What Comes First in Cloud Partnership Co-Selling Relationships?
The chicken or the egg dilemma
Success in a cloud marketplace ecosystem like Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, AWS and GCP often requires a little help from the marketplace sales team of that partner. If you’re an ISV and have a partner account manager assigned to your account, the dream scenario is that partner account manager will bring you into deals that match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The reality is that until you’ve proven success and can show deals you’ve won on your own it’s not always easy to get those key AE introductions.
If your cloud marketplace partner team will not introduce you until you have wins under your belt and you feel like wins would be easier with their help you have found yourself in the which came first the chicken or the egg scenario.
Although frustrating at times, there are things you can do to gain the support and trust of your partner account manager while you wait for the first few key wins. Likewise, there are plenty of activities that you can own which help bring in those critical few deals that get you noticed. In this blog post we’ll cover both setting yourself up for success and securing the first few deals on your own.
Starting with setting yourself up for success with your partner account manager (PAM in the Salesforce world, PDM if you’re working with Azure or AWS). Below are a few of the tips we give customers on preparing for your partner engagement. These are things you can do mostly on your own although it is good to ask your partner manager if there are templates you should follow to ensure you’re providing content in a way that is familiar to the sales team.
Create a sales kit to help educate the internal team
- Build out the documentation that enables your partners internal team on who you are and the value your solution provides. Consider an internal battlecard, a solution sheet, a sales deck and an FAQ document at a minimum. These assets will help you deliver the right message to the AEs and SEs within your ecosystem partner when you do get their attention. Having these ready to go when the time is right shows you are prepared, know their business and maybe best of all make you easy to work with.
Identify where you want to start growing with your partner
- Take time to identify your best fit within the partner’s solution. Consider how they sell (by industry or cloud) and where your solution could provide the most value to your partner’s sales team. “But I’m a horizontal solution and anyone can use me” – this will be too vague. Consider where you’ve seen the most success on maybe your core platform by industry, use case, user, etc and dig in there. You can always have an “other” industry bucket but focus is key when building ecosystem momentum.
- Once you’ve identified your niche – identify if you have current customers in that industry or use case who are using the partners solution as well or who have a commit on that partners cloud platform. Narrowing down where you want to start your growth with the partner lets you create a list of 10 or so that you want to engage on which is much more digestible than a list of all of your current customers.
When you built your solution, you had a market in mind. Creating a sales funnel and demonstrating success on your own is key to getting the attention of your partner. Most people learn and internalize through stories. Your AEs / partner account managers are no different. Your partners want to know what problem you solved for a customer to better understand where you might fit into their current accounts and prospects. They also want validation that you have successfully rolled out your solution and customers are getting value out of it before they suggest you to a prospect or customer of theirs.
Identify easier wins in-house.
- Your current customers already know and trust you. If you can identify which of those customers also use the partner product you’ve built an integration with or which of your customers have consumption commits on your partners cloud you’ve pinpointed your target customers.
Betas / trials and incentives
- Think about involving champion customers in a beta so that you can not only gather feedback but build trust and obtain faster customer stories to share. Offer a free year or maybe a 16 month contract for the price of 12 in exchange for a customer win story could prove very valuable.
The last thing a partner wants is to introduce risk into their relationships. Win stories validate that you have gone through a sale, deployment and have a customer happily finding benefit from your solution. Once you have a win or two under your belt, it becomes much easier to open the door to more activity because a level of trust has been built. Based on those wins, you can target similar looking customers or joint prospects providing paired down lists and requests for introductions into accounts that look like the use case you have proof can sell.
This chicken or the egg scenario shouldn’t frustrate you but give you a path to become a more trusted and valued partner. When you can show success on your own while also providing content, preparation and thoughtfulness to your partner approach you are more likely to see a true partnership form. This benefits your pipeline and accelerates your path to a successful partnership and is a normal part of the partnership journey.
If it all seems overwhelming to go at it alone, Invisory offers an easier path with our expert built platform and co-sell strategies. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.