When the company started, however, sales did not come easily. In the early days, co-founder Christian Chabot drove around Silicon Valley in his beat-up Geo Prizm trying to get IT departments interested in the software only to continually run into dead ends. Back then, the standard way of dealing with data was for IT departments to respond to business users’ requests, and configure reports accordingly. The IT department was the gateway into the corporation for data-based software companies. Unfortunately for Chabot, the IT folks just weren’t that interested in his software.
Chabot rethought his target audience. Clearly, he was getting nowhere with the IT gatekeepers, yet he knew there was real value for organizations in what Tableau was offering. So, he pivoted. Instead of approaching IT departments, he tried something that was heretical – and potentially suicidal for a sales team. He went directly to the business users.
That change made all the difference in the world. IT resources historically don’t care if a report looks “pretty” or what font is included in a chart, but business users and marketers care about that stuff. A lot! It transforms the data from a sea of numbers into visuals that tell a story and reveal insights.
Marketers and business users had always been underwhelmed with the types of reporting coming out of IT. Tableau offered a new and exciting visual experience with an ease-of-use that was a dream come true for many marketers.
Now, a wide variety of organizations make use of visualization software. Major league baseball teams use the software to analyze ticket sales in near real-time and monitor how beer sales are impacting the bottom line. Presenting complex data sets in this way enables the backend staff to make real-time operational decisions that result in a more profitable organization.
By changing its target audience, Tableau unleashed massive growth. The company grew by over 1,900% over the past six years, and now boasts more than 54,000 customers in its portfolio. Tableau achieved annual revenue of $826.9 million in 2016, a 27 percent increase over the prior year.
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Sometimes, what needs to change to spur growth is not necessarily your product, but instead is the department or the role within the organization that you are targeting. Explore alternative departments and individuals that may be highly receptive to your offering, and it’s quite possible that you’ll find a new revenue source.