WEBINAR

Real Talk from the Trenches: How To Sell Enterprise Software Remotely

The Transcript

Nicole Smith:

Well welcome everyone to Tackle’s webinar, Real Talk from the Trenches: How to Sell Enterprise Software Remotely. We’ll share this recording with everyone after the webinar so that if you want to share it with other team members, you can do that as well. This is a topic we’re really passionate about because Tackle was born in the Cloud. We’re remote first company and we really built our go to market strategy around using Cloud market places to sell remotely. Or sorry, sell. So we’re going to share that with everyone today. We’ve gathered three of our great customers who are going to talk about this today and share their experiences w...

Nicole Smith:

Well welcome everyone to Tackle’s webinar, Real Talk from the Trenches: How to Sell Enterprise Software Remotely. We’ll share this recording with everyone after the webinar so that if you want to share it with other team members, you can do that as well. This is a topic we’re really passionate about because Tackle was born in the Cloud. We’re remote first company and we really built our go to market strategy around using Cloud market places to sell remotely. Or sorry, sell. So we’re going to share that with everyone today. We’ve gathered three of our great customers who are going to talk about this today and share their experiences with you. Let’s do some intros first to really set the stage for the discussion we’re going to be having. First up, we have Don Addington. Don is the CRO of Tackle and he spent 20 years in software sales. Before Tackle, he led the sales team that was responsible for digital transformation at Pivotal. As a CRO at Tackle, he leads the sales and customer journey team. Welcome Don.

Don Addington:

Thanks.

Nicole Smith:

So do you want to give a better overview on what tackle does, who we sell to, how long we’ve been selling through Cloud marketplaces, and just our remote first mentality?

Don Addington:

Yeah, sure. So Tackle has been around for about five years now, really operating in our current capacity as a SAS provider for the past two years. But the company was really, I’d say, born in the Cloud and born remote. So our co founders are based out of Boise, Idaho. Our CEO is in Buffalo, New York. Not two traditional hot beds of technology, although there’s a lot of stuff going on in both places that remind us all that they are the B towns of Cloud on a number of fronts. But we were really born with that idea that people do their best work where they’re the most comfortable, and built a company around that idea as one of the founding tenants of the company. We really structure ourselves as a remote first organization. A lot of times I think you find companies that try to do remote and incorporate it, but if it’s not really part of your DNA, struggle to absorb it. We see a lot of people going through that right now as, hey how do we actually weave this into our DNA? I think hopefully we can talk about it and touch on some of that.

Don Addington:

We of course, work with software companies to help them create new paths for revenue by leveraging the Cloud marketplaces like AWS, and Azure, and GCP. Marketplace itself is a good way, and I’m sure a talk track we’ll dive into here, to facilitate remote work and interacting with customers in a remote fashion. I think those are some of the things that are hopefully relevant that we can bring to the plate and chat about today.

Nicole Smith:

Awesome. Well thank you for joining us today, even though you didn’t really have a choice.

Don Addington:

Hey, happy to be here.

Nicole Smith:

Next up we have Megan Buntain and she’s the director of Cloud partnerships at Seeq. Megan has spent 20 years in the technology industry and business development, partner management, and marketing. Prior to join Seeq, she was at Microsoft for 17 years, and also ran a marketing agency where she helped enable SAS companies with their enterprise go-to market strategies. Hi Megan. It’s great to have you here.

Megan Buntain:

Thanks Nicole. Nice to see everybody.

Nicole Smith:

Do you want to give us the high level overview on what Seeq is doing, who you’re selling to, and your remote first strategy? Also, what you’ve been doing in Cloud marketplaces as well.

Megan Buntain:

Sure. So Seeq is an ISV that was founded about seven years ago. We’re still in the startup category and going through a series round of funding. But today we have about 130 employees and customers in 40 countries. We sell to line and business buyers in process manufacturing, which even in these times are considered essential services. These are your water utilities, your power, energy, transmission, food and beverage, pharma, life sciences; that kind of customer. Our solution is around advanced analytics on the process data. So Seeq is unique in two ways. One is it’s an ISV that started on premise because a lot of our customers were not in IT. Our buyers instead had the OT stack and the OT teams within manufacturing, who had big on premise systems and on premise data. So Cloud is really a journey for our customers that we’ve matched over the last two to three years. The second thing, Nicole that you alluded to was we’re like Tackle. We’re a fully remote company.

Megan Buntain:

So we have no offices. We have a passion for virtual work, not just as within ourselves as a company and with our partners, and our training, and our communities, our user community. But also, in enabling our customers. So our solution actually enables engineers within manufacturing the work from home and to collaborate virtually as well. That’s Seeq.

Nicole Smith:

That’s awesome. Well thanks Megan. Excited to have you here. Next we have Jen Murphy. Jen is the head of channel sales at Cockroach Labs. She has 20 years of experience executing programs that have been targeted at Cloud, reseller, SI and technology partners for both the public and private organizations. Before she joined Cockroach Labs, she’s led channel efforts at numerous organizations like Turbonomics, HashiCorp, Hortonworks, and Novell. Welcome Jen, it’s great to have you here.

