Tips for Building a Collaborative Relationship with Google Cloud

Cultivating a relationship with a Cloud Provider is essential for Marketplace success—here are a few of our top tips for doing it right.

It’s no exaggeration to say that partnering with a Cloud Provider is an essential component for Marketplace success. It’s the key to scaling your business through co-selling as well as the linchpin of a Cloud go-to-market strategy.   

Companies that have successfully undertaken co-selling have done so in part because they’ve equipped their sales teams with the right messaging—and ensured that those teams know how to talk about co-sell and the benefits of the ISV/Cloud Provider partnership. 

Read More: Happily Ever After: Craft a Co-sell Success Story 

This is what we call the “better together” story. It’s an integral piece to the ISV/Cloud Provider partnership. Here are a few tips from a recent Tackle webinar around crafting a more effective “better together” story from John Leon, VP of Partnerships, Apiiro, and Ali Goldstein Norup, Head of VC and Startup Ecosystem, Americas, Google Cloud.  


It’s never too early to start thinking about a relationship with a Cloud Provider

A strong “better together” story is dependent on partnering with the right Cloud Provider. “It’s important as you decide how you’re going to build your SaaS service to align with a Cloud Provider that views the relationship as a partnership,” said John.

Usually ISVs first partner with the Cloud Provider that hosts their own SaaS product, or offers the most attractive incentives. 

For Apiiro, it was an easy choice. “We had Google Cloud credits that allowed us to spin up resources very cost effectively, and allocate our capital in a way that was more efficient on the things that we needed to do to get to market,” said John. 

Read More: Top 5 Tips from Marketplace Sellers 

Building a strong relationship with a Cloud Provider means looking at long-term benefits, not just immediate concerns. Most notably, partnering with any Cloud Provider brings brand association: By associating your ISV with the Cloud Provider’s brand, your customers are assured that your product meets or exceeds the Cloud Provider’s standards. That kind of automatic vetting can sway buyers who may be on the fence. 

John notes that it’s also important to think about where your potential customers are, and choose the Cloud Provider they use. “As we engage our prospects and we’re going through the sales qualification process, we’re asking qualifying questions,” said John. “What Cloud Provider do they utilize? Who are they strategically aligned with? If a prospect is a Google Cloud customer, that gives us the ability to support our customers’ goals because we have a relationship with Google Cloud.” 

Identifying where your customers are at the outset can save some frustration down the line, while also launching a potentially beneficial relationship with the Cloud Provider. “Ultimately, co-sell is going to be part of your go-to-market and your channel acquisition strategy in the future,” said Ali Goldstein Norup, Head of VC and Startup Ecosystem, Americas, Google Cloud.


Start building a cloud strategy now  

Building a “cloud-first” philosophy does much more than increase chances for success at the sales level: it also demonstrates to the Cloud Provider that you’re fully committed to promoting and encouraging cloud consumption—an integral piece of the “better together” story. “You’ve got to start building that cloud mentality, that mental muscle, very early,” said John. “It’s important to understand how the message is maturing and evolving. It’s a team effort. Bring your operations people in, your rev ops, the people that are going to be transacting, recognizing the revenue, booking the PO. You want them to understand how this process works.”

ISVs that create successful “better together” stories with a Cloud Provider cultivate a sales and marketing culture centered around cloud. They speak the language of cloud, understand the benefits of cloud and Marketplaces, and can easily communicate those benefits. This is a necessary first step toward building a Cloud go-to-market strategy, and building that internal alignment matters at every level of the company, including the C-suite.    

John noted that it’s also critical to set expectations. “Don’t expect that on Day One when you launch on Marketplace that all the leads are going to come inbound,” said John. “That’s not how this works. It’s a process of ensuring you’ve got a go-to-market and procurement strategy that aligns to your customers.” 


Consider how your product fits into the Cloud Provider’s ecosystem

Too often, companies view Marketplace in a vacuum, thinking of it as a separate entity where software is bought and sold. The reality is that each Cloud Provider’s Marketplace exists as part of an ecosystem—and how your product fits into the ecosystem has a direct correlation to future successes. “You’re going to want to be thinking about the ecosystem that you’re building in,” said Ali. 

The “ecosystem” is a collection of the re-sellers, distributors, Cloud Providers, ISVs, and others who, collectively, expand market reach and better enable scaling. At its heart, the ecosystem is about partnerships and building on those relationships for the benefit of the end customer. 

An effective “better together” story demonstrates how your product enhances the Cloud Provider’s ecosystem and helps its customers. “As we think about renewals and expansion, if we can run it through Google Cloud, we will,” said John. “That has to happen because we’re trying to build that relationship with Google Cloud as we grow as a company and show the influence and impact we can have on Google Cloud.” 


Take advantage of Cloud Provider programs 

Most Cloud Providers offer programs and incentives to help ISVs scale. After all, the entire basis of “better together” is built around the notion that a successful ISV will help solve a problem for the Cloud Providers’ customers while driving cloud consumption. 

Ali notes that Google Cloud has a vested interest in making sure ISVs have the right tools and resources needed to succeed. “To be able to do that, we get companies connected with our startup team and our sales team, to make sure that they know how to build, and to think about that go-to-market motion when they get to those later stages.”

Google Cloud has recently instituted a program specifically designed to help early-stage ISVs find success. The Google for Startups Cloud Program connects ISVs with Google Cloud’s in-house experts to help put them on the right path, and also includes a significant financial incentive as well. “The program is for all pre-seed, seed, and series A companies,” said Ali. “It includes $200,000 of credits over two years, up to $100,000 the first year and up to another $100,000 in the second year.”

Read More: Tackle’s Google Cloud Marketplace Seller Guide

These types of programs can lower the barriers to building a “better together” story and may help lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial partnership. “We’re still relatively small, but we’ve closed some major multinational deals through Google Cloud,” said John. “We’ve got renewals teed-up to go through Google Cloud and we’re starting to build that business.” 


Removing friction through a “better together” story

Ultimately, building a “better together” story with a Cloud Provider helps the entire company focus its efforts. “That’s going to extend to sales, marketing, product, customer success, et al so that we’re all working together and everyone is rowing in the same direction,” said John. “For a small company, it’s so important to have as much friction removed as possible.” 

To help you create a more effective “better together” story, download Tackle’s complimentary template.