To paraphrase Patrick Henry: give me [niche] or give me death.
As recently as 2014, general implementation partners could make a decent living helping organizations deploy Salesforce. In those days the ecosystem was booming with Sales and Service Cloud – revenue was increasing 35% year over year. Just working in Salesforce was it’s own niche. Now, Sales and Service Cloud offerings are saturating the market. If you don’t specialize in an industry or product and Salesforce you’re facing a more competitive landscape as compared to the hyper-niche Consulting Partner.
Companies that don’t find their niche within Salesforce aren’t going to last.
The Salesforce Market Is Changing
These days, it seems like every 30 person consulting firm has a Salesforce practice. The market is changing and we shouldn’t be surprised. Access to the product is being commoditized as Salesforce improves on user interface, experience, and on-boarding. It is easier for smaller consultancies to stand up a decent implementation practice.
What does that mean to you? Generalized market positions will be difficult to defend without name recognition. That type of marketing is hard, expensive, difficult to maintain, and has a low ROI. There are just too many Salesforce Consulting Partners now. No savvy Customer will choose a generalist when a specialist in their industry can provide a better service.
Win by Finding Your Salesforce Niche
Specialization is the only way to win. Most bigger firms already have Practice niches. At the moment those specializations revolve around industry or size: Healthcare, Higher Education, Finance, SMB vs. Enterprise.
In recent history, we’ve seen increasing product specialization: Wave Analytics, Communities, and CPQ.
If I were a gambler, I would put money down that the product niches will increase in importance as Einstein starts to realize its full potential. Partners with a deep understanding of how to really employ Einstein will have a winning advantage in the next few years. We’ve seen the Einstein emphasis out of Salesforce HQ, further inked by the partnership with IBM’s Watson in early March, 2017; I believe the rest of the marketplace will start to demand that expertise deployed in their industry.
Where will your future customers find value? I can’t be certain, but the best way to find out is to talk to them.
Generalist Partners in Salesforce are going the way of the Dodo. If your firm doesn’t have specialities, it’s time to make some changes or get out of the way.