Jen Murphy:

Thanks Nicole and thanks everybody for joining us today. As Nicole mentioned, I’m with Cockroach Labs. Cockroach Labs offers a product called Cockroach DB, with is a Cloud native distributed sequel database. Really helping customers as they modernize their infrastructure and modernize their applications, get into multi platform, multi Cloud solution. Our focus is helping take post [inaudible 00:06:33] sequel, no sequel, and either other previous databases into current strategy where you’ve got scale, resiliency, the ability to geo replicate and have your data stay within a specific geography as well. From a customer perspective, we offer both a managed service offering, as well as a self hosted offering. So we’re working both with individual developers all the way up through the global two thousand. Our customer set really is around strength and finance. Retial is a strong area for us, as well as any kind of database intensive organization.

Jen Murphy:

We do have some customers right now with the current environment that are actually expanding their infrastructure with us because it’s helping them solve some of the massive data challenges that they’re having relative to COVID. So it’s been an interesting time for us the last few weeks. From a remote perspective, we started as a mixed company. So we do have some offices, but we do have a significant number of remote workers. Over the last I’ll call it five or six weeks, we’ve gone to 100% remote. The company embraced the challenge a little bit earlier as they saw what was coming and had really shifted the entire organization to be a fully functioning, remote team. It’s gone very well and it’s been very interesting. We’ll talk about that. Then finally from a marketplace perspective, we have been in the marketplaces for a little bit less than a year. The work with Tackle and some of our customers and other partners has really helped us expand how we’re going to market, not only in the current environment, but overall as we look at our go forward strategy.

Nicole Smith:

Well thank you Jen. It’s exciting to have you here and look forward to learning from you. Then last but not least, we have Mayank Tahilramani who is the senior alliance manager at GitLab. He’s led roles in managing alliances and partnerships at Google Cloud, doing pre sales at Citrix, as well as serving as a developer for smaller consulting companies in biotech. It’s great to have you here Mayank. Do you want to give us an overview of what GitLab does, who you’re selling to, and your remote operating philosophy, as well as Cloud marketplaces and what you’re doing there?

Mayank Tahilramani:

Yeah. Of course. Well first of all, thank you Nicole and Don for having me. Just to give you a little bit of background about GitLab, we’re a software company as well as a SAS company that provides a single application, single platform for DevOps. Think about our customers as any organization or any company that’s invested in continually improving their business and software needs, and want to collaborate and communicate collaboratively and iteratively to advance their organizations through software development. That’s the target customer that really fits within our niche. The product itself, we’ve got two versions. We’ve got an open source version that’s our community edition. We also have an enterprise edition as well that we actually sell and monetize. Our community edition, the open source version has been in market since I believe around 2011 or so. The enterprise edition came to market around 2013 or so. We’ve just been continually been dog fooding our own product to iterate and enhance our product and software offering. Then we also have a SAS platform as well that it’s home to our rich community, open source community that includes developers, operators, and even some of our customers [inaudible 00:10:17] in our community, as well as CNCF that use our products as well.

Mayank Tahilramani:

To give a little bit of background about the company itself and how we operate, we are 100% remote. We’ve been always 100% remote. There’s an inside joke where we say we don’t have a single office building or we have around 1200 offices, each individual home so to speak. We communicate internally, asynchronously with a single source [inaudible 00:10:45] we’re known for our handbook where we write almost every aspect of our company down. It’s a very thick virtual bit of literature, but it’s easily indexed through Google. You can find exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. We’re a very transparent and open company from our roadmap to our business operations, to even getting insights in our culture and how we communicate being one of the largest, if not the largest remote company in the world. That’s a little bit of background. We’re across 60 different countries and we sell in almost every geo and users in every geo. I know the markets span APJ, AMIA, [inaudible 00:11:22] So I manage our partnerships with select Cloud providers. Now I’m looking towards how do we amplify and accelerate that, go through marketplaces as well.

Nicole Smith:

I like saying you have 1200 offices. That’s a good way to look at it. Well that’s great. Good background. I think that helps level site where everyone is coming from as we jump into this discussion. Just for the attendees, if you have questions throughout this, feel free to chat them in. We’re going to make sure we can either answer them during the discussion, or leave time for those at the end. I think a good place to start is with everything that’s going on with COVID right now, things are changing every day, especially with the sales organization. How have you all shifted your go-to market strategy? Any success metrics? How are you engaging with customers right now and communicating with them in the current environment? Jen, do you want to kick us off here to start and let us know what you all are doing at Cockroach Labs?

Jen Murphy:

Sure. We’ve actually taken some initiatives both internally and externally. Externally, one of the things that we’ve really been focused on is helping customers who are engaging with us across all aspects of our business. We also have an open source offering and we’ve extended our support via Slack channel for customers using the open source. We have extended for customers using our manage service offering, we’ve extended our hours of operation for support. We’ve also come up with some unique ways for helping the global enterprises who are doing self hosted to get engaged and move forward with some projects with less risk involved. From an external perspective, really looking at what each customers segment is going to need to be successful, and helping them down that front. From a sales perspective, helping the team with earlier conversations around addressing the remote issues that people are facing. Probably most importantly from an internal perspective, helping them not be effected from a compensation perspective as these discussions have slowed a little bit or taken a little bit of a turn from a customer perspective.

Nicole Smith:

Megan, what about you? What have you all seen and what changes are you making?

Megan Buntain:

I think probably some themes and maybe we see this in many software companies. Certainly we have looked at the use cases and the business value, that what we offer provides to customers, and looked at, how is that relevant today? What is the most relevant and what’s driving business continuity for customers, more efficiency? So how they can perform and thrive potentially as we come out of the COVID crisis. Thirdly, how do we stay in touch from sales, from training, from customer success, from support, Jen like you mentioned. That’s both in structured and unstructured ways. So for structured, certainly we can move to all of our training to really innovative ways to do virtual training and customer success scenarios. But even from a sales perspective, starting much earlier in discussions with customers. So getting ahead of a sales cycle right now in both structured and ad hoc ways you’re connecting with prospects is really meaningful.

