SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Stuart Croft, Chief Operating Officer at Blackthorn.io

Stuart Croft, Chief Operating Officer at Blackthorn.io speaks about the latest revenue generation tactics that B2B leaders should keep in mind when over hauling their sales and revenue process:

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Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Stuart, tell us more about yourself, Stuart. We’d love to hear more about your journey and your current role at Blackthorn….

My first job was as a Weapons Engineer in the Royal Navy, and there developed a sense of adventure I still carry with me today. I love skiing, sailing, hiking when I’m not working on a DIY project.

As a business professional, I have over 20 years of experience working for some of the most innovative companies from the early days of SaaS, starting with RightNow Technologies. For the past 12 years, I’ve held various roles at high-growth companies within the Salesforce ecosystem. I’ve also worked at Salesforce as Vice President of Sales AMER Enterprise Maps.

In 2021, I joined the Blackthorn.io team as Chief Revenue Officer and in June 2022, transitioned into the role of Chief Operating Officer.

When it comes to enhancing and providing a good CX in the typical B2B journey, how do you feel brands can boost this area using the right tools/processes?

Historically, B2B technology products have been highly technical, requiring a certain threshold of understanding and tech-savvy to manage well. The next era of B2B technology will welcome easy-to-use products designed for the end user, the person who is actually in the tool every day. Already, we see a higher threshold of interface quality — with cleaner, simpler, more navigable digital tools.

B2B leaders should constantly ask themselves whether they are designing for the end user. Product-led growth is underpinned by the principle that the product should speak for itself. It might offer the most expensive, cutting-edge technology, but the customer won’t care if your product is too complicated to use effectively.

On the flip side, you can’t expect to nail customer experience on the first try. Striking the perfect balance between a fine-tuned product with a customer experience to match is an elusive and challenging goal. Customer interaction is vital in achieving a powerful customer experience — be prepared to put effort into gathering customer data to better understand what customers need. Don’t be afraid to spend resources on improving UX. Use surveys, webinars and email newsletters to cultivate open communication with customers.

Once you’ve clarified your vision and defined your end goal, invite customers to provide feedback, beta test updates and collaborate on your product’s evolution. This approach helps you form a product-led growth strategy while engaging your customers and creating loyal relationships.

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What are some of the biggest sales and revenue generation trends in B2B that you feel sales leaders need to be pursuing?

Every decade, how people consume and use technology levels up. Advanced technology is becoming more accessible and easier for people to incorporate into their daily activities. In light of how technology can make day-to-day work more efficient, business leaders are starting to grant power of choice to middle managers when choosing products that streamline their workflow. The people who are using B2B technology day-in-and-day-out are the ones who are choosing and dropping products based on their personal preferences, prior experience and specific needs. Some call this the era of the end-user.

B2B companies are capitalizing on an emerging revenue-generating trend: to uncover and maximize customers’ ‘ah-ha’ moments. To discover this “ah-ha” moment, ask: “How does my product resolve a pain point for my customer or make something easier? What makes my customer say, ‘Ah-ha!’ That’s what I love about this tool.

The answer to these questions should guide your product development and your investment in resources. However, recognize that the “ah-ha” moment can change. Check in regularly with customers to ensure your priorities align with theirs. Don’t let the “ah-ha” element of your product lose momentum.

Read More: Marketing Agency Sales in 2023: Investing In Tools And Tech To Attract Clients

What should the B2B customer experience look like, and what are some of the biggest lags B2B brands still have when it comes to CX?

Regarding customer experience, I think there is still significant room for improvement on the B2B sales side. The typical sales funnel — bouncing customers from department to department — touted as best practice for the past few decades is dated.

Customer expectations have evolved. Someone completing a form asking for more information on a B2B product doesn’t want a phone call within 24 hours from a random salesperson. Instead, they want a demo or calendar invite for a product walk-through.

While overhauling the sales process is time-consuming and likely requires some restructuring, it’s necessary because it reorients the customer at the center of the business and prioritizes their interests.

Adopting a customer-centric approach when structuring a business expands beyond the sales team. It should also play a role in specialist, developer, manager and representative interactions with each other. When an issue arises, this scaffolding makes it easier to solve problems and take care of customers. Best of all, you create a culture of customer referrals, one of the most potent lead-generating tactics.

A few thoughts on the future of B2B sales and how you feel trends will change as market conditions evolve?

Some customers still prefer face-to-face interactions, but much like a check, this is in significant decline. People are just too busy jumping from Zoom to Zoom.

The best companies will strive to balance developing a strong brand culture with all their stakeholders, including employees, partners and customers, while focusing on efficient communications and processes that provide clarity of outcome.

Every interaction must have purpose and be caring of other people’s time, while also providing more ‘just in time’ content directly within their product usage.

Blackthorn.io Secures $16 Million in Structured Capital to Drive Product and Engineering Development and Enhance Risk Mitigation Efforts

Blackthorn is an Event Management and Payment Processing apps for Salesforce users, so businesses can focus on their customers instead of having to fight with their CRM.

Stuart Croft is Chief Operating Officer at Blackthorn.io

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