SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Ben Budde, VP of Sales at Groove

We had Ben Budde, VP of Sales at Sales Engagement platform Groove joining us in this interview to share a few thoughts on sales leadership while also sharing interesting technology sales tips that can help teams tide over these rough times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Catch the complete QnA:


Can you tell us a little about yourself Ben? We’d love to know about your journey in technology sales- what have been your biggest highlights (and challenges) so far?

After four years, the only reason I left the Marine Corps was to marry my high school sweetheart. She hasn’t kicked me out of the house yet, and we have three amazing kids. Plus, she pushed me to get into sales, so I’d say it is going well so far…!

After 11 years working for Google, working my way up from an inside AE to leading enterprise sales teams, I left to join a team of ex-Googlers that love sales and tech as much as I do. As for my journey in sales, I still remember my first day as an inside AE at Google where they pushed a deskphone my way and said, “Here you go.” That was it for my training. I was uncomfortably excited to make that first call. Then, I was instantly hooked. I quickly realized that in a way, even without a quota, I had been in sales my whole life. Since then I’ve led teams of inside sales, sales engineers, SDRs, mid-market and enterprise sales – all great teams, and none of them ever liked updating Salesforce. Menial tasks like updating Salesforce is where productivity, creativity, and morale go to die. My biggest challenges in sales have always been the non-revenue generating administration and operations that bog down sales teams. I joined Groove because our platform solves these common challenges.

My biggest highlights over the years are undoubtedly the rockstar customers I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and the colleagues turned friends that I’ve had the honor to lead.

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We’d love to know what being in the Marines taught you about leadership! (Maybe the top 3 things!)

I joined the Marines to serve my country. I was fortunate enough to do that with some amazing colleagues, and we helped a lot of people, learned about leadership, and had quite an adventure along the way. In life, we all are far more capable than we think (especially if we work together), and sometimes, we just need a nudge from a leader to help us get there. I was fortunate enough to have great leaders teach me about:

  • Honor – Always do the right thing.
  • Courage – Have the moral and physical courage to stand up for what you believe in.
  • Commitment – Loyalty to each other, dependability, enthusiasm and endurance make an awesome combo.

In your time in sales, how have you seen the role of the tech sales person evolve? How do you feel that the impact of salestech has inspired this change in the way sales teams now approach their role?

When I started in sales, the best reps were all tracking all their touchpoints and sales campaign plans in spreadsheets. They also had a different deal spreadsheet for their account plan, and maintained a different deck for their QBRs. Then of course they had their beast of a CRM to manage. While some of the fundamentals in sales haven’t changed at all, technology has helped reduce administrative burden and focus sellers on what they are good at, selling. Technology has also helped teams share best practices and work together in a more collaborative way and to easily understand from an analytical lens what is working and what is not across the entire organization.

More broadly, buyers today have far more publicly available information, larger buying committees, and way more options to choose from with such rapidly advancing technology – which is why they are looking for trusted advisors to help them cut through the noise. It’s a good thing time-to-value has also dramatically improved. Instead of three-year sales cycles followed by three-year ROI return, I can turn Groove on and show you immediate value, today.

It is not all roses though. Unfortunately because email and LinkedIn are so easy to use, companies too often pull out the spam cannon and disregard social norms while eroding their brand and trust along the way. Sales has and always will be built on trusted relationships, and technology should be enabling those connections.

What are some of the top in-demand features when it comes to data and insights that you feel every tech salesperson and marketing team should have easy access to?

A lot of the top analytical features and benefits stem from account-based sales and true collaboration. I love to say “teamwork makes the dreamwork.” Great teams work better together to generate account-based revenue. Plus, let’s be honest, running as a lone wolf is just not as fun as running with a wolfpack! It is proven time and again that Marketing, Sales, Customer Success and all related revenue teams working together with account insights through the entire lifecycle – from awareness to advocacy – pays huge dividends.

Another huge area of value is around automation and workflows. Unfortunately, a dark shadow looms in many sales organizations, and that is a shadow CRM. Sellers use spreadsheets, and scribble notes, and tools built outside your CRM, so nobody knows what anyone is working on and how well it’s going. Specialization across revenue teams has been great, but with a vendor sprawl of siloed tools, the industry now  has a shadow CRM issue. By investing in tools that are native to Salesforce, there are an infinite number of incredible workflow hacks and automation triggers to support each and every member of that revenue team in a customized way.

One other thought here: as complicated as technology has gotten, I also see a desire for people to find a tool that is so easy to use that it spurs rampant adoption among their teams. It is great for sales teams that technology companies are constantly innovating and fiercely competing for their business, but it pains me to see lots of technology purchased and then not actually used. And I’m not the only one. A prospect recently told me, “The technology I hate the most is the technology that is not used.”

