Gaetano DiNardi, Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!
It’s Time to Accelerate!
Hey, friends. This is Andy. Welcome to Episode 729 of Accelerate! The sales podcast of record. That’s episode 729.
Let’s meet Gaetano DiNardi!
Hey, I have another excellent episode lined up for you today. Joining me as my guest is Gaetano DiNardi. Gaetano is Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva. And we’re going to touch on a lot of topics today, sales training, high turnover rate in sales, search engine optimization, and Hip hop.
Now, Gaetano, if you don’t know, has a side hustle as a hip hop artist. You can check out his videos on LinkedIn and other places. And I absolutely love this.
Look, I love sales but we have a tendency to take it too seriously and it focused too much on it. And throughout my career, my experience has been that the most successful people I’ve known are those who have also cultivated some deep expertise or deep experience in something else. Some other field completely, like music or writing, athletics, whatever. And research has borne this out as well.
David Epstein writes about this in his new bestselling book, Range. And he talks about how experts reciting research about experts in the fields typically have developed deep proficiency in some other pursuit. And it talks about Nobel Prize winners that are great artists or great musicians and so on.
But basically, it’s a lessons applies to everyone. So I think you’ll enjoy Gaetano’s story about his music career, as well some great insights about sales.
All right. Let’s jump into it. Gaetano, welcome to the show.
Hey, Andy. Thanks for having me, brother. It’s a great pleasure. I’ve been a fan and follower of yours for a while and I’m really honored to be here with you today, man. Thank you.
Well, thank you. That’s an honor to have you on the show. So before we get started at which you have this second career, may burgeoning career as a hip hop star. And you dropped some videos a couple weeks ago, music videos that you had done that’s professionally produced. So were you an aspiring artist or you’re still doing that and hoping that make your primary gig?
Yes, that’s a really good question. Thanks for bringing that one.
Hopefully, he’s hopefully saying that sincerely, but yes.
How did Gaetano DiNardi Got into Marketing?
Yes, yes man, for sure. So many people don’t know is I actually got into music at a young age and I wouldn’t be in marketing if it weren’t for my music career. So long story short, I was in the industry pretty hardcore before I was in this tech marketing world and I was producing my own beats, making videos, writing songs, and I had some pretty good accolades under my belt.
I got to work some really big artists in the game. I got on some records with Fat Joe, Shaggy, and many others that people would probably know.
I know Shaggy. I can’t say I know Fat Joe but yes.
Fat Joe is a New York legend. A Bronx, New York legend. And that’s my hood.
So yes, I was doing all that. And what I had realized that this wasn’t the kind of lifestyle that I just wanted to be doing alone. I just didn’t want to be doing this rat race style life. I wanted something that was also going to challenge my brain because music comes so effortlessly to me but the challenge with it is that there’s no path like to say from A to Z that shows you exactly what the steps are.
Inadvertently Taught SEO
So I started a music blog and I started just writing articles about companies that I didn’t think were doing ethical things. And out of nowhere, my blog was getting all this traffic and all these comments. And I knew it was getting traffic because I was getting comments from people that I had no idea who they were.
And for shits and giggles, one day I installed Google Analytics and let me see all this shit works, man. I was realizing, oh my gosh, it’s getting five thousand hits a month, all through SEO.
I stumbled backwards into it because I realized people were searching music company name, scan, or reviews. And mine was coming up for that. And I basically realized that I inadvertently taught myself SEO. And I really liked the idea of building stuff and people finding it rather than me having to go outbound and promote it.
Because in music, there’s no SEO. I can’t do, “Best Songwriter in New York” or “Best New Italian Trap Song” or something like that. No one’s really going to find it.
But with SEO, you can create things that your customers want, that your prospects want. And this was very appealing to me. I was really tired of doing all this outbound with my music stuff to try to promote it.
So long story short, I met this guy, Michael King, who is starting up an SEO agency. He was one of the top guys in SEO at the time and still is. And I was the second person hired at his agency in New York.
My test project for the job was to present the strategy behind my music. From how much did it cost to make this project? How much did you spend on ads? What are your YouTube Analytics stats looking like? How did you plan to go to market with this? What was your target audience for this, et cetera. What were the results?
Because I had put out a couple of my own albums that he saw, and he was also an independent musician at the time. Coming from a past life. So we had that in common. So he gave me a shot.
