During a recent episode, we talked about our perspective as marketing operations professionals when it comes to buying technology or services. We talked about what we liked and didn’t like from our experiences. During the conversation we challenged sales people to contact us if they wanted to come on and share their perspective from the other side of the “table.”
Ivan and Gary took us up on the offer, and we had a great conversation about their perspective. Ultimately, it was mutually beneficial to have this open conversation that will hopefully help the sales and buying processes in the future.
Check out the earlier episode for for more context.
Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou, and I’m Mike Rizo and this is a podcast for marketing ops and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros, the number one community for marketing operations professionals and into each episode, as we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.
Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast brought to you by the MO Pros. I am Michael Hartmann and I am joined today by cohost Naomi Lewin, Mike Rizzo say hello. Hey everybody. I’m trying to find a new way to say that every time. Cause I kind of say it the same way all the time. I think he should just, you’ve got your pitch every time.
I’m going to tell him to come up with a new robot robot voice, maybe try and Mickey next time. Different accents. Okay. All right. Don’t, don’t start using those media, like sound detects that that would be 20, 22 thing. I got to get better when we all right. So today we have, uh, we’ll be talking with two special guests and you’ll find out why they’re special here in minute.
But our guests today took up our challenge from a few weeks, a few weeks ago, when we talked about how to sell, sell the marketing ops professionals, what we like, what we did with. Um, so joining us today to give this the perspective from the sales side of selling into mops or selling into MarTech or, or ops in general, we have two sales leaders.
Uh, first we’ve got Ivan Robertson, head of strategic accounts at Oakland prize. He’s a motivated young Swede. So welcome to the U S with great creativity and problem solving qualities. He’s got a thirst for knowledge and a passionate about new technology and the problems and opportunities that come along with it.
And also joining us is Gary Levek, senior account manager at path factory, and prior to joining path factory, Gary held several sales and sales management positions at a variety of companies, often selling into marketing operations and sales ops, and so forth. I’ve been Gary, thank you for joining us today.
Yeah, thanks for having us. All right. So now I think we’ll have to make sure you guys identify yourself at some point here. Cause you know, yeah, that’s a sweetie. So you don’t have, at least you don’t have a name like Mike, we only have enough. Right? Well they always know, at least a mic is talking right.
There you go. All right. So I’m to truth. Be told, I’m excited to have you guys here. I’m glad you took up the challenge. Um, I’m also a little bit nervous, right? I think we’re, you know, we’re going to get, get a handful here, but uh, I am looking forward the conversation we’re about to have. So just as a reminder for our listeners, so a few weeks, a few weeks ago, a few episodes ago, uh, I don’t think, I don’t think Naomi was there for it, but, uh, Mike and I kind of had a conversation and just open-ended about, you know, the whole experience as being a buyer on the marketing ops side and what that was like being sold to and what kind of things we like.
And, um, just as a sort of a throw out there, we said, do you know if anybody out there is in sales and listening to this and wants to, wants to come on and having a conversation about it, please do so. And sure enough, like Ivan was the first one to reach out. And then Gary after that, so we are looking forward to getting your perspective.
Um, so I think, I think let’s start with this and maybe I haven’t, since you were the first to sort of jump on this. Yeah. Just when you, when you heard the episode, what were kind of some of your initial reactions and what were some of the key points that you thought were, you know, you either we were there missing or you thought you had a kind of a beef with let’s put it that way.
I’m not sure if I had a beef with any of it. Uh, but you know, I find it was kind of refreshing actually, because it’s a co I think it topic that we all live through our day to day. I mean, I mean, Gary certainly do. Right. But, but you guys do tons of evaluations every year. Like marketing professionals and operational folks.
They do evaluations all the time. Right. And, and I just think is, is a topic. You know, I haven’t really seen before being covered from a, you know, a marketing podcast or a sales podcast for that matter. So I just thought like, you know, the topic was kind of refreshing actually. Um, and then, you know, at a high level, I know we’re going to get to some of these points, but like some of the things that really stuck out to you was like it, to me, uh, was the insight that you guys brought about around research that you do, how you go about research, the importance of research, um, the P uh, the pieces that you talked about around the demo.
I thought that was really interesting. And then I think you both brought a really interesting perspective on this. Like, how do you sell into your own executives, right? How can we help you enable the executive layer to go with the path that you’re trying to lay? Right. And what are you asking for sales individuals to provide as you are now selling internally?
So those I think were like kind of my, my top three takeaways from the last week or last, last podcast. Well, that’s really interesting cause I, I almost, there was an out some of the things I would have expected. Gary, how about you? Well, first of all, it was great getting perspective because obviously I coordinate with sales and sales manager to understand what my buyers are actually feeling and some of the things that they get challenged with and how they want to have, they want a sales person to interact with them.
So there were a couple, the one that you mentioned, and I have a, you know, a struggle with this with customers a lot is when to demo and you’re right. The research is, is increased significantly over the last few years, where, before you’re even talking to a sales person, your research, uh, has, has told you that you liked this company or you don’t like this company.
You’re just starting to look at them. But I always try to work with a customer on when to do a demo because. From a demo standpoint, I try not to do a demo, just a demo and the more information that I can get from a customer. And I think you mentioned this during your podcasts was I think I forget the exact term you used that we put you through the ringer or whatever it was, but the more information a customer can give the better that we can give an experience, because if we just do a demo that’s not targeted, then we’re showing things to you that you might not care about and missing the things that you do care about.
So, so that was the number one thing. And secondly, which was interesting in Mike, Mike Rizzo, and I had a little bit of back and forth on LinkedIn was that NASCAR slide. I never thought about that. A lot of customers don’t like seeing it, I was still thought that it was just a really good way to give credibility to a company.
And I think both of you kind of said, yeah, you know, that’s not really the case I learned from that. And actually I, in my last few demos have actually taken the. I hope we’re not close. I hope we’re not impacting your close rate. And it’s like, you have to report back to us if that ends up working. I, I, you know, that’s the stance that, uh, that at least the two of us sort of agreed on, uh, on that particular call, but, uh, you know, I think there’s a place for it.
