A guide on Salesforce ISV partners

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  • Published 15 Dec 2022
  • 14 mins read
A guide on Salesforce ISV partners
Table of contents
Article Summary Box

Article highlights

  • An ISV (Independent Software Vendor) is an entity that creates software solutions designed to run on cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Salesforce AppExchange1. They offer customized Salesforce platforms ranging from simple tools to complex applications2.
  • The article outlines various Salesforce ISV partnerships, including OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), Reseller, Payment, and SaaS Investment partnerships, each offering distinct benefits like market access, integrated payment solutions, and investment in SaaS company growth
  • While highlighting the potential for business growth through ISV partnerships, the article also discusses challenges like high competition and inflexible review processes. It provides examples of successful Salesforce ISVs such as flair.hr, Sonar, and Spekit, which have effectively navigated the Salesforce ecosystem.
Thus, many companies are moving toward cloud-based CRM solutions, automatically increasing the Salesforce Independent Software Vendors (ISV) marketplace.

That's why it’s an excellent opportunity for you to join the Salesforce world to meet your needs. Buckle up and enjoy the ride if you want a place to learn the inner workings of Salesforce ISV partners.

What is an ISV

An ISV is an individual or company that creates, markets and sells software solutions that operate on cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Salesforce AppExchange.

An ISV partner provides a customized Salesforce platform, which can be anything from a simple calculator to complex apps.

With ISV apps, you can easily find applications per your requirements from AppExchange, which you can install directly into your Salesforce territory for a seamless experience.

How do ISVs work

ISVs develop applications or software for companies, ISV partners, or individual clients.

They prescribe license procedures or provide software and applications on a subscription basis. The great need for the cloud has made software management more regulated, simpler, and inclusive.

What is an ISV Salesforce partner?

After some time, most ISVs started selling their products to customers directly. However, it was not easy to grow their business on a large-scale basis. The easiest solution to this problem is using the ISV partnership strategy. This will help you tremendously with starting a Salesforce ISV.

It is important to remember that there are different kinds of ISV partnerships that you can consider to increase your company's sales.

Types and benefits of a Salesforce ISV partner

1. OEM partnerships

Salesforce OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Partnerships are agreements between Salesforce and third-party software vendors or companies.

Under an OEM Partnership, third-party vendors can use Salesforce's platform to develop and integrate their own software applications, such as custom user interfaces, business logic, and workflows.

These applications are typically built using Salesforce's core functionality, such as data management, analytics, and security.

Salesforce OEM Partnerships allow vendors to leverage Salesforce's reputation and market presence to increase their sales and market share while offering customers a broader range of solutions tailored to their specific needs.

This can help companies save time and resources on developing custom solutions from scratch and instead focus on their core business objectives.

OEM partners typically pay a fee or share revenue with Salesforce in exchange for using Salesforce's platform. Additionally, Salesforce provides support and training to the partners to ensure that their applications meet Salesforce's quality and security standards.

2. Reseller partnerships

Salesforce Reseller Partnerships are agreements between Salesforce and third-party companies. Under these partnerships, the companies resell Salesforce's products and services to their own customers.

These partnerships enable companies to offer their customers Salesforce's software and services without developing their own solutions.

Under a Reseller Partnership, third-party companies can sell their customers' Salesforce licenses, services, and support and earn commissions on the sales.

Resellers typically provide additional services, such as implementation, customization, and support, which can help customers get more value from Salesforce's products.

Salesforce Reseller Partnerships benefit both Salesforce and reseller companies. Salesforce gains access to new markets and customers through the resellers, while the resellers can expand their product offerings and generate additional revenue streams.

To become a Salesforce reseller, companies must meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Having a strong sales and marketing strategy
  • Having a solid customer base
  • Having the ability to provide high-quality support and services to their customers.

Additionally, resellers must pass Salesforce's certification exams and meet other eligibility criteria.

3. Payment partnerships

Salesforce Payment Partnerships refer to the partnerships that Salesforce has formed with various payment providers to offer integrated payment solutions within its cloud-based CRM platform.

These partnerships enable Salesforce users to easily process payments and manage their financial transactions within the Salesforce platform, without having to switch between different software systems.

Through these partnerships, Salesforce users can set up payment processing for their sales orders, invoices, and subscription billing processes. They can access real-time payment data, automate reconciliation, and manage chargebacks and disputes.

Salesforce Payment Partnerships offer businesses a seamless way to integrate their payment processes into their CRM workflows, improving operational efficiency and reducing manual errors.

These partnerships also provide a secure and compliant payment processing solution that supports Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, fraud prevention, and tokenization.