My first big project was Major League Baseball. And I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. He threw me into the deep end. Then I just figured this shit out.
And that’s where you learn?
Yes, exactly. So fast forward to present day. I’m running Demand Generation at Nextiva but it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t get my start in music. And to answer your question, do I want to make that my main gig?
A Studio Rat
I actually don’t want to be in the spotlight, or on tour, or Justin Bieber, or anything like that. I have zero desire.
Well, you’d have to dye your hair for long.
Yes, I’d have to do all that. But I have zero desire to do that.
However, what I really want to do and I don’t see it as being take over my marketing career or life but I do want to continue producing, being a studio rat, as they call it, behind the scenes kind of guy. And during my downtime, I want to be able to work with great artists, make great music. And it’s a passion of mine. And I talk very openly about it in the business world. I have nothing to hide.
And I’m starting a community called Musicians and Tech that is hopefully going to bridge the gap between the tech industry and music. So that’s where it’s at, man.
I think that besides just being fascinating, seeing somebody reach a high level with one of their passions, that’s in addition to business. I think it’s just a great lesson for people and generalist is that if you want to succeed in life, you don’t want to be single threaded, right?
There’s an increasing research coming out, books written, a recent book called Range by David Epstein talking about Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World? It’s talking about how there are people who have passions and interests that are much broader than work generally come out on top. So, a good lesson for people that are paying attention to that.
High Rate of Turnover and What’s Causing It?
The first one I want to talk about, because you worked at Sales Hacker for a while and exposed to sales community and still are, is about number of articles just recently about the high rate of turnover in sales and salespeople, sales managers, VPs average turnover as well once every 18 months, sales reps 12 to 14 months.
Yes, roughly. Extremely high. So, I’m just interested in your take on that and maybe dive onto that a little bit. What do you think is causing it?
Sure, I think a lot of times VPs of sales, sales managers, they are up against an incredible growth pressure. And if you’re in this VC-SaaS world, you’re certainly going to feel that.
And to me, it comes down like process. Like sales process is really plateauing or struggling in a way. And that VP of sales or sales manager is going to have to come up with new ways to break through some of those challenges that are happening.
And the expectations are unreasonable. And there’s misalignment with sea level. You got all the things that are ripe for this to happen even when it comes down to alignment with the marketing team. That’s another huge thing. And it all depends on what stage the company is. And, of course, all of these other things.
But I would say that some of the key things are unrealistic expectations from leadership and poor training on the front lines. That seems to be one of the biggest problems right now. People just don’t know how to sell. I see that my own company, I see it in other ways as well. And tell the marketing alignment support as well.
Unrealistic Expectations and Poor Training
All right. So let’s dive into some of those, because I think that this whole idea of unrealistic expectations and several of the things that you’re brought up is we’re caught in these vicious cycles and it becomes self reinforcing. Eighteen months is way too short of a time, realistically, for a VP to have significant lasting impact on a sales organization.
If you’re selling anything of any complexity. But that’s the way you said, that’s what the expectations are, not just flows down. It’s like, okay, well yes, we do a horrible crappy job of training our salespeople at company XYZ. But it’s not worth spending anymore because they’re all going to leave in 12 months.
But hey, they’re all going to leave in 12 months because they don’t see any opportunity for growth and not being trained and they don’t know how to do the jobs.
And it leaves them in an unfair catch-22. Like you said, it depends on the complexity of the sales cycle, the model, like my current company, now Nextiva. We’re very heavy inbound sales, inbound marketing and sales. And most of the pressure is on marketing to generate leads.
It’s on me, I’ve got to take my shit really seriously, man, because if I’m not fulfilling my leads and my responsibilities to the sales team, people aren’t going to eat out there. And of course, there’s always inefficiencies. When it comes to the inbound model, it’s really about plugging up leaky gaps and leaky buckets.
And there’s always inefficiencies in the sales side that can be fixed. But ultimately, if it’s an inbound model, guess what? Marketing, it’s your ass, mostly.
I mean, sales tone is executed, it’s like. I mean, it’s done to execute on it. I’ve never seen a marketing organization who’s battling a thousand on highly targeted qualified leads coming in. I mean it’s still casting a fairly wide net. So sales still has to do their job. Even if marketing is doing an excellent job. We’re not quite in this Utopian era where every lead coming in is a great lead. And hopefully we’ll get there at some point.
We’ll get there someday.