Right? You and I talked about that, right, Carrie, uh, there, there is a place for that slide and it certainly can be very helpful when you’re like, tell me about your customers. How do I connect with them? Um, and validate that your platform is doing what you say it can do. Um, but, but I certainly hope that we’re not impacting your ability to close it this time just because he took
no, because I think that, again, getting to perspective from a customer is always helpful because a customer, when I’m doing a presentation, it’s not going to come back and say, oh, I hate that slide. So it actually is great perspective because sometimes when you, I think you guys have been part of demonstrates.
The slider too, can turn you off completely to the presentation and you kind of, you lose focus. And that’s why I’m not a big believer in doing 10, 15, 20 slides. Um, I’m a big believer in just doing a couple slides and I always make it usually joke beginning that I’m not going to kill you with PowerPoint slides, but it was good perspective that I don’t want to lose my audience before we get to the demo.
And so I, I took that to heart and I thought it was just some really good feedback that I hadn’t thought about before. And I think it’s kind of interesting. And also I think it kind of makes sense. Like if we draw it back to challenge the methodology and the research they did there, one of the things that we know from that research is that individuals buy from individuals, right?
So an evaluated will buy from an, as a seller, but an executive will buy from an organization. Right. And that’s why I really liked the point that you guys were making. Like when I do show the NASCAR slide is to get my executive layer to understand this is the organization that we want to align ourselves with.
You know, a great salesperson who has really positioned our solution in a great way. Right? This is an organization that we believe in that we want to align ourselves with. Yeah. It’s uh, this is really fascinating. I’m glad you guys got, actually got some value out of Atlanta to Mike’s point. And like, I hope it’s not affecting negatively close rates too, but, um, you know, so one of the, um, I’d be curious, like if we could do this sort of in the general sense, but also in the sense of the, you know, the pandemic and what everyone’s been going over, going through over the last year and a half, two years, but how have you seen, you know, the way that you’re selling into, because I think you both have sold into, you know, marketing or marketing ops or sales ops over the course of your career quite a bit.
Right? How have you seen that process change over the last few years? Um, you guys, you tell me who you wanted to go, who wants to go first year? I mean, I can start. Um, I mean, I, you see my green screen behind me, right. Um, somebody that I didn’t have a year ago, uh, two years ago, um, because you know, we had that, you know, selling technology today, you’re always going to have, you know, those first, probably two to three conversation, they’re going to be online.
Right. And if the buyer’s local, then maybe it’s a cup of coffee and you certainly would meet them for the first demo. Right. That’s usually onsite and then selling anything, you know, I don’t know, north of a hundred thousand dollars, you might even fly to that first meeting you in a technical resource.
Right. But, you know, today’s like, you know, that sort of handshake, that cup of coffee, you know, talking about, you know, the kids. So whatever it might be, right. That’s going on that helps us build rapport. That sort of ability has, has gone away. And so, you know, when, when the. Um, happen. And, you know, I came to the realization that like on-sites are like a thing of the past, right.
They’re just gone. Um, I did a lot of research, actually. I have a psychology background, so like, you know, building human connections and, you know, understanding human beings. It’s kind of like water part of what I, what I do. And so I just did a lot of research. Like how do you build rapport on zoom? Like, how do you actually do that?
So a couple of things, you know, you want to expose your ear apparently. So like, that’s why I only have, you know, one head like one ear headset get a really nice camera. Um, and then another thing, what people were saying is like expose a little bit of yourself, right? So really what I have on my green screen behind me is I take a picture of the room that’s behind me.
And I essentially project that on top of the green screen. So it constantly looks like I’m sharing my bedroom with everybody. Although like my wife walks in and out of all the time, like she also worked from home. Right. So I think that’s one of the things that, that, that. With me the most, like how do I carry myself online and then importance of actually doing that and the importance of representation online.
And then I think like when I engage with customers, like I honestly, I try to call out things right. Calling out and I own these birds on the walls there. Right. You know what I mean? Like calling things out though, like, Hey, that’s interesting. Like, I love that. Like, you know, I had a really interesting conversation with a buyer one.
It’s actually about a Fern that she had behind her. It turns out she names all of her firms, which are her plants actually in the house. And coincidentally, my wife and I do the same. Right. So then we started talking about her firm that was called Brian and we have one that’s called Ferny Sanders after Bernie Sanders.
Right. So it’s like, you know, like you get to that rapport, right. Like kind of like building that rapport by like, knowing that this is like exposing ourselves a little bit and being comfortable with that. But I also, I think leaning into that right. And saying like, Hey, you know what, like here’s a little bit about myself.
Right. Um, see how I live my day. I think that’s probably what has changed the most, honestly, that is fascinating. Yeah, I love that you took a picture of your normal background and then just use that so that people can still walk around behind you on unbeknownst to your audience, but it is still your space.
Like most people buy it back by a green screen to, to not have whatever it is that’s behind them. Right. So interesting, uh, psychology and approach that you have there. Um, I appreciate you sharing that. I’ve been
Gary, how about you? What, what is, what have you seen change over the course of the last? So I found it, it was changing, uh, before the pandemic, because the days are over when you would go to a site, whether it be 10, 20 people there everyone’s so spread out now. Anyway, especially I think in marketing, because I think that’s been happening before that.
I, I work with a major technology company that’s on the west coast. The people that I deal with are in probably 10 different states and five different countries. So I think even before that, that was starting to change. And what I’ve noticed now that is it’s, uh, your customers now are suffering from zoom fatigue.
Because whether at the time they’re starting work, whether it be eight o’clock, nine o’clock, 10 o’clock. And if they go to 5, 6, 7 o’clock at night, they could be on zooms all day long. And the last thing that you want to do is be that person that is just another hour to them. So I think, uh, as Ivan was saying, you have to try to break that up and, you know, don’t be phony about it.
Like if I see someone with a fishing rod and I’m not a fisherman, like I couldn’t, I couldn’t talk anything about fishing, but I try to, as Ivan said, is try to build a rapport and trying to have people think that, uh, that you do, you actually do care about something that they’re talking about and getting them out of that.
Just that, that mundane, just, this is another call. So at least trying to. Get them talking about what’s important to them and not so much about, but your company. I think if they, if they see that you are genuinely interested in what you were trying to help them with, I think they appreciate that. But also trying to make it a little bit personal, as Ivan said, is trying to find out a little bit about, you know, what’s going on with them or what do they have kids, whatever they may do.
