Want to know how to pick the perfect level of Salesforce expertise for your business? Let's dive head-first into the vast Salesforce partner tiering system to see, in the simplest of terms, how each level is reached, and what partners in those tiers might offer you.
Systems Integrators and Independent Software Vendors
First of all, let's go through the two types of partners, Systems Integrators (SIs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs).
An SI is also called a consulting partner. Simply put, SI's are the service experts. These guys conduct everything from end-user training, to configurations, development, coding and integrations with existing solutions. They work with you to learn your business processes and help configure your Salesforce to your needs. Then, they'll either leave you to it, or they'll provide you with long-term support.
ISVs on the other hand, are product companies. These kinds of partners take the Salesforce platform and sprinkle a little extra of their own services on top. They focus on creating packaged applications that can be installed straight onto your org. This means you get functionality and updates more specific to your requirements.
To pick a suitable partner type for you, your account manager can help, or you can review a list of SIs and ISVs on the Salesforce AppExchange.
The partner tiering system
So, let's explore the tiering system from the bottom-up. Registered is where most smaller, more niche salesforce consultancies start. To be at this level, they have to have the Sales and Service Cloud consultant certifications and pay a registration fee.
These are the guys who are typically most likely to work on the kickstarts of the world, implementing Salesforce in an agile way for smaller businesses who need a more basic configuration. Though it's not unheard of for Registered consultancies to work within bigger markets before 'graduating' to Silver. For example, some registered partners work with large/enterprise companies even though their teams are generally smaller. And this, in fact, has multiple benefits for larger companies, which you can learn about here.
This is where oe:gen sit (for now!)
If a Registered partner tiers up, they first head on up to the Silver tier. To do this, they've got to reach the target number of 'points'. These points are accrued using a complex algorithm based on elements such as customer satisfaction scores, certifications, projects and much more. All this makes up Salesforce's unique scoring system called the partner value score (PVS). The higher a partner scores, the higher the tier. Simples.
Typically, a Silver Salesforce partner will deal mostly with small-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and emerging small businesses (EMBs), but sometimes they also help other, larger markets.
Gold Salesforce partners are typically mid–sized consultancies which have achieved the required level of partner points through growth, project delivery, and certifications. These create more ACV for Salesforce. Consultancies at this level can still be pretty niche and agile in their approach, which makes them attractive for SMBs, CBU and mid-market customers.
Can be multi-locational, usually still pretty agile, but generally delivering to larger mid-market to enterprise level. You can bet they've got their fingers in lots of pies. Around this tier, there's a fair bit of consolidation in the market from the global strategic partners. Usually, this is because Platinum (and some Gold/Silver) partners have lots of highly skilled staff and good operational structure, which has allowed them to scale. So these guys often have a good reputation in the market among the 'big boys' who want to fill any gaps in skills to help things run smoothly in the rapidly expanding Salesforce market.
Global strategic partner
These are the 'big boys'. The guys who generally won't look at any implementations that are less than seven figures of service for massive enterprise customers. To get to this point, partners have got to exceed their Platinum level. Then, they'll be able to work on more complex, larger business transforming Salesforce projects with hundreds of Salesforce licenses. Alternatively, if the company promises to invest heavily in Salesforce consultancy, Salesforce can 'gift' GSP to large companies, even if they don't have the required skill. For example, Accenture and Capgemini.
Next level, masters and specialisations
So, how do you decide what partner would be best for your Salesforce project? Well, Salesforce have made an internal system which lets them query the partner database on lots of different search tags. This helps them find the most suitable partner for their potential customers. All this is based on the success of previous project implementations. A lot of partners will have certain 'specialisations' in different areas of Salesforce. Maybe it's building Communities, maybe it's Sales Cloud. Whatever it is, Salesforce will be able to buddy you up with the most suitable partner for your specific project by viewing the specialisations or industry verticals they've been tagged in.
Partners who meet the requirements for multiple specialisations, however, will eventually reach the requirements for a 'Master'. These guys will always be displayed above other partners as a reward for their consistently great services.
What's so great about this tiering system?
Simply put, it allows you to confidently find the right team of people for the job. Better partner alignment means a better project delivery, which ultimately leads to a higher level of satisfaction for you. And this, in turn, aids the Salesforce ecosystem. Everyone's a winner!