At LevelEleven, we don’t say we’re “native” to Salesforce because we used its Force.com platform to build some of our gamification app, or even most of it. We say it because we didn’t rely on anything else. We didn’t have to. Today, the finished product, which runs entirely within the walls of Salesforce – making it a “true native” app, as our CTO Kevin O’Hara says – is the #1 gamification app and is in the top 10% most popular of all apps on the Salesforce AppExchange. I credit its native status as a significant component of that success.
Reason #1: To Simplify the Buying Process
I made the decision to build our app purely on the Force.com platform on day one. Our goal was this: Create an easy-to-use app to help managers get their salespeople focused on the right things. I had just led the implementation of Salesforce at my previous employer, ePrize, so became intimately familiar with the platform and the hundreds of apps that could be bolted on. When determining how we’d build this idea in my head, I did check out several other apps to get a sense for how this stuff worked. I looked at:
- How people could purchase them
- How much they cost to purchase
- What they took to get set up
- How an end user interacted with them on a day-to-day basis
I came across some great products out there, but one thing I saw again and again was new pieces of software that I would need to learn how to use and figure out how to integrate with Salesforce. In summary, most of them didn’t look and feel and function like Salesforce. People like me had invested huge amounts of money to get set up on Salesforce, and hundreds of hours training our employees how to use it and change their daily work habits. So why in the world would we create anything that would weigh us all down even more?
Reason #2: It Gives us a Technology Head Start
Going native gave us more than an app with a similar look and function to salesforce.com, though; it gave us a selling point. When I speak with Salesforce salespeople, they mention having recommended our product because it’s native. Prospective clients say things like: “If you weren’t native, this conversation would be over.” Plus, several organizations made the final decision to become our clients because of our native status.
It’s not that these clients are just some breed of Salesforce junkies. (Although we’ve certainly become one.) It’s that they understand what being native – truly native – means. First of all, it removes a huge hurdle and time drain for clients who are considering our product. If a company is interested in our gamification app, for example, they don’t need to:
- Run a deep technology audit of our business
- Ask themselves what the external risks of them bringing our app into their Salesforce org would be
- Figure out how updates and maintenance would work
- Worry about our app’s stability or security (They already decided to put their trust in Salesforce, and we’re along for that ride.)
Reason #3: It Keeps us Focused
I mentioned security – that’s one of the biggest advantages that being native offers. If two systems are talking to each other, security is going to be a concern. We don’t have to worry about that. Kevin tells clients, “Our entire app lives within the walls of Salesforce, so we essentially inherit Salesforce’s security.” And that’s the key point. The bottom line, as Kevin says, is: “We can’t see any of our customers’ data.”
Then there’s the quick deployment. If a potential customer does find value in our app, we can literally get them up and running in 10 to15 minutes – no exaggeration. Granted larger companies take longer because of their own internal processes, but our app isn’t driving that evaluation timetable. The easiest part? No consultant or IT involvement is necessary. The Force.com platform allowed us to do that.
So the point is, it has helped our entire team remain focused, which is critical when getting a company started. Building only for Salesforce forces us to stay focused, because we have one platform to work with and one segment of customers to go after. By deeply understanding the technology we’re dealing with (its strengths and its limitations), we are able to focus our development efforts. We can also focus our sales and marketing campaigns, because we know exactly who we’re targeting – salesforce.com users. Plus, because we live on Salesforce, our team has become educated on it, to say the least. Yes, you can plug an external app into almost anything – but in the case of an issue, will those third-party services be able to keep up in a technical conversation about Salesforce?
The greatest thing about all of this, captured perfectly in the words of Kevin yet again, is: “We didn’t have to compromise our features by being native, because the platform provided everything we needed to build an app like this.” We gained all of the benefits I just described and sacrificed nothing.
We’re Going to Run with It
The other day, I heard our Director of Strategic Accounts and former Salesforce Account Executive, Paul Carrington, mention that the fewer platforms a company has in its organization, the more nimble and streamlined it can be. The same stands true for us. We’re all Salesforce, all the time. And we don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. We’re going to keep building our business on the platform, and we’re going to do so with confidence.