Inbound or Outbound Sales
As I told you, I think the ideal world for sales would be sales doesn’t have to do outbound. That inbound so good but they can spend their time actually selling.
That’s how at Sales Hacker and I’m not turning my own horn by all means. It’s a team effort. But at Sales Hacker, it was very little outbound, if any. It was all inbound referrals and events and social.
Yes. And if you can do it, great. There’s some people out there who have written books and say, oh no, a lead you develop yourself as always, could be better than an inbound lead. And there’s no data to support that at all.
Well, I was on a webinar once with a guy who made that claim. I was like, you can’t say that. He said, yes, the lead you develop yourself closes with a higher transaction value and they closed at higher rates. And I was like, no, I’ve been in sales for 40 years and I’ve closed deals from two thousand dollars to close to a hundred million dollars. And that’s just not the case.
I see what they’re coming from. I think I get what they’re trying to say with that. I think they’re trying to say that there is a correlation between the amount of effort, initiative, and accountability that you take as a rep.
The relationship and that trust that you build within that, that lead, whether or not, you, “develop it yourselves.” Like you said is up for debate.
Well, that’s a great point, though. And I think there’s such a lack of truthfulness among many taught leaders about this whole idea about how leads are generated and originated because there are times I might’ve gotten a call from a prospect, but chances are I’d called them before. Maybe they’d run into a trade show. They’d read one of our ads somewhere.
I mean, okay, where do you attribute that to? Right? There are some combination of proactive marketing and inbound. I think on a high fraction of the leads that actually turn into deals. I think if people were honest with themselves. But people have a point of view that they have to protect. So whatever.
The Key to Changing the Mindset
So this idea on turnover, let’s pursue that path. I think that’s something that’s really needs to be addressed seriously. And I don’t see companies doing it. So one is, we talk about training. I’m just interested in your opinions. Quite frank, I don’t see any company, I don’t know the whole universe of companies out there, but from Fortune 500 companies I worked with to SaaS startups and tech startups. No one does a good job. No one is really committed, in my estimation, to training and educating their sellers.
Yes. They just look at them as disposable resources. And if this one doesn’t work, I’ll go find another one.
What do you think is the key to changing that mindset with companies?
That’s monumental challenges around that.
I thought you’d be the guy to answer.
Like you said, something has to change at some point because what’s that quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Even at my company, for example, we’re starting to make training a bigger initiative now because we’re realizing that the only way we’re going to be able to really break this next layer of plateauing is by selling better.
Marketing. We don’t have to do this. But I encourage my team to do it. I do it. I’m one of the few people in marketing that do this. I listen to sales calls every day. And I’m not doing it necessarily from an audit perspective. Why do I have to call out the sales reps on everything that they’re doing poorly? But when I do come across something crazy, which I do sometimes.
This is going to be really funny but I heard a sales rep sent a call, “Hey Mr. Prospect, our CEO is a billionaire. He has plenty of money. So you don’t have to worry about us trying to just get your money. We’re much more than that.” So this is the narrative that this person is…
Yes. The Donald Trump narrative for…
Yes. Right. So this is going to make a prospect say, “Wow, this company really has the solution to my problem. Their CEO has a lot of money. Yes. Great.”
So they’re not trying to cheat me. That’s right.
When I hear things like that happening, it’s just very clear that this rep has not been trained in a very long time. They don’t have their talking points together. They don’t review their battle cards. They don’t know how to sell based on value. They don’t know how to communicate current states of future state. These are all very basic fundamental things within sales that reps just are missing.
Training and Learning
And that comes down to obviously training and management. And then, who’s training the managers is the other question. These managers need training too. They’re not just the end all be all authority on sales. I get that they’re more experienced than maybe the junior SDR or BDR that are out on the front lines.
But it’s got to be executive push. They’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee and say, we’re struggling here. We’ve got to figure out a way to, One, clean up our sales enablement content library and our ammunition that we’re giving the sales team out there on the field. That’s one part of it.
The other part of it is let’s listen to some calls. Let’s see where we’re we dropping the ball. If you have a lot of money, as a company, maybe you can deploy a tool like Gong or Chorus and start doing sales analyzation through your calls.
That way, you could try to use technology as a way to Band-Aid, some of this shit. But if you ain’t got the fundamentals right, a tool like Outreach or SalesLoft is not even going to save you.
