The more flashy tools and tips there are, the more the fundamentals become critical.
It doesn’t matter how great your tool stack is, if you don’t get the basics right.
In fact, nailing the foundations to sales can help you stand out now, more than ever.
In this episode of the B2B Rebellion, Bryan Tucker, Mid-Market Sales Manager at Gong, outlines three fundamentals that every salesperson should follow.
Learn why it’s critical to:
Andy: Hey, guys, welcome back to another episode of the B2B Rebellion. Super happy to have somebody on today from a company that's getting a lot of news at the moment. So, I've got Bryan Tucker from Gong with me here.
Bryan is their leading mid-market sales there over at Gong, and super happy to have your on, man. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about what Gong do and what you do? What's your focus? Where's your head at the moment?
Bryan Tucker: Yeah, totally, Andy. It's a pleasure to be here, excited to chat with you today. So, Gong, for those of you that don't know, is a revenue intelligence platform, and really what we do is we help business leaders, sales leaders operate based off the reality of what's happening in their business rather than opinions. So we capture customer-facing conversations across email, across video, across phone, and really break it down into information that leaders can actually digest so they can coach their teams more effectively and they know what the heck's going on in their pipeline, and they can win more deals.
So it's really a pleasure to be here. I've been at Gong for about 2 1/2 years, started as one of the first three sales reps, and am now leading our mid-market sales team, so it's been an exciting time the past 2 1/2 years seeing all the growth.
Andy: The past 3 1/2 weeks have been exciting, mate, from what I've been seeing. Go on, tell us the news. Go on.
BT: You're making me blush, Andy. So yeah, we raised $200 million at a $2.2 billion valuation. Certainly unexpected from my seat. I think it's a huge validation of what we're doing in the marketplace and really what our customers are getting from the product, the value that's being created.
Wish I could be in the office celebrating with the team around it, unfortunately, being here in the States, haven't done the best job managing the Coronavirus, so we're all still working here remotely, but yeah, super validating, super excited about it, and I appreciate the callout.
Andy: What are you telling your guys at the moment, and what's working well for you?
BT: Yeah, so obviously, it's been an interesting year, and there's a lot of noise out in the marketplace. I think one of the most important things that sales leaders and sales reps today can really do is simply get back to the basics.
I think from time to time, as sales reps, as sales leaders, we try to do too much. We try to make really simple things more complicated than they really have to be. And when I think about what the top reps do on my team, and really what makes an effective sales presentation really click and really work, it's not always all of the sophisticated language and amazing demo. It's the simple stuff, like, preparing for calls. Knowing who you're gonna meet with, who their competitors are, what is the outcome that you're driving for in that conversation, and it's things like saving 10 minutes at the end of the conversation to talk about next steps, to educate, and being prescriptive on the buying process, and handling any objections that get up.
So really my first and foremost thing is, don't over-complicate stuff. Do the simple sales things that you know work, and don't over index just because it's a different world today. There are a lot of bad sales reps out there, and if you do the basic stuff well, you're gonna stand out.
Andy: For sure. Like, I'll just stop you on that point for a couple of seconds because there is nothing worse than sitting on a demo for an hour and it to be un-personalized, the person hasn't done their research.
Like, I was on a demo last week, and the sales rep got the name of the company wrong three times, you know? So... And it got like... So in his position, to be fair, the software is so good that we'll probably go for it, but that's not the norm, you know, in that the software did the selling itself
But we, the company... He referred to the company as Leadfinder... We're Leadfeeder. Leadfinder, over and over and over again, so much that we were taking the piss afterwards. I took a screen shot of the website and replaced all the Leadfeeders with Leadfinders and shared it with the team.
BT: Well, and, Andy, you must be sitting there, like every time he says that or she says that, you're like, "Dude, are you kidding me?"
Andy: Yeah, exactly.
BT: Did you correct them? Did you correct them?
Andy: So I should have, I should have, I really should have, but I didn't 'cause I... The problem was that he kept saying it and then talking for it, and I didn't wanna stop him and be like, "Hey, listen, man, you might wanna just get the name of the company right there."
