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Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

By Richard Adhikari
May 4, 2017 1:41 PM PT

Salesforce on Tuesday launched the AppExchange Partner Program, or APP, for developers, independent software vendors and startups, as a replacement for its current ISV Partner Program.

Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

The APP will cost much less. Its baseline percent-net-revenue (PNR) model for all new APP partners has been slashed from 25 percent to 15 percent.

Current partners will be eligible for the new PNR terms on contract renewal. Partner tiers will be eliminated.

The APP provides enablement and support based on the partner's AppExchange Trailblazer Score, a new point-based system. The following criteria determine the score:

  • Customer success, based on AppExchange review and ratings;
  • Product success, based on security review status and adoption of the latest Salesforce technology;
  • Team readiness, calculated via Trailhead trails completed and certifications gained; and
  • Giving back through participation in Salesforce's Pledge 1 percent program.

The new system will take effect in March 2018, Salesforce said, but existing partners will be able to view their AppExchange Trailblazer Scores by Q4, and "will begin the opportunity to increase that score leading up to March 1."

New partners began earning points toward their score from May 1. They also will be able to view their score in Q4.

"Partnership is a two-way street, and we want to give ISVs a clear sense of how we measure success across the board," Salesforce said in a statement provided to CRM Buyer by company rep Jessica Bryant. "We understand there are things beyond revenue that make a company successful."

Among those things are customer success and community engagement, the company said.

New Tools for Partners

The APP includes these new on-boarding tools:

  • an onboarding wizard with automated guides and checklists, which reduces automated manual data entry to a few simple click-through screens;
  • support in payment tools for Single Euro Payments and Automatic Clearing House (ACH) in addition to credit cards;
  • API support for its Channel Order App so partners can connect their payment systems directly to Salesforce and automate their order submission process; and
  • a new AppExchange Partner Program dashboard providing real-time access to partners' AppExchange Trailblazer Score and on-boarding checklist progress.

In addition, the APP provides partners with the latest technology tools:

  • Salesforce DX, which has features designed to help developers deliver innovative apps faster, including scratch environments, an improved integrated development environment and seamless GitHub integration; and
  • Free Heroku access, so developers, ISVs and startups can build apps in the language of their choice. Partners get a free developer org and Heroku credits that they can use towards purchasing dynos -- the basic unit of scale on Heroku -- and add-on services.

Fending Off the Competition

The decision to replace the ISV Partner Program with the APP resulted from Salesforce listening closely to the needs of its partner ecosystem, the company said, which consists of thousands of ISVs, more than 3,000 solutions, and more than 4 million app installs.

Lowering the PNR terms "is no small thing," said Chris Kanaracus, managing editor of Constellation Insights at Constellation Research.

"I've seen reports suggesting Salesforce did this due to 'feedback from partners' -- which, to me, is a nice way of saying that the partners were screaming for mercy," he told CRM Buyer.

Salesforce "may have also experienced mounting resistance from would-be partners, particularly startups short on cash but eager to innovate," Kanaracus suggested.

Salesforce is facing competition for partners as more cloud platform providers have entered the scene," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

"Many Salesforce partners have also now built solutions for Microsoft and others," she told CRM Buyer.

Historically, companies used to enter a partnership ecosystem for the long haul, Wettemann said, but "in a cloud environment such relationships are less sticky. Here Salesforce has introduced some significant glue."

Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce's corporate investment group, also announced the US$100 million Salesforce Platform Fund, which will invest in entrepreneurs and companies building intelligent, transformative apps and components on the Salesforce Platform.


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.


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