There’s no ecosystem in B2B as impressive as Salesforce.
The marketing industry spends a lot of time talking about the thriving (and sometimes controversial) ecosystem within Apple or even the ever-growing ecosystem on Shopify but what’s rarely talked about is how Salesforces’ AppExchange has revolutionized the way that B2B ecosystems operate.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of an ecosystem; it’s very similar to the way you would think of a natural ecosystem. That is, it’s a community of interacting organisms in an environment. For software companies — that means creating an environment where developers & companies that interact (ie sell or integrate) with your product can come together and provide value to users & ideal audiences.
Similar to Apple and Shopify, Salesforce has a marketplace for apps called the AppExchange. Inside of this part of their ecosystem, you will find apps, plugins, tools and hundreds of templates, built by developers and companies aka ISV’s (Independent Software Vendor) partners.
But the ecosystem doesn’t end with these software providers… The ecosystem for Salesforce also consists of consultants and professional services firms such as Deloitte, Accenture, PWC and more. These organizations are implementation partners who help support technical and project execution elements for brands looking to migrate to or improve their existing Salesforce usage.
Here’s a snapshot of what Salesforce’s AppExchange looks like today:
Visually… It’s nothing special.
It’s exactly what you might expect from one of the OG’s of SaaS. But beneath its unassuming surface; the AppExchange ecosystem is one of the most thriving places to distribute your application if you work in the world of sales, marketing, customer service or human resources. In fact, IDC estimated back in 2019 that for every $1 Salesforce made the ecosystem would make $4.29.
And they estimated that by 2024, that figure will be $5.80…
Today, Salesforce earns $21.25B in revenue. If this estimate is correct and Salesforce didn’t grow its revenue at all between now and 2024 — the apps and service providers within their ecosystem would generate a combined revenue of one hundred and twenty-three BILLION dollars.
I want to talk about this ecosystem because it’s doing so many things that SaaS and B2B brands can learn from in their approach to community and content. One of the first things that it recognizes is the importance of their partners and helping their partners win. As soon as you land on the Salesforce AppExchange website you’re met with very little storytelling about how great Salesforce is. Instead, you’re immediately pushed to learn about the various apps that are offered and have the ability to toggle by solution type, industry collections and the top categories on the site.
This is an ideal user experience.
Sure… It’s not fancy and beautiful. But it’s a seamless experience for their users and it prioritizes app discovery. One part of that discovery process is personalization that is meant just for you. Salesforce has created a character named “Appy” and “Appy” will make recommendations around the apps you need based on your own situation, industry, niche and business:
Now, this level of personalization is great but what’s even better about the way that Salesforce runs the AppExchange is their commitment to educating their customers. Salesforce provides their users and members of the AppExchange with a community where they can discuss various products, they have resources in the form of articles and webinars around different guides…
But it doesn’t end there.
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