How to find a Salesforce partner: guide on evaluation criteria and cost range

Despite Salesforce having powerful out-of-the-box solutions and features, at certain stages of the business lifecycle, it requires customizations, integration, and other configurations to be legally compliant, serve product diversification, and more.

A Salesforce partner is a single consultant, expert team, or agency that provides a helping hand with Salesforce technology strategy and development at any stage of the Salesforce adoption journey.

Today, we have a look at the following topics:

  1. How to choose and evaluate a Salesforce partner?

  2. What are the signs of choosing an improper partner?

  3. How much does it cost to find and work with a Salesforce partner?

How to find a perfect Salesforce Partner? 6 proven criteria

Picking the right Salesforce partner is like finding the perfect dance partner — you want someone who moves well with your business. Let’s have a look at what it means in practice.

Clearly define business needs and expected results

Before you start searching and comparing, make sure all the stakeholders from your side are on the same page when speaking of the goals you set for Salesforce consultancy and development for your exact case. Avoid establishing tasks and focusing on tools before clarifying the expected result. If it is hard to clarify the exact expected output, be clear about this with your potential partner. A mature partner must be capable of running in-depth discovery so you can establish goals and then move to building a technology strategy and task decomposition. 

Check the experience and certifications

Look for partners with a solid track record and valid domain expertise. Salesforce has an overwhelming variety of products and technologies, and nearly each of them needs special expertise and training. Request case studies relevant to your case or domain; ask a potential partner to show their Salesforce certification and competence matrix.

Pay attention to their communication style

It has become a cliche that good communication is the key to successful partnerships. But what is considered good? The answer is simple: it should resonate with your corporate culture and working ethics. Do you prefer official to casual or otherwise?  What are your habits for resolving conflicts, articulating expectations, and providing feedback? As yourself – and a potential partner about this. Choose a partner who listens, understands your pace, and resonates with your degree of openness and transparency. 

Explore their flexibility and adaptability

Businesses sway and change, and not everything goes as planned. It is important to ensure your partner can adapt to new tunes in strategy or tech advancements. Ask them how they respond to unexpected situations, fails (and wins!), and rapid changes. Provide examples typical for your business environment or domain. 

Check for good vibes and detailed references

Ask around: use your network and explore customer reviews online. Be precise about what you ask, as general feedback may lack specific criteria that are crucial for your business.

Talk about money

It is a standard thing to make sure your partner’s rates match your budget and there are no surprise fees waiting to pop up. But what is as important is how your partner evaluates investments and costs when it comes to choosing alternatives in solutions or tech and strategic decision-making. The more it resonates with your approach to money, the easier it will be to drive cost-effective changes for your business.

How much does it cost to work with a Salesforce partner? 

Let’s have a look at the most common lines in the cost structure for Salesforce advisory and development. Note that it doesn’t mean each Salesforce agency would have all of them; our task here is to provide a 360-degree overview of what to expect.

Discovery Fee 

Let’s be clear about what we call a discovery here. Normally, discovery is charged when it includes 2-4 weeks of in-depth and on-site research guided by a BA from a partner’s side. Such a period is considered as a pre-project or an initial step needed to clarify business context, pains, needs, and expectations. It may be charged separately or be included in the project scope. 

Some partners charge an initial fee for the first consultations, but it is far less common, as mature partners run such sessions free of charge to build initial trust and ensure compatibility before starting a project.

Implementation Cost 

If Salesforce CRM is your first one, or you are migrating to it from another system, expect to see the implementation cost in the scope. It will be decomposed into two cost subitems: the price for the Salesforce products and tools (Clouds, additional features, etc) and the payment for the relevant specialist’s work. If you don’t see such detailing, don’t be shy and request clarification. This will help you understand which part of the implementation is a one-time expense and what fees will become a fixed cost, like subscriptions. 

Note, that the core setup is easy to calculate if you only use out-of-the-box tools. Tailoring it to your business processes and the extent of customization can influence the costs greatly.

Ongoing Support Subscription (Long-Term Partnership)

Like a subscription service, ongoing support may come with a regular fee. This ensures continued assistance as your business evolves and may include ad-hoc development, on-demand consulting, bug fixing, and maintenance. Such fees are often not mentioned in the initial project discussion, and for customers, it is hard to foresee future expenses. To avoid unpleasant surprises of additional costs emerging, ask your partner what Salesforce products and features have subscription fees or demand maintenance.

Tailoring Solutions: customizations and adding features

Salesforce has powerful out-of-the-box solutions and features, and it will take a while until you need extra functionalities. The need to add more capacities to existing Salesforce solutions always emerges when a business needs to expand, diversify, comply with legal requirements, add new customer journeys, integrate third-party software, go multichannel, or digitalize business processes. All the mentioned examples require specific adjustments following custom requirements for each business goal, requiring specific expertise and leading to added costs for customizations or supplementary features.

Training Expenses (Knowledge Transfer)

If you want your stakeholders in multiple departments to be well-versed in using Salesforce, there might be training costs to ensure everyone is comfortable with the system. Moreover, it will take time and effort to get used to using new software and follow a new related process. A good example here is advanced customer service powered by Salesforce Einstein AI.

Salesforce Implementation Partner Cost: Straight to the numbers

The pricing landscape for Salesforce consulting services exhibits notable variations across different regions. In the United States, higher rates predominate, primarily driven by boutique agencies staffed with seasoned Salesforce experts who have transitioned to independent practice.

In contrast, Europe and Eastern Europe feature mid-range pricing structures characterized by companies possessing extensive expertise in Salesforce implementation. On the other hand, the lowest price ranges are often associated with Asian companies, underscoring distinct cost dynamics within the global Salesforce Partner ecosystem.

A nuanced comprehension of these regional pricing nuances can guide businesses in aligning their budget considerations with the skill set offered by Salesforce Partners. Let’s have a look at what proposition we can find and aggregate from the Salesforce consulting segment on clutch:

salesforce implementation partner cost - explained by Sparkybit
Hourly Rates for Salesforce Development, Salesforce agencies and Software development houses with no less than 75% of Salesforce in Service Lines


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