For companies selling Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, a listing on a marketplace hosted by a hyperscale cloud provider can provide significant benefits. Businesses of all sizes buy many of their services from cloud marketplaces, but the sheer number of offerings can make it difficult for a single vendor to differentiate. This is a missed opportunity. If a SaaS company works hard to build a strong connection with their cloud marketplace provider, it is possible to generate significant customer interest and massively increase the number of business leads.
Realize the benefits of a cloud marketplace
Many organizations are migrating their applications away from private data centers and increasing investment in the public cloud. They often commit to spending more to take advantage of the deals offered by cloud providers. The additional funds they commit to the cloud provider, but which are not needed for the initial project, could very well be used to pay for the services of marketplace vendors, putting SaaS companies in a prime position right away.
Working with a well-known cloud provider provides immediate benefit through association and through the established customer base they have already developed. The community nurtured by the hyperscale provider allows suppliers to take advantage of events, promotions, and even the endorsement (tacit or otherwise) of the hyperscaler, usually resulting in a higher value per transaction compared to other sales channels.
Stay connected with specialized teams
Cloud marketplaces are more like a product catalog or storefront and typically don’t use algorithms to drive customers to products. Instead, the teams working within marketplaces help identify and grow suppliers through recommendations, so working with them is definitely in the supplier’s best interest.
SaaS companies can find the right team for them by looking for where they connect with other products. For example, database solution vendors can seek out and connect with the teams that build and market complementary products and services. Their influence will be vital to the long-term success of the company’s presence in the market. They can also formally register opportunities that the right teams will respond to, and they must keep in touch with the contacts they create in the marketplace network.
Engage the business to gain a foothold in the long run
Success in a cloud market requires investment of time and effort. This should primarily be in building a strong relationship with the teams of marketplace providers who are well placed to promote the company’s products. They must have a good understanding of the products and know where and how they work best for customers. The more a team understands a solution, the more likely they will recommend it to a customer.
This level of involvement requires that everyone who works at the SaaS provider plays their part. From sales engineers to C-level executives, the entire team must be 100% committed to maximizing marketplace listings. Product teams must prioritize and optimize integrations, while the marketing department must develop campaigns that target not only marketplace customers, but also key teams within the cloud provider’s organization. And the finance team must also be willing to support these efforts on a large scale.
Sales leaders may have the most important role to play and may want to consider creating financial incentives for all sales made through the marketplace. And they should definitely promote early successes, explain the process the company uses, the cloud provider’s involvement, and why this is potentially beneficial to the business. Sales teams can be energized by seeing the market’s revenue as a channel and encouraged to become more involved. Tracking success and momentum will help amplify this.
Adding value to the provider ecosystem
Businesses can reap the best benefits by fully engaging with the cloud provider ecosystem, making an effort to understand it, and playing a role in its continued development and success. The more a SaaS organization proves how its product plays a key role in driving the cloud provider’s core service use, the more it can increase the opportunities for its own sales.
There is a lot that can be done to increase the promotion in the market. Opinion articles or commentary that reinforce the provider’s main message, get involved in joint marketing activities and take an active role in events are just some of the ideas. But if companies also refer new customers or suppliers to the market, and ensure that these references are recognized by key teams through regular communication, this also helps. Additional activities include cooperative marketing campaigns and communicating good sales news with the cloud provider to keep it fully up to date.
Lay the foundation for long-term profit
Sellers should prepare to be patient when selling on a cloud marketplace. This isn’t a channel that guarantees a super-fast return on investment, but the rewards – when they come – are worth the wait and hard work. The biggest gain is exposure to qualified buyers with budgets to spend, so it’s vital to lay the groundwork first and achieve fundamental wins to build a presence. Ultimately, however, it is the relationship that is built with the cloud provider that determines the level of success to be achieved, so that should be a priority from the start.
Bill Lapcevic is SVP Business Development at NS1. An accomplished software veteran, he has held software leadership roles spanning business development, sales, and customer success. His experience spans large and small companies with a common theme: rapid growth.