So I think it’s got to be driven from the executive level down and they’ve got to just make it a priority and make it happen.
Yes, I mean, not to scream at that. I think that I look at slightly differently because I think that the problem is that we look at this as an issue of training versus an issue of learning. And I think that perspective is a problem, it’s almost like the perspective of saying, sales is something we do to a prospect versus something we do with them. Right?
That’s a fundamental different way of looking at sales. If you think selling is always something you do to someone, then this is where we get the stereotypical bad image of sales, right?
Sales is forcing themselves upon a prospect, whereas something we’re working on collaboratively to reach a certain outcome. Hey, that’s a different perspective. And if the seller has that perspective, that’s great.
And I think the same thing is true with managers. When I look at training, something I do twice a year. I’m going to hire Andy to come and speak in our sales kickoff event as opposed to I’m going to set aside 15, 20 minutes every single day and we’re going to either read books collectively.
I offer a service to the companies. It’s a sales team book club. The whole sales team, we read 10 books or in the year and I lead online discussion groups and so on. But they’re all engaged at a certain amount of time per day in learning.
And maybe it’s not reading a book. Maybe it’s, Hey Boss says, this week everybody listen to this podcast, featuring Gaetano and we’re going to talk about it next Monday and you have a week to listen to 30 minutes. So spend 10 minutes a day.
But we don’t emphasize learning. We emphasize this point solutions.
And to me, that seems to be the fundamental mindset change that needs to take place because one’s you’re sending a message to your sellers, hey, we’re investing in you, we’re doing something worth we think it’s hard enough to do every day as opposed to guarding the team together for three days, once a year.
You tell me, doesn’t the salesperson think that’s a different message they’re receiving from the company?
Exactly. It’s much more worthwhile to do something like you just suggested, where the team is reading some books and comes together and discusses learning and then put some of those potential learning on paper and say, what can I actually try on my next call? What can I try during my next sales cycle? What can I do to impact quota this month that I learned as a result of this book?
And the reps coming together and sharing that knowledge rather than you said going on a presidents club where they just go to the Dominican Republic and get wasted on a beach somewhere.That’s fun but…
Why I even thinking of sales kickoff meetings? I for once do presentations and sales kickoff meetings, but I’ve stopped bidding on the sales kickoff, I’ll say, okay, here’s the deal. I’ll do a sales kickoff but you have to commit, you the client, to a minimum of four webinars, that a reinforcement webinars, like every quarter will go through it.
And I’ve had clients say, yes, okay, great. So they pay me for it and I’ll come present. But they never do the following webinars. You realize that you paid for this, right? Actually one client told me, “My sales team doesn’t think sales training works.” That’s a quote from a VP of Sales Enablement, a very well-known SaaS company said, “My sales team doesn’t think sales training works.”
Which, they’re right. You shouldn’t listen to them, but it doesn’t. I thought it was interesting. He took his cue from them.
Some of you said Andy hits me pretty pretty hard, too. I remember when I was coming up hard in the marketing game. I took that extra hour a day to read blogs to attend webinars on my own time, to learn man. I have a degree in marketing, but I didn’t learn squat in school.
Well I’d say that some people think the answer these days is that the increasing number of universities are coming up with degrees in sales and it’s just like your experience with marketing. Yes, you took the courses, but you’d have to come and learn everything from scratch again.
I get to talk to a sales class at a university several months ago and less than a third of the people in the class were even intending to go into sales.
No, man, they’re just fulfilling their credit requirement or something.
Well, they’re getting a degree in it, but they don’t plan to do it. I got a degree in history. I’m not a historian, so I guess that’s fair.
So like salespeople, you’ve got to do the same thing. You’ve got to make like you said, Andy.
Learning as part of your regimen. And you’ve got to prioritize it. And it really comes down to, are you in sales just trying to get a paycheck? And that’s what I also see a lot happening nowadays.
There are People on Sales that are NOT Passionate about Selling
There’s people on sales that aren’t passionate about selling. They’re there or their customers or their prospects, they’re there because they either need a foot in the door and to some organization and they want to go lateral into some other department. They just don’t know how to get in.
Sales is always considered like that first, “barrier to entry” or they’re just there temporarily, just gone to the motions, getting a paycheck. Maybe they have some other plans for their career and future. And they’re just there, going through it but they don’t really have a desire to make sales a real career.