Megan Buntain:

One of the things that we’ve seen is we’ve actually seen an uptick in usage around some of our training and other support offerings. Because as people work from home, certainly they’re very focused on the day to day, but there’s actually a bit of time window in there. I need to connect instead of I need to look at what’s going on from outside of the internal operations of their organization. Things like our office hours and virtual opportunities to connect have actually been quite busy. So that’s an opportunity we can all take advantage of, which is how are we relevant and what are we selling that’s relevant for today’s conditions? Then certainly out of today’s economic environment, and then how do we connect? What innovative ways do we have to connect virtually structured and ad hoc?

Mayank Tahilramani:

I totally agree with that. From a go-to market marketing perspective, we definitely transition more towards digital events, digital outreach, digital engagement. With the downtime that Megan had mentioned, customers have a little bit of freedom. Teams are working from home to explore and fit in other miscellaneous virtual engagements that they may not have previously. Also, they’ve got the option to catch up asynchronously offline as well. So shifting our marketing tactics to more digital means and virtual means, compensates for some of the loss pipeline from field events for example. I think that’s been really helpful. Additionally, I think Megan you had mentioned education as well. I totally agree with that. Internal education for our sellers is huge. So doubling down on that since we do have that bandwidth and time, it’s extremely important. I’m not talking about just technical enablement, but also sales enablement and how to have a different kind of discussion. How to position yourselves with the buyer in a more different way. For example, I see GitLab as an enabler for a lot of our customers.

Mayank Tahilramani:

We enable customers to adopt Cloud. We enable customers to develop software that’s more Cloud native. We enable customers to go through that app modernization and key transformation journey. Associated with that journey, one, educating the sales reps and sellers to really understand where that customer is within that journey and where GitLab can add value. Additionally, advocating how GitLab can help the customer or the organization realize the investments they may have already made to the Cloud provider. That dove tails into the marketplace discussion where you can actually tap into an opex budget instead of a capex budget. Particularly during these times where you start having a different conversation around budgeting and how you’re actually going to procure, and what the value proposition is, and what the return on investment is, particularly during a time where everyone is remote. So software can help augment the gap caused by the remote workers. [inaudible 00:17:41] some of those conversations that we have internally in regards to sales enablement.

Don Addington:

I think that’s some of what I would echo too Mayank. Is that we’re all software companies that enable a lot of outcomes. It’s not always just what’s this piece of software do. But what can we enable you to do? So Tackle, while our platform makes it easy for people to get into marketplace and start selling marketplace, the value we bring to the plate outside of that is really our visibility across all of our customers and all the marketplaces. Especially right now, sharing back with our customers what we’re seeing and what we’re hearing. So what’s going on with your peers? We’ve got 149 other companies to look at and go, hey how are you adjusting your strategies? What are you seeing? So we’ve started really asking those questions about how’s your business and really empathetically. Really, hey how are your customers talking to you? What are you seeing out there? I think we really, we’ve tried to double down on our messaging around really allowing software companies a flexible path to doing deals right now.

Don Addington:

Part of the fun of my job is I get to help other software companies sell at the end of the day. That’s the outcome that we get to inspire. Now more than ever, the messaging of, to get a deal done is never an easy thing, in any environment. Then to getting a deal done right now, you’re looking for every angle and edge that you can. It’s been fun to educate some of our perspective buyers. Hey, if you’re looking for other routes to getting business transacted right now, we’ve seen the marketplaces be an easier path in because it’s an established relationship that you’re sourcing software through. I think we’ve been able to help provide some ideas. We’ve also done some things like started offering office hours. So we normally travel around a lot. We go to a lot of Cloud provider events. We go talk to our customers and obviously none of us are doing that. In a way, it’s cool because we’re all in the same boat. It’s not like one person trying to pull everybody else into a remote conversation. Everybody is.

Don Addington:

Doing some events like offering up office hours where we don’t have that exposure by traveling. So let’s just do that on a recurring basis week over week. A lot of people are coming to us and ask us whatever they like.

Jen Murphy:

I would just jump in to say Don, that you guys have helped us differentiate. Because we’re all talking about very similar things that we’ve done with our teams and how we’re focused on servicing customers in a different way. But there’s still, how do you raise above the fray when you can’t be face to face? I think Tackle has done a great job helping us do that over the last month. This is our end of quarter and the conversations have really escalated in a positive. So thank you on that front.

Don Addington:

Thank you.

Nicole Smith:

Go ahead.

Mayank Tahilramani:

Oh go ahead.

Nicole Smith:

Nope, go for it.

Mayank Tahilramani:

I was just going to say Don, office hours I think are going to be a lot more popular moving forward. I think it’s ironic. You’re more approachable and reachable now with office hours because you’re having them more frequently, despite being [inaudible 00:21:06]

Don Addington:

I mean, hey. You’re not going anywhere, we’re not going anywhere. Might as well pop in and ask a question.

Nicole Smith:

Exactly. Everyone’s home, so get online and talk to us.

