[How to Co-sell with AWS] 5 Ways to Drive Successful Customer Outcomes Using the ACE Program

Building a co-sell strategy with AWS is not easy. There are many sales teams, thousands of partners, numerous solutions, so it is very difficult to stand out and build a scalable co-selling process.

One of the programs that AWS Partner Network (APN) provides to AWS Partners is APN Customer Engagements Program (ACE). The ACE program provides the framework to enable AWS Partners, to support customers and drive successful engagements on AWS. I personally find this program super helpful and highly recommend to apply for it as soon as you can.

In this blog post, I will share how I’m leveraging the ACE program in Epsagon.

When you submit Opportunities through the APN Portal, it is sent to AWS teams for validation. If the submitted Opportunity is validated, you will get an email back with the details for the AWS sales representative and account manager that cover the relevant account. Understanding who is covering your customer is the first stage in building a co-sell strategy.

The ACE platform helps to increase alignment and collaboration between AWS and its Partners. The main benefit of the ACE Program is that you can get leads and opportunities referrals from AWS directly to the APN Portal. Such referrals can even be prospects generated by joint Marketing activities with AWS (as long as such customers consented to be engaged with an APN Partner to assist with their need). Joint marketing activities can be events, webinars, blog posts, etc.

In order to be eligible, you would need to submit at least 10 Validated Opportunities (NOTE: you probably already met this requirement as part of your Partner tier). In addition, you would need to have an APN Program Designation (Marketplace listing, Competency, etc.).

Below you could find the full list of requirements and benefits of the ACE Program.

ACE Requirements and Benefits. A slide from a webinar hosted by Aaron Barton & Maggie Gray Feb 28th, 2019.

NOTE: As mentioned in the table above, one of the requirements is to have 10 AWS Validated Opportunities. In order to obtain an AWS Advanced Partner status, you would need to have at least 20 Launched AWS Opportunities (see the full checklist here). So, if you already applied for AWS Advanced Partner status, you already covered the requirement for 10 AWS Validated Opportunities!

5 Ways to Leverage the ACE Program to Drive Successful Customers Outcome

Below I will share 5 ways you can leverage the Opportunities that you are anyway required to submit, based on the new APN requirements.

As you get the Sales team details while validating an Opportunity, you can engage with them directly and see if they have more customers you can support. In a few cases, when we contacted sales reps, we had the opportunity to give them a better understanding of how Epsagon support AWS customers, and discuss additional opportunities that we can collaborate on.

When you submit an opportunity, you can ask for specific support from AWS — pricing assistance, technical consultation, deal support, etc. When interacting with the customer’s AWS account manager, him/her can help you accordingly and get a better understanding of how you can support the customer. For me, it was super helpful to get support to accelerate deals, by “closing the loop”. In one of Epsagon’s deals, AWS also provided Marketplace support that was needed to the customer, that made us close a deal very quickly.

Everyone wants to co-sell with AWS. However, as there are thousands of partners, it is really difficult for AWS sales teams to get their head around all of the solutions out there.

When you submit an opportunity, you highlight your AWS business to AWS. As you submit more opportunities, you differentiate your business from others and get better attention and support from AWS. When you are submitting a and launching a significant number of launched opportunities (closed-won) yourself, it indicated that you have something good going on. By sharing your success with AWS, via the ACE Program, you show to AWS teams that you are a partner that they might want to know better.

By leveraging the ACE Platform, Partners are driving internal visibility of the engagements. Moreover, ACE eligible Partners are able to receive Opportunity Referrals from AWS. What does it mean? AWS sales teams can create join opportunities proactively!

Partners can either accept or reject such opportunities (see screenshot below).

APN Customer Engagements (ACE) Pipeline Manager User Guide 2019

Note: It is expected that opportunities are accepted within 3 business days.

So, by submitting more opportunities, you show AWS Sales teams that your product help AWS Customers, and they will consider to recommend your product to their customers.

What is the incentive for AWS Sales team for recommending your product?

The first incentive is to help their customers. As AWS is a customers obsessed organization, if you show that your product brings value to AWS customers AWS Sales teams are likely to recommend it. In addition, there are a few programs that incentivize Sales teams by providing commission. For instance, if an AWS account manager will support you on a deal, and the deal will be executed via the AWS Marketplace, it will help the AWS account manager to meet his or her quota. For more details, see this post which is dedicated on how to benefit from the AWS Marketplace.

Having a few joint wins with AWS is great. But how can you scale that? One of the answers to that is — one to many sessions.

In one to many sessions, you get the opportunity to educate more AWS sales teams about your solution. A great way to start is to map your opportunities based on the location of the AWS account managers. If you see that you have a bunch of opportunities that are covered by account managers in a specific city, try to get their help in order to set a Lunch & Learn.

Earlier this year we held Lunch & Learn in New York. It went VERY well and created new opportunities for Epsagon.

Epsagon’s Lunch and Learn in New York

Key Takeaways

  1. Submitting more opportunities will drive internal awareness of your product within AWS sales teams.
  2. Engage with AWS account managers to get support and accelerate deals.
  3. Educate AWS teams about your solution. Try to set one-to-many sessions. This can lead to new opportunities that will be created by AWS and will support your pipeline.
  4. Have a clear messaging to AWS Sales teams on how your product can help AWS Customers.
  5. Work with AWS Sales teams to build a joint pipeline and receive AWS led opportunities.

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Nofar Asselman

Startup Partnerships Lead at Microsoft Cloud (ex-AWS Hero) Focused on Channels, Partners & Alliances. Traveler & tennis lover