That’s right, I said it. You don’t need a techie degree to become an awesome Salesforce consultant. As a Salesforce consultant with at least one engineering degree, I do not say that lightly. In fact, when I started Redpath Consulting Group in 2008, I firmly believed that to be a Salesforce consultant you needed a computer science/IT degree. And, I’m sure you’re wondering why! Well, it is obvious, isn’t it? Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) computer software system. So to become a Salesforce implementation consultant, clearly you need to be a software and computer engineer. Don’t you?…
…No; I was wrong, so wrong! To be clear, I am not saying that having a techie degree won’t help in some areas of Salesforce consulting or having a degree in general will not help, just maybe not as much as you might think. Hear me out.
What led me to my conclusion?
Redpath has been hiring and training Salesforce consultants since 2009. Our first consultant had a degree in psychology with experience in IT support. I must admit I was skeptical, but to my surprise and delight it was not long before she had several Salesforce certifications and was implementing Salesforce for our clients. Our second consultant had a degree in Spanish, and had been working in a non-IT role. Again, it was not long before she also had several certifications and an impressive book of business.
On the flip side, we did hire a traditional software developer, too, and found that we had to pair him with one of the Salesforce consultants. While he was excellent at solving technical problems with code and integrations, he did not have some of the soft consulting skills. As a team, we have found this diversity — having both non-techie and techie consultants — has worked well.
When we implement Salesforce for a new client, we essentially are replacing an existing system (a collection of spreadsheets, a few databases, or an out-of-date CRM) with Salesforce. From there, we are transplanting the existing data into Salesforce and re-establishing any integrations with other internal or external systems. We also provide training and support for the clients’ new Salesforce CRM.
This requires the client to make a lot of changes that impact four core areas of their organization:
With these four areas in mind, let’s take a closer look to better understand why consultants without a techie degree or background can be successful Salesforce consultants.
7 reasons people with non-techie degrees or backgrounds do well as Salesforce consultants:
- Clear and Persuasive Communication — Non-techie consultants are often great communicators and can quickly build trust and rapport with client stakeholders. They also understand the people change management component of putting in a new CRM system, and that not everyone would be excited about the change. This could not always be said for their counterparts, those with a techie degree or background, often prefer to be in the back room eagerly waiting to build an awesome CRM.
- Critical Thinking — Non-techie consultants are more likely to challenge the status quo and not let clients merely make a copy of their old system in their new Salesforce org. They insist that the client benefit from the unique benefits that a modern cloud-based CRM offers out of the box, with no code (yes, I said no code!).
- Logical Analysis -— Non-techie consultants are often really good business analysts; they capture and question business processes. Non-techie consultants often challenge the client to combine steps and simplify the process before they even think of automating them in Salesforce. They take a people and process first approach, which leads to a simpler and more usable Salesforce solution.
- Reading Comprehension — Now, I am not saying techie consultants cannot read or comprehend here. That said, techie consultants often read requirements and system needs with a solution in mind…why wouldn’t they? They are technology experts. What I observe with non-techie consultants is the ability to read between the lines and ask the client deeper clarifying questions, especially where one word can mean different things or two requirements contradict each other. This skill has prevented us from building the wrong solution and incurring an unhappy client and a costly rework.
- Argumentation — Okay, both techie and non-techie consultants can argue. But what I have observed is a difference in the way they argue. Non-techies are often skilled at presenting an argument in a compelling way and providing a recommendation in such a way that clients are happy to adopt the change. Non-techie consultants can also more readily see bias in data, and can argue that the data analytics could be misleading. While the techie often uses more technical reasons to sway the client. As you can see, both styles have their own merit.
- Skilled Negotiators — Non-techie consultants are often skilled negotiators. They are able to deal with conflict as if it was normal, and calmly talk about a minimally viable product. This allows them to minimize scope creep, stay on budget, and stick to the timeline as if it was all a normal part of an implementation. Non-techie consultants will happily horse trade with the client to manage expectations and ensure alignment. The techie consultants rarely gravitate to this skillset, but some do!
- Politically Astute — The non-techie consultant will quickly pick up on client politics between different stakeholders and between project team members that might put the implementation project at risk. They will work with the project managers and team members to resolve any issues and mitigate risks. While some techie consultants also have these skills, it does not appear to be as common.
If you are a techie consultant you might be feeling down, but fear not! There are many things that you excel at that many non-techies consultants would not readily embrace.
So do you even have to have a degree to be an awesome Salesforce Consultant? Maybe not, many job experiences plus Salesforce’s free learning platform Trailhead may be enough to get you off to the races.
What I have found as a business owner is that our highest performing teams are our most diverse teams, with a strong mix of techies and non-techie consultants.
You can truly unlock the tech world with soft skills! The need for Salesforce resources was up 364% YoY globally in 2021. It is predicted to grow at a similar pace in 2022.
Need some help deciding where to start? It’s time to connect with the Redpath team!
- The Fuzzy and The Techie, Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule The Digital World. – Scott Hartley 2017
- Salesforce Talent Report – 10K Advisors September 2021