What comes to mind when you hear the term “native Salesforce app”? Composed entirely of Salesforce’s core building blocks (Apex, Lightning Web Components, custom objects, etc.), native apps call to my mind a modified version of the Salesforce UI designed to aid various internal business processes, with older tools and features being phased out and maintained for backwards compatibility.
However, despite being built and run entirely on the Lightning Platform, a case can be made that native apps don’t exclusively enhance internal workflows. They often support customer/partner interactions ‘outside’ Salesforce, performing tasks like collecting survey data, processing payments, or, as we focus in this article, facilitating agreements.
Let’s dive into how native apps can provide a secure and efficient platform for capturing eSignatures from your customers and/or partners – and the unique value “native” can bring to the table.
How Does Salesforce-Native eSignature Work?
Any eSignature app will provide one interface for business users to set up, send, and track their documents, and another for recipients to sign them.
Native solutions like S-Sign provide this same functionality, except that both the backend and frontend are built and hosted entirely on Salesforce.
Internal users set up and send their documents from Salesforce records, within the traditional Salesforce UI.
External users then access/sign the documents via an interface that is hosted on Salesforce but presents a completely custom look and feel, much like an Experience Cloud site.
The entire signature lifecycle is exclusively processed and hosted by the org the app is installed in. No external servers are involved, and any company data that was merged into the document – or customer info captured during signing – stays in Salesforce.
Do Salesforce-Native eSignature Apps Have Functionality Limits?
You may wonder whether a native solution’s dependency on the Lightning Platform could impose certain functional constraints that off-platform ones aren’t bound by.
Limits do exist, but only those that apply to any native Salesforce application: namely, the app must adhere to Salesforce governor limits, and can’t be used with different CRMs.
In terms of functionality, native eSignature apps stack up directly alongside their off-platform counterparts. While we can’t speak for every application out there, S-Docs’s proprietary eSignature solution, S-Sign, is a good example of the full capacity of native eSignature apps.
From the backend, internal users click a button from a Salesforce record to access the familiar eSignature tools:
- Upload/generate new documents.
- Add recipients.
- Add drag-and-drop tags.
- Customize the signature request email (or jump into in-person signing).
All of the usual customization options can apply as well, such as setting up automatic reminders, or linking eSignature fields to Salesforce fields for data writeback.
Customers opening documents for signature are technically accessing Salesforce, but their experience is simply a clean interface that guides them through contract execution.
All in all, native solutions can offer robust eSignature functionality, and can even leverage your org to deliver a little more than usual. For example, you can apply your validation rules to your documents as they’re being signed, or automate how/when docs get sent out via flows.
Now, let’s hone in a bit closer on the extra value native apps bring to the table.
Benefits of Salesforce-Native eSignature Solutions
So, if 100% Salesforce-native eSignature apps offer analogous functionality to off-platform versions, why should it matter which type your organization uses?
- Tech Consolidation: If Salesforce is a major hub of productivity for your organization, consolidating your tech stack with apps that share its architecture makes for easier scalability, smoother integration into existing processes, reduced maintenance time, lower total platform costs, and overall reduced complexity.
- Data Security: 100% native apps are really extensions of your existing org rather than integrations. Neither your data nor your customers’ data is ever exposed to third parties outside Salesforce; it all stays inside, lessening data in transit and reducing potential points of weakness. This is especially relevant for contracts sent for eSignature, which often contain sensitive information.
- Time to Value: The path to positive ROI can be shorter for native applications for a few reasons:
- Security evaluations are quick because the app isn’t processing or hosting data external to Salesforce; there’s no additional platform to vet.
- Installation is easier because native apps are structured using existing Salesforce tools that admins know, and there’s no need to configure third-party connectors.
- User adoption is faster since native applications typically blend into the regular flow of work in Salesforce.
- Performance: For the same reason native apps provide exceptional data security, they also typically work faster; less server latency is incurred since data isn’t traveling between different platforms. Additionally, being hosted on the same platform means that their uptime matches Salesforce’s.
Zoomed out, native eSignature solutions for Salesforce deliver the secure, efficient agreement workflows and great customer experiences that eSignature software is known for – all for a substantially reduced total cost of ownership.
Drawbacks of Salesforce-Native eSignature Solutions
While there’s a lot of value to be gleaned from native apps, it’s important to consider scenarios where they aren’t the best fit.
Ultimately, it usually comes down to the tech stack. If your organization stores customer data in multiple non-Salesforce systems, native eSignature apps won’t be as helpful. While they can pull dynamic data into contracts from anywhere in Salesforce, options are limited for external databases.
The ability to request eSignatures should live where your users are naturally maintaining other parts of the deal lifecycle, so workflows remain as efficient as possible. If that’s not primarily in Salesforce, it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere.
How to Identify a Truly Native eSignature App
Figuring out if an eSignature app is native to Salesforce looks like a simple process on the surface. After all, the AppExchange provides a Native App tag that can be used to filter listings in your search.
However, it’s important to note that this self-reported tag is not always accurate. Some solutions may add the tag and market themselves as native using language such as “native integration” or “without ever leaving Salesforce”.
But “native integrations” or app UIs that exist entirely in Salesforce don’t necessarily indicate that a solution is built 100% on the Salesforce platform.
Luckily, one of the biggest indicators appears when you initiate the app download process. If you’re asked to authorize third-party site access, then the app is not native.
Some other major indicators of non-native apps include whether they can be run outside Salesforce (if yes, it’s not native), or if they have a proprietary API (if so, it’s probably not native).
Be sure to look for these telltale indicators as you search for the right eSignature application for your organization.
It’s true that eSignature software has been smoothing out agreement lifecycles for decades, which means that there’s no shortage of options to choose from today. For organizations using Salesforce, adopting a solution built off your CRM’s existing architecture can provide greater efficiency, security, and overall reduced complexity in the long term.
To dive a little deeper and see S-Sign – a 100% native eSignature solution – in action, contact S-Docs for more information.