4. SaaS investment partnerships

Salesforce SaaS (Software as a Service) Investment Partnerships refer to Salesforce's investments in SaaS companies to expand its cloud-based offerings and strengthen its ecosystem.

Salesforce is known for its robust CRM platform and commitment to delivering innovative cloud-based solutions to businesses of all sizes. To achieve this, Salesforce has partnered with several SaaS companies to invest in their growth and development.

Salesforce SaaS Investment Partnerships fund SaaS companies to accelerate growth, expand their customer base, and enhance their technology offerings.

These partnerships also offer several benefits to Salesforce and SaaS companies. Salesforce benefits from these partnerships by strengthening its reputation and providing users with more comprehensive solutions. SaaS companies benefit from access to a broader customer base and the necessary resources to drive their businesses.

Overall, Salesforce SaaS Investment Partnerships are an important component of Salesforce's strategy to remain at the forefront of cloud-based solutions and drive innovation in the industry.

Potential obstacles Salesforce ISV partners can encounter

While ISV partnerships offer plenty of benefits and types to choose from, it is also essential to understand the other side of the coin—the potential challenges faced by ISVs.

High competition

As mentioned above, businesses have shifted to using online services instead of physical products, which is why ISVs are seeing an increase in their partner base.

An ISV must avoid high competition to be successful. However, every ISV cannot succeed without competing against others.

Thus, service providers must show they're unique by fulfilling the needs of the business.

Inflexible review process

Once you've developed an app, you need to list it on AppExchange so people can download it. The Salesforce platform gives no leeway for applications that don't perform well. If an app performs poorly, it won't be listed on the Salesforce Marketplace.

If an app isn't up to par, it won't be listed on AppExchange. AppExchange approval can take some time. However, if all the checks are passed, they could be approved within two to four weeks. Once it’s approved, the ISV partner will have an improved reputation.

Examples of successful Salesforce ISVs


Image Source: flair.hr
  • Category: User experience and HR productivity.
  • Target personas: Everyone who uses Salesforce.

flair.hr helps modern HR teams shape and perfect every aspect of the employee experience. Using precise insights and rich data, flair.hr gives people the tools to easily design, adapt, and scale a world-class culture that drives companies forward.

At its core, flair.hr is a shift planner, absences and time tracker, recruiting and OKRs assistant, and an innovative payroll and feedback platform.


Image Source: Sonar
  • Category: Change intelligence.
  • Target personas: Sales Ops, RevOps, and Marketing Ops.

Sonar is the 'new kid' on the block, established in October 2018. Its change intelligence software is best described by its underwater metaphor:

Sonar helps teams who feel underwater and in the dark get signals and navigate around the problems that are hard to see in tech stack integrations.

When talking about technology, this means understanding the relationships between different parts of your technology stack. 'If you change one part of your technology stack, what effect will they have elsewhere?'


Image Source: Spekit
  • Category: Digital enablement and an “in-app digital companion.”
  • Target personas: Salesforce admins and end users.

Created with the employee experience in mind, Spekit is targeted at being a user's companion. A companionship that emphasizes advising sales enablement (which is especially valuable for new employee onboarding).

Spekit, at its foundation, is a data dictionary. You can document and map your fields in Salesforce.

In a nutshell, Spekit gathers what the sales rep, admin, etc., has documented and makes it available to Salesforce users.


Image Source: Scratchpad
  • Category: User experience and sales productivity.
  • Target personas: Sales end users.
Scratchpad leads by promising to update and manage your pipelines in the cloud “like never before,” mimicking a traditional spreadsheet where frustrated business users often end up.

Scratchpad combines the following features in a straightforward workspace:

  • Sales notes
  • Spreadsheets
  • Tasks
  • Kanban boards
  • Search
  • Collaboration
  • Sales process adherence.


Image Source: Provar
  • Category: Digital enablement and an “in-app digital companion.”
  • Target personas: Developers and admins.
Salesforce is easy enough to update, but it can be risky if you don't fully understand what you will change.

That’s one reason why creating a comprehensive set of automated tests to help identify and fix bugs before they become serious issues for your company is essential. Provar aims to assist users with this.


Image Source: Elements 
  • Category: A configuration knowledge platform.
  • Target personas: Anyone involved in the Salesforce environment.

How Elements supports Salesforce orgs can be split into two main parts:

  • The analysis of a Salesforce org (including AppExchange packages), dependency analysis, and the impact changes could have on your organization.
  • Salesforce documentation must be related to configuration and contextuality. If not, knowledge and findings about dependencies will be reduced.