Don Addington:

It’s been a lot easier to get a hold of people. All of a sudden these people you can’t track down. You’re like, well [crosstalk 00:21:27]

Nicole Smith:

Someone was asking, how do we make customers aware of those? We’ve been trying to do that through sending out some emails to invite people to those. Then also, promoting it through social media. If you’re not invited to those and want to come, let me know. Then we’ll make sure you’re included on those invites. I think that we started touching on this a little bit. It might be good to talk about how you’re enabling your sales team during this time. Not even during this time, but in a completely remote environment. Because a lot of people are new to this being remote with their sales team, all over the place. So what tools do you use to help you do this? What are some tips and strategies you might have for people? I know GitLab is famous for your handbook, as you touched on. So maybe you want to start Mayank, with yours and how you’ve done this there.

Mayank Tahilramani:

Just a quick comment on what Don just said. There’s no water cooler talk. At GitLab, everything is so transparent. Our water cooler is in text on issues, GitLab issues. That’s part of our culture. When we talk about training enablement, it’s great because the same training enablement that we do for our sales team, a lot of it comes publicly accessible for our customers as well. That’s part of the journey of enabling our customers on how to use our product better, because you’ve got this opportunity to reinvest in education. Whatever we build internally, we want to make sure it’s externalized as well and keep it completely transparent, and open, and visible. Some of the tools that we use, obviously we use gitlab.com, our own product. [inaudible 00:23:00] internally from managing the training, when we’re planning the curriculum, building the content out. A lot of that stuff just is project managed within GitLab itself.

Mayank Tahilramani:

Not only is that a great use case and example how to use the product, subtle ways of education, but also internally it allows us to keep visibility and asynchronous communication. Think about it this way, we’ve got 1200 employees across 67 different countries. Imagine the different timezones that we’re coordinating with to get every sales geo aligned. A lot of that has to do with committing to being transparent, writing everything down, the handbook is a great example of that obviously, and using the right tools. Communicating informally through Slack, building out content through a G suite, and hosting meetings on Zoom, and keeping a single source of truth of what the project and task is defined in a GitLab issue or an MR. So a combination of the right tools really allow us to communicate better, more transparently. Some would say [inaudible 00:24:00] is also an educational experience for everyone who’s watching us on how we use our own product.

Megan Buntain:

It’s very similar. When I started at Seeq in this role about a year ago, Rod worked remotely and with distributed sales team for years. There was a culture and a work difference here with a fully virtual company. It picks up on many things Mayank had said, I think previously I would have thought was not necessarily possible. One of those things was documentation. There isn’t the opportunity to just walk by someones office. We have these distributed and across timezones, geo teams. Here we have embraced Salesforce from a CRM perspective, but also deep documentation at a customer level and of our processes, et cetera. We used to tease that I was in marketing for many years, field marketing. That sales people don’t scroll. So the minute you had a communication and they’re on the phone. So the minute you had a communication that required a scroll, we’ve lost the sales organization. So if anyone were to say to me then that more documentation is what is needed, I would have really pushed back.

Megan Buntain:

I think there’s two or three critical things. One is communicating and a lot of ad hock and structured channels. So Slack versus in our case, [inaudible 00:25:31] tools, Confluence, having those pieces together. Then secondly, one thing we have at Seeq is we actually have unleashed some developers to create a virtual office piece of software. But the real role of that software is to enable the knock, the virtual knock on someones door and those ad hock type conversations. That’s really important. So whether that’s through daily stand ups or social hours, et cetera. That ability to have ad hock conversations so that information can pass quickly and relationships are built, you’ve got to find a way to make that happen. Then secondly, to the point on the documentation, Mayank, you were making as well is we document it internally. It’s not that hard to then adjust that content and make it available for customers. So I feel like we always have this huge head start on sharing our internal knowledge and capabilities with customers and prospects, which makes the job of our sales team selling remotely more easy as well because there’s more self service.

Don Addington:

Well speaking of sales people not documenting or not reading, or counting a short attention span, I think there’s a couple of tools that we use and some we’ve just started using. They’ve been super exciting to me and surprisingly my team as well, to really help us across a number of fronts. There’s a bunch of solutions out there today to do video recording and stuff like that. We looked at some solutions by Chorus and Gong. We have been using Gong and it’s been really cool to, as we onboard and we’re still onboarding and hiring, the team is growing and things. So as we onboard, we’ve got a library of calls that we’ve done. We do analysis and pull out key words in conversation. As we’re trying to assess the impact of our perspective customers, talking about COVID as something that’s slowing a deal down, I don’t have to guess at that. I don’t have to ask my sales reps to make sure that they turn around and tell me when they hear something like that. There’s key words and triggers that we’re collecting as part of those conversations that go on. Almost all of us are used to being on calls now or video calls and there’s a recorder in the session.

Don Addington:

It’s been absorbed I think pretty naturally. That’s had some really cool impacts for us both from an outward facing perspective. I find we’re taking snippets of conversations and inviting other people who weren’t there in that conversation, hey, here’s what we talked about. It’s a way to keep those lines open and share, and keep continuity across conversations, things like that. I think the other tool that we’ve been using for a long time but is just the chat on our website. We’re still a relatively small organization. We’re less than 10 sales reps overall. When you come and chat with us on our website, we use Drift, but there’s Intercom Drift. There’s a bunch of companies out there that do this. Engaging people in a conversation, we try to dive on that as much as possible in real time. I know the automation and the AI and stuff is the cool bit of those. It’s actually really I think pretty fun for people to come hit the site and start a chat session. You’re expecting to have a bot there and our team I think does a pretty good job of diving on it and starting a conversation in real time. I think it just figuring out what are those collections and tools. How are you going to use them? There’s a world of opportunity there.

