Sanjay Mehta, Tackle: “cloud marketplace platform helps software companies sell more, faster, and with less friction”

Tackle reduces time and resources software sellers need to build listings, start selling, and develop go-to-market systems within the clouds

As software becomes more available through Cloud Marketplaces, more companies will be able to easily upgrade their operations with cutting-edge technology.

To talk about the challenges and innovations in the cloud landscape, Cybernews team invited Sanjay Mehta, the Chief Cloud Officer at Tackle – a company helping software companies sell their software through the cloud – for a Q&A about:

  • How and why Tackle was built and the company’s current direction.
  • His thoughts on what’s changing for B2B software sellers in the cloud era.
  • His predictions on the future of Cloud Marketplaces.

How did the idea of Tackle originate? What has your journey been like?

Brian Denker and Dillon Woods founded Tackle in 2016, motivated by frustrations resulting from the complexity of buying and selling enterprise software. Tackle designed its Cloud Marketplace Platform to open new pathways to revenue through the Cloud Marketplaces.

Before founding Tackle, Brian and Dillon recognized the unseen implications of Cloud Marketplaces’ impact on software buying and selling. They were equally familiar with the highly manual, developer-heavy, and time-consuming implementation and listing process creating roadblocks for companies experimenting with this new — at the time — channel. Dillon and Brian created Tackle to convert those manual processes into a platform that makes listing and selling through the Marketplaces repeatable and highly scalable.

Over the past five years, Tackle has evolved from a solution used by software companies to list and sell products on AWS Marketplace to a platform supporting Microsoft Commercial Marketplace, Google Cloud Marketplace, and IBM Red Hat Marketplace.

Now the Tackle Platform takes selling a step or two further, helping sellers move beyond listing to transact and scale their business through the clouds. We continue to innovate based on customer feedback while keeping our vision of empowering sellers to sell at the forefront of everything we do.

Can you introduce us to the Tackle platform? What are its key features?

Tackle’s Cloud Marketplace Platform significantly reduces the time and resources our customers need to build their listings, start selling, and develop go-to-market systems within the clouds. We focus on delivering features that enable our sellers to sell more, sell faster, and with less friction. Our key platform features include Smart Onboarding, Tackle Offers, and Reporting and Data Feeds.

  • Smart Onboarding eliminates the manual, developer-heavy processes of getting listed in the Cloud Marketplaces on your own so you can focus on selling and strategy, not the minutiae of your listing. Most Tackle customers are listed on their first Marketplace in 4-6 weeks, saving months of engineering resources a do-it-yourself approach requires.
  • Tackle Offers significantly simplifies and accelerates Marketplace selling. Sellers and sales operations love Marketplace selling because it provides a better experience for their buyers and gives them the ability to deliver, track, and close deals faster. Our customer Auth0 is a great example — they have reduced time to close on by about 20% and they find Marketplace deals are 34% larger than direct.
  • Reporting and Data Feeds give our customers’ finance teams what they need to reconcile transactions and bookings across all four Marketplaces.

How do you think recent global events affect the way people approach the cloud landscape?

Particularly since the pandemic, more companies have made the move to the cloud to keep pace with rapid change. Clouds are elastic. They're scalable. They're built for change. They give you new strategies to manage things. Building on the cloud has become a no-brainer integral strategy for most software companies.Selling through the clouds is a frontier that’s really proving itself.

People have become more comfortable with buying everything online — including software. Buyers expect easy ways to buy what they need — whether it’s socks, cars, or software. The Cloud Marketplaces became one of the first real digital channel for software buying and selling. The Cloud Providers’ spend-down programs:

  • Offer incentives for buyers to purchase via Cloud Marketplaces.
  • Facilitate sellers’ abilities to meet buyers anywhere along the buying journey.

Why do you think companies often hesitate to try out new and innovative solutions that would enhance and secure their business operations?

