Look across the enterprise software provider landscape in 2016, and you’ll see one particular platform that reigns supreme: Salesforce.
In the last 10 years, Marc Benioff and co. have built Salesforce into a bona fide empire, on the strength of amazing marketing (namely, the annual Dreamforce conference) and a peerless app store, the Salesforce AppExchange.
Today, the AppExchange hosts 2,800+ partner apps. For its 10 year anniversary earlier this year, Salesforce released the following figures about AppExchange popularity:
– 3.5 million total App installs, including
– 85% of the Fortune 100
– 79% of all Salesforce clients
The AppExchange is more popular than ever. And yet, if you poll the average Salesforce App user, you’ll hear mixed reviews about the apps they’ve downloaded to enhance their Salesforce experience.
So as a caveat emptor to potential app purchasers, here’s a rundown of the 4 most prevalent falsehoods you’ll hear when considering an AppExchange vendor.
1. Native Apps are always the best option.
2. Your Salesforce Data is not secure outside of Salesforce.
3. Salesforce is an investor – which makes us the best.
4. We have the most/best reviews – which makes us the best.
If you poke around Google/AppExchange vendor websites, you’ll see a lot of the above – and it looks very compelling, on the surface level.
The problem: All of these statements are either massively flawed or downright misleading. Let’s break down what makes these 4 statements the biggest lies on the AppExchange in 2016.
1. Native Apps are always the best option
By far the most common falsehood you’ll hear on the AppExchange is that Native Apps are the only ones you can trust, as a user.
Not so say actual Salesforce users, who, as Salesforce Ben himself noted to us via email, have made non-native app Conga Composer the most popular app of all-time (with great reviews, no less).
What is a native app? It’s one that lives entirely within Salesforce. Or, to put it more bluntly, an App that can only be used by Salesforce clients.
While these Apps do have their benefits, they comprise only half of the top 30 highest rated, most popular Apps on the AppExchange. And the client reviews of non-native Salesforce partners like Xactly, Box and DocuSign speaks to the illegitimacy of any vendor that tries to strike higher ground on the basis of being native.
2. Salesforce Data is not secure outside of Salesforce
Building off the last point, the favorite way native Salesforce App vendors like to fear monger prospects is by asserting that they can’t trust their data with a non-native App.
Tell that to the likes of Dropbox, InsideSales.com, Gainsight, the companies mentioned above and other licensed Salesforce partners who have thousands of Salesforce integrations and zero issues with client data.
Of all the lies you’ll hear about the AppExchange, this one is perhaps the most egregious. Sure, you shouldn’t trust your data with just anyone. But to think that Salesforce is the only enterprise software platform you can trust your precious data on is laughable. The fact is, any successful enterprise software platform is going to have airtight security – one client data leak equates to millions of dollars in potential litigation.
To enterprise software companies, every data breach is potentially fatal. And data security is not hard to get. My company, Ambition, uses Amazon Web Services, storing our client data in the same place that Apple, the CIA and Heroku (a Salesforce-owned company) choose to store theirs. In other words, our clients’ data is not only secure, it’s arguably more secure than it would be in the Salesforce database.
Ed. Sure enough, six weeks after this article was published, Salesforce announced an official partnership with Amazon, designating AWS as the preferred cloud provider for Salesforce data hosting. So the next time a native app vendor says your Salesforce data can’t be trusted with anyone but Salesforce, tell them Salesforce disagrees.
3. Salesforce is an investor, so you can trust us
“Salesforce loves our app so much, they became an investor” is a common thread you’ll hear amongst native vendors.
That line, impressive as it may seem, gets abused time and again. The intonation is: Salesforce chose to invest in our company, not our competitors. There’s your proof that we’re the better product.
Of the 2,650 AppExchange vendors, Salesforce has invested in roughly 150 apps, about 4 percent. Impressive, until you realize that many of the highest-ranking, most popular vendors on the AppExchange aren’t part of their portfolio. And, when you remember that many of these companies aren’t in the Salesforce portfolio because they neither wanted nor needed their investment.
A few examples of AppExchange Vendors who are neither Salesforce Native nor a portfolio company:
4. We’re a Top-Reviewed/Most Popular App on the AppExchange
God knows how Salesforce defines the criteria for “Most Popular” status, because if user review volume is any indication, it’s not actual popularity.
How else to explain Gainsight having 90+ reviews yet falling outside the top 20 most popular customer service platforms? Or ClearSlide, with nearly 200 5-star reviews, getting buried in the back pages of the “Most Popular” sales productivity app listing?
Oh, right. These products cost a lot of money, unlike the free and uber-cheap apps that you’ll find ranked highly in the “Most Popular” sections.
The point being: Being a “Most Popular” Salesforce App doesn’t equate to high quality. Just look at the (sometimes very low) user reviews amongst the most popular apps in these listings.
And even having a great review score, for that matter, doesn’t equate to high user experience. Check the reviews themselves and make sure they’re a) recent and b) coming from a wide range of companies and industries.
Sorting Truth from Falsehood on the AppExchange
Being native, having great reviews and having SFDC as an investor are not bad things, of course. They’re all highly positive. But lately, I’ve seen more and more companies trying to spin these into trump cards – which they absolutely, 100% are not.
When reviewing a Salesforce App, avoid judgment based on any of the above criteria, and look for more classic methods of evaluation, such as case studies, testimonials and referrals. The more on point the latter look with regard to your organization, the better the chances of a good experience with that particular app.
We hope this article helps you on your next vendor search. Feel free to leave comments and questions below, or, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.