce. At some organizations, they are the only person who understands what Salesforce can and can’t do, acting as a chief keeper of knowledge. 

But times have changed (a lot), and the Admin role doesn’t look the same as it did 10 years ago—nor should it.

Over the last several years, the Salesforce ecosystem has seen incredible growth, and the platform has become even more complex. It’s also become verticalized, with more industry-specific capabilities and customizations to meet customer demands. 

All these changes and expectations have left some industry veterans wondering… will the Salesforce Administrator become a thing of the past?

This expansion has led to higher expectations for Admins, who may struggle to keep up with the increasing need for specialized knowledge. It’s also made it more challenging for new talent to break into the Salesforce ecosystem and land their first Admin role. 

All these changes and expectations have left some industry veterans wondering… will the Salesforce Administrator become a thing of the past? Our team is confident that Admins are here to stay, but they can no longer be considered catch-all, Salesforce generalists. 

According to Matt Gvazdinskas, 10K’s Chief Strategy Officer, “Salesforce customers still need Admins, especially in the early days of their Salesforce journey. There is still a very important customer service-like role that an Admin needs to play to support users, especially for larger, more mature organizations.”

Salesforce Admin Can No Longer Be a Catch-All Role

Thanks to a number of converging factors, including tighter budgets and a “Great Reshuffling” of the talent market, the number of organizations expecting too much from their Admins is on the rise. Many Salesforce customers also don’t fully grasp (and often underestimate) the skills required to manage their org.

Admins today are expected to be both tactical and strategic, with deep and broad skill sets across multiple areas of the Salesforce ecosystem. And yet, they aren’t paid as well as those in niche roles, like business analysts and consultants. In many cases, the expectations of the Admin role are no longer on par with reality.

In order to improve efficiency, support new business strategies, and enable a more remote workforce, many organizations are expanding their capabilities across multiple Salesforce clouds. Unfortunately, Admins who are expected to keep up with and manage all these new capabilities and requirements on their own end up overwhelmed, and many eventually burn out. 

Here is a post we recently came across on a Salesforce subreddit. It’s an example of how Admins are now expected to be more strategic and help their organization identify what they need to succeed. 

It’s perfectly okay to not know Apex – this Admin just needs to get strategic and identify a solution. We would recommend this Admin define the talent gap on their Salesforce team (an Apex coder) and then prepare a proposal for leadership to enlist the help of a skilled Salesforce Developer, development team, or a Technical Architect (depending on the complexity of the org and requirements).   

The scenario above drives home the fact that an Admin is just one role companies need, not the only role. Currents Admins can lean on their program goals, business understanding, and roadmap to identify where additional skills need to be brought in. 

New Crop of Salesforce Talent is Eager But Underprepared 

It seems as though Salesforce customers are finally picking up on the fact that they need to hire for more specialized roles, with data showing demand for the traditional Admin role diminishing. 

Our 2022 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report found that the growth rate for Admin job listings declined by 36% over the last year. Admin supply also declined globally, down 20% in established markets and 16% in emerging markets. The talent market for traditional Salesforce roles is clearly shifting.

But while demand for Salesforce generalists may be in decline, on-demand learning with Trailhead, talent boot camps, and other certification courses are on the rise, promising an exciting career path for young professionals or those looking to make a change. 

But while demand for Salesforce generalists may be in decline, on-demand learning with Trailhead, talent boot camps, and other certification courses are on the rise, promising an exciting career path for young professionals or those looking to make a change. 

These programs are great for helping people understand the core Salesforce technology and the basics of navigation, setup, configuration, and data management. In other words, they’re very effective for preparing someone to pass the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam

However, training isn’t a substitute for the specialized knowledge and skills gained from real-life experience (business analysis, project management, product management, etc). This is where customers should choose to meet aspiring talent in the middle. 

Organizations Should Hire For Potential, Focus On Upskilling, and Look to Fractional Talent  

We found that more experienced admins are starting to find their niche and move into specialized roles. Our research showed significant growth in the higher-paying roles Admin typically move into, including: 

  • 33% increase in Salesforce Business Analyst roles 
  • 17% increase in Salesforce Consultant roles 
  • 13% increase in Salesforce Solution Architect roles

We also ran a Glassdoor compensation comparison (for all years of experience and remote). The following are median comps including base salary and bonus:

  • Salesforce Administrator: $80,368
  • Salesforce Consultant: $132,597 
  • Salesforce Business Analyst: $94,226
  • Salesforce Solution Architect: $177,516

With these numbers, we’re not terribly surprised to see a shrinking talent pool of experienced Admins. It’s a competitive talent market, and for companies to hire effectively, they must adjust their expectations. Rather than duking it out for the few experienced Admins still out there, companies should consider taking a chance on new talent eager to learn and grow. Look for candidates that check 80% of the boxes on your wish list and invest in training to fill any gap areas, like foundational IT skills or business acumen. With a bit of mentorship and guidance, these are the folks who could become your next #AwesomeAdmin.

On that note, it’s crucial to remember that if you hired an Admin for their potential and invested in their career development, you have to stay tuned into where and when they need support. A win-win solution is to partner with independent Salesforce Architects, Developers, Business Analysts, and Consultants who can help your Admin solve complex business challenges that require specialized skills (custom business applications, system integrations, etc.). Learn how to make on-demand talent an effective part of your Salesforce program with our how-to guide.

To identify the tell-tale signs your Admin needs help, stay tuned to our blog!

10K’s 2022 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report is Now Available

Our fifth annual Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report is available now. Download it for access to more of the latest trends and statistics around talent supply and demand, and learn more about what’s happening in the Salesforce partner ecosystem.

Get the report >