Sanjay Mehta, Tackle: “Cloud Marketplace Platform Helps Software Vendors Sell More, Faster, and with Less Friction”

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Tackle reduces the time and resources software vendors need to build listings, start selling, and develop cloud-based go-to-market systems

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

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

  • How and why Tackle was built and the current direction of the company.

  • His thoughts on what’s changing for B2B software vendors in the cloud era.

  • His predictions on the future of Cloud Marketplaces.

How did the idea for Tackle come about? What was your course ?

Brian Denker and Dillon Woods founded Tackle in 2016, driven by frustrations arising from the complexity of buying and selling enterprise software. Tackle has designed its Cloud Marketplace platform to open up new avenues of revenue through Cloud Marketplaces.

Prior to founding Tackle, Brian and Dillon recognized the unseen implications of Cloud Marketplaces’ impact on buying and selling software. They were also familiar with the highly manual, development-heavy, and time-consuming SEO and implementation process, creating hurdles for companies experimenting with this new channel, at the time. Dillon and Brian created Tackle to convert these manual processes into a platform that makes listing and selling on marketplaces repeatable and highly scalable.

Over the past five years, Tackle has evolved from a solution used by software vendors 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, helping sellers go beyond listing to transact and grow 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 main characteristics?

Tackle’s Cloud Marketplace platform dramatically reduces the time and resources our clients need to build their listings, start selling, and develop cloud-based marketing systems. We are focused on delivering features that allow our sellers to sell more, faster, and with less friction. Key features of our platform include smart onboarding, tackle offerings, and reporting and data feeds.

  • Smart Onboarding eliminates the manual and time-consuming processes for developers to get listed on Cloud Marketplaces on their own so you can focus on selling and strategy, not your listing details. Most Tackle customers are listed on their first market in 4-6 weeks, saving months of engineering resources that a do-it-yourself approach requires.

  • Tackle Offers dramatically simplifies and speeds up selling on the Marketplace. Sellers and sales operations love selling in the Marketplace because it provides a better experience for their buyers and empowers them to deliver, track, and close deals faster. Our client Auth0 is a great example of this, he has reduced time to close by around 20% and he finds that Marketplace offers are 34% more important than direct offers.

  • Reports and data feeds give our clients’ finance teams what they need to reconcile transactions and bookings across all four marketplaces.

How do you think recent world events affect how people approach the cloud landscape?

Particularly since the pandemic, more and more businesses have moved to the cloud to keep pace with rapid change. Clouds are elastic. They are scalable. They are built for change. They give you new strategies to handle things. Relying on the cloud has become an obvious integral strategy for most software vendors. Selling through the cloud is a proven frontier.

People have become more comfortable buying everything online, including software. Shoppers expect easy ways to buy what they need, whether it’s socks, cars or software. Cloud Marketplaces have become one of the first true digital channels for buying and selling software. Cloud provider expense reduction programs:

  • Offer incentives to buyers to buy through Cloud Marketplaces.

  • Facilitate sellers’ ability to meet buyers anywhere along the buying journey.

Why do you think businesses are often hesitant to try new and innovative solutions that would improve and secure their business operations?

Accepting change is difficult. Change is multi-layered and complex and requires alignment between multiple stakeholders, adjustments to systems already in place, the bandwidth to make those changes, creating new documentation, gaining buy-in, and more. Again. The desire to experiment or try something new is often not enough to justify the disruption that change can create. Embracing change takes considerable effort and sometimes prevents companies from exploring a different approach.

My advice to companies or leaders looking to innovate is to start small and experiment often. New processes or approaches do not necessarily require a complete overhaul of old ones. Conduct an isolated experiment or test to narrow down the possibilities and see what might work. Or just ask. When it comes to Cloud Marketplaces, for example, ask your customers if they would appreciate the ability to have your software listed on their cloud bill. These small steps can also give you the foundation and confidence to embrace the change if it’s working — or gauge your motivation for the change if it’s not.

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

Many of us at Tackle are industry veterans, so we understand that developing and releasing software is an often tedious process. After launch, the most important step for software publishers is to find the product-market fit. Once you have found this solution, you develop a strategy to enter the market. And many possible routes exist.

One of the best practices I see from early companies is their decision to build both and sell cloud native. Going to market with the clouds and leveraging Cloud Marketplaces allows sellers – including founder-level sellers in the early days – to streamline the selling process for themselves and their buyers. Allowing buyers to transact in this way elevates start-ups above the competition.

  • Cloud marketplaces will exceed $10 billion in throughput by the end of 2023 and $50 billion by the end of 2025.

  • More and more companies will start to see marketplaces as a launch pad for an upward sales movement.

  • Cloud Marketplaces will invest in co-selling motions and other partnership programs that make value creation the storyline.

  • New marketplaces will come online to serve buyers and niche industries. And those who are unable to offer attractive incentives to buyers, sellers and the Marketplace platform will fail. New players in the Marketplace need to answer one question in particular: how are we going to bring value to both our buyers and our sellers? Removing friction is a good start, but delivering unique and differentiated value to buyers, sellers, and platform providers is key.

What do you see as the most serious threats currently facing the e-commerce landscape?

I’m not sure I would say there are any serious threats to e-commerce today. The challenges of Cloud Marketplaces as an e-commerce option for B2B stem more from the fact that 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 view that has caused friction for well-established ISVs doing a significant amount of business through the channel.

Marketplaces have since learned that channel partners actually provide much of the value, trust, and service that marketplaces cannot replicate on their own. Today we see most cloud providers opening new programs specifically designed to embrace the channel and make it easy for partners to deliver the same value they always have, as well as help their buyers engage in digital transformation.

We now see most cloud providers launching new programs specifically designed to:

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

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

What future for Tackle?

As we look to the future, Tackle has identified a few key areas. First, we want to empower sellers to scale their GTM Cloud by creating a world-class seller workflow experience to:

  • Help sellers navigate Cloud Marketplaces at scale.

  • Enable co-selling with clouds more seamlessly.

  • Take more advantage of cloud provider APIs and integrations to continue innovating with them.

Second, we’ll outline ways to bring marketplaces closer to where buyers discover software and expand 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 move into the future of digital selling. Accelerating this movement starts with establishing a community where sellers can share their successes and learn from each other.

Finally, we will continue to use customer feedback to innovate and further our mission to help software publishers thrive in the age of digital selling by providing the best cloud commerce strategies.

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