Yes. Or I think that they’re there just long enough to find that next better sales job. And there is a great quote I read online recently on LinkedIn. Someone was talking about how he said,
“A lot of sellers these days is after 10 years. They changed jobs so frequently that they don’t have 10 years worth of sales experience. They have 10 first years worth of sales.”
And I thought that was actually brilliant.
Hey, I’m not against people changing jobs. People criticized me for only being in jobs for two and a half, three years with startups before moving to the next one. To being criticized after I’d start my own company, I got called by big company to come in and look at the general manager job for a new division that they were starting.
The recruiter criticized me for being at my last job, too long. But I’ve seen the full cycle of things. But one year is too short. If you look at, don’t matter how transactional your sale is, but if you have anything with any sort of degree of complexity, 60, 90 day sales cycle. You don’t have enough turns out that during that time to say, yes, I know what I’m doing here.
And why you hired at the next job is beyond me. But let’s just start with that. You got to be realistic and say, look, I maybe I’m better off staying an extra year or two and really mastering what I’m doing here, because then I can take that to my next company and the track record. So, yes, now pay me even more, right? Because I’m working more hours to deliver more.
Exactly. Yes. I’m just waiting around for the next better sales job. It’s not a good way to go. I would totally recommend. Like you said, Andy, mastering one facet of sales before trying to move on and tackle the next thing. That’s how it was for me and my marketing career.
I wasn’t trying to learn social advertising, SEO, content marketing, analytics, coding, or design. I wasn’t trying to do all these things at once. I was being very, very focused on mastering one aspect of marketing at a time. And I’d say, you know, sales should follow the same path as that.
Yes, I agree. I looked back at my career, which first 25 years was working for other companies and since then for myself. But yes, I had the biggest growth opportunities and were actually grew the most and achieved the most was those instances where I showed patients and stayed.
Where it’s tempting to go. But then I was like, yes, but maybe I’m on the cusp of really learning something here, which is what my motivation was. Wasn’t all the money is about working. What’s the situation I’d be in? I could really learn something and somebody I can learn something from, in terms of a boss and so on.
And when I got on, I stayed. I stayed an extra two years in some cases and once case extra three or four years. Yes, the payoff was huge.
Look for Interesting Things You Can Do
Exactly. One tip I’ll leave for your audience listening is, if you’re in one of these like junior roles in sales right now, or even mid-level and you’re just kind of like you need something to look forward to in order to stay longer. One thing I’ve always thought about is like, what can I publicize about what I’m doing right now? What kind of case studies can I produce on myself?
So personal brand development.
Yes, exactly. So you can take, hey, my last 60 day sales cycle, I was doing all this. This is my process. And now for this 60 day sales cycle, I’m trying something completely different. Here’s what the outcomes where on process A versus process B that I tried. Maybe I mixed up my sales and cadence mix a little bit differently on this cycle order, or whatever the case may be.
Look for interesting things that you can do, experiment wise, that you can document and share with the world, because it’s gonna give you something to look forward to and it’s going to give you some personal accountability to challenge yourself and say, I’ve got to put out this super kick ass case study that LinkedIn community is going to appreciate.
Then I can hit up somebody like Andy Paul and say, hey, Andy, can I be on your podcast? et cetera. So tie the brand building back to it because you won’t just be some soulless person, not a SaaS company trying to sell shit. You’ll be somebody that has some kind of project that is tied to their role and their personal brand that they can be proud of. Share with the world and it’s going to make things a little bit more interesting.
Well, I think there’s a lot of lot of wisdom in that for people. And this is obvious in other topics, very controversial because people, again, certain “experts” saying, look, salespeople should never be creating content that should just be selling.
The LinkedIn Profiles
And you’re laughing at that but I happen to agree with you. I think that if you’re in sales, when I got a call from a salesperson about anything. Usually I’m still on the phone and I’m on their LinkedIn profile.
I want to know if they have a point of view about something or if they’re, as you said, they’re just some nameless drones somewhere and was banging phone calls. And if somebody actually has a point of view, they have a personality and they bring that to the work.
Well, I think that’s hugely important. I second what you talked about. I think if you’re an individual contributor, that you need to be thinking about this idea about building your brand, because it is a differentiator.
You as a sales totally are still the front line of differentiation, more so than your product and service goes, hey, most of them are commodities.
