We chat with BJ Bushur, Founder & CEO of Foundation6. Across her career as an entrepreneur and sales leader, BJ has helped over 100 companies scale sales to reach record revenue growth and catapult many clients into IPOs or acquisitions including MuleSoft, Apigee, Box, MongoDB, and PagerDuty.
She shares how to align the sales process with the self-informed buyer journey and leveraging data to provide credence to the science of selling.
BoostUp.ai: How would you describe the Buyer – Seller dynamic in today’s environment?
BJ: In mature markets, self-informed buyers are engaging with sellers later in the buying journey, and that poses both problems and opportunities for companies.
Buyers believe they are well informed when they really might not have everything they need by just reviewing the website or from peer recommendations.
For a seller, the deep understanding of their buyer is critical: knowing the personas, why they would buy from them, the use cases, and making sure the buyers know their differentiators compared to the competition. Reps are leveraging more data on prospects now than ever before.
For evangelical sales, it is vital to help buyers understand how a new product or service that never existed before will impact their business and them personally. Here it becomes a challenge to engage with sellers later in the buying process because they don’t know how to justify the purchase and it is harder to build a business case.
Sales leaders have to focus on equipping their sellers with the right messaging, process, and tools to help them effectively prospect and focus on leads who are most likely to buy.
BoostUp.ai: In a high-velocity sales environment, how can managers keep their reps focused on winnable deals?
BJ: Be on top of the processes that reps are using.
Capturing information when reps follow their regular course of business — from discovery call to technical evaluation to close— allows managers to inspect what’s going on with each rep quickly. They can have a complete overview of who the reps are engaging with, how they are engaging with them, and what messaging they are using. This information should be in the CRM, but we also know reps hate entering data into the CRM.
Sales reps are naturally optimistic people. Some of us wear our “rose-colored glasses” when it comes to forecasting. Many times managers have to encourage reps to accept that a particular opportunity is not the fit for their solution and having the rep divest from that prospect with a quick “no” is the next best option.
There are new sales tools at our disposal that work within the typical workflow of a sales rep. These tools can provide all the signals that managers need to coach the reps to keep their focus on the winnable deals.
BoostUp.ai: What are the challenges that sales leaders face to stay on top of their forecast?
BJ: Sales leaders have to know how well sellers are providing buyers the information they need both in the logical part and the emotional part of the buying process, so buyers feel good about doing business with the company and believe the product or service will help them be successful.
In a high-velocity sales environment, there are so many deals that each rep has to close, it’s hard for sales leaders to have the time to go through each opportunity. There is usually a high trust factor that their reps’ sales process is aligned with the buyer’s process.
In the weekly forecast call or meeting, reps go through their top opportunities and highlight where they might have risks in their deals. They may call out where they need help or resources or where they’re stuck in their key opportunities.
That is a perfect moment for sales leaders to give them objective insights into what is going on with their deals. But with the lack of time to review deals, this kind of discussion is just not happening today.
It’s an excellent opportunity for AI tools to come into play — Understand the sentiments of the buyer, who supports your solution or is a naysayer in the buying organization.
BoostUp.ai: Why are signals that could impact the forecast still being missed?
BJ: Because we aren’t trusting the science part of selling enough, and that’s something that we as sales leaders need to get over. It’s not all just art and creativity that will get us over the finish line to win these deals.
Unfortunately, in software and SAAS companies, we have also trained our buyers to wait until the end of the quarter to get a discount. So staying on top of how we are different and better than the customer’s alternatives remains super important.
There are definitive steps to be taken with the right buyer groups for the problems that we’re solving for them. We need to look at objective data around sentiments, the personas involved, the use cases involved and give some credence to the data.
Then use it to coach the reps — The things that were missed or the new hurdles that came up in opportunities that have to be overcome to win the next set of deals.
BoostUp.ai: What are the key steps sales leaders take when they are likely to miss the forecast?
BJ: That’s the lovely scenario of getting onto daily forecast calls where you see executives get involved in the opportunities. Standup meetings happen every morning until the end of the quarter, and there is more inspection, more micromanagement — not the ideal scenario for any sales rep or sales leader.
Sales leaders also look at the patterns from both lost and won deals and identify the key learnings. They then coach the reps and the systems engineers involved in technical evaluations around the hurdles that came up in these opportunities along with ideas of how these can be overcome to strengthen the forecast.
To do this effectively, they need both objective data and the seller’s sense to identify the patterns, lessons learned, and repeatable processes to incorporate into the next quarter.
Some companies figure this out, but for evangelical sales, as a new product or service, it is harder to map this out. It takes longer and requires a continuous conversation with customers and hearing what problem this new product or service solves for them.
It also comes back to sales being part art and part science. The art is the messaging and applying the solutions for various stakeholders. The science is making sure that we know all the buyer personas that are involved, who needs to weigh in on the decision, what their problems are, and how to address their requirements accordingly. The repeatable patterns and lessons learned can then be incorporated into the opportunities for next quarter further strengthening the forecast.
BoostUp.ai’s 360-degree automated deal evaluation presents the unbiased truth and makes deal reviews fact-based and non-judgmental.
By indexing buyer & seller interactions from all communication channels & summarizing the buying signals of each deal, BoostUp.ai provides an instant separation of deals with real buying intent vs. deals that are a waste of time.