We’ve got good news for anyone determined to find scalable success selling via Marketplaces—you don’t have to do it alone. Partner programs and co-sell benefits set a flywheel of sales into motion through relationships between your company and Cloud Provider reps.
What is the ACE Program?
ACE stands for Amazon Partner Network Customer Engagement and it is a way for your company to co-sell with AWS. Since AWS sales reps have quotas for assisting partners in closing deals, they are motivated to help bring new leads into your pipeline.
Essentially, the ACE Program helps ISVs build a foundation for repeatable, accelerated sales.
Who Can Use the ACE Program?
To take advantage of AWS co-sell benefits, partners must first be a registered partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN). Once registered, partners must select the correct Partner Path to begin co-selling with AWS. The most common path for ISVs is the Software Path. Once enrolled, you can enter sales opportunities into ACE to gain co-sell support, but won’t receive new leads from AWS sales reps until you complete a Foundational Technical Review and qualify for the ISV Accelerate Program.
Key contacts within ACE
Each opportunity shared in ACE will have key contacts associated with the account from both AWS and the partner, all of which will be included inside the ACE opportunity:
AWS Sales Rep: Your primary point of contact at AWS overseeing the opportunity. This role (and/or account manager) gets the commission if the deal is closed.
AWS Account Manager: The AWS account manager for the buyer. Sometimes, the AWS sales rep and AWS account manager are the same person.
Worldwide Public Sector Partner Development Manager (WWPS PDM): Only public-sector opportunities will have a Worldwide Public Sector Partner Development Manager.
Partner sales contact: Your internal sales rep for the opportunity. You must enter this contact information when entering the deal in the portal.
AWS Partner Success Manager (PSM): The single point of contact and entry into an allocated sales territory (a defined set of customers). The PSMs are responsible for positioning the right APN partner to support the consumption of AWS through the account teams.
AWS ISV Success Manager (ISM): The person who helps partners co-sell with AWS and gets comped on bringing you leads and assisting with private offers.
AWS Partner Developer Manager (PDM): The PDM works with you to establish go-to-market strategies to increase your sales with AWS end customers and support you in the AWS co-sell process. It is important to have a strong relationship with this person, as they can be your company champion and first line of support.
The 5 steps in the ACE Program flywheel
Here’s an illustration of the flywheel to show you how each step in the ACE process feeds into the next:
As you complete more partner deals with the ACE Program, your list of customers keeps growing, and sales through the ACE Program will continue repeating to the benefit of everyone involved in the process.
Step 1 – Discover an opportunity
The first step in the ACE Program process is to discover an opportunity. A good AWS co-sell opportunity looks like one in which you have already engaged with the prospect and they have shown interest in your solution. These opportunities should include a solution that leverages AWS services. If the opportunity is closed and transacted in AWS Marketplace, AWS sellers receive additional compensation benefits. When you’re more established, ISMs and salespeople will start to refer you to opportunities through the ACE Portal.
Step 2 – Register opportunities in the ACE Portal
After you’ve identified an opportunity that you want to partner with AWS on, it’s time to input it into the ACE Pipeline Manager.
Select the “optional” field to indicate that the opportunity is for Marketplace and add the partner sales contact details so that your company’s sales rep is included on notifications about the opportunity, the associated AWS reps, and progress.
Before you get too enthusiastic about registering new ACE opportunities, take note: Using the bulk upload feature within ACE can mean a sudden flood of emails from the various AWS reps on each opportunity—not to mention the increased overhead of juggling multiple deals, contacts, and touchpoints. Register opportunities at a consistent and manageable pace.
Step 3 – Increase introductions through ACE
Within a few days of registering your ACE opportunity, you’ll receive an approval email from AWS. After the opportunity is approved, you can view all the previously entered information and you can find the names and roles of all AWS contacts involved with the account.
A critical step in this process is educating and training your sales reps on the ACE process, as they play a pivotal role in co-selling via ACE. They must be aware of the co-selling process and their responsibilities in it. As the co-sell flywheel spins, they will receive a lot more emails from AWS. Your sales reps may even push back against this new sales motion. Some training may be required to get your teams accustomed to the process, but once they’re familiar with the steps involved, the flywheel will be set into motion.
Step 4 – Collaborate with AWS to close the deal
This is where co-selling really shows its value. When your sales team and AWS reps collaborate, the sale becomes an art and a science. Communication is vital. Collaborations will run smoothly when you make sure everyone understands their role and communicates what they need.
As the number of opportunities increase, create standard playbooks and templates for your team to use across touchpoints. Be sure your sales team understands the value of the co-sell process and what interactions should look like, and how they can best leverage the knowledge from their AWS counterpart.
It may be helpful to document each stage, depending on whether opportunities come directly from your sales team or if it’s a lead that came through the ACE Portal from AWS. The first touchpoint happens after the opportunity is validated in ACE. Next, consider sending out an email to all the key contacts on the opportunity to introduce your team to AWS’s team and encourage all sales reps to discuss the opportunity before the next prospect engagement.
One option is to take a “staged approach”: Once the customer has signed the contract, send an update email sharing that the opportunity has “Launched” and includes important accompanying information. In this email, ask for AWS to launch on their side, as the deal does not officially count toward the Partner metrics until both sides change the stage to “Launched,” or more commonly known as “Closed Won.” Finally, when the listing is live on the Marketplace, let the AWS contact(s) know that the initial listing process is complete. For most sellers, this might look like an email confirming that your product has been successfully deployed in your customer’s AWS environment. This is a crucial step to show that the AWS customer is benefitting from the partner solution.
In addition, opportunities that are submitted through the ACE Pipeline Manager and successfully launched are also accounted toward specific AWS Partner Program requirements, enabling you to grow as an AWS Partner which can be seen on your Partner Scorecard in the APN account.
Step 5 – AWS rep introduces you to new accounts
After you’ve completed an ACE sales cycle with an AWS rep, they will see the value in your product and partnership and, hopefully, introduce you to new leads—and the cycle starts over. It’s important for partners to be proactive with the AWS reps and seek additional opportunities that fit similar use-cases. This shows that you are not only providing the customer a benefit, but you are helping the AWS rep improve the overall AWS experience.
Within the ACE portal, you’ll find a question noting, “Did the AWS rep for this customer support you in this opportunity?” Use this question to confirm that the AWS rep helped with the sale, as it’s a best practice to incentivize the AWS reps by answering yes to the question. This will encourage them to work with you in the future.
The AWS ACE Program puts you in contact with the AWS account team who can help you better understand your prospect’s challenges and needs, leading to a stronger relationship between you and AWS, thus leading to more shared opportunities and reduced sales cycles.
The Tackle team is ready to help you get listed and optimize your co-sell efforts with AWS. Schedule a demo with Tackle to learn how we can help you make the most of Marketplace selling.