Jen Murphy:

We’re using a lot of the tools that everyone has talked about as well. I interestingly go back to the water cooler comment. We actually have created a water cooler hangout that is always live. So people will go into a Slack channel and say, hey I’m heading to the water cooler so we can do some real time sharing there. Little more personal than going into a Slack channel and just typing out. But we’ve also implemented things like podcasts. So sales interviews, you had a call, the call went well. What was different about it? So little to Megan, your point of keeping the sales team engaged. 15 minute vignettes of how did the cycle go, what were the things that you heard that were great, negative. Sharing more of how we’re sending out emails. What’s the message? How’s it changed? Who’s getting more opens? So Don, to the tools that you’re talking about relative to tracking, leveraging all of that data and sharing it much more extensively internally. We’ve also escalated our internal communications where we’re doing enablement calls multiple times a week. Those are all recorded and doing just some sanity checks across the sales team.

Jen Murphy:

It’s not just the tools that we’re using to understand what’s happening at the customer level, but ensuring that the team internally is feeling comfortable and engaged, and that they’re making strides forward as well.

Don Addington:

Does everybody here do some version of a stand up with their sales team? Not forecasting in nature, but just where you’re at, any helps, any themes, things like that. Is that something you guys all engage in?

Megan Buntain:

Yes.

Jen Murphy:

Yeah.

Mayank Tahilramani:

We have several stand ups actually. We’ve gotten a reoccurring company call that’s open invite, open door for the first 30 minutes at 8AM Pacific time. Sorry, that’s a group call. So one functional group, so one day it might be the product group. The other one is the engineering group. The next one might be [inaudible 00:31:12] group. First 30 minutes of that hour is a stand up. Anyone in the company can join, including sales. For example, if I’m having my monthly stand up or bi monthly standup, I’ll have a lot of sellers on that call asking questions and engaging. That’s when they can have a direct line of communication with the partner team or the product team to get some of their questions answered or provide feedback to customers. Then we’ve got a company stand up call, company announcements. It’s the second half of that one hour meeting on a separate Zoom call. Then we’ve got separately, just for the sales team, an optional [inaudible 00:31:45] enablement. 30 minute slot there to focus on a topic and talk about it. We’ve got several stand ups for different groups. That just helps us stay on the same page.

Jen Murphy:

We do a weekly company call. Then we narrow down into the different teams to have updates. Everything is published, so if you want to sit on a call, you have the ability to do that to learn about what’s happening with a different team. We also record everything and it’s accessible to the organization afterwards.

Don Addington:

My favorite new feature of my stand up call with my team, which we do on Fridays, is we created a blooper real from all of our Gong sessions. So we’ve got the funniest moments. There’s always something that went a little sideways or whatever. It’s a great way to share some funny experiences, but also at the end of the day, you’re usually learning from somebody’s mistake, whether it’s your own or somebody else’s.

Jen Murphy:

Do we all get to see that later Don?

Don Addington:

No. No. Maybe in a one on one.

Nicole Smith:

That’s going on our follow up email. Lots of good themes there around just the consistency of communication, documenting everything when people are remote. Being able to share that I think really came out in everyone’s answer. What about Cloud marketplaces and talking about that? Because that’s a channel I know everyone is utilizing for sales, as we talked about in the introductions. That’s still new. It’s still really an emerging channel. We’re in the early innings of that. What attracted everyone to this channel? What success have you seen through it since you started?

Megan Buntain:

I’ll jump in. First, this wasn’t planned but I do have to talk about how Tackle changed our experience in getting to the Cloud marketplaces. So we had started with a Cloud marketplace publishing our listing and had been at it for three or four months. It requires investment and a lot of learning on a lot of fronts. Finally on the fifth month, the team at the Cloud provider we were working with said, we saw some of these things. There’s this group Tackle. Within a week with Tackle, we had made more progress than the previous five months and were very, very fast to marketplace. Then once we had done that heavy lifting and understood our offering and what we’re trying to do in the first marketplace, it was easier and much faster to market in the second marketplace. So we’ve been in two Cloud marketplaces within the last seven or eight months.

Megan Buntain:

What attracted us to this channel, first and foremost, we have and many software companies I’m sure have this. We have strategic alliances with Cloud providers. They are creating value for customers in searching for software applications and the procurement of those applications, and the ability in some cases to leverage third party software costs to decrement, or to count towards a larger commitment to the Cloud provider on their consumption requirements for enterprise customers. So that package of value to customers was really part of A, a partnership we wanted to have. Secondly, for us really specifically, it does two things. One is it just simplifies procurement at the basic level, especially with new customers. So as we go and expand into new markets, drive with our channel into new customer acquisition, then you really leap frog over with a customer setting up a new vendor.

Megan Buntain:

Contracts like some lengthy contract negotiations because you’re leveraging that marketplace platform. The deal acceleration and especially now, deal acceleration is probably our number one reason that the marketplace is a benefit. The second and I think we’ll get there is more in a land, and expand, and enterprise selling motion. So into renewals and into expansion, and making that easier. A lot of our sales through the marketplaces, we expect to be through private offers. It’s enterprise software selling. So it’s about landing and showing value to a customer and then expanding. So the marketplace offerings are attractive to create less friction for customers to buy in that way, and for us to support them.

