Break Out from Point Product to Strategic Vendor

As the virtualization market matured, VMware wished to elevate their leadership position from virtualization to strategic vendor in cloud computing, offering a wide variety of solutions. This shift called for the re-orientation of its field sales and channel organizations to sell higher in customer organizations to a broader spectrum of buyers where they would encounter different set of competitors. They needed intelligence about their new targets and business-level conversations to open up cloud opportunities with IT executives and business leaders.

Firebrick created a set of Fight Plan sales enablement tools to help VMware's field and channel organization identify sales scenarios, engage new buyers and combat new competitive pressures. These brief message guides provided buyer-centric sales conversations, and delivered them in easily digested role-based packages to optimize selling efforts across its various product lines.

  • Of the 1,200 sales tools and documents available on the VMware sales portal, Fight Plans accounted for 6 of the top 10
  • Achieved 40% CAGR during 2-year engagement with Firebrick, holding gross margins and operating margins steadily high and above industry norms
  • Accelerated sales effectiveness, particularly with new buyers, to become pre-eminent cloud computing vendor

Accelerate Sales by Generating Demand from Your Highest Value Accounts

IBM's Information Lifecycle Governance software division was failing to achieve its revenue targets. More challenging yet, IBM management set the division's year-end target to be 10x higher than the previous year. Sales reps were worried; they felt that the pipeline generated by marketing wasn't closing many deals. How could sales and marketing accelerate sales? How could the division leverage IBM's extensive customer base and sales force?

Firebrick created a demand gen program that aligns marketing and sales with the highest value accounts and accelerates the sales cycle. Deep analytics identified and prioritized target accounts which were segmented for cross-selling, up-selling, and new customer opportunities. Sales reps were enabled with buyer-centric conversations and customized target account and buyer lists. Marketing and seller activities and buyer response was tracked in order to quickly expand upon success in a buyer segment.

  • Identified the most valuable target accounts for a total revenue potential of $50M+
  • Developed strategic coverage plan and 30 customer and industry campaigns to achieve revenue target by year end
  • IBM management expanded the program to other software divisions

The Next $500M Division: A Transformed Market Definition Propels Citrix Online Forward

Citrix Online had captured leadership positions in the small and medium business segments with products like GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC. However, they were unable to repeat this success in the enterprise market. Their sophisticated understanding of inbound-oriented sales and marketing approaches worked extremely well for point solutions targeted at small and medium businesses. However the key to becoming the next $500M Citrix division was tackling the large enterprise and selling to senior executives with authority over multiple functions. Citrix Online had to create a compelling value proposition for their complete collection of products and operationalize this strategy in the field.

Firebrick teamed up with Citrix Online to develop a new point of view for its three lines of business to an enterprise-level executive audience, and to drive the new division-wide positioning through its field sales and service organizations. Firebrick’s first step was to guide a transformation of Citrix Online’s market definition and buyer profile, shifting from a generic “SMB” target to a new, more clearly defined opportunity: “organizations eager to embrace a new way of working.” This shift in the buyer profile enabled Citrix Online to develop a provocative new positioning that took advantage of its leadership in the Workshifting movement as well as the combined strengths of its established product brands. By creating a field sales playbook that detailed the concerns and realities of the new target buyer, this new positioning was carried convincingly into on-the-ground sales conversations.

  • Citrix Online now owns a unique corner of the market offering a point of view and value proposition no competitor can match.
  • Marketing and sales moved from selling products to uniquely solving a pervasive set of problems in the large enterprise.
  • The new positioning was enthusiastically embraced by field teams:
    • “My team now has a message to take to business leaders.” And
    • “Now I have a way to talk about the online division’s value, rather than just talking about our products.“
  • $15B new market potential was opened beyond the confines of the SMB market.

Challenge Larger Rival to Take Market Share and Drive Sales Growth

Riverbed created the category for WAN acceleration, and attracted a rabid following among network specialists along the way. However, to become the next $1B technology company meant facing down the 800-pound gorilla and rising from niche vendor to strategic supplier in the face of an economic down-turn.

