How to Leverage Cloud Alliances to Drive Business Growth

The growing ecosystem of cloud alliances is an exciting opportunity for companies to accelerate their business. The leading cloud vendors, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud (GCP), are taking a significant role in this ecosystem, helping their partners grow by providing business, technical, marketing, and go-to-market support.

Whether you have a consulting practice or offer a technology solution, there are plenty of opportunities to advance your business.

According to IDC research, Microsoft partners reported earning almost 10x in revenue for every $1 of Microsoft revenue generated in 2017. This is expected to continue through 2022 and includes a mix of software (45%), services (50%), and hardware (5%), that are sold in relation to Microsoft solutions [Source: IDC eBook, sponsored by Microsoft, The Microsoft Digital Transformation Series, Part 1: The Digital Transformation Opportunity, 2018].

To help partners significantly accelerate their growth, cloud vendors provide a robust set of benefits. These benefits can help you expand your business, engage with customers, and ultimately — earn more money.

Sounds great, but where do you start?

While many companies seek to leverage cloud alliances, navigating between the many different programs, units, and stakeholders, can be overwhelming. In this blog, I cover the core pillars you should focus on when developing a cloud alliance GTM partnership. I will then share real-world examples of programs and initiatives we leveraged at Epsagon that you can pursue to create and build at your organization as well.

The 5 Pillars of Cloud Alliances

1. Strategy

The first step of building a cloud alliance is to define your strategy. Like the foundation of the house, thinking through your strategy is critical to long-term success, and it will be time well spent. As part of establishing your strategy, it is important to map out strategic programs that the cloud vendor offers on your business domain. There are various partner programs that cloud vendors offer their partners, such as Microsoft Co-sell program, AWS ACE Program, Google Sell Engagement, etc. These programs help to differentiate the partners’ business and get more resources from the early stages of the partnership.

2. Product

When building a solution that is sold in relation to a cloud vendor, there are opportunities to collaborate with the cloud vendors’ product teams solutions to align product roadmaps and join new product launches as beta partners. These unique opportunities will allow you to expand customers’ reach and improve user experience. In Epsagon, I worked with the product teams that launch AWS Lambda layers. By becoming a launch partner and creating “stickiness” to an AWS native service, we drove 400% customer growth.

3. Internal Recognition

As you will move further along in your cloud alliance journey, you will realize that although there are many benefits and resources that cloud vendors offer to partners, there are also many partners that are seeking to obtain them. As bandwidth is limited, the more awareness you drive within the cloud vendor internal teams, the easier it will be for you to unlock these resources. Examples: Microsoft Global Black Belt (GBB), technical specialist in different domains, segment leaders in AWS.

4. Marketing & Brand Awareness.

After getting familiar/basing your relationship with the key cloud provider players that will be an integral part of your partnership, you can now start gaining brand credibility and awareness by taking part in different co-marketing opportunities — whether offered by the cloud provider or initiated by you.

By partnering with a cloud vendor, you can gain credibility by leveraging the cloud vendor brand. Typical co-marketing activities include case studies, webinars, online or email marketing, or joint events. These joint activities will also help you to grow the cloud vendor-based business and reach new customers. Here is an example of a joint webinar I did at Epsagon, with AWS, leveraging AWS customers’ database. Another example is a joint talk we did at a Microsoft event.

5. Sales

Cloud alliances can help you accelerate revenue growth. However, building a scalable and successful co-sell motion can be very challenging. Understanding co-selling processes is essential. You would need to identify and map the different roles with whom you would need to engage for support, the steps in the co-selling sales process, and programs and resources available to guide you through the process. Here is a great course that can help you to understand the co-sell process with AWS, and more information about the teams you need to know.

Building a co-sell motion will enable your company to maximize opportunities by collaborating and sharing resources, knowledge, and experience with the cloud vendor field teams. In Epsagon, the co-selling benefits help us to enhance customer relationships and identify new co-selling opportunities. A key component of the co-sell motion with the cloud vendor is to sell your product via its Marketplace. This will allow you to execute deals faster and provide your customer with a fairly easy fulfillment mechanism.

The co-sell motion can also include Value-Added Resellers (VARs), Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and Systems Integrators (SIs). Look for a future blog on how to engage with these scale partners in the cloud ecosystem.

Key takeaways:

  1. Build a cloud alliances strategy
  2. Leverage product teams to improve customers’ experience.
  3. Identify the key stakeholders that can help you to gain recognition with relevant teams
  4. Collaborate with Marketing teams to brand credibility
  5. Work with sales teams to maximize opportunities and to accelerate revenue growth.

We’d love to hear your personal experience as you navigate through the cloud provider partnership journey.

Feel absolutely free to contact me and visit Multi-Cloud Leadership Alliance group for more information. We encourage you to comment and share what worked best for you!

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Nofar Asselman

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