This article will look at the go to market change and the decisions that an ISV needs to consider when switching from a legacy application to a SaaS application in the public cloud.
If you are an ISV and are switching from a legacy application to a SaaS application, your organization will undergo a transformation on five levels – strategy, finance, organization, go to market, and technology. We will be examining each of these levels in more detail in this five-part series. As the levels overlap one another somewhat, or one has an impact on another, they cannot be viewed as five separate areas. Nevertheless, each poses its own questions and topics that need to be taken into consideration.
This article will look at the go to market change and the decisions that an ISV needs to consider when switching from a legacy application to a SaaS application in the public cloud. I also recommend that you take a look at the ISV playbook from Microsoft. It addresses many of the transformation levels based on in-depth research, which can help you to make the right decisions.
Go To Market
Once you have your application running in the public cloud, you will probably want to engage in some marketing to support it. There are a number of options available that can help you as an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) to automate your sales force and thus create a larger sales area, without it necessarily having to cost money. Irrespective of the fact that you can deploy – and therefore sell – your application globally without too much additional technical input once you’re already in the public cloud, there are some smart things that you can do within your own national boundaries. In this article, I would like to look at two topics – accessing new markets, using different marketplaces, and how you might be able to use these to establish an indirect channel. The two key words here are scalable and repeatable. If your solution cannot be scaled and you solution cannot be repeated, accessing marketplaces makes little sense. For the sake of convenience, I'll assume, for the purpose of this article, that your solution is in the public cloud and is scalable.
Access to New Markets If your application is in the public cloud, you can sell in many different ways, more than you had probably thought of before. One such way is through your cloud provider. In addition to a marketplace, Microsoft maintains an internal catalogue that you can use to register your solution.
Microsoft’s account manager take this internal catalogue to their clients, so they can sell your solution to the client directly. You can do that yourself, but Microsoft’s account managers can facilitate a dialog between you and the client and receive up to 10% reduction on their target. This is motivating for all parties concerned.
There are also specific “industry days” where you can present your solutions to Microsoft employees. This also expands your market area, without you having to devote too much additional time to it. Again, the key words here are scalable and repeatable. If your solution is neither, this option is of little use. Your solution must be easy to explain, and you must have sufficient content available so that others can explain it to their clients.
In addition to the various cloud providers who can help you to sell your solution, there are numerous marketplaces that allow you to onboard your application. If your solution is suitable for other IT companies for example, you can easily sell more by participating in those marketplaces. This will require you to upload appropriate demo content, and it’s a good idea to spend a little to help you achieve results in the long term.
A number of examples – two of the most familiar are the Azure Marketplace and Appsource. One is only designed for creating leads, while the other allows you to transact directly. Remember that if you transact through Microsoft, they will also want a small slice of the pie and will retain x percentage of the transaction to process it. Further information about Azure Marketplace is available here and more information about the Appsource you can find here. We are in the Azure Marketplace ourselves, but with a consulting offering, which you can take advantage of if you wish – find it here.
In addition to putting your application in this marketplace, you can work with some of the big indirects, all of whom have their own marketplaces. In fact, there’s nothing to stop you using all of them. Some examples are Tech Data, SoftwareOne, Ingram Micro, ALSO, and Vuzion. Ingram Micro uses Cloud Blue for its marketplace, and if you register yourself there, you can participate in all other Cloud Blue marketplaces if you choose to. There are other indirect providers that also use Cloud Blue. SoftwareOne has a slightly different approach, where all of its sales staff can also take your solution to its large clients. They also include you in the selection process when large RfPs come in, which could be interesting in situations such as sales to governments. Tech Data might be interesting if you have a software solution that can be included as an add-on to another application, such as Office 365, or is relevant to other IT companies. Tech Data has a very wide range that includes IT companies, and is currently building what is known as a “click to run solution”, which IT companies may be able to gain some scale economy from. It’s something worth looking in to. After all, IT distribution (what I refer to above as an “indirect”) works a little like car sales. No one buys a car directly from the plant – the plant sells to an importer who then sells to the dealer, and then you buy from there. Your model as a software company could look a little like that of car manufacturers, and you could set up a distribution model using these parties as intermediaries.
Once you are in that marketplace, it’s just as easy to get a foothold abroad using the same distributors and indirects, as cloud providers’ audiences are distributed widely. So, if you’re looking to launch your solution to the German market and you have an Azure-based solution, plus you’re in the internal catalogue, you can contact Microsoft Germany and take part in their partner days, present your solution, and work with Microsoft’s account managers to sell your solution there. This way, you don’t need to open a sales office in the market that you want to serve. Instead, you can scale slowly or explore, without having to invest heavily right away. This cloud journey can, in many areas, be rather intensive, and you will make mistakes, but if you can then automate some of your sales, you will have earned it.
Would you like to read more about transformation levels for ISVs?
This article is part of a series of articles on transformation levels in the switch to the cloud. If you would like to know more about what the transformation to the cloud involves on a Technical level,you can read in our next blog. Sign up here and we’ll keep you posted.