The Salesforce AppExchange: An Embryo, an Ecosystem and a Market

The Salesforce AppExchange celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and has passed two million in software downloads. Critically for us it has been at the heart of the evolution of our company.

The genesis of SalesMethods was the frustration my co-founders and I had felt in delivering true value to our sales teams. Having implemented ERP and CRM systems we knew that they offered huge benefits in terms of information, reporting and general management but we had always felt we could improve the sales person’s experience. Our market research suggested much the same so we set about deciding a strategy to deliver our ‘Platform for High Performance Sales’.

We knew focus was a key factor in creating a successful start-up, so decided to develop our software on one platform. Knowing the CRM market Salesforce.com was the obvious choice. The AppExchange provides a vehicle to reach a market and crucially we were able to develop our product natively on the Salesforce platform. This had huge benefits in terms of security, performance and the sharing of data between Salesforce databases and those used to run our applications. Frankly, at that time there was no competition as to who we should partner with.

We had to gain accreditation to go on the AppExchange, a benefit in itself in that it underlined our own credibility, and pay a small fee before becoming an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Partner, able to promote our apps.

It is not too strong to say that Salesforce was our start-up embryo. The AppExchange itself offered a low initial cost to market and crucially, together with the ISV program, the structure to market, sell and service our customers.

The AppExchange has evolved an eco-system of similarly positioned software companies adding real horsepower in terms of additional functionality and the true business value that Salesforce can offer. This is a real win/win. This ecosystem adds innovation and increasing business value to Salesforce and the community pushes each other to continually improve.

What about customers?

It is our experience that most of our business leads come from the AppExchange and that prospective customers waste less time in their initial ‘discovery’ stage of their buying process. Any search results they receive are relevant in terms of the app functionality, have the assurance of having been vetted through Salesforce’s ISV program and come with customer reviews and comments so that they can begin the supplier evaluation.

The final word (ish) is a ‘thank you’ from us at SalesMethods to Salesforce. We had to have the ideas, commitment and drive to now have hundreds of customers worldwide, but they have provided the platform and support essential to make it happen.

Michael Conner

Michael Conner

Michael has operated at executive board level in publicly quoted companies and has led operational activities across worldwide organisations. Michael has extensive experience of change management and implementing business transformation programmes (turnarounds and repositioning) throughout disbursed businesses. He is an expert in sales (direct and channels), marketing (including product management), general management, making acquisitions and worldwide markets. He is CEO at SalesMethods.