Targeting Salesforce Consulting Opportunities with LinkedIn
May 7, 2021
So in another conversation we’ve discussed how LinkedIn can play a large role in allowing you to find opportunities. Companies seeking to hire Salesforce administrators often post there because they don’t know how to find proper independent consultants, and they think they need a full-time administrator when in many cases they may just not know any better.
Note: Now, I’m not here to say that in certain situations, a full-time administrator is not the better option, but the fact that many companies are not able to understand exactly what they need can often lead them to just saying “We need a Salesforce person” and posting a job ad hoping to hire someone for a reasonably low salary range that can do their work for them.
And those job postings are great hunting grounds if you have a few hours a week to spare in searching, applying and trying to convert them. We talk about strategies in other videos, but assuming you may not have time to go after all job postings, let’s talk a bit more about narrowing down your list (if you’re using LinkedIn):
Pick your Target
Don’t try to consult for everyone. If you somehow manage to find the time to prospect out to everyone, I can venture a guess that your success rate will be fairly low. Simply because in the Salesforce Consulting world, it’s about quality, not quantity. Independent Consultants that do best have a handful, maybe half a dozen clients. This allows them to dedicate the necessary time to each customer to properly understand requirements, and put well thought out solutions (instead of just jumping from org to org gun-slinging Flows and Reports without properly doing QA, tests and ensuring that the solution overall fits with the request/need.
And if you don’t have the time to reach out to everyone (like most of us), then make sure to work effectively and pick the right target for you. Which usually comes down to two main areas: Size and Industry. Wouldn’t it be nice if companies were able to share that information with you through some sort of social media platform?
What’s the Right Size?
Everyone has a different opinion. The bottom line is that there is certainly plenty of opportunity across the board. But I’ll share my quick Pros and Cons per each category of Company Size on LinkedIn:
- Below 10 employees
- I’d usually avoid these altogether, it’s tough to put a “Pro” together, but every now and then there are good opportunities here. Usually someone that runs their own business, or has a few employees that recognize the importance of automation and simplifying processes to allow their team members to do more with less. It’s very infrequent though, and the down side of these companies is that they are usually very limited on budget, and you’ll find yourself struggling to offer a reasonable rate at a level they can afford. And from experience, those who often can’t afford the hours are the ones that are going to try to get the most out of you
- 11-50 employees
- A Salesforce Independent Consultant’s nirvana. Here you will find a lot of Salesforce customers who probably run orgs with 5-20 users, and cannot justify a full-time Salesforce hire. At the same time, they may be realizing that they also cannot be pawning off Salesforce Administration to one of the many responsibilities of some poor soul in the sales or marketing department (assuming they are large enough where sales and marketing is not one department on its own)
- Companies here are usually running either Professional Edition or a very basic Enterprise Edition implementation, opening the doors for those who have the majority of their consulting experience under declarative methods only. There’s a lot of value that you can offer, and save them a lot of time in getting set up right.
- Budget may still be an issue, but nowhere near a problem as companies that are below 10 employees (not users). From experience, most of those in this category will be good for projects here and there, but getting them on a recurring Managed Services package may be tough.
- 51-200 employees
- Another great category, perhaps your “big whale”. Here you can find companies that often have the budget to spend on managed services, and landing 2-3 of these customers may get you set for life if you treat them well and show them good value as a remote Salesforce Administrator/Consultant. There will always be new projects and you’ll likely even play with some fun third-party tools and projects to keep your skills at the sharp end of the sword.
- The challenge is that these companies may be extremely demanding, and if they are 60+ users, they may start making a case to bring in a full-time administrator onboard, so you always have to be conscious that you’re not bidding against another Salesforce consultant, you’re bidding against the company just bringing their Salesforce configuration/maintenance in-house.
- Over 200 employees
- Realistically these are probably too big for a solo consultant. You’d assume they’d have at least 80-100 users, at which point, it would be a full-time job managing all of the different configuration items, profiles, maybe even a community and other ancillary products (like Marketing Cloud). A single one of these would be a lot to manage, and the reality of it is that the case for a full-time employee is obvious. These companies usually start getting to the point where they budget resources, and they’ll just budget to hire someone (because if they paid a consulting Admin their rate 40hrs/week, even if you do $50/hr, you’re roughly at $100k in invoices). And at that point, you’re well in Salesforce Admin FTE territory.
