Marketplaces are set to become the most prevalent way individuals and organizations purchase goods and services. 

In the last couple of years, we have seen the marketplace move towards the cloud and digital transformation which has been accelerated by the covid-19 pandemic. We will see that pace continue into 2021. 

Working remotely has become even more prevalent not only for office workers but blue-collar workers as well. They are now able to do work remotely with the help of remote assist capabilities and IoT. They can signal what type of services are needed where/when and move towards less manual interaction whenever possible. This is a trend that will definitely continue to develop into the new year. While some companies may have put digital transformation on the back burner in the past, they are reintroducing them now.  

While cloud transformation started over a decade ago. It has gone full circle from mainframe computing to terminals in the form of smartphone devices, tablets, or laptops. Companies can see many benefits from a security perspective, availability, and reliability. And with GDPR in place in the EU and around the world, more conservative countries are accepting the cloud. 

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on

The discoverability hill to be climbed

The challenge facing a lot of SaaS companies is discoverability. If you aren’t aware it exists it is hard to find and begin using. And the virality of some software solutions make the spread of it easy but they still need that assisted sale. And in assisted sales, we will still see the channel playing a role. 

Within all of the different marketplaces, you can see that some companies have solutions that are not easy to sell in an assisted way. They need an interaction to see if it will be a good fit and understand the implications. 

You can list services on the marketplaces and have a proof of concept or sandbox for customers to play around with the software capabilities but I think the channel will continue to play a role there.  

ISV’s can’t hire enough salespeople to cover the whole world. The cloud has no borders and using these marketplaces and their associated channel partners with it in a two-tier model could be a way to reach their customers. 

Value-added distribution where companies like tech-data have invested a lot into a two-tier SaaS distribution model can benefit from being a consolidator helping mid-market and enterprise customers have a single source for all of their SaaS solutions. Because it is difficult juggling all of the different subscriptions with different renewal deadlines etc. 

The subscription model is here and it is the future. But if you are a large financial institution or government and you have 30 or more subscriptions that have different start dates, different amount of users, or different types of entitlements, managing all of that can be a job in itself. And I think that is where channel companies could play a role. For example, a past employee can’t take a certain subscription with him after he leaves the company because it belongs to the company. How do you hand over the subscription to another employee? Onboarding a new employee to a subscription and taking it away when the specific job is completed. 

Preparing for change

Don’t try to cover all of the markets in one go but stay focused and make it scalable. And then move to other Go-To-Markets. I repeat, discoverability is really important. So setting up a good marketing plan and picking the right Go-To-Market is key. Look at how you can use communities for channel environments to reach that Go-To-Market because this will make your efforts more scalable. 

ISV’s should make sure they have a clearly defined sales process. Because once you do become searchable, growth can be really rapid. If you don’t have your organization in place, and your sales process well mapped out, you will run into significant growing pains. And in the growing pains making changes will be even more difficult.

We see that winning a customer as an ISV is a huge challenge but the real opportunity is the lifetime value. And the land and expand motion is becoming more and more important. So when you win a couple of users making sure they are very successful and having a plan in place to expand within those customers with complementary services or solutions and broadening your footprint within those customers is really crucial. 

Introducing Partner Café 

Our research initiative is on how marketplaces will be integrated into partner marketing. We call it Partner Café to reflect the collaborative approach designed to learn together, and learn fast. Participants will be able to reflect by tuning into weekly interviews with marketplace practitioners. We want partner marketers to renew their own operations and practice by engaging in research roundtables to share experience and inspire change. 

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