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Cloud Partnership Pillars

The four pillars of a cloud partnership team–Sales, Business Development, Partnership Enablement, and Marketing–are crucial for turning cloud vendors into a scalable sales channel. 

By Jonathan Avital, Jan 23 2024
Cloud Partnership Pillars

In the dynamic realm of cloud services, transforming vendors into a scalable sales channel demands a strategic understanding of the foundational pillars that underpin a successful cloud business partnership. In this blog post, we dissect the essential elements shaping a robust cloud alliance, exploring each pillar’s unique contribution and significance for laying the groundwork for a scalable and thriving collaboration in the cloud ecosystem. 

Elements of Cloud Business Partnership 

The cloud partnership is a vast landscape requiring a diverse skill set. Success hinges on acknowledging each of the four pillars, necessitating the formation of a cohesive team to provide a comprehensive 360-degree approach. 

Let’s explore the four pillars of a cloud business partnership. 

Sales 

Sales teams are the backbone of a successful cloud alliance, demanding a unique set of sales capabilities: 

  • Meticulous attention to strategy, planning, and KPIs, requiring a profound understanding of available options and limitations 
  • Generating a lower tier of sales, including pipeline creation and sales funnel management 

Typically, achieving this requires a dynamic team structure encompassing account executives for direct sales, a VP of sales for overarching strategy, and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) dedicated to pipeline creation and active outreach. 

Business Development 

Business development within the cloud partnership team encompasses a spectrum of activities extending beyond individual accounts, such as engaging in discussions with field sellers to articulate the compelling benefits of collaborative ventures. Expanding beyond interactions with specific account managers, this pillar operates at a higher level to engage industry executives responsible for entire regions, providing a gateway to reach numerous account managers through a single point of contact. In contrast to the sales team’s bottom-up approach, business development works top-down to foster strategic relationships with key decision-makers at cloud providers, unlocking opportunities for scalable co-selling initiatives across diverse accounts and regions. 

Distinct from managing a sales pipeline, business development necessitates different qualifications and a collaborative approach with product and tech teams. In fact, the success of reaching the level of sales significantly depends on the efficacy of business development endeavors.   

To succeed, business development must master narrating your story and general use case, conveying a persuasive message that convinces key decision-makers at cloud providers of the value of combining products and selling to mutual end customers as an integrated package. Upon securing a strategic partnership agreement, the baton is passed to other stakeholders within the organization to execute the collaboration. 

Partnership Enablement  

A successful cloud business collaboration has an influence across the entire organizational spectrum, encompassing sales, product, and marketing. As such, a partnership enablement team is necessary for both internal and external needs, serving as the organizational compass directing efforts toward a harmonized and thriving collaboration in the cloud ecosystem. 

Internally, partnership enablement must orchestrate a pivotal organizational shift, ensuring seamless collaboration between the ISV organization and the cloud. This involves: 

  • Training sales personnel to have a comprehensive understanding of the available channel options and effective collaboration strategies with cloud sales counterparts, which requires a deep knowledge of cloud provider systems 
  • Empowering RevOps to leverage the procurement tools provided by the cloud 
  • Equipping sales teams with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively sell in tandem with the cloud. 

Externally, partnership enablement must guide organizations on how to navigate and participate in the right partnership programs, comply with stringent requirements, and leverage the funds offered by the cloud.  

Marketing  

The marketing pillar requires a nuanced understanding of the intricate cloud landscape. Central to this effort is the creation of cloud-focused marketing collateral, a strategic endeavor that demands: 

  1. A deep comprehension of how the ISV conducts direct sales 
  1. The ability to align this understanding with cloud language, as cloud sellers rely on specific terminology and KPIs for effective communication 

Once the messaging is meticulously aligned and refined, the focus shifts toward generating impactful internal marketing activities. This can involve various strategic engagements, such as meetings and discussions with field sellers, or events, such as roundtable discussions with a group of account managers delving into specific use cases. 

Lastly, the marketing pillar also extends to customer-facing co-marketing initiatives, fostering collaboration between the ISV and the cloud. This synergy aims to generate mutual PR, such as a joint case study that vividly illustrates the value of the collaboration. 

Bringing the Pillars Together Into a Team 

We’ve unraveled the critical pillars that form the foundation of a successful cloud partnership team—sales, business development, partnership enablement, and marketing. A holistic approach combining each pillar is essential for turning vendors into a scalable sales channel, with each pillar contributing a unique perspective, fostering collaboration, and driving growth.   

In our next blog post, we’ll delve into the intricacies of building the team responsible for orchestrating these pillars, unraveling the distinct roles and responsibilities of the Cloud Alliance, Technical Cloud Alliance, and Cloud BDR.