an abstract blog hero for getting started and listed on the salesforce appexchange

Getting Started on the Salesforce AppExchange: A listing guide for ISVs

So you want to get listed and sell your app on the Salesforce AppExchange… 

There are a few distinct tactical steps that need to be followed before you can publish your listing. In this guide, we will walk you through the high-level requirements to join the AppExchange as an ISV.

 

What is the Salesforce AppExchange?

We can start with the basics on what is the AppExchange. The Salesforce AppExchange is a cloud-based marketplace where Salesforce Partners can sell B2B software solutions and services, including apps and consulting services.

We can start with the basics on what is the AppExchange. The Salesforce AppExchange is a cloud-based marketplace where Salesforce Partners can sell B2B software solutions and services, including apps and consulting services.

The Salesforce AppExchange was one of the first true B2B marketplaces. With thousands of applications on the AppExchange, entire businesses have sprung up strictly serving the Salesforce audience with add-on applications that enhance the features available out-of-the-box on the various Salesforce Clouds. In Marc Benioff’s book, Trailblazer, he tells how Steve Jobs gave him the idea for the first enterprise app store, and how Benioff eventually paid Jobs back with the gift of the AppStore.com domain. Today, the AppExchange is home to more than 7,000 ready-to-install applications, solutions and consulting services. It has seen more than 11 million installs and more than 90% of Salesforce users have at least one application installed. 

 

The popularity of Salesforce and the ease of its marketplace are why ISVs are drawn to the AppExchange. A listing on the AppExchange allows an ISV to market their solution to the entire Salesforce audience of users, partners and internal sellers.

There are four key steps to joining the AppExchange. We will walk through each in detail below.

 

1. Join the Salesforce Partner Community & obtain your Partner Business Org.

You can explore the partner community via this link.  Know that you’re ready to sign up? This link here will take you to signing up as an ISV Partner which is step one in joining the AppExchange.

Once you’ve signed up, you will gain access to a PBO or Partner Business Org. This is the org in which you can build your application with. It comes with 2 free Sales cloud licenses and should be good for 12 months. Note that anything that you build in your PBO can be transferred into a production org.  If you’ve already started your application build in a developer org that’s ok – eventually you will need the PBO org. 

 

2. Submit for AppExchange security review 

One of the perks of marketing your solution on the AppExchange is the built in security that prospects feel knowing you have been through Salesforce’s rigorous security vetting process

Partner Security Portal hosts Source Code Scanner (Checkmarx) to identify any vulnerabilities in your solution – run this and get the report before you submit your application for security review. This is a requirement.  You will also need to submit documentation around your architecture. 

You can book time with the security review team via the same security review portal and see office hours. 

Note that as of late 2023, there is now a one-time charge for your security review of $1K for any paid application. Free apps are not yet charged. 

 

3. Get Salesforce business plan approval 

Now that you know what you want to sell and how you want to build it, it’s time to make the case for the why of your build and what it means to Salesforce customers. 

The Salesforce Business Plan is an 8-9 page questionnaire that provides details on your company and your application. This is reviewed by an internal team of Salesforcers, including legal. 

Most likely you already know your company info and application value points. Important to note that in this questionnaire is where you are going to outline your proposed pricing model.

There are a number of ways to consider how you price your application. The one that is right for you may depend on… 

  • What Salesforce licenses are present in customers who purchase your app? (or expect)
  • Does your application require an additional license to run on Salesforce? 
  • Does your application require that the customer have your platform solution? 
  • What about more casual users? Admin users? Read-only users? Is that in play with your solution?
  • What PNR (Percentage of Net Revenue) are you paying to Salesforce and how does that play into your revenue model? Note that the standard PNR for a paid application is 15% of the MRR. 

Value-priced Considerations

  • How do your ICPs do this today?
  • What are the hard costs, if any, you will be replacing?
  • What is your ROI story if no software is currently used?

 

Competitive considerations

  • How are your competitors priced? 
  • Do you want to be seen as the value solution or the enterprise solution worth a higher price tag? 

 

AppExchange licensing considerations

You can license your application in a number of ways. Your solution can be a paid offer or a free application.

