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 background.
BILL BUTLER: My career goes back 25 years in technology. I call myself kind of a technology junkie. I just love working with young technology companies in the startup area, and my background skill set is really helping them bring technology to market. It’s one thing about building, something but the second phase of any company is can you grow it? Can you develop it? Can you get customers to use it? I think the key in technology is that you have to have an ongoing agile process. You’ve got to be able to acquire customers, learn from them, figure out what they are doing, and wrap that back into the company, and that’s really all part of the magic of helping to grow successful technology companies. I’ve done this across CRM, social networking companies; iPipeline, which is an Exton-based insurance technology company; and other spaces. I’ve seen just about everything in technology. We have IPO’ed companies. We’ve sold them to private equity firms, sold them to corporate buyers—some with phenomenal exits, some with just okay exits—but I have seen the gamut of success and failures in the tech industry.
Q. You’ve been involved in a number of technology ventures, including iPipeline. What lessons have you picked up along the way?
A. Well, I was lucky enough that one of the first technology companies I did was back in 1993. It was a company called Documentum. I was the first person on the street selling the product. There were 12 engineers out in Silicon Valley. Ten years later, we were doing 400 million in revenue, we went public, and sold it to EMC. As you can imagine, when people look at something like that and they look at a straight line growth, they say, “oh, you went from 0 to 400,” but along the way, for every growth path you had two failures in growth. But the whole idea is continue to stay at it and continuing to learn along the way. And ultimately the company became a very successful company, actually in an area that focused on the pharmaceutical industry. It was really a breakthrough technology for the whole electronic new drug application process, which had a lot of applicability in the greater Philadelphia area.
iPipeline is a real gem of local Philadelphia technology companies. When I got involved along with the investors—Newspring Capital; actually, Fidelity Investors got involved too—Tim Wallace was the CEO, I was the president—we built out a team of some really great technologists. It was taking something that—I hate to call it a mom-and-pop operation, but it was; it was kind of running within an industry, it had a lot of great domain knowledge, but it hadn’t yet capitalized on this whole emerging cloud area. We tried to build a set of cloud services for the insurance industry and focused on solving some really unique problems in the industry. And it really took off. iPipeline continues to grow and thrive today. I think it has continued growth path ahead of it. It was bought by a private equity firm that really saw the value in that management team and that organization, and they are continuing to add more and more to it.
Q. What was your founding vision for Journey Sales?
A. We founded Journey Sales really with the singular purpose to build a technology that could help sales reps sell more effectively. If you think about the way sales is done today—and there were some recent statistics put out by Miller Heiman and CSO Insights that talked about over the last five years sales performance across all industries has continued to degrade, and it’s harder and harder for sales reps to make their quota—the issue isn’t that sales reps are just getting bad at what they are doing; the issue becomes is that customers aren’t engaging the way they did before. Customers aren’t responding to emails and phone calls. A lot of the things that traditionally worked in the past don't work today.
When we founded Journey Sales, we took the idea and said, “if we want to build a tool to help sales reps sell, we actually first and foremost have to build something that makes it easier for buyers to buy.” If you make it easier for buyers to buy, ultimately sales reps will go over to wherever the customer is, so that was the whole idea. That was really the design behind Smart Rooms: first and foremost make it the tool that is easy for buyers to buy. If you think about the buying research today, they say on average there’s 6.8 decision-makers on any B2B purchase. And those are just the decision-makers; for every decision-maker there’s an influencer behind them, so you’re talking about north of 10 people that get involved in a decision. These decisions are complex. They take time. In many cases, our customer coach can’t rally the support they need internally to get the deal done, so this gives them an ability to work together—to self-educate, to work with their team independently. At the same time, the sales rep has their sales team in the same Smart Room together. It really is a collaborative workspace with content and information that makes the buying process easier and, in effect, makes the selling process easier.
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