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Understand the AppExchange Product Lifecycle

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • List the six stages of the AppExchange product lifecycle.
  • Describe what happens in each stage of the AppExchange product lifecycle.

Introduction to the AppExchange Product Lifecycle

You know that the AppExchange Partner Program supports you on the journey from idea to marketplace, but what does that journey look like? In this unit, we introduce you to the six stages of the AppExchange product lifecycle. You’ll also learn how this development model positions you for success. 

What is Second-Generation Managed Packaging?

A second-generation managed package, or managed 2GP, is the container for the app that you plan to sell and distribute to Salesforce customers. You create a managed 2GP package, then add to it the features, customizations, and schema that comprise your app. 

Examples of metadata components you might package are: 

  • Apex classes and triggers
  • Custom fields on standard objects
  • Custom metadata types
  • Custom objects
  • Flows
  • Lightning pages
  • Page layouts

For a complete list of what you can include in an app, check out Components Available in Managed Packages in the Salesforce DX Developer Guide.

Second-generation managed packaging is a critical part of the development process when building a successful app. Tools like managed 2GP, scratch orgs, and Salesforce CLI are all part of something we call Salesforce DX. You'll want to make sure the team building your app is fully versed with Salesforce DX before they begin.

What Is AppExchange?

AppExchange is where Salesforce customers discover amazing apps and other solutions, including the ones that you're going to build!

As the world’s No. 1 business app marketplace, it’s also a major reason why the AppExchange Partner Program is so successful. The majority of Salesforce customers have installed at least one app from the AppExchange. Customers love AppExchange because:

  • We have offerings for every industry and budget.
  • We make it easy to try out things before buying.
  • Our security team comprehensively evaluates every offering.
  • It has a beautiful, mobile-friendly user interface that makes browsing and searching simple on any device.

When you join the AppExchange Partner Program, you become a part of this relationship. When you’re ready to distribute a solution, our publishing tools make it easy to put your listing in front of millions of customers. If you haven’t used AppExchange before, it’s worth exploring. Browse around a bit, watch some demos—we’re sure you’ll see why it’s an incredible asset for AppExchange partners.

Stages of the AppExchange Product Lifecycle

The AppExchange product lifecycle is your roadmap for everything from ensuring that you’re building the right product to supporting that product after it’s launched. The stages of the AppExchange product lifecycle are: Plan (1), Build (2), Distribute (3), Market (4), Sell (5), and Support (6).

A diagram of the AppExchange Product Lifecycle

Stage 1: Plan

Planning is the most important stage in the AppExchange product lifecycle. To understand why, think about taking a cross-country road trip. Would you just jump in your car one day and hit the road? Probably not. Instead, you’d want to plan your route, figure out where you’ll be staying, and so forth. Along these lines, a successful AppExchange partnership starts with a solid plan. Examples of things to consider:

  • Is your staff familiar with the Salesforce platform? If not, introduce them using resources like Trailhead.
  • Who comprises your target audience? Are you going after large enterprise customers? Mid-size? Small?
  • What is your business strategy? When and how much must you sell to have a successful business?
  • Which Salesforce editions will you support? For example, Professional, Enterprise, or Unlimited.
  • Which license type do you want to use?
  • What is your strategy for ensuring that your offering is secure?

Making a plan and sticking to it sets up your team for success. In this stage, we support you with training to help you and your team to become certified developers. We also let you create test orgs so that you can learn firsthand how Salesforce works.

Stage 2: Build

In this stage, you use second-generation managed packaging which is based on a modern, source-driven, and automation-friendly development model. Managed 2GP packages integrate with your source control system, utilize your custom Apex code across packages, and build small modular packages that can be put together. You can execute all packaging operations via Salesforce CLI and even automate them using scripts. 

When you are ready to dive into the details of package development, check out the Second-Generation Managed Packages Trailhead module, or documentation in the Second-Generation Managed Packaging Developer Guide

And while the technology team is hard at work, your business team develops your go-to-market strategy, which includes plans for marketing, sales, and support.

Stage 3: Distribute

It's time to release your solution to customers. After using managed 2GP to package your app, create an AppExchange listing so that your offering can go through final review. We support you by conducting a comprehensive security review of your solution.

Stage 4: Market

In this stage, you generate customer interest in your solution. Reach out to your target audience, leverage marketing opportunities at partner events, and optimize your AppExchange listing so that it excites customers. We support you with training from our Partner Marketing team, which draws from industry best practices and lessons learned by top AppExchange partners.

Stage 5: Sell

The goal here is to convert leads to paying customers. You want to build an effective sales team, qualify leads efficiently, and present compelling demos to prospects. After your solution gets footing in the market, you can grow your pipelines and manage renewals. We support you with training from Partner Account Managers, our direct sales teams, and top AppExchange partners.

Stage 6: Support

Facilitate ongoing customer success with your solution. Create and implement a customer success plan, provide support and troubleshooting assistance, and make improvements to your solution through patches and upgrades. While you support customers, we support you. We have tools that tell you how customers use your solutions and that allow you to provide hands-on help as people encounter challenges.

After you complete the lifecycle, the process repeats. Plan and build new features, distribute updates, sell and market new capabilities, and train your support team.


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