Your Salesforce Project’s Biggest Risk and How to Avoid It
Your Salesforce Project’s Biggest Risk and How to Avoid It

Your Salesforce Project’s Biggest Risk and How to Avoid It

09/28/2023 by Andrew Fretwell
New Salesforce clients often end up paying a higher price with lower results because their project agreement gives priority to signature over success.

“Here’s what kills me about Salesforce, or any software company,” the seasoned Executive Director said to me. My old boss and I were catching up, and I was discussing my new role at “We’re all talking about this great, transformative project. Lots of promises and assurances are being thrown around. The problem is it’s all coming from this charming sales guy. He’ll say things like ‘That deadline is aggressive, but we’re up for it,’ and ‘if you can dream it, you can do it in Salesforce.’ Everyone is so excited and confident right to the moment when I sign a contract. Then the sales guy drops away and in his place is the person doing the actual work, and that’s when the daydream starts turning into a nightmare.”

He was not wrong; I had heard this story many times. At most implementation partners, a prospective client meets over the course of a month or more with the sales team, which qualifies the project, gathers requirements, and then creates a statement of work. Sometimes, delivery team members are consulted in the process, but they don’t control what ends up in the agreement, the sales team does. That creates a risk of skewing towards overpromising on deliverables, and underestimating on cost because the author’s motivation is a signature over success.  Only after the statement of work is signed, consultants, architects, and project managers are then officially brought in to deliver on that work.

There is one way to avoid this risk, and it is a deal-breaker for many implementation partners.

First, ask to meet your assigned project team as a requirement for scoping. This is incredibly important because a successful partnership is just that, a partnership. You’re not just working with technology and concepts, you’re working with people. If they aren’t a good personality or culture fit for you and your team, that will create tremendous risk for the project. Vetting the project and the company as a whole is not sufficient. Vetting the individuals who will be a major part of your day-to-day life for the next handful of months is critical, and you can only do that by meeting them beforehand. Would you choose a roommate without ever meeting them? We have all heard or lived enough horror stories from college to know better than to say yes to that.

Once you’ve met your project team, ask if they can write the statement of work (SOW) themselves, not the sales team. If they are going to be accountable for delivering on it, you must feel entirely confident in their authentic commitment. If they do not write it, they should at least review it with you, so you can discuss any red flags, unknowns, and/or other factors for risk. Without that conversation, no one on the project team will take responsibility for missed deliverables or for the need to course correct.

By meeting your delivery team and knowing that they authored the deliverables and commitments, you remove one of the largest risk drivers in an implementation right from the start. This is the process that Arkus utilizes as part of its scoping and signature process, and this is why we have a 4.9/5 Star Rating across 2300+ projects and 720+ clients. Once we feel that a client has a general understanding of the deliverables and level of effort of a project and wants to continue, the sales team hands the keys over to the client’s delivery team. The delivery team then gathers requirements, scopes, and drafts a statement of work with multiple points of input, including the sales team. This means our project agreements are biased towards success, not the sale. Once the SOW is approved and shared with the client, we always offer a review to ensure that everyone is fully aligned on all points of the project. I personally saw this as a former client of Arkus, as a Account Exec, and now as a part of the Arkus team.

So back to my conversation with that Executive Director, my old boss. ”Have you ever heard of Arkus?” I asked, “Because they work differently.” He raised an eyebrow and said, “Ok, go on…”