As a prospect, you wanna feel... You shouldn't have to do that, first and foremost. It's interesting, and just on the research part as well, I had another situation in the past week or so where we were interviewing, and the person that we were interviewing clearly didn't do any research, and it was for a sales role, so I was involved. I was involved in the interview for that, and one of the things was... How I knew there was no research done was, "Hey, I'm not sure from a marketing perspective what you guys are doing, if you do any video content or webinars," and I was like, "That's like we're all over the Internet with that stuff, man." And then I said, "So we've got a couple of people on the call today, like a CMO, me being the CMO. So tell me what research you've done on me. What's important to me?" And then he was like, "Oh."
And it's so simple. Find out who're you're talking to. Like little things like, "Okay, what makes this person tick?" You hit the nail on the head there, just do your research beforehand, prep for the calls, make sure you have a follow-up process. And when you're on the call, try to relate to the person.
BT: Totally. Be a human. You're selling to other humans. So much of life is like sales. Just be normal. Don't make it weird.
Andy: Exactly, exactly.
BT: On the point about interviewing... So we took a little pause in the midst of the Corona, we just wanted to see how things played out, luckily, it's actually created massive tailwinds for our business, given everyone working remotely.
We're really fortunate to be in that spot, but we just ramped up interviewing and hiring again this past month, and it's astonishing to me the number of people that simply don't write me a follow-up email and I'm like, "I'm being so... I'm hiring sales reps. You're running a sales process against me, selling yourself. What's going on?"
Andy: You are... You should be closing.
BT: Every time.
Andy: So, how do you close a sale... If you can't close yourself, how are you gonna close a sale for a product?
BT: Oh my gosh. That... Sorry, Andy, going on a tangent here, but...
Andy: Keep going, keep going. It's good.
BT: My favorite is when someone at the end of the interview asks... I like to be closed, number one, so I want you to ask that question. So did anything happen today or would anything prevent you from moving me to the next step? And I wanna throw some objections and see how they handle it.
My favorite thing that people tend to do is they say, "Alright, can you tell me about next steps?" And I tell them about the next steps, and then I just sit there, waiting for them to close me, and then they kinda just sit there and they're like, "Alright, well, should I follow up with you next week?" I'm like, "Yeah, sure, if you want. You just lost two points, but... "
Andy: There's no coming back from that, in my mind either, because... You don't have a feel for it. So, there's people, I think, that are either, salespeople or claim to be salespeople. And those that claim to be salespeople, do not close a conversation. They don't close.
Andy: Couldn't agree with you more. And that's a really important point as well when hiring, because there will be a lot of opportunity brought out of this as well. Look at yourselves, you guys are hiring, but there will be a lot more demand in the marketplace... Demand for a salesperson's perspective to look for employment, right? So when you get the opportunity to interview, you need to go in there and close. Be closing the entire time.
BT: I don't think many people have realized that, but you bring up a great point. Our hiring standards have gone through the roof because in the last two weeks, we've gotten 300 applicants. And we always tried to hire super top talent, but right now I'm literally drowning in resumes and it's enabling me to look at pretty good people and say a hard no, because you didn't come across as great, and I don't mean to sound that ruthless, but it's economics, supply and demand.
Andy: That's fair. I think there's as well... I think sometimes in that role, there can be a bit of hunger lost as well, and that to me, that somebody that doesn't close properly or doesn't ask you, "Okay, What have I... " The question that you asked before, "What's stopping you from making a decision right now?" That question asked by an interviewee, somebody that's being interviewed, shows that the hungers there, that they want the next step. Somebody that's asking you the question, "Hey, what are the next steps here?" A little bit of hunger lost there.
BT: Totally. And then it's easy... Again, it's sales, you're hiring for a sales role. I'm just gonna make the assumption that these are your natural tendencies that are then demonstrated in front of customers, so...
Andy: Never assume, never assume a thing. That's the number one rule.
BT: Healthy paranoia.
Andy: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Okay, sorry, keep going man. You've got a couple of more tips there, I guess.
BT: Yeah, so I think the second thing that I talk to my team a lot about, and that I think about a lot, is really just being disarmingly honest, which is a Sandler-ism, in your sales process, with yourself, with your customers or your prospective clients.
