The value of ISV relationships

How savvy consultants deliver complex solutions faster

There is no shortage of articles written describing workplace changes since the start of the pandemic. The “new normal” isn’t very new anymore. While remote working is no longer a mystifying concept, the trickle-down effects of the change have not stopped rolling in.

Remote working has changed everything from working hours, to abstract concepts of professionalism. While all significant in their own way, the biggest change, and possibly the least discussed change, is purchasing. How, when, and why we buy.

Sales cycles are different. Buyer requests are different. Expectations of vendors are inherently different.

There are lots of guides providing the best “tips and tricks” for making remote work a success, and tons of marketers inviting you to download their eBook containing the remote work secret sauce. They’re all largely generic, and somewhat obvious tales of tech and communication.

So, let’s hyper focus on our space. The Salesforce Community.

Even more granular, how have market changes since the pandemic affected Salesforce consultancies? We dove into the topic on a recent Art of Conversation episode with Salesforce Consultant and CEO of RedPoint Solutions, Dana Ress. The first noticeable change for Dana and team? Buyers thinking “digital first.”

Digital First

What does digital first mean to a consultancy? Thinking of a solution in terms of no person-to-person interaction. Dana’s analogy was this.

“Pre-pandemic, you weren’t deciding between buying DocuSign or Hello Sign, you were deciding between DocuSign and leaving files on your bosses’ desk.”

This may feel like a somewhat subtle change to the marketplace, or maybe you get the feeling that was sort of already the case? One would think, but I’d be willing to bet if you look at any variety of ISV partners and their win-loss analysis pre-pandemic, a shocking number of closed-loss reasons would read “no decision”, and it’s the assumption of most that the “no decision” number is in decline for a variety of AppExchange partners. Applications built for UCast, document management and ecommerce analysis became absolute must haves in the past year.

Despite the serious economic downturn in 2020, Silicon Valley still cranked out several billion-dollar unicorns, all celebrated for unprecedented growth during these unprecedented times.  So much so that Q3 2020 was the second-strongest quarter for venture capital investments to U.S. companies ever, according to CB Insights.

So, What’s the real opportunity for Salesforce Consultants?

What does application growth mean for a platform consultant? Massive, massive amounts of opportunity. Salesforce consultants who typically did implementations or one-off data cleansing projects are now being approached with complete digital transformation initiatives.

Consultancies across the AppExchange are diversifying their offering, expanding within existing accounts by consulting on new services, and all together winning new business entering the market for a Salesforce consultant for the first time ever.

So how do you deliver? These new opportunities to expand your offering are vast, but require expertise, development, and long term professional service for customers.

Great, right? More services, longer term agreements, additional revenue realized.

But, supporting additional applications raises the age-old question in Software, build vs. buy.

Build vs Buy – What’s a Consultant’s best move?

In our episode with Dana Ress, we broached the conversation that many consultants have internally, “build a custom solution for a client, and support it over time, or recommend an outside vendor.”

The obvious benefit of building a solution is that you solely own the customer experience, billing and overall relationship. The relationship remains one to one, which gives you increased expansion opportunity, predictable margins, and limits the risk of working with a third party.

The benefit of recommending vendors of course is the cost of continual development improvements over time to the application. The maintenance and development required to upkeep and improve upon existing applications is costly from a time and labor standpoint.

At the end of the day, it leaves most consultants having to ask, are we a software company, or a services company?

That phase is exactly why ISV and consultant partners have been working together since the dawn of time as far as the AppExchange is concerned. But there is a new element to this age-old question that has pushed smart consultancies into a variety of tech partnerships in the last year. Time to value.

Time to Value and Customer Experience

The biggest take away from the Art of Conversation episode with Dana? The importance of customer experience. The biggest metric affecting CX today? Time to value.

If you found yourself in a remote work situation when historically you’ve been in office, and you don’t have tools like Slack, or Teams or Zoom, or DocuSign, Box, you don’t have six weeks to do an evaluation with a consulting partner. You needed that solution yesterday. You aren’t looking to consultants just as a infrastructure advisor, the new ask is, “be my outsourced procurement.”

The assumption is, you live and breathe this community and work within this ecosystem, tell me the tools that I need, and get me onboarded today. AND of course, help me integrate them into my CRM so that I can report on performance increases and justify this purchase during a recession.

This is the unique opportunity for Salesforce Consulting and AppExchange partners today. ISVs ensure consulting clients see short time to value, and consultants ensure customers see ROI from their ISV purchase, and the relationship ultimately delights customers, and sets each party up for expansion and upsell opportunity.

Act on Relationship Building Today

There is more opportunity within the Salesforce Ecosystem than ever before but getting to reap the benefits will require Consultant and ISV partnerships. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come around that requests a specific app or SI. Establish those relationships today, build your own ecosystem so that your application or consultancy has the chance to flourish in this new phase of growth for the Salesforce Community.

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