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 establish relationships between your company and Cloud Provider reps that set a flywheel of sales into motion.
Best practices to implement to make the most of ACE
What is the ACE Program?
Each Cloud Provider (CP) has unique co-sell initiatives for Marketplace (MP) sellers, but in this blog, we’re focused on AWS’ ACE Program. ACE stands for APN (Amazon Partner Network) Customer Engagement. Let’s break down what all of this means:
The ACE Program is a way for your company to collaborate with AWS Sales reps to close more deals. Since AWS reps have quotas for assisting partners in closing deals, they are motivated to help and bring new leads into your pipeline.
What you’ll find then, is that the ACE Program is a flywheel that, once turning, leads to repeatable, accelerated sales.
Who is the ACE program for?
The full use and benefits of ACE are available for Advanced tier partners. Sellers in the Select tier can enter sales opportunities into ACE, but you won’t receive leads from AWS Sales reps.
ACE supporting actors
There are many hands that touch every ACE Program opportunity. Here are the key players to note:
AWS sales rep: Your primary point of contact at AWS overseeing the opportunity.
AWS Account Manager: The AWS account manager for the buyer. Sometimes, the AWS sales rep and AWS account manager are the same person.
WWPS Partner Development Manager (PDM): Only public-sector opportunities will have a Worldwide Public Sector (WWPS) Partner Development Manager.
Partner sales contact: Your internal sales rep for the opportunity.
AWS Partner Success Manager (PSM): The person who connects the sales reps to customers and other sales reps, and deals with strategizing for sales and partnerships.
AWS ISV Success Manager (ISM): The person who helps you co-sell with AWS and gets comped on bringing you leads and assisting with Private Offers.
The 5 steps in the ACE Program flywheel
We’ve mentioned the ACE Program flywheel a few times, and now it’s time to analyze how that plays out. Here’s 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 it will keep repeating and benefiting everyone.
Step 1 – Receive an opportunity
The first step in your ACE Program process is to receive an opportunity. In the future, your ISM will ideally approach you with leads, but when you’re first getting started, these will be direct leads you bring in that want to close on Marketplace, or leads that discovered you via organic traffic to your listing.
Step 2 – Register leads 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.
In addition to entering the required information, you need to select that the opportunity is for Marketplace. Be sure to add the partner sales contact details so that your company’s sales rep is included on notifications about the opportunity, the associated ACE rep, and progress.
Pro-tip: Register opportunities at a consistent pace
Before you go all “kid in a candy store” registering new ACE opportunities, heed a warning about entering too many opportunities at once. 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.
At Tackle, we run a report in our CRM every week to see what deals are where in the pipeline and update them in ACE accordingly.
Step 3 – Increase lead 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 an overview and scorecard for the deal (which covers more detail about the account, its competencies, references, etc). There’s also a contact page where you can find the names of every partner involved with the account, giving you contact info for all the team reps involved in your deal.
A critical step in this process is educating and training your sales reps on the ACe process and ensuring they are aware of deals flowing this way. It may mean retraining your teams to think a little differently, but once you can smooth out that process, it helps set the flywheel into motion.
Step 4 – Collaborate with ACE to close the deal
Collaborating with your AWS reps and sales team to make the sale is an art and a science, particularly as everyone shifts to selling software remotely. As with anything, communication is vital. Collaborations will run smoothly when you make sure everyone understands their role and communicates what they need from each other.
Pro-tip: Create templates for touchpoints
As the number of opportunities increases, it becomes even more worthwhile to create standard playbooks and templates for your team to use across touchpoints.
At Tackle, we have a document for each stage, depending on if they come directly from our sales team or if it’s a lead that came through the ACE network. The first touchpoint happens after the opportunity is validated in ACE. We send out an email to all the people on those contact pages linking our team with their team and, ideally, getting, their sales rep to work directly with our sales rep.
Once the customer has bought and signed the contract, another update email goes out letting everyone know and sharing any important accompanying information. Finally, when the listing is live on the Marketplace, we let our AWS contact(s) know that everything is set. In building that relationship, we encourage them to share when they have other customers who want to get listed on the Marketplace and that they will consider Tackle to help them do that.
In addition, opportunities that are submitted through the ACE Pipeline Manager and successfully launched are also accounted towards specific AWS Partner Program requirements enabling you to grow as an AWS Partner.
Step 5 – AWS rep introduces you to new accounts
After you’ve completed an ACE sales cycle with an AWS rep, they’ll introduce you to new leads and the cycle starts over.
Pro-tip: Confirm that the AWS rep helped with the sale
As we’ve mentioned, AWS reps work towards fulfilling their quota and are comped for each Private Offer they assist. At the end of a successful deal, your AWS contact will reach out for you to indicate within ACE that they helped with the sale.
Tackle’s bar for establishing whether or not a rep put effort into a deal is having a call about the opportunity. “If you’ve had one call, they’ve helped. If you’ve had a phone call with that rep specifically about that account, then we can check the box.”
The AWS ACE Program puts you in contact with a whole team of AWS reps that can help you close more deals, faster. If you want to hear what other best practices and experiences the community covered, listen to the full ACE Program Office Hours.