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What according to you are some of the must-have sales technologies that everyone in technology sales including field sales teams should integrate into their overall tech stack?

When it comes to sales tech, there are a lot of “nice to haves” out there. For me, the must haves are Salesforce, LinkedIn, and a sales engagement platform. I’ve seen these have the highest impact across all revenue teams, including field sales.

As a tech sales leader, in a challenging environment due to the Covid19 pandemic, what are some of the ways in which you are enabling a balanced remote work culture while maintaining motivation levels?!

While this is a challenging time for all of us, we try to find ways to connect with each other and also keep things upbeat.  One of my personal favorites is having a colleague kick off a team meeting with an impromptu MTV Cribs-style house tour! Let’s make the most of our situation and have some fun with it. Beyond the doggo and kiddo happy hours and the zoom yoga, I think it is important to remind your team that doing meaningful work with people you love will always be more important and lead to a more fulfilled and happy life. We don’t need a physical place to make that happen, but believe me, when we can all gather together again, it is going to be awesome!

Read More: Is Account-Based Marketing The Best Thing For Sales?

Enterprise sales / Tech sales for a certain cadre has its own set of must-haves and demands: what are some of the top strategies or fundamentals you’d advise teams use when they are facing challenges when selling in a time such as this? Some tips on sales technologies that can especially help here?

I know it is hard, keep your head up and focus on what you can control. Revisit your ICP, messaging, and sales process to identify ways to help more people and make it through this stronger. I think sales agility is really crucial here. You need to work together to experiment and test so you can understand who is doing what, what is working, and what is not. And you need to do that not just for the sales team, but across all revenue functions.

I’ve also seen a lot of organizations view this as a good time to make every seller the most productive possible. Well, if you are a seller, the best version of yourself does not update opportunity stages or log activities manually or get bogged down with anything related to Salesforce. It is in these cases that a modern sales engagement platform native to Salesforce can really help you make progress.

How according to you will the typical role of tomorrow’s B2B/Tech sales person evolve, given the dynamics and innovations in SalesTech?

This is so much fun, and we are only in the first inning of sales tech. We haven’t even seen the true potential of mobile-first sales tech or the full impact of real AI. I think sales roles will continue to get more and more specialized, and then great tech will help everyone work smarter and better together, all with the goal of helping customers solve problems. Sales will still be about truly listening, connecting with people, and helping them overcome challenges with something of value. What will become more and more differentiated beyond the underlying technology is the sales experience and the relationship, because the extra mile is a lonely road. Buckle up, and enjoy the ride!

Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!

Jeanne Dewitt was an awesome leader to work for at Google, and she is now leading teams at Stripe.

Your favorite Sales/SalesTech quote and sales leadership books you’d suggest everyone in tech Sales reads

Outside of the usual suspects here in sales books, I like the book Conscious Business for being a sales professional, and for being a person.

Tell us about some of the top sales/salestech/fintech/ other events that you’ll be participating in (virtually, given the current global pandemic) (as a speaker or guest!) in 2020!

Huge fan of Dreamforce, TOPO, Modern Sales Pros, Revenue Collective and Sales Assembly.

We’d love to know a little about your future plans!

Outside of Groovin,’ I’m most looking forward to skiing with my family when the mountains are opened back up. As for Groove, I’m super excited to help continue inventing awesome workflows for world class sales teams so that they can focus even more on building relationships and selling.

A few tips if possible for sales and marketing teams (businesses) trying to navigate through the current pandemic crisis.

Our jobs are hard enough without a global pandemic going on. Buying processes have gotten more complex, with more people involved, and now you can’t even meet any of them in person. With any challenge, I often ask myself, “what could possibly be the positives that come from this?” Maybe through this we find ways to build more authentic relationships, invent and embrace awesome tech, and tighten up our own internal operations.

So find the silver lining. Listen, be empathetic, and be nimble. Focus on what you can control. Stay motivated. It is times like these that your customers and your team need your leadership the most. You got this!

Also Catch –> The LATEST episodes of The SalesStar Podcast, here!

Groove is a sales engagement platform that automates non-sales activities so that sales teams can spend more time building relationships and generating revenue. Groove eliminates the need for CRM data entry and provides managers with real-time visibility into activity levels and performance, regardless of location. Groove also has the industry’s only native Salesforce integration, which reduces administrative overhead by as much as 90%.

Ben is a former US marine who now works as the VP of Sales at Groove