Salesforce Implementation Costs - Uncovering the Real Cost of Salesforce

It seems like it’s impossible to get a straightforward answer about Salesforce Implementation Costs. Forrester tried to simplify it with the theory that every $1 you spend in licensing will equate to $.75-$1 in implementation costs… but you will find that doesn’t really tell you anything.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to give you an exact formula to calculate the costs because there are so many variables.

Rather than oversimplify it, or avoid the question altogether, here are the 20% of factors that make up 80% of your Salesforce implementation cost.

The factors contributing to the cost of Salesforce

Who You Hire to run your implementation

The first thing you need to learn about Salesforce is that nothing is free. Everything you want to do with the platform is going to be built, bought, or integrated. Keep in mind that doing either of these 3 is not exactly easy, so you’re going to have to work with a Salesforce expert to help you implement Salesforce at your company.

Aside from the cost of your licenses (more on that later) how much you pay these experts is going to be the single largest factor in determining how much you’re going to spend on your Salesforce implementation.

When it comes to your implementation, anyone you work with in the Salesforce ecosystem is going to charge you an hourly rate.

Some may say that their ‘quick start’ package is a fixed fee, but like anything else that sounds too good to be true, it is.

A quick note on quick start packages:

Most of the time a quick start package is really your consultant saying “For a lot of teams this would take 100 hours, but we’ve done this before so it only takes us 75 hours now. Let’s just call it a ‘package’ and price it at (100 * our hourly rate) so we can make more money!”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with productizing your offering in this way. We (and many other firms) just believe in passing that surplus off to you, instead of taking it as profit.

Okay, back to the point.

When it comes to hiring someone to implement Salesforce, you have a few options.

You can hire a freelancer

Depending on the size of your implementation it could be possible to have it done by a freelance Salesforce consultant. If your goal is to implement Salesforce as cheaply as possible (I may be biased, but I strongly recommend not doing this) you can hire an offshore freelancer for $15-$50 per hour.

For example, a quick search on Upwork will present you with people like Divyanshi:

And for $35 an hour you can hire an experienced salesforce developer and admin to start configuring your Salesforce org.

While there are a number problems that can arise with offshore development, if you’re on a tight budget this might be your best move. On the other hand, you can find a freelance Salesforce developer here in the U.S, but the average hourly price is going to be significantly higher:  

It would seem odd that you would hire a single freelance developer for the same price that you would pay to work with a team of experts – which leads to your next option.

Hiring a Salesforce Consulting Partner

Your other option is going to be hiring a Registered Salesforce Consulting partner. This is someone who has received a stamp of approval so you can trust that they are at least good enough in Salesforce’s eyes.

A Salesforce Implementation partner will run you anywhere from $120-$250 per hour. The reason why consulting partners have such high hourly rates is because you’re not just working with one member of their team.

Some parts of your implementation will be done by an admin, but some more complicated scenarios could require the help of a Salesforce architect – who could easily command rates beyond $200 / hour.

In the end this is the difference between going with a freelancer, or going with a registered consulting company. With a freelancer there’s a chance they have a narrow knowledge of the platform, leaving your implementation half-baked and underperforming.  

With a registered consulting company you will have a team with varied expertise behind your project to make sure Salesforce is aligned with your goals.

What we’ve found with most freelancers is that they may be great at what they do, but they can’t possibly know how to do everything(and if they could they’ll surely charge you as such!). The Salesforce platform is simply too big. That’s why it pays to have a team of people behind your project.

Again, whichever route you choose is going to have a major impact on your costs.

Salesforce Consulting Rates:

Freelance: $15-$150 per hour

Partner: $120-$250 per hour

The Size of Your Organization

Now onto something that is a little bit more straightforward: licensing. I don’t want to break down each different licensing package that you can get from Salesforce, as they’ve already covered that here.

If you don’t understand the differences between professional, enterprise, and unlimited, (or the new lightning essentials offering) I would suggest you go ahead and read that article.

Onward.

