Experts reveal proven ways to build a team of Salesforce professionals
By Andy Mason
Staffing your Salesforce project will always be one of the more challenging elements of the whole process.
Whether you’re initially implementing the platform or upgrading to a new product, filling your business with high-quality Salesforce professionals will often prove to be the sticking point for organizations undergoing a transformation.
More often than not, the adoption of new products will facilitate the need for extra Salesforce resource in your business. In order to configure and operate this technology, you’ll need to have a larger team of Salesforce professionals on hand. However, this can be complicated.
Check out the following ways to grow your team of Salesforce professionals:
Making a permanent hire
Training an existing staff member in Salesforce
Hiring a Salesforce contractor
There are several things you have to consider before attempting to build a team of Salesforce professionals. As well as budgeting for new salaries on your wage bill, and all the associated costs that come with hiring any professional, you also have to consider how deep your local Salesforce talent pool is, whether or not you need a specific Salesforce skillset, and whether you need to structure your team’s growth around project progress and business expansion.
The value of looking at case studies
As specialists in Salesforce recruitment, we’ve worked with hundreds of organizations in the process of growing their team, so understand that every business has different requirements and expectations. That being said, you can take great value in looking at how other businesses have grown their team.
It never hurts to look at implementations using similar products or in related industries to get an accurate measure of how much your team needs to grow and how you could go about doing it. Case studies can be incredibly valuable in this sense, so we’ve spoken to several businesses using Salesforce to learn more about how they grew their team and what challenges they had to overcome.
Before exploring these case studies, however, let’s explore traditional hiring routes and ways that businesses using Salesforce tend to go about locating and nurturing talent.
There’s more than one way to crack an egg, and there are several routes you can go down if you need extra Salesforce resource in your business. Depending on your requirements, budget, and timescale, you should consider which of the following methods is most suitable for you and move forward accordingly.
Making a permanent Salesforce hire
Source Salesforce talent independently
This is the old-fashioned way to hire. That may come across as a little biased, given we’re specialist Salesforce recruiters, but recruiting independently can be a long, arduous and expensive process, particularly in a talent market like Salesforce, where demand far outstrips supply.
If you conduct your own Salesforce talent drive, you’ll need to think about the following:
- identifying the specific technical resource you need in the business
- writing the appropriate job posts
- advertising your vacancy on job boards
- sourcing candidates on LinkedIn or other talent networks
- verifying their credentials
- arranging and conducting interviews
- assessing technical skills
- making a job offer and negotiating a salary
- exchanging contracts
Overseeing each of these elements in isolation can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why we consider recruiting this way a thing of the past. You can have a much smoother experience, as well as guarantee a higher caliber of applicant, by working with a specialist recruiter.
Work with a recruiter
There are many ways to cut down costs and time when conducting a talent search, but working with a recruiter may be the simplest route. This way, you will initially brief your recruiter on the type of professional you’re looking for, or the type of role you want to fill, and they will use the requirements you’ve disclosed as the basis of their talent search. No burden on you and no dedication of time or resource. It’s that simple.
As well as offering a comprehensive recruitment service that includes all the elements listed above (for a lower cost than if you were to pay for these individually), working with a recruiter is a great way to ensure a top quality candidate. Mason Frank is the largest Salesforce recruiter in the world, and our large bank of pre-screened and vetted Salesforce talent, many of whom we’ve placed before in other roles, all but guarantees a strong candidate for your vacancy.
Train an existing staff member in Salesforce
Release the power of Salesforce Trailhead
Training an existing member of staff to use Salesforce is not unheard of. While it won’t immediately provide you with the level of expertise expected from an external hire, it can be a very cost-effective way to introduce more Salesforce resource to your business without having to conduct a talent search.
Growing your team this way also ensures your Salesforce professional is already familiar with the nature and processes of your business, so onboarding won’t be an issue. Sometimes if you already have a member of staff who seems like they would be perfect for the role, it’s worth dedicating that extra time to train them up, get them familiar with your Salesforce build, and go from there.
Case study 1 – Voices.com / 100+ employees / Sales Cloud + Marketing Cloud / 2 Salesforce Admins
Voices.com is the largest online marketplace for voice-over services in the world. Its website has enabled over 300,000 transactions to date.
