A Guide to Publishing Your First AppExchange App

By Jakub Stefaniak

I still recall the days, years ago, when I first delved into creating my very own AppExchange app. My mind buzzed with ideas, but the path to becoming an ISV partner wasn’t straightforward.

There’s a mountain of knowledge you’ve got to climb, and those early days are rife with opportunities for expensive blunders. If you have spent years in the Salesforce ecosystem and have identified pain points that you believe you can solve, AppExchange can be the ideal platform to monetize your idea.

The AppExchange provides a marketplace for developers to sell their applications to Salesforce users, both existing and new ones. However, before embarking on your journey to craft that debut app, do you know what exactly you should be acquainted with to thrive as a successful ISV partner?

Setting the Stage

By becoming an AppExchange partner, you gain access to a vast and growing marketplace with opportunities for growth and innovation. The ongoing success of the Salesforce economy demonstrates that there is always room for new and remarkable offerings.

It is crucial to start by defining the specific problems or tasks your application aims to solve for Salesforce users. This involves identifying pain points, understanding user needs, and determining how your app can provide a solution. By clearly defining your app’s ‘jobs to be done’, you can ensure that your app meets the needs of your target audience and provides value.

You should consider whether you want to sell to new Salesforce users or existing ones. Selling to new users through OEM allows you to tap into a broader market and potentially reach a larger customer base. On the other hand, selling to existing Salesforce customers through ISVforce provides the advantage of targeting users who are already familiar with the platform and may be more likely to adopt new applications.

READ MORE: What Is Salesforce OEM – How Do I Get Started With My App Idea?

You already have an idea of who your customers are and what problems you are going to solve for them? Before you write any line of code, let’s think how exactly you want to monetize it.

Pricing strategy is an integral part of the design process because it directly affects the development decisions and positioning of the app in the market. The pricing of an app is not just a label but a strategic aspect that impacts various aspects of the app’s design and development. By considering pricing from the concept stage, you can make informed decisions about the features, functionality, and target audience of the app.

Additionally, pricing strategy plays a crucial role in attracting customers and generating revenue. It is important to establish a regular schedule for reviewing and revising the pricing plan to ensure that it remains relevant, competitive, and aligned with the business objectives. In summary, pricing strategy is essential in designing customer-centric applications as it influences the overall success and profitability of the app.

Building Blocks

Before diving into code or tinkering with metadata, let’s ensure you’re well-versed with the tools at your disposal and the necessary criteria your app needs to meet.

ISVs boast an array of distinct technologies and methodologies, encompassing managed packages, Dynamic Apex, Flow templates, custom property editors, and so much more. It’s crucial to acquaint yourself with these nuances.

If you aim to have your app interface with external platforms, remember there are specific security standards for ISVs to adhere to. Not to mention, prior to your app’s debut, it must clear a security review. Gaining insights into this procedure from the get-go can steer you clear of routine blunders.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. Yogi Berra

Your goal at this stage? To craft an app that not only sails through the security review but also capitalizes on the full potential of the available tools.

Delivering Value

I hate to break it to you, but just because your app passed the security review doesn’t mean you’re about to strike gold. Yes, it’s a significant milestone, but there’s more to the journey.

Firstly, you’ll need to list it on the AppExchange. This involves crafting the right listing, creating a compelling demo, and possibly setting up a trial solution using tools like Trialforce or Test Drive.

Consider the user experience when installing your application. To streamline this process, think of your customer’s system administrator as a key user persona. Aim to automate as much of the installation process as possible and provide clear documentation for any manual steps involved.

Moreover, it’s time to strategize on release management: How will you roll out new versions of your app to your users? And once they begin paying, remember that a portion of your revenue will go to Salesforce. This means you’ll need to choose between two transaction tools – the Channel Order App (COA) or Checkout.

Scaling for Success

Scaling your product is a lot like planning an expedition up Everest, minus the frostbite and, you know, the physical exertion.

The climb starts with a burst of adrenaline. You’re excited, fueled by dreams of summit selfies with your app. However, as any mountaineer (or founder) knows, the higher you climb, the trickier the terrain. Oxygen gets sparse, yaks start to look judgmental, and suddenly, you’re wondering why you didn’t opt for beach volleyball instead.

You don’t need to master all of this right from the start. However, if you’re aiming for significant success, getting acquainted with App Analytics is vital. App Analytics can give you insights into how users engage with your apps and features on the AppExchange platform and how potential customers interact with your AppExchange listing. This data helps you spot potential issues before users drop off, make informed choices about new features, and enhance the overall user experience.

Another crucial consideration is “technical debt”. This term is a metaphor used by software developers and IT experts to describe situations where necessary tasks are postponed during software development. This often results in quick fixes that might hinder future developments or compromise software stability.

It’s plausible that you accumulated some tech debt during your app’s early stages, which is perfectly okay. But as you look to expand your solution, it’s essential to understand how to manage this debt effectively. Remember the security review you passed? It wasn’t a one-off – Salesforce will periodically request re-submissions, so it’s wise to stay prepared.

If all this seems overwhelming, don’t fret! Plenty of individuals and entities are ready to assist. Make it a point to familiarize yourself with Salesforce personnel roles and external experts, such as PDO (Product Development Outsourcers) partners, who can guide you on your journey.

Where to Start?

Congratulations! You now have a roadmap of what you need to learn to turn your ideas into scalable and profitable Salesforce applications. So where can you gain this knowledge?

You could dive deep into Salesforce documentation and sign up for ISV-focused webinars. Alternatively, you can simplify your journey by picking up my new book, “Salesforce AppExchange Success Blueprint”. Within its pages, I delve into all these topics, ensuring you have a comprehensive guide to achieving success on the platform.

Great news! We’ve got an exclusive offer just for Salesforce Ben readers. You can get your hands on “Salesforce AppExchange Success Blueprint” with a 20% Amazon discount code. Simply use code 20JAKUB at checkout to access the book at a reduced price.

Note: The code is valid until 8 December 2023 and can only be redeemed on


The Author

Jakub Stefaniak

"Jakub is the best Salesforce Expert I know" - Jakub's Mom ☁️ CTA ☁️ Director of Engineering ☁️ Dreamforce & TrailblazerDX Speaker

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