Base CRM’s Wynne Brown on Sales, Startups, and CRM

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Interviewee: Wynne Brown, Director of SMB Sales at BaseCRM, @WynneBrown

Interviewer: Jorge Soto, Founder at Sales4StartUps, @sotoventures


Jorge: What is it that inspired you to get into sales and what was your first sales job?

Wynne: In 2000, I was managing websites and operations at an early stage startup. This was back in the day when knowing html meant you had tech skills and WYSIWYG was cutting edge. The .com bubble burst and I needed to evaluate how to have a more recession-proof career. For years, various trusted friends and colleagues had said I seemed like I would succeed in sales so it was the time to try.

I wanted my first sales job to really isolate the sales aspect – was I good at it? did I enjoy it? – so I had to find a good testing ground with a product for which I had deep passion. I found a sales job selling reading programs for elementary school children that were endorsed by their own school district. Couldn’t get a better feel-good, “approved vendor” sales situation! I ended up killing it by focusing on matching the child’s need to the results the program could provide and knew that sales was for me.


Jorge: What does “sales” mean to you?

Wynne: The most stripped down answer about what sales means to me is matching value to need. This definition can be expanded from SMB through Mid Market up to Enterprise-level sales. Value: all the benefits that your product or service can offer, all the problems that the product or service can solve – all wrapped up in an ROI or TCO model to show a positive impact on the bottomline.

Need: whether a straightforward problem like needing to screenshare for more effective sales presentations or a multifaceted, multiple stakeholder problem like an ERP, it always boils down to knowing who needs what solution on what timeline due to what pain it causes them.


Jorge: What is Base CRM and what are you core differentiators?

Wynne: Ask someone in sales what they think of their CRM, and often times they will make a face of disgust. We’re changing that. Base is intelligent sales productivity software that leverages Big Data, mobility, and real-time computing to deliver a sales experience that will change the way you work. We aim to give sales leaders clear visibility of their sales pipeline and help sales reps shorten their sales cycle.

Our core differentiators are:

1. We put the user first. This means that our UI, our architecture, our #1 rated mobile apps all drive adoption and therefore clean data and increased sales productivity. Historically, visibility for leadership was the design criteria for CRMs which means users hate using them. They are systems of record about what has already happened, not tools for driving the right next steps to drive revenue.

2. Out of the box analytics. Since the user comes first, data is accurate and complete. So we still, like old school CRM solutions, give management incredible visibility into the pipeline, forecasting, metrics, etc.

3. Mobile. Our mobile app doesn’t just show you what is stored in the database. Our cutting edge sync layer means you can work as effectively from a mobile device – even offline – as from a PC. This is essential in today’s post-PC world.


Jorge: What size company would best benefit from Base CRM?

Wynne: We have successful clients that range from 2 users up to 250. So size really isn’t the right question. Need really is: any company that needs to have a mobile CRM solution that is adopted at high rates to insure data accuracy will benefit from Base CRM.


Jorge: What are Base CRM’s “killer features”?

Wynne: Our mobile app is seriously fun to use. You can drag and drop deals to put them into the next stage. The reporting out of the box is useful and beautiful. We have an obsession with design and this is truly a killer feature when you look at other CRMs that still look like on-prem CRM software from the ’80s.


Jorge: What do you believe is the current state of sales CRM and what is your opinion of it’s future?

Wynne: The CRM market is ripe for disruption. The large incumbent was completely revolutionary as the first cloud software ever. The revolution back then was taking on-prem software into the cloud. But the software was – and still is! – so similar to on-prem archaic software. The interface remains virtually unchanged and it’s really just an overpriced, static database.

Our focus is taking the incredible usability of consumer-facing software and bringing that high standard to the enterprise. The future is all about putting the user first and delivering real time notifications to sales leaders.

The functionality of CRMs is basically a commodity at this point so it is all about the usability, being able to use your CRM no matter where you go and real time intelligence so you have the information you need when you need it. The future? The future is Base.



Jorge: How much do you think “big data” will truly impact the way we sell long term?

Wynne: Big data is so hot and it should be. Big data can tell us what leads are the ones to pursue and what leads convert. It will help us be more effective and efficient in sales by bringing more science to how we should prioritize our opportunities by win likelihood.

But we must always remember that sales is both science and art. Nothing will ever replace the human interaction, the ability of a great sales person to hone in on the real core of what a prospect needs and earning the trust that they provide the right solution.


Jorge: When selling to the SMB segment, what do you believe are the most effective outbound prospecting tactics and channels?

Wynne: Here at Base, we primarily create deal flow from inbound leads generated from free trial sign ups. It is a very effective channel for us. We do limited outbound but based on the success of those inbound leads: we ask for referrals in a very powerful way after value has been provided.

In our case, we believe that just about every SMB can benefit from our solution so we focus on driving inbound leads based on smart and effective targeted marketing campaigns.


Jorge: What part of the sales cycle do you see most companies often struggle with?

Wynne: It varies wildly. But using a CRM like Base, you will be able to pinpoint exactly where your pipeline struggles are. Our software can show where deals drop off at what rates and also what the duration in each stage is. Some companies qualify too many deals and end up with huge drop off in their pipeline early in the process. This means there is too much time being spent with the wrong leads.

The real key to seeing where you struggle is looking at where deals die and why they die. Loss reasons can capture exactly where you need to improve: if you lose deals on features, get to work with product. If you lose to your competitors, you aren’t de-positioning them at all or at the right point in the sales cycle. These are just some thoughts on a topic that can fill a whole book.



Jorge: What suggestions would you give a startup when trying to accelerate sales growth?

Wynne: In order to achieve your optimal sales cycle, you have to make sure you fully understand which prospects are valuable to you, how to capture those prospects into opportunities and then fully understand exactly what you need to achieve in each and every sales stage, down to the minute detail.

This fine tuned machine can then be scaled with leads and sales professionals. Once you know exactly how your ideal sales cycle should run from all the possible inputs to all the specific touch points, then focus on that ideal and focus on avoiding any deceleration. Sales acceleration is a backwards thought!


Jorge: When do you believe a startup should hire their first dedicated sales person?

Wynne: When you have a minimally viable product that can solve your prospect’s problems. The first clients are true partners; they see value but are taking a leap of faith.

Be clear that you will devote heaven and earth to making them successful and allow them to lead you in what you need to put on the roadmap to improve your product.


Jorge: Anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, sales, or Base CRM?

Wynne: Base CRM is a company built by truly passionate people. We all are devoted to the mission of improving sales productivity. We are audacious in our goals and are swinging for the fences. I personally have found the deepest satisfaction in my career working in this environment and with this product. I welcome any conversations from clients, prospects or potential Basians alike.

Twitter is @wynnebrown – reach out!