From Admin To Consultant: How To Develop Salesforce Consultancy Skills

Heather Golden HoodieWhat does it really mean to move from being an Admin to a Consultant and what things do you need to think about when implementing a CRM?

This week’s guest post comes from Golden Hoodie winner Heather Black. Founder of Salesforce training company, Heather talks us through how she sees the change of mindset from Admin to Consultant.

I spent my first few years using Salesforce as the Admin for my own Org. This meant I could play around with it, and do whatever I  liked, without worrying about best practice or consequences. Going out as a Consultant was a whole different matter…

I’d done the Salesforce Admin course, but didn’t have a predominantly tech background, and found myself asking how should I manage changes professionally and effectively?

I decided to take the Sales Consultancy course (sadly no longer available) and over five days learnt a lot of really useful skills. Since then, I’ve discovered there were plenty more skills to learn including change management, business analysis and project management, which were above and beyond the scope of certification. Certification is hugely valuable but the following skills are the ones that will get you thinking like a consultant.

Let’s begin with some stats I’d like you to consider:

According to research, success in 65% of technology projects is improbable” AIG Consulting

“McKinsey estimates that 70% of change management programmes fail to achieve their goal in large part due to employee resistance.”

“25% of projects fail due to inadequate change management” PMI

If you’ve ever worked somewhere with a CRM that’s not used, you’re probably nodding your head right now.

Many issues can be traced back to poor consultancy skills, that lead to a situation where there is:

  • Low executive sponsorship
  • Poor communication
  • Low engagement
  • Poor design
  • Low benefits
  • Low adoption

If we want to create a successful project with high end user buy-in and adoption, we must create an implementation process that includes the five main “Project Success Factors”:

  1. Executive sponsorship
  2. Business analysis
  3. Change management
  4. Project management
  5. The right solution

Project Success Factors

1. Executive Sponsorship

Salesforce is a great product, but if it doesn’t work well for the users, and executive sponsors aren’t bought into it, it cannot succeed. Projects fail because executive sponsors don’t understand that they have a vital role in championing the new system; by leading from the front, executive sponsors are critical in achieving end user adoption. Executive sponsors need to be clear on what they should be doing as part of the project and why.

2. Business Analysis

There must be a critical and detailed understanding of user requirements so a design solution can be created that answers business needs and provides clear and tangible benefits.

3. Change Management

WIIFMTake everyone on a journey by creating a communication plan that gets them excited: this includes executive sponsors, end users, and everyone else in the organisation. You need to communicate what’s going to happen and when. How will they use the system? What benefits will the system bring? What issues will the new system resolve? It’s all about communicating at the right time to the right people. Great user buy-in involves answering the inevitable question – “what’s in it for me?”

4. Project Management

Great project management involves everything happening at an appropriate time, not a busy time when people don’t have the bandwidth to take things on board. When are people available? When do they have capacity?

5. The Right Solution

You can mould and remodel Salesforce to fit every organisation; your job is to find out what an organisation really needs and wants to do.

A Good Consultancy Process

The first step in consultancy is understanding the business strategy for next year, including any KPIs, goals and targets. You need to discern where the business is heading, key business drivers and priorities. Only then can you know how you can help them.

You are also more likely to get buy-in when you can present a business case that references their goals, using language such as “if you invest X amount here then you will make/save Y amount here”. Keep bringing the conversation and plan back to how you will help the organisation grow.

The next step is to map out the whole process, from here you will be able to pull out and prioritise requirements, add costings and present solutions.

You’ll then move on to designing and building, where you’ll conduct testing, training and get user buy-in.

The final stage is evaluation. Sometimes you’ll receive feedback or additional requirements fairly quickly, however, you’re likely to get a better picture of your success after six months to a year.

The Change Management Process

1: Analyse

Why is this organisation doing this project? What is their readiness to do this right now? This is where you can produce a business case document, setting out the benefits for all involved. Set SMART goals that you will be able to measure at the end. Elicit, prioritise and align to individual and organisational goals and beliefs.

SMART GoalsThis stage will help you understand the culture and challenges. It will help you prepare for the project but, just as important, will be the basis of your communication strategy.

This is also the point where you can future proof the design of the system and make sure it’s scalable. You do so by having all business departments in the room, not just the one you are initially working with. It’s important to educate the business on what the Salesforce platform can do for an entire business. It’s not just for fund-raising or sales, it has multiple uses, including marketing and delivery etc. Don’t assume that your customer knows everything it can do; it’s your job to communicate this.

2: Planning

Your approach will depend on the organisation and culture – is it top down or grass roots for instance?

“The grass roots of an organization or movement are the ordinary people who form the main part of it, rather than its leaders.” Collins English Dictionary

Understanding the politics and type of organisation will serve you well, but as well as the big picture, you also need to think in terms of the team. Who will have responsibility for what (it can’t all be you). Identify team champions and blockers; have one to one conversations to tackle any issues. People are sometimes so resistant to change that they will leave an organisation so be prepared for this.

3: Strategy

This is all about leadership. What approach should the leader take? Which champions have already bought in? Who are the blockers? Who are the sleepers – the ones that aren’t really aware? Where are their issues and how will you tackle them? What kind of support do they need along the way? Make sure there is two way communication, that everyone feels they have a voice and the ability to give feedback.

You will need to deliver support and training in different ways and formats to suit different personalities and learning types. Look at communicating the change in three different ways to the same audience; these could include workshops or lunch and learn sessions.

4: Change

Preparing for and embedding change is done via good communication of what is happening and when. Support people in their adoption and address any barriers in a timely manner. Celebrate success and shine a light upon people using it well or to their advantage.

UnicornYou can establish change in working practices in both formal and informal ways. Formally. This could be via employee contracts stating that Salesforce must be used in a certain way and this is part of their performance review. Informally, this can be reminding people to get everything into Salesforce during staff meetings. As we say, “if it’s not in Salesforce it doesn’t exist!”

Encourage the business to adopt a continuous improvement process in the long term. Salesforce is a system that is constantly evolving so it’s important to try to ensure there is an internal administrator and/or a support contract to support the business. Communicate how the business, especially end users, can discuss issues, difficulties and provide feedback.

If you do all this you will achieve:

  • High executive sponsorship
  • Good communication
  • High engagement
  • Increased adoption
  • Scalable design
  • Great benefits and ROI from Salesforce

To learn more, join our Salesforce Consultancy course starting on 12th January 2020. The course consists of 40 hours online training over 8 weeks with a mentor and optional paid work placement. For more information see

The Author thumbnail_Heather Black portrait

Heather Black –  Managing Director Economic Change and Supermums Founder

Mum of two Heather, lives by the sea in East Sussex and works flexibly, dividing her time between her home office and London head office. As Managing Director of Economic Change, Heather’s passion for Salesforce and the nonprofit sector has proven to be a force for good, and she has built an ever-growing network of supporters and contributors to help develop and grow the Supermums programme.




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