What is a Salesforce PDO? The Best Way to Start an AppExchange Business

By Emeric Gabor

Anybody who has ever heard of Salesforce has also heard of the AppExchange. It’s Salesforce’s online store that houses thousands of ready-to-install solutions and is designed to empower a variety of businesses and industries.

Despite its popularity, there are some mysteries around the process of getting an app listed on the AppExchange. How do you start? What does the process even look like?

This is where your Product Development Outsourcers (PDO) come in. There is not a lot of awareness around this type of Salesforce partner so in this article we will give you an introduction.

What is a PDO?

A PDO is essentially a type of consulting partner and vendor who possess in-depth knowledge in building commercial applications for the AppExchange. They help design the product and can also work in isolated key areas of your Application. Salesforce PDOs exist to handle all tech-related issues such as third-party integrations, technical configuration, implementation, and customized development. They can even help you with Salesforce’s Security Review process (more on that later).

Much like Salesforce Consultancies there are tiers when it comes to PDOs.

The first two tiers are composed of Certified Specialists and Certified Navigators. The third tier is the Specialist Navigator and the fourth is the Master Navigator.

The difference between the types of tiers comes down to domain expertise and the relationship between the PDO and Salesforce.

So now that you have a general idea of what a PDO is, the next question you are probably asking yourself is “What’s in it for me? Why should I work with a PDO?”

You’re asking the right questions and we can give you 3 compelling reasons.

1. PDOs are experts you can count on every step of the way

One of the best reasons to work with a PDO is that they are a reliable resource to work with every step of the way. They are experts on the entire technical scope of Salesforce projects and definitely more than capable of handling any part of the development cycle.

Those who have worked with PDOs suggest bringing them into your project during the early stages so they can assist in addressing issues and concerns before they turn into bigger problems later on.

While PDOs are savvy on Salesforce, it does not automatically mean each one of them has extensive experience in your business processes. It is important to choose a PDO that has a significant amount of experience within your domain, products, or services. Once you find the right PDO for your business, rest assured they will have the ability to support you and your product throughout the life cycle.

2. PDOs know the Security Review Process like the back of their hand

The Salesforce Security Review process is a challenging but necessary part of getting your product on the AppExchange. The process has a tendency to be so complex it can leave first-timers confused. It may be difficult to learn the process without supervision as you will have a hard time figuring out what you know and what you don’t know. For this reason, it’s best to leave this tedious part to the PDO you work with.

The benefit of having a PDO on your team is that they will not only think of the security in the beginning or towards the end of the development process. They will be thinking about security every step of the way. They are already taking precautionary measures as they build.

3. PDOs have a successful pre-sales process

Since PDOs work closely with numerous Salesforce ISV teams, they can easily get a sense of what will be a commercially viable endeavour and what could easily tank. They will give you the insider scoop on product strategies, helping you make sound business decisions, which in turn could help your application stand out from the rest.


In conclusion, PDOs should be considered as a viable go-to-market strategy for AppExchange Applications. This is for both entrepreneurs and for large companies that use the marketplace to support integrations.

There is a lot to consider and research about PDOs and their value to any Salesforce team looking to release Applications on the AppExchange. In an episode of SFDC Consultant Podcast, Gaurav Kheterpal shares with us his knowledge on PDOs and what they can bring to the table. Be sure to check it out to learn more about PDOs.

If you love Salesforce, then the SFDC Consultant Podcast is for you. We have weekly episodes with Salesforce Consultants, Architects, Administrators, MVPs, where we talk all about best practices, learning, running consultancy businesses and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast and Spotify.

The Author

Emeric Gabor

Salesforce Trainer, Architect, Product Manager, Blogger and Podcaster

Leave a Reply