Close this search box.

3 SELA Pain Points for Salesforce Customers

salesforce logo on side of building

Are you currently a SELA customer and have concerns about the value you are receiving from your deal? Perhaps you even have concerns about what Salesforce will impose when it is time to renew. Or maybe, Salesforce is pitching your organization the benefits of a SELA, and they are pushing hard to have you consider the change from a standard agreement. Are you unsure if a SELA is right for your Enterprise?

If you have these concerns, you are thinking about things the right way, and you aren’t alone.

In fact, most customers that we work with have significant concerns about moving to and maintaining their SELA agreements. The customers that don’t have concerns almost always wind-up over-purchasing, and generally fail to secure commitments from Salesforce, such as price protections, transparency and flexibility, that are critical when you think about things longer-term.

There are many painful SELA scenarios that we have seen and helped customers work through, and it is certainly not a coincidence that these same themes continuously show themselves. These issues are not mutually exclusive – they can compound each other. Here I will cover the most common SELA pain points that customers face and ways to mitigate them at the start of your agreement.

SELA Pain Points Customers Need to Look Out For

1. Usage Costs are Not Considered

One area that can have significant impacts on the overall cost profile of your Salesforce solution is the usage or consumption costs associated with many of Salesforce’s capabilities. Naturally, if you are spinning up a new product or capability, it is likely that overall usage will be low at the start because the solution is not fully deployed or being fully utilized. Over time, the use of this product will grow, and Salesforce will be running the meter and then following up with a bill. Plus, Salesforce isn’t necessarily going to be upfront with you regarding how these costs are likely to spin-up.

For example, are you a Marketing Cloud customer, and have you considered the impact of consuming more Super Messages? As you utilize more Marketing Cloud capabilities, these types of consumption-based fees can spiral out of control, especially if you are using significantly more than what was originally estimated. It is also likely your pricing structure does not reflect that potential growth, further enabling your costs to skyrocket as your utilization grows.

Perhaps you subscribe to Community Cloud or Lightning External Apps and haven’t considered the impact of additional logins that will be necessary as usage grows. The list of examples goes on, but the issue remains the same – Salesforce will look to capitalize on use. Not to mention, once you are using, it becomes that much more difficult to move away.

2. Excitement Over New Capabilities/Solutions that are Not Yet Market Ready

As part of their quest to drive revenue and profit margin increases, Salesforce also places a lot of emphasis on gaining market share in competitive spaces and getting product adoption for newer solutions that they are pushing on the market. Perhaps you have been told that your organization needs to adopt Data Cloud, Einstein GPT, or an Industry focused solution such as Financial Services Cloud. This is all part of Salesforce’s push to gain product adoption and expand customers’ portfolios.

While the various offerings are in different places and could provide different levels of value depending on your organization’s needs, understanding the details is critical, especially if the solution is brand new and has a high likelihood of changing and evolving. The usage issue will likely rear its ugly head as part of this concept too. Are you confident that there are not hidden costs that will be incurred as you actually begin to use the solution?

Additionally, what happens if the solution is not as market ready as Salesforce pitched to you, does not function as advertised, and does not deliver its expected value? I can promise they won’t give you a refund and will also make it painful if you try to remove the solution downstream.

3. Over Commitment

Another common issue is over-committing when signing your SELA deal. As mentioned previously, one of the main benefits of a SELA is that you will gain access to more functionality and use, all under a simplified fee structure, often times all products rolled into one line-item price/fee. Salesforce typically targets growing enterprises for introducing SELA deals and will aim to have an organization commit to the outer bounds of potential growth, perhaps with a pricing concession to motivate this.

Now imagine you need to re-calibrate your baseline after years have gone by, and you haven’t fully deployed everything that you have been paying for. Salesforce will make it incredibly painful to rip out anything and will find ways to make up for any significant reductions.

The likely bundled SELA structure and lack of transparency behind it makes this approach all that much easier for Salesforce to get what they want (i.e., more fees and perhaps even a new product adoption that they want, which they obtained by offsetting the painful fee increases they proposed if you don’t add anything).

The Bottom Line When Navigating SELA Pain Points

Salesforce cares more about revenue than they do about you – no matter how “partnership” driven they say they are.

Salesforce is quick to tout a SELA as a strategic mechanism that will allow your organization to realize significant benefits over a traditional agreement. I’m sure the rosy picture they are trying to paint is hard to ignore. Benefits such as access to more products and functionality, reduced management overhead, and more flexibility between the individual business units under the larger enterprise can certainly be beneficial.

At the same time, however, it is likely that there are significant SELA pain points in whatever they have tried to present. Not to mention, it is possible to gain some of these same commitments under a standard agreement. It is not as simple as just asking, but with the right stagecraft and approach, there are very strategic deals to be had, not only under a SELA, but under a standard agreement with Salesforce as well.

At UpperEdge, we help clients understand their Salesforce proposals and navigate whether a SELA construct is the right fit while maintaining a strategic relationship with Salesforce. For more on how we can help, explore our Salesforce Advisory Services.

Related Blogs