When Jarod Greene joined the Apptio team in 2018 as vice president of product marketing, it was clear that the SaaS company was ready for a messaging refresh. As a company offering solutions for executives who need to analyze, monitor, and make decisions about their IT spend, some of the company’s historic messaging was “riddled with jargon and tech talk that made sense to the people here but was difficult to break down to the buyer,” Jarod says. He was eager to revamp the messaging to better align with what Apptio is today: a global company with 1,000 employees, 8 patents, and a customer portfolio spanning organizations with annual revenues between $10 million and $10 billion.
Boosting sales and building new partnerships hinged on enhancing the product marketing team’s ability to translate the highly technical nature of the platform into an approachable, human-centric pitch.
Making the technical human and approachable
Jarod and his team wanted to move to a persona-led strategy for Apptio’s product marketing that recognized the role of consensus-based purchase decisions at larger companies. The team was tasked with building a pipeline to support 20% to 25% of new revenue growth yearly—no small feat.
“We needed to optimize our strategy for larger strategic accounts and upper enterprise accounts,” Jarod says.
The product marketing team faced a roadblock—Apptio’s typical sales cycle was around 200 to 240 days, as the platform was often seen as a “nice to have'' instead of a priority. “When finance folks have ‘grown up’ with the spreadsheet approach, it can be difficult to get them to see the value automation brings to the table,” Jarod says.
Coupled with Apptio’s traditional, technical-term-heavy messaging approach, the current strategy wasn’t giving the sales team the best possible foundation. Jarod needed to find new ways to articulate the company’s messaging to make the value proposition personal. It was important that product marketing have proof points and data for the changes they wanted to make in order to get buy-in from the executive team and accelerate the go-to-market strategy. To ensure they could gather insight from current customers, discover how to leverage it and create a go-forward plan efficiently, Jarod and his team turned to SurveyMonkey’s TechValidate.
Meeting customers where they are through survey insights
One of Jarod’s top goals was to create messaging that could be utilized consistently across all platforms.
“Any sort of confusion you introduce to the buyer just adds to the friction in the sales process,” he says.
Different teams had varied ideas on what approaches worked best with the company’s existing messaging, causing internal disagreement on how to develop new messaging. Jarod decided to tap into an area all stakeholders agreed on: the value Apptio creates for its customers. This approach leveraged the people who know the day-to-day impact of Apptio’s solutions best: its customers.
“We wanted to use the voice of the buyer to get us on the same page, looking directly to our customers to help us shape the messaging,” he says. Using customer feedback to shape messaging would also pull out phrasing that spoke directly to customers and the challenges they face.
Apptio’s product marketing team implemented a strategy to regularly send short, impactful surveys that gather information on their customers’ frame of reference, unmet needs and the value they’ve gained from Apptio. The insights the team gathered were critical in developing new messaging.
“With TechValidate, we were able to get around some of the challenges we have with respect to getting a customer to approve a quote, give us a testimonial, and move through the process.”
Based on the responses to the surveys, the product marketing team crafted messaging that, according to Jarod, went “beyond just the syntax and made sure the messaging was compelling and resonated.” The new messaging framework encompassed the emotional, personal impact Apptio’s solutions have on customers and equipped potential buyers with language they could use to pitch Apptio to their executive teams. Jarod says this was achieved by creating messaging that spoke to buyers in their own voice.
“If we couldn’t get that elevator pitch down to 15 seconds, then we were doing it wrong, and to get there, we had to cut out the jargon and get crystal clear,” Jarod says. The new messaging enabled the sales team to speak two languages—that of the people who would use the platform each day and the executive teams who make the final purchase decision.
Extracting the true voice of the buyer
The new messaging has been instrumental in boosting Apptio’s sales. With the sales and product marketing teams working in sync and employing consistent messaging across the board, the sales cycle has become more efficient. And that has boosted revenue.
“We had our first hundred million dollar quarter,” Jarod says.
The product marketing team feels the new messaging equips buyers with the right content to get consensus for the “98% of the sales cycle that we’re not in front of them.” Apptio is able to develop targeted language for specific audience and segment insights from TechValidate in categories by organization, location, industry, and use case. Jarod says SurveyMonkey will continue to be an integrated part of how the company’s product marketing evolves and grows in the coming years.
“We don’t just look at TechValidate as a survey mechanism,” he says. “We look at this as a way to extract the true voice of the buyer, communicate it consistently on multiple channels, and drive consensus across our marketing and sales teams.”