The Alliance Leader’s Cloud Co-sell Playbook

Leveraging co-sell to scale revenue and boost efficiency


Co-selling is a game-changer for ISVs.

Through co-sell, an ISV can steadily build sales momentum with trusted Cloud Partners, increase sales efficiency, and scale the business, all while helping the Cloud Provider to expand its own business. It’s a win-win. 

In fact, according to Tackle’s State of Cloud Marketplaces Report, unlocking co-sell opportunities was cited as the number one reason why sellers want to sell on Marketplace.   

A well-planned co-sell strategy will have many moving parts, but ultimately, it should help you close more deals faster. We hope that this mini guide—part of a larger downloadable—will help you to accelerate your co-selling efforts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  

Co-selling: The Engine of Cloud GTM

Although co-selling is a vital component of building relationships with Cloud Providers and scaling through Marketplaces, it’s actually one piece of a larger system: Cloud go-to-market (GTM).

With Cloud GTM, software sellers leverage the Cloud Provider ecosystems to drive revenue. Co-selling and Marketplace go hand-in-hand to keep software deals flowing. Think of co-selling as part of a Cloud GTM flywheel:

As a system, Cloud go-to-market works to:

  • Fuel sellers’ with data on the right buyers to target (more on this in the next section)
  • Leverage that data to share valuable co-sell opportunities and drive growth 
  • Accelerate the speed at which opportunities close by leveraging Marketplace as a transaction vehicle
  • As cloud-driven revenue grows, the investment in keeping the flywheel spinning grows

The end goal is to integrate Marketplace and co-sell into the way you do business, and co-selling is the most important part of the engine that drives a successful Cloud GTM forward.

ISVs who have seen the most success in Cloud GTM execution have product positioning that complements the Cloud Provider, a well-established co-sell discipline, executive buy-in, and transactable listings on the Cloud Marketplaces where their customers have an incentive to buy. On top of this, companies that have a solid Cloud GTM strategy have modified their processes and integrated both co-sell and Marketplace operations into their internal systems. In other words, co-selling is an integral part of how the company does business, not just an approach that has been “tacked on.”

With co-sell, ISVs plan and collaborate with Cloud Partners on targeted accounts to show buyers how their joint solution fits into their current ecosystem. Successful co-selling helps you strengthen access to new buyers, new budgets, and build meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with the Cloud Providers. When combined with Marketplace, Cloud GTM execution and scalability becomes a reality.


Organizational buy-in is critical

Co-selling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Companies that have built out a winning co-sell strategy have secured buy-in from stakeholders across the company. Successful co-selling — and Cloud GTM — requires the support of sales, alliances, finance, operations, marketing, IT, product, and legal teams.

In fact, Tackle’s 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report notes that: 

When talking with your leadership, emphasize that co-selling isn’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. The whole idea of “co-selling” may not be on their radar. 

Tailor the conversations around co-selling to the concerns of leadership. For example, the increased sales velocity that co-selling provides, access to an expanded pool of potential customers, and tighter alignment with an established cloud ecosystem are all clear benefits that execs can get behind. 

Part of these conversations with leadership and sales should focus on setting expectations — for everyone. Co-selling is not a silver bullet for the challenges of marketing and selling software. It’s a strategy with extraordinary opportunities to showcase your products, expand your customer base, and grow revenue.

Sales training and comp adjustments are necessary steps to helping sales teams adapt to new ways of working with both buyers and with partners during the co-sell motion. This kind of training not only includes preparing targeted sales collateral and other assets, but also ensuring your sales team is well-versed—through comprehensive enablement sessions—on the benefits of co-selling. To streamline the process, record everything and build a library of training sessions that the sales team can access at any time.   

Naturally, there will be questions around compensation, sharing leads, processes, and so on. Each Cloud Provider has its own compensation and lead-sharing structure, so address these concerns directly.

If you believe there might be perceived competition with the Cloud Provider’s first-party offerings, it’s a good idea to create a single-page document that points out the use cases when the Cloud Provider’s solution fits well, and use cases when the ISV’s solution fits better. Refrain from denigrating the Cloud Provider’s offerings.

Data: The Key to Co-sell Success

Knowing who to sell to and sell with is a critical first step in any new go-to-market motion, and for co-selling with the Cloud Providers, that’s especially true. 

According to Tackle’s 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report, while 84% of ISVs said driving co-sell with the Cloud Providers is important or very important to their business priorities in the next 12 months, many have been conducting co-sell activities without data as a guide. Most either end up taking a shotgun approach—registering every deal in their pipeline and hoping something comes of it—or taking an overly targeted approach and only registering deals they know will close, but missing out on the true value of co-sell (net new pipeline opportunities).Without data, co-selling can be much more difficult and lead to wasted effort. In fact, 40% of sellers surveyed in Tackle’s 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report said more than 15% of their Marketplace deals have been assisted by co-sell in the last year, yet 38% also said they have neutral or no confidence in their ability to know if their prospective buyers want to purchase this way. Data is key to help go-to-market teams make strategic decisions about the right deals with which to build their Cloud GTM.  

