Ask the Experts: Getting Your C-Suite on Board for Marketplace

How to Position Cloud Marketplace for Executive Buy-in

In a recent blog post, we offered some advice and compelling data for pitching the benefits of the Cloud Marketplace as a new selling motion to your C-suite. Here, we’re going a step further: We’ve collected insights from leaders at a few of our Marketplace sellers who have been in your shoes.  

Our partners shared the tactics and approaches that helped them get their executives to “yes” on Marketplace. Their recommendations fall into a few key themes:  

  1. Show the value
  2. Emphasize the demand
  3. Be realistic with expectations
  4. Amplify with More Voices 
  5. Keep it simple

Show the Value of Marketplace   

The evidence keeps growing for how lucrative Marketplaces can be for software sellers. For instance, Forrester projects that by 2023 17% of the $13 trillion global B2B spend will flow through ecommerce and Marketplaces—representing a $2 trillion shift away from traditional direct sales channels. According to Gartner, over 25% of the Global 1000 companies use Marketplaces for technology purchases today, and more than 75% have tried them.

When you pair analyst and industry data with concrete Marketplace data, as found in Tackle’s State of the Cloud Marketplaces Report you will be prepared to make a compelling case, based on real-world evidence. The most effective thing we did was demonstrate the value,” said Logan Smith, Partner Business Development Manager at Neo4j. 

Value is both qualitative and quantitative. “We helped our executives understand the power of working with Cloud Partners to tap into customers’ existing platform commitments, shorten our sales cycles, and find faster paths to the key decision-makers,” Logan added. 

Donna M. Shawhan, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Socure, followed a similar strategy. “I put together a data-backed business case with every metric I knew I’d be asked to show,” she explained. “I covered it all: market opportunity size, the value and benefits in terms of revenue, net new customers, and marketing coverage, what we’d lose by not listing, investment costs, and a projected path to revenue with a solid ROI.”  

Remember that careful preparation goes a long way. In a recent webinar on The Keys to Marketplace Success in 2021, Udi Nachmany, Vice President of Cloud Alliances at Snyk, told us: “When you’re pitching internally, a number is going to come up at some point, so you need to be ready. That number might not be what you sell over the Marketplace. Rather, it might be what public cloud providers deliver in terms of influence for you and introductions, that kind of thing.” Think about how you will measure the success of your Marketplace strategy and be prepared to share.

Read more on How to Set the Right Marketplace KPIs here.

Emphasize the Buyer Demand for Marketplace 

Beyond showing the value that Marketplace will deliver to your organization, highlight the industry and global trends that are driving demand for buyers to buy through Marketplace. 

“I pointed out that we needed to be on the Marketplace because that’s where our customers are, and that’s where they wanted to do business with us,” said Michael Musselman, Senior Director of Technology and Strategic Alliances at Lacework. 

Many software sellers are following this logic. Tackle’s State of Cloud Marketplaces report revealed that 62% of software companies are leveraging Marketplace to meet buyers where their wallets are and to simplify their sales process. In many cases, especially as cloud spend increases, buyers actively want to purchase software through the Marketplaces to help them meet their spend commitments (that’s budgeted dollars) with the Cloud Providers.

“You may have to position the move to the Marketplace as a forward-looking strategy, especially if you already have a nice flow of inbound business,” said Udi. “To use a sports analogy, you want to be where the ball is going, not where it is now.” 

You also shouldn’t underestimate the power of FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out”, in a C-suite pitch. More than 35% of Cloud 100 companies, some of the top technology companies in the world, are already active Marketplace sellers. No executive wants to be the one who fell behind. 

Moreover, sharing victories from those who already made the move offers assurances that the Marketplace isn’t a risky venture into uncharted territory. Both Donna and Logan told us their pitches prominently featured the successes of other sellers on the Marketplace. “Some of the most compelling content for our case came from examples of software sellers,” said Logan. (You can find the success stories of Tackle customers here to help drive this home). 

Increasingly, Tackle has also seen our customers leverage data gathered from closed-lost or delayed sales cycles, where the competition won because they could fulfill via the Marketplace.

Be Realistic with Expectations   

Adding a new go-to-market sales channel is a significant undertaking, it’s best to advertise it as such. “Those who venture into the Marketplace will likely experience a building process—some immediate value, others growing over time,” said Jim Parker, Director of Strategic Alliances – Microsoft at Congruity360. Set realistic goals with your executive team about what to expect from Marketplace over time. (Here is a roadmap to Marketplace KPIs over time.)

Jim added, “For Congruity360, expanding into Marketplace marked a favorable change in our go-to-market model. It also created a moment of pause to consider our approach: What do we need to focus on? How can we get this done without distracting ongoing efforts? What role does Microsoft play?” These questions are critical to consider with your leadership.

“When I met with our president and CRO, I wanted to set the right expectations and be up front regarding the operational impacts of moving to the Marketplace,” said Michael. “I told them it’s going to affect quota, compensation, and lots of other elements, so they have to understand it and be okay with it all.”

To counter hesitations based on how this may affect the sales team, we stressed Marketplace as an option that’s completely additive, doesn’t replace anything, doesn’t cannibalize other channel motions,” said Udi. “Then, we talked about the promised land—the co-sale, the expanded pipeline, and the deeper partnership we’re going to have.”

Amplify with More Voices  

Strengthen your pitch by recruiting your company’s other Marketplace fans to your cause. The higher up, the better, according to Donna, “I enlisted a senior executive to help champion my pitch and remove any potential objections.”  

And reference external resources for additional impact. “I made lots and lots of noise,” said Logan. “I constantly referenced Tackle webinars, State of the Cloud reports, and evidence of where our own customers are deploying. Couple that with the fact that our service runs on these platforms and it became a no-brainer to sell through the Marketplace.”

Also, don’t forget to enlist the help of the Cloud Provider to help provide some industry-specific data, wins, and areas where they feel Marketplace can be additive to your model.  

Keep It Simple 

You can further ease your C-suite’s anxieties by stressing the simplicity and speed that come from partnering with experts to get your Marketplace motion off the ground. “For both practical and tactical reasons, we chose to build a market-sales model with help from Tackle.io.” said Jim. “Tactically, this decision enabled us to quickly launch our offering without the complexity of developing order flow processing or necessitating a deep understanding of the Marketplace back-end across our teams.”

“Most importantly,” he continued. “It allowed us to focus on our core revenue-building strategy: Creating value for our customers and our Cloud Partner. I knew sales would not happen quickly, but without any skin in the game, you can’t advance.”

Once you remove the complicated and time-consuming technical aspects of Marketplace integration, you’re significantly de-risking and speeding up your time to get listed and start selling. Marketplace should be a business decision, which aligns with your C-Suite’s near and long term revenue goals. That’s where the real discussion can begin.