Challenge: Inconsistent Content, Buyer Message, and Sales Performance
Apptio builds SaaS applications that help IT and finance leaders manage, plan, and optimise technology investments. The company grew its business by empowering sales territories to operate as “franchises” so regional sales teams could develop individual approaches in order to maximise the local market opportunity within their regions.
This “franchise” approach, while instrumental to driving Apptio’s market expansion and growth, also resulted in inconsistency of sales methods and a lot of improvised, widely dispersed sales content. Apptio’s marketing and sales teams had no ability to ensure customer messaging was accurate, consistent, current, and — most importantly — effective.
Apptio’s complex product-market dynamic, featuring multiple products, multiple buyer personas, and multiple customer segments, compounded these issues. It was difficult for sales reps to know what content to use for any given customer conversation, let alone find the most current and up-to-date versions of content using internal file shares.
As a result, content was either highly customised by each rep for every sales engagement or, on the other extreme, stored on rep’s local drives and not regularly updated.
As Apptio’s growth accelerated, company leadership recognised the need to scale in a more programmatic and predictable way. They were looking for:
- A consistent experience across all of sales and marketing touch points
- A unified location where customer-facing roles could find all authoritative, relevant, and up-to-date content
- Powerful search functions that surfaced relevant content based on buyer scenario and opportunity profile
- The ability for sales presentations to be automatically created based on the opportunity profile
- A scalable, easy-to-integrate tool that played well with other tech investments
- Improved content ownership that would allow publishers to easily merchandise their content in multiple areas depending on the audience they are trying to reach
After several unsuccessful attempts to find a workable tool, including Salesforce, SharePoint, and even another market-leading sales enablement platform, the sales teams were growing increasingly frustrated and started complaining of ‘sales tool fatigue.’
The company was attempting unsuccessfully to solve its content problem using a variety of tools, including Salesforce and SharePoint. The sales teams were growing increasingly frustrated and complained of “sales tool fatigue.” Sales reps had become increasingly skeptical of “shiny new sales tools,” and their trust in the marketing and sales enablement teams in providing a workable solution was fading.
Recognizing their need could only be met by bringing in a purpose-built sales enablement platform, Apptio decided to invest in a competitive solution. It took them several months to configure and implement the solution, and it required custom scripting to work with SharePoint. After months readying the system for rollout, the Apptio team was still struggling to get sales reps to use the new system.
Because the competitive solution’s approach to content organisation was no different than a typical file and folder architecture, the ability for reps to browse for content was left unsolved. This, combined with weak search functionality, meant that Apptio was unable to make meaningful progress on their primary use cases.
Worse, the competitive solution’s search capacity was actually less robust than the solutions Apptio hoped to migrate away from, including SharePoint and OneDrive, among others. Reps fell back into their old behaviour of searching for content on Apptio’s internal SharePoint portal, or they resorted to the files they kept on their local drives.
This meant that marketing and product marketing didn’t have adequate visibility into and control over how content was being used. Poor sales adoption of the competitive solution perpetuated the problems it was brought in to eliminate in the first place, and at a considerable cost to lost seller time that could have been better spent connecting with buyers.
With the competitive solution’s platform, the team also encountered extensive overhead involved with supporting, maintaining, and administering the solution. Furthermore, the competitive solution’s limited integration support required custom code and encryption in order to integrate with the company’s SharePoint instance. Administering the product became complicated and the extensive manual effort required to update and upload content was unsustainable.
Poor sales adoption of the competitive solution perpetuated the problems it was brought in to eliminate in the first place, and at a considerable cost to lost seller time that could have been better spent connecting with buyers.
In fact, the competitive solution implementation was so problematic, and functioned so poorly, that it exacerbated the disconnect between teams. Another solution was needed, and in order to rebuild sales’ trust, it had to be one that would work without fail.
It became clear to us that we really needed to improve the way we were supporting our sales reps and sales leaders. When we looked at Highspot, we were blown away by the intuitive way reps could discover content using Spots instead of folders. Highspot’s powerful and accurate search was another major selling point, because we knew from past experiences that if search doesn’t work, reps won’t use it.
Solution: Highspot Intelligently Surfaces Relevant Content
Even though there was more than a year left on Apptio’s existing contract with the competitive solution, they made the decision to bring in a new solution as soon as possible. They chose Highspot due to its intuitive interface, powerful search capability, and proven record of sales adoption.
In addition to Highspot’s sales use cases, Highspot’s Spot architecture provided the Apptio team with a better way to organise and manage content. Furthermore, Highspot delivered easy integration with Apptio’s other technological investments, including Salesforce, Allego, Outreach, and SharePoint.
Another major selling point for the Apptio team was Highspot’s SmartPage™ technology. These dynamic, interactive pages would allow Apptio to create relevant sales guidance and be able to evolve and adapt guidance over time without extensive overhead. Highspot SmartPages™ addressed a major gap in previous solutions with core sales enablement scenarios like sales plays, sales communication, and sales training.
It’s not enough for reps to be able to find content. In order to truly enable sellers and other customer-facing roles, we have to be able to provide guidance around how to effectively use content. Highspot’s SmartPages™ give us a huge advantage by being able to create guidance on the fly without having to have any technical expertise.
Results: Integrated, Scalable, and Intuitive Sales Enablement
One major concern for the Apptio team in bringing in Highspot was how much time would be lost to teaching the sales teams a new system. In just a few weeks, the Highspot professional services team had configured Highspot and the Apptio enablement team was ready to roll it out to their sellers.
Highspot’s powerful search, intuitive interface, and integration with existing systems like Outlook, Salesforce, and Outreach helped drive rapid and consistent adoption by Apptio sellers and other customer-facing roles.
Highspot also gave the Apptio product marketing and sales enablement teams an early win at their sales kickoff event, which took place only weeks into their rollout. Apptio was on a tight deadline to introduce new sales plays to the field — a combined effort between the enablement and product marketing teams. With Highspot SmartPages™, the teams were able to collaborate and build dynamic and interactive plays that included sales guidance alongside sales content. Using Highspot, they demoed the new sales plays on stage at the sales kickoff and used them to conduct interactive role playing sessions with the sellers to orient them with the new plays.
When we look at sales enablement success, we look at time to first and second deals, and we look at what assets in Highspot are resulting in the most successful sales engagements. With Highspot, we know that good reps are using it much more than reps that aren’t succeeding, and that helps us know where to focus.
Most importantly, everything in Highspot is measured so Apptio’s sales enablement team knows whether reps have completed training, have adopted new sales plays, and are using the latest and best content. Highspot’s analytics also inform the marketing and enablement teams about what content is being used and what’s most effective at driving prospect engagement. This allows the teams to better optimise content investment and prioritise enablement activities.
Apptio also uses Highspot to measure enablement KPIs, including how long it takes new reps to close their first and second deals. Apptio uses this as a measure of both true integration into the sales team and effective adoption of sales training. Highspot plays an important role in accelerating the time it take to get new reps productive.
Highspot has played a critical role in creating go-to-market alignment across all customer-facing roles within the organisation. Customer services, professional services, customer support, account management, solutions consulting, and partner teams now have access to the same kind of customer-facing content that the sales team does, creating a cohesive go-to-market approach across the company.