How I Tackle Marketplace with Salima Kassi, Okta

What is your name and what is your role at Okta?

Salima Kaissi, Director of Business Development and Cloud Partnerships

How did Okta prepare for the early stages of its Cloud Marketplace journey?

At Okta, we really made sure to build a very strong foundation from the start so that scaling would become mostly a matter of investment, and it all started with a strong business case.

First, we built a business case focused on the overall cloud partnership versus just Cloud Marketplace. However, that business case incorporated Cloud Marketplace as a major pillar to achieve the goals of the ecosystem. 

Second, we defined the value proposition for each stakeholder, including the customer, seller, and Cloud Provider. We firmly believe that a partnership cannot be successful if one of the stakeholders does not benefit from it.

Finally, we calculated the costs and the risks of the partnership, which we were clear and upfront about. We built mitigation plans for the risks we identified. 

If your company isn’t currently on Marketplace, be prepared for lots of questions from people who don’t fully understand the concept as well as concerns from each major cross-functional team. 

What’s your advice for other SaaS companies looking to start their Marketplace program?

You cannot go to the Cloud Provider or to Tackle for every single question. You should have an in-house subject matter expert (SME) – usually a Cloud Alliance lead – who understands Marketplace inside and out, whether it be from a business perspective, operations, or finance.

In general, Okta has a few pieces of advice for companies: 

Define your marketing strategy: What is the product you are going to list? What is your pricing? Are you going for private and/or public offers? What is your initial budget for marketing, et cetera.

Leverage third-party vendors and partners to gain experience and save a lot of time. For us, we don’t see Tackle as a vendor, but as an amazing partner for our journey to Marketplace. The partnership started actually a few years before we even got on Marketplace as we were still building our initial business case. The value they brought to the table was huge and engaging them was a no-brainer for us. 

Build a scalable process and document it from day one. I heard from many other sellers that they didn’t have a clear process and that was a major problem when they wanted to scale or when the couple of people who understood Marketplace left the company. So from day one, keep the scale phase in mind and build something that is easily adaptable and scalable.

Start small, learn, then fine tune the process and do it your way. Starting small is an important step towards building confidence within operations and finance teams.

Enable your sales and operations teams. We did many demos for our sales and operations teams, recorded everything, and kept it within the enablement materials. Anytime someone needed a refresher or when we had a new employee join the company, we set it up so they could just watch the videos.

Also start a marketing engine, track and measure ROI, and identify success stories. This is the only way you can justify scaling.


What are some best practices for scaling Cloud Marketplace operations and sales to create a high-performing sales engine?

First, get executive sponsorship. This will be critical to support scaling and additional investments. In addition to internal executive sponsorship, you’d also want an executive sponsor from your Cloud Provider, but this will depend on how strategic you are to them and what challenges you solve for them. 

Align with your Cloud Provider on scaling Marketplace because you will want this to be a joint effort. If you’re investing in more resources and marketing budget, you also want to have access to more resources and marketing budget from the Cloud Provider.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I grew up in a small town in Morocco called Ouazzane. As a child, we didn’t have internet available and no major extracurricular activities to stay busy with in the summertime. So I used each summer to learn a new craft skill. The one I still practice when time allows is crochet (you can see some of my work on

Simply Get Listed & Start Selling