And you have to be careful. You can’t do that with everyone. If someone’s a little standoffish, some people don’t want to share about it, but I always try to get people to talk a little bit about what they’re doing other than work, because I think they’re just so overwhelmed about being stuck at home.
And I’m sure, you know, it’s a, it’s a big change from people they’re used to going into an office and being able to interact with people. I’ve been worked from home for 20 years and I love working from home, but people aren’t used to that and you have to try to be sensitive to that. So to try to get them to at least break that monotony of an old day zoom.
So I’m curious if you guys have ever had anybody. Ask you to present your duck backwards. And I’m asking this because I’ve actually started to do this. Um, I am constantly evaluating tech, um, to the point where I’ve actually in the past, I would say like a year and a half to almost two years. Um, I’ve started to designate certain weeks during a quarter as my vendor week because otherwise I would just be sitting on like vendor calls all day long.
And, and I would essentially for a week, every quarter, um, my inbox is open every prospecting email I get I say, yup, sure. Yes, let’s take this call. And I’ve definitely over the course of doing that come across some pretty amazing technology and some that are like, okay, you know, I can see the value of it, but it’s probably not ready for it, but for, it’s probably not something that if I could necessarily benefit from yet, but I’ve actually started recently.
And by recently, I mean, within the past month or so, um, I’ve actually asked, uh, people who have been presenting to me to, or sales reps to present their deck backwards because I found that the information that I really want to know the most is I want to know what it does, what it integrates with, how long is it going to take to implement, right.
Those are the main things that I care about. And if I am, and of course the cost, right. And I feel like just having that information at the very front of the forefront of our conversation and then diving into, okay, how long has the company been around? What is the support structure look like? You know, what does pricing look like?
Tell me more about your other customers. I’ve always felt like, I feel like I can gain more from the next hour or 30 minutes of a conversation if I have all of that information already. And I know better questions to ask. I don’t know what you guys think about that. Yeah, I think you just made a lot of sales consultants really upset about throwing their story arc out the window.
Right. Cause like, um, I mean, it’s an interesting car. First off to answer your question, I’ve never been asked to do it. I just never come come across, but, but I also find it interesting as a, as a conversation really, because like, so the way that we do it is that we actually don’t present in the denim. Um, we actually do what we call a technical discovery, which is, and that is usually where we present and we usually present a solution and how we help solve that solution.
And we make the conversation around the customer that we’re talking to. So it’s a combined presentation and discovery, right? Hey, we understand that your problems are X, Y and Z. You’re currently using pro products, one, two and three. You have on your strategic initiatives to solve for. Strategic issue one strategic initiative to, okay.
Now let’s talk about how to place into what we do from a technology perspective. Right. And then we use that information to basically go into the demo so that we to Gary’s point, right. Like not just to show up and just demo. Right. It’s like when we actually do get to that point where we are demoing, it’s about 80, 20, right.
80%, like kind of understanding what you want, 20%, maybe us flexing our muscles a little bit or showing you things that maybe you didn’t think about. Right. So I think that, like it, I think that that’s where sales is going, right. Um, because at the end of the day, like, you know, w we, we need to be better and actually tying solutions and impacts to the challenges that we’re solving for.
Because going back to the questions about the pandemic. No CFO is no longer giving any kind of budget that is not going to have a business impact, right. Those days are gone. Right. So now all CFOs, what they’re looking at is like, okay, well, what’s the business impact of this before I approve this budget.
And so like, you know, w I think where we’re seeing at least, you know, here at open price where the conversation is shifting is it is a solution, the conversation. And until we understand what the solution is and how that’s going to impact your problems only then will we go and actually do the demo or, you know, have the technical conversations I’m looking for a demo right off the bat.
I think the reason that I like to just kind of get some of the, you know, the more, um, tangible questions out of the way is because then it really like, knowledge is power. Right? And it gives me the ability to ask the questions that I want to ask. Um, because I do view the sales. Like, I guess the sales, the STMs relationship with a marketing ops person, when they’re trying to sell into them, it is a collaborative process because I have never successfully brought in a tool into EFI, um, without having a collaborative process with my account, exac, um, who has then helped me to sell internally into senior leadership.
Right. And so if I come in and, you know, I think a sales cycle within an organization can change not just monthly or quarterly, depending on like strategic priorities. But for example, you know, if I know that in the next six months, our it team is super strapped and they’re not going to be able to assist me with any type of complex integration that involves different systems.
And I need the support of whatever vendor that I’m bringing in. And knowing that information up front to know that like, Hey you, okay? Yes. It’s a little bit of, you know, an upfront investment in order to do implementation, but afterwards, you know, you don’t need it support that kind of thing. Right. Like, I think that that really helps because then you can ask the question, like, what does that look like?
What other customers do? What, how do they structure their teams? Um, cause there’s a lot of like internal nuances that just kind of, and I’m speaking from an enterprise perspective, right. It might be different for small business or mid market. Um, but that’s just kind of like, I guess I’m leaning towards that preference, um, where I just kinda want like the meat of the information up front, right?
Like I wanna like skip to the end and find out what happens and then kind of go back and you know, so, so, well, I think it’s a fine line because I think Mike, we talked a little bit about, uh, I think we talked about this after the podcast, when we spoke last time is that you’ll have a lot of customers that will ask about pricing and.
It’s a week. And I know that was one of the things we wanted to talk about is an, uh, th the thing with pricing. And I think you don’t want to seem like you’re, you’re avoiding it, but what you want to try to do is I think you can try to talk a little bit about in a ballpark, but because I think Mike, we talked about this, that I could tell you that the product is my products, a million dollars, and you hear wow, a million dollars.
I can’t even come close to that. I don’t, I don’t have any budget for that, but, but the thing is during the discussion, I can come back and tell you that if you know what we’re doing can make you $10 million. I’m obviously being I’m exaggerating. So, but if I tell you the $10 million before the discovery, where I can think I can make you $10 million, it may rule us out in the beginning, but so it’s a fine line.
I, and I always struggle with that with customers, because there are some really good educated customers that, that understand that. The price that you’re giving them, it’s all relevant. So I think that’s always a discussion point and you don’t want to turn off the customer by not telling them the pricing, but then if you tell them the pricing, you may lose them.
