8 Tips for Salesforce ISV Success (Without Spending a Dime)

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Salesforce is a powerful platform that becomes even more powerful when you add apps. The appetite for apps is so strong that the AppExchange now has 4K+ available – it has just passed 10M installs to help with lead flow, data visualization, and everything in between. The sheer volume of offerings and the size of the ecosystem can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re new to it. Heck, even if you’ve been in the ecosystem for years, the constant evolution can be overwhelming!

But success isn’t out of reach, and it isn’t only for the apps with big names and big budgets. There are little things that any and every ISV can do to help set themselves up for success. I want to focus on a few of the free options you and your team can explore to help you on your way.

Tip 1: Be Partner-friendly

Partners can act as a force multiplier for your company, and they are heavily leaned on by Salesforce. Look for a Systems Integrator (SI) that aligns with your use cases, industry focus, and company culture. From there you need to enable and nurture your SI relationships the same way you would in Salesforce. 

Share SI-focused collateral and training, tell your SIs about new features, and win stories. Treat your partner like a long-term investment and you can build a relationship based on trust and expertise that results in a mutual success path for both. 

Tip 2: Salesforce News and Announcements 

Salesforce is a dynamic company that is constantly moving. Staying on top of any movement can put you a step ahead of competition and allow you to adjust quickly as things change. 

Here are some key areas to keep an eye on: 

  • Releases: Salesforce releases three times a year and changes to the platform could affect your application, or release competitive or complementary features. Understanding these prior to release could save you a headache when they hit customer orgs, or give you time to adjust messaging if something meaningful to your product is announced. 
  • Marketing opportunities: Salesforce uses their Partner Community to announce new marketing opportunities, AppExchange Marketing Program (AMP) updates, and even free marketing opportunities. I’d also suggest you follow the marketing Chatter groups to be one of the first to know about these often time-sensitive announcements. 
  • Acquisitions: It’s no surprise that Salesforce makes acquisitions on a regular basis. Since they acquire companies that complement their current features, it is possible that acquisitions will affect your solution. Pay attention and understand if the new company’s functionality is competitive or complementary to your solution. This is a good time to re-examine your messaging and positioning to align with the new Salesforce play (if you think it will affect you).

Tip 3: Engage With Your Community

Salesforce and the ecosystem that surrounds it have many ways to engage with like-minded Salesforce fans. It is one of the things that makes the ecosystem so great, and it’s why people stay in the community once they’ve found it. You’re here, so at the very least you’ve already engaged with ecosystem blogs. Below are a few more to consider to learn from other ISVs:

  • Quick answers and connections – Slack channels (this like one) are great for tips, tricks, and questions from like-minded ISVs. 
  • Continued learning and deep dives – Blogs and newsletters (like Salesforce Ben and the How We Got There podcast) will keep you educated and up to date on changes, best practices, and key learnings from experts. 
  • Proactive networking – In-person local events are back (fingers crossed) and localized events are a great way to engage with other ISVs in your region. NorthEast Dreamin’, SouthEast Dreamin’, MidWest Dreamin’, Texas Dreamin’, and Cactusforce are just a few examples. And don’t forget the industry-related groups that gather online and in person to swap best practices.

Tip 4: Dig into Salesforce Sponsored Learnings 

Salesforce offers a number of ways to learn and grow online as an ISV. Here are just a few:

  • Partner Learning Camp is the place to find courses like ‘Selling with the Salesforce Team’, ‘ISV Operations’ and ‘Get to Know Partner Marketing Center’. 
  • Partner Program tools and templates. 
  • Join cloud specific Chatter groups (specific to industry, marketing, and the AppExchange). It’s a great place to engage with community members, have your questions answered, and find the latest industry blueprints to help you better align with Salesforce sellers.

Tip 5: Monitor Your AppExchange Listing

Your AppExchange listing is your Salesforce ecosystem calling card. Customers, prospects, SIs, and Salesforce come here to learn more about your app, leave reviews, watch demos, and read content. It’s important that your listing follows best practices, is set up to track leads, and that you keep your listing fresh with new content and messaging. 

Using the analytics tracker in the partner community, you can also track important stats, such as where visitors are coming from, where people are engaging, how they found you, and more. These insights mean you can adjust and tweak your listing to capture the most attentive audience. What better way to track success and benchmark where you are (and want to be) than by tracking those numbers quarter after quarter?

Tip 6: Enlist Happy Customers to Help Promote

Reviews are just one piece of the AppExchange listing, but they are so incredibly important on a few fronts. This is what future buyers, SIs, and Salesforce employees gravitate towards to get the ‘real story’ behind your solution. 

These reviews also help your ranking as a successful ISV. Reviews factor in to how you’re viewed in ‘search’, and make up part of your partner scorecard. Gaining just a few good reviews a quarter can make a big difference, so make sure you’re actively asking happy customers to share their feedback.

Tip 7: Track Your Partner Scorecard 

It’s important to take a deep dive into your partner scorecard – this can be found under the Manage tab in the partner community, and is your ranking with Salesforce as an ISV. 

Your score is calculated using a number of factors:

  • Attrition rate
  • Customer reviews
  • Trailhead badges (linked to your company)
  • Total revenue
  • ACV growth
  • Equality and sustainability

Make sure you understand where you stand today and how you can affect change to increase your ranking as a successful ISV. Getting to Summit takes a good amount of revenue, but getting to the Crest tier should be achievable for most ISVs who plan with intention.

Tip 8: Enlist Someone With Salesforce Passion

Enlisting someone who is passionate about the ecosystem (and your place in it) to manage your ISV program is the number one piece of advice I can give. Managing your Salesforce relationship could easily become a full-time job, and for many ISVs it’s the job of many people. 

Focusing on the constant movement of the ecosystem, how to talk the Salesforce (and SI) talk, and messaging to this audience… These things will likely take more than just a simple ‘rinse and repeat’ of what your marketing and sales team already does to attract customers; it takes more focus and understanding of what your solution does within the Salesforce ecosystem to really resonate for success. 

Final Thoughts

The fact is, the Salesforce ecosystem continues to grow and evolve which means there are a lot of opportunities for ISVs. With some time and attention you can not only grow your business, but also connect to a fun network of people that will help you along the way. There is no shortage of tools and resources to help along your journey, so dig in and start learning. 

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