Level-Up Your Cloud Marketplace Game

One piece of advice ISVs will see time and again about Cloud Marketplaces is this: Don’t delay – jump in and get listed as quickly as you can.

But after you’ve taken those first steps to embrace digital selling on the Cloud Marketplaces, what does it mean to take it to the next level? How can you build out a cohesive Cloud GTM strategy that propels your business forward even further and faster? 

That’s precisely the question that Cory Schickendantz, DataStax Global Director of Cloud Ecosystems, and Teresa Letlow, StreamSets Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances, explored in a recent webinar with Sanjay Mehta, Tackle’s Chief Cloud Officer.


Meeting the customers where they prefer to buy

For both DataStax and StreamSets, selling on the Cloud Marketplaces came as a response to a consistent trend: Buyers expressing a desire to transact on the Marketplaces. 

“The Marketplaces just make sense. There are so many intrinsic benefits for us as a company and for our customers to transact that way.” –Cory Schickendantz, DataStax

Tackle’s 2021 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report notes that 83% of buyers said they are likely or extremely likely to purchase through the Marketplace in the future.

“It really was a time for us to take a step back and realize, how are we going to shift our entire business model?” said Teresa. “If this is how the traditional buyers are going to buy, how are we going to tap into this evolution?”

“The Marketplaces just make sense,” said Cory. “There are so many intrinsic benefits for us as a company and for our customers to transact that way. Being able to consolidate everything in the Marketplace makes it easier for customers, plus it up-levels us as an enterprise with the Cloud Provider through the customer’s spending and transacting more.


Critical support from the C-Suite

Fortunately, both DataStax and StreamSets executives were enthusiastic about Cloud Marketplaces. With executive-level backing, proper resources can be allocated toward optimizing Marketplace listings, which translates into more sales.  

“Our executive management team is all-in on cloud-first strategy,” said Teresa. And part of the reasoning behind that is because transacting via Marketplaces not only shortens and simplifies the sales motion, but it also allows buyers to access committed cloud spend to make purchases. 

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

“The biggest advocate for us going cloud-first was our CEO,” said Cory. “We made it a mandate as a company to transact through the Cloud Marketplaces first.”

Executive-level backing can cultivate Marketplace enthusiasm within the company, and getting the thumbs-up from the C-Suite can make a difference. 


Marketplace is a team sport

Up-leveling on the Marketplace requires a commitment to collaboration. For any Cloud GTM to be successful, everyone in the organization has to work cross-functionally. Each business unit – from product development to sales – plays an important role, which means each group needs to buy-in to the notion that selling on the Marketplace is a crucial element of the overall GTM strategy. 

A breakdown at any point – whether it’s the product itself, the marketing, or the sales motion – can hinder the entire operation. “Everybody has a part to play,” said Teresa. 

“Each business unit – from product development to sales – plays an important role, which means each group needs to buy-in to the notion that selling on the Marketplace is a crucial element of the overall GTM strategy.”

For sales, in particular, compensation may be a sticking point, so engaging with the sales team and enforcing compensation neutrality can go a long way. “Our big thing was just keeping everyone paid the same and not discouraging the effort to work with the cloud partners or transact through them,” said Cory. 

With more Cloud Providers now moving to flat listing fees, the incentive to sell digitally has become much more enticing, and that’s by design: the Cloud Providers want to encourage more transactions in the Marketplace. 

“I will often hear from sellers, ‘I don’t want to talk to the Cloud Marketplace people because they’re going to go in and try to sell their product against me.’ No, they’re not,” said Teresa. “That’s not their model. They’re comped on customer success.”

Read more: How to Scale Your Cloud Marketplace Revenue

It’s also important to remember that a strong relationship with the Cloud Provider can offset any minimal impacts the sales team might experience. “The strategic conversations and the growth that we can have through Google, Microsoft, or AWS outweighs a couple points off of the baseline,” said Cory.

Further, it’s important to think about how you’d like the sales motion to unfold, and to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Every company will have a different blueprint, and the sales flow will vary among the different Cloud Providers. “If you have product-led growth, it’s okay to bake in something where the motion stops at demo,” said Teresa, “And from the demo perspective, it goes to the sales field, and then there’s another different type of motion there. What we’ve learned is that working with a company like Tackle has really helped, because each of those Cloud Providers work so differently.”


Ramping up and building out

Organizationally speaking, building relationships with the Cloud Providers can bring its own complexities as your Cloud Marketplace business grows. It becomes more crucial to monitor how your product managers are aligned with the Marketplace product managers, how  your engineers are aligned with their engineers, and how your sellers are aligned with theirs. Creating a mindset of “co-selling and partnering” within your organization builds a foundation for trust, cooperation, and success.

Read more: Co-selling 101 for Startups: Stand Out in a Crowded Field

As you expand your footprint in the Cloud Marketplace, rethink how you structure your alliances team. Rolling your alliances team directly up into the revenue organization can ensure that the Marketplace business is tied to a quota, helping to ensure that the Marketplace team is aligned much more closely to real-world numbers. 

Proving to the organization that revenue targets can be hit (and that the Marketplace is a meaningful part of the business) can build the case for additional roles within the company, such as a director of cloud alliances who concentrates on optimizing Cloud Provider relationships.

Even one or two people assigned to key Marketplace roles can help grow that network exponentially. “As you build these relationships and start transacting through the Marketplaces, you’re getting more and more visibility from the cloud providers. And then you can get into more in-depth conversations on how you can technically integrate and become even more valuable to the Cloud Providers, and then continue to up-level yourself by doing your normal business.”


Don’t be afraid to lean on the Marketplaces to level up

“It’s like playing a video game. With each of those levels being unlocked, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.” — Teresa Letlow, StreamSets

All four of the Cloud Marketplaces have programs to help you get up and running after listing. However, it doesn’t just happen automatically. ISVs must demonstrate a commitment to the Marketplace. Each Cloud Provider also has its own way of doing things, along with different ways of talking about the Marketplace, so it behooves the ISV to do its homework. “Being able to speak their language when you talk to the sellers and to their technical pre-sales folks gives you even more credibility,” said Cory.  

When ISVs capture the attention of the Cloud Providers through increased sales – and a dedication to the Marketplace – the Cloud Providers become more willing to reach out to help you scale your growth. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, do these three things,’ you do those three things, and you just unlock the next level,” said Teresa. “It’s like playing a video game. With each of those levels being unlocked, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.” 


Lessons learned and tips for success

To save time, Cory suggests creating a “playbook” that collects all of the questions and answers, inquiries from sales, information about programs and incentives, around your Cloud GTM efforts. This primer has proven to be a valuable resource for DataStax. 

“It just grew into this single source of truth that our deal desk, the executives, even finance and billing can go back to and just have this record of every odd question without having to sort through bundles of emails or resource centers within the different partner networks,” said Cory. 

The “playbook” has allowed DataStax to close Marketplace deals even faster by making the process repeatable and easier for everyone else. And the more streamlined the process becomes, the easier it is to get buy-in from the company’s different business units.

Teresa offers one of the most crucial lessons for ISVs looking to level-up: Seek help when you need it. “Reach out to all of the ecosystems,” she said. “AWS will help you. Microsoft will help you. Google will help you. Tackle will help you. One of the best decisions that we made was working with Tackle, because prior to that, we weren’t even halfway there. We were spending a ton of time trying to figure out what we were doing wrong and looking for ways to make things go faster. There’s just so many people out there willing to help – just don’t do it alone.” 

To see how Tackle can help you get listed and scale your Cloud Marketplace revenue, schedule a demo.

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