So it’s always a fine line and a balance I think, on when to do it when not to do it. Yeah. I think there’s so many things that are going through my head here. I think Naomi’s insight about doing presentation backward. It hit me really hard. Like we’ve had, uh, we’ve been going through, uh, agency reviews and for the ones that I work with, um, my advice to them, when they, when they sent me their sort of draft decks was move the stuff that you want us to remember to them.
Right, because we’re gonna, we’re gonna run out of time more than likely. And if we don’t get to it, like if you’re trying to build the storyline. Yeah, yeah. And then here’s what we think you should do. Right. You’re never going to get there. So I think, I think just, even from a practical standpoint of moving, like what are the key things we need to know upfront is a valuable thing for all of us to look yeah.
Don’t, don’t, don’t bury the lead, right. I think, to think, yeah. I think, I think I went through this recently too. Just like helping somebody present. Oh, go ahead, Gary. Go ahead. Go ahead. Okay. I was just saying like, I, I just, I was going through someone’s, uh, believe it or not. It was an internal deck that someone was working on to, um, to sell, um, kind of a vision and direction of what they were going to do with their team in marketing operations and how they were going to grow the team and all that stuff.
And, uh, the very first thing I did. Was that the very first slide after going through the, the, the giant deck that this, this person was like, trying to find a way to tell the story. The very first thing I did was say they were going to present to their SVP of something. I said, Hey, uh, by the end of these two days that we’re talking about the vision for building out this team department and technology stack that we’re looking for.
I want you to walk away with these three salient points and these three points are, and just bullet point them out because inevitably you get interrupted, internet fails, something happens, right? And if you can just like at a high level with confidence state, Hey, these are the things that I want you to walk away with and understand that there’s a vision that is being built out here, and this is what we’re looking to accomplish.
Great. Now, if something happens that we got to reschedule or whatever, I at least know that when I, as the SVP have to go now to the C-suite and start talking about the vision for this department, I have at least some key points that were, that you tried to get me to walk away from, and if I’m really questioning it, I can go back to that person and make sure I dig in a little deeper.
And I think that same thing holds true when you’re working with sales departments too. I mean, it’s part of the reason why we have a no-bullshit demo that’s available to our community members. In fact, like Ivan, the open prize team did one with us, right? So we ask all those backwards questions that Naomi is asking about.
In fact, Naomi helped us craft some of those questions, like is the it team, do they need to be involved, right? Like who are your top integration providers? And what are your top integrations that I need to be thinking about? Some of those things by just having that information in your head right off the bat, you know, like, okay, well, time to implementation, time to ROI.
How do I start creating the case for pointing out the salient points to my internal stakeholders, to be able to go buy, you know, a piece of technology that I believe consultant. So for what it’s worth, I think don’t bury the lead. Yeah, no, I think. One of the things that this is coming up with as I think, um, and we talked a little bit about this, I think in kind of prep work.
I haven’t been Gary for sure of that, that I think maybe, maybe there’s a misperception on both sides about what the other is trying to accomplish with some of this stuff. Right. So, um, for me, for, you know, when you hear us asking for the demo early or pricing earlier that you think it makes sense. W what do you like, what’s your sense on what w what do you think is behind that from are when you’re trying to talk to us?
Like, how can we, and what is your actual attendant? What do you like? How can we kind of reconcile that so we can move forward together. And then just while you’re thinking about that and answer, I want you to think about answer it, what I would love to do after we get through that, I would love to sort of flip the script a little bit and have you guys ask us questions and put us in the hot seat.
Sound good? Okay. Sounds good. All right. Like, you know, when I hear price out the gate, like if price comes in, like at the very, very first conversation, Then like red fives will go off right away. Cause then I feel I call them fodder. Right. Somebody has already picked a solution and they’re trying to tell their boss that like, well, the other vendors are either too expensive or they can’t solve well, what we’re trying to, it’s like a classic RFP question, right?
Here’s a 12 page RFP from procurement. Like you can’t talk to anybody, but pricing is upfront and center. Right? We don’t even know what you’re trying to solve for, you know what I mean? And I think with the demo too, I feel like a lot of times the demo where it’s like, well, somebody goes like, you know, the classic one is like, we have a super technical team and they understand any technology out there.
So just show us the product. Right. That’s like the classical one, but it kind of turns into an exercise of like a child wandering into the middle of a. Right. And trying to understand like, well, wait, wait, where did this start? Or like, wait, where are we now? Right. And so like, and I think, you know, the modern sales cycle and honestly the modern sales rep, what they should be exclusively concerned about is actually the buyers and the company success.
Right. And then align their own platform with those two missions. Right. Like, what are your embryos? What are you trying to solve for, like, how do we have a business impact? Right. And, and if we can’t get to that within, you know, the first discovery call or that like, again, like we’ll, we call a technical discovery.
Like, I mean, the guys that I mentor or the sales cycles that I managed myself, I would just tell them, like, I don’t think we have a deal here either to buy. I can’t articulate what that impact is, or quite frankly, they don’t know what it is. Right. And they’re just, you know, going out to buy something because they think that buying is the solution to their problems.
And so like, you know, when I hear like the, you know, the demo thing coming out, you know, I cringe because I’m just like, I honestly don’t even know what to demo. Well, demo lead routing. Okay. Well, like lead routing, in what sense? Right. Are you doing lead routing for partners? You know, direct, how big is your team?
What kind of like, you know, delineations, do you have to your business. Do you sell it towards government? Like it’s a completely different conversation than like, you know, a SAS conversation. Right. So it’s like, you know, again, it’s like, I think that like the biggest misconception about sales today, I think is still that, you know, Gary said something like, uh, early on in the conversation, like when we were talking about zoom and selling yourself, he said like, you know, um, you have to be, um, honest, I think is what, uh, the word that you said, like not trying to make up that I fish just cause I see a fishing rod, uh, in the background.
Um, and I think that’s so true today. Cause like, you know, as salespeople, we fight these stereotypes all the time. Right. We fight, you know, the commission breadth like attitude towards what we do. Right. And, and the reality is that like my livelihood is dependent upon your success and the ability to actually leverage the technology that I sell.
