Cloud Partnership Pillars

To generate a robust sales channel with the cloud, you must address four cloud partnership pillars: Sales, Business Development, Partnership Enablement, and Marketing.

By Jonathan Avital, Jan 23 2024
Cloud Partnership Pillars

There are four foundational pillars that underpin a successful cloud business partnership, allowing you to transform vendors into a scalable sales channel. In this blog, we’ll introduce each of the four pillars, Sales, Business Development, Partnership Enablement, and Marketing, and explore their main activities. We’ll explore 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 set of activities. Success hinges on acknowledging and addressing each of the four pillars, which, together, lead to the bottom line: sales and growth. 

Let’s explore the four pillars of a cloud business partnership and the activities that comprise each.


Sales activities are the backbone of a successful cloud alliance, demanding a unique set of capabilities and a profound understanding of available options and limitations. 

It begins with creating a GTM plan, including developing a comprehensive sales strategy that defines value propositions and competitive positioning strategies, strategically planning and executing sales activities, and implementing robust tracking mechanisms to monitor and analyze KPIs. Next comes the creation and management of sales pipelines, encompassing lead generation, qualification, nurturing, and conversion processes. Finally, sales professionals must follow up by effectively managing sales funnels to ensure the smooth progression of prospects through the buying journey. 

The effective execution of the sales pillar’s activities requires the involvement of multiple sales roles as VP of Sales, Account Executives, and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). Such tight involvement across the different roles ensures alignment across the strategy, goals, and execution of the direct and cloud sales motions. 

Business Development

The business development pillar includes all activities that extend beyond individual accounts and interactions with specific account managers. 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.  

The business development pillar encompasses a range of activities. One prominent type is executive engagement, whether business or technical, responsible for entire industries, use cases, or types of workloads. Engaging with executives serves as a gateway to access numerous business and technical cloud sellers through a single point of contact. For instance, rather than pursuing individual account managers one by one, you can engage with a cloud retail industry lead in a specific region, articulating the compelling benefits of collaborative ventures, to secure an introduction to a group of account managers aligned with the retail industry in that region. This approach requires 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.

Another example of a business development activity is cloud and ISV product integration. This entails collaborating with product owners from both the cloud and ISV sides to enhance value for end customers, as well as for the cloud sellers themselves by increased cloud consumption and enablement of additional cloud services, among other benefits. Typically, these integrations begin from the top down, convincing decision-makers within the cloud product team of the value of the combined offering. Once the integration is established, business development must leverage the relationships of the cloud service’s GTM and business development personnel to disseminate information among internal cloud stakeholders and end customers, promoting the mutual offering effectively.

Partnership Enablement 

A successful cloud business collaboration influences the entire organizational spectrum. As such, the partnership enablement activities are 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, the partnership enablement pillar works toward orchestrating a pivotal organizational shift, ensuring seamless collaboration between the ISV organization and the cloud. Externally, this pillar focuses on facilitating organizations’ navigation of partnership programs.

Partnership enablement activities begin with 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. Next, partnership enablement must empower RevOps to leverage the procurement tools, such as Cloud Marketplace, provided by the cloud and equip sales teams with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively sell in tandem with the cloud while guiding the organization on navigating and participating in the right partnership programs. Finally, once the relevant partnership programs are in place, partnership enablement takes the lead in ensuring compliance with stringent cloud partnership program requirements and leveraging the funds offered by the cloud.


The marketing pillar requires a nuanced understanding of the intricate cloud landscape, a deep comprehension of how the ISV conducts direct sales, and the ability to align this understanding with cloud language, as cloud sellers rely on specific terminology and KPIs for effective communication. This pillar also extends to customer-facing co-marketing initiatives.

Activities under the marketing pillar include creating cloud-focused marketing collateral, meticulously aligning and refining messaging. With collateral and messaging in place, marketing then generates impactful internal marketing activities, 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. Finally, marketing is responsible for fostering collaboration between the ISV and the cloud 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

In this blog post, we’ve unraveled the critical pillars that form the foundation of a successful cloud partnership: 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.