Ori Yankelev: How to Build a Fluid B2B Buyer Journey

Posted on Nov 04, 2021

About Ori Yankelev

Ori Yankelev is the Chief Revenue Officer at OwnBackup, the leader in SaaS data protection. OwnBackup started with a handful of people and today it’s a global company of over 550 employees with offices in Tel Aviv, London, New Jersey, Paris, Sydney, and India. As one of their founding members, and now the CRO, Ori has built a fluid buyer journey that puts the customer at the center of the sales process.

Before his time at OwnBackup, Ori spent time on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when he sailed on a 40-foot catamaran from the Caribbean to Tahiti. It was a fulfilling journey not unlike the B2B buyer journey he and his team create for their customers.

The CRO Role at OwnBackup

OwnBackup started off in SaaS backup and recovery and focused specifically on backup and recovery for Salesforce which is a newish problem. For many years, companies were using Salesforce and other SaaS applications, not even realizing they had a responsibility to back up and protect their data. One of OwnBackup’s big challenges, as they scaled, was figuring out how to educate that market. Putting the buyer at the center of their sales process was a huge part of making that happen successfully.

As the CRO at OwnBackup, Ori leads their entire global sales organization, which includes the direct sales team, solution engineering, channels, alliances teams, SDR team, as well as their demand generation and sales ops functions. It's a broad scope of new customer acquisition, driving cross sell and upsell as well as pipeline generation, across the funnel. It encompasses how they think about their customers and how their customers buy software, particularly SaaS data protection.

How to Create a Fluid B2B Buyer Journey

  • The B2B buyer journey at OwnBackup has become more sophisticated. So, we asked Ori, from his leadership perspective, what a good journey for B2B customers looks like. We wanted to know about his values and vision, and how he measures and validates it. 
  • Ori shares that the reality is you don't build a B2B buyer journey. The customer has a buyer journey. They have the journey they go through when buying software. It's our job as software sales leaders and software sales professionals to create a B2B sales process that maps to the buyer's journey in a way that positions our technology. More important, it maps to the buyer’s journey in a way that helps the customer understand the problem they're trying to solve and helps them solve the problem. And those are really two different things. 
  • In many cases, at early-stage tech companies and even at bigger tech companies, the company starts off selling with founder-led sales or CEO-led sales. The founder or the CEO understands the problem, buyer, and nuances really well. They understand what's important to that buyer. As the company grows, professional sales folks are brought in who might be very good at selling in general, but may not understand the specific buyer.
  • This happens as the company grows, as well. The bigger the company gets, the more layers of management you get. And the VP of Sales that you may have brought in when you had 50 employees now has two or three layers of management under them. And those people may have been brought in from the outside and they may not have a good understanding of the buyer.

Keeping the Buyer Journey at the Center of Your Sales Process

  • When this happens, hopefully, you have really good sales enablement, good sales training, well-defined buyer personas, and a well-defined sales process and buyer journey mapping. All that can help keep the buyer's journey at the center of your sales process.
  • Ori says one of the earliest mistakes that companies make at many different stages is forgetting about the buyer when they're designing their sales process. They try too hard to optimize for what they think is going to work best for them and not think about the things that are important as you scale a company:
    • What is going to work for the buyer?
    • What is going to make the buyer's life easier?
    • What is going to help the buyer understand their problem better?
    • What is going to help the buyer make a better decision?
  • The two biggest obstacles for buyers in the purchase process are the sales rep that is trying to meet their quarterly target or reps who are at the end of their quarter. It’s not about the customer anymore, it’s not about a value exchange. It's literally about binary numbers, transactional selling of discounting, and pressure selling. It’s not authentic.

Dissonance Between Buyer and Seller Goals

  • There is a clash of aims between the seller and buyer when the salesperson tries to push the potential customer through a process based on a script and not really helping solve their problem. We asked Ori, as a CRO, how does he acknowledge the buyer and the need for authenticity and to create value and do justice to his role, which is to reach certain targets in certain timeframes?
  • Ori shares that, as long as there are quarterly targets and quotas, you're going to see some of that behavior. The way to acknowledge that and to keep it authentic and to keep the interest aligned is to keep the buyer's journey at the center of the sales process.

