The Importance of Alliances for Salesforce ISV Partners

It seems Salesforce is everywhere these days. Even Matthew Mc Conaughey donned a space suit and piloted a hot air balloon on a Super Bowl commercial a few weeks ago to promote Salesforce’s #TeamEarth campaign. It was a clever jab at Branson, Bezos, Musk- the metaverse really, sharing the message that the real change on which humankind should be focused is right here on Earth.

As a self-admitted Reddit lover, I had to laugh at a post that recently graced my feed. The post made by u/ebbokroundup about a month ago read,

“I just have to ask… I keep hearing about Salesforce every now and then and I keep wondering, wtf is it?

The replies were even funnier (like this one… if you know, you know), by u/SnooStrawberries46 that read,

Slowly zips up Trailblazer hoodie… I have no idea…

As common a word as “Salesforce” is today, there’s quite a bit of confusion around the famous CRM platform and what it does. It can seem even more confusing when, as a prospective customer, you realise it’s not just Salesforce you need, but Salesforce + an Implementation Partner + ISV(s).

Salesforce, as those of us in the ecosystem know (unless you’re this woman..🤦🏽‍♀️) is a CRM, or “Customer Relationship Management” platform that is used to manage interactions with customers and potential customers.

I often explain it this way; Imagine iPhones came with all the fancy functionality turned off. Well, if Salesforce is the iPhone, the Implementation Partner is the Genius at the Apple Store, and ISVs are the apps. As a customer, you know that you need Salesforce, but it’s not the out-of-the-box platform that immediately addresses all your needs- It’s the customised of features and functionality that make it worth your investment.

The Genius ‘s job is to understand how you will use your new iphone. You explain that you want to keep all your contacts in one place, be able to text and make phone calls, maintain your calendar, and listen to music. The Genius (or “SI”), then turns on contact functionality, texting and calling, then installs calendar and music apps and configures them to your phone. On top of all this, they teach you how to use all the parts and pieces they implemented for you.

In this model, you can see that the partnership between genius and app (or SI and ISV) is impvcerative. In order for the SI to suggest your app to the customer, they must first know it exists, that they can trust it as a solution, understand what it does, know how to install it, and how it be supported once implemented. What about competitors? If you’re Spotify, how do you make sure the Genius is positioning you and not Spotify or SoundCloud? If they’re not suggesting your app, how will you position it so they do?

As an alliances person, I argue it all comes down to the strength of the partnership. Does your app do what you say it does? Is it easy to use? Affordable? Do SI partners like working with you? Are you incentivising SIs and Salesforce to promote your product? If not, investing in a well-built partner program with all necessary collateral, will afford you the proper terms of engagement, relationships, and trust in the ecosystem to get into the hands of more customers.

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