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July 9, 2024
July 2, 2024

Navigating the operational nuances of built-to-scale Cloud GTM

Three-pronged alignment on establishing Cloud GTM strategy

Often, the impetus for ISVs to consider Cloud GTM as a delivery channel, is the demand from customers to transact through it. However, while this is the most important reason to pursue this channel, it is also just one of three key considerations before you list on cloud marketplaces.

1. Product alignment - For your partnership with a hyperscaler to succeed, your product has to drive consumption with them, either through your own or your customers’ product environments. If your product architecture doesn’t support this, you will need a gameplan to retool in a way that makes long-term business sense. For ISVs, partnering with hyperscalers comes with undisputable benefits – quicker and higher deal closures, greater accessibility to enterprise accounts, to mention just a few. Driving consumption is one of the ways in which ISVs can demonstrate the value they bring to the table in return, making the relationship a more mutually valuable one. 

With worldwide cloud infrastructure services expenditure reaching US$78.1 billion, the industry shift from on-prem to cloud has moved past disruption to norm. This is reflective of the executive-level decision of cloud-first product architecture.

2. Channel alignment -  Adding a new route-to-market in isolation from pre existing proven ones is never a good idea. Before incorporating Cloud GTM, you need top-level alignment on your key GTM channels and where the marketplace charter will fit in - either as a replacement or a supplement. You particularly need definition on roles, ownership and swim lanes within your GTM org architecture to avoid conflicts. Especially those arising on attribution and compensation.

3. Customer alignment - Building and scaling a marketplace listing is a heavy lift. Which is why it makes better sense to test your model out with one marketplace, a single listing, and a specific customer cohort, before expanding. To establish your starting point, interview your customers to understand which cloud they are built on and where their commits lie, so you are aligning your motion to the marketplace where you are likely to find the most success.


of partners surveyed worldwide by Canalys recognize that their customers are now likely to buy through one of the top three hyperscaler marketplaces.

Overlooked operational factors in scaling marketplace growth

“I think the most overlooked factor is how are you going to scale? How are you going to go beyond that first sale? The great news is it's easier, especially with things like Clazar, to get started than it ever was before. I wish we'd had Clazar at the beginning when we started. ”

Listing on AWS, GCP and Azure has its own catalog of technical requirements that will extract your engineering team’s bandwidth (depending on your build vs. buy decision). However, there are several cross-functional implications of a marketplace-routed deal that need established processes before they can handle large deal volumes.

During our conversation, Alex calls out the underlooked financial aspects of high volume and value payments. Especially how you look at your audit and taxation processes, recognize revenue, and reconcile incoming payments against outstanding invoices as you expand to other countries.

Alex’s tip: While creating a listing, only select one country of operations in the checkbox in alignment with your overall GTM strategy and customer demographics. Checking multiple countries of operations without the right infrastructure beforehand will cause you complications with the legalities of sales tax, revenue recognition, and shifting cash between legal entities.

Tax regulations also differ between each marketplace, which means that the processes you’ve set with AWS will not have automatic applicability for the other two. Alex has another key piece of advice here – when you review listing documentation, you will get a clear picture of where the marketplace collects sales tax and where they don't. While sales tax collection is part of the hyperscaler purview in geographies like the US, Canada, UK and the EU, it will fall upon you to send the customer a tax invoice and then remit the tax to the authority in countries outside of these geos. That will add another layer of complexity to your operations. To avoid this boomerang impact, it is wisest to start with what you know first.

“Pick a country, pick a market, pick a customer, pick one cloud, go prove out your model. Because the one thing I can tell you is whatever you do, you're going to find that marketplaces challenge your expectations and your strategy will change after six months. ”

Maintaining Cloud GTM transparency and agility

A common thread among our conversations with partnerships and cloud alliance leaders is the need to set organizational expectations on timelines to expect RoI from Cloud GTM. One thing Alex reiterates is to maintain agility to pivot operations in response to customer demand signals. Figuring this out in practicality can take from 6 to 9 months – unless you use a tool like Clazar to maintain your listing, set up integrations with your existing tools, and facilitate quick deal operationalization. Expecting inbound organic interest instantly from a listing isn’t reasonable and it has to be something you build towards with cross-functional support. There needs to be exec-level alignment that the marketplace isn't a route that magically offers a ton of free resources. Everything will have to be built, earned and qualified for.

“We started with public offers and it turned out private offers were what was going to drive our business to incredible levels through the marketplace. Once we did that very large deal, the hyperscale account team a) brought us more marketplace deals because they saw how it accelerated deal closure, and b) helped us with the conversations with the hyperscalers because all of those customers had touch points with Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and that got us noticed. “

Here’s are Alex’s top recommendations to achieve incremental growth and drive eyeballs to your listing -

Start up / Self-serve
Enterprise complexity
Drive demand gen in exactly the same way you would if you had your own e-commerce site
Most organizations have an existing channel or partnership program/function - USE IT
Engage with and inform customers where they’re likely to notice - think LinkedIn posts, paid ads, user groups, or Reddit posts
Ease direct partnership friction while transitioning these relationships to the cloud – hyperscalers are actively opening up this avenue through AWS’ Channel Partner Private Offer (CPPO) Microsoft’s Multi-Party Private Offer (MPO), and Google Resell
Publish product to GCP Marketplace
If you have an enterprise product and you don't have a partnership/alliance engine yet, use the cloud marketplace to help you recruit that channel

The owner of the partnership mandate (Partnership or Alliance leader) will need to allay the fear of losing business that existing partners might understandably have. However, as Alex says,

“For those products where there is a channel, it means it's a complex sale. It isn't a self -service product. It requires consulting, sales, other products to create the complete solution. That doesn't go away in a marketplace world.”

As we saw before, all three hyperscalers are enabling the mirroring of direct sale journeys (albeit faster) through various programs like the CPPO and the MPO. However, building stronger channel partner ties through rebates or other incentives is important to keep that flywheel going.

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About the Speaker
Alex Balcanquall
Global Head of Partnerships, Pigment.
Alex Balcanquall is the Senior Director, Marketplaces Strategy & Operations at the Cloud Software Group, where he has successfully driven a multi-cloud marketplace strategy and grown Marketplace ARR 900 % over the last three years. He brings his background in product and engineering to strongly advocate for businesses to find the right balance between launching their Cloud GTM, and being mindful of the resources and business costs involved.
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