Championing An Innovative Product: Why Now Is The Best Time To Join The Appian Sales Team
Working on the Appian Sales team isn’t like working anywhere else. According to our team members, one of the reasons they joined (and why they stick around long term!) is because of the opportunity to champion an innovative product they see having a tangible impact with their customers.
Jen Huppe, Director, Solutions Consulting, describes it as “automation that ties together people, process, data, and AI tools,” while bridging the gap between business and IT.
Phil Russell, Area Vice President, East Sales, explains “the democratization of application development and IT” sounds like a fancy buzzword, but empowering business and operations leaders to solve their toughest business problems with their own resources and language is really powerful.
To provide you with a first-hand look at what it's like to work in Sales at an organization with a world-changing product, we spoke to Jen and Phil to hear about their experiences on the Appian Sales team.
Meet Jen Huppe
- Director, Solutions Consulting
- Located in Washington DC
- Joined Appian in early 2018
Why I joined the Appian Sales team
Post-graduate school, I was searching for a job that would employ both my business and engineering degrees and provide a collaborative exciting environment. I was delighted to find Appian because the product truly bridges the gap between business and technology. As a bonus, Appian is headquartered in Northern Virginia, so while many sales professionals work remotely, I enjoy having access to collaboration across the company by going into the office.
With an undergraduate degree in engineering, I started my career in tech consulting, and I quickly learned that I excelled in translating a customer’s business needs into product requirements. I then moved into product management, where I loved selling a vision, but I missed the dynamism of working directly with customers. After much soul-searching while getting my MBA, I found that Solutions Consulting (AKA sales engineering) would be the right balance of using my business and engineering skills, all while providing the fast-paced environment I thrive in. After talking to a lot of tech companies, the product, fast growth, and supportive team made Appian stand out as the right choice for me.
What motivates me to do my best work every day
We solve the most interesting problems. I specifically sell to the federal government. Visiting government offices and understanding their challenges and how we can help them operate better is the most exciting — I truly feel that I’m making a positive impact on how our government works!
Selling for a tech company: Bridging my passion for tech and business
I have always been passionate about bridging the gap between business and IT, and Appian does that really well. With a low-code product, it’s logical and easy for anyone to understand — whether you're from the “business side” like owners and management, or the tech side like engineers and IT — it’s very clear what Appian does, where it fits, and the problems it solves.
For example, we have a process modeler that builds workflows. Business owners understand this because it looks like a diagram that they would draw on a whiteboard. However, what’s unique is that they can sit in a room with the engineers, draw the process in Appian, and say “this is what we want.” Then, all the engineers have to do is tie up a few loose ends to make the process work as drawn. It’s that simple.
This really streamlines the process because, in traditional software, the business owners will write requirements and then pass them onto the IT team to write lines and lines of code, which leads to a lot of back and forth. However, with Appian, they can sit and design it together.
Solving today’s most pressing business and digital transformation challenges
We’re focused on automation that ties people, processes, data, and AI tools together. Think of any process (whether it’s government or commercial sector) where there are lots of inputs, outputs, and processes. We make it more efficient. Our goal is to make it as automated as possible while still having humans in control of it.
Appian bridges the gap between process and IT and that’s what keeps me excited. The experience working here these past few years has been really fantastic, and I have nothing but positive things to say.
Meet Phil Russell
- Area Vice President, US East Sales
- Located in Virginia
- Joined Appian at the end of 2008
From computer science to sales: My career journey
I went to school for computer science, so I first joined Appian in a technical role. I worked as a Cloud Engineer and spent much of my first four years working on our product.
Along the way, there was an opportunity to participate as a sales resource on a few commercial engagements. I was brought in to teach prospective clients about Appian Cloud capabilities. This was not only exciting to take on, but it was also where I formally learned about a role called a Sales Engineer (SE). After doing some digging, I noticed that a lot of colleagues I had respect for within the company had all flowed through the SE function. It became crystal clear to me that this was what I wanted to do, and I made the move at the end of 2012.
