If you’ve been paying attention, chances are you know that Cloud Marketplaces are growing at a phenomenal clip. In fact, Tackle predicts $15 billion in throughput by the end of 2023, and $50 billion by the end of 2025, based on findings in our 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report.
Whether you’re launching your first listing or scaling your existing Marketplace business, a little advice can sometimes be just the thing to help get you to the next level. Here are the top five pieces of advice that we’ve collected from successful Marketplace sellers at companies like Cloudinary, Okta, SailPoint, Seeq, and more.
1. Get cross-functional buy-in
Time and again, one of the consistent pieces of advice you’ll hear from companies that have been successful in building a Cloud Marketplace selling practice is to secure buy-in from stakeholders across your company.
Read more: Making the Business Case for Cloud Marketplace
Joey Meucci, Senior Manager of Cloud Partner Operations for Seeq Corporation and a Tackle 2022 Marketplace Masters Award winner, says that leadership buy-in from the top is crucial. “From the CEO to the VP of Sales, Seeq’s leadership supports the Cloud Marketplaces to be the preferred method to transact [with] Seeq,” he said. “This type of support enables the sellers to be comp neutral when customers transact through the Marketplace and gives myself and the cloud team the time to continuously enable sellers, call out great wins, and ensure the large-dollar deals are led with Cloud Marketplaces.”
When talking about Cloud Marketplaces with your leadership, emphasize that Cloud Marketplaces aren’t just another channel, but rather an integral piece of a larger Cloud go-to-market strategy that requires new skills of sales teams and leaders. “It’s not a single person’s decision. It’s a cultural shift in how you sell and do business,” said Ruthy Ross, AWS Technology Alliance Lead at SailPoint. “I would make sure that you have the proper representation. In my case, I had the right buy-in from our executive team. I involved legal, finance, deal desk, order management, and others to ensure we were all aligned and everyone’s questions were answered.”
To help make the case for Marketplace, Ruthy developed a business plan that highlighted how the SailPoint team would drive Marketplace adoption through shared feedback and success stories, and presented a multi-year vision that outlined a “crawl, walk, run” approach aligned with crucial growth initiatives for SailPoint.
2. Give your sales team the tools they need to succeed
Another key stakeholder you need in your corner to make Marketplace successful? Your sales team. Selling doesn’t happen without properly trained sellers so you’ll need to ensure that your sales teams are adequately equipped with a few new skills.
Just over a third of respondents in the 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report said that more than 31% of their sales organization has received proper training and are effectively leveraging Marketplace as a revenue channel. This indicates that companies are starting to understand the impact of properly investing in their B2B sales teams’ knowledge and skills for this new way of selling.
Read more: Three Reasons Buyers are Flocking to Cloud Marketplaces
This kind of training not only includes preparing targeted sales collateral and other assets, but also ensuring your sales team is well-versed on the benefits of Marketplace, for both themselves and their buyers. “Create relevant, clear collateral for your sellers on the whys and hows of adopting Marketplaces, and then hand-hold them through their first couple of deals for a smooth climb up the learning curve,” said Sunny Ho, Director of Technology Partnerships at Cloudinary. “It took us two enablement sessions over a period of one to two quarters to convince our sellers to start thinking about leveraging Marketplace to help them collaborate with cloud sellers and close deals faster.”
To streamline the process, record everything and build a library of training sessions that the sales team can access at any time. “We did many demos for our sales and operations teams, recorded everything, and kept it within the enablement materials,” said Salima Kaissi, Director of Business Development and Cloud Partnerships with Okta. “Anytime someone needed a refresher or we had a new employee join the company, we set it up so they could just watch the videos.”
3. Don’t treat Marketplace like an experiment
Although Cloud Marketplaces may be a relatively new way of procuring enterprise software, they’re not some kind of technological sideshow. On the contrary, Marketplaces are expanding rapidly, with 83% of sellers planning to put more or significantly more focus and investment in Marketplace this year, according to the 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report. The report also notes that the number one reason why companies fail to launch on Marketplace is because they treat it as a tactical solution rather than a strategic long-term commitment.
