How much do Salesforce Consultants cost?

As with any profession, there’s going to be a range of hourly rates, depending on who you ask, their experience and the additional expertise that they bring to the project. A newly-certified consultant might charge as little as £50 per hour, but for someone who has a good level of experience, you should expect to be paying something closer to £120-£150 per hour, considerably more if they’re a specialist in a particular niche.

Again, this is going to vary from one project to another; some consulting companies might turn up mob-handed, fielding a team of half-a-dozen experts in suits, each charging a pretty hefty hourly rate, to spend the first week workshopping their way into the solution space or whatever. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have more agile operators who tend to work in smaller teams with other experts, choosing their co-workers as the project demands. The cynic in me generally looks at the larger teams and tries to work out which members we’re paying £50+ per hour to gain their experience, which is why my internal cynic doesn’t get invited to parties…

In terms of project costs, it’s important to remember the fast, good, cheap model: “You can have it fast, good and cheap, but you can only pick two.” – In essence, this means that you have to play off the speed of delivery, the cost of delivery and the features being delivered against each other. In truth, any given project will involve a balance of these factors, and part of the discovery phase of the project will involve a discussion about which features we can slip to a later phase in order to deliver on-time or within-budget, or which additional resources we’ll need to pull into the project in order to deliver everything in the wish-list in the time we’ve got, and what this will do to our bottom-line for example.

To some extent, every project will follow some key stages:

  • Discovery
  • Design
  • Review
  • Implementation
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Rollout

These stages may be run through once (waterfall) or a truncated version of the design/implementation/test process may be repeated in an agile implementation, but these are the key elements.

The scope of the project is the most critical element of how much this process is going to cost. It is vitally important to define this at the start, and to keep an eye on the project scope as it is delivered.

During the discovery phase, while ‘blue-sky’ discussions are ongoing, we’ll generally allow all ideas, but ultimately accept that some will be relegated to “Phase Two”. 

Understand that the extent to which you can control the size of the consulting/development budget will depend on your willingness to hear the answer “no.” If you’re working with Enterprise or Unlimited Edition, there’s very little that cannot be done in Salesforce, with the right amount of development. So the truthful answer to “Can we do x in Salesforce?” is probably “Yes!”, whereas the honest answer may well be “Yes, technically, but there are a number of reasons why you probably should do it this way instead.” or indeed “Ye-e-es, we could do that… But if we do it this way instead then it’ll save us two weeks of development time, even if it isn’t quite as pretty. Is drag-and-drop worth fourteen thousand pounds and a three-week delay?”

Sometimes, especially with early/pilot implementations, it can be advantageous to limit oneself to Professional Edition; working within the constraints of the platform allows one to concentrate on getting the business processes and data structures right, giving a stable, efficient basis upon which to build when later requirements exceed the capabilities of Professional Edition and require an upgrade to Enterprise Edition.

Regular reviews of project status are vital in keeping the scope under control. Progress against the timeline and the budget burn rate need an eagle eye. Ideally, project management should be a joint, co-operative responsibility of the client and consultant. 

“Scope Creep” is a little goblin who whispers phrases like “surely it’s easy to…” and “Okay, that’s great, but can we just…” into the ears of project sponsors, leading them to try to increase the scope of the project without affecting the budget. This rarely (never!) works…

There should be a change management process in place in case new requirements should arise during the delivery of the project. The impact of addressing these new requirements should be assessed both in terms of the project budget, and the timeline. It’s extremely unusual for new requirements to fail to impact either, if not both. 

There are two widely recognised approaches to managing the risk of project fees:

  • Time and Materials – Any time spent by the project team is charged to the client. If it takes my team thirteen man-days to build a new User Interface because the project sponsor didn’t like the Salesforce look-n-feel, then the project sponsor is going to be paying for another thirteen man-days. In this case, the risk is all on the client, and the change should have been managed from the time the new requirements were added to the scope, or we run a real risk of an unpleasant surprise when the final invoice is raised at project-end. 
  • Fixed Fee – The consultant will typically charge for an initial discovery project, taking a couple of days to set out in some detail the requirements to be addressed and the design to address them, working out how much effort is required to deliver what’s been specified (erring on the side of caution, as a rule) and then adding 10-20% wiggle room to allow for the unexpected. That’s the value of the project that the client is expected to pay; if the project is delivered more efficiently, then the consultant pockets the extra margin. But if something unexpected crops up, then the consultant is on the hook for the extra work required to address it, so in this instance the risk is carried by the consultant.

