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A go-to-market strategy to make your Salesforce Application stand out

By: Rob Jordan

It’s not enough to build a great Salesforce application. You need to promote it as well. When you consider that there are 3,000+ applications on the Salesforce App Exchange (and over 3.5 million downloads) it should be no secret that the app exchange is enormous. Because of its size, you better have a clear product development and marketing plan; otherwise, your app may never see the light of day.

Pick an application listing: published or unpublished

Unpublished apps are ideal if you plan to do all the promoting. People can find you only if you provide the link. Sometimes called the “Invisible App Exchange” this is usually the route to take if you want to provide the link to select clients rather than to actually sell the app on an open market. This level of exclusivity is a great way to go during the beta phase.

Published apps list you on the general search and allow your app to get noticed easier. Bear in mind, you’re still competing with thousands of other apps, many of which have full-fledged sales and marketing teams behind them.

Both listings though should have an accurate and well-designed presence, much like you would expect from a Facebook Business page or company website. Make sure you have a top-notch video, description, and marketing images to help your app stand out from the crowd.

However, publishing your app with a recognizable listing on the App Exchange will only get you half the way there. There are three key touch points for Salesforce Application promotion that will help you get the rest of the way: conferences, partner programs, and client and case management.

Build relationships at conferences

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. One of the better ways to create visibility with a lower barrier to entry is to attend, and better yet, promote your solution at conferences and local events. Depending on what your target market is, there are technology conferences around the country geared towards nonprofits, corporations, and developers, to name a few.

The mother of all conferences, Dreamforce, can gain you invaluable exposure to industry experts. Having a presence at Dreamforce will announce to the world that you’re for real. This could mean having a booth where you can meet face-to-face with potential customers or partners. This could also mean sponsoring a party where you show potential clients your culture and build relationships with partners.

Whether you’re throwing a party at Dreamforce or attending your local developer group meeting, the opportunity to build rapport with players in the Salesforce space, and introduce them to your brand and culture in a fun and exciting environment, can be irreplaceable. Remember, deals and relationships are made over cocktails just as frequently as at a boardroom table.      

Gain advocates with a Partner Program

Think of Salesforce solution implementation (SI) partners as a de facto sales team. They have the on-the-ground experience and relationships with a client base to advocate on behalf of your solution. Our advice boils down to a simple prerogative: be generous to your SI partners.

Here are some ways you can build a relationship with the SI partners:

  • Co-write blogs with them to educate their clients about your solution.

  • Help close deals by demoing your solution to their prospective clients at key junctures in the sales cycle.

  • Work together to develop case studies to showcase successful outcomes of your solution.

  • Foster incentive by offering referral fees to your partners.     

The end goal of engaging SI partners is to generate new business leads and close deals together. To reach that end goal takes time. Patience will be rewarded here as SI partners tend to repeatedly recommend solutions that satisfy their customers and offer mutually beneficial support.

Get in front of your consumers

Direct to customer sales can be challenging in our increasingly digital world. So much of our current B2C marketing strategies involve websites, social media, and email. These three digital communication mediums are also means by which many people avoid direct communication. This is why case management and excellent storytelling are more essential than ever for app solutions.

By building a case management system, you can monitor your customer’s success. And your customer’s success is intricately tied to your own. No matter how many test scenarios you run, your solution will have bugs. And if you don’t have a case management system in place to handle issues as they arise, you will lose customers as fast as you can make new ones.

From there, you can begin to build out excellent case studies, videos, and testimonials to gain a solid word of mouth and online presence. Using these tools will help make sure you make a good first impression, as you may not get another chance. And when events like Dreamforce come back around, you can offer stellar examples of happy customers and the benefits of your solution.

Launching a Salesforce application is so much more than just publishing your app. It should involve an extensive roll-out campaign using a combination of all of the above and more. Make sure you know what to expect along the way.

Have an idea for the Salesforce App Exchange and need help building it? Ready to discuss more the strategy behind building your app? We specialize in building Salesforce apps and would love to speak with you.



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