So what are you doing to make yourself different in the eyes of your buyers and a lot of that will take place when you’re face to face like we are here over video or actually in person, heaven forbid. But you have to do something to make yourself stand out. It doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a task if you really, as your point earlier, if you really are passionate about what you’re doing.
Yes, exactly, buyers like me I’ll tell you, I’m a technology buyer, so I’m really good at giving the buyers perspective to your audience. I’m sure most of your audience is sellers, but I can give you a really good take on a buyer’s perspective. When you put Demand Generation in your title on LinkedIn, it’s like there’s blood out there, and the sharks, and the vultures, they’re swooping down to get you.
And I get pitched a lot, man. I probably get 50 to 100 pitches a month in that range, which is a lot. And it’s pretty high. And I’ve taken very few meetings. But buyers like me, what I will do in the salesperson hits me up. If the outreach is decent, like first of all, if it’s automated in any way, I will automatically delete it. I don’t care.
The only way I wouldn’t is if it was the perfect timing for something I needed right then and it was the highest priority. But that never happens. When does that ever happen? That you better get so lucky as a salesperson if that happens, right? That never happens most of the time. No one’s out there looking for your solution. It’s not a need. It’s your interruptive, et cetera.
If it’s a halfway decent piece of outreach that is personalized, it’s not automated, and it’s something I need and it’s somewhere on my priority list. I at least give their LinkedIn profile a look, like you said. And if that LinkedIn profile has no personality, they’re not sharing content, they’re not contributing to threads.
They don’t have a picture which is just crazy. It still stuns me ‘til today. The number of salespeople, they send me something, they send me a pitch, I look at the link on the profile and one of two faults as far as I’m concerned, one is it’s too highly produced photo. A glamor shot either male or female and or there’s no photo at all. I don’t need a prom picture. Just who are you?
I think all companies should require reps before they get out there on the field to have a LinkedIn profile makeover. It’s not hard.That should be part of the requirement.
You shouldn’t have a profile that just states your past roles, and no picture with no descriptions under the rolls. You should have at least all star level as LinkedIn tries to correct completeness on your profile because it does make a difference.
Buyers like me are really want to check for credibility and see if we can trust you and if you’re legit. So we’re going to look at your profile and any little thing that stands out as weird or not. This person doesn’t seem legit. They have too many buzzwords in their headline like lead generation expert, and lion which I don’t know what that means.
I said that all the time and it always makes me skeptical.
Yes. Makes me skeptical, like, you know, whatever. And another thing I really hate is if I see in the description, just like a bunch of bullet points that go to market strategy accomplishments. And all these robotic things. But it doesn’t actually have a story. I just say, this person’s pride, a bogus, doesn’t seem legit. They’re trying way too hard to seem credible. I’ll pass.
Authenticity is Important
Summing up some of these and we’re reaching end of time. But this is, authenticity is really really important. And this is something that just we’d mentioned earlier. Just be you. Right? But also, you’re big on this. Yes. Because I think the reason I’m big on it because contrary to a lot of people I firmly believe, and my experience has shown me, the experience of many others I worked with, worked with a show, is that we as individuals, we are the difference makers in sales.
It doesn’t matter how great a tool you’re selling and there’s some occasions, maybe you get lucky or working for some unicorn where the product is “flying off the shelves.” But you know, maybe we all get fortunate once in a while to work for a company like that. But the rest of time working for something we actually have to sell, right? And so we have to go out and sell. It’s about you. This old adage about the customer buys you. Yes. That is still largely true.
I agree. 100 percent, dude. Our inbound model right now proves that. Right?
A lot of the leads are the same. They come from the same sources. If a lead came from this one affiliate source, we have a couple affiliate sources and we have a few affiliates that are really high quality leads. Iif they’re coming from this source that they’re ready, like they want to be sold to, they’re ready to go.
And like you said, it comes down to the individual. One individual with that lead may crush it. Another individual may totally bomb and at the same level of interest came from the same source, same timeline, the same decision maker profile, right? And like you said, it comes down to the individual. Sometimes, the individual just misses the bar, misses the mark. And that just what happens.
Well, I think this is another reason why I’m so focused on this idea of learning versus training. Is that training is really an attempt in almost all cases is to take square pegs and fit them into round holes and to make everybody somewhat the same, right? I want to be the McDonald’s of sales. I want all the buyer experience to be identical from all my sales people.
