Michael Bull, Director of Strategic Alliances for Fivetran, and Eric Elias, Operations Lead at Astronomer, joined Tackle COO Sanjay Mehta for a webinar all about Organizing for Success with Cloud Marketplaces.
Both at different phases of their Marketplace journey—Astronomer still in its early days and Fivetran midway through—these two leaders shared their thoughts on what it has looked like to build a team around the Marketplace motion and advice for others looking to scale.
Assembling Your Team
Michael and Eric each discussed how they have organized their internal teams around Marketplace and how it’s evolved over time to support their needs.
“Marketplace now sits within our alliances team, which lives in the sales organization,” Michael said. “But we also have a big cross-functional group of stakeholders. Our deal desk team manages the quote process. Our revenue operations team manages the account creation. The sales force brings operational aspects to the entire transaction and works with their Marketplace counterparts. We have a partner manager and a field alliance manager dedicated to our Cloud Partners. Incorporating these different stakeholders has allowed the alliances team to scale.”
He also emphasized the need to properly support these team members. “I can’t stress enough the importance of internal documentation that acknowledges the Marketplaces and the differences between them,” he said. “That enables a rep to have conversations without involving an alliance partner manager or their deal desk person, which is big when you’re in scaling mode.”
Although his situation is different, Eric agreed. “I am a one-person shop, so I rely on Tackle to manage three separate Marketplaces, ensure that reps are educated and enabled on them, work with revenue operations, and make sure everything is updated in Salesforce. I’ve used Tackle’s documentation as a translation guide for all the different topics that may come up during a Marketplace discussion to help our sales team close the deal.”
Breaking a Little Glass
Sanjay talked about the tendency for many departments, especially management, finance, legal, and procurement, to overlook the potential impact of selling on Marketplace. “The longer your company has been around, the more entrenched their processes are—and the more glass you’re going to have to break to adopt Marketplace,” he said.
Eric shared his insights for increasing acceptance. “We’re launching two-week sprints inside operations at Astronomer,” Eric said. “You hear that often on the product and engineering sides. But in our sprints, we’re exploring ways to improve processes, which includes analyzing Marketplace data for forecasting, product usage, and larger trends. Having a data strategy process that incorporates Marketplaces is difficult but essential as you start to scale up.”
Michael also offered tips for getting others on board. “Be as nice as possible to your revenue operations and finance teams,” he said. “Often, in alliances, we have no idea about integrating into our SAP system. That’s where Tackle comes in. They help provide that abstraction layer for the cross-functional partners and answer questions.”
Michael also called out the value of leveraging internal relationships. “Start with your revenue operations team. They tend to have [internal] relationships the alliances team does not. They can help prioritize steps, communicate clearly about what’s needed, and take the small steps to scale and automate.”
“At Fivetran, the alliances org owned Marketplace and all the functions for the first two years,” he added. “Over time, we stood up a deal desk team to take over the Marketplace aspects they were working on internally. Same with sales, same with billing, and so on.”
Beyond all the teams that help make Marketplace word, the panel also discussed the importance of having an executive champion to sponsor the Marketplace strategy and motion. As with any go-to-market strategy, you need that top-level buy-in.
“I was fortunate that I had to walk our CRO through the process as we were closing a big deal,” Eric added. “He saw the complexity and how Tackle was integrated in the process, so the executive sponsorship occurred naturally there.”
“You’re going to need that go-to-market sponsor for the project, to get buy-in holistically and to really drive it,” Michael said. “For us, that was in the revenue org. Whether it’s your CRO, CEO, or COO, you need somebody that you have convinced to take this path forward. They’ll break down doors and barriers for you.”
Expanding to External Teams
Once you have organized your internal team, it’s time to look outward. “We’ve had interest from each of the Marketplace partners,” Eric added. “Their sales and marketing teams are now interested in talking to ours about selling our product. That’s the true opportunity within Marketplaces—to work functionally and operationally with them. With Tackle, we can make that work.”
Marketplaces have major incentives to embrace these partnerships. “Looking at Fivetran and Astronomer, we have very technical products that allow customers to get more data into the Cloud,” Eric said. “That is a direct incentive for Cloud Providers to help bring our products to market.”
Here are some tips and advice from the experts on how to get the buy-in you need and get your C-suite on board for Marketplace.
Monitoring the Metrics that Matter
A viewer chimed in asking about Marketplace metrics and what specifically to measure. “In many ways, Marketplace reduces the time to close a deal. So, we look at that in our dashboard, as well as deal size and the number of customers coming through the channel. We also review a lot of the forecasts with reps to see what’s in the pipeline.”
“We also see large deals through Marketplace and faster closings,” Eric added. “I’ve seen deals close in days that would definitely not close if we weren’t going through Marketplace. “We’ve wrapped up legal discussions in just three emails. They can take days or weeks with five or six redline exchanges.”
Read more about this in our Roadmap to Your Cloud Marketplace Journey: Positioning, People, and KPIs.
Standing Out Above the Crowd
The panelists also covered the competitive advantages of Marketplace and the differentiation from competitors or even the Cloud Providers themselves.
“Marketplaces provide a strategic advantage by reducing the barrier to saying yes,” Michael said. “Buyers want the path of least resistance, like consumers do when shopping in their personal lives. On the alliances side, it creates thousands of de facto proxy sellers for Fivetran. A big part of this is enabling the Cloud reps to sell your solutions to complement what they’re ultimately attempting to do with their customers, our mutual customers. Marketplaces become one little ecosystem.”
“Each Marketplace does have a pathway to follow on how to differentiate yourself,” Eric said. “One of the Marketplaces even gave us a PR partner with whom I wrote different items. That said, for us, differentiation still comes down to the sales and technical solutions teams engaging prospects on multiple fronts, like social media and webinars and sharing customer success stories.”
“For instance, we had a deal last year where the speed to get on the Marketplace was important. The customer wanted to transact there and they had budget. With Tackle, we were able to get approval internally, get onto the Marketplace, and conduct a Private Offer in just a few days, which was pretty impressive.”
“So much comes back to customer stories, proof points, the enablement, all that other background work that you see on the go-to-market,” Michael said. “You have to generate awareness internally and with partners so they know about the advantages and that they can do this.”
What would the guests change if they had known when starting out on Marketplace what they know now? “I would have coordinated more closely with the marketing team, business development, and sales” Eric said. “I also recommend having strong documentation from day one, from Tackle and online sources. Making sure that all the sales reps have that information will save a lot of rework and questions.”
“I’d first focus on the internal technical teams more,” Michael said. “I think there’s a notion that Marketplace is a procurement vehicle so the focus should be on the reps and those closest to the customer, but that’s wrong. To generate demand, you should involve the solution engineers. They are the ones with a challenge they are trying to solve for, and they make recommendations.”
Watch the complete webinar here. And don’t forget to get the Complete Playbook to Cloud Marketplaces to uncover best practices on how to launch, scale, and optimize your Marketplace strategy.