Image Source: AutoRABIT
  • Category: DevOps.
  • Target personas: DevOps engineers and release managers and engineers.
Salesforce DevOps is becoming increasingly popular among companies because they're responsible for complex and frequently deployed applications.

As the Salesforce ecosystem continues to execute the importance of DevOps in any workspace, providers like AutoRABIT will be their sidekick in helping businesses grow their customer base.


Image Source: AppOmni
  • Category: SaaS security posture management (SSPM).
  • Target personas: Anyone involved in the Salesforce environment.

AppOmni provides a platform that helps security teams easily coordinate with their IT counterparts to inspect and ensure the security of cloud applications continually.

Salesforce administrators aren't security experts. In general, data access modeling can be pretty complex, particularly when deployment needs to increase in size.

Admins can automate the manual work that goes into understanding who is being provided access.


Image Source: Qualified 
  • Category: A conversational marketing platform.
  • Target personas: Marketers and sales end users.

Conversational marketing is a new, contemporary way of increasing leads and other similar activities. Qualified bases its model around this, so it has dominated the Salesforce space.

With Qualified, high-intent buyers and sales reps can connect better and more easily through live chats and webinars on their websites.


Image Source: Dooly
  • Category: User experience and sales productivity.
  • Target personas: Sales end users.

Similar to Scratchpad, Dooly enables sales teams to:

  • Update Salesforce a lot faster.
  • Save over five hours of Salesforce manual work weekly with its developer tools.
  • They should have access to one-click edits they can make from one easy interface, imitating the spreadsheets that the sales ecosystem is mainly based around.


Image Source: Aircall
  • Category: Telephony.
  • Target personas: Salesforce admins, end users, and sales and service managers.

Telephony is a Salesforce functionality gap that‘s often debated. Sales reps and service people need to talk on the telephone, and they should be able to get their conversations recorded in the CRM.

It is no surprise, then, that organizations and their teams using Salesforce want to integrate it with telephony.

The great thing about cloud solutions, like Aircall, is that they don’t require any hardware. Users also enjoy Aircall for its user experience features.

Are You Ready To Partner Up?

A good Salesforce ISV partner can help many businesses grow their revenue. However, it’s important to choose a good ISV carefully.

A skilled ISV partner can provide scalability, reliability, and other benefits for your business. However, business owners must select an ISV partner based on their needs.

Salesforce is a very powerful development platform that gets even more powerful when you install additional applications. The demand for applications is through the roof.

AppExchange has over 4000 available – it has just surpassed 10 million installations to help with sales leads, data visualization, and everything in between.

The sheer number of offerings and the scale of the ecosystem can feel overwhelming, especially if you're new to it. The constant evolution can feel overwhelming even if you've been in the ecosystem for some time.

However, even though it may be difficult, there are small things that any and every ISV can do to help them succeed. These small things include:

  • Being partner-friendly: Partners can be powerful tools for your business and are heavily relied upon by Salesforce. Find a partner who matches your needs, business focus, and company cultural values. Then, help them grow their relationship with you by enabling and nurturing it just as you would with Salesforce.
  • Salesforce updates: Salesforce is a fast-moving company that is always changing. Keeping up with these changes allows you to stay one step ahead of competitors and adapt quickly when things change. It is important to watch out for releases, marketing opportunities, and acquisitions.
  • Community engagement: Salesforce and its environment are very large and established. This popularity is why many people who use Salesforce engage with fellow users. There are many ways to do so—just do some digging and find ‘your people.’
  • Salesforce-sponsored learnings: Salesforce offers ways for ISVs to learn and grow online. Here are a few examples: the Partner Learning Camp, partner programs and templates, and joining specific Chatter groups (for example, one for marketing, sales, AppExchange, DevOps, etc.).

Whether your company is a shrub just off the ground or a massive woodland tree that has spread its roots into the world of DevOps and Salesforce ISV partners, you’re sure to find the right solution you can implant into your business.

They say you grow where you're planted, so make sure you’re planting your business in the right direction.

ISV frequently asked questions

What is the benefit of an ISV being certified?

An ISV certificate guarantees their applications or software can easily integrate with any hardware. Furthermore, it ensures that it provides a high-performance UI and experience.

What is the distinction between SI and ISV?

SI (system integrator ) is for partners who provide Salesforce-related services. An ISV is for those who want to sell their software solutions via or on top of Salesforce. Great examples include flair and IPfolio.

What are the advantages of any Salesforce integration?

Salesforce integration enables enhanced productivity, access to different resources, automated workflows, etc.

Who are the top Salesforce ISV partners?

Other ISV partners include Accenture, Wipro, IBM, Capgemini, and TCS, in addition to the ones we just mentioned.

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Last updated: 13 Jun 2024