Firebrick created a progressive positioning which lifted sales efforts from the geek-speak world of the network specialist to the business-led office of the CIO. The positioning strengthened Riverbed's competitive position against Cisco, giving them new stature and dramatically increasing growth.

  • Riverbed became the #2 vendor for CIO purchasing decisions
  • 45% year-over-year growth
  • During economic downturn, achieved a 42% market share differential vs. major competitors

Put Revenue at the Heart of the Story to Reach CMO and Drive Profitable Growth

The leader in business analytics had developed a host of new customer intelligence offerings, but struggled to secure a solid positioning that would define their territory. Meanwhile, larger competitors were making inroads with strategic buyers (CMOs). SAS needed to consolidate its distinctive advantages into a clear, cohesive story to capture the attention of CMOs and spur action.

Firebrick teamed up with SAS to create a fresh and provocative positioning story that could only come from SAS to get the attention of CMOs, drive clear points of difference and create urgency.

  • SAS Customer Intelligence revenues grew 68% following roll-out
  • Big win for marketing: sales team was wildly enthusiastic about the new story
  • Dramatically cut win/loss ratio against IBM

Reshape Cloud Category Requirements to Stoke Growth and Seize Mind-Share

As the cloud computing market began to heat up, Microsoft undertook a development effort for a ground-breaking platform, but found itself at a disadvantage. Established competitors had already set buying criteria in their favor. To gain the leadership role, Microsoft had to evangelize their point of view and progressively alter the course of the category.

Microsoft asked Firebrick to create a new positioning strategy and a series of issue-led buyer conversations to wake up the market and clearly articulate a compelling value proposition for its pioneering platform. The new positioning and messaging were put into action through a Field Playbook to accelerate adoption by the field channel organization and optimize their selling efforts.

  • Microsoft won over key analysts and influencers to become a category leader
  • Enabled dozens of channel partners and field sales to put them in action in 41 countries
  • Converted one of the world's largest business applications companies, establishing credentials and starting domino effect

Category Creator Prepares for IPO and Battle with ERP Behemoths and Cloud 1.0 Upstarts

Workday is a game-changer. They had outgrown their market category – and positioning story. In seven short years, Workday created and dominated a new market category – Cloud-based HR management systems – and forced the hand of Oracle and SAP to acquire its competitors (Taleo, SuccessFactors). Workday’s vision from the start was to compete directly with those ERP behemoths with Cloud-based financial and HR management systems. In 2012, Workday had sold financial management solutions to marquee customers such as Sallie Mae and AAA, but the market wasn’t recognizing Workday as a financial systems player. With plans to IPO later in the year, Workday needed a new positioning story – and FAST. How could they establish themselves as a key player to CFOs and in the financial management systems market? What unifying, single story could sales and marketing tell to explain the overarching value of Workday’s HR AND finance solutions?

Workday turned to the firm that developed their original positioning, before Workday signed its first customer. Choosing Firebrick again was a no-brainer: Workday executives and sales reps still used messages and visuals from the 2005 positioning to tell their story in 2012. Now, Firebrick created a positioning that elevated Workday from a niche HR player to a business management solution in direct competition with Oracle and SAP and cloud 1.0 upstarts like NetSuite. For the first time, Workday could articulate the business benefits of its native-built architecture, which are far greater than well-understood cost savings of moving to the cloud. The positioning established Workday as a “major disruptive force in enterprise software,” giving them new stature and dramatically increasing sales of their financial management solutions.

  • Solidified standing with influential market and financial analysts as the next significant technology player, and helped establish IPO evaluation criteria in Workday’s favor
  • Carved out a clear, contrasted position from the variety of Cloud and on-premise ERP business management solutions
  • Workday became recognized as key vendor for Cloud financial management as well as HR solutions and with CFO buyers
  • Took market share from established ERP vendors and cloud vendors
  • 100% year-over-year revenue growth

Pioneer in Electronic Health Records Re-ignites Revenue Growth

Publicly-traded NextGen Healthcare pioneered Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR), and established a market leadership position as the preeminent player in ambulatory care IT solutions. To take advantage of the changing healthcare landscape, NextGen broadened its portfolio of solutions to also include revenue management, patient engagement and interoperability.

