Jodi Sorensen, Director of Marketing and Kelly Anthony, Marketing Manager at Smartsheet, a leading collaboration and work management tool, took some time for a short interview with us. We discussed Smartsheet’s first project with TechValidate, how their sales team uses TechValidate customer content and the impact they’ve seen on their reference pipeline.
TechValidate: What are the primary marketing initiatives that Smartsheet is working on right now?
Jodi Sorensen: We have four initiatives that we’re focusing on through the end of the year and throughout 2014. First, increase awareness and drive leads to our site. Next, increase conversion through lead nurturing campaigns. Third, engage with our customers throughout their life cycle with a variety of retention programs. Finally, expand usage, showing them all the different possibilities of coordinating their work in Smartsheet.
Kelly Anthony: We worked closely with TechValidate to hone our goals for our first survey and make sure that we were headed in the right direction from the get-go. We moved forward pretty aggressively to review the questions and goals, refine our list of customers, and just generally get acquainted with TechValidate as a product.
Jodi Sorensen: Planning is key. [TechValidate] will let you go as fast as you want, so we had to be ready and clear internally about what we really wanted to accomplish and what we really didn’t expect to accomplish. Keep it centered and simple.
TechValidate: What were your results from the first outreach project?
Kelly Anthony: The total list we sent to was about 14,000 customers and saw a response rate of 26%. We were totally floored. Our whole team was thrilled to see such great results come in so quickly – it’s been incredible to share.
TechValidate: What was the time frame from publishing to finding value from your assets?
Kelly Anthony: It was pretty immediate – the day after the survey was complete, I was able to get in and start publishing. Being able to rely on the TechValidate team for quick helpful answers was key in that process.
TechValidate: Smartsheet seems to move pretty quickly. How long does it take to get named references with a traditional approach?
Jodi Sorensen: Like most fast-growing companies, there isn’t enough time in the day for us to engage one-on-one with all the potential interesting case studies candidates – especially for a product that can be used in virtually every industry. However, it’s important that our sales team can reference customers in each industry and offer quotes or stats that matter to them. Now if there is a hole in our customer reference grid, we can quickly fill it in with TechValidate. This gives us a lot more muscle to cover more ground with 3rd party evidence.
TechValidate: What was some of the feedback internally and externally after you started publishing and how the content was showing up for you?
Kelly Anthony: The internal response was amazing – especially from our sales team. Our product helps our customers save time, but one of our biggest challenges in the past was defining exactly how many hours/week people were saving thanks to Smartsheet. Now we can. And the TechValidate-Salesforce integration was huge. The same day we were publishing content, it was synced up with Salesforce so the sales team could search for the exact evidence they needed, easily, on their own.
Jodi Sorensen: Even before the survey was closed, the sales reps honestly couldn’t get the results fast enough. They were all filtering into our office to ask Kelly about TechValidate – so anxious to get their hands on the stats. TechValidate gives the sales team a boost of confidence in their storytelling. It’s a really nice sales tool that is credible, third party verified and persuasive. Kelly and I have always had stories to share about our customers, but to have 30,000 pieces of data? Well, it gives us so many more tools to help sales.
The Smartsheet sales team can’t get enough of their TechValidate content!
Kelly Anthony: The results from our first survey are spreading around the company and have boosted morale. It’s fun to have this huge trove of really positive, life changing quotes from our customers in a resource that’s easy for our colleagues to access whenever they need to.
TechValidate: How have you used TechValidate in your marketing?
Jodi Sorensen: TechValidate is giving our marketing efforts a whole lot of punch. When we’re reevaluating or updating marketing assets – whether a landing page, press release, or email campaign, we’re thinking about what TechValidate content could make it more impactful.
TechValidate: You’ve been able to gain a list of reference volunteers from the project. How has that been?
Jodi Sorensen: It’s been great to see some big brand names give us permission to reference their stories. Just based on this one survey, we garnered 600+ additional reference volunteers. TechValidate provided some great names that we would have never uncovered any other way.
TechValidate: How would you sum up the impact you’ve seen with TechValidate?
Kelly Anthony: TechValidate has added a new set of resources to our sales efforts and dramatically increased the number of customers we can reference. It’s helped inject a more human face into all of our activities and helped us keep the customers top of mind in all our marketing efforts. It’s also given us a way to quantify a lot of numbers, like time saved and ROI, that we couldn’t reference before.
Jodi Sorensen: Many of the Smartsheet marketing programs focus on promoting and celebrating the people who use our tool to better manage their work. TechValidate mirrors that effort as the assets really put the focus on the customers. Having this repertoire of assets supports our overall brand in the marketplace. That’s really important.