A data-driven sales approach is absolutely essential for building Cloud GTM momentum. Data increases efficiency of co-selling efforts, and thus increases efficiency for the sales org, so that sellers are concentrating their efforts on deals that are far more likely to close in a win. Having data-backed insights with proven outcomes helps sellers confidently adopt and accelerate a Cloud GTM motion and gain an understanding of where and how their customers want to buy.

What’s more, a “shotgun approach” to co-selling in which an ISV registers every deal for co-sell can actually backfire and work against the ISV, as registering too many deals with little chance of success will draw negative attention from the Cloud Provider. Cloud Providers want to see a targeted approach to co-selling, not merely guesswork. 

The right data can help you address these critical questions: How do I find and target buyers who prefer to transact through the Marketplaces? How do I know who has cloud budget? Which Cloud Providers do my buyers have strategic partnerships with? Tools such as Tackle Prospect and Tackle Co-Sell provide the business intelligence needed to build an efficient and effective foundation for your co-sell strategy.  

Fostering efficiencies and scaling through co-selling

Co-selling takes time and commitment. However, a well-orchestrated co-sell strategy can help to create some operational efficiencies that can contribute toward creating a leaner, more efficient sales team:   

In addition, leveraging a tighter alignment with a Cloud Provider’s ecosystem is a cost-effective way to scale the business through co-sell.

Co-selling Resources and Best Practices

ISVs that have developed successful co-sell strategies and operations have done so because they have invested adequate resources behind it. Co-selling and building a Cloud GTM is new, different, and requires commitment and investment, teaching your sellers to sell in new ways, as well as helping your buyers understand the value proposition. 

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to: 

  • Have a tiger team consisting of representatives from finance, revenue, alliances, and marketing that is committed to making co-selling and Cloud GTM successful. Once your tiger team nails what good looks like, invest in your Cloud GTM team to scale co-sell and Marketplace selling.
  • Refrain from building custom partner programs with the Cloud Providers. Marketplace + co-sell are the partner programs that have become standardized and give you front-door access to the Cloud Providers.

The “Better Together” story

For nearly every seller, a strong co-sell relationship with a Cloud Provider hinges on an effective “better together” story.  

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.

Of course, a successful co-selling strategy involves more than a perfect “better together” story, but getting your messaging right and evangelizing it in every interaction and engagement is critical. Your sales team should be able to clearly articulate the “better together” story as well, so they can have more meaningful conversations with the cloud reps and with buyers.


Begin crafting your “better together” story here with Tackle’s complimentary template download.


Best practices for co-selling with AWS

The AWS co-sell program is facilitated through the APN Customer Engagement (or “ACE”) tool, a portal that enables ISVs to securely collaborate and co-sell with AWS. Partners can register and manage pipeline opportunities with the AWS team through ACE. This helps to enhance customer engagement and grow your overall business with AWS and your customers.

Read more: How to sell more on AWS Marketplace with the ACE Program 

When it comes to co-selling, the ISV must educate the AWS team on how its product or service is different from—or better than—a competitor’s product or service. (This is best achieved by crafting a “better together” story describing the specific value that the partner’s solution offers to AWS customers.)

The trick to making co-sell work is knowing how to maximize your impact on the AWS sales team. This is done by clearly outlining the value that your offer provides, to both the customer and to AWS. Here are a few tips for developing a co-sell strategy with AWS:

  • Have a clear story showing how your product/service will help both the AWS team and their customers.
  • Leverage the information in ACE and develop a repeatable formula for introducing appropriate stakeholders to collaborate on deals.
  • Co-marketing is another way to drive big lift, so don’t miss out on GTM programs through AWS as well.
  • Establish a sales formula/process for collecting all information needed for submitting an opportunity into ACE.
  • When an opportunity presents itself, take advantage of account mapping with the AWS team (most likely through your contact at AWS) and share updates on existing pipeline, and potential new opportunities, for the future.
  • If possible, calculate the amount of AWS services your product will consume when deployed, and share this information with AWS. This is important to the AWS team from a compensation standpoint. It’s a good idea to also learn how each person you interact with at AWS is motivated/compensated. Knowing the motivations of each AWS representative will help you figure out how to tailor conversations and requests to their specific needs.

Learn More: A Guide to Co-selling with AWS


Best practices for co-selling with Google Cloud

One of the first steps to take if you’re considering co-selling with Google Cloud is to ensure that you’ve joined the Partner Advantage program. Joining Partner Advantage is mandatory to list on Google Cloud Marketplace.

Partner Advantage is the central hub for all Google Cloud partner resources. Through Partner Advantage, you’ll have access to best practices, documentation, co-selling, and co-marketing resources, in addition to support from Google Cloud experts.