The company found its leadership position being threatened by changes in the healthcare landscape (Affordable Care Act), combined with the entry of well-funded healthcare IT and cloud upstarts into their market.

NextGen Healthcare teamed with Firebrick to reverse the situation, reassert its leadership in a changed marketplace and reignite revenue growth. Working in collaboration with a cross-functional team of NextGen executives, Firebrick developed a positioning strategy, story and viewpoint for NextGen’s expanded product portfolio in order to take back the buying criteria and drive clear differentiation from its new set of competitors.

In addition, a Firebrick-designed sales enablement program facilitated internal rollout of the new positioning for NextGen’s field sales team. This effort turned the marketing messages into buyer conversations and provided pragmatic guidance for using the new storyline in different selling motions.

The evolution of NextGen Healthcare’s positioning reasserted the its leadership position in the market by giving the company a strong viewpoint, redefining the buying criteria in the company’s favor, and driving its highest pipeline in two years. NextGen has continued to increase its market share in the ambulatory care market while accelerating revenue and cross-selling in Revenue Cycle Management, Population Health and Interoperability. The company is poised to be the next $500M technology company.

Convincing Buyers to Switch

In a fast growing category, one name-brand player dominates the market, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Despite Joyent’s wildly happy customers and consistent revenue growth, they were not growing as quickly as the market. Joyent sought to differentiate against this 900-pound gorilla and carve out significant market share.

The company needed a provocative new message to rally around, not a long list of features and functionality. A new message that would leverage Joyent’s use-cases, increase its brand awareness, and convince customers to switch from AWS.

Different, Not Better Joyent engaged Firebrick to create a new positioning story and a series of issue-led conversations with customer and marketplace evidence that aligns product strategy to buyer needs.

Joyent’s new value proposition articulates their unique position as “the high performance cloud infrastructure company”. The new positioning quickly earned media and analyst attention – resulting in accolades in Gartner Group’s Magic Quadrant – opening the path to conversations with higher value accounts and faster sales cycles.

Joyent now owns a unique corner of the market that no competitor can match.

  • Differentiated and compelling story for sales executives to use with prospects
  • Number of prospect leads signing up for subscriptions has doubled
  • Increased thought-leadership with media and analysts
  • Analyst recognition in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

Partners in Employee Success

Achievers is a disruptive cloud company, with a charismatic founder that successfully created the “social recognition” market category and signed a long list of brand name companies in Canada and the US. To scale, the company secured funding by Sequoia Ventures and hired a seasoned executive team. The company made the strategic decision to go global, move up-market from selling smaller deals in the SMB market and focus on larger MRR/CLV deals with companies >1000 employees. In addition, as the market began to take off, a strong competitor had emerged and began “mimicking” the Achievers message, elongating sales cycles and confusing buyers.

The new management team engaged Firebrick to help reposition Achievers to the enterprise market and create a compelling executive-level value proposition to resonate with a CHRO buyer – as well as a strategy to re-take the buying criteria and create clear differentiation from the competition. In addition, Firebrick was engaged to conduct a data-driven propensity-to-buy analysis of the enterprise market to help Achievers segment the market, understand “where they win” and “find CHRO’s that are ready to buy, now” – and to focus the company’s finite marketing and sales resources on breaking into existing sales cycles and bigger deals they can win.

Achievers successfully reestablished itself as the preeminent leader in its market, reshaping the category definition in its favor and clearly differentiating its Employee Success Platform from the competition. The new positioning story and messaging helped Achievers gain engage in sales cycles at the CHRO-level and gain traction in the enterprise market. Firebrick’s propensity-to-buy analysis delivered an analytic-based market segmentation and sales target list to inform Achievers’ sales coverage model and focus its marketing campaigns and sales efforts at the “right” set of target accounts. Achievers’ pipeline is now filled with the right kind of deals, with a 50+% increase in year-over-year recurring revenue, and the company has created clear distance from its competition. Achievers’ valuation reflects its pre-eminent position as the market leader in the next big B2B market category.