While Voices had always used Salesforce as a CRM, there were two things that increased the Salesforce workload in the business and facilitated the need for another Salesforce Admin.
Firstly, the company had upgraded to new products and applications over the years, and so found that the workload increased naturally. Secondly, the business had grown substantially due to increased market success. For perspective, the headcount is expected to grow by between 20 and 30 in 2019 alone, so with a higher volume of staff members using the system, the number of Salesforce tasks also increased.
Voices faced a problem, however. Being based in Ontario, Canada, there wasn’t a lot of permanent Salesforce talent living locally, which would have made it difficult to bring someone in quickly. The company instead chose to support an existing staff member towards learning Salesforce, as given the professional’s role within the business already, this seemed a more logical option than going with an outside hire.
“We opted to train someone in-house, as that would ensure the candidate would already have knowledge of our business and market,” explained Phoebe Aitken, Senior Human Resource Specialist at Voices. “It also guaranteed a good cultural fit, as we were already familiar with the staff member, his attitude and his work ethic.
“Our Salesforce Admin started off as a student on a marketing program in the company. He was working in the PR team, but we recognized that he was very good at data and analytics. After expressing interest in Salesforce, he started to solve problems on the platform which saved us from using a consultancy. We eventually advertised a job opening for a Salesforce Admin and he applied.”
Trailhead is Salesforce’s revolutionary free open-learning system that offers training materials to people at different stages of their learning journey; from relative novices to platform veterans. It’s an excellent option for individuals looking to make a career change, or for organizations looking to support their staff towards Salesforce expertise. Salesforce’s certification structure also gives professionals a benchmark, as studying towards these credentials is a core element of the learning journey.
“We supported him through his Trailhead badges and sent him to Dreamforce to get Salesforce Admin-certified,” Phoebe continued. “I was massively impressed with Trailhead. With our full business using Salesforce, we encourage all staff members to complete the Introduction to Salesforce Trailhead training, and we’d even be open to paying for their certifications if they can make a good case for it.
“We now include the cost of Salesforce training in our professional development budget at the beginning of the financial year, so we can account for ongoing training for our Salesforce staff. This could be everything from putting them through an independent training course to sending them to a useful Salesforce event or user group to increase their knowledge base or professional network.”
Phoebe Aitken, Senior Human Resource Specialist at Voices
“I was massively impressed with Trailhead. With our full business using Salesforce, we encourage all staff members to complete the Introduction to Salesforce Trailhead training, and we’d even be open to paying for their certifications if they can make a good case for it.
Utilize a contractor to train your staff
While Salesforce’s education materials are celebrated, and rightly so, it’s unlikely they will bring your staff member completely up to scratch on how to operate Salesforce in your business, particularly if you are using a custom-build system. A healthy middle ground would be to bring in a contract Salesforce professional to get a feel for your system and use their experience to coach your staff member on how to use it.
You could bring in a contractor for three months, and they would act as a transition staff member to ensure your Salesforce trainee picks up the workload without any disruption to business as usual. It can be quite daunting for a professional to be the sole operator of a technology they’ve only just been trained in—a contractor will provide relief here by working on outstanding Salesforce tasks while acting as a coach and mentor to your eventual Salesforce professional.
Cross-train from competitor technologies
Salesforce is an extremely powerful technology, but its easy-to-navigate interface and conventional object-oriented programming make it relatively simple to learn for those who have a technical background.
If, like Phoebe Aitken from Voices, your local Salesforce talent pool isn’t particularly strong or the demand for resource has priced you out of the market, it may be worth looking at candidates proficient in competitor technologies and offering them the opportunity to cross-train in Salesforce.
Danielle Ramsbottom is Director of Client Management at Mason Frank International. In a presentation she delivered at Dreamforce 2018, she highlighted cross-training as a very realistic way for businesses to scale their Salesforce resources without breaking the bank.
“If you already have an in-house web development or technical team, these are very realistic candidates to be cross-trained in Salesforce.
“We’ve found that professionals with experience working with object-oriented programming languages such as Java, C#, SQL etc. tend to find Salesforce easy to learn. So if you have an abundance of strong candidates in your local area with experience in these languages, there’s no reason why you can’t discuss the possibility of cross-training with them.
