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This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

A telltale sign of a struggling cloud GTM is ‘orphaned listings.’

This is when disconnected goals across product, sales, partnerships, tech, and marketing prevent anyone from truly owning your marketplace presence. With everyone pulling in different directions, businesses fail to capitalize on strategic processes (co-selling, reseller activation, co-marketing, and strategic cloud partnerships) necessary to truly grow your cloud GTM.

Just like you would progressively optimize for people and resources with your growing direct sales channel, you also need to optimize for people resources in your cloud GTM:

⚙️ Assign technical ownership to set up your Cloud GTM foundation

Every new GTM starts with building an orchestration layer – an interconnected set of tools that unifies sales, finance, rev-ops, legal, and other teams that affect your GTM lifecycle.

Source: Balderton Capital

Conventionally, your GTM tech stack relies purely on your internal infrastructure – i.e., you only need to ensure that any tool you use is readily integrable and operational with your own tech stack. You define security, compliance, and delivery. Hence GTM software vendors typically do the heavy lifting to ensure they integrate backward with you.

The same logic does not apply in a cloud GTM – where you typically list on a platform that you don’t control. In this case, cloud marketplace providers dictate the security and compliance guidelines, forcing you to carry the burden of being integrable with them. This means building for external standards of security and compliance.

Source: AWS Marketplace Integration Guide for SaaS

Suppose you choose to build a listing in-house. In that case, you will need to rally a team of developers and operators who will secure operational alignment, build integrations, and work with marketplace stakeholders to build a functional listing. It really does require a village. This means assigning three different owners:

  • A sales lead: To ensure that your listing conveys the right information and delivers the right value for your prospects
  • An engineering lead: Someone to actively build integrations, working ‘back and forth’ with other teams and cloud marketplace guidelines
  • A sales ops lead: To determine listing sanctity, ensure backward integration with your internal tech stack, and check for continual listing updates

On the other hand, you could commission a vendor to build out integration workflows, secure approvals from the cloud marketplace, ensure timely listing publication, and effect any future changes on your listing page.

> Book a demo with us to learn how that works

However, this still requires multi-layered operations and significant tech involvement. And while your vendor will do the heavy lifting for you, we recommend appointing a business owner to ensure that your business needs are communicated and delivered upon.

Since a marketplace listing is the essential scaffolding on which your cloud GTM is built, we recommend our customers to appoint a business owner to work with us.

🪜 Drive early deals by defining sales ownership

Most businesses choose to list on cloud marketplaces after their customers express the intent to procure with their cloud commits. By this point, they already have strong relationships with your sales rep and/or have mutually negotiated the price point.

To drive deals through cloud marketplaces, you need to replicate your sales operations for your listing – this means:

  • Building the ability to launch custom offers (a.k.a. ‘Private Offers’)
  • Standardizing sales contracts
  • Tracking and closing opportunities that either generate or are transferred to your cloud marketplace
  • Continually checking contract expiries and pushing for renewals, and more

This means that you have to ensure that someone in sales is always on top of deals assisted/led by your cloud marketplace listing, is frequently tracking updates to existing opportunities across stages, and acting on them.

More important for the long-term success of your cloud GTM is ensuring that you update your SPIFs (sales performance incentives) to avoid penalizing your sales team for funneling deals through cloud marketplaces or working with a marketplace AE to find and close opportunities.

It is perhaps best summarized Nima Badiey when we previously spoke about optimizing sales goals to align with partnership and cloud GTM values:

“Be aware that if your sales rep doesn’t get full attainment or comp neutrality, that will drive a certain behavior… they are more likely to bias against going through partners unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Full video to our interaction below 👇

My recommendation is to first make cloud GTM an appendage to your existing sales process and assign your CRO or Head of Sales as an owner. At this point, you will only focus on closing more deals through cloud and building appropriate commission plans and processes (including integrating your listing with your existing CRM).

This ensures that you appropriately assist your customers in burning through their cloud commit while keeping strong people relationships between them and your sales reps.

After your cloud GTM matures, you might think of separating responsibilities between a direct sales team and a partner-led/marketplace-aligned sales team.

🤝 Boost conversions by aligning your partnership

Once you have built reliability in your cloud GTM, it is time to build new partnerships and transfer (relevant) existing partnerships to cloud. This means aligning your partnership team to drive more opportunities through cloud marketplaces that your sales team can help close.

The key here is to grow deals influenced through partners and track their impact on conversions.

As your business matures, or if your business is in a cloud-native industry, cloud marketplaces go from becoming a sales appendage to a new real estate where new ARR opportunities are discovered, transacted, and closed near-independently for you.

This means that your cloud GTM starts behaving like an independent organism that requires more opportunities to be fed through dedicated inbound and outbound momentum from your partnerships and sales teams. If you already have a partnership function, make them co-owners of your cloud GTM alongside your sales team

Build a unified process where every sales opportunity is run through partnerships and cloud marketplace checks to ensure you have external assistance (either through channel partners or marketplace representatives) to boost deal conversions.

📈 Driving maturity at scale through dedicated alliance managers

As their cloud GTM grows, businesses typically define a threshold for revenue booked through cloud marketplaces, which, when broken, signals the need to build dedicated expertise to support further growth. This threshold is highly personal for each business and depends on:

  • Your business model
  • GTM operating expenses
  • ARR stage
  • Relationships with marketplace stakeholders and more
This point typically occurs after at least six months of setting up your cloud marketplace listing.

But, this is when your relationship with the marketplace platform provider (Amazon Web Services (AWS) , Microsoft Azure , or Google Cloud) becomes more important since they begin offering concessions and benefits as you bring more business to them.

At this stage, businesses think of onboarding their first cloud GTM Swiss Army knife – the alliance manager – which is an emerging professional domain of business experts who understand – sales, partnerships, and technology operations.

More mature cloud-focused businesses like Wiz align their product, sales, marketing, and other functions through experts like Nadav Tzuker who help them unlock an additional revenue level through optimizing – co-selling and co-marketing with hyperscalers, supporting partner and sales teams to route deals through cloud marketplaces and ensure operational sanctity by keeping your listing up-to-date.

Vertical innovation leads to talent and ownership innovation in SaaS

In a sense, process, and ownership innovation in the cloud GTM space follows a similar upgrade we’ve earlier seen through the rise of product management in SaaS. This is perhaps best interpreted by Reid Hoffman’s interview of Google employee #20 - Marissa Mayer, about how she took on “a lot of hard-to-categorize roles” in the company and gave birth to their APM program.

Back in the early 2000s, product management wasn’t the viral role it is today. And a lot of it had to do with the fact that different teams within your business ran in silos. Product, engineering, and design were stacked around each other but never really converged or operated simultaneously off each others’ strengths.

But Google created the APM program to build a new generation of interdisciplinary leaders who would be able to integrate all functions and truly bring the agile methodology to product and business roadmaps – leading to product management as a discipline becoming a core necessity of any software business.

At cloud marketplaces, a similar transformation is happening now. As vendors drive more concrete growth, businesses lock in more revenue, and bespoke technology gets built to support a cloud GTM – you will also progressively need emerging interdisciplinary professionals to help drive relationships, take ownership of your returns on the platform, and build strategies to support your growth.

But all of it, begins today with software vendors building a community of cloud-focused roles for growth!

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