Empowering sales representatives to engage with customers through tailored sales journeys
Bill Butler is the founder and CEO of Journey Sales. The company’s flagship product, Smart Rooms, allows sales representatives to create, coordinate, and collaborate on personalized sales experiences for customers. Smart Rooms are built natively in Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management platform.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Tell us about your flagship product.
BILL BUTLER: We designed the Smart Room—and one of our customers gave us this analogy, which I use: it’s kind of like putting Pinterest on top of Salesforce. It’s a private and personalized workspace that a selling team can invite a customer team into and work together in there. You share content, you can collaborate in the room together. As the selling team, we get the analytics and begin to see who’s in the room, how often they’re coming in. It gives us great indication of the buying behavior: what our buyers are doing, is this something that’s trending toward a deal, win—something that we would expect to be successful, or is it degrading in terms of the overall relationship? Again, that type of insight today in the B2B world, is really speculative. We guess at that, we think we know what’s going on, but this really gives you that empirical data, which talks about not just an individual but the collective team within an organization and how they’re engaged with us.
A Smart Room will contain information that would include things like thought leadership and trends in the market. It could include demonstrations of your product or solution, price proposals, contracts—all those things are examples of the type of information that’s in a Smart Room. What winds up happening, back to the 6.8 decision-makers: often people get invited into a Smart Room late in the sales process—the customers do to review it—now they can see everything all in one place and make quick and informed decisions. It’s really about collaborating and accelerating the decision process that we know our customers are going through.
Q. You mentioned that Ray Lane was one of your investors. What did you learn from him?
A. I would say if there was someone in my career I’ve probably learned the most from, it's Ray Lane. One of the most interesting things I noticed from him—when I started working with him now probably close to 15 years ago—is that he treats everyone the same. It doesn’t matter if you are the president of a company, a top government official, or a developer in a technology organization—he treats everyone the same. I think that type of respect, that approach, is something that you don’t see a lot sometimes, especially in the tech industry. He’s got a tremendous personal style that really has allowed him to build out a tremendous network inside tech and outside of tech. And his insight to the way business operates—he’s invested in a lot of companies, he’s grown companies—he’s willing to share that information, he’s willing to coach me along the way and help me see things that I don’t see. His wisdom is very simple at times. One of the first things he told us when he made the investment was “always sit next to your customers and watch what they do.” He goes, “You’ll learn so much from that. Don’t speculate. don’t project what you think they may be doing. Sit next to them and watch. That’s the most important thing you’ll learn about.”
It was interesting. I learned later on, before I met him, when he was at Oracle, he would actually go around the organization and he would watch call center people. He would sit down next to them and ask them how they do their job—“What could we do to improve it?” He lived it, he walked it, and he knows it’s valuable, and he’s helped impart some of that knowledge onto me, and I’m sure many others.
Q. I know you’re fond of the Peter Drucker quote, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What does that mean to you?
A. I think the whole idea of culture eating strategy for breakfast was one where, if you look about an especially young tech company, sometimes the strategies don’t last very long, right? But culture lasts forever. So, as you start establishing the type of culture that you want the company to have—and the one thing that we have always tried to emphasize is an outside-in approach to the way we design the company and the culture that we have—if we’re not out there talking to our customers, getting their feedback, literally sitting next to them and watching what they do, we’re doing a disservice to our company and to our customers. We always took an outside-in approach to the way we want to design the companies and really emphasize that just about everyone in the company should be talking to and reaching out to our customers on a regular basis. And I think at the end of the day, as markets change, as technology evolves, the one thing I think that will make us successful and continue to grow the company is that approach and that type of culture.
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