Jen Murphy:

I would say we’ve seen very much the same experience, all the way from Tackle helping us get into the marketplaces quickly, as well as the customer interest in leveraging marketplaces is a purchasing vehicle. The probably biggest addition I would make is engaging with the sales teams from the various Cloud vendors to help us get market validation relevant to our technology as a startup; that’s always helpful. But also, to help us and strategize on how do you get into these different customers in various ways leveraging the Cloud platform. That’s something that across all three Cloud platforms, we’ve seen some great engagement from the reps and helped us accelerate deals.

Mayank Tahilramani:

Megan, I agree with so much that you said. That’s a lot of similar observations that I’ve had here at GitLab as well. Just for a little background and history, we’ve been in the marketplace for a while as a solution that you can deploy, but not necessarily procure until very recently. So when we first adopted the first marketplace and did a health check and pulse check to see what the response would be, we actually began our journey with private offers almost exclusively. Deal acceleration was pretty evident. We already had a few deals that closed immediately. As soon as we launched in the marketplace, we were able to transact in the marketplace as well. A lot of it was due to some of the factors that you had mentioned, that goes towards the commit that the customer has towards their Cloud provider. Then their sales incentives with our strategic Cloud providers as well that help facilitate and usher through that deal.

Mayank Tahilramani:

So everything is very much aligned, but as we do this crawl, walk, run approach and we start crawling towards our second marketplace and the second Cloud provider, and unlock procurement possibilities through that marketplace, I can totally see just based on the metrics that we have from deployment perspective how many people were deploying our solution. Even though they weren’t buying it, they’re just deploying it to get started. I think there’s a lot of expand opportunity there. It helps again accelerate that deal and later on, the idea is to help really drive a marketing experience to provide organic growth, not just private offers based on existing relationships that we have with customers to close deals.

Don Addington:

I think we’re continual education mode in terms of being the custodian of a bunch of partners and their business within the Cloud marketplaces, and trying to share that back and reflect what we’re seeing. Like what works? What doesn’t work? I think the call out on making sure that you’re working closely with your sales team so they understand what is marketplace. How do I talk about it? When might be the right time in a sale cycle? I had a person on LinkedIn the other day, which was just a reflection of a conversation I had with a CRO who went out and just simply asked their Q2, Q3 opportunities. Like, hey, I know you’re looking to do a deal with us. Would it be easier if we went through your strategic or late partnership with one of the Cloud providers? The response he got was pretty crazy. All of a sudden opportunities that sped up and were spread across all three of the marketplaces. Just knowing that, that tool is there, and that you can think about marketplace in a lot of different ways.

Don Addington:

From fulfillment, through to more technically easily procuring solutions and things like that. There’s a spectrum. So we do a lot of education. I think a lot of perception around marketplace is, hey it’s not a place for enterprise tools. I work in marketing technology and my buyer isn’t there. Really it’s not so much about, does your buyer know how to buy a tool through marketplace? It’s about whether or not your company has a strategic relationship with one of these Cloud providers. If so, you might not even be aware of the benefit that you could be providing by sourcing through one of those channels. So we spend actually a lot of time both buyer side education talking to buyers about marketplace and why marketplace, as well as software companies. Then we’re in the unique position of also being a marketplace seller. We sell across all three of the marketplaces. Going back and taking a look at what do we do from our go-to market. How do we talk about it and then try to share that with our customers as well.

Mayank Tahilramani:

You guys should write a handbook to outline all of that or something.

Nicole Smith:

That’s a good content piece.

Megan Buntain:

Don, I want to echo that with a comment you said. Our software, we’re not selling into IT, even in the procurement side of our enterprise sales process. It’s usually a different team within procurement that is responsible for the Cloud platform. And we’re an enterprise application that actually today we don’t offer as a deployment or fulfillment vehicle through the marketplaces. Off the first glance, you think, is marketplace the right place for software like that? Our answer has been yes. It’s helped our line of business buyer actually forge some internal relationships within IT and get IT as a business partner through the process. Then secondly, there’s just a lot of flexibility in the marketplaces today. If you want to fulfill the software itself through the marketplace, great. If you don’t, if you expect to be doing private offers and specific contract terms for enterprise customers, great. They’ve matured to the point where there’s a lot of flexibility, such that you can sell through marketplace to a non IT buyer some software that is not download to go. It requires some services and white glove experience with it.

Don Addington:

I always get that. I always say I’m frustrated. I didn’t know how to spell marketplace until a year and a half ago. As a seller in my past, there’s a lot of situations where I was like, oh that would have been a great moment to introduce this into the picture. I think a lot of this is just too, going back to the sale side of things. It involves asking questions that your team might not be … it might not be germane to your process. You’re selling a database. You’re probably not asking your buyer who their strategic Cloud relationships are with. You guys work across all those clouds, so you probably do. Some of these questions aren’t really the daily questions that get asked. It’s just kind of, hey, here’s the easy simple things to ask and go figure out might this be a good fit.

Jen Murphy:

It definitely has changed the way our sellers are having conversations when they get to the stage of procurement. We’re really trying to get them to ask earlier on. Because to your point, you’re going to deploy it somewhere. Where are you going to deploy it? If so, is that an easier purchasing path for you? It has changed timelines and conversations for us.

Don Addington:

Totally.

Nicole Smith:

We could do a whole probably separate webinar around that and talking about those questions too. There’s obviously been a lot of success that we’ve all had with marketplace and selling there. But there’s also challenges too, so I want to be transparent and talk about challenges you’ve experienced for others that either aren’t on marketplace or are early on with it. What are some of the challenges you’ve seen selling with Cloud marketplaces?