Although Cloud Marketplaces are big business with enormous potential, transacting requires proper planning and consideration, and is never an overnight success story. Most ISVs find success in the first year with less than 5% of total revenue flowing this way and top performers who reach up to 50% of total ARR through Marketplace build an incremental path to year-over-year growth.
In other words, successful Marketplace sellers allocate proper resources to make it work. “There needs to be a strategy, documentation, resourcing (through Alliances, RevOps, Product) assigned and aligned to support sales and ultimately the customer in making Marketplace successful,” said Harrison Johnson, Head of Technology Partners at Starburst (winner of the “Growth Gamechanger” category in Tackle’s 2022 Marketplace Masters Awards).
Starburst, for example, embraced Cloud Marketplaces as part of an overall cloud strategy, rather than a “one-off” experiment. “Our organization has also invested cross-functionally to integrate the Marketplace into our core customer engagement model and GTM motion,” said Harrison.
Okta’s Salima Kaissi also urges ISVs to appoint a single point of contact as the primary Marketplace resource to boost your odds for success. “You should have an in-house subject matter expert – usually a Cloud Alliance lead – who understands Marketplace inside and out, whether it be from a business perspective, operations, or finance,” she said.
4. Start small, but have a plan for expansion
Many companies that have successfully navigated Cloud Marketplaces have something in common: They’ve started out listing on a single Marketplace and built on early successes before expanding to multi-Marketplace listings. “We have listings on three Marketplaces,” said Hillorie Farace di Villaforesta, VP Cloud Sales/BD EMEA at Dataiku. “[But] I recommend starting with one. Start with where your customers are now, then expand.”
Read more: Dataiku Brings Data to the People With a Marketplace Trifecta
The reasoning behind this is twofold. First, starting small allows you to work out the kinks and helps demonstrate to everyone (especially those stakeholders mentioned above in tip #1) that the Cloud Marketplaces can be a dependable revenue stream.
“Starting small is an important step toward building confidence within operations and finance teams,” said Okta’s Salima Kaissi.
Second, starting small gives you the opportunity to build a scalable process and learn from it, which can be invaluable when it comes time to scale. “Document your process from day one,” said Salima. “I’ve heard from many other sellers that they didn’t have a clear process and that was a major problem when they wanted to scale or when the couple of people who understood Marketplace left the company. So from day one, keep the scale phase in mind and build something that is easily adaptable and scalable.”
Read more: Level-Up Your Cloud Marketplace Game
Seeq’s Joey Meucci calls this the “nail it, then scale it” approach. “Focus on a target pipeline, continue to educate the benefits of the Cloud Marketplaces, celebrate the wins, and investigate the losses,” he said. “From there, you can continue the momentum by taking those best practices and make that the standard for every Marketplace deal.”
5. Don’t overthink it: just get started
In the end, the most important piece of advice from most companies that have found Cloud Marketplace success is to just get started. It can be easy — and tempting — to put Marketplace on the back burner until you have a “perfect” plan to execute, but that strategy may actually be self-defeating, especially in a challenging economic climate, where the additional revenue stream might be welcome during a potential recession.
Read more: Why Cloud Marketplaces Might Save Your Business
Hesitancy to take the plunge may sometimes stem from a desire to “get everything just right,” whether it’s marketing strategy, pricing, or something else, before fully embracing Cloud Marketplaces. Of course, some degree of planning is necessary (see No. 3, above), but too much “perfection paralysis” can get in the way of forward progress.
Dataiku’s Hillorie Farace di Villaforesta cautions against waiting for the perfect moment to make the move to Cloud Marketplaces. “When we started, we overthought the details,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we had the pricing, packaging, offers, and marketing perfect. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. In overthinking it, there was a lot of double work and rework that was done. Definitely start simple and then get more complex as your customers’ asks evolve.”
Starburst’s Harrison Johnson notes that timing is everything, leveraging Marketplace now brings unique advantages, and those companies that get in early may have the edge. “Invest in this channel immediately,” he said. “There is a near-term opportunity to use this channel as a competitive advantage, before it becomes a requirement for modern sales motion in support of customer journey.”
To see how Tackle can help you get listed and scale your Cloud Marketplace revenue, schedule a demo.