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Is Your Salesforce AI Consultant the Real Deal? 5 Questions to Ask

Is Your Salesforce AI Consultant the Real Deal? 5 Questions to Ask

Everyone from LinkedIn influencers to your mom’s hairdresser seems to have an opinion about AI these days. And it’s great that these conversations are happening and people are excited to talk about what tools like generative AI and machine learning mean for the future of technology (and humanity).

With the increasing AI buzz and new capabilities and tools within the Salesforce ecosystem, it’s no surprise that many consultancies are jumping on the bandwagon. (Especially considering at least 70% of organizations are already in exploration mode with generative AI, according to Gartner.) 

Businesses are understandably excited to implement generative AI capabilities into their orgs, but many find themselves running into complex data issues that require the help of outside experts. Unfortunately, there are consultants out there claiming to be AI experts when they actually have very little (if any) data science and data engineering experience — and choosing to sell those services anyway. It’s basically the 2024 version of selling snake oil.

So how can you tell the difference between the AI charlatans and the real deal experts?

To help you out, we put together some questions to ask when choosing a Salesforce AI consultant to partner with.

1. Do they have established data engineering and data science practices?

When vetting a potential Salesforce AI consultant, make sure they actually have data engineering and data science practices in place, and aren’t just promising AI solutions for the sake of sales and marketing. For example, if they only started promoting their AI services within the last year, take a closer look at their bona fides. 

Adding AI capabilities to your Salesforce instance and connected technologies requires experienced data engineers who can properly configure your data architecture and ensure good data quality. AI technologies are complex, so allowing someone without extensive experience to make changes in your org can cause serious issues. You also need a partner with an established data science and AI consulting practice that can build the right predictive data models for your business. 

Ask potential partners about their teams’ education, certifications, and experience, and check that they have someone with a background in statistics or math leading their data science team. You can also check out their website for announcements or press releases to see how long they’ve been doing data engineering and data science work.

2. Do they have actual examples of the work they’ve done?

The proof is in the pudding, and in this case, the pudding is customer stories. Take a look at the stories or case studies listed on a consultancy’s website that talk specifically about their data science work and AI solutioning.

Also, check if many or all of the stories are anonymized (e.g., “a widget manufacturer”) or if they actually mention any of the companies by name. You should find at least some stories that include the name and logo of the company they worked with and details about the work delivered. (Bonus points if they include customer outcomes and ROI.)

Another green flag to look for is experience in your industry. Has the team completed data science projects at other companies like yours? Also, how many clients have they worked with of a similar size and scale (e.g., SMB, enterprise, Fortune 500, etc.)? The more similarities you see between your business and businesses the consultancy has already worked with, the better. We also recommend asking for references, so you can talk directly with customers like you and learn more about their experience.

3. Are they focused on business outcomes?

When choosing a Salesforce AI consultant, you want a strategic partner — not an order taker. Less experienced consultants are typically only concerned with plugging A into B, and don’t take the extra time to understand the full picture of how leveraging data through the implementation of AI and analytics can improve decision-making, drive automation, and enhance the productivity of your team.

Ask potential consultants how they approach data strategy and how they go about integrating AI into business processes. Experienced partners will have a developed process that focuses on building solutions to meet your company’s unique business goals. So to truly take advantage of AI capabilities that move the needle for your business, look for a Salesforce partner who has the technical chops but also sees the whole picture.

4. How do they address change management?

Even the best AI models don’t drive meaningful value unless they are adopted and used by organizations to make better decisions. To ensure this is the case, you must also address business change enablement and prepare your team for new data-driven processes, procedures, and strategies in an AI-powered workflow.

Ask potential Salesforce partners how they plan to help you enable your users and manage change internally. Getting change management right is essential to ensuring a successful launch and a high level of adoption of new tools.

5. Do they offer managed services?

After your AI solutions are implemented and your team members are enabled, what happens next? Building a mature, data-driven org requires ongoing iteration and work to make your data insights actionable.

Data models require long-term maintenance and monitoring. Even the best models are subject to changes in performance and utility based on changes in data, business conditions, etc., so having a partner who is with you long term can be worthwhile.

Too often, we see Salesforce consultants who do the work to build a data model or implement a tool, but don’t stick around to help their customer land the last mile to truly drive transformational change. Look for an AI partner that offers ongoing support and account management to guide you and help you make future improvements.

Partner with an experienced AI leader

There are countless Salesforce consultancies out there promising data and AI expertise. But it’s crucial to look beyond marketing claims and learn what potential partners are really capable of delivering.

Atrium has been leading the charge in data-driven CRM strategy for years, by applying the principles of data, analytics, and AI and machine learning to Salesforce, Tableau, and Snowflake.

With in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in data science and generative AI solutions, our team can create powerful generative models that produce realistic and high-quality outputs for maximum business value. We’ll help you unlock the power of your data and bring predictability and growth opportunities to your organization.

Get to know our data science and AI consulting services and how we can help you take the next step.