Making an impact: How my team and I changed the Sales game at Appian
One of my favorite experiences was with one of my Account Executives (Joanne) and a well-known Sales Engineer (Josh). At the time I was leading a team of six AEs. We were focused on breaking into new accounts based in the NY metro area. We received a warm lead from an executive at Appian. He had a prior relationship with a contact now at one of our target accounts, and our executive recommended we connect with his colleague to explore an opportunity.
Joanne and I reached out to the contact, and a few short days later, found our way to a lunch with him. Over lunch he told us what he was thinking — he knew the automation space and recognized they had a broken tech platform. They needed something new, something disruptive.
His plan was to evaluate us and a few competitors against their incumbent tech. He had wanted to do a 90-day proof of concept (POC) to see what we could do. I knew that speed was our differentiator and saw an opportunity to give us an edge. So instead of a 90-day POC, I proposed that our team go on-site for a half-day to do something a little different.
I recommended that we come onsite without any prior preparation and build what they want in real-time with them in the room. He loved the idea, got down to planning, and two weeks later we were on-site.
We had everyone in the room from IT and executives to operational excellence. Josh took the lead on building the demo and had just under three hours to complete it. As he was building everyone was asking questions and showing true excitement.
Both business and IT stakeholders were so engaged; it was amazing. While Josh was doing his magic, I was taking screenshots of the work and creating a presentation. We wrapped the day presenting that deck to the key executive, then walked out of their offices knowing we had won. Two weeks later they selected us. Less than 60 days later we had a signed contract.
It took a total of 84 days after our first lunch to sign a master agreement — that’s three times faster than the average new customer sales cycle was at the time! Looking back on the original plan for a 90-day POC, this was an amazing reminder that with a great product and a great sales team we can truly disrupt the way business used to be. We could help our customers become better, faster, and smarter by simply listening and partnering with them.
This account stood out to me for four reasons:
- Firstly, it was a massive win with a Fortune 100 company;
- It was rewarding to watch Joanne build such strong relationships so quickly.
- It’s always fascinating to watch Josh dazzle everyone in the room.
- Internally, it challenged our entire organization to be better. To move faster. To listen to the customer and work towards a positive impact for all parties.
The democratization of IT and application development
The ability to do powerful things quickly without writing code is what makes Appian stand out. For example, a few weeks ago, a direct report came to me with the idea of a sales application.
This app would be used by AEs to help deals move forward more efficiently week to week. I took the idea and launched a free site on the Appian community. It didn’t take long to design it. With no-code integrations to systems like Salesforce, I had drawn out the business app within the week. Today anyone can easily look at a sales opportunity and change the status of it, provide notes and track progress over time.
The initial concept was essentially a spreadsheet, and we built it into something more comprehensive using the Appian low-code automation platform in the course of a business week. And remember, I’m a Sales executive who in theory shouldn’t know how to use complex enterprise software!
While “the democratization of application development and IT” sounds like a fancy buzzword, empowering business and operations leaders to solve their toughest business problems with their own resources and language is a really empowering proposition.
Making complex business decisions simpler
In simple terms, Appian helps pull “things” together — “things” being people, data, cloud systems, desktop files, and customers. Pulling it all together, coordinating, and orchestrating the flow of information from start to finish.
Ultimately, when it comes to making business decisions, it’s all about approvals. But, you need the right visibility into your data and processes to make those decisions. But sometimes the information you’re looking for might be in six different places! We can organize the information from those six different systems into one pane of glass — one place to look at a 360-degree view.
Now is the best time to join Sales at Appian
At the end of the day, this has quickly become a saturated market defined by buzzwords like “no-code” or “low-code.” And many of those companies are disingenuous about how they position themselves. Hundreds of competitors, if not more, are looking to corner the market, but few have the product capabilities to disrupt businesses the way that Appian can.
We have been building and architecting our product before this market was defined or even existed. I like to use the analogy of a surfer waiting in the ocean for the perfect wave. We’ve been patient, lurking in the water for the right conditions. Now the perfect wave is here, and we’re awesomely positioned to ride it.
Inspired to join the Appian Sales team? See our current career opportunities on our Sales careers page.