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How to Build a Winning Marketplace-First Sales Strategy

In a recent Office Hours discussion, Tackle experts and Marketplace customers gathered virtually to explore and share best practices for creating winning strategies for selling through Cloud Marketplaces. 

We’ve captured the highlights of that discussion here.

Starting the Journey

For CloudZero, a SaaS enterprise cloud intelligence platform (and one of Tackle’s earliest customers), creating a successful go-to-market strategy for Marketplace has been the backbone of their business. In 2020, after just one year on the Marketplace, 33% of CloudZero’s net-new leads were referred by AWS sellers, and the AWS Marketplace reduced sales cycles by over one week. 

Brady Lenahan, Director of Sales & AWS Partnership for CloudZero, has been with the company since the very beginning. Brady describes the Marketplace as fundamental to the company’s success. “We’ve done well into 7 figures of ARR and we’ve never done a deal that wasn’t through the Marketplace.”

Getting started on the Marketplace was tricky, Brady admitted, and required careful planning. “When we were thinking about our initial go-to-market-strategy, there were two things driving the process that I needed to figure out. The first was that we didn’t have anyone on staff—lawyers or purchasing people—that could help me. The second was awareness that we are a company that could benefit a lot from the AWS ecosystem.”

Eventually, CloudZero partnered with Tackle and joined that ecosystem. “We’ve been doing it for almost two years. It’s been successful beyond what I expected,” Brady said. “Though there are still some rough edges, we’re getting way better at it.”

Empowering Sales Teams

By the time Brady’s team expanded to include more reps than just himself, selling on Marketplace was the company’s primary go-to-market strategy. Therefore, enabling his sales team to feel comfortable selling on the Marketplace was not just critical, but necessary.

Based on his experience at another company that had struggled with rolling out a Marketplace strategy, Brady’s priority was figuring out a compensation neutral approach so reps weren’t negatively impacted by any Marketplace-related fees. “It’s easier to justify this approach when you consider the fact that Marketplace deals close faster and the Cloud Providers serve up more leads from their reps.”   

Eventually for Brady and CloudZero, success built on success. As the company developed Cloud Ecosystem relationships by effectively completing Marketplace deals that benefited their Cloud partners, the partners provided more top-of-funnel leads.

Read more on how to arm your sales team to talk to prospects about Marketplace.

Standardized Contracts Speed Up Procurement

Acclimating customers to buying through the Cloud Marketplace was surprisingly easy. “Once we explain how it all works, they get it,” Brady said. “We’ve never had a customer insist on us selling to them another way. In addition, CloudZero used standardized contracts to further ease and accelerate the deal process.

Like other standardized contracts, the AWS Marketplace contract allowed CloudZero’s customers to reduce lengthy negotiations and simplify the overall procurement process. CloudZero found that this helped maintain transparency and controlled costs—making everything move faster and easier.

“Nine times out of ten, we send enterprise companies this 23-page standard contract, and we get feedback saying it’s great, no changes,” Brady said. “We could make the changes ourselves, so there was no delay involved with bringing in general counsel.” 

More broadly, AWS has been central to CloudZero’s success—40% of their pipeline is generated by Amazon referrals. “We register every single deal in ACE, or the APN Customer Engagement Program,” Brady said. “And we reach out to the AWS sellers ahead of time.

Creating and Tracking Private Offers at Scale 

As CloudZero’s Marketplace presence grew, the ability to create and track private offers in Tackle helped scale. “[CloudZero’s CTO] did not want to give every sales rep permission for the AWS portal. Without Tackle, I would have become a major bottleneck in the offer creation workflow.”

“Our Ops and Finance team appreciates that we are able to get the revenue information days or weeks ahead of the AWS reporting and in a much cleaner format, as a cloud cost intelligence company it helps us with the other side of the margin equation.”

To hear about how Tackle can help you enable a winning strategy for the Cloud Marketplace, schedule a demo with us!

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