Build or Buy: A Practical Breakdown for Entering the Cloud Marketplace

What to Know About Building Your Marketplace Business

If you’re selling software in 2021, one of the most important channels to leverage is Cloud Marketplaces, like AWS, Azure, and GCP. These rapidly growing sales channels are being fueled by a relentless surge in cloud spend. You’d be hard pressed to find a prospect or customer who isn’t dedicating significant budget dollars to these hyperscale providers. That’s why an estimated 70% of B2B software sellers will invest in Cloud Marketplaces as part of their go-to-market strategy this year.

Once you determine you’re Marketplace-ready (take our short quiz to see where you stand), your next decision involves how you choose to enter the Cloud Marketplace. You essentially have two options: Invest in building and maintaining your own listings or leave the work to a specialized partner. 

Let’s break it down. 

Do It Yourself: The Build Option 

Cloud Marketplaces come with some pretty steep barriers to entry. We’re talking Everest steep. Unless you have Marketplace expertise or previous experience, you’re likely to run into some hurdles. 

The most common challenges we’ve seen sellers encounter when they opt to build their own Marketplace presence include: 

  • Prioritization: Many companies struggle to align all the right stakeholders—sales, alliances, finance, operations, engineering—and achieve agreement and alignment on the right Marketplace strategy. 
  • Misconceptions: Cloud Providers often propose a path which involves deep product integration with their Marketplaces, requiring a lot of engineering work you’ve likely hadn’t planned on and isn’t additive to your product differentiation. This leads companies to think they need to re-engineer parts of their product or deployment process to fit (your engineers aren’t going to be happy about that) and can cause unintended operational overhead. 
  • Timetables: The entire listing process can take two full-time engineers (a software company’s most expensive and coveted resource) anywhere from 3-6 months or more from the time they start the listing process to the day the listing goes live. 
  • Upkeep: Once a listing is up, the real work begins. Cloud Marketplace listings demand perpetual maintenance to integrate with dozens of ever-changing APIs and requirements. And that’s if you successfully get your offerings set up properly (should be pretty easy after you’ve decoded thousands of pages of documentation, right?).
  • Complexity: Selling via the Marketplaces is a long game. Your strategy will evolve over time, as will the Marketplaces and the features, packaging, and positioning they can offer. Continuous care is needed from Engineering, Alliances, Sales, Operations, and Finance…that can be a tall ask of any organization left to navigate on their own.

There’s an obvious thread binding these challenges together: cost. We’re talking hard dollars and opportunity cost alike. 

Not to mention, you’re burning all of this capital before you’ve driven a dollar of revenue. There’s a serious risk of ending up back at the drawing board if you don’t choose the correct strategy which will allow you to drive revenue and incrementally invest in that strategy as your success grows.

Building your own Cloud Marketplace listing isn’t impossible by any stretch. But it’s not for everyone. There’s no guidebook on the planet that can teach you everything you need to know and ensure to derisk your efforts. Even if you’re a software industry tidal with plenty of time and resources to spare, chances are this is not an area you need or want to dedicate engineering resources to (bespoke Marketplace integrations are generally not a good fit for your product backlog).  

Leave It to the Experts: The Buy Option  

This feels like a good time for an analogy. 

Like you, Tackle leverages a CRM tool to help ensure we can track, manage, and forecast our business—all of that is incredibly important to running an effective company. We have a team of engineers who are fully capable of building a highly customized tool to meet our forecasting and relationship management needs, but do we have them build that? No. It’s a waste of their time, which is best spent making our products awesome. We subscribe to a CRM tool built by a company that is focused on making incredible CRM tools.

The “buy” option for Cloud Marketplaces operates on a similar principle. You work with a specialist to get you from point A to point B. No hassles, no massive learning curve, no engineering. 

Tackle’s Cloud Marketplace Platform gets you where you need to be and then some: 

  • Speed: Tackle makes it simple and fast to get listed and start selling. Most customers are listed on their preferred Marketplace(s) in 4-6 weeks, thanks to our MVP-based approach and Smart Onboarding
  • Accuracy: We stay current with the latest Marketplace requirements and updates and automatically ensure your listing(s) stay in compliance. 
  • Simplicity: Tackle handles all the complex engineering work and shields you from the confusion of Marketplaces, so you can focus on building and improving your product. 
  • Enablement: Beyond just getting you listed, Tackle’s platform and people enable your Marketplace business to thrive. We’ll ensure you choose the right strategy to get you selling fast, enable your sales teams, and plug you into a community of over 250 Marketplace sellers so you can learn from Tackle and your peers. 
  • The Whole Package: You get streamlined and insightful reporting, tracking and management of private offers, usage-based metering and billing, and more. 

Customer Story: Snowflake’s Decision to Buy Results in a Flurry of Sales  

Global cloud data platform Snowflake had customers with large Microsoft partnerships that wanted to close business through the Azure Marketplace (a smart practice that lets buyers burn down their cloud spend commitments – one of the top 4 reasons buyers have been flocking to Marketplaces). After some quick research, Snowflake realized that building Azure listings themselves would require a prohibitive amount of engineering and financial resources, especially with the learning curve required to get familiar with Marketplace integrations, workflows, and seller guidelines and requirements. 

The Snowflake team asked around, and Azure Marketplace experts recommended Tackle’s Cloud Marketplace Platform as the top alternative to DIY. 

Tackle saved Snowflake several months of engineering time to go live with their listing and provided detailed guidance at every step. Tackle also assisted with Snowflake’s first private transaction and provided custom documentation to help their team complete smooth transactions going forward. 

Since joining Azure, Snowflake has closed deals of all sizes. In several cases, customers were willing to spend more with Snowflake through Azure since the budget was already approved and transactions closed faster. 

Learn more about Snowflake’s decision to buy
and how they benefit from selling on Azure.

Save Money, Time, and Headaches with Tackle  

Your decision of whether to build or buy will likely come down to how much you’re willing and able to invest in your Cloud Marketplace listing. If your business has the time, money, and patience to master the Marketplace learning curve and devote engineering resources to constant upkeep, building may be a viable option. But we’d caution that the Marketplace journey doesn’t end with getting listed. One you’re in, that’s when the real fun begins!

If you’d rather start reaping the advantages of selling through Marketplaces as quickly and easily as possible, you’re better off teaming with an expert like Tackle who will be by your side for the long haul, ensuring you’re an expert at driving revenue. 

Schedule a demo with Tackle to learn more about how you can enjoy the benefits of Marketplace without the burdens.