An Example of the Buyer Journey in SaaS Sales

  • Ori shares some examples of how OwnBackup has done that over the years, how their customers' buying journey or their sales process have evolved. Early on, their product was very new, and most people didn't realize they had to back up their Salesforce data. Salesforce, like all SaaS applications, have this thing called the shared responsibility model, where they provide an application that's hosted in the cloud and they do backups of their environments and real-time replication and security and redundancy. But the customer owns the data. If the customer pushes the delete button, they expect that data to be deleted. Now, does Salesforce and do other SaaS applications back up? Yes, but they back up for their purposes, not the customer's purposes. And so, recovering one or 10 or 10,000 records from Salesforce's backups is not something that's easy to do, and it's not something that's offered as part of the service. And so it's really a measure of last resort, and that's true for Salesforce, and for other SaaS applications too. What the vendors provide out of the box is different for each SaaS application. So if you look at Dynamics or ServiceNow or Workday, what they put in there in terms of what they give you out of the box is all slightly different. But they all have the same fundamental shared responsibility model.
  • You, the customer, have a responsibility. You have to also keep backups of your own data in case you intentionally or accidentally delete a bunch of data, and want to recover that data. So OwnBackup’s first challenge early on was helping educate the market, helping prospective buyers understand that they had a problem. A lot of this was done through marketing, community engagement and getting involved with the Salesforce user groups and Salesforce ecosystems. They educated by talking to the MVPs who are in the weeds who realized that it was their responsibility to backup their data. Part of the buyer's journey early on in their sales process was trying to gauge their understanding of the problem.
  • Before they could sell their product, they had to understand how the prospect was using Salesforce. Is it the center of their business or not. This helps them help the customer quantify or put a value on the data they're storing on Salesforce.
  • Secondly, they want to educate the customer on what their responsibility is and what does Salesforce give them. This helps the customer understand their risk and lets them decide. They try to explain to buyers, "You run perhaps a significant, perhaps an insignificant part of your business on this platform. You have a responsibility to protect that data. Here's what it would look like if you lost that data and you didn't have our solution. And then if that doesn't sound good to you, then let's talk about what your potential solutions are." They explain to them what the potential alternatives are. Not just OwnBackup, but other export options. And then they are shown a demo of OwnBackup’s technology.

You may also be interested in the episode: Aligning Business Process with Buyer Journey

Mitigating the Risk in the Purchase Decision

  • At the end of the day, there is still risk in the buyer’s purchase decision. The Director of IT or a VP of IT has to go to upper management and explain that they just realized that they've been running Salesforce for a couple of years. They’re storing all this critical data and they have to back that data up because Salesforce doesn't do it for them. That creates a lot of anxiety. Buyers don't necessarily want to do this.
  • So if you think about the buyer's journey for OwnBackup, the journey starts with the customer first realizing that it’s their responsibility to back up their data. Second, understanding what their options are to protect it. Third, communicating to the decision-maker that this is a thing and they just realized it and now they have to spend money on it. And then deciding which vendor is the right vendor to choose, whether it's OwnBackup or someone else. And so then the question during the decision stage in the process is how do we, the sellers make that decision as low risk as possible? How do we take all the risk out of that decision?
  • Once you realize you want to invest in the solution, there's still risk in your decision. Like what solution are you going to choose? You've now realized you need to spend money on something you had no idea you needed to spend money on. So how do you make sure you're choosing the right thing? What's the right level.