And the fact is, it’s just not gonna happen because sellers are human. They’re individuals. So the thing has to be the best version of yourself. Take this learning and develop your own skills, your own capabilities, your own personality, your own strengths and weaknesses.
And unfortunately, it really that makes, especially in sectors like SaaS, that makes the sales managers really nervous because they’re driving everything by the metrics. And if they’re drawn by the metrics, like I need you to act this way to get this done. Don’t act on your own.
And the key to success in sales is being the best version of yourself. It doesn’t have to be the same person.
I had one client who actually has running sales on a fractional basis for a few years with one client and hugely successful inbound. This was a fairly technical products of 35, 60K combination hardware, software and test equipment. Their number one salesperson was pathologically shy.
But he was himself and he was credible and he knew the product. He knew the customers and knew how they used it inside and out. He could do a credible discovery. And yes, I could pass them by the hall. Well, the fourth year working at the company, we could pass the hall and he couldn’t say hi to me because he was so shy. But man, he’s a rock star of sales.
And if you’d interviewed him, you would never, in a million years, have hire him in sales. We brought more from engineering inside the company. But there’s no one template for success. You’re building your personal brand. That means YOU.
Variance in Sales
I have one question for you, Andy. Maybe before we sign off here. I was thinking about this a lot. I have a really strong friend in sales. He’s a strong seller. I won’t name him or come out. He’s also a poker player. And he has this notion that sales is a lot like poker in that there’s variance in sales. Just like there’s variance in poker.
So he feels like, you may be an 80 percent favorite to win a deal, for example, and sometimes you just get the bad beat you don’t flap the knots or whatever you want to call it, whatever that means.
And put in poker terms, it’s like you flop the set or something like that or you’ve got a really good flop that benefits you and puts you in a favorite position. But the way he broke it down the other day was that, sometimes you may have pocketed Kings and you may lose the pocket Aces on the river, even though you were the favorite the whole time.
He says, sales is the same way that there’s variance in sales. And you’re just going to go through these times where deals are going to get ripped out from under you at the last minute and with maybe minimal explanation as to why deals could fall through the cracks at any moment. There’s nothing you can do about it and you played your hand perfectly. Do you agree with this or do you disagree? That’s what he thinks.
Well, I sort of agree. I’ve talked before about deals that I’ve lost that I thought we had won. And to your example, to serve at the last minute then and in retrospect, when you go back and analyze it’s like, yes, okay.
So here’s one deal. We’re selling a huge media company. We are going against an incumbent for a huge satellite network. And yes, we were the best solution by far. And then we are told actually pretty conclusively we’re going to get the deal and then we didn’t.
At the end, the decision makers decided I guess they’d been playing us all along. It seemed like, to get a ticket, to get a better deal out of their incumbent. We probably should’ve found that out. We thought we had asked. We thought we had found out. We thought we’d done everything we thought we could. Clearly, we hadn’t done. There could be more we’ve done.
But that’s a great lesson. Things happen that are out of your control. But yes, you can only do the best of your ability. The thing is, how do you get better? Right? How do you take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them in the future so that situations like that don’t arise again? And the fact is they will. Right?
You’re dealing with human beings. And human beings are not completely predictable. And this is what drives me nuts about so much of what people on project about sales. Especially, we have a whole book called Predictable Revenue. Yes, maybe it’s certain transactional things have been predictable, but overall can be predictable.
Individual transactions aren’t necessarily, you can just do the best you can do. The key is getting better so that you narrow the range of uncertainty. And I think that’s really the mark of a good salesperson. You’re narrowing that range of uncertainty in the deals and opportunities you’re working. Never completely goes away.
And I’ve had sellers work for me. They’ve done fabulous jobs on deals that were big deals. That were important deals that we should have got. That something happened at the last minute that was unpredictable. It could’ve been cast as an earnings report that was unexpected. The company was caught by surprise. So, fortunately just delayed it for six months as opposed to completely derailing it. But those things happen.
So, yes, I think it’s what’s really important for sellers is to be aware of the fact and be sensitive to the fact that these things can happen. I said through experience, through learning, as I’m sure your friend does, he’s paying close attention to this. These potential variances, that potential variables that could affect the outcome and do what you can to work against it.
Exactly. And I think the final point on that is don’t just throw your hands up in the air if you’re a salesperson and say, oh there’s variances and nothing we can do.
