This new series, titled, So You Want My Job will provide a day in the life overview of a particular Salesforce job, written by a professional who holds that job title. Hopefully, these posts will provide insights and answer some of your questions.
Today, we’ll get a glimpse into the role of a Salesforce Consultant.
My name is Brent Downey, and I live in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been in the Salesforce ecosystem since 2010 when I got my start as a Salesforce Administrator.
I was exposed to the world of consulting when I was hired by a large organization to help manage the rollout of Salesforce to the global sales team. We hired a Salesforce consulting partner, and I got to work with the consultants very closely. I was intrigued ever since.
Consultants come in a few different flavors. There are those that strictly help implement Salesforce into new orgs (this is my primary role). Others assist organizations with enhancements to their orgs (new objects, record types or Apex development), and others provide a combination of those services.
Regardless of the type of projects that a Salesforce Consultant works on, it’s our job to be an expert and provide an exceptional level of customer service. My job is to make organizations successful and show a return on their investment (ROI) – both in Salesforce and in the purchase of my services.
I’m a billable resource which means that all project related work is charged back to the customer at an hourly rate. However, I’m a salaried employee with a regular paycheck and have the option for bonuses based on my billable hours.
A Typical Day
Here is what a typical day looks like for me as a Salesforce Consultant.
6:00 am – Wake Up
I wake up at six in the morning and get ready for the day. I’ll brew coffee, eat breakfast and watch the news; all the normal stuff one does in the morning.
7:00 am – Prepare for the Day
Since I work from home, I’ll head to my home office around this time to get a start on the day. From 7 am – 8 am, I’ll review the day’s scheduled meetings, review the open items I have for the various projects I’m working, and attempt to make a todo list so that my time is organized and I know what needs to be accomplished today.
8:00 am – Get Started
Based on the todo list I put together for the day, I’ll start working. Since I only have an hour before my first client meeting, I’ll do a quick status update on the project, make sure my project plan is up to date and review any open items I need to discuss during the call.
9:00 am to 11:30pm – Client Meetings
On this particular day, I have a two-hour client discovery session, followed by a 30-minute client status meeting.
During the discovery call, I’m investigating the clients business processes and needs, trying to understand how to best configure Salesforce to meet those needs. I’ll take notes on the related business requirements which I’ll use to configure their Salesforce org.
In my 30-minute client meeting, I’m discussing the next steps of a project with the client, discussing utilization (the number of hours used compared to the number of hours budgeted) and answering any questions they may have.
11:30 am to 2:00 pm – Configuration and Lunch
With no meetings scheduled until later in the afternoon, I’ll spend the next few hours on post-meeting action items, the configuration of client Salesforce orgs, and lunch.
It’s important that the time I’m not in front of clients is utilized well. Any work that is on my todo list is fair game and is tackled with a gusto.
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Client Meeting
At 2 pm, I’ll start another discovery session with a customer. In this particular meeting, we’re getting into the details of an integration we’re going to build for them. I’m taking copious notes because I’ll turn this into a requirements document which will be provided to the developer and I want to make sure I get every detail correct.
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm – Configuration and Wrap Up
The remainder of the afternoon is spent doing additional client work; pushing projects forward. I’ll also take time during the last part of the day to review what I completed, and prep my todo list for tomorrow so I can be as productive as possible.
Before I call it quits for the day, I’ll log my time against all of the projects I worked so we can bill the clients.
Being a Salesforce Consultant doesn’t require any particular degree. Having an understanding of how businesses work, and an extensive knowledge of Salesforce is a must. Remember, clients purchase my time because I’m an expert. That doesn’t mean that I know everything about Salesforce, but I do need to know the basics of the platform, best practices, and potential pitfalls.
Regardless of your formal education, Salesforce Certification is huge. Consultancies charge a high hourly rate, but the only way they can do this is if they offer exceptional services by educated individuals. Certifications make this possible.
Real-world experience is also welcomed. As a consultant, I’m usually asked, “What do other companies like ours do in this situation?” Without any hands-on, real-world experience under my belt, it’s difficult to provide a client viable options and best practices.
Responsibilities will vary depending on the consulting firm you work for. In general, some common elements fall into the lap of a Salesforce Consultant.
Manage the Client Relationship – my clients rely on me as their primary point of contact. Any questions, issues or general comments come to me first. It’s my duty to get to know the clients, their business and foster a relationship. A customer will only renew their business with my firm if I am attentive to their need, meet or exceed their expectations on a project, and provide a good ROI in their investment of my services.
Create and Manage Project Plans – depending on the size of the project, a project plan is required. The project plan includes details on project scope, current utilization of hours, a timeline, and a way to document any hurdles or key points that need to be addressed.
A project plan can be very complex (specifically for larger projects) where a Gantt chart could be created, and every step and element of the project is captured.
Discovery Sessions and Status Meetings – scheduling client calls is a major part of what I do. These meetings can be used as a discovery session where we discuss a specific business process to gather requirements that I’ll use to configure your Salesforce environment.
During these calls, I’m always taking notes and tracking action items, so nothing falls through the cracks.
Design, Build, Train & Deploy – the majority of my job lies in this bucket (and it’s the part I like the most). After the requirements are documented and agreed upon, it’s time to use my Salesforce magic and build the system out. As the project nears the end, I’ll create training material and prepare to deploy Salesforce to the new users. In some cases, I’ll even provide the training.
The Best Part
I love the variety of projects and customer types. I could be working on multiple projects with a similar SOW, but in the end, delivery two totally different Salesforce environments. It’s fascinating. I get to tackle multiple business problems as well which gets my creative juices flowing on a regular basis.
Projects have a defined scope and an end date. It’s nice to kick off a project knowing that when the system is delivered and everyone is satisfied, I’ll get to do it over again with an all new set of requirements.
The Worst Part
Occasionally projects can turn monotonous. Even with an SOW, they can drag on. Sometimes I may be assigned a project that doesn’t excite me much, but I’m still responsible for delivering exceptional results to the client.
Consultants are known for spending many hours on the road. Larger consulting firms require their consultants to travel anywhere from 20-70%. For those who like to travel, this may be a non-issue. For me, it was important that I traveled 20% or less. Along with a high travel percentage, most firms require consultants to log 40 billable hours per week or more.
The main reason that it took me so long to get into consulting was because of the work-life integration. The requirements on my time were too high to justify the change in job. I like spending nights and weekends with my family. The work-life integration offered by most consulting firms didn’t meet my needs.
My current company is an exception to that rule. Not only do I work from a home office, but my billable hours goal is reasonable and travel time doesn’t exceed 20%. I also have tremendous flexibility in my work schedule, assuming I’m meeting my billable hours, projects are on schedule and clients are happy.
If you’re thinking about becoming a Salesforce Consultant, first stop and think about the type of work-life integration you want. This becomes the benchmark you use when searching for a consulting job. Don’t let yourself cross a boundary with work-life integration just for the sake of getting a job. You’ll burn out quickly.
If you haven’t been billable in a previous role, make sure that you negotiate a ramp-up period with a new employer. The concept of my time as a commodity took some getting used to. It also impacted the way that I manage my time. I spend far less time on non-work related items then I have in other jobs.