It’s what allows me to call somebody up a year later when they moved company and go like, how are you doing? How are the kids, Hey, what do you think? Should we like engage in a conversation? Again, you know what I mean? Uh, and it also was what allows me to quite honestly have referenceable customers. Right.
Um, and, and also acquire new customers by saying, look what we did for company a six months ago, this is where the word is where we’re at now, to your point, Naomi, those stories, right. The ones that you’re looking for. Right. The good stuff at the end. Right. Um, I can only get there by honestly having the buyer, you know, being comfortable with that notion of like going to the dentist for maybe the first two half an hour session.
It’s like telling me a little bit about you, what you’re struggling with, what you’re trying to achieve. Right. And I think once we start to get to a point where that, you know, sort of like transition of information is starting to flow. That’s when we can get to that state that Naomi was talking about like, Having to salesperson be able to go into that room of executives and actually selling together with her, right.
Activating a champion, not just, you know, identifying and talking about a champion and a medic group. Do you find that you’re, do you find that there’s like you can divide potential customers into two groups? Like the kind that you know is, is kind of open-ended and doesn’t necessarily know what they don’t know.
Um, and you know, what tools they might need to bring into an organization. And then there’s also other. Potential customers where they’ve already, essentially pre-qualified themselves, by the time they get to you. Right. So they already know they’ve already read everything. They know all the things that they know, all of, like the information about the company they’ve already asked, you know, probably on Mopro slack channel.
Right? Like tell me about this vendor, that all of that stuff and all they need to know. Now, all they care about is really like, what is your. You know, what is implementation time? You know, what kind of support do I need internally? What do you integrate with, what is your disaster recovery, stuff like that, right.
Like, I’m curious when, and I think that, I think that that question is so much more relevant in operations too, because operations is actually fairly new, like as an idea. And as in a concept and as a department, right? Like now we’re seeing organizations actually having a sales ops person or a marketing ops person, or even a rev ops person, be some of the very first hires into those departments.
And so I think that like when we sell into operations, particularly I think that there’s a different aspect here because like it’s either we’re selling into somebody who’s an innovator, right? Like that super intelligent driven individual. Who’s like, you know what, I’m going to create the shiniest thing I could ever possibly create.
Right. Or we’re selling into the ones who’ve gotten burned. Right. The one that. Spent years building custom apex code in Salesforce, or like a bunch of smart campaigns and smart list and Marquetto and know where that path leads. And it’s not a great path, right? It is a, we know that that path is full of pain and you’re going to lose half your it team and the two year process of you doing it.
So like, it’s like unraveling Christmas lights. Right. You know what I mean? You don’t even know where to start at something, you know? And so like, I think, you know, that question I think is so much more relevant when it’s selling into operations, because there’s so many people that are like either have that like 10 plus year kind of tenure people or the ones who just kind of stumbled into it.
And they’ve only had that two, three year, um, you know, uh, background or you know, of doing operations. And I think that, that those are the two camps, right? The ones that just don’t know right. Or the ones like, they’re just like, nah, bullshit, like show me. Right. Which is who you fall into Naomi. That’s why you ask people to start.
I’m curious now for our folks that are in the first for sales reps who are listening to this, someone, and I don’t want you to rework your doc. I literally want someone to like reach out to me on LinkedIn and like present. I’m pretty sure. Pretty sure that when you shared earlier that there’s a there’s a week, once a quarter or however often in a year that you do demos, like every single rep was like, how do I reach out to Naomi?
Could you tell me what week that is? I ignore everything otherwise, is it, is it a consistent week? Every quarter? How do I, how am I tired of this text me backwards. I am curious for both of you, I think like, uh, and maybe Gary, you can jump in on this one. Uh, first Ivan I’d like, I’d like to hear from you too.
Like, you know, one of the aspects of this conversation that we sort of like floated around is. Is that like my interpretation of some of the language that we’ve been using today is that you’re actually saying, Hey, we want to, we want to be able to sell to you in this role, this or your organization by providing solutions and understanding your problems, which requires some technicality and some understanding, and a little bit of a different way of thinking about how to engage with a business and a buyer.
Um, and I certainly don’t mean this in a way that is, uh, meant to be misconstrued rude or, or. Or just not polite, but like, does that somehow change the way that sales reps are being trained and who’s involved in that sales conversation and then suddenly does that change the role of the traditional role of a sales rep?
Because while like on one end of the, of the spectrum, you’re building relationships, right? And you’re, and you’re doing exactly what you’re doing. You’re trying to build that rapport. Um, on the other end, you’re bringing in those technical resources to help you have those more technical discussions and maybe you’ve pulled apart.
The high-level bullets of what that technical resource needs to go through. But now are we reaching a stage where the rep actually has to be able to do both? And you’re not even just like a sales person and a technical resource. Now you are just a little bit of both. And what do you, what do you think about that?
Well, I’m by far, if I’m talking technically I’m going to get myself in trouble. I am not technical whatsoever. So what I try to do is in a couple of things that I learned in my first sales job in two. Was set the agenda. So what I tried to do is right off the bat is talk about an agenda. And you know, what I’ll basically say is I’m going to no introductions going to try to understand some of the things that are important to you and talk a little bit about what we do.
And the goal is always to go, if there’s a mutual interest at the end is to do a demonstration and that’ll be another call because what I wanna try to do is map what we do to what you’re looking for. But more importantly, and the second thing I learned at ADP was the two best answers together. Yes or no.
And there may be times in the call that we’re just not a fit and is nothing wrong with going to the person and saying, you know, at the worst, we’ll have a 15 minute conversation. If we’re not a great fit at the worst, we networked a little bit, you understand something that we do, but sometimes it’s not always a fit and you’re better off finding that out early because you’re not only going to waste their time.
You’re going waste your. And so as a sales rep, I think that, and it depends on the organization. It depends on the customer. It depends on, and on the sales rep. I think you, you can’t treat every call as a cookie cutter. Like Naomi, if I get on a call with you and you want to hear something and you’re not backing down, I make a decision either.
I’m going to give you what you’re asking for. Or I may come back and say, it’s just, doesn’t make sense to really, for us to continue the discussion. So I think you have to treat every call differently because if you try to treat Naomi as the same as I’m talking, I haven’t, or if I’m talking to Mike, you’re not going to be successful because you guys have different things that you care about.
