Tips & Tricks for Optimizing Your AWS Sales Channel

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin23 Aug, 2021

Amazon has had a significant influence on establishing the modern shopping experience. First starting as a place to buy books online, Amazon climbed the ranks as an e-commerce giant over the years, seeing a surge in users and spending in correlation with COVID-19. Like many organizations, Amazon saw an opportunity to serve B2B customers and support their software needs. In 2012, Amazon introduced the AWS Marketplace on which users could purchase pre-configured software from a variety of vendors.

Today, the AWS Marketplace has seen similar growth as its consumer-focused counterpart, with more than 10,000 products across 50 categories and over 300,000 users. If you’re considering joining AWS Marketplace’s 1,600+ vendors, or if you’re looking to take better advantage of the marketplace, read on for tips and tricks from experts with experience using the platform.

Why join the AWS Marketplace?

Across the board, marketplaces have grown in popularity, recently seeing more growth during three months of the pandemic than in the ten years prior. In contrast to the growth seen by e-commerce stores, brick and mortar companies were disproportionately impacted when their customers couldn’t get to them and they couldn’t get their customers. Many of those companies didn’t survive which is motivating greater adoption globally. As millennials comprise a growing portion of the workforce and have increased spending power, it’s important to reach them in the right ways. Marketplaces allow buyers to browse options and build their own solutions, both incredibly important aspects for this ongoing shift in purchasing behavior.

While there’s no shortage of technologies out there for building your own marketplace, because of the economics involved, AWS has a lower barrier to entry. When you develop a marketplace on your own, there’s a significant amount of work and capital you have to invest. With AWS, there are associated costs, but these are almost certainly far lower than the expense of building out your own marketplace.

As a vendor, joining an existing marketplace provides a multiplier effect you likely wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own. Amazon’s branding, exposure, and more bring thousands of buyers to the site, providing exposure to a multitude of potential customers. With over 300,000 users already browsing and spending on AWS Marketplace, joining the platform allows you to quickly expand your audience and reach new buyers.

In addition to expanding your reach with new buyers, AWS gives their customers significant benefits for purchasing products through the marketplace. For example, when buyers sign an enterprise deal, they commit to spending a certain amount with AWS. Buyers receive discounts for spending at certain levels, which encourages them to spend more. As part of the AWS Marketplace, buyers can purchase from you and have it count toward their committed spend for the year. In addition to the benefits to the customer, AWS offers quota relief to their sellers for purchases of 3rd party vendors made on the marketplace.

An incredibly important aspect of the AWS Marketplace is an improved procurement process. Especially when you’re transacting with government organizations, it’s typically a lengthy, arduous process. Once your solution is selected as a contender, you have to go through procurement, which can take over a year. Meanwhile, Amazon is working to become a procurement vehicle, making it easier to sell to other government entities after doing so initially.

AWS has a marketplace and a co-sell program. Vendors have to qualify to join the co-sell program, called Accelerate. Through the co-sell program, AWS sales representatives get SPIFFed (provided with Sales Program Incentive Funds) for working with partners on deals. Joining the Accelerate program is a very important consideration for vendors of all types as you’ll benefit from working with AWS’s sales representatives and harnessing their visibility.

What are best practices for selling via the AWS Marketplace?

Most importantly, you need to start your relationship with co-sell representatives by assuming they have no idea who you are or what services you provide. It’s crucial to always educate on why you matter, first highlighting what’s in it for them, then helping them to understand how you solve pain points for users. Explain why your solution is unique and highlight other vendors you may be competing with. AWS is extremely customer-centric, so be sure to help them understand why your tool benefits their customer.

When working with sales representatives, ask for what you need. For example, if you’re working with someone and they suddenly stop responding, it can help to check with your sales representative to make sure they’re the right stakeholder at the organization. Be specific and forthcoming with your needs.

Consider building templates to make it easier for your sales representatives to work with AWS. Make sure your team registers their deals in the partner portal as it provides visibility to the AWS team. Regularly registering legitimate deals with real companies demonstrates that you’re active and not just a start-up. Next, encourage your team to build relationships and work with the AWS representatives. It can be much easier to drive that engagement with AWS sales representatives when they’re SPIFFed for their efforts.

A good practice to get into during the sales qualification process when identifying the procurement process is to ask if they have an Amazon enterprise agreement. It may not be important in early discovery, but it can accelerate a purchase process when the decision gets to a decision-maker.

If you’re not as familiar with the AWS Marketplace or aren’t prepared to manage the channel yourself, consider enlisting the services of companies that provide managed AWS listings. These SaaS solutions take away a lot of the pain of getting stood up on the marketplace.

AWS Marketplace Takeaways

With a new generation of buyers taking over, it’s more important than ever to utilize virtual marketplaces and communities. Joining the AWS Marketplace is an effective way to reach new potential customers in a way buyers want to make purchases. The AWS Accelerate co-sell program can be an effective way to sell more by utilizing the AWS team of experts. When communicating your value, lead with the benefit to customers.

Learn more about channel & alliances best practices for SaaS and technology companies when you join Partnership Leaders. Our community of over 600 professionals is incredibly active in Slack, regularly sharing insights, ideas, and thought-provoking questions. Sign-up to join the hundreds of professionals advancing their careers and partner programs with Partnership Leaders.

Thanks to Maryam Lahiji, Sr Alliance & Partner Marketing Manager at Orca Security, and Tom Williams, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at SugarCRM, for sharing their thoughts and experiences.

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