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Salesforce Freelancers vs Independent Consultants: Why knowing the difference matters to your business

The seismic shift to remote work has empowered thousands of tech workers, Salesforce included, to explore the answers to some important questions. 

How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to work on?”

For some, the answer to fulfilling their desires was to switch jobs in pursuit of more flexibility or a better work environment. For others, it was to hustle harder and take on extra hours as a freelancer or build their own business as an independent consultant, a trend that has been especially prevalent with Salesforce experts. 

“Freelancer” has become the catch-all label for project-based workers thanks to the rise of talent marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr. We see it used interchangeably with independent consultants all the time.

The Salesforce talent ecosystem is rapidly shifting. Salesforce customers and partners alike are scrambling to acquire the necessary capacity to satisfy a rapidly growing demand for digital transformation. The talent distribution landscape has changed significantly over the past few years, and the most innovative companies are recognizing their talent acquisition strategies need to adapt to new ways of finding and working with top experts. 

This was part of the inspiration for publishing our On-Demand Salesforce Talent Guide at the start of 2021. We want to give every Salesforce customer a blueprint for how to build lasting relationships with the skilled and growing pool of independent Salesforce experts that will prove key to meeting skill and capacity demand. 

Customers have a growing menu of choices where they can engage talent in just a few clicks. From freelancer marketplaces to Salesforce talent brokers, the term “freelancer” is front and center. But is a Salesforce freelancer the same as an independent consultant? Read on for our definition of what a Salesforce freelancer is (and isn’t), why knowing the difference matters to the outcome of your project, and how to prepare for the future of independent talent marketplaces. 

The difference between a Salesforce freelancer and an independent consultant

“Freelancer” has become the catch-all label for project-based workers thanks to the rise of talent marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr. We see it used interchangeably with independent consultants all the time. While there are some similarities between the two, Salesforce customers need to know self-described freelancers are different from independent consultants. Here are a few ways we differentiate a freelancer from an independent consultant:

Why do those differences matter to Salesforce customers?

The hoops a truly independent consultant has to jump through – registering a business entity, setting up a company website, branding, bookkeeping, buying business insurance, etc. – demonstrate a commitment to their consulting work and their customers. You should expect a true B2B relationship from an independent consultant who is dedicated versus a freelancer who is looking for a few miscellaneous hours here and there, possibly only on nights and weekends.

The hoops a truly independent consultant has to jump through – registering a business entity, setting up a company website, branding, bookkeeping, buying business insurance, etc. – demonstrate a commitment to their consulting work and their customers.

The reason why we don’t use “freelancer” to describe 10K’s trusted 500+ independent expert community is that our customers count on us to connect them with talented experts they can trust and depend on. Customers want to trust that once they’ve engaged one or more of our experts, those experts are dedicated to fulfilling their commitment. 

The independent consultant lifestyle helps validate skills and dedication

Vetting talent takes precious time and resources. There are few things more frustrating and disheartening than going through the arduous process of engaging with new talent only to have them disappear or not have the skills or availability they claimed to have.

The point is, just knowing Salesforce doesn’t automatically make you a good consultant and furthermore doesn’t validate that you could build a successful business dedicated to Salesforce consulting.

It’s fantastic that Trailhead has democratized learning technical skills for anyone who wants to build a career out of Salesforce. And having technical knowledge is table stakes to being a successful consultant. But badges and certifications alone don’t tell the whole story. 

We could write a long series of blogs on what makes a good consultant, but the best consultants we’ve worked with also know how to ask the right questions, guide customers to uncover their real needs, and apply technology in the best way to accomplish customer goals. That all comes from coaching, experience with many customers, and learning from their mistakes. The point is, just knowing Salesforce doesn’t automatically make you a good consultant and furthermore doesn’t validate that you could build a successful business dedicated to Salesforce consulting. 

…the best consultants we’ve worked with also know how to ask the right questions, guide customers to uncover their real needs, and apply technology in the best way to accomplish customer goals.

Salesforce customers are looking to engage with experts who can snap into their existing team structure without causing disruption or significantly changing how they work. This is a great fit for how independent consultants work, and the fact that these consultants have been able to build a sustainable business is a point of validation that they know their stuff and have been successful with other customers.

When to hire a freelancer instead of an independent consultant

We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t work with freelancers, but it’s important to recognize what kind of work they’re best suited for. 

Our experience is that freelancers are best fit for bite-sized, tactical work that can be accomplished without active client communication or dependencies on a larger workstream – no need to “hop on a quick call” to solve an issue. For strategic work, such as technical or solution architecture, project management, business analysis, or larger development efforts. you’ll likely find better success with dedicated independent consultants.

Our experience is that freelancers are best fit for bite-sized, tactical work that can be accomplished without active client communication or dependencies on a larger workstream.

The next time you need to augment your team with outside talent, evaluate which skills you specifically need. Is your project stalled because of a skills gap on your existing team? Or is it a bandwidth issue?

If you have a strong internal team that can define a project task and package it, then enlisting a freelancer may be a safe route. Projects with longer workstreams that require strategy or industry-specific knowledge would be better suited for an independent consultant. Talent brokers like 10K can connect you with vetted and proven Salesforce talent that can get started right away, without the lengthy sales cycles and long-term commitments of traditional consultancies.

The future of flexible talent 

The future of work will continue to evolve, and we will see more companies aim to capitalize on the power of remote workers. Some will cater to freelancers, and some, similar to 10K, will cater to independent consultants. 

There is an inherent value both talent community models share – the company connecting you with talent is shouldering the burden of sourcing, recruiting, and vetting, making it easier for you to connect with the talent you need. 

When you have a short and well-defined project task, enlisting a freelancer can be a solid way to get the job done. For longer-running and complex work streams that require a team of highly specialized skill sets, partnering with seasoned Salesforce professionals from a vetted independent expert community helps guarantee quality delivery. 

Categories: Blogs

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