You know, there are people that may just care about furthering your career. There may be people that you help want to further the company’s success. And it made me feel that I want to do both. That’s the hard part is figuring out the person you’re speaking with. What’s motivating them. And you have to try to map towards that and be genuine about it.
I think if you’re doing a disservice, I think if you don’t try to find out what’s important to the customer. Off the top. And if you have something you have to push back. And as I’ve said before, if you’re, if you’re asking for price right off the bat, they’re instant for a demo, then usually that’s the case that that decision is made that way, that person can go and say, yeah, we talked with this company and they weren’t a fit.
So we’ll just check the box. Exactly. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. And yeah. And if that’s the case, then I don’t take it personally to think I would take personally is if we go, do we have three different calls and meetings and you, and your decisions are already made and you’re wasting my time, just, you know, saying that, uh, you spoke to another vendor, that’s a point where I try to, you know, I’ll push back and it, it’s nothing more with Jen.
Tell me the first call that we’re not a fail. Totally. So I think that that’s a standpoint. What you try to do with customers is try to give them the out if that were not the right fit. And I think that’s always important, Ivan thoughts on, oh, I think you’re muted somehow, but. Sorry about that. I love that question, Mike, because I think it’s, you know, I mean, we just heard Gary’s kind of story.
Like, how did he become a sales rep? So like, it didn’t start with a college education. Right? It started with, I graduated college, ended up at ADP and they taught me. Right. So like, you can’t go to school for this stuff. Right. You have to either get exposed to somebody who can mentor you or be at a big company like ADP, who actually sees a lot of value in this and is well known in the industry to be, you know, a great soda producer.
Well-educated sales reps. And, but to answer your question though, Mike, like I think that like where we are seeing organizations like, you know, winning by the sign and what John Barrows is talking about, right. It is all about like understanding what the buyer is trying to solve for. It is all leading with empathy, all leading with that desire to essentially make the customer and the customer’s company successful.
And I think that’s where I think like, you know, the mindset I think is shifting right now because like, not only are we in an interesting, interesting time and space where it’s like, the world is just too small and in order to like be a bad sales person. So you’re better off being honest, like to Gary’s point, like come out to get, I’m not going to be able to solve your problem instead of like dragging somebody along and then maybe convincing them to buy the wrong.
Right. That has happened. Right. People buy the wrong thing all the time. And sometimes at the end, it’s a really skillful sales drop at the end of that rope. Um, but I think it’s really interesting your question. Cause like, you know, all the training, all the stuff that we’re seeing in terms of technology and business today is, is, is moving towards that, that like the whole gold hair today is like to have salespeople think differently to be trained differently.
And I think there’s a lot of organizations right now are doing a really good job of, you know, trying to get the sales profession to think more about themselves as a consultant rather than as a sales person.
I think this is really, um, I just, I just made some notes here that two thoughts, and then I really do want you guys to get a chance to grow, to ask us questions. Um, but I think one of the things I’m realizing in the kind of the feedback you probably got from Mike and me and a little bit from Naomi is.
We probably don’t actually like we may be outliers too in your target audience because we, I think we’ve all been, had gone through a number of cycles of being a buyer. We’re sort of somewhat, I don’t know, sophisticated may not be the right word, but we’ve got experience doing it. And I think our ability to kind of go through and think through all the sort of impacts as part of driving, why w you know, we have our, our view of what works for us, right?
And it may not be that case if it’s somebody who’s relatively new, especially if they’re relatively new into marketing ops or sales ops, because they may not have been through, you know, they may not understand that full life cycle of marketing and sales, so that, I think that’s really one thing that’s really hit me as we’ve had this conversation.
That might be the other is, uh, you know, there’s this, I get this sense that there’s sort of out of the gate. For some reason, I think a little bit of mistrust on both sides, right? Mistrust that we’re trying to use you as a salespeople to kind of check a box so that we can choose a solution a little bit mistrust on our side, about what, you know, are you really gonna try to rip us off so to speak?
I mean, that’s probably an extreme and like, I don’t, I’ve never thought of it that way. And part of that may be because I also have been in your shoes for a short period of time and I realized how hard it is to do that job. So despite what we, you know, talked about in that episode, we talked about it.
Right? I think, I think also I have a lot of respect for what salespeople have to do. So take that for what it’s worth. Um, anyway, so, sorry, I’ll get off my soap box now about those things, but I would love for you guys to have a chance to ask us some questions. Um, so go fire away, Gary. I think you’re on mute.
Maybe I’ll. Okay. So you talked a little bit before about if you’ve chosen a vendor and you maybe just want to look at another one. So do you find that that’s difficult? So if, you know, if Naomi, if I’m talking to you and you’ve already talked to a couple of vendors and you, and you and your mom, your mom, you know, which way you want to go, and I’ve maybe either gotten introduced to you or gotten referred to you, and you’re probably not going to be really serious about, uh, my company.
So how do you go about either, you know, wanting to have an open mind about taking a look at the company, but not really, maybe giving much of a chance to go forward with that vendor? I think, and maybe this is so I can, I guess the way I can answer that is to talk you through my like, evaluation process.
Um, so what. If I, if I know I’m either doing the tool replacement or looking for something that new, um, what I’ll do is I’ll, I’ll write out like a list of business requirements, like first by interviewing all of the internal stakeholders and then also my own team, and then just like compiling everything together, organizing it into a document.
Um, and then essentially I try to, because there’s just so many tools out there. Right. Um, what I like to do is to kind of shortlist it down to five, um, and I’m always going to be like completely open. And especially if it’s like a tool replacement, I’ll even still put the current tool that we have, like as part of the, as we’re kind of just starting fresh from new, right.
So that they still have an opportunity to try to see if they can retain the business. Um, And then essentially I asked them to like submit the business requirements back with the responses. And I have been through sales cycles where we’ve been like close, where you, you know, shortlisted from five down to three and then down to two.
Um, and it’s, they’ve come at stages where, you know, we’ve already done on-sites and like people have met, you know, internal teams and they’ve already done demos. And then they come in late in the game. I’ve never, I’m not unopened to having a new vendor come in. Maybe it’s just something that wasn’t on the radar because they, you know, it just, they just got missed somehow.
