This post was written by Kenny Goldman, CEO and co-founder of Kicksaw.
I started Kicksaw in 2017, just over 5 years ago now, with the ultimate goal of increasing the value a consulting partner could provide to a client.
In our view, there are a number of ways to accomplish this. I’ve written a couple of blog posts on how creating an environment of success for our team and aligning on results creates a working environment that generates value for our clients. And as critical as that is to success, understanding how our clients determine value is ultimately what’s going to allow us to thrive.
First, let’s talk about how we think about value at Kicksaw. Cerebral Selling’s blog post on Value vs. ROI does a great job of defining value. In the post, the author, David Priemer, talks about the difference between value and ROI. While many people will use these two terms interchangeably, there is actually a huge difference between them. Many of our clients think about much more than the ROI for their Salesforce investment — ROI has become simply one checkbox to address during the implementation process. Value, however, is where the rubber truly meets the road in the client’s decision-making process. I personally have noticed that the topic of value consideration is occurring not only in many implementation deals, but also within the Salesforce industry as a whole.
To put this into perspective, in the past few months, here are a few excerpts, communicated directly to me from our clients, around what the impact of success would mean for them:
- “This project is what’s going to determine whether or not I get promoted from Director to VP this year.”
- “I need this project to finish successfully so that we can focus the upcoming big project.”
- “I was hired in, and I have some lofty goals, but need this completed in order to start really scaling and moving the needle forward for the company.”
Embedded in these statements are what our clients define as value. Not a precise ROI on their investment with Salesforce or Kicksaw, but instead, elements that they place a lot of importance on that don’t have definite numbers surrounding them.
It can be really hard to place a net positive on all the impacts, both direct and indirect, that result from Salesforce. Salesforce is often seen as the nervous system of a company’s go-to-market efforts. If Salesforce is not operating as expected, the ripple effects are felt far and wide, and most companies will attribute those gaps to deficiencies in their tech stack. But the reality is that, oftentimes, it’s actually a process gap, coupled with other factors such as a lack of training, enablement, or ongoing strategic alignment cross-functionally within the business. This point further reinforces that what customers are really after from a consulting partner is value.
It’s evident that, at Kicksaw, our clients have many ways of defining success. Or, to put it another way, they have many methods of realizing value in their investment in Salesforce and, by extension, Kicksaw. This is why we created our value realization initiative.
Value realization is more than just an audit or “health check.” It’s all too common for consultancies to masquerade value under the veil of an audit, as if that’s going to connect the dots for an organization. That’d be like a financial advisor taking a look at your books and making recommendations without any context around your goals, debt, etc. It might be great advice, but it doesn’t serve you now, or in the future — if you need that $20,000 for a downpayment today, savvy investment advice isn’t exactly helpful, and might even be harmful. And so it goes with value realization. It’s an opportunity to partner with our customers to align on the things they need and care about. And not just what the company cares about, but what the people at the company care about. Each stakeholder embedded within a project has their own objectives, and it’s imperative that we get the opportunity to explore each and every one of them, at their respective level, within the organization.
Value realization presents an opportunity for us at Kicksaw to exit the monotonous relationship of client and vendor and enter a new realm of partnership that focuses on tangible outcomes that align with our clients on an ongoing basis. Further, it’s a forcing function to stay abreast of the ever-evolving nature of macro and micro-economic factors, plus the always-changing landscape of our clients’ needs, goals, and requirements. Active, continuous value realization keeps us innovating on pre-existing solutions, which reaps a myriad of benefits for both our clients and our own team.
Ultimately, value realization is what allows Kicksaw to stay ahead of the game. We don’t simply view it as a static program, but one that has dynamic inputs that always affect the outputs. It keeps us sharp, keeps us competitive, and keeps our ever-growing book of customers happy, satisfied, and wanting more work from us. We aren’t changing course any time soon.