S1 | 7: Building a high-performance B2B marketing team with Allison Breeding, Apptio, an IBM Company

The pressure is on for Chief Marketing Officers. They are expected to take their organizations to new heights – especially during this time of economic uncertainty and budget cuts. Yet, marketers are still expected to get results with fewer resources, and they can’t do this all alone. CMOs need a team beneath them to empower them, build them up, and work together to create innovative solutions that market their company despite limited resources.

Today we’re going to talk about how CMOs can build high-performing marketing teams amidst cuts and rising demands.

To help me discuss this topic, I’d like to welcome Allison Breeding, CMO at Apptio, which was recently acquired for $4.6B by IBM, in part due to some of Allison’s teams marketing skills!

About Allison Breeding

Allison is Apptio’s Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the global marketing team focused on driving brand recognition and demand for Apptio’s leading technology business management (TBM) solutions worldwide. Allison brings more than 20 years of experience in global demand generation, market category creation and building high-performing marketing teams.

Allison was most recently the VP of Global Marketing at Anaplan, a SaaS cloud platform company driving orchestrated performance, planning and decision making for the enterprise. In this role, she transformed and scaled a revenue marketing practice and team, contributing to strong year-over-year growth for the company. Allison’s belief in building strong teams and putting customers first has delivered success at her previous leadership roles at Docker Inc., GE Digital, Red Hat, and Corning. Allison graduated from Elon University with a BS in International Business.


Allison Breeding, CMO, Apptio


Building a high-performing marketing team requires aligning team goals with the organization’s objectives and being thoughtful in designing the organizational structure. In a podcast episode, Allison Breeding, CMO at Apptio, emphasized the importance of aligning the marketing team’s goals with the overall objectives of the business to ensure that every effort made by the marketing team contributes directly to the company’s success.

To achieve this alignment, CMOs must have a deep understanding of the organization’s needs and goals. Starting with the goals of the organization and understanding the key markets that need to be targeted, CMOs can design an organizational structure that supports these objectives. This thoughtful approach to organizational design ensures that the marketing team is structured in a way that enables them to implement programs successfully and drive the desired outcomes.

Furthermore, Allison highlighted the significance of educating the team on the company’s goals and objectives. By holding biweekly all-hands meetings and ensuring that team members are aware of not only their individual tasks but also the broader marketing initiatives, CMOs can empower their team to be advocates for the value that marketing brings to the business. This level of alignment and communication within the team fosters a cohesive and high-performing environment where every team member understands their role in achieving the organization’s objectives.

In conclusion, building a high-performing marketing team goes beyond individual skills and talents; it requires a strategic alignment of team goals with the organization’s objectives and a thoughtful design of the organizational structure. By ensuring that every team member understands the company’s goals, CMOs can create a team that is not only skilled but also driven by a shared vision of success.

When hiring for a high-performing marketing team, the episode emphasizes the importance of prioritizing key hires. Allison Breeding, the CMO at Apptio, highlights the significance of understanding the needs of the organization before making hiring decisions. By stepping back to assess the organization’s requirements and collaborating with the leadership team to determine the optimal organizational structure, CMOs can identify the key positions that need to be filled.

Additionally, the episode stresses the value of relying on networks and trusted referrals when hiring team members. Allison mentions that leveraging her network and trusted referrals helped in eliminating cultural misfits and ensuring that the individuals hired were not only great on paper but also excelled in their roles. This approach not only streamlines the hiring process but also increases the likelihood of finding candidates who align with the company culture and possess the necessary skills to drive success.

Moreover, the episode underscores the importance of ensuring a cultural and skill fit during the hiring process to avoid future issues. By assembling a well-rounded interview committee that evaluates both cultural fit and skill fit, CMOs can make informed hiring decisions that align with the organization’s goals. This approach not only enhances the quality of hires but also reduces the risk of potential challenges down the line.

In summary, when building a high-performing marketing team, prioritizing key hires, leveraging networks and referrals, and ensuring a cultural and skill fit are essential steps to create a cohesive and successful team that can drive results effectively.

Educating Teams and Departments on the Value of Marketing

In the podcast episode, Allison Breeding, CMO at Apptio, emphasized the importance of educating internal teams and other departments on the value of marketing. She highlighted the need for alignment to common goals and speaking the language of different departments to demonstrate how marketing efforts contribute to hitting corporate goals.

Importance of Education:

  • Allison stressed the need for educating teams within the marketing organization to ensure they understand the goals and objectives of the business. This alignment is crucial for cascading down the organization and ensuring everyone is working towards the same outcomes.

Aligning to Common Goals:

  • Aligning everyone to common goals was a key point discussed by Allison. By ensuring that all teams, including marketing, IT, and other departments, are working towards the same objectives, it becomes easier to collaborate effectively and drive the business forward.

Speaking the Language of Different Departments:

  • Allison mentioned the importance of speaking the language of different departments, such as IT, when requesting resources or support for marketing initiatives. By framing marketing needs in terms of how they contribute to hitting corporate goals, it becomes easier to gain buy-in and support from other areas of the business.

Demonstrating Contribution to Corporate Goals:

  • By educating internal teams and other departments on the value of marketing and aligning efforts to common goals, marketing leaders can effectively demonstrate how their initiatives directly contribute to hitting corporate goals. This approach helps in showcasing the impact of marketing efforts on the overall success of the organization.

The podcast episode highlighted that educating teams, aligning everyone to common goals, and speaking the language of different departments to show the value of marketing are essential strategies for building a strong marketing team and driving success in the organization.

House of the Customer by Greg Kihlström is now available.
House of the Customer by Greg Kihlström