9 Tips to Navigate Salesforce AppExchange Like a Pro

About the Author: Josh Mayes

October 10, 2019

If there were a Salesforce “easy button,” it would be AppExchange. The enterprise cloud marketplace boasts more than 5,000 solutions for improved functionality and 1,000 consultants skilled at driving business transformation. With 7.2 million installs and counting, AppExchange truly has something for every business.

However, to quote from Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Some new users take a kid-in-the-candy-store AppExchange approach while others overlook it completely. Neither tactic works well. Knowing how to leverage AppExchange unlocks limitless potential for Salesforce inside an organization. Here are our recommendations for navigating AppExchange like a pro.

What is AppExchange?

Consider AppExchange the Salesforce store with ready-to-install third-party apps, components to build apps, templates, data solutions, process automations, and more. AppExchange also serves as a community with certified business consultants like Galvin Technologies skilled in all things Salesforce. You can find other Salesforce administrators, developers and users inside as well.

Tip #1: Learn from Ohana

Check out the Ohana tab in AppExchange. Building on the word “family,” this is where you can interact with other users, see apps in action, and receive the latest news. It is a good place to start if you are new to AppExchange.

Tip #2: Develop Your AppExchange Strategy

Consider strategy your AppExchange map – enter without one and you could get lost. Define your destination and how you want to get there with these questions:

  • Functionality – what is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Solution type – do you want something that plugs into Salesforce easily or do you need something unique built for your business?
  • Timeline – how long before a solution must be in place? Do you have time to test or build?
  • Stakeholders – who needs the solution? What features are must-haves and nice-to-haves based on different user types?
  • Budget – do you need something free or can the business support a one-time payment or subscription?
  • Testing – do you have a Developer Edition org or sandbox for testing various apps to find the right fit?
  • Technology – must a solution be compatible with a specific Salesforce edition or product? What unique features of your org must align with the solution?

Tip #3: Always Log In

Logging into AppExchange personalizes the homepage based on your Salesforce profile. The system also uses the install history, location and site activity for suggested apps and consultants. View more under the “Recommended for You” tab.

Tip #4: Navigate the Homepage Using Your Strategy

AppExchange is organized to give you multiple ways for finding the right solution or consultant. Type keywords from your strategy into the navigation bar or find pre-built solutions under “Solutions by Type.” Use “Product Collections” to sort solutions by Salesforce platform or “Industry Collections” to filter by business type. If you know an expert is needed, skip the apps and head straight to the “Consultants” tab.

Tip #5: Spend Time in “All Apps”

Maybe you’re looking for ideas and don’t know where to start. App categories help point you in the right direction. Start with the more than 1,300 free apps available. Visit “Collections” next, which group similar apps together. Avoid third-party apps in Salesforce Labs, a collection of free apps built by Salesforce employees. Finally, click on “Categories” to find apps grouped by job role like customer service or sales. Select a category to explore apps specific to work functions.  

Tip #6: Understand the Options

AppExchange includes other options beyond basic third-party apps and consultants. It’s important to understand what is available to find the best solution.

  • Lightning Data – In a previous article, we discussed defining your Salesforce training strategy. An important component to drive adoption and continued success is data visibility. Lightning Data apps provide high-quality data in real time to improve Salesforce user experience and ROI.
  • Bolts – These pre-built templates work with Salesforce Communities to connect industry solutions and process flows.
  • Components – If you want to build an app or custom page, but don’t know how to code, Components bridge the gap using drag-and-drop blocks of pre-built code.
  • Flow Solutions – Flows connect Salesforce to external systems without complicated integrations or code. These solutions interact with third-party systems to do things like accepting credit card payments or checking the weather.

Tip #7: Narrow Your Search

When you search, AppExchange may return hundreds of results. Filter the results using the budget and technical criteria from your strategy. Further narrow your search using ratings. When you find an app of interest, check three things:

  • List date – tells how long the app has been in the marketplace
  • Last update – shows if the app’s development team is regularly enhancing or updating the product
  • Number of ratings – displays how many people have used the app and been willing to share their feedback

For the safest finds, avoid newer and outdated apps or ones without many reviews.

Tip #8: Try Before You Buy

In AppExchange, you can take a test drive or install a free trial. Test drives provide the solution in a read-only format using sample data. Free trials allow for customization that can be installed into production once the trial period ends.

It’s important to understand that AppExchange is a business. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car before taking it for a test drive, you shouldn’t purchase apps without trying them and making sure they are the right solution for your business challenge. Leverage your AppExchange strategy to shop for apps rather than being sold apps by third parties. Make sure you always remain in the driver’s seat. AppExchange provides great flexibiity, so don’t buy anything that doesn’t make you satisfied. Find a different solution or design your own before settling. 

Tip #9: Find the Right Consultant

Now that you can navigate AppExchange like a pro, your head might be swimming with new ways of improving your organization. If you have more ideas than there are apps or time to build them yourself, search for a consultant. These Salesforce-certified experts have the skills to bring your ideas to life. Search by platform or industry expertise and geographic location. Narrow your search further by considering ratings, projects completed, and Tier to find a consulting partner perfect for your business.

While you’re searching for a consultant, check out Galvin Technologies. We’ve been Salesforce experts for more than 15 years and boast a perfect five-star rating. Our company earned the Sales Cloud Specialist Expertise designation and the team holds 17 certifications, including three for App Builder. If you’re ready to take Salesforce to the next level, we’re here to help

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