Keep Industries in Mind
Industries are important, and while I much prefer to target on size, industries can be a key indicator for you that can easily be found on LinkedIn Company Pages that may help you narrow down the list of who you are targeting. For example, as a private pilot and a history in the aviation industry, I could easily go after companies that are looking for Salesforce experts in those industries, claiming my knowledge of the industry would be a differentiator to others who would be stuck trying to understand what an M.R.O. is or does.
Industries can also be important if you are looking to join a particular niche. For example, if you want to focus on healthcare, then becoming an expert on the Health Cloud solutions that Salesforce offers (like Health Cloud, Shield, etc…) are key differentiators for you and your independent consulting practice. Depending what you are looking to accomplish, leveraging LinkedIn Industries are a great way to filter down the job postings.
Understanding BudgetA great Salesforce Consultant always has a good idea of how much a company is willing to spend in supporting their Salesforce platforms. It’s not an exact science, but two or three rules-of-thumb (are there enough thumbs?) would suffice to make proposals that are realistic for companies.
Price sensitivity is real, and you need to understand during the discovery process what an organization can realistically justify in their expenses. And there are three main tools that you can use
- LinkedIn Company Size
- If you know the company size in employees, and you can roughly ball park the average salary depending on the company type and industry, you’ll get a rough estimate at what a company may be working with regards to revenues. If a company has 20 employees and an average salary of $40,000/year, then there’s roughly $800k in salaries. Loosely double that to make up for other expenses and some profit margin, and that’s roughly $1.6M/year. If you’re looking to charge them $25000 per quarter in consulting work ($100k annual), that’s roughly 6-7% of their revenue in Salesforce maintenance. That’s a lot, so be aware of what they can likely afford
- Number of Salesforce Users
- Asking them how many users they have is a great indicator, along with what version of Salesforce are they on. Simple discovery questions, but you can easily find out what their annual spend is. If someone has 5 users of Professional Edition, then $75 x 5 users x 12 months, that’s $4500/year. Hardly someone who you can easily sell $10k/year worth of work. However 20 users in Enterprise Edition now bumps that to $36,000/year. And that looks a lot more like something that you can offer a bit more of services, because they should be better position to budget the maintenance of their systems.
- Just point blank ask them: What’s your budget?
- It doesn’t hurt to ask, and the more transparent the communication is, the better you can make sure to explain to them that knowing the budget will help you always make sure that you stop them if they start making too many requests and you can help ensure that they stay within budget as needed. If you’re that serious about making it work, tell them you’ll work with a budget they can put together. It may not be a lot of hours, but if it’s a good company to work for, and you believe you may be able to grow this relationship into more work in the future, then why not?
A Company’s Shortcoming: Getting someone not capable
The largest challenge with the companies that are putting job postings out there for Salesforce Administrators is that they fail to realize the situation that the ecosystem is in. They unfortunately may not know that the demand for Salesforce experts is at an all-time high (in 2021) and that supply is not able to meet demand. Without that, they won’t even understand the reason why average salaries for Salesforce experts is so high.
So looking internally at their own problems, they see that they are spending a large amount of money in Salesforce and that they need someone to properly take care of them. With or without knowing the industry, many companies will post jobs out there hoping that they would be able to hire someone at a relatively inexpensive rate like $15-17/hour that will be able to manage their Salesforce org for them. True story: I’ve had someone looking to hire a Salesforce & Pardot expert for $17/hour in a very niche industry. Several months later they were back on the market (ironically introduced back to me through a mutual colleague, who was unaware we had spoken before).
Fair or not, these companies are there for a rude awakening. And in that moment, if you can be the one there, explaining how you can tactically get the job done at your rate, but in a fraction of the time that an early admin would (and that you would know what the best practices to implement something would be), then you can be the first realistic option that these companies may have to get their Salesforce in order.
Summary: There’s no one size fits all, but save your time
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide. There are pros and cons for all sizes, but I am personally a big fan of companies in the 11-50 employees range. It’s usually a great starting point for independent consultants and freelancers alike, where they can afford to have someone to give them a hand here and there without having to hire someone full time.
Regardless if you agree or not, being able to use LinkedIn Company Page details to filter for the company size you want to target (along with industry, and perhaps location, etc) is a crucial part to better managing your business development time. In the consulting world, every minute counts, so spend your time wisely!
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