“The same goes for competitor CRM technologies. If you can find candidates with experience using Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM or Siebel, they will be familiar with a lot of the concepts and architecture in Salesforce. All they’ll need is the opportunity to get to grips with Salesforce and complete the basic Trailhead badges, after which they’ll be ready to start operating your CRM!”
Danielle Ramsbottom, Director of Client Management at Mason Frank International
“We’ve found that professionals with experience working with object-oriented programming languages such as Java, C#, SQL etc. tend to find Salesforce easy to learn. So if you have an abundance of strong candidates in your local area with experience in these languages, there’s no reason why you can’t discuss the possibility of cross-training with them.”
Hiring a Salesforce contractor
Contractor use cases
A common misperception of contract workers is that they can be an inefficient cost and work out a lot more expensive than a permanent hire. While contract daily rates are often a lot higher than that of a permanent staff member, you should instead be balancing the cost of a contractor against inefficiencies in your business resulting from a lack of Salesforce resource.
With Salesforce being such a pioneer of cloud computing, where professionals can access systems remotely and provide live online support to Salesforce users around the world, the number of contract workers in the ecosystem makes finding immediate and short-term resource far more realistic.
Not only can using a contractor open you up to a greater depth of Salesforce expertise, but it also buys you time to gain clarity on exactly what you need in a permanent hire, without falling behind on the workload.
Robert Woodhouse is Business Manager at Mason Frank International and has assisted in the staffing of Salesforce projects all around the world. He has highlighted the following scenarios in which bringing in a contract Salesforce professional would be the appropriate action:
Opportunity cost – Whether triggered by a change in product or business processes, contractors are available in the short term to ensure business-critical activities are completed on time.
Experience and expertise required – Qualified Salesforce professionals could be required with a new product implementation or change in processes. An expert contractor could be drafted in to upskill permanent employees, help with the workload when teams are overwhelmed, and to bring in rare or coveted Salesforce skills.
Testing the water – You can bring in a Salesforce contractor to gain more clarity on what you need in the long term, eliminating the chance of expensive permanent mis-hires. This can also help employee retention by reducing pressure on your existing staff members.
Staffing issues – If you experience a resignation halfway through a project, it can be very difficult to continue working without bringing in a replacement. A contractor will provide temporary relief while you begin the process of hiring a permanent replacement. This is also a great way to provide relief for temporarily departing staff members, such as those going on maternity/paternity leave or a sabbatical.
Scarce resources – Sometimes you just won’t be able to justify a permanent hire based on your circumstances. Perhaps you don’t have the budget, or there isn’t necessarily enough work for a full-time role. A contractor won’t have a minimum number of hours, so can be utilized to suit your needs whenever necessary.
Robert Woodhouse, Business Manager at Mason Frank International
“It’s worth remembering when using a contractor that you always have the option of extending their contract or offering them a permanent role. All circumstances are different, so if you find a contractor you think would be the perfect fit for your organization in the long term, it makes sense to offer them a job!”
Case study 2 – business lost its Senior Salesforce Admin mid-project, needed a replacement
In this particular scenario, the client was going through a Salesforce project where they were integrating multiple third-party applications and looking to better support their Salesforce platform in Sales, Service, and Marketing.
Disaster struck halfway through the integration when the company’s senior Salesforce Administrator accepted a position at another business and handed in their two-week notice. To continue with the project and prevent any further disruption to business, the client desperately needed to hire a new Salesforce Admin and transition their CRM into the hands of the new staff member.
While a Salesforce Administrator isn’t the most technical role, and so replacements tend to be easier, the company was very particular in who they hired and how they assessed new starters. Their thorough interview process was set to take up to a month, which would have slowed the project down massively.
The solution was to bring in a contractor, who would manage the product integrations while the company interviewed for their next full-time hire. This alleviated both of the client’s concerns, as it enabled them to continue with the project unimpeded, while also allowing the time to conduct a proper talent search and interview candidates thoroughly.
Businesses have many options when growing their Salesforce team, so your approach should change depending on your individual needs and circumstances. We hope this article has shed some light on which approach is right for you, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like some further direction.