SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Tim Foster, Regional Vice President of Sales at Upland Software

According to Tim Foster, Regional Vice President of Sales at Upland Software, really good salespeople work with and prioritize fewer things to focus on, this  frees up more time for learning, planning, and actual preparing. Catch more from this interview where Tim  discusses how marketing and sales should deliver more value to prospects during a challenging business environment while also sharing useful tips that can help strengthen your sales strategy.

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Can you tell us a little about yourself Tim?

I lead the Revenue Team in EMEA for Enterprise Sales and Marketing Cloud for Upland Software, and have worked in software sales for over 20 years. I was employee number three in the UK for Altify, and it has been a great honor to be a part of the company’s growth and success. Altify was then acquired by Upland Software in October 2019 and I continue to work closely with colleagues and customers to help “Win the Deals that Matter” and grow revenue in key accounts.

On a personal note, I live just outside of London in Berkshire, with my wife and two teenage daughters. I enjoy family travel, good food and wine, and watching England winning Rugby matches.

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What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your business activities and line of work during the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, also, how are you redefining your core plans given that economies and businesses are now slowly refocusing efforts on reopening strategies?

Throughout my career, and now more than ever, I believe that great selling ultimately comes down to the fundamental truth that you must start with listening and understanding to what your customer wants to achieve. I have learned that executives are interested in the outcomes you can deliver and how to get there, rather than the actual product or service you can provide. The biggest challenge is developing the required discipline to focus on fewer accounts and fewer opportunities that will provide enough time to think, research and plan.

Regarding our core plans, this past February we had already started the work forming the new Enterprise Sales and Marketing Cloud at Upland. Given this, we were in already in “adapt to change” mode and making lots of changes and redefining our go to market strategy and team culture.

In February I launched the “Three F’s” – First, Fast and Fearless. For “First,” we always want to be at the forefront of helping our customers with digital transformation and want to be first to bring new ideas, best practices, and technical innovation.

We also worked “Fast” to help drive decisions, both internally and externally. After all, time kills all deals and projects. Finally, “Fearless,” relates to having the courage to push forward with confidence rather than waiting for things to happen. The team has great experience and knowledge; our success comes from using this expertise and having the courage to challenge traditional thinking for our customers by bringing big ideas.

At a time such as the present where marketing and sales have a whole lot of challenges to consider mainly because of changing prospect buying behavior and priorities due to Covid-19, what tips would you share when it comes to delivering more value to prospects at a time such as the present?

Before you can deliver value for your customer you have to understand where they are. In the current situation, it is vital to lead with empathy and find out the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people, their company and their families. I have observed that companies fit into three states now:  Survival, Maintain and Growth, and depending on where they are will inform your approach and strategy. For example, we have two global enterprise customers that have actually accelerated plans to make the most of remote working and have rolled out our technology to more people faster.

My first piece of advice for sales professionals is to slow down, take a step back, and actually think about the specific challenges and goals the customer has. Customers and prospects today are time poor and distracted by data and too many options, so you must work hard to cut through all that noise.

Many sellers still tend to approach customers and prospects without understanding their needs and priorities, or even how they measure success. This lack of understanding of the customer can lead to frustration and usually ends up in an unsuccessful conversion.

Salespeople can also be fearful of bad news. The “bad news,” or the unknown, is usually what ends up killing the deal. Time is the one precious resource that all salespeople control, so using it wisely is critical to maximizing revenue generation. So, win fast and lose even faster.

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When it comes to building and shaping global tech sales teams, also remote teams: what are some of the biggest aspects leaders in tech sales / revenue generation should keep in mind?

Alignment internally is key. We like to drink our own champagne at Upland Software and we are very fortunate that we can follow our tried and tested approach to revenue optimization that has been developed and informed by our experiences of working with hundreds of enterprise sales teams.

Our approach, Customer Revenue Optimization (CRO), has three elements including, Strategy, Methodology and Technology – which ensure sales and marketing are aligned on the buying journey and how the entire revenue team can deliver value at every point along the buyer journey.