Like that’s not, you know, because otherwise I feel like that would be putting my own like personal interests or like time above. Like, if it’s good for the business, then why not? Right. If it’s something that could potentially fit the business, then that’s something that, um, you know, I’m happy to still bring into that.
I wouldn’t say for example, oh, we’re already at the stage. You can’t come in. Like you can always catch up. Right. Um, so I’m not, I’m not opposed to it. It just has to make sense, right? Like. It needs to be a good use of time for everybody, buddy, because these types of evaluations, especially for larger companies can be very time consuming.
Right? Well, I, I just, I would just add onto that. I think, um, if you’ve got someone who’s kind of comes in, that you didn’t already have in the process, one of the things that can help in that, isn’t at least from my experiences sometimes. Well, I’ll go in thinking these are the things I need. And as we go through some of the initial conversations, we’ll find out, oh, I hadn’t thought about this part or that part.
Um, and I might think, oh, this is more important. And can I get, I get better at articulating what it is I really need. And so if there’s someone who comes in late, they get the benefit of being able to kind of, you know, go through that a little faster, I think, because we’ve gotten a little better about knowing what we want.
Yeah. I would agree with that. That’s kind of interesting though, because then it almost sounds like it’s better to come in at the end of evaluations that you’re running. Because then you will be more succinct. You’ll be, you know, you’ve better ways of articulated what it is that you’re looking for. And, and obviously you added onto your research.
Right? Cause I’m sure like these other vendors have come in and maybe given you a new perspective of the problems that you’re trying to solve for too. Right? Yeah. I don’t know that it gives someone a better chance. I think it helps it, like it’s, it can shorten the process and get caught. Someone caught up.
I’m not sure it necessarily gives them a better chance. Right. They still have to be able to deliver it at a price. That makes sense. Right. But going back to what you were saying, Naomi, like when you’re doing those internal stakeholder interviews and you’re building out the requirements, have you ever used a vendor in that process?
Like have you ever brought in a vendor, maybe somebody who’s a thought leader in the space to go, Hey, you know what. Tell me, like, give me that broad picture. How are you thinking about problem X? What are you seeing? Right. Um, not, no, I generally don’t. Um, and it’s, it’s simply because we just haven’t necessarily found the need.
Um, we definitely use vendors, uh, after the fact for implementation and things like that, but not usually during the discovery, not usually during any evaluation process, at least on the marketing ops side and the sales side, um, our sales enablement team and sales operations team, they go through very similar processes and I haven’t known them to use external vendors for evaluations either.
Hmm. I can, well, I can, sorry, just, I, I think I can, I think of maybe one or two examples where I might’ve worked with another say, uh, consultants. That’s something that I moved both jobs and I, yeah, I knew that they were had an expertise, so I might go and use them to help narrow down. Um, the example I’m thinking of off the top of my head was that wasn’t actually a technology when it was more of a data one.
Um, yeah. So I think, I think similarly, I will tell you, like, I think one of the places though, that you should know that we all go to now are these communities, right? We have a ton of access to people. Who’ve got experience with pretty much any one of these technologies that’s out there now. And that’s a, that’s an early start place where we do research.
The other question, because I recently went through this, I did a pretty large transaction with a very big customer of mine and I pretty much sold at a pretty higher, a pretty high level within the organization. And now I’m dealing with the groups that have to implement the products and they didn’t evaluate it at all.
So have you guys been involved where basically your boss, your boss’s boss or. Buys a product without your input, and then you have to go implement it. And so, because I’ve know I’ve done this before, where there’ll be a person in there that feels resentful and not to deal sabotage things, but they’re, they’re extra difficult.
So how do you guys feel when you’re not involved in a process and you have to go implement it?
Uh, Yeah, that that’s part of the reason why this community exists, um, is to, to make sure that we try to figure out ways as a group to connect and collaborate internally so that things like that can be avoided as much as possible. Um, cause inevitably you will feel slighted and you will feel like, Hey, like you missed the, you miss the mark.
Like you bought a tool that is going to be incredibly difficult or complicated or costly or all of the above to implement because it just doesn’t play nice with the existing solutions. Um, I don’t know that I would have ever gone in, you know, I think, I think one of the personas that, that reigns true through, through this particular role is that like challenging.
Um, you, you bought something and I’m going to make it work. Like I’m not real thrilled that I wasn’t involved, but like, I don’t know anything about this and I’ll figure it out. Um, I know that happened. Like I was, I was brought back to an organization to build out a community for the very first time. And they had decided what community product they wanted before we ever got there.
Uh, and, and I was like, all right, challenge accepted, but this is going to be a costly endeavor because it takes my time and more people’s done. Right. Um, uh, so, so yeah, I’d say the short answer there is that it’s frustrating, but hopefully, um, as we continue to build better alignment with how marketing ops integrates with the business, that.
Less frequently, but I guess the other part of this is for the sales reps out there, you know, try to think about how could we start building relationships with other teams that may need this solution down the road early. Right. And bring it up right out of the gate. Um, because even if you kind of lay out the playing field a little bit and say like, Hey, you know, I’m Gary and I’m talking to Naomi.
And I say, Naomi, just so you know, you know, I know you’re interested in buying this, but a lot of the time we’re working with it too. And a lot of the time we’re also working with sales. And so it may make sense for you to bring in some of those folks at some point, not right now, but at some point to try to figure out how we could work better within your organization and make sure we’re all aligned or something like that, that I realized that involving more people in your sales process is not ideal, could slow things down, but it can also, you know, smooth things out in the long run.
And so it’s, it’s probably a fine line, right? Sorry. That was a very long answer. Executive came to me cause we, there, we were used in a different part of the organization. And so it’s not something that I think a sales rep should do, but you know, if someone, if the buyer is coming to you and you can’t really tell them, oh, I need to go talk to your team.
So I was just curious how you guys, how, how you guys perceived. If that, if that happens, I think I’ve been fortunate to work in organizations where that actually hasn’t happened. Um, it’s always been. The reverse of what you’ve said, Gary, where it’s always been the responsibility of the person who’s leading the functional, uh, business group to then, um, uh, present and pitch the things that they want funding and budget for, with our senior leadership team.
