As a Salesforce ISV partner since 2009, we’ve seen every kind of org, customer and implementation. Of course, each ISV partner in the ecosystem operates slightly differently but here we’ve compiled our cheat sheet of how to succeed with a Salesforce ISV and make your next purchase the most successful yet!
So, let’s jump into the questions you need to ask and the tips you need to action to succeed with a Salesforce ISV partner.
1. Do your prep internally first!
Once you recognise that there’s a need at your organisation for purchasing a solution from an ISV, it’s all too tempting to jump straight onto the AppExchange or start filling your calendar with product demo calls.
Don’t fall into the trap of looking at specific solutions too early! It’s vital to do your internal research and stakeholder consultations first. You need to understand the longer-term plans of your organisation to make sure any solution you choose can scale and meet the needs of changing processes. Not to mention you need to understand who will be involved in purchasing approval.
What kind of questions should you ask?
- How urgent is this need?
- Is there a budget?
- Are there non-negotiables?
- What other integrations do I need to consider with this tool? E.g., marketing platforms, fundraising platforms, events platforms
- Who will need to “see” this tool, either in demo or poc, before sign off?
- How do we anticipate this process to look in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
💡 Top tip: There are free templates online like this one for helping you evaluate software and making sure you cover the non-negotiables
2. Communicate with the ISV
Once you’ve done your internal research, it’s on to the fun bit… shopping around for solutions! During your prep, you’ll have established the right stakeholders who need to be involved with demos, testing and procurement from your organisation. It’s time to put that knowledge into practice.
Make sure the ISV is aware of which roles, responsibilities and seniorities you are bringing to calls so that they can mirror this. There’s no point bringing your CRM Architect to a call being run solely by an ISV’s Account Executive. Make sure your attendees and agenda are known in advance to make the most out of the time you’re spending on calls with ISVs.
Set expectations clearly
We also recommend setting expectations early with the ISV on the project duration and urgency. Examples of this could look like:
“I’m the only person actively involved right now so I’ll check back in after a month when I have more time to dedicate to this.”
“This is not an urgent priority for us. I’m just having a look around for now.”
“This is extremely urgent and our go live is the end of next month. Can you dedicate resource to us to help us reach that deadline?”
Pricing opacity is far too common in the software industry. We’ve all been on introductory calls where we’ve wasted 25 minutes of our time only to find out that a solution is way out of our budget. It’s a good idea to ask directly about pricing upfront to save yourself time evaluating solutions you have no intention of buying.
“I see that there is a license cost of x per user. Are there any additional or hidden costs on top of this price?”
💡 Top tip: We have the benefit of being part of a super friendly and accessible ecosystem. Ask around the Salesforce Community to see if anyone uses the solution you’re evaluation. Most people are happy to jump on a quick call to share their experiences, good or bad, of their purchase.
3. Test the solution
You’ve done your internal research and you’ve started to identify specific solutions that you want to evaluate. There is no better way of evaluating a solution than getting hands on with it.
Get a test drive or free trial of your solution and start playing around with it. This is also a great time to ask more about the product and the team behind it. ISVs vary in how much support they offer and at what price point. Salesforce encourage all ISVs to offer at least some level of free support but it’s worth understanding exactly what you can expect – a dedicated mailbox or maybe even a dedicated point of contact.
What kinds of questions should you ask?
- How much does support cost (if anything?)
- Is there “premium” support available, and if so, what does that include?
- Are there any other features in the product that can be beneficial?
- Is there much of a product roadmap?
💡 Top tip: Sandboxes provide perpetual site licenses in Salesforce so it’s a great idea to install trials in a sandbox.
4. Clarify post-purchase support
It’s easy to think that the moment you purchase a solution, you’ve completed your project. However, the nature of Salesforce ISV partner solutions and SaaS software means that this will be an ongoing relationship! Testing a solution is very different to pushing it into production and onboarding your users. It’s worth making sure you understand what happens if you do decide to purchase.
What kinds of questions should you ask?
- What is your customer onboarding process like?
- Do you have a dedicated customer success team?
- How long from purchase to implementation?
- Do you use your own product?
- Will you notify us of upgrades to your App?
- How many releases do you do a year? Do we need to do anything to upgrade?
- Do you stop supporting older versions?
💡 Top tip: Make sure you have another point of contact at minimum that isn’t sales. Aim to have at least 3 contacts from different departments.
It’s time to succeed with a Salesforce ISV partner
There you have it – our introduction into the world of working with ISV partners. This is by no means a complete list of questions and considerations when purchasing an ISV solution, but this is a great place to start. Like with most things, clear communication and expectation is at the heart of how to succeed with a Salesforce ISV partner.
So, with this in mind, we wish you the best as you make your next ISV purchase armed with our questions and top tips.
You’ve got this!
We mean it when we say we’re Salesforce experts. We work exclusively in the Salesforce ecosystem and our products are built 100% for Salesforce.