Today is a really cool day for Tackle. We just received the Partner of the Year Award – Innovator Technology Partner from our customer and partner, Starburst.
Starburst is a market leader in data analytics, providing a single point of access to query data that lives in any data system. Starburst has been a customer of Tackle from the early days, circa 2020, and is enjoying success in many of the top Cloud Marketplaces. At the same time, Starburst has been a long-term customer of Core Consulting, a company Tackle acquired in November 2022 to beef up our co-sell technology, managed services, and all-up co-sell DNA. So they have some strong opinions on Cloud go-to-market. I have spent the last few years with members of their leadership team talking about the art of the possible, even before I joined Tackle. We met down in Austin in summer of 2022 and talked about co-sell being at the heart of your pipeline development strategy, and Marketplace being the best place to meet your B2B buyers to simplify enterprise procurement. And we talked about data, a business they are experts at, and how understanding buyer and seller behavior is a superhighway to lighting up Cloud GTM across a field sales organization.
Starburst’s ecosystem of partners represents some of the greatest technology and services brands in the business. Names like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft. Global integrators like Accenture, Deloitte, and Capgemini. Cloud integrators like Slalom. Global supply chain partners like SoftwareOne and Insight. So when they let us know Tackle was named their Innovator Technology Partner of the Year, we had to ask…why us? The answer we received: “Tackle is a thought leader and collaborator for the modern GTM – unlocking sales productivity through Cloud Marketplaces.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, and it feels so much sweeter when your customer describes the value your company and your people work hard to deliver every single day. It reminded me of something I heard on the B2B Category Creators podcast: You don’t get to pick the name and define your category, your customers do. And they will pick the name based on the value they receive from your product and/or services. Not the value you market, but the value that is actually realized.
It made me think about every word they used to describe our partnership.
I was first introduced to Tackle in February 2021 by a great friend at AWS. He sadly passed on since and I am forever grateful for Ben’s friendship and intro to the next stop in my professional journey. Ben was a collaborator, and he introduced me to Tackle co-founder Brian Denker who is another great collaborator. Needless to say, we got along like a house on fire (still a very odd saying to me) and I found myself on the Tackle Advisory Board shortly thereafter, and as Tackle’s Chief Cloud Officer just about one year later. What I have learned since that meeting is that collaboration runs deep at Tackle. We are in the business of helping other companies win with the Cloud Providers. We constantly share the latest info on programs, we share the recipes we have learned across hundreds of customers, we share some of the secret sauce to building differentiated partnerships, and we share some of the passion that makes magic happen. Three or four times a year I bring many of these collaborators together for our Tackle Advisory Board—a bunch of passionate people helping their companies embrace and scale Cloud go-to-market. I’m always amazed by how freely they share, even with so-called competitors, as they work together with us to change the way B2B software buying and selling works.
That brings us to the next point, Modern GTM. Software sales is broken. Does that sound too harsh? Maybe it just needs a major refresh. If the pandemic taught us anything about software sales, it was that you don’t need 3 or 4 humans to show up in person to a “sales call.” And for those paying close attention, buyers don’t need to be sold. In today’s world of SaaS applications and consumption billing and free trials, to name a few, buyers can experiment with your software offering with little cost and little help.
Outside of technology evaluation, the keepers of the budget have advanced as well, pooling disparate budgets into massive cloud-committed spend agreements with AWS, Microsoft, and Google Cloud. In the largest companies, you might find multiple such spend agreements across business units. The Cloud Providers incentivize their buyers to buy through their Marketplaces, and they incentivize their own cloud sellers to encourage that behavior. The result is teams of people at the Cloud Providers that are charted with helping software companies successfully partner and sell through the Marketplace. At scale, that’s tricky, so they build systems like ACE, Partner Center, and Partner Advantage (respectively) to share co-sell opportunities. Co-sell builds pipeline! If all of this doesn’t make sense to you, Tackle has a wealth of info, data, and customer stories on our website or hit me on LinkedIn. This is the new way to sell. This is where your buyers’ budgets are. This is how you tap the power of ecosystem selling.
Unlocking sales productivity
Speaking of scale, and particularly in the current economy, unlocking sales productivity is a big, big deal. As software companies look to embrace this modern GTM, the effort typically starts with a partnership team looking to maximize their relationship and exposure with the Cloud Providers. But most partnership teams aren’t well positioned to influence what’s happening in the field, in the revenue organization. To do that, you need to live in the systems that quota-carrying salespeople use to do their jobs to a point where they exceed goals and get that golden ticket to President’s Club. For most salespeople, that’s a CRM system (Salesforce, Dynamics, etc) where they live and breathe opportunity and customer relationship management. So if you want to unlock modern GTM at scale to drive seller productivity, you must be able to unleash the power of cloud co-sell and Marketplace transactions with a few clicks. It doesn’t stop there, in fact, it shouldn’t actually start there. Most sales professionals have far more accounts in their territory than they can intimately understand. They need help identifying which customers have significant cloud projects, big cloud spend, and experience with Marketplace procurement. When I was sitting in Austin with Starburst talking about what was then a product roadmap item—Tackle Prospect—I was thrilled with the value they put on this, but more importantly the input a great partner provided on how we bring this to life in a way that helps them scale revenue success.
Co-sell builds pipeline as Marketplace moves pipeline to closed won! Doesn’t that sound amazing? Two sides of the same coin, or in this case maybe the front and back of purchase order in the modern world. There is no better way to buy software than through a Cloud Marketplace, which also means there is no better way to sell software than through a Cloud Marketplace. Here’s why:
Cloud committed spend agreements have consumed huge amounts of budget from across the organization. Those dollars need to be spent and Marketplace purchases very frequently can be used to draw down those commitments (certain rules apply of course). The Cloud Providers have standardized the contracting vehicles and the adoption by software buyers and sellers has been amazing. When I first got involved in these agreements with AWS 5+ years ago I loved the idea, but I wasn’t sure it would fly. It’s soaring! Oh yeah, and vendor onboarding? That’s gone from a month or two or more to simply buying through your Cloud Provider. I hear it over and over: deals go faster and are frequently subject to less discounting (by tapping budget that needs to be spent) than traditional direct or channel sales. If this sounds like magic, it’s only because you haven’t experienced it yet.
Thank you, Starburst for an amazing partnership, and for this awesome award, and congratulations on being a leader in your market leveraging Cloud GTM and a spirit of collaboration.