The Secret to Sales Success: Buyer Collaboration, with Marissa Fuhrer

Seller's Journey Episode 8
Transparent sales process - working together
Listen on Spotify PodcastsListen on Stitcher PodcastsListen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Podcasts

Welcome back to the From Vendorship → Partnership podcast, Season 2: Seller’s Journey! 

This week, we’re sharing a “jam session” we held recently with Marissa Fuhrer, Senior Manager of Enterprise Sales at Figma!

Figma has built a winning sales-assisted motion on top of their PLG core to move up-market seemingly overnight. One of the secrets to their sales success? Making the most of every deal through buyer collaboration.

In this jam session, Ross talked to Marissa live on Zoom and sales leaders had the chance to ask questions about collaborating with buyers and building a scalable, buyer-first sales process.

Listen to the episode here, or watch the full session and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

🤝 How do you approach collaboration and mutual plans with your buyers?

Collaboration is at the core of everything Figma does: their product, their hiring process, their internal work, and their sales process.

There’s no universal standard for collaboration: everyone wants something different.

That’s why when you’re collaborating with your buyers and customers, it’s important to meet them where they are. Work to truly understand them and the problems they’re trying to solve.

Marissa says that to have a collaboration-focused mindset, salespeople need to be:

👂 Empathetic – work to truly understand the problems your buyer is trying to solve

✍ Prescriptive – use mutual plans to get buy-in on what you’re trying to accomplish together

🗺 An advisor and guide – help your buyer through the journey to their desired end state

Ask thoughtful questions to understand your buyers’ problems and the outcome they want to achieve, and create a plan for getting there together. That’s how you build credibility and trust with your buyers.

😳 How do you get ahead of surprises that come up in the buying process?

It’s your job to understand your customer’s buying process and requirements. If at any point in the process you find that you’re misaligned or don’t know something, it’s fair to slow down in order to speed up, Marissa said.

Ask your buyer to help you map out their process and requirements, and be honest about what you don’t know. It shows that you’re focused on the customer.

For a large or complex organization, you need to involve someone who has bought something there before. If your champion hasn’t bought anything yet at the org, ask them to help you elevate the conversation and loop in someone who’s familiar with their buying process.

Make sure you set expectations around this early in the process with your champion. Approach it with them as “How can I support you in making this business case?” to help them loop in the right people and sell internally.

🙋 How do you find champions and loop in the right decision makers?

First, you need to understand if your main point of contact at the organization is actually your champion. There’s a difference between a champion and other types of stakeholders/contacts, according to Marissa:

  • Champion – someone who is very interested in getting your product implemented, and is working as your person on the company side to help get the deal done
  • Coach – someone who is interested in your product but doesn’t carry much influence, so  they probably won’t move the needle for you
  • Executive sponsor – an executive who has the funds to buy your product; they’ll be the one to actually sign the contract

If your primary contact/champion isn’t the decision maker

Ask for an introduction and get the decision maker involved early in the process so they have context. If your champion is hesitant to introduce the decision maker, educate them about why they need to be involved in the process – they might be new to the buying process.

(And make your champion look good – they’re trying to protect their reputation at the company, so outline exactly why you want to talk to the decision maker and what you’re going to share with them).

If you don’t have a champion

When your original point of contact with the company isn’t a champion for you, then you need to multi-thread and find one!

It depends on the scenario, but this could involve reaching out to someone else at the company on LinkedIn, asking your manager to send a note to an exec or someone senior at the org, etc. The note could look something like: “I understand our teams have been working together; would love to align on your vision for X in 2022.”

Lean on your internal team to help you with outreach, and don’t be shy – get out there and try to have as many productive conversations as possible!


About Marissa

Marissa Fuhrer is a Senior Sales Manager at Figma. Prior to Figma, Marissa spent a few years at Dropbox, Scoop and BrightEdge, where she helped lead sales efforts in the Education space as well as public companies around the US. In her free time, Marissa enjoys spending time with her 4 legged daughter, Winnie.