Once you decide which Salesforce edition is right for you, you’re going to need to decide how many licenses you will need. Think about how many sales reps, managers, and executives you have along with anyone else that you would like to have access to your Org.

If you have 100 people who will use Salesforce at your company, simply do the math. For the enterprise package:

($150 * 100 employees * 12 months) = $180,000

Salesforce bills on an annual basis so you’ll have to pay the full $180k at the start of your implementation. Keep in mind this is also a subscription cost so next year you’re going to be paying again.

Other than licensing, the size of your organization will probably have a major impact on the complexity of your Salesforce implementation.

Complexity = more hours of development and configuration = higher cost.

While there isn’t a direct correlation between complexity and # of hours, you should keep it in mind.

Note: A lot of this information is generalized for it’s hard to be specific without knowing the details of your company. If you want to get an estimate on how much Salesforce will cost to implement in your company, we offer free consultations where one of our Salesforce experts will help you through the entire process – you can get in touch with us here.

Back to the post –

This is Not a Set it and Forget it System

A lot of people get talked into buying Salesforce by all of the awesome demo videos and the great success stories of other companies. Sometimes it can seem that once you implement Salesforce, that’s it, you’re good to go.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a reason for the massive ecosystem of Salesforce developers and admins that work full-time on managing a company’s Salesforce org.

You may not think of this as an ‘implementation’ cost, but you will need a Salesforce admin in some capacity. I emphasize this point because time and time again we see companies implement Salesforce only to have no one use it, or switch systems.

Salesforce has some awesome features and functionalities, but they’re not necessarily easy to use. An experienced admin will be able to train your team on how to use the platform, pull specified reports, create automated workflows, update and enhance your org, ensure data quality, and so much more.

Bottom line – it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so you should budget in for the cost of hiring a salesforce admin. With the current state of the job market, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50k-$130k depending on whether you need a junior or senior admin and your company’s location.

So for our hypothetical 100 user Salesforce org, you will definitely want to hire a full time admin with a good deal of experience, and possibly two or more!

At this point our hypothetical implementation is at:

Implementation partner: $200 per hour * 200 hours = $40,000

Licensing(first year): $180k

Full time admin(first year) ~ $80k

How’s your data looking?

If you have been collecting any sort of data prior to implementing Salesforce, you could be in for a big surprise.

Data migration is often overlooked because quite frankly it’s extremely ambiguous. But nonetheless the cost of data migration can vary widely.

Obviously for those who have not been collecting sales data in the past, the cost is going to be $0. You will be starting with a blank slate. If you’re migrating to Salesforce from another CRM tool, or an assortment of spreadsheets, you can start to run into some problems.

It is all going to come down to where you have been storing your data, what you were recording, and if you have been following any set of rules or standards to ensure data quality.

Ringlead has done a good job of explaining the cost of clean data with this graphic:

 

As you can see, $10 per record to ‘clean’ your data can get very expensive. You can think of cleaning as removing duplicates, dealing with empty fields, inaccurate information, or data that is outdated.

I almost didn’t mention this, because it is so specific to the company in question, but nonetheless you should make an honest assessment about the current state of your data and understand how it will impact your org.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. About how many records do I currently have? (Rows in an excel spreadsheet)
  2. Have we been following naming conventions and maintaining a high-standard of data quality?
  3. Is our data scattered across different applications, or is it stored in one place?

If you have a ton of data, have not been careful about maintaining quality, and your data is scattered throughout disparate systems, you’re going to pay for it.

While there are a ton of other factors that will determine how much your Salesforce implementation costs, I can guarantee that the factors mentioned here will account for ~80% of your total costs. Unfortunately ever Salesforce implementation is unique, so it’s difficult to give detailed advice.

If you’re looking for a free, casual assessment of what Salesforce would cost given your company’s goals and size, we’re always open to talk.

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About Shane Rostad

Shane Rostad is a marketing manager for TriFin Labs that loves to share his knowledge and learnings about tech through writing. When he's not reading you can find him exploring Florida's parks or loitering in a local coffee shop.

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