Embracing change is difficult. Change is multi-layered and complex and requires alignment across multiple stakeholders, adjustments to the systems already in place, the bandwidth to make those changes, building new documentation, getting buy-in, and so much more. A desire to experiment or try something new is often not enough to justify the disruption change may create. Embracing change requires massive effort and sometimes prevents companies from exploring a different approach.

My advice for companies or leaders looking to innovate is to start small and experiment often. New processes or approaches don’t have to require a complete overhaul of the old. Conduct an isolated experiment or test to hone in on the possibilities and see what might work. Or simply ask. When it comes to Cloud Marketplaces, for example, ask your customers if they’d value the ability to land your software on their cloud bill. These smaller steps also can give you the footing and confidence to embrace the change if it works out — or evaluate your motivation for change if it doesn’t.

What are the best practices companies should follow when developing and when launching software?

Many of us at Tackle are industry veterans, so we understand that developing and launching software is an often tedious process. After launch, the most important step for software companies is to find product-market fit. Once you find that fit, you strategize how to go to market. And many possible routes exist.

One of the best practices I’m seeing from early companies is their decision to both build and sell cloud-native. Kickstarting your go-to-market with the clouds and leveraging the Cloud Marketplaces enables sellers — including founder-level sellers in the earliest days — to streamline the selling process for themselves and for their buyers. Allowing buyers to transact this way elevates early-stage companies above the competition.

  • Cloud Marketplaces will exceed $10B in throughput by the end of 2023 and $50B by the end of 2025.
  • More companies will start seeing the Marketplaces as a launch pad for a bottoms-up selling motion.
  • Cloud Marketplaces will invest in co-sell motions and other partner programs that make value creation the storyline.
  • New Marketplaces will come online to serve niche buyers and industries. And those unable to offer attractive incentives for buyers, sellers, and the Marketplace platform will fail. New Marketplace players must answer one question in particular: how will we provide value to both of our buyers and sellers? Removing friction is a good start, but providing unique, differentiated value for buyers, sellers, and the platform providers is vital.

In your opinion, what are the most serious threats affecting the eCommerce landscape nowadays?

I’m not sure I would say there are serious threats to eCommerce today. The challenges with the Cloud Marketplaces as an eCommerce option for B2B stem more from the fact that the Marketplaces are still evolving.

For example, we see companies needing to figure out how to bring their different routes to market into the cloud era. Cloud Marketplaces were originally seen as a replacement for channel partners — a viewpoint that caused friction for well-established independent software vendors conducting a significant amount of business through the channel.

Marketplaces have since learned that channel partners actually provide much of the value, trust, and services Marketplaces alone can’t replicate. Now, we see most of the Cloud Providers opening up new programs specifically designed to embrace the channel and make it easy for partners to provide the same value they always have as well as help their buyers engage in digital transformation.

Now we see most of the Cloud Providers launching new programs specifically designed to:

What predictions do you have for the future of Cloud Marketplaces?

There is so much more on the horizon for Cloud Marketplaces as they continue paving the way for an integrated cloud Go-To-Market. Tackle’s leadership team made some big predictions as part of our State of Cloud Marketplaces Report based on insights from survey data and constant conversations with buyers, sellers, customers, partners, and cloud stakeholders across the industry:

What does the future hold for Tackle?

As we look to the future, Tackle has pinpointed a few key areas. First, we are keen on enabling sellers to scale their Cloud GTM by building a world-class seller workflow experience to:

  • Help sellers navigate Cloud Marketplaces at scale.
  • Enable co-sell with the clouds more seamlessly.
  • Leverage more of the Cloud Providers’ APIs and integrations to keep innovating with them.

Second, we will introduce ways to bring Marketplaces closer to where buyers discover software and extending to where buyers want to buy. This means supporting more Marketplaces over time and investing in buyer and seller data. So much more to come here!

We are also deeply invested in developing content that helps all sellers evolve toward the future of digital selling. Accelerating this movement starts with establishing a community where sellers can share their successes and learn from and with one another.

Finally, we’ll keep using customer feedback to innovate and continue our mission to help software companies thrive in the digital selling era by providing best-in-class cloud commerce strategies.

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