Nicole Smith:

[crosstalk 00:44:27]

Jen Murphy:

I’ll jump … oh. Sorry [crosstalk 00:44:28]

Jen Murphy:

I was going to say probably one of the biggest challenges, the flip side of the coin that we were just discussing is educating the sellers that every marketplace operates differently. They think that they’ve got it down and they start the same conversation for a different marketplace, yet the whole process is very different. That’s probably been the most difficult piece of it. It’s understanding what the value is has been a little bit easier, but the change, and the structure, and the flexibility, and the ability to negotiate is a little bit different depending on the marketplace that you’re in.

Mayank Tahilramani:

All the marketplaces are not made equally. I think to an earlier point that was made, marketplaces are continually evolving and maturing. Some of the technical difficulties are obviously some challenges. That’s where Tackle comes into play, obviously. Just top of mind, accommodating various different types of licensing models and pricing models can be tricky sometimes with marketplace, particularly if you’ve got a self managed IFV solution that you install and the customer manages. Yet, the licensing is it’s very SAS based, user per month. For networking solutions, maybe even database solutions, you can meter consumption based on storage or network throughput or instance run time, things like that. When you’re selling a SAS based solution, even though it’s on self managed software, that becomes a little tricky. But there are workarounds. We were able to overcome those workarounds. That’s what comes to mind initially at least, some of the technical aspects in getting started in marketplace.

Megan Buntain:

I think the parameters of a marketplace deal and how licensing pricing, how that’s structured in each marketplace. Are you trying to fit a square peg into a round whole? You’re trying to modify or come up with an offering that works well and is quite seamless in the marketplace, but still has continuity across your whole offering stack outside of marketplace. I think that’s a challenge. An example of that is when you sell services with your software. Just how you think about bundling services in that software, they’re not designed. Marketplaces in their overall strategy to be this big engine for selling services, and yet in many cases, we need to do that to support customers. That’s one example of creativity. I think the Tackle team has really helped with consulting and guidance there. Our experience with the marketplace teams as well has been really strong and their eager to help partners figure out these models. I would echo that, that’s been the biggest challenge is finding an offering that fits overall, but fits within the parameters that are available today.

Don Addington:

So a couple points I would make here. I think number one, the expectation setting around marketplace when you’re just starting to marketplace are important. I think usually probably from the early days of marketplace where AWS had a place for developers to go get tools and spin them up by the hour. It was just like, hey they’re there. They’re going to use it, swipe a card, and that’s it. I think that we’re going to put up a listing and people will find us and they’ll buy, that sentiment tends to carry through. If you’re not thinking about KPIs, I’d say think about KPIs and be intentional about those KPIs for your programs. Understand it might not be the number of deals that’s the first KPI you want to track. Or it might not be straight out of the gates like how much revenue. There’s a bunch of different things that you can take a look at that might align better with your business. We brought up a couple of them here. Hey, we got deals done faster or we were able to get into a deal that we wouldn’t have before because we were easier to procure, things like that.

Don Addington:

So I think understanding where you fit in marketplace. Are you really a discovery based product? If you’re not, then you probably shouldn’t be expecting that all of a sudden a listing equals traffic and revenue without putting some strategy behind it and some work into it. The other thing I think is that all three marketplaces are different and they different roles of engagement. That’s from a Tackle perspective, what we try to do is smooth the edges there and make the technical experience across the three marketplaces irrelevant. So you’re not having to worry about integrating with three different marketplaces, we handle that for you. Also, just the operating across the three marketplaces. That’s where we try to help and act as that third party who can step in and go, this is how it works in GCP. This is how it works in Azure and to provide that smoothness across all of them. A private offer is going to work different in one versus the other. What you can offer if you have something that’s not listed publicly, what you can do in a private listing, things like that.

Don Addington:

There’s a lot of those nuances that are really hard to get your arms around and I think we’ve got the deep experience in. Those are maybe some of the things that I think about to the question on, what are some of the differences between the marketplaces. But you guys are probably well suited to speak on the differences as well.

Jen Murphy:

I would say from a KPI perspective Don, having been at multiple startups where we’ve set up marketplaces, the first conversation that I’ve had internally is, this is not build it and they will come. This is enabling a purchasing path for customers and it’s going to get us closer to each of these Cloud vendors, because in almost every case, we’ve built both business and technology partnerships. Each of the Cloud vendors at looking at both aspects now to make it a richer partnership. Leading with that discussion has made it a lot easier internally to get people to understand why we’re doing it and making the right level of investment at the right time.

Megan Buntain:

I 100% echo that Jen. I think we can’t forecast with a crystal ball. As enterprises particularly pursue either multi Cloud or Cloud provider of choice, strategies and buying through enterprise discount schedules, I think in a year to two years, there’s going to be a look across procurement that says, well why wouldn’t we buy most or as much as possible of our third party software through these marketplaces to support the discount on our Azure bill or AWS bill? I think that wave is coming. Part of getting a new marketplace for us now was getting relatively early. Not that early, but relatively early to understand it and understand Jen, exactly your point. How we support customers, how it supports our partnerships before we get asked or required to do that, which may be something that enterprise customers look at down the line. Don, I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

Megan Buntain:

I think there will be some customers at some point who will if not require, then certainly give preference to ISVs that are in the marketplaces. In all other things, maybe being more equal in a feature compares or looking at options.

