James Gasteen, who founded two successful companies, went into detail about how he got to where he is today by creating an all-in-one project, resource management, and professional services automation (PSA) tool that's 100% native to Salesforce.
James told us that there are two significant trends to look out for in the ISV landscape:
Industry alignment: Industry groupings have been around for a while. Sales teams would be structured in an industry alignment. It was a sales structure. It wasn't a product structure. Salesforce then thought about products aligned with an industry roadmap so they have the go-to-market. ISVs are now thinking about how to verticalize. It's not about a generic product but more about the uniqueness of their product. So, it's about ensuring the go-to-market and the product are aligned.
Build multi-platforms early on: This means reducing dependency on Salesforce, as its market is finite. There are only 170K customers. To increase reach, organizations need to go multi-platform. From a technical perspective, it presents some challenges. Some people are building some of their solutions off platforms like AWS. These organizations have to create a parallel Lightning platform on the integration side. Organizations can go multi-platform, but they incur many costs early on. So, it's all about reducing these risks.
Evgenii Pavlov, who founded a successful Salesforce ISV organization, detailed how a few small acts made a big difference within the Salesforce and HR space.
Evgenii had the following learnings to share about Salesforce ISVs:
You have to look at your app from technical and GTM perspectives. On Salesforce, you should be 'friends' with them.
Attend Salesforce events to help you build your app and be aware of all the new features Salesforce has.
From a technical point of view, there can be a lot of challenges when building an app on Salesforce. If you want to build an app, you need to think twice before you release something, as it isn't easy to duplicate some metadata inside your package.
Salesforce has guidelines for ISVs to ensure that the solutions they develop are secure, scalable, and integrate well with the Salesforce platform. So, be sure to follow them.
Rupert Mayer, who founded a successful Salesforce-based ISV organization, detailed how teams can have maximum control regarding their patents and trademarks with minimum effort.
Rupert shared the following key findings:
It is an excellent vision for companies and users to become part of an ecosystem like Salesforce, where you can start plugging ISV solutions. Once users have a Salesforce stack and architecture, they will always default to finding Salesforce-based solutions for all sorts of problems – even niche problems.
When you're a small software vendor, and you're asking your customers to put something into the cloud that they consider very valuable, such as their patents and inventions, you get a lot of security questions and concerns that you can answer when backed by Salesforce.
Customers want to integrate your solution with other elements they have in-house. If you build your SaaS solution from scratch, typically, you don't have strong APIs because that's not top of the wishlist. With Salesforce, you have all of that.
Tim Schuitemaker, who is responsible for a successful Salesforce-based ISV organization, detailed how making industry-specific propositions, solutions, and messaging is beneficial.
Tim shared the following about Salesforce ISV customer success:
There are more competitive products now.
Within the last nine years, there have been a lot more ISVs. Salesforce has grown massively, and as an ISV, you're growing automatically with them.
As part of the outreach Salesforce is doing, they often include ISVs. They see that you solve a particular customer problem, and you're automatically included in bigger deals.
Things aren't becoming easier or harder. It's still the same kind of process that you go through as an ISV, where you try to build your app. You're trying to develop an app that fits your customers' needs. Your customers are now on Salesforce, which gives you a niche proposition.
You must listen to your customers, prospects, and Salesforce to see how your product should evolve.
More ISVs are collaborating and making success stories together. ISVs look to each other and try to promote their product by promoting others.
Founder of ISVapp, Max-Michael Mayer, detailed what you need to know about the state of the Salesforce ISV market.
Max-Michael shared these thoughts:
It's always good to start a company if you have a great idea. Timing is never good.
Everybody knows there's a problem with high-interest rates, so be careful if you want to raise money. There is a lag effect on the economy with the interest rates. That means investors put in less and want to have higher risk management. The lag effect is between 18 to 24 months.
Towards the beginning of next year, the market could be in the phase where you could see an impact from high-interest rates. If it really happens, this lag effect has a massive impact on financing.
If you must raise money, keep the run rate as long as possible. If impossible, you could work with convertibles to avoid low valuations. As existing shareholders, you may also have business angels you bring on board.
Ben Asfaha, Co-Founder and CEO of PipeLaunch, discussed the importance of focused messaging and targeting for maximum ROI among Salesforce ISV founders.
Ben had the following advice for ISV founders:
You can change many things when you begin your startup, such as listening to and implementing feedback from day one.
Focus on constructive feedback and think it through before you start building.
You should not rely solely on Salesforce infrastructure to build on because of the unique use cases you're trying to solve.
Take your time and try to build an architecture from a product and go-to-market perspective. You might think you will have a B2B enterprise product requiring much sales effort. In the end, you might have a self-service product. You have to start with smaller deals before going to the bigger ones. But that also means your architecture needs to sustain that motion.
Kanan Gafarov, Co-Founder of the TraveLite app, discussed the importance of thorough research and understanding what gap in the Salesforce CRM markets you can fill.
Kanan had the following outlook for Salesforce ISVs:
Building applications on Salesforce is advantageous due to go-to-market time and out-of-the-box features and tools available in the platform.
Rely on Salesforce backbone functionality and research to ensure you're addressing the right industry. You will then understand the need and that building on Salesforce is not always easy. You may need help understanding how to do it properly.
With some care and an accurate approach, consider becoming a Salesforce AppExchange ecosystem partner. You will benefit from being an ISV partner in the future because Salesforce has its marketing advantages, which you can utilize while being at a go-to-market stage.
Over time, when your solution becomes more mature and possesses unique capabilities, you can improve your marketing and sales proposition. But as a starting point, Salesforce is a great platform and brand to partner with.
2024 and beyond
The insights shared by our Trails Podcast experts have been nothing short of transformative, shaping our perspective on the Salesforce ISV landscape for 2024 and beyond. Their nuanced insights, practical advice, and foresight should help arm you with the knowledge and strategies needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving digital terrain.
We look forward to helping you navigate the complexities of the Salesforce ISV ecosystem with our 2024 Trails Podcast experts!