I do offer a third, hybrid option, where the risk is shared between the consultant and the client: The project is quoted as in “fixed fee”, but the effort to deliver is charged as time-and-materials on a monthly basis. As before, any changes to scope are managed as change requests, but if unexpected circumstances arise (which does happen) and the project slips into extra time despite the change process, the hours spent beyond the “fixed fee” value are charged at half-price. The consultant isn’t working for free, but the client isn’t paying out full price for the additional work required. This can work out to be a good compromise.

If you’ve any questions, or you think I might be able to help, I’d be delighted to hear from you! You can always email me, call me on +44 2393 96 06 42, request a (virtual) meeting or, if you prefer, fill out and submit the form on my Contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

How much do Salesforce licences cost?

In a Salesforce solution, the cost of the Salesforce licences depends on the number of users, and which edition of Salesforce is being used. Salesforce is licensed on a “named user” basis, which means that each person who logs in to Salesforce should have their own licence. Having three individuals share a login as “” is a breach of the Master Services Agreement. On the other hand, if we need one user in accounts who will be responsible for logging the successful close of a sale into the accounts system, and then updating the Opportunity when the invoice is paid, then they can use their own login to do so, and the rest of the accounts team can do whatever mysterious stuff it is that accounts do all day… 

In terms of the editions, these break down as follows:

Salesforce Essentials allows the systematic management of leads, customers and opportunities straight out of the box, and is a great place to start if you’re currently tracking leads and sales using Excel, paper, or even your inbox! It isn’t really customisable, so there isn’t a lot of scope for a Salesforce consultant to help beyond a little training.

Professional Edition is definitely worth consideration if your requirements extend beyond pure sales, particularly for early implementations, as fewer available bells-and-whistles can help focus on the fundamentals and getting the business processes right. For example, it would be perfectly feasible to build out a basic project management solution using custom objects in Professional Edition, which would allow management to track the real-time progress and profitability of any number of ongoing projects previously sold through Salesforce, without requiring the expense and complexity of full-blown automation and customisation available through Enterprise Edition.

Professional Edition can also be used as the initial development platform for “Phase One” of a more complex project. This allows the business to get up and running quickly, at half the licence cost, and to adapt to their new way of working. Once the new system has been used for a while, the lessons learned could form the basis for a more complex solution to be built on that foundational layer in the next phase of development.

Enterprise Edition allows automation and customisation at any level from custom fields and workflows to custom user interfaces and java-like coding. With great power comes great responsibility, though, and we need to apply common sense to our designs. Also, while Enterprise Edition licences are twice as expensive as Professional Edition, we should consider whether roles can be served by Platform licences. For example, we might have a requirement that, at the end of the sales process, Salesforce should automatically build the project for delivery to the customer, with key deliverables and milestones being defined by the products and services that made up the sale. But the team who are responsible for managing and delivering that project will never need to know the details of the Opportunity itself. The delivery team, needing visibility of the basic customer details and four or five custom objects around the project, could be set up with Platform Starter licences, costing £20 per user per month, but taking full advantage of the automation and customisation available on the Salesforce platform. 

Ultimately, it’s our role, as the Salesforce consultant, to design the most functional and cost-effective solution to meet your requirements, taking into consideration whatever constraints apply. Where appropriate, we’ll help you work out the best combination of licences for your needs. 

List price for Salesforce licences is as follows:

  • Salesforce Essentials: £20 per user per month (£240 per annum per user)
  • Professional Edition: £60 per user per month (£720 per annum per user)
  • Enterprise Edition: £120 per user per month (£1,440 per annum per user)
  • Unlimited Edition: £240 per user per month (£2,880 per annum per user)
  • Platform Starter / Platform Plus: £20 / £80 per user per month (depending on requirements; only available on Enterprise and Unlimited orgs.)

If you’re careful with your timing (buying at quarter-end, for example) and negotiate well with your Salesforce Account Executive, it’s possible to improve on these prices somewhat, but for budgeting purposes it’s best to assume full price.

One of Salesforce’s strengths is the rich biosystem of third-party solutions and tools available in the AppExchange, which can often provide a handy turnkey alternative to spending time (and money) rolling your own solution. Most AppExchange apps come with an additional licence cost, though, which can be per-user, per salesforce licence, per org, or a combination of these. For example, OwnBackup (the best-of-breed backup solution) charges a fairly low fee per user in theory, but their “minimum contract charge” means that for any org with fewer than 150 users, they’re still going to charge $500/month, or $6,000 per annum for their service. But anyone who’s tried to restore a database from last week’s .csv files will tell you that’s cheap at twice the price… 😉

If you’ve any questions, or you think I might be able to help, I’d be delighted to hear from you! You can always email me, call me on +44 2393 96 06 42, request a (virtual) meeting or, if you prefer, fill out and submit the form on my Contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.