Chart a Course for $1Bn Valuation: Seize the Enterprise Market to Become the Captain of a New Category

New Relic is a leader in the market for Application Performance Monitoring with its cloud-first SaaS solution. The company is leading the movement to modern software with a Software Analytics platform to give developers, IT operations and digital business owners code-level visibility to help resolve problems 10x faster and track customer experience, as it is happening.

The company took the APM market by storm with a powerful product and compelling branding that helped make the term “data nerds” part of the mainstream developer community. New Relic created a movement for its innovative product, quickly establishing a beachhead in the market with developers building applications with modern languages and tools.

In order to scale, the company needed to push up-market and compete for business in larger enterprises – and move to a blended sales model consisting of downloads, inside sales, and direct sales channels. The challenge for New Relic in the enterprise market is a more complex sale involving multiple stakeholders and decision-makers, plus a new set of competitors including established legacy vendors and a new upstart that had developed inroads with the IT operations buyer.

As a result, the company needed to evolve and strengthen its positioning for the enterprise market, prepare its field sales organization for this new selling motion and clearly define the target market and segmentation to focus the company’s sales and marketing efforts.

New Relic engaged Firebrick to help the company embark on an entire go-to-market strategy to accelerate growth, increase competitiveness and optimize selling efforts in the enterprise market.

This involved a repositioning of the company and its expanded portfolio of solutions with a fresh, differentiated story that was compelling to a multitude of enterprise buyers – developers, IT operations and digital business owners – as well as an enablement program to drive the new positioning down to the field level and optimize sales for this new selling motion. Finally, Firebrick was asked to help New Relic better understand the enterprise buyer market and deliver a data-driven analysis to precisely define and segment the buyers, understand who is buying now and where New Relic can “win” and deliver a target list of companies ranked by propensity-to-buy.

Built upon the solid foundation established by New Relic’s existing and well-respected brand, Firebrick’s positioning, propensity-to-buy and enablement work accelerated the company’s penetration into the enterprise market, fundamentally establishing New Relic as THE vendor for SaaS-delivered APM and Software Analytics. As a result, New Relic is engaged with the “right” kind of buyers, has collapsed the length of its sales cycles, has improved its win/loss ratio and is driving market share by selling over 600 enterprise customers. With a recent investment round of $100M, New Relic is described as the next big B2B IPO prospect, and has established itself as the next significant technology company.

Cloud Disruptor Ready to Scale

With deep roots in enterprise performance management, the founders of venture-backed Tidemark, based in Redwood City, CA had developed an innovative, cloud-first enterprise solution for financial planning and analysis. With an initial set of customers and a fresh round of funding, Tidemark was rapidly filling out its management team in order to scale its operations and accelerate sales against established incumbents and other fast-moving upstarts.

Tidemark engaged Firebrick to develop a positioning strategy that reframed Tidemark from a generic analytics platform to a solution for planning and analysis that engages the entire organization cross-functionally in operational planning and forecasting. In addition, Tidemark asked Firebrick to help them better understand their enterprise customers and to deliver a fact-based segmentation of the enterprise market to give Tidemark a set of target accounts with the highest propensity to buy its solution.

With new positioning and messaging in hand, Tidemark has established itself as the solution for companies seeking organizational transformation through data-driven operations. Firebrick’s propensity-to-by analysis has provided Tidemark with a clear understanding of how to allocate its marketing spend and serves as a blueprint for field coverage as Tidemark continues to expand its operations and take market share.

Create a Rallying Cry to Unify Solutions and Double Sales

Dublin, Ireland-based Corvil had developed a unique network monitoring system and established an initial beachhead in its market as the platform for high-speed trading in financial institutions. In order to scale, the company needed to expand beyond this initial use case and establish itself as a horizontal infrastructure solution applicable to a broad array of use cases in financial services and markets beyond.