Upland Software’s deep understanding of sales strategy and best practices, sales methodology, enabled with augmented and artificial intelligence combined all drive revenue and enable guided selling. Success and sustained adoption require clear alignment to ensure the entire revenue team is moving in the same direction. We define five key deliverables to enable success, including: Vision, KPI’s Business Rules, Behaviors, Governance. I have personally seen first-hand the incredible benefit alignment can bring before “diving in” to the other technology. Results speak for themselves and on average our customers outperform the market by 24%.

Could you share some of your biggest businesses development and sales closing tricks that have worked well over these years in the industry? Some examples of some of your most successful outreach and sales campaigns maybe?

The Target Account Selling (TAS) Methodology is the blueprint for the Altify software that guides sellers through the complete buying/selling journey. I have been using it and helping others to learn it for so long it is ingrained in my brain. It makes tough decisions much easier. The methodology, brought to life in the application, guides the revenue team to think deeply about growth strategy for accounts and turn white space into a clearly defined relationship, business development and revenue objectives. Once an opportunity is identified the qualification framework guides the sales team to four key questions: Is there an opportunity? Can we compete? Can we win? Is it worth winning?

Another solution that has a huge impact on win rates is the automation and streamlining of great proposals. The Qvidian solution helps ensure that after the hard work of qualification and defining customer need, any proposal that is created is persuasive, accurate and simple to create. It saves lots of time for the revenue team who spend less time on admin and more time on articulating value for the customer.

In your time in sales / marketing, 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? 

Not to date myself too much, but I started in CRM before Salesforce was even available. The main thing I have seen evolve is the nature of the distractions that sellers face. 20 years ago, more time was spent in the office sitting next to colleagues with the inevitable distractions of office gossip or stories of sales meetings gone wrong or past glories. Fast forward to 2020, the lure of social media and email interrupts deep work and detailed planning.

The really good salespeople I have worked with prioritize fewer things to focus on, which frees up more time for learning, planning, and preparing.

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How would you advise tech sales teams to use the right tools to better understand their prospect’s buying intent and decision-making behavior?

Each interaction with the customer – whether it involves marketing, customer success, sales or even finance and legal – will yield valuable information that helps deliver value and unlock new revenue opportunities. Every conversation with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to demonstrate credibility, bring insight to the conversation, and to create and deliver value — not just communicate it.

By operationalizing the sales process and best practice methodology inside a CRM, and then leveraging Al and analytics now enables sales teams to measure, learn and predict sales success.

For example, in our latest release, customers can now use analytics in Einstein or Tableau to judge the quality of a relationship map for key deals. By leveraging relationship map technology allows the revenue team to understand the people with the most influence and help to identify potential weaknesses. Calling out the weakness in relationships with key players in key deals provides the motivation and guidance for sales teams to go broader and higher, which will mitigate risk in key deals.

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 and maintaining team motivation levels?! Any last thoughts before we wrap up?

My team is focused on “fewer bigger deals.” I have found that trying to do too many things leads to frustration and impacts motivation and results. For Q2 we defined three clear priorities. This clarity has yielded great results, and everyone is ahead of target.

I found that when the pandemic originally hit, everyone thought there was more time in the day to take on more tasks, but the team was getting distracted and too overwhelmed. To keep up motivation levels and maintaining success, the three key priorities has helped immensely.

Lastly, I have my team dedicate two hours each workweek to deep learning. It can be a podcast, virtual course, reading, or whatever medium they learn best with. I want to make sure my team spends their time investing in themselves and their career; these “learning hours” have been well received across the board and provide valuable time and space to think. 

Upland Software is a leader in enterprise work management software. Upland’s four enterprise clouds enable thousands of organizations to engage with customers across key digital channels, optimize sales team performance, manage projects and IT costs, and automate critical document workflows.

Tim leads the Revenue Team in EMEA for the Enterprise Sales and Marketing Cloud for Upland software. Fanatical about helping Customers and Colleagues “Win the Deals that Matter” he has helped Create and Win over $700M of New Business for Market leading companies including BT, Autodesk, Software AG, Red Hat, Century Link, Temenos and Salesforce.com. Tim has facilitated 100’s of Account and Opportunity reviews helping Sales Teams uncover the evidence required to win more Opportunities and develop better relationships with Customers. Tim has published blogs and e-books, delivered many webinars and sessions at Dreamforce on the day to day challenges that face the Revenue Teams and uses this subject matter expertise to enable Customers to simplify their route to increased Sales Velocity.

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