Entering into a co-selling partnership with Google Cloud Marketplace hinges on establishing a solid “better together” story that illustrates why your product aligns well with Google Cloud and how the marriage between your offering and Google Cloud’s services will be a good fit that ultimately benefits software buyers. 

Learn More: Tackle’s Google Cloud Marketplace Seller’s Guide

In a co-selling relationship with Google, Google Cloud’s sales team and the ISV will collaborate to help buyers evaluate and purchase the software they need. Here are a couple of best practices for co-selling with Google:

  • The first step to co-selling with Google Cloud is for the ISV to identify upcoming opportunities or potential renewals that could potentially transact through Google Cloud Marketplace. Next, contact your Field Service Representative (or ISV Specialist, if you’ve been assigned one) to discuss co-selling.
  • Next, you’ll need to build a strong track record of deals through the Google Cloud Marketplace. Each time you successfully close a deal on Google Cloud Marketplace, be sure to share these wins with your Google contacts.
  • Reach out to your FSR and ask to set up a meeting with the vertical/segment-aligned sales leader in the area you are targeting.

Learn More: How to Build Your “Better Together” Story with Google Cloud Marketplace


Best practices for co-selling with Microsoft

Microsoft’s co-sell program enables partners to co-sell with Microsoft, regardless of the channel in which they are selling — with Microsoft Sellers, with other partners, or directly to the customer through Microsoft commercial marketplace.

Here are a few tips for developing a co-sell strategy with Microsoft:

  • Add details to your lead like what you are trying to achieve, who you are talking to, how far the deal has progressed, and how Microsoft can help
  • Be clear and explicit in the solution value to get to the “top of the pile”
  • Invest the time to make the co-sell assets as clear and impactful as possible
  • Maintain the co-sell assets and ensure they are fresh and relevant
  • The most effective way to co-sell is to train your sales team on how to carry the “better with Microsoft” story — how does your solution complement Microsoft’s services? How does it drive adoption?

The Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment, or “MACC” program, allows enterprise customers to spend down Azure cloud commitment to Microsoft by purchasing third-party software and services through a transactable listing in Microsoft commercial marketplace. The MACC program creates a strong incentive for buyers to drive transactions through Microsoft commercial marketplace. 

To be enrolled in MACC:

  • The partner solution must be sold through Microsoft commercial marketplace (transactable)
  • The solution must have the “IP Co-sell Incentivized” designation

Learn More: A Guide to Co-selling with Microsoft


Getting started and optimizing your co-sell process

Co-sell is the platform for boosting your brand to, through, and with the Cloud Providers. Here is a checklist to help you get your co-selling program off the ground and optimized for success: 

For a printable version of this checklist, download the full guide.

Co-sell success stories: Weka and Datometry

Here are examples of two ISVs that have successfully launched and scaled co-sell programs:

  • Between co-selling and creating private offers, Weka built a strong AWS pipeline and closed an increasing number of AWS deals. In less than a year, the company landed several Fortune 1000 customers via AWS Marketplace and increased its cloud pipeline by more than 20x. Read more about Weka’s story here.
  • Because of its Marketplace and co-sell successes, Datometry leads with Microsoft commercial marketplace as its preferred procurement vehicle for every deal in its pipeline. By contributing to Microsoft commercial marketplace’s thriving co-sell ecosystem, Datometry not only provides a valuable solution to Microsoft customers, Datometry also helps to drive cloud consumption for the Cloud Provider. Read more about Datometry’s story here.

What to Do If You’re Struggling with Co-selling

Co-selling requires effort and commitment. It’s also a long-term engagement, and success won’t come overnight. Still, if you’re having trouble with co-selling, here are a few suggestions to help get the ball rolling.


Temper expectations and reset if necessary

It’s important to be realistic: Although co-selling is a powerful mechanism for scaling and driving efficiencies, success doesn’t happen overnight. If needed, take the time to reset and re-focus. 

  • Create a strategic point of view around your multi-year journey. Co-selling takes time, and top performers build an incremental path to significant year over year growth.
  • Start small — don’t try to initiate co-sell motions with multiple Cloud Providers at the same time. Focus on getting the co-sell rhythm right and learn from the experience before expanding.  


Try DIY co-selling

This technique involves more grassroots selling on the ISVs part, outside of an organized co-sell program. The ISV leans on its own sales efforts to try to generate sales through the Marketplace, rather than relying on a co-sell program. This is meant to generate early success and gain the attention of the Cloud Provider. 

DIY co-selling has the dual advantage of generating revenue through the Marketplace in the short-term, while also building a successful track record to help increase the likelihood that the ISV will be accepted into a co-sell program. Here’s how it works.


Enlist help from the experts

Everyone has a finite number of engineers and product people. Would you rather focus on building what makes your products better with the clouds or building software to sell software through the Cloud Marketplaces? Tackle’s Platform and team exist to make it simple at every step of the journey and support you not just as you launch but as you scale and sell. This isn’t simply about doing a deal, it is about building a scalable Cloud GTM and co-sell strategy to complement your revenue system.