Defining What Success Looks to the Customer

  • OwnBackup uses proof of concept early on. It's not revolutionary, lots of companies do proofs of concept. But they work hand-in-hand with a potential customer to define what success looks like.
  • In the event of a data loss, what would the customer want to be able to do? They look at the customer’s data and how they’re using it. Let's say they're using DealHub.io for their CPQ and their pricing and quotes data lives in Salesforce, and that's really important to them. If all of their price books and SKUs got deleted, how would that impact their business? Then they actually test that scenario. They set up a sandbox with all their CPQ data or whatever critical data they want to test, back it up, delete the data and then go through the recovery process with OwnBackup.
  • Along the way, they look at some other features and talk about recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. How far back do they want to be able to recover? The buyer is taken through different scenarios to make it super easy for them to say, Yes, this offering checks all the boxes, or no it doesn't.
  • They try to make the decision as easy as possible for the potential buyer so that by the time they get to the end of the proof of concept, they understand that they have responsibility. They've quantified the value of their data. They've quantified the value of losing that data and acknowledged the fact that it's worth spending money on a solution. They've evaluated a solution to ensure that it actually can meet the requirements. And now they're armed with really everything they need to make that financial decision. And that's exactly how OwnBackup has aligned their sales process.

Involving Stakeholders in the Buying Process

  • Not all buyers move at the same pace. So sometimes you have to spend more time talking to the buyer about the problem. Sometimes you have to spend more time talking about what a customer can get out of the box. 
  • The “buyer” is always more than one person. The bigger the company is, the more people involved. The sales process is not just a linear cycle, but almost a loop that repeats itself at multiple stages throughout the process. You can go through the part where they've acknowledged they have a problem, they've quantified the value of their data and acknowledged that they probably need to spend money to solve this problem, then a new person gets introduced to the buying process. Then you repeat the process with that person. And then somebody from the infrastructure team comes in and says, "Wait a minute. Why are we backing up Salesforce?" And so you really have to go through that. 
  • This applies to many businesses. It's thinking about how the buyer thinks about their problem, how they go about buying to solve the problem, and trying to make it as low risk and easy for them as possible to make a decision.

Friction Points in the B2B Buyer Journey

  • The buyer committee members entering at a later stage in the sales cycle is a potential friction point. But, we asked Ori what are other friction points that would work against creating a fluid B2B buyer journey and would create a less optimal customer experience? Specifically, are there internal stakeholders that create friction such as bottlenecks. Resolving these processes is a big part of the CRO function. 
  • Ori shares that their two biggest friction points are around information security reviews and legal. OwnBackup sells to the world's biggest companies. About 50% of their customers have over a thousand employees. They work with many big companies that have a lot of really critical data, a lot of regulation, big legal teams, big compliance teams, a lot of security requirements. 
  • Early on as a startup, what happens is you invest a lot in something like security, but you don't always invest a lot in writing all the documentation and creating the processes and the policies. So they had to spend a lot of work on processes and policies to provide the information in the form that the customers want to receive it. 
  • OwnBackup has a very robust security program that covers almost all of their information systems, especially involving their software development and customer data. Most software solutions don't actually host customer data, or if they do it's only a very small slice of customer data. OwnBackup are actually taking all of the data that customer stores in Salesforce, which could be intellectual property or PII in the healthcare industry, etc., and they back up all of that. They have almost every security audit and compliance you could get as a software company. And they've also done a lot of work in terms of how we deliver that information, whether it's videos, prefilled standard forms.
  • Ori shares that the key takeaway for the listeners is always to put your buyer at the center of your process. Design your sales process around how your buyer buys software, take the time to really understand your buyer personas. And when you're creating sales enablement and creating a process, particularly enablement for your frontline managers too, make sure that they understand the buyer's journey and make sure that they really understand the buyer personas. If they don't understand that it will not come across well on the phone. It's not going to come across in meetings between your sales team and your buyers. So making sure that your process and training are all designed around the buyer and how they buy software.

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The RevAmp podcast derives from two words: Revenue + Amplification. This series has been produced specifically to give a voice to the sales and revenue operations professionals who have invaluable experiences to share. We have seen the scope for this role, as well as the recognition, expectations, and tools have rapidly changed over the last couple of years. The reality is that there are not enough high-quality resources for fellow professionals to use as a benchmark or learning curve. DealHub knows how important it is to be well resourced so we have put together this RevAmp podcast for your benefit.

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Topics: Revenue Operations, B2B Sales, buyer journey, SaaS