A window into the future: how Bevy Labs’ Steven Broudy sees sales evolving…and what we should do about it

Collin Stewart, CEO

18 July 2019

Closing a deal, at the best of times, requires juggling numerous responsibilities – nailing your demo, navigating the negotiation process, and, of course, getting signoff (to name just three examples).

Aside from those sales pillars, however, is another fundamental must-do element of the job – building trust with your customer. Underpinning everything in sales, in fact, is this point: if you don’t build trust with your prospects, it will be nearly impossible to convince them to do business with you.

Despite that critical piece of the gig, Steven Broudy, Vice President and Head of Sales at Bevy Labs, says trust in the salespeople has been eroding for years. That’s because consumers have gravitated to familiar and effective channels from their personal buying process such as online reviews and referrals from their community.

The power of the B2C buying process, says Broudy, has significantly altered the B2B world – and salespeople need to cater to that change.

“There is a shift happening in B2B buying and it mirrors the B2C buying process. For example, the way I buy is I either look on Amazon for the best reviewed product and buy it, or I ask someone where they bought the awesome thing they have,” says Broudy, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“We are looking elsewhere. This is indicative of the erosion of trust we have with the sales profession.”

Meeting buyers where they are

So, if buyers have changed their buying preferences and sought out new channels to educate themselves throughout the B2B process…what’s a hard working salesperson to do? It’s simple: meet your buyers where they are.

According to international research firm Gartner, B2B buyers spend:  

  • 27% of their time researching online
  • 22% of their time meeting with their internal buying group
  • 18% of their time doing research
  • 17% of their time meeting with potential vendors

For sales teams looking to evolve their process and connect with the modern buyer, these numbers are critical, says Broudy. If buyers are spending the majority of their time online researching and reading various reviews, then a successful team should tap into that energy and mobilize that community.

For example, CRM giant Salesforce has been able to do that with its Trailblazer Community – billed as a place to “connect with salesforce.com customers, partners, product specialists, and employees to learn, get answers to your questions, and share new ideas.”

It’s genius in its simplicity: Salesforce has built a robust online space where new customers are able to not only read about its product, but connect with longtime Salesforce users about the benefits of the software. In addition to that online space, the Trailblazer Community also hosts thousands of events per year, where buyers connect with Salesforce champions and employees in real life.

“Where I think the best SaaS companies, like Salesforce, have gone is to have the community empowers itself. That Trailblazer team is only like 10 people strong,” says Broudy.

“Getting your customers together to share their experience and grow together is very powerful. I don’t know if Salesdforce is the best CRM. But what I do know is Salesforce is very present in their community and a lot of people have an affinity for the brand, so they will bring it with them wherever they go.”

(Editor’s note: we had Max Altschuler, CEO, and Founder of Sales Hacker and Vice President of Marketing at Outreach on the podcast a while back to discuss understanding buyer psychology and how it fits into the sales process. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the whole podcast here)

Empowering salespeople in an environment of eroding trust

Of course, the modern salesperson isn’t obsolete – far from it, in fact. When a buyer is ready, a knowledgeable and empathetic salesperson still needs to usher them through the sales process and provide help when needed.

Broudy says an effective salesperson in today’s climate acts as a partner with the buyer, not just a point of contact pushing towards getting a contract signed. For example, instead of giving a buyer a handful of vetted references like everyone does, Broudy says an effective modern salesperson should co-create a business case with the buyer in order to build trust and establish an equal relationship. 

“In the past, bringing a business case to customers has been sending references. But, we’re having reference fatigue and, let’s be honest, references feel staged and coached. So, when you’re meeting with a buying group, you have to guide them through building a business case,” says Broudy.

“So, how do you co-craft a business case? You have to hold your champions hand through the process and have them present it to their boss. By doing so, you position them as a hero and, by doing so, help them get even more affinity for your brand.” 

But, warns Broudy, don’t forget the pillars of an effective business case despite the changes in its creation. An effective business case still needs to be specific, focus on quantifiable outcomes, and establish your company as the only viable solution to solve your customer’s needs.

“You can’t just have a platform. What you are trying to convey is that your company understands your customers. You need to tell your customers that you can make them wildly successful, and that you are going to be accountable to make that happen,” says Broudy.

“Your message must be that you have a track record of success helping their particular pain, and that you can do it again for them in a tailored way. Never forget to address their pain points and then immediately address how you will erase them.”

For more on Broudy’s thoughts on the future of sales – including an intriguing discussion on revenue efficiency and the importance of understanding how your market likes to be sold to – check out his entire interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.