Get Started with AppExchange

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Explain what AppExchange is.
  • Describe how Salesforce organizes AppExchange listings.
  • Describe pricing on AppExchange.
  • Develop an AppExchange strategy using your business requirements.

Origin of an AppExchange Expert

Congratulations! You’re an ambitious Salesforce admin, and you landed your dream job. You’re leading the rollout of Sales Cloud at Ursa Major Solar, the region’s leading renewable energy company. Managers are enthusiastic, and the sales team is excited. Things look bright and sunny, as Ursa Major’s president is fond of saying.

Eight weeks in, and most of Ursa Major’s sales reps have made the jump to the cloud. Just as you expected, they’re logging more leads and closing more deals than ever. Fantastic. But a few reps are still selling the old way—tracking activities with scraps of paper, sticky notes, or sometimes not at all. You’re confident that you can get the team to 100% adoption, but to do that you need data. For starters, you want to know how often reps are logging in and which features they’re using. A way to visualize that data sounds nice, too. Problem is, you’re busy with other projects. So are you facing an impossible task?

Nope! Part of what makes you a great Salesforce admin is your zest for learning. You read a Trailblazer Community article that mentions that AppExchange has add-on Salesforce solutions. And already you’re on your way to become an AppExchange expert.

What Is AppExchange?

Think for a minute about Ursa Major’s solar panels: They extend the power of sunlight, convert it to electricity, and connect to buildings and communities. Innovation, pure and simple.

Two Ursa Major employees holding a tablet that displays Salesforce and AppExchange

Like those solar panels, AppExchange also offers extension, connection, and innovation. AppExchange is the marketplace for all things Salesforce, including apps, Lightning components, Flow solutions, and more. 

Short on time and don’t want to build a solution from scratch? There’s probably an app that meets your needs. That third-party service your users have been asking you to integrate? Good chance that it’s available on AppExchange. And because it’s the official Salesforce store, everything you expect from us, such as security and trust, carries over to our listings. 
Peek behind those listings and discover that AppExchange is also a community. That community starts with Salesforce partners. They’re the awesome folks creating apps and services on top of Salesforce. And then there are people such as you—the admins, developers, and others who use AppExchange to make your processes more efficient and teams more productive. Together, this community has powered AppExchange with thousands of listings and peer reviews, and millions of installations.

What Can I Find on AppExchange?

AppExchange has something for every Salesforce cloud and product, but in general, you can see two kinds of listings: solutions and consultants. A solution is something that plugs into Salesforce and extends its core functionality. For example, an app that integrates an external survey tool with Service Cloud.

Consultants are Salesforce professionals who specialize in building and implementing custom solutions for specific clouds or industries. For example, a consultant can work with an equipment manufacturer to develop a set of apps for assembly technicians. There are thousands of consultants listed on AppExchange.

A view of the AppExchange home page

Of course, not everyone comes to AppExchange knowing what they want. Perhaps you’re curious about what’s available for Sales Cloud, or if there’s an especially popular app for your retail company. When you’re not sure where to start, check out AppExchange’s collections. Collections are groups of listings curated by AppExchange experts, and they’re a handy way of zeroing in on top solutions in a particular area. We talk more about collections in the next unit.

One more thing: As with the product selection at your favorite online store, what’s available on AppExchange is always changing and growing. Stop by often to see what’s new, or sign up for the AppExchange newsletter, the Paw, to get updates sent to your inbox.

Learn from the AppExchange Community

Imagine putting together your weekly shopping list, but finding yourself a little short on inspiration. What do you do? Maybe you visit a favorite recipe site. Perhaps you browse social media to see what your friends are cooking. The point is, communities can be great sources of inspiration. The same is true on AppExchange. 

To explore the AppExchange community, head to the Learn section (1). Here, you find app news, how-to guides, best-of lists, and opportunities for connecting with AppExchange enthusiasts and experts alike.

A view of the Learn tab sub navigation tabs on the AppExchange home page

What About Pricing?

You’re probably wondering whether AppExchange fits into your budget. With thousands of solutions that are free to install and use, the answer is yes. In fact, some of AppExchange’s most popular solutions are free, such as our Salesforce Labs solutions, which are built in-house by Salesforce employees. Many providers also let you try before you buy so that you can be sure that whatever you’re interested in meets your needs. In just a bit, you learn how to factor pricing into an AppExchange strategy.

Back to Ursa Major

Now that you’ve mastered the fundamentals of AppExchange, let’s return to the challenge facing Ursa Major Solar. To get the sales team to 100% adoption, you must figure out how they’re using Sales Cloud. Specifically, you want to know who’s logging in, how often, and what features they’re using. But how?

After some brainstorming, you come up with the following options.
  • Compile the data manually: Ha! You’re a Salesforce admin. You don’t do “manual” anything. Next option, please.
  • Build something yourself in Salesforce: Certainly a possibility, but you’re buried under a bunch of projects at the moment. You can keep this as a backup option.
  • Look for a solution on AppExchange: Maybe a tool that meets your needs already exists, and all you need to do is find it. It’s worth a try, right?

So AppExchange it is. At this point, you might want to head straight to AppExchange. But with thousands of listings, browsing without a plan isn’t the most efficient way to find a solution. The better route: Develop your AppExchange strategy.

Develop an AppExchange Strategy

A little thinking up front goes a long way toward finding a listing that makes you and your users happy. To develop an AppExchange strategy, ask yourself these questions.

  • Solution type: Are you looking for something that plugs into Salesforce without much fuss? If yes, a solution, such as a Lightning component, is probably your best bet. Or do you want help building a custom solution for a complex business problem? In that case, a consultant is the better fit.
  • Functionality: What does the solution need to do? Which of these features are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves?
  • Budget: Are you open to paying for the right solution, or does it need to be free? For paid listings, what is your preferred pricing model? AppExchange supports both one-time payments and subscriptions.
  • Stakeholder needs: Who is using the solution? Make sure that you meet with these stakeholders to understand their needs, expectations, and timelines.
  • Testing: Do you have somewhere you can test everything first? Before installing a solution in a production org, we always recommend testing in a Developer Edition org or a sandbox.
  • Technical considerations: Does the solution need to be compatible with a specific Salesforce edition or feature? Think about what’s unique to your org, and take note of those items.

Let’s compare all this against your requirements for Ursa Major.

Criterion Requirements

Solution type

Solution or consultant? You have limited resources for this project, so you really prefer something that works out of the box. That probably means a solution, such as an app.

Functionality

You need user adoption data, such as who’s logging in most often. It’d also be nice to know which features they’re using, but that’s not essential.

Budget

Free, if possible.

Stakeholder needs

You definitely want to share the data that you gather with Ursa Major’s managers. They love visuals, so it would be great to show that data in a chart or graph.

Testing

You have a Developer Edition org that you use for trying out new features and completing Trailhead challenges.

Technical considerations

Lightning-ready and compatible with Enterprise Edition.

Perfect, you’ve got a strategy. Next, keep reading to learn how AppExchange experts focus on the perfect listing. When you’re ready, head to the next unit to skill up.
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