It’s kind of, it’s a bit, it’s a bit like a Dragon’s den type of approach, right. Or I guess in the U S it’s what is it? Shark tank, um, is the version, um, it’s, it’s very much like that it’s, you know, sometimes, you know, we’ll of course we’ll get, I’ll get an email from, you know, my boss and my boss’s boss, where it’s like, Hey, this person has been reaching out to me.
Do you want to take a look at this product and tell me what you think? And the very receptive to just like, uh, yeah, no. Right. And then it’s, it’s never something where it’s like, okay, I bought this now use it. I I’ve never actually gotten that, which I’m thankful. Okay. So that’s another question. So if someone goes to your boss’s boss to try to sell them a and then they tell you to look at the product, you, you, you find that, that turns you off, that they’re trying to go to your boss’s boss, as opposed to trying to go to your perfect.
No, not at all. I mean, I don’t think that no, I, I can’t, I’m just thinking of like situations where that has happened and you know, it definitely, it would make me to look at something more closely, um, you know, because there are benefits to that too, right. If they have that report or maybe a personal relationship with someone in senior leadership, maybe that will trickle down to impact pricing or implementation time, or I don’t know, support services or something like that.
Right. There’s always a potential benefit. So I’m never close to it, right. For my own personal lives. I’ve never been bothered by that. Yeah. I haven’t. I have to agree. I, in fact, if you got my boss to, or my boss’s boss to say like, Hey, this looks interesting. Uh, then it’s, you know, obviously there’s something that they’re thinking about that now we now have a little bit of buy-in to go try to solve a problem.
And so you’ve identified a problem that they’re like, oh yeah, I think we have that problem. I think I heard someone talking about that. So I’m going to pass this down the line, you know, I never had a problem with it. So I think we have maybe time for one more question. I have an UN. Yeah. So it sounds like Naomi has a pretty well-established process, but you know, when we, like, when we do internal, like we have to do stand-ups every single week, essentially.
And there’s a lot of sales methodology around evaluating a deal, right. There’s medic there’s med pick and so on and so forth, but it looking at Mike and Mike now. Do you, do you guys have found, like, is there a buying methodology that you’re using? I, is there like, you know, an evaluation criteria that you have like put together that you find valuable as you’re not just like, you know, setting up what it is and I’m on trying to solve for, but then also like evaluating the vendors throughout the process rather than just like, how well did you score on line item X, you know?
And then adding up the points. Right. Which is like, you know, difficult to do. Yeah. I’ll go. I’ll go for, so yeah, I. If I’m truly honest, right. I think in my head I’ve got a fairly structured process, but it’s not as formalized as what Naomi described. Um, all that being said, I do, I do know that you know, it at the point, especially if it’s a significant spend and that what that is for any given organization can vary, right.
In terms of what that dollar amount is. I need to be able to, this is where working together is really important. Like I need to be able to really understand. Uh, no. What we’re going to get out of it. What is going to take to get that? Whether it’s staffing, um, support, et cetera, licensing one-time costs ongoing costs.
I need to understand that whole model because it, it goes back to if, for people who listened to, like, I harp on us needing to understand finance, right. I need to understand the financial model. That’s going to support that. And so very often what I’ll do is do you know, a somewhat formalized evaluation of meeting requirements, right.
And they, and I don’t want to get overly sophisticated because it’s easy to sort of rig. Um, and then right underneath that, uh, I’ll have sort of at least the basics of a financial model that supports it. And so, um, because what I’ve found is there’s in the rare and rare instances, there’s an obvious winner, right.
But in many instances like, oh, this one can really meet every one of our needs really well, or with very little sort of customization, but it’s also going to be the most expensive. And the one that, you know, if we were going on price, we’re not going to get what we’d need, um, in all kinds of mixes in there.
So yeah, at some point I think you need to look at multiple criteria and that’s where working together and understanding that becomes really important from my perspective. I, uh, Yeah, I’m learning every day from Naomi and Michael here. I don’t have the luxury of having to buy solutions as often as I used to be able to.
Uh, so I don’t, I don’t really I to answer your question very plainly I definitely had no structure or process or procedure to the way that I would go about evaluating vendors. It always started with the business need, um, and a bunch of research now there’s communities to do that. So that’s helpful. Um, but you know, Hey, I’m trying to solve this very specific problem.
And, and then as I started thinking about it, like maybe there’s things I want to think about down the road too, but yeah, no, no, no real specific thing I use there definitely was a scoring matrix that I did back in the day for like, um, Marketo, Pardot and HubSpot, when we were deciding whether or not to renew HubSpot at a company I was at, and it was pretty crude and those are pretty common.
You know, for our particular needs, it suited what we, what we needed and that was in a renewal kind of phase. Right. So it wasn’t necessarily like a net new kind of approach. So, yeah. Sorry. No, no big aha light bulb to provide you there or at least not for me.
Wow. Well, I suspect we could go on and on, unfortunately, we’re going to have to wrap this up. Gary. I’ve been, this has been a lot of fun. Thanks for, thanks for going through this with us. If folks want to connect with you or kind of learn from you or share with you, right. Continue the conversation with others in marketing ops work, where can they find you or connect with you?
LinkedIn the best from me. Okay. Yeah. Just find me on LinkedIn. And it’s probably the best way.
All right, LinkedIn, it is LinkedIn for the win, so they get all kinds of props. Well, so seriously, this has been Elizabeth, a lot of fun. I think I’ve actually learned quite a bit. It’s opened my eyes. Uh, hopefully it’s helped you. Hopefully it’s helped our listeners. Thank you for joining us, Mike, Naomi, as always.
Thank you for your, your, your, your brain power here. Uh, thanks both of you, Gary. And I, then I definitely learned from both of you today and I had a lot of fun. This is we don’t get to talk to sales very often, just casually. So this is cool. Yeah, it was a great conversation. Definitely. Thanks for having us guys.
Yeah. So thank you all who are listening, uh, as always remember to subscribe, rate, review, send us your feedback. Uh, and if you’ve got other topics for us that you think we should do, or other guests you think would be interesting for us to include feel free to reach out to, uh, Naomi, Mike, or me on slack or LinkedIn or wherever you can find us with that.
Thanks everyone. Bye.