Deeply Understanding Your Customer’s World with Jill Rowley, GTM Advisor with 20+ Years in B2B
Welcome back to the From Vendorship → Partnership podcast, Season 2: Seller’s Journey!
This season, we’re talking to B2B sales leaders about their experience building winning processes, coaching & scaling teams, and partnering with customers.
Our guest this week is Jill Rowley!
Jill has over two decades of experience in B2B SaaS: she was one of the first 100 employees at Salesforce and employee #13 at Eloqua, and joined Marketo 11 months before it was acquired by Adobe. Now, she advises startups as a GTM Advisor and Limited Partner at Stage 2 Capital.
Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.
🙅 What do people get wrong when it comes to sales at startups?
Most of the focus is on getting to the sale, and not to the success of the customer.
You need to make sure you’re bringing on good-fit customers who will get value from your solution, Jill says, and set proper expectations on what you can deliver for them.
“Customers will leave you if you’re not delivering,” says Jill. “You need to be thinking from day one: how are we going to keep our customers and build deeper relationships? Churn is the death of an organization.”
🤝 What does partnership in B2B sales mean to you?
Jill thinks about partnership holistically, from two key perspectives:
- External: Think about not only partnering with your customers, but partnering with their partners. What is your customer’s ecosystem, and who are they already working with (their tech stack, agencies/consultants, communities, etc.?)
- Internal: How do you get your internal teams – product, marketing, sales, customer success, etc. – to be more collaborative and partner with each other?
Shift your mindset to focus on deeply understanding your customers, their ecosystem, and the problems they want to solve, and align your team internally around this mindset, to make your company stickier.
“As a salesperson, the more you live in your buyer’s world, the better you’re able to serve them,” Jill said.
💡 Lightning Round: Jill's Fast Sales Insights
- The most common misconception about sales? That you’re selling a product when you're actually selling change.
- Favorite sales app/software? LinkedIn for research, to stay relevant, and to build relationships.
- Another sales team you admire? I really like Notion because they focus on community-led growth. Everything starts with their community, and they’re not trying to monetize the community.
- The hardest part of scaling sales at an early stage startup? Hiring and then enabling your hires.
About Jill Rowley
Jill Rowley has 22 years in SaaS, the majority in MarTech. Born Sales, Bred Marketing, Bleed Customer. Early employee at Salesforce (first 100) and Eloqua (#13). Former Chief Marketing Evangelist at Marketo. Been through numerous acquisitions, including Oracle ($871 million), Cisco ($270 million), and Adobe ($4.75 billion). One of the first Social Selling evangelists and professional speakers on the topic. Investor and advisor at various B2B SaaS companies, including Stage 2 Capital, Guild Education, Vidyard, Terminus, and People.ai.