Today I’m excited to share my fresh insights from the dynamic AWS Summit in London.
How top SaaS like CrowdStrike use AWS Marketplace to cut their sales cycle from 6 months to days.
And a step-by-step guide from famous Ben Horowitz from a16z VC on how others should do the same.
Let’s dive in.
AWS Summit & Marketplace
The atmosphere at the AWS Summit in London was buzzing, despite all the tech slowdown talk outside of it. Generative AI was of course the most attended session of the day, but let's save that discussion for next time.
What caught my attention were the sessions on AWS marketplace, as it’s becoming a very important go-to-market (GTM) driver for the hyperscaler itself, SaaS companies and channel partners.
AWS Marketplace has become a significant go-to-market (GTM) route for SaaS companies and channel partners over the last few years. Now, it boasts 13,000 transactable listings across 70 software categories.
As highlighted in a recent Forrester study, customers using AWS Marketplace benefit from 2/3 faster procurement, 75% faster new vendor onboarding, and 50% faster invoicing. Plus, customers can leverage cloud spend commitments, particularly useful for those with minimum spend obligations
CrowdStrike's Marketplace Success Story
To highlight the benefits of their marketplace, AWS teams brought CrowdStrike, one of their top ISV partners by transaction volume.
The CrowdStrike team called the AWS marketplace nothing short of a "game changer", and shared how it helped them to reduce their selling time for a large enterprise client from 6 months to just days.
They are saying that while the initial customers' uptake of purchasing 3rd party software via the marketplace might not be super fast, once customers start using the AWS marketplace, there is no going back.
In FY22 CrowdStrike’s ARR through the AWS marketplace grew +100% YoY. (Source: CrowdStrike)
Key AWS Marketplace improvements that led to its uptake
2017: Private Offers - customers can pay a privately negotiated rate while transacting via AWS marketplace
2018: Consulting Partner Private Offers - customers can transact using their channel partner of choice and incentivize them via the marketplace.
Private Marketplace - cloud admins and procurement teams can curate their own private catalogs of pre-approved software to share with their users
2019: AWS Data Exchange - customers can find and use 3rd party data in the cloud
2020: Professional Services - customers can find and purchase services (e.g., assessment, implementation, support) for 3rd party software purchased in AWS Marketplace
2022: Vendor Insights - customers can evaluate 3rd software by reviewing security and compliance information in a unified dashboard
CrowdStrike's Case study: From 6 months to 2 days
CrowdStrike has been a channel-first company from the start - they sell everything via channels (check our breakdown of their partnership playbook) . However, they've described the AWS Marketplace as a game changer over the past year, particularly in the context of cloud migration journeys.
The Alliance Sales team from CrowdStrike shared how they reduced selling time for a large enterprise client from 6 months to days, and onboarded them in 24 hours.
The Traditional Enterprise Sales Process
Before utilizing the AWS Marketplace, the usual enterprise sales process could take 5-9 months. In a typical scenario, a client agrees to buy. The team then waits for a Purchase Order from the client back to the reseller, a process that can take up to 2 weeks. This causes stress in the sales system, especially for high value orders.
Leveraging the AWS Marketplace
With AWS, CrowdStrike realized that the client was already using AWS infrastructure and could purchase via the Marketplace using their existing AWS contract. Because the deal value was huge, they created a Private Offer and transacted a deal through the Marketplace.
In this instance, this took place at the end of their fiscal year, when they were a day away from closing. Instead of taking 2 weeks to finalize the deal, as it would have in the past, using the AWS Marketplace it took only 25 minutes from the time the client clicked the 'Buy' button to the contract closing. In 24 hours the client was using the CrowdStrike product.
This seamless process, facilitated by AWS Marketplace, significantly reduced stress for their sales team. Previously, they would have been chasing the CISO, the CIO, the CEO, sometimes even during their vacations, trying to get the Purchase Order signed. With the new process facilitated by the Marketplace, they can close deals in real time, and their customers can quickly receive their software, sometimes overnight.
CrowdStrike believes that the AWS Marketplace has been pivotal in streamlining their sales process, helping them meet their targets, and ensuring their customers are satisfied.
Advice from Ben Horowitz a16z
CrowdStrike of course isn't alone in advocating for SaaS companies to use the AWS Marketplace. Few names command as much respect in the tech world as Ben Horowitz, co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz.
Here is Ben Horowitz advice to SaaS companies and startups.
Screenshot of Stadium at re:Invent: Keynote with Andreessen Horowitz
1. Integrate with AWS because it's crucial for facilitating sales.
He states emphatically,
"Integrating the marketplace works. You will get sales, it'll help you... it's really, like, fundamental to your success."
2. Align with the AWS channel salesforce.
Startups often falter here. Horowitz recommends a grassroots approach where local salespeople connect with their AWS Salesforce counterparts. AWS counterparts should be viewed as allies, not competitors. Salespeople should connect with them, inquire about their accounts, and identify ways to support those customers.
He emphasizes that this is an area overlooked by many, as they prefer a single point of contact, but in reality, the task requires aligning with those salespeople who are engaged in the work and have first-hand knowledge of the customers and accounts. That's the second major step.
3. Learn about how AWS committed spend works.
AWS has a licensing agreement where customers purchase a large number of credits. Customers commit a certain amount of money, obtain credits, and select the software they want. This can simplify sales, but to take advantage of this, you must be aligned with those in the field.
4. Go through AWS's technical review process.
This serves as a vetting mechanism for software. As Horowitz puts it, "You have to get blessed, or you're just not going to be trusted."
“If you implement these three strategies, you're likely to be ahead of the curve and ready to maximize the partnership... these are the fundamentals everyone should adhere to.”
Partnering with AWS, integrating, and listing on its Marketplace can be a powerful catalyst for business growth.
Not only does it provide a streamlined sales process, but it also fosters trust and enables companies to tap into a broader customer base.