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ISVs: Use Extension Packages to Boost Revenue With More Versatile Apps

posted on August 5th, 2015by Andrew Lawlor

Why ISVs Should Use Extension Packages on Salesforce Apps

Salesforce is the No. 1 CRM provider for the third year in a row, according to research firm Gartner, and it gained the most market share in the worldwide marketing software category based on 2014 total software spend. So naturally, independent software vendors (ISVs) are busy building and selling apps on the Salesforce AppExchange that cater to the millions of users in every industry.

And those ISVs have a large swath of potential customers. Even so, they may be missing out on opportunities by restricting themselves to developing apps that are limited to running on only certain versions of the diverse Salesforce solutions landscape.

Software vendors, for example, may build apps that will run on the Salesforce Sales Cloud Enterprise edition, which offers common CRM objects such as Opportunity. But those same apps are incompatible with Salesforce customers running the Force.com Platform, which excludes such referenced CRM-specific capabilities. In other instances, developers may neglect to build into their applications support for Person Accounts, sticking just to Business Accounts. That means their apps may be ignored by verticals modeling business-to-consumer relationships, such as the higher education or not-for-profit sectors, where Person Accounts are popular.

The result: ISVs may be losing out on revenue. A lot of revenue.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The big trick to broadening the base for the Salesforce apps you want to sell (or already are selling) on the AppExchange is to not put all your functionality into one Base package. Rather, take advantage of Extension packages so that everyone in your app’s target area is a legitimate potential customer, regardless of whether they’re using Sales Cloud Professional, Enterprise, or Unlimited CRM editions, or have created a custom solution on the Force.com platform of their own for increasing sales or enhancing productivity. The Base package becomes the host of the core capabilities that every party can avail itself of, while different components specific to higher-level CRM activities can live in Extension packages that layer atop the Base package for a broader solution.

The main selling point of this combined architecture is that it requires you to create only one code base while enabling you to sell your app to many new types of Salesforce customers.

We have been working on just such a situation with one of our customers, CQ Roll Call, the leading provider of Congressional news, legislative tracking, and advocacy services. It wanted to take its Engage advocacy tool to the next level. Engage was originally developed as a standalone campaign application for non-profit organizations to generate citizen support to effect legislative change.

Given the app’s clear CRM orientation, it wasn’t surprising when, after the product launched, CQ Roll Call began hearing from buyers who wanted to see a connector into Salesforce solutions to integrate membership contacts and campaign and activity data. Enter Engage for Salesforce, which became available on the AppExchange just over a year ago. It made it possible for Salesforce Sales Cloud CRM customers to create and view customized reports in Salesforce that incorporate advocacy data along with data from other organizational initiatives.

A great start, but that still left a lot of potential customers out of the picture. Why? Their less feature-rich Salesforce configurations were incompatible with the version of the product CQ Roll Call had developed that depended upon CRM objects.

We’re helping CQ Roll Call address that issue by pulling out Engage for Salesforce’s CRM-specific components – like Campaign objects for mass-marketing to a collection of people with similar demographics – into an Extension package. Core services will remain in the Base package to extend Engage’s usability to a larger audience, including Force.com platform customers for whom CRM object dependency would be a deterrent to purchase. We also broadened Engage’s appeal to more Sales Cloud or Force.com platform buyers by enabling Person accounts – pretty key for a tool meant to encourage citizen engagement.

The opportunity that using Extension packages gives you to start collecting revenue from new groups of customers that aren’t using CRM-specific Salesforce solutions is pretty phenomenal. That’s especially notable when you consider estimates that some 20 percent to 25 percent of Salesforce installations are related to the Force.com platform. Incorporating Person Account support into your app is icing on the sales-growth cake. If you haven’t thought about leveraging these capabilities for the apps you’re building, it’s time to start.

For a detailed conversation about how you could use Extension packages for the apps you’re building, feel free to contact us.

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Andrew Lawlor is a leading authority and published author on cloud computing and CRM technology. He specializes in helping companies and government agencies fully integrate Salesforce and other cloud-based applications with enterprise software. Since founding Aptaria in 2002, Andrew has led integration and implementation projects for major clients including Citibank, Danone, Colliers International, American Red Cross, and ExxonMobil. Prior to Aptaria, he held IT management positions at Verizon and webMethods. Andrew holds an Electrical Engineering degree with honors from the University of Maryland at College Park and he studied computer science and electrical engineering at Columbia University's Graduate School. He is a Salesforce.com Certified Developer. Andrew lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife, daughter, and son. When not working he enjoys playing and watching basketball and playing poker.

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