Originally published on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-i-buy-jay-hedges-svp-revenue-uberflip-steve-woods/Shortly after the original #HowIBuy article launched, I represented Nudge.ai on a sales panel discussing that exact topic – how executives actually go about buying.
Jay Hedges was on the panel with me, and I was struck with how different his approach was from mine. Jay’s respect for the art of selling and his methodical approach to evaluating new ideas and bringing his team along in the process makes this one of most interesting #HowIBuy articles yet. I hope you get as much insight from Jay’s views as I did when speaking with him.
Here’s Jay on how he buys:
Jay, great to be speaking, I learned a lot from you on our panel discussion and I’m hoping to capture much of that here. First, before we get into buying, can you tell us a bit about Uberflip to set context of what you do and what size of company you are?
Uberflip is a platform that combines the art and science of marketing allowing marketers to get the right content in front on the right buyers at the right time. In terms of size and growth, we’re a high-growth SaaS company, we’ve grown from 60 to 120 people over the last year.
Definitely an intense phase of growth. What is your role within Uberflip? With that role, what do you and your team spend money on throughout the year?
As the SVP of Revenue, all of business development, sales, and customer success roll up to me. It’s about 70 out of our 120 people. In spending money, I’ve got a bit of a different view than some people; the bulk of what I spend is on things that will make individual contributors on my team happier and more productive. I spend much less on things that will help me as a manager.
I believe strongly in the connection between user satisfaction and productivity, so things like UI are very important. We recently changed our sales automation tool and our web conferencing tool because the team felt they were easier to use and made them appear more professional. As another example, we’re in the final stages of evaluating some call recording and coaching technology, and that’s been driven by my account execs who are eager to learn and improve themselves.
How do new ideas make their way into your team? How do you and your team learn what is out there and what is possible?
There are three main ways that we discover new ideas, and I’d say it’s roughly balanced between the three. The first is good sales hustle. We respect the game, the hustle, and persistence. A good call or email will get our attention, and even be shared internally as a learning opportunity. Second is word of mouth and our networks. We talk with lots of other companies and have a good sense of what they are using and what works. On top of that, third, of course, is good content that surfaces in our social feeds or on the blogs and newsletters we read.
Lots of ideas come from junior employees on our front lines. The younger folks seem to be more of the mindset that for any problem they should be able to find a solution that tackles it, and they are eager to bring those ideas forward.
You mentioned on the panel that you have a fairly structured buying process – can you tell us about that and what’s involved?
The hours in a day are limited, and we’ve gone through this before, so we’ve developed a process that works and we generally stick with it. An idea will make its way to me and my leadership team, and we’ll make a decision on whether we should look a bit further. We’re generally pretty liberal at that stage with what we take a look at. If we decide to have a look, we’ll choose a person to look at the tool as the main evaluator. This often an up and coming junior member of the team, and the overall opportunity is great leadership experience for them.
The first meeting will usually be with me and the main evaluator, but I’m really only half there – the key person is the evaluator. They’ll lead the evaluation, and if they decide to move forward, we’ll broaden out to a few more folks in the organization, or perhaps across organizations if warranted. The results of this effort are brought back together by the main evaluator, and if things are looking good we’ll progress through technical details and terms.
From there it’s back to me for the final decision, or, if it’s larger, I’ll bring it to our president. Overall it’s a process that lets us look at new concepts efficiently, while also covering a lot of the drivers of what success will look like in our business.
That makes sense in terms of the evaluation of technology and fit – can you add a bit of detail about how you think of ROI, budgets, and the financial side of the decision?
We are small, nimble, and high growth, but being lean is a core value. If we’re in the middle of a year, getting new budget is pretty much impossible. If the business case is good enough, we can pull money away from something else. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s not impossible.
How does your own network of peers play a role in the evaluation process?
My network is great for validation. If we are enamoured with a product internally, we’ll just go ahead, but if we’re on the fence we will ask around. References and case studies from the vendors are not really all that important, although if I can’t find a reference in my own network there might be a place for it.
As a sales leader and someone being sold to, you obviously have a lot of insight into what makes a great sales person. What do you look for in sales people who are selling to you?
The best sales people ask good questions, listen, and adapt to our process. They are able to bring in people and resources on their end to help out when needed. In general, I’d say they help quarterback the internal process more than they are really “selling”. They focus on helping, teaching, challenging, and only then selling.
The importance of the ability to reach out and challenge, rather than just wait for leads is something that I think is underappreciated in sales people. We need to move more and more to personalized and valuable outreach, more of an exchange. Don’t ask for 15 minutes of my time, ask me something about my business that really makes me think.
Thanks for the great insights Jay! I learned a lot in our conversation. Stay tuned for the next #HowIBuy.