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Salesforce customers supplement CRM with AppExchange tools

Salesforce customers are turning to the AppExchange to supplement their CRM function. Many find AppExchange tools to be more cost-effective and to integrate better with the CRM.

In the past, going outside of Salesforce for features the CRM platform didn't offer meant using outside third-party applications and developer tools.

This is still the case, but a growing number of customers find it more cost-effective to stay within the Salesforce ecosystem using the AppExchange for non-Salesforce applications.

One of the drivers for this move to Salesforce AppExchange is that the quality and number of applications has improved along with integration with the CRM platform.

"The internal cost of moving a classic full-stack developer to Salesforce has gotten a lot easier," said Kyle Bowerman, director of enterprise architecture at Atrium, a Gold Consulting Partner for Salesforce Einstein AI software. "This is especially thanks to Salesforce Lightning because it follows JavaScript best practices, so it's cheaper for your classically trained front-end developer."

Bowerman also credits Salesforce for making it easier in recent years for enterprise customers to move data into Salesforce, including data that Salesforce doesn't own.

The more than 5,000 applications on the AppExchange include specific solutions to making applications work within the Salesforce environment, such as eSignature from DocuSign for authorizing purchases and approvals.

Banking on AppExchange

FineMark National Bank & Trust uses Salesforce AppExchange tools to enhance its use of the Salesforce platform.

Kimberly Wargo, an associate vice president at FineMark and a certified Salesforce administrator, said she's always looking across the organization for areas where the bank can reduce manual processes and improve efficiency.

The internal cost of moving a classic full-stack developer to Salesforce has gotten a lot easier.
Kyle BowermanDirector of enterprise architecture, Atrium

"This is accomplished a number of ways, including the use of standard objects, custom objects and what we find on the AppExchange that helps us automate and create uniformity in workflows," Wargo said.

As the bank moved away from relying on Microsoft Word for extensive documentation connected to trusts and wealth management, it looked to the Salesforce AppExchange for more robust tools and found it with such apps as Conga Composer for document generation and reporting, and Docusign, Wargo said.

"Because I'm the sole administrator, I needed something that was really agile," she said.

Finding the right ERP

Another AppExchange user is John Matouk & Co., which makes luxury linens it sells worldwide to interior designers, hotels and retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales.

The company used Salesforce as a classic CRM tool for years but needed to do more after its business strategy evolved to include direct sales, said Stuart Kiely, vice president of digital. Specifically, the company needed to streamline its inventory and manufacturing systems.

After looking at Microsoft, Netsuite and some startup solutions, John Matouk & Co. decided to go with Rootstock, an ERP solution available on the AppExchange that works natively within the Salesforce architecture.

"It's a compelling product because we're able to use the same sale or record as our customers," Kiely said. "It's like our system of record; we use it for forecasting and on the shop floor. And when a customer uses Service Cloud and we have Rootstock, all that information is right there next to the customer card when they call."

There may be better forecasting and analytics alternatives outside of the AppExchange, but not good enough to make him switch, Kiely said.

"The cost of integrating anything else is a big consideration, and it would be sitting in a silo, which we don't want to happen," he said. "With the system we have now, all the data is actionable and it gets to the right person at the right time. It can also hook up to Salesforce Marketing Cloud so everything is all nicely on the same platform."

Salesforce on AppExchange

Salesforce Labs has produced a number of specific dashboards on the AppExchange designed to help companies monitor how Salesforce is used and adopted.

AppExchange fills a similar role as Apple's App Store and Google Play as a central, secure, one-stop-shop repository of applications. All the applications on the AppExchange have to pass a security review process before they can become available.

"Sometimes the app developers are grumpy we make them do things, but it maintains trust and helps us make sure our solutions are safe to use, and that the customer's data is protected," said Woodson Martin, executive vice president at Salesforce. "Customers also like that the applications in the AppExchange are pre-integrated into Salesforce and are designed to accommodate the three system software updates we do every year."

Features and price aside, Salesforce AppExchange tools have a built-in advantage for Salesforce customers, Wargo said.

"Let's say something outside the AppExchange is cheaper, but define 'cheaper.' If it's already integrated with Salesforce, it's already cheaper because that means I can get it up and running myself," Wargo said. "If I have to bring in a developer and programmer, that gets expensive."

Which isn't to say help is never needed. Wargo said she's taking advantage of a new Consultant Finder feature on the AppExchange.

"It's great because it lets me find a consultant for our size and with the experience we need," she said.

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