19 Aug 4 reasons why workplace culture is more than a buzzword — #4: Specialization
by Joe Carr
Specialize, specialize, specialize. Being a Brit, it horrifies me that I have to write “specialise” with a Z. But I’m playing to the audience and all that.
We have discussed in this blog series a number of key areas when looking at company culture, including human connection, flexibility, and trust. The very last piece of the jigsaw is the ability to be a specialist in one area, whether that is on a company-level (what does your company do?) or on an individual basis (what does that one team member contribute?). Let’s take a look at both sides.
Specialization as a company
Simplus is a Salesforce Platinum Partner—one of a myriad of Salesforce partners across the globe. So to stand out from the crowd, we are strong believers that you should have a locked-in focus on the clouds you are going to specialize in and that they all ‘play nicely’ with each other. With so much choice out there, the clients we work with want the masters in one area, not generalists who do a bit of everything. In the Salesforce realm, I’m speaking in terms of clouds, but it goes even broader. Some companies choose to have consulting arms that span multiple software disciplines.
While it is admirable that some firms hedge their bets and go for a broader spectrum, I know our leadership team right up to the CEO would agree that had we not been laser-focused on Quote-to-Cash, we wouldn’t have grown as quickly as we have. In the first half of the financial year, we have made 85 hires with the majority of those being growth hires. There’s no way we’d have been able to do that had the demand for our specialist services not been so high.
There is a fear out there that you narrow yourself too much by being super specific, but we find it has the opposite effect. It’s all about balance. Sure, if we said, “We are Simplus, and we specialize in Salesforce CPQ implementations for traveling circuses,” then I’m sure we would be too narrow. The key is to find a horse big enough to back, but special enough to become a niche player in that area.
Some think that if a services provider can offer a broad range of technologies, they’ll bring in more business because of a larger net. This works for enormous, established partners, but coming in as a smaller player, it makes it almost impossible. Take a look at the below scenario, and ask yourself who the client is most likely to go with?
Universal Containers needs a large and very complex Salesforce CPQ implementation. They don’t know where to start, and they need trusted advisors to guide them through it. These are their two service options
- We are a Salesforce partner. We do Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Health Cloud, CPQ, and we have ISV partner systems we can use. We do a bit of everything, really. You name it, we can do it.
- We are a specialist QTC partner and have done a large number of the biggest Salesforce CPQ implementations since its inception. We utilize other clouds as and when required to make this seamless from beginning to end.
I know who I would go with.
When you specialize in one area as a company, it is also enormously beneficial for your team. You’ll develop a mutual knowledge base over several core products and areas. For us, it’s CPQ, Billing, CLM, Mulesoft—it all fits into our one sharp focus on Quote-to-Cash. Everyone is united in a common aim.
Specialization within the individual
You could pretty much take the above section, change some words from “company” to “person,” and it plays out almost exactly the same. As someone who speaks to 10–15 potential candidates every single day, I can’t even begin to stress how important it is to specialize in one area.
We love that our team is full of multi-cloud specialists, but the demand for QTC specialists really keeps us on our toes. As mentioned earlier in this series, it is always about individuals first—then tech. You have to fit in with our company culture, and we will regularly reject superstars in our field if they are not going to play well with our existing team. But, on the flip side to this, we are the fastest-growing partner in the ecosystem, so we need to get people staffed pretty quickly as we continue to expand. This becomes really hard to do when we have to get people trained and up to speed first (which is why we run our Bootcamp programs, too). So if you speak to Team Talent here at Simplus, are a culture fit, have experience in both consulting and one of our specialist areas, then we can pretty much guarantee you’re going to end up with an offer from us.
People often ask me if it is not too risky to pick one area to really back when they’ve been doing a bit of everything. And my answer is always the same: absolutely not if it’s a niche where the demand is high and growing.
If you’re in the Salesforce world right now, and you are struggling with where your career might be going, pick a cloud and go after it with everything you’ve got. The Salesforce world is so big that you could pick any one area and be successful in it and seriously grow your career in the process.
To round this off, there is no way on earth I would be in this job right now had I not specialized in a market. I chose CPQ because no one else was doing it, and it’s paid dividends. Don’t be afraid: specialize, specialize, specialiSSSSSSSe.
Joe is the Simplus Recruiting Director, covering global QTC recruitment for Simplus. He is responsible for all international hiring outside of North America. He is a champion of #LifeMadeSimplus.