Firebrick developed a positioning strategy for Corvil that fundamentally reframed the company from network monitoring to take a thought leadership role as a “streaming analytics” company helping businesses operate “in the now.” This positioning not only strengthened the company’s standing in its traditional high-speed trading market, but allowed the company to solve a big strategic problem in multiple industries – and gave the company a bigger conversation in the market and a vision to live into.

By helping Corvil clearly articulate the value of its unique IP in a fresh, compelling way, Firebrick enabled the company to not only consolidate its lead in its core trading market, but to drive penetration into three new markets in order to jumpstart revenue growth again. Just as important, Corvil took a leadership position in “streaming analytics,” proactively shaping the category and significantly increasing the valuation of the company.

Rise Above the Noise to Win in the Wild West of Mobile Technology

As a disruptor in the streaming media market, Ooyala reshapes the way global brands use video and analytics to drive consumer engagement and higher levels of monetization.

The company had successfully signed an initial set of early adopters, but needed an executive-level conversation to engage mainstream customers and more clearly articulate the value of their unique IP and groundbreaking technology and translate “geek-speak” into a business conversation.

Ooyala engaged Firebrick to evolve and elevate its positioning strategy, storyline and messaging. Working with the founders and a new executive team, Firebrick developed a compelling business conversation that more clearly articulated the value of the company’s ground-breaking IP and made it more understandable to executives managing global brands. In addition, Firebrick gave Ooyala a strong viewpoint to take a thought leadership to influence the formation of the emerging market for business-critical video.

With a new positioning strategy, Ooyala was able to optimize its selling efforts with a storyline that helped them engage at the executive C(X)O level and create a sense of urgency within sales cycles. “No decisions” dropped by 50% and transformed technical pitch into a compelling business argument. With new buying criteria, solid technical credentials and a clear business story, Ooyala began to land a series of tier-one customers including ESPN, Foxtel and Univision. As the company sold more deeply into the C-suite, Ooyala’s valuation grew, and in August 2014 Australian telecom giant Telstra acquired the company for $270 million.

ERP Leader Uplevels Positioning to Sell to a New Executive Buyer

Plex Systems, Inc. had developed one of the first cloud-based ERP solutions and gained initial traction in the automotive supplier market. In order to scale, the company took an investment from Francisco Partners and hired a seasoned executive team. The company embarked upon a growth strategy by moving from SMB to larger manufacturing enterprises, while entering the food and beverage and aerospace and defense verticals. The challenges for the company were to take advantage of its first-mover advantage in the cloud; sell larger deals and strengthen its competitiveness against not only large, established ERP players, but also new cloud upstarts that had begun to enter the market. In addition, sales cycles were met with roadblocks and “conservative” buyers uncertain about using cloud technology for their mission-critical business systems.

The new management team engaged Firebrick to help scale the company with a positioning strategy, story and messaging to take first mover advantage as the “manufacturing cloud” and establish the buying criteria for the next generation of ERP solutions. In addition, the strategy overhauled Plex’s story from one of technical features to an executive-level business conversation, which included a single unified message with “chapters” specific to each vertical. Firebrick was also engaged to help enable the field sales organization and optimize their selling efforts with the new story.

Plex successfully established itself as a cloud thought leader and disruptor in the ERP market, carving out a unique brand as the “Manufacturing Cloud.” By up-leveling the story to a business conversation, Plex created a sense of urgency in sales cycles, deflected concerns about cloud technology and created clear differentiation from their various competitors. The company’s revenues doubled, its win/loss ratio improved by 50% and the company now has 1,200 customers across 20 countries running its Manufacturing Cloud solution. Plex continues to be recognized for growth, leadership and innovation, having been named to JMP Securities 2014 "Hot 100" list of the Best Privately Held Software Companies, achieved the #2 position in the cloud 100 disruptor list and named to the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S.