SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Rob Watson, SVP of Sales at Bluecore

Identifying a repeatable, scalable and proven sales process is key to driving better outcomes despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Rob Watson, SVP of Sales at Bluecore weighs in with a few best practices in this chat with SalesTech Star:


Welcome to SalesTechStar, Rob! Tell us about your journey through the years…we’d love to hear about the Bluecore platform…

I started my sales career working in telemarketing for a company in Canada. My main role was cold-calling, and I struggled in such a high rejection environment. In order to succeed, I shifted my mindset by prepping for every call and finding a win in each situation. Through this I ended up as one of the top three reps in the call center. I’ve continued to carry this win/win way of thinking throughout my career. Starting out as a young, unqualified kid in my first software sales role, I had some difficult jobs. By using my positive win/win mindset I managed to quickly work my way up and landed some of the biggest accounts.

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The tipping point in my career was when I was introduced to Keith Butler. He did a reverse takeover of our sales force by implementing MEDICC and shifting the focus to customer success. This taught me how to scale a sales team to attack a market and over perform against competition; it is now  the methodology we use at Bluecore today.

Bluecore is a technology company that is redefining how retailers communicate with shoppers online. We were founded with a belief that making it easier to connect shopper data and product data in one system would unlock a whole new level of retail personalization that was previously impossible. We’ve had the privilege to lead the transformation of over 400 retail brands into this new digitally-led world. Bluecore accelerates retailers ability to engage with shoppers on multiple channels with personalized content, offers and recommendations that create lifetime customers.

Can you take us through some of your biggest enterprise sales learnings over the years and also, some of Bluecore’s core sales strategies (in times of the pandemic) that worked well, that other teams can learn a few things or two from…

Here at Bluecore we focus on the success of the customer. Especially for a small, pre-IPO company, it’s important for us to focus our energy on the opportunities we have the best chances of winning — and, once those opportunities are identified, execute accordingly. Our core sales strategies over the pandemic can be categorized into three parts; command of the message, a new sales and marketing operating rhythm, and a success-based business model.

We command messaging by using a repeatable, proven sales methodology that ensures our team is well versed in aligning Bluecore’s core products and services with real customer problems. This entails deep discovery on the part of our reps to understand the core objective of each retailer and the problem they are trying to solve so Bluecore can help in the best way.

Next is our agile operating rhythm that is built to support the changing needs of our customers while increasing sales productivity. This is achieved by creating better collaboration between the Sales and Marketing teams. In order to do this we align on the creation, delivery, and sales signals, as well as establish recurring strategy sessions between the teams. We also revamp discoverability and usage of industry content and marketing activations.

Finally, from our pricing, to the features we build, to the way our GTM teams are structured and incentivized, everything at Bluecore is centered around driving more performance for our customers. This ethos is ingrained in our sales strategy with a unique Value Consulting Team. This team’s mandate is to quantify the value of Bluecore for each customer we serve, in order to give our buyers confidence in what they’re committing to and prove out incremental gains for their business.

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What are some of the core fundamentals that sales leaders need to develop in sales teams today (that you don’t see enough of) in order to build high performing / independent sales teams?

The core fundamental in building a high performing sales team is hiring the right people. Developing teams is hard if you don’t hire great people with the right character. You need sellers who are driven, coachable, and sharp enough to keep up with the complexity and nuances of SaaS technology selling. Integrity is a key trait I look for. I focus my team on a playbook and equip them with the resources they need to run the plays while also being audible ready to demonstrate our value and find a true fit.

Can you share a few thoughts on how you feel today’s leaders in tech (especially those driving revenue / customer facing strategies) need to align strategies to centralized tools to suit remote working needs better?

If you’re in sales and you’re working remotely, it may in theory seem difficult to build champions via Zoom. What we’ve seen, however, is that Zoom allows us to have interactions with clients face to face more frequently than before, and in less time. This capability has been extremely helpful towards getting time on the calendar with an executive or a client. We can also pull in executives on our side and collaborate quickly to prepare for a meeting. The biggest asset has been switching to video-chat, giving us the ability to collaborate face to face as much as we need for both internal and external teams.

Can you throw light on some of the sales tech / martech that have helped enable your initiatives over the years; some that you still swear by?

Over the years we have implemented an enablement software (LevelJump) that has been a game changer in terms of building onboarding programs. We’re in a big recruiting push right now, and this software enables us to not only centralize the onboarding experience for someone who joins, but also allows the team to see progress and measure with leading indicators how they’re doing once they’ve graduated through the program. In LevelJump, you can also track KPIs and results once they’ve graduated.

Our other biggest game changing sales tech is Gong. It allows us to review the “game tape” of sales calls and see what’s working and what’s not. It’s a great coaching tool for sharing examples with others and has reduced the amount of role playing and sales enablement time that we need to spend practicing skills and customer interaction. Additionally, since reps have access to their own calls, they can go back and refer to what was said.

A few must-dos that every sales leader in SaaS should follow through 2021?

Without traveling, we have the opportunity to level up the team and focus on sales enablement for selling in this climate of social selling and virtual selling. It’s more important than ever to be prepared for the Zoom meetings and level-set ahead of time with agendas. This type of selling is here to stay, so your team needs to be good at virtual selling and connecting across communication channels from email to texting. Since we can’t travel and see people face to face, there’s a whole new way of selling. It’s important to  figure out what works best for your business and make sure new people are being trained on those skills and embracing that approach.

Remember that the Zoom burnout is real. Leaders must find a way to help their teams avoid burnout. We’ve implemented “no meeting” blocks, so reps can focus on either prospecting or administrative work and position themselves for success while getting a break from Zoom. We also offer a $200 health and wellness stipend so our team can prioritize both their mental and physical well being.

Above all, leading with empathy is the most important thing a sales team can do. Your team needs to understand the impact the pandemic and economic crisis is having on not only your industry but on your client themselves. Whether they are being impacted through furlough, a business challenge, or simply being stuck in their apartment, it’s important to keep in mind.

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Bluecore is a multi-channel personalization platform that gives retailers a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.  Shopper and product data is unified in a single platform, and by using AI/ML, activates welcomed personal experiences at the speed and scale of digital. Through Bluecore Product Relevance™ brands can personalize 100% of communications delivered to consumers through their shopping experiences, anywhere. Bluecore is credited with increasing lifetime value of shoppers and overall speed to marketing for more than 400 brands, including Express, Tommy Hilfiger, The North Face, Teleflora and Bass Pro Shops.

Rob Watson is the SVP of Sales at Bluecore


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