A finely tuned Cloud go-to-market strategy is not just an innovation booster, it’s a revenue powerhouse. In a nutshell, Cloud GTM is made up of buyer data, co-sell, and Marketplace, all of which require ISVs to balance technology, strategy, and partnerships to drive sales through the clouds.
That last component — partnerships — usually falls under the purview of the alliances team. The alliances or partnerships team plays a critical role in forming and maintaining strategic partnerships with your partnerships ecosystem, which often includes one or more of the Cloud Providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft). However, the alliances team brings far more ROI to the table than maintaining relationships. The alliances team can clear the path to more business opportunities and increased revenue if the alliances team is empowered and well aligned with the sales team.
As anyone who has successfully nailed Cloud GTM can tell you, it takes a cross-functional effort to make it happen, and the linchpin of that effort is strong alignment between an ISV’s cloud alliances team and its sales and revenue team. When alliances and revenue work together to make Cloud GTM a habit, the Cloud GTM flywheel is kicked into high gear, and that translates into more consistent, high-quality deals through co-selling and the Cloud Marketplaces.
According to Tackle’s State of Cloud Marketplaces Report, 44% of sellers expect to transact more than 10% of their revenue through a Cloud Marketplace this year. Many Tackle customers see 20% of their business flowing through Marketplaces within 3 years post-launch, and the top performers are seeing as high as 50% of new business.
Why should you invest in a cloud alliances team?
First, some ISVs might question the need for investing in a dedicated cloud alliances team. According to Crossbeam’s State of the Partner Ecosystem 2023 Report, deals close 46% faster and are 53% more likely to close when a partner — such as AWS, Google, or Microsoft — is involved. Crossbeam goes on to say, “Partnerships improve every GTM motion with less of an investment than, say, hiring another wave of sales reps.”
The strategic importance and potential revenue growth that an alliances team brings are enormous:
Market expansion: Forming alliances with the hyperscaler Cloud Providers opens up a broader customer base for your products. These partnerships can catapult your software solutions into new markets that would be challenging to reach alone.
Enhanced credibility: Validation with the Cloud Providers enhances your brand and product’s credibility. Customers often trust products integrated with or recommended by their preferred Cloud Partners.
Innovation drive: An active partnership with Cloud Providers keeps you on the cutting edge of cloud technologies and trends. This partnership can fuel your product innovation and keep you ahead of your competition.
That said, here are five ways a cloud alliances team can ultimately drive strategic revenue growth.
1. Lean on alliances to help you make a plan and kickstart Cloud GTM
It goes without saying that ISVs need a plan in place to make sure their Cloud GTM efforts are on the right track, and the alliances team can help bring that into focus. The alliances team can help map out a strategy that works best with each Cloud Provider. Each Cloud Provider offers a wealth of programs — whether it’s the AWS ACE Program, the Google Partner Advantage Program, or the Microsoft Partner Network — and incentives, and the ISV’s alliances team is critical to deciding where to start, understanding the processes and requirements, and helping make the most of those programs.
The alliances team provides the expertise required to help an ISV plot a clear path to increased revenue through the clouds. In short, the alliances team gets the ISV onboarded with the right Cloud Provider programs and portals, and is (usually) the point person going forward.
2. Align your product with the Cloud Provider’s ecosystem
Through the cloud alliances team’s work, ISVs will have access to their Cloud Partners’ development initiatives and product teams. This means that the ISV has an inside track on new technical developments from the Cloud Provider and can spearhead efforts to ensure that the ISVs product is more closely aligned with the cloud ecosystem. The alliances team can lead this collaboration with the Cloud Provider’s product team and bring together the right stakeholders from each team to make sure the ISV’s roadmap is properly aligned with the clouds.
This isn’t just a matter of convenience. Rather, it’s an essential mechanism for ensuring strategic growth with the Cloud Provider. When buyers see that your product is closely integrated with the Cloud Provider’s technology, two things happen:
The customer implicitly trusts that the ISV’s offering is high quality, high value.
The customer has confidence that the ISV’s offering will integrate seamlessly with the Cloud Provider’s technology and, thus, integrate with the buyer’s existing technology.
Tackle’s State of Cloud Marketplaces Report found that companies that build their product’s value proposition so that “product + cloud = best experience” are far more likely to be successful with Cloud GTM. These companies have developed a world-class product experience that delivers value to their users who leverage cloud and have a unique value proposition for those buyers (more on that later). They are integrated with core cloud services and this combination differentiates them as a software company and delivers incremental value to joint customers.