Don Addington:

I think it’s a basic tenant in sourcing and vendor management. You don’t want more vendors to manage. Procurement doesn’t want more. Legal doesn’t want more. But if you look at the climate today, and especially right now, the need to buy software to drive your business for different reasons, whether it was digital transformation before, whether it’s remote working and things like that right now. The need is growing. At the same time, when organizations are trying to pair back. We don’t want to manage so many vendors. We don’t like treating a $30 million deal the same way you treat a $100 thousand deal. Or a $30 thousand dollar deal is not efficient and effective for organizations. This consolidation of, hey I can go to … I’m already going to spend a bunch of money with AWS. We’re going to spend $100 million over the next three years with AWS. We can do a $300 million ELA with Microsoft. Procurement and sourcing, and legal, and everybody who touches deals are starting to wake up to the idea that I can actually source this through somebody I’m already spending a bunch of money with. There’s things like standard contracts and things that make that first purchase easier.

Don Addington:

We see this at Tackle all the time. Once a buyer buys something on marketplace, they pop up in our other customers. They’re starting to get attuned to that experience and it’s generally a good experience. So we do see that, although Nicole mentioned as early days of marketplace. But we do see the patterns starting to take shape across buyers. If we’re saying, this benefits me in a number of different ways, so I’m going to get more serious about it. We see that only maturing over time.

Mayank Tahilramani:

I bet another trend is also the shift in prioritization and budgets as well. They already have a bunch of money committed to, say AWS, or GCP, or Azure. They’re not able to realize that run rate anymore because businesses probably turned back a little bit. Capex probably is winding down a bit for future quarters. Marketplace becomes the next avenue and it allows you to [inaudible 00:54:40] eases the procurement process and you’re only having to deal with one vendor as far as procurement is concerned, because that’s a Cloud provider you already have a relationship with. There’s definitely so many different factors that are in play here. I imagine ISVs that enable remote work are probably going to be first in line. If things were done via humans initially and then you’re separating them, therefore the only thing you can rely on is software to bridge that gap or bridge that delta. I think that’s going to be even more relevant for ISVs when it comes down to budgeting and prioritizing what to buy.

Nicole Smith:

I think so. I think probably one quick last question. Hugh asked, what was the one thing that went wrong with going remote? If anyone has any experiences there and how’d you fix it, maybe just a quick example or two before we wrap up and let everyone go. I’m sure everyone has a little thing.

Mayank Tahilramani:

Yeah. I can start. So we didn’t really go remote. We were always remote. We were born as a remote company. But just to share a little bit of statistics. When I joined the company just over a year ago when I joined GitLab, we were around 300, 400 remote employees. Fast forward a year and a couple of months, we’re at 1200. It’s been exponential growth. You’re probably wondering, what did GitLab do to retain the remote culture? That’s what it was. Enforcing the culture and reiterating it day to day through … I mean we’ve got a document page in our handbook that outlines ideas on how to have informal communication. We’ve got juice box hang out chats where if we’re on a chat and you see a colleague’s kids in the back or your dog in the back, or whatever. Why not just have a 30 minute conversation to have a casual conversation and really instill that culture of still being connected via virtual means? It’s like a meeting where you can have kids involved and meet their mutual colleagues and their peers equivalent. It’s enforcing that culture through remote means and leveraging technology. So it’s been huge.

Megan Buntain:

I would say less so here, but at previous roles where we’ve gone remote is resisting the urge to add more calls. Just the explosion of calls and how that takes over productive hours. So finding these alternate paths of communication and really opening up for people, productive time and more flexible time. We all need more flexible time right now. So I think there’s more of an appreciation for that. I know everybody has felt this in different cultures. When you first go remote, just adding calls and adding half an hour and 60 minute calls, and just assuming. [inaudible 00:57:41] filling up those increments because that’s the time you have, versus the ad hock conversations that can happen in two to five minutes. Find, get creative on alternate ways to communicate, so you’re not booking your full day with calls.

Jen Murphy:

I would say the people booking calls back to back and not understanding that, yes you may be working remotely but you still have to eat, and you still have to take a bathroom break. Probably one of the biggest issues. We recovered from this very quickly and before everybody went remote. The concept of not everybody is going to be capable of working remotely just in there day to day habits. I think the initial thought was, can everybody do it? Probably not. But then as the organization really began to plan, and build, and launch, we determined that people could. And then putting in places, those stop gap measures of saying, do you need a sanity check call? Do you need a weekly stand up? Do you need some other things that don’t take a ton of time, but help you adjust to this? That was really, I think, a good quick lesson learned on our side.

Nicole Smith:

Those are great tips. I know we are up on time. That hour flew by really fast. That was a great discussion. Thank you guys. Thank you to everyone who attended for joining us today. If you want to talk anymore, you can reach out to Tackle, go to our website. Don will be available on Drift for anyone that wants to talk more. Or you can email us at hello Tackle IO. But thank you to the panelists, you guys are all awesome and shared. Thanks for opening up your playbook, sharing your time, and sharing all these insights on how you’re working remotely, how you’re selling on Cloud marketplaces. Just really appreciate it. We’ll be sharing the webinar recording with everyone who attended or registered so you can share that out. Anything else?

Don Addington:

No. Thanks so much everybody for your time. Really appreciate it. It was great chat.

Nicole Smith:

All right. Thank you guys. Have a great day.

Jen Murphy:

Bye.

Nicole Smith:

All right. Bye.

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