  • Is your application going to be a paid app or free? 
  • Will you charge by user or by org?
  • It could be a flat fee (by org) or a tiered pricing model (1-10 users is X, 10-100 users is Y)?

There is plenty more to consider but we suggest you review similar apps in your space on the AppExchange to get an idea of how they are pricing and then consider your personal nuances.


4. Build your AppExchange  listing 

With the hoops that you jump through getting ready to list, it can be easy to speed through this process but I assure you that it is worth the time to get this piece right. You can work on your listing build out while you’re waiting on security review, so there is no need to complete each of these steps before working on the next. Your listing can be found in the Salesforce Partner Portal. Here,you will walk through a number of listing areas and provide content. Note the help bubbles and character limits for each section. 

Your listing is your calling card in Salesforce, so make sure your marketing team is involved to create the best looking and most engaging listing possible. We shared tips on a best in class AppExchange listing on a Salesforce webinar that you can view here. The most real estate you’ll find is in the carousel of your listing. Having clear, engaging messages and screenshots here is critically important. 

Things to keep in mind when building your listing:

  • Speak to the Salesforce audience. Your value proposition, use cases and more should all align with the Salesforce ecosystem vs. a copy and paste of your home page website content. 
  • Be clear and concise 
  • Include your differentiators throughout 
  • Use all of the sections provided and don’t forget to upload content in the resources section. 
  • Include a gated demo video 

If your intention in listing is to drive leads from the AppExchange, you’ll want to ensure you’ve set up lead capture in your listing. This means that when someone watches your demo, for example, that you will be notified. This key functionality can be found in your PBO, under organization. 

Once you’ve passed the security review, you are free to push the publish button! There will be a review of the published app on the Salesforce side and then you will be live and ready to engage! You can update your listing at any time by going back into the Partner Portal and editing your listing. Changes are reflected in real time once you’ve republished. Note that your listing does not save automatically as you make changes so be sure to hit save often. 

 

AppExchange SEO

Mastering SEO on the AppExchange can be a bit of a dark art. There is an algorithm that includes SEO keywords, listing engagement like Watch a Demo clicks, Get it Now downloads, resource downloads and more. You can keep an eye on SEO and how people are finding you in the analytics dashboard. 

 

Get listed on the AppExchange and drive success faster with Invisory

Listing your application on the AppExchange is a huge milestone but not a one and done activity. Your listing should be reviewed at least quarterly for new and updated messaging and assets. Once listed the real GTM strategy comes into play. Invisory has created a cheat sheet on how to think about your first 90 days post listing that you can find here

If you’re looking for help on your GTM strategy including your Salesforce sales kit, selling with Salesforce or engaging with SIs feel free to reach out to our team.

FAQ

  • How long before I see leads from the AppExchange?

    ISVs often list and wait for the leads to come in. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. The AppExchange is crowded and it can take up to 18 months to see a fly wheel of leads coming through the Salesforce channel. To accelerate that timeline, you need to engage with Salesforce sellers, build your brand in the Salesforce ecosystem and adjust your messaging to resonate with the Salesforce buyer. 

  • How can I see who visited my AppExchange listing?

    Within the Partner Portal, you will see an analytics tab. Here you can see very high-level details on numbers of individuals who viewed your listing tile, your listing itself, downloaded content and more. You will not however see WHO did these things. 

  • How do I get on the front page of the AppExchange?

    The front page of the AppExchange is reserved for those who participate in  AMP (AppExchange Marketing Program). These are paid for co-marketing activities that are available quarterly to ISVs on the AppExchange. 

  • Who is this character I see all over the AppExchange?

    Appy the bobcat is the mascot for the AppExchange. Each Salesforce product has it’s own mascot and Appy is specific to the AppExchange. 

    You can learn more about the Salesforce characters in this blog

Share our post on social media and tell us what you think!

Resources to help you grow & scale your business

So you want to get listed and sell your app on the Salesforce AppExchange…  There are a few distinct tactical steps that

While on the floor at Salesforce Connections in Chicago, I was reminded of some field marketing best practices on how to show

In the world of cloud marketplaces and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), a strong Customer Success (CS) team is a cornerstone for achieving