3. Break down silos between revenue and alliances
The best way to properly scale a successful Cloud GTM strategy is by breaking down silos and getting the ISV’s revenue and alliances team on the same page.
Collaboration between revenue and alliances is critical to strategic ecosystem-led growth. The alliances team is revenue’s cheerleader: the more awareness about your ISV you drive with the Cloud Provider, the more opportunities the ISV gets in the form of referred opportunities or co-sell opportunities (see below).
With alliances and revenue working together, the alliances team can more effectively pass crucial information to the revenue team to enhance their sales strategies.
With alliances and revenue working together, the alliances team can more effectively pass crucial information to the revenue team to enhance their sales strategies. For example, the alliances team can help sales professionals craft their sales messaging so that they’re in line with the Cloud Provider’s mission and objective — the Cloud Providers want to see that the ISV complements and drives the cloud’s technology, and alliances should play a role in shaping that narrative.
Alliances can also open new doors for the sales team. Software sales are made to a specific set of personas, and oftentimes, selling through the cloud may involve different personas from the ones the sales team is used to, because the budget for their buyer’s cloud wallet might be with a different person — such as procurement, the CISO, or IT director. Alliances can help in getting the right data together and help enable sellers on the right questions to ask to uncover the right people to talk to.
4. Build out your better together story and co-marketing plan
The heart of any partnership with a Cloud Provider is an effective “better together” story. And not only creating that story, but also evangelizing it consistently and enabling the sales team on how to use it.
Think of a “better together” story as a marketing pitch — messaging that illustrates why your product aligns well with the Cloud Provider, and how the marriage between your offering and the Cloud Provider’s services will be a good fit that ultimately benefits software buyers and drives cloud consumption.
The alliances team is ideally suited to help craft and hone the better together story so that it aligns with the Cloud Provider’s mission and messaging. After all, no one can read the tea leaves for the Cloud Providers quite like the alliances team, who speak the Cloud Provider’s language on a daily basis, so they should be closely involved with the ISV’s better together story.
Beyond the better together story, the alliances team can also spearhead co-marketing efforts with the Cloud Provider — and help the ISV gain credibility through leveraging the Cloud Provider’s brand. Each of the Cloud Providers has its own co-marketing programs including joint webinars, campaigns, sponsorships, MDFs, case studies, or workshops. Alliances is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the ISV and the Cloud Provider to unlock these valuable incentives.
5. Scale through co-sell
Co-selling is one of the most crucial components of the Cloud GTM flywheel, and the most important element to get right. Co-sell is where deals are created, between the ISV’s sales team and the cloud field sales team.
Building a successful co-sell motion is imperative to a go-to-market strategy with the clouds, and the cloud alliances team is the key to unlock a sustainable co-sell motion. They can identify the people and programs that are required to co-sell with the clouds, and else ensure that your messaging (see above) hits on all cylinders and resonates with both the Cloud Providers and your buyers.
Further, co-sell plays a significant role in potentially increasing revenue during an economic downturn, and the alliances team can help lead the charge.
Ideally, the cloud alliances team will also help keep co-sell momentum on track (by working with co-sell operations and others) by making sure your sales team is engaging with the right people at the right time with the Cloud Provider, while also ensuring that the Cloud Provider’s operations and processes are clear. The cloud alliances team will also work with the Cloud Provider to identify new co-selling opportunities and new customers.
Ideally, the cloud alliances team will complement its efforts through a synthesis of people, processes, and technology. That’s why it’s important to ensure they have the right tools at their disposal. Armed with cloud buyer data that helps define the co-sell opportunity, along with streamlined workflows for co-sell and Marketplace transactions, a well-equipped alliances team will drive growth for your Cloud go-to-market strategy.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are cloud alliances?
Cloud alliances are the partnerships ISVs develop with Cloud Providers (such as AWS, Google, and Microsoft, typically led by a cloud alliances or cloud partnerships team within the ISV organization.
What are the benefits of cloud alliances?
Cloud alliances can help ISVs by: 1. Opening access to new markets and new customers through co-sell; 2. Providing a faster, more simplified path to procurement through Marketplaces; 3. Enhancing the ISV’s credibility through brand association with the cloud; 4. Fostering innovation through cooperative and complementary technologies with the Cloud Provider.