Interview with Jaimie Buss, VP Sales, Americas, Zendesk

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[mnky_testimonial_slider slide_speed=”3″][mnky_testimonial name=”” author_dec=”” position=”Designer”]“I do not believe AI can replace the Enterprise Sales Rep. Enterprise Sales Reps exist because companies can’t navigate their own processes to make a purchase.”[/mnky_testimonial][/mnky_testimonial_slider]

Tell us a little bit about your role at Zendesk and the team you handle?

Organizations of all sizes use Zendesk to build the best customer experiences. I joined the company in December 2016, and am the Vice President of Sales for North America. Within my organization, we have Sales Development (segregated Inbound and Outbound), Velocity (< 100 employees or less), geographically aligned Account Executives (AEs) that manage Mid-Market accounts, field-based Strategic Account Executives (SAEs) that manage Up-Market accounts, and Named Account Managers (NAMs) who manage our top 60 customers.

What draws you to the Revenue Summit 2018?

I favor practical advice, where the presenters have slides that compel you to take a picture and start trying something new the next day. Revenue Summit does a phenomenal job of finding industry leaders who can deliver practical, usable, actionable advice.  I think the agenda and the wide-range of perspectives represented by the speaker list makes that clear.

Which session/s at the Revenue Summit 2018 would you recommend and why?

First, I would take a look at the sessions related to the Top-of-Funnel. A universal challenge, regardless of what you sell, is top of funnel pipeline. Maybe you have enough volume but not the right demographic of opportunities; maybe you are debating the value of an SDR team if you don’t yet have one; maybe you have an SDR team but it is not profitable; maybe you are trying to get your entire org more focused on prospecting. I always find new nuggets and great reminders in these types of sessions.

Secondly, I feel that a commonly overlooked skillset is Sales Management. How many of us were top performing reps, moved into a management role with no management training, and have been left to our own devices? How many of us have worked for the sales leader who is essentially a “super-rep”, micro-managing your deals, but neglecting to provide you with clear expectations and/or coaching to further your development?  For that reason, I would suggest building a Sales Coaching Blueprint.

There are a lot of great sessions I am looking forward to! And don’t forget our Full Funnel Forecasting session, of course.

What verticals is Zendesk looking to target to expand its reach in 2018?

Zendesk’s products have always universally applied to any company that needs to provide support to their customers. Those could be internal customers, such as IT or HR providing support to employees, or external customers, including companies that provide customer support through their website, phone or mobile channels. We will continue to focus on businesses that value quick time to market, ease of implementation and scalability and security, which covers everything from the start-up community to Fortune 500 enterprises!

Among Enterprise, SMBs and startups, which sector has seen the highest adoption of Zendesk’s products and why do you think this is so?

Zendesk began 10 years ago as an ideal solution for both startups and SMB clients because of it’s beautifully simple design and ease of use. We are easy to download, try, implement and pay for. But over time, those start-ups grew (Slack, Uber…) and we grew along with them. We made it safer for companies like financial services companies to now run on Zendesk, we increased our scalability and infrastructure to support thousands of agents, and we invested in new channels like phone, chat, and SMS to capture customer interactions via all channels. These investments have resulted in Zendesk establishing more of an enterprise client base, including several Fortune 500 companies in industries such as telecommunications, media/entertainment, and retail.

What tools does your Sales stack (Sales tech) consist of?

Our prospecting stack includes LinkedIn Sales Navigator, DataFox for account alerts and prioritization, ZoomInfo for a contact database, and Calendly for meeting scheduling.

We use Salesforce as our sales automation tool, with 8×8 for phones, Yesware for email and Clari for forecasting. Zoom has been a great video-conferencing partner for us; we have outfitted our rooms as “zoom rooms” with iPads, so you can spin up a video conference at the click of a button and it literally “just works”.

We use Slack for direct messages (Slack is cringing right now reading this!) as well as opportunity and team collaboration. We create channels for our strategic deals or initiatives that require cross-departmental support, as well as channels for each team where they can collaborate and ask each other questions.  It has been a huge time saver and decreased email traffic significantly.

And of course, we use Zendesk for managing all facilities, human resources, legal, order ops tickets. It is an easy way for us to collaborate across teams and keep track of service agreements and order versions.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a sales leader?

AI can be impressive; we are in fact leveraging machine learning and AI in our AnswerBot technology. For some of our customers, this has resulted in enough increased efficiencies that ticket volume was reduced by 10%. Similar technology can sit on the front end of sales interactions as well, both in crafting initial content, auto-responses to sales inquiries etc. These technologies might likewise reduce the need for as much human touch on the front end of a sale.

However, I do not believe AI can replace the enterprise sales rep. Enterprise sales reps exist because companies can’t navigate their own processes to make a purchase. I can speak from experience – we are now large enough to have a fair amount of process when purchasing a new solution. I rely on the vendor’s sale’s team to help prepare ROI and TCO documentation as well as navigate all the steps required to help me sell internally. That is pretty darn hard to automate.

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

For those of us old enough to remember being dropped into a new city, renting a car, and memorizing the Thomas Guide in order to get from point A to point B, choosing the apps I can’t live without is a no-brainer. Lyft and Uber.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

Time blocks. It’s the same concept I instill in my whole org. I block off time for like tasks that need to be done in bulk.  Performance reviews, content creation like QBRs etc. During that time block, I do not check email or Slack. If something is that urgent, someone will call my cell. For the team, time blocks help relegate administrative tasks to a time of day they are least likely to make connects with prospects and customers, as well as setting time for outbound pipe-gen creation, account management calls during the best times with will connect.

What are you currently reading? 

I am currently listening to Decisive, How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and just finished one of their other books, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.  That one actually changed how I thought about rewarding the team. For the 2017 awards, instead of creating the standard plaque that collects dust, we thought about creative, special gifts that were relevant to the award they were winning.  For example, the Rookie winner received a Green Bay Packers Jersey with her name on the back with the year 2017 on the back, and our “big game hunter” won a beautiful Kate Spade pendant necklace with a decorative line as the charm. I am not sure I would have considered this had I not just finished reading the book.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

For my fellow female sales professionals, there is a ton of great advice in The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Here is the TL:DR – men go for a promotion when they are 60% ready. Women, due things in our chemistry we are not even aware of, tend to wait until we are 110% ready.  Ladies, we need to stop waiting until we are 110% ready!!!

Tag the one person, from the Martech Sector, whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

John Barrows.  I learn a new tip/tick from John every time.

Thank you Jaimie! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Sales leader who specializes in leading sales teams. I have sales expertise in SaaS, virtualization, networking, and storage. I also have experience with direct and channel sales in Fortune 500 to SMB accounts and have led teams of 100+ individuals.


Zendesk builds software for better customer relationships. It empowers organizations to improve customer engagement and better understand their customers. Zendesk products are easy to use and implement. They give organizations the flexibility to move quickly, focus on innovation, and scale with their growth.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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