I like how you said it, narrow the variant potential there. Yes, the range of uncertainty. Exactly. Become better and learn and do your best. And up your skills and narrow that gap as much as possible.
Well, I think part of that too is that one the areas were letting sellers down these days and I say we collectively I like to think I’m helping him in this regard is there’s not enough emphasis placed on winning and there’s a lot of emphasis on the process.
And if we just execute the process, we’re going to close X number X percentage of our deals as opposed to saying. Well, let’s start with the assumption we’re going 100 percent and work backwards. Right? And teach and educate ourselves about the things that it takes to actually win a piece of business.
And there’s very little consciousness I find among sellers about things that they do deliberately to help them actually win. And I think part of this. I just talked about this is not really seeing themselves on this continuum of continually getting better. Right? And being able to narrow that range of uncertainty and do the things that win, that’s really important.
I wrote about this yesterday in my email, it goes up to my subscribers, you get a point where you can learn how to sell savagely well. I just love that expression I saw.
The expression is just want to be completely determined to learn how to do it incredibly well. You’re not gonna win every deal still, but you’re going to a much higher fractional. And that’s really what it’s all about.
So, yes. To that point, we’ve got a guy next to you that we call the Buzzer Beater and this guy always hits quarter at the last minute or like a last day. I listen to his tonality. I listen to some of his calls from the earlier part of the month compared to the end. Dude, if you can have this level of focus and intensity at the beginning of the month compared to the end, you would smash it every single time.
Why is it at the end of the month?
You’re calling people and they’re not ready to purchase cue or they said that they need more time. You follow up with them and then they say, I just don’t think I’m ready to make a decision right now. I think I may even go with a competitor. I think I’m good right now. Thank you very much.
And this guy is able to fight through that and close it. When they clearly said, no, I’m not interested and I think I’m going to go somewhere else. He is able to do it.
So ask him. Ask him this question. So when he was in college, when did he write his term papers?
That’s a good one.
Right? If you wrote your term papers the night before they were due, then you got to answer your question. Why he always hit at the last week of the month.
He’s the Last-minute Larry
He just puts it off. And he can’t get motivated until the stakes are really high. And I have to admit, I was sort of that same guy myself in college. Saw a little bit of procrastinate or do things at the last minute. And I probably did some of that and sales as well. But yes, it’s you can find out it’s worth knowing if he’s that way then. Yes. Then he can be coached to say let’s work on this because this is not something that can’t be changed.
And what he’s doing in this case, that he’s leaving everything at the last minute as if he had maybe level loaded the activity in his activity is intensity. Maybe he could be one point one or one point to X, what he’s doing now. Right. Because clearly he has the capability. So coaching opportunity for your VP of sales.
Wrapping Up The Episode
All right. Well, Gaetano wants to do this again, because I know we didn’t get everything we want to talk about, but this has been fun.
It did. It’s been awesome. I always love talking to you. I love that it’s a two way combo. And I always pick up little gems and nuggets from you. I mean, it’s been a pleasure, man.
Oh, it’s been a lot of fun. Well, first of all tell people where they can get in touch with you. And then also tell them where they can see your music.
Yes man. And so, LinkedIn. You can see it all. It’s all there. So just hit me up on LinkedIn.
Maybe the only music video on LinkedIn I think.
There are some people are trying to do it. But they can’t quite do it the way you boy does it. Just search me on LinkedIn, Gaetano DiNardi, and you’ll see it on my content, articles I’ve written, SEO stuff, content sales enablement and of course, music videos. Check it out.
Perfect. All right. Gaetano, thank you very much.
Thanks, Andy. Have a good night, man.
Okay, friends. That was Accelerate! for the week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me. And I also want to thank my guests, Gaetano DiNardi. That was so much fun.
So join me again next week as my guest, Chris Spurvey. Chris is the author of It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-set. As well, CEO of Chris Spurvey Consulting. And Chris and I would talk about personal growth in sales, how to effectively build relationships, how to experiment, to develop a sales style that works for you and the steps you need to take to become the very best version of you.
So be sure to join us then. Now, before you go, don’t forget to check out The Sales House. The Sales House is my personal growth training platform for B2B sellers just like you, personal growth and professional development, all in one place.
So for more information, visit TheSalesHouse.com. Look forward to seeing you there. All right. Thanks again for joining me. Until next week. I’m your host, Andy Paul. Good selling, everyone.