I feel like in sales, it's really easy to get happy ears, and it's really easy to ask questions in a way that sets you up not to receive bad news. Asking people like, "Why the heck should you buy this now? Why wouldn't you invest this money elsewhere?" Or, "Under what circumstances can we get this deal done next week?" The answer to those questions might be like, "Yeah, you're right, we shouldn't buy this now," or "There's no way in hell that we're gonna get this done next week."
But when you ask questions like that, you get a real sense of where an opportunity or where a deal is at, and it's not about just getting good news, it's about understanding the reality of just where you're at. So whether it's customer-facing, whether it's you with your opportunities putting together a forecast, be disarmingly honest with yourself, so that you can put the right energy into the right things and be successful in the longterm.
Andy: That's very good advice, man. I think a lot of salespeople struggle, especially early on in their career to qualify out. That's an art in itself, just to be able to say, "Okay, I know what... I know which questions to ask in this specific moment of time to know if this person's actually willing to buy or not, or just here kicking the tires."
Andy: Which I guess you guys are getting a huge amount of at the moment, just based on the news and everything. A lot more interest in the company. Just had 300 people have applied for jobs, I guess you're getting a ton of demo requests, inbound traffic, a ton of tire-kickers just saying, "Hey, what are these guys doing exactly, actually just to get that much publicity, you know."
BT: Yeah, you hit that right on the head. When you have a strong product that people enjoy or a value prop that people latch on to, it's really easy to get stuck with a lot of the wrong people and waste an inordinate amount of time and the most important, valuable resource that you have is your very... Is your time.
So the more you can act independently wealthy, the more emphasis you put on having people prove to you that they should work with you, of course, in a customer-centric way, but being prescriptive with processes, and if they're not opting in, backing off and saying, "Look, let's revisit this in three months," the better spot you're gonna be in.
It's a hard thing to do when you've got a quota and you're trying to make things happen, but the best reps have a lot of confidence, and frankly as you gain that confidence and you know where deals stand and you've hopefully got a good manager, someone's not gonna be on your back for not making each and every month, as long as you're making up for it the next month or the next quarter.
Andy: That's the thing. On every sales team, there's always that one rep that always put forward pipeline where you're like, "Okay, I just don't believe that." But every leader, every sales leader absolutely hates it. You don't wanna be that guy...
BT: Yep. Close it now.
Andy: You don't wanna be that person, because it's like the boy who cried wolf. You keep on coming to me and saying, "Oh, they're getting warmer. This million dollar deal that I've got in the pipe, it's coming, it's coming in right, and it's coming next quarter, and it's coming the... " Like, you earn a bad reputation there.
BT: And it goes beyond the reputation because it's... As a rep, you're mismanaging your time and then you're wasting your manager's time asking questions and doing deal strategy around things that aren't real. And frankly, one thing... So I've been a leader for a year.
My team has grown from four to six to 10. Just promoted one of my reps to become our second manager in marketing Gong, and one of the things that I need to get better at so that I stay sane is just telling someone, "No, I'm not gonna help you with that, because that's not real." Because I've found myself wasting too much time giving strategy to stuff that like, "Hey, look, there's two boxes on the exit criteria for the last stage that you did not check. Do that and then let's talk about it. There's really no point in diving deep until we've actually accomplished that."
Andy: For sure. It's also about making your boss look good as well. You don't wanna make your boss look bad because essentially what will happen is you get someone on your team getting excited about a deal, you trust people that you've hired, and if they're getting super excited about a deal, and it's a deal like a nice hefty one, you're gonna be communicating that further, and if you communicate that further, and it turns into dust, then you're gonna be the one in a problem scenario, less likely the one that's on your team, so...
BT: One hundred percent. And soft promotion, Gong helps you understand the reality, so luckily that doesn't happen too much, but...
Andy: There you go.
Look at that product placement. That was Coca-Cola style product placement there. Coca-Cola, as an '80s movie product placement. That's good. That's good.
BT: Here, we've got our own version of the polar bear, too. Here's Bruno.
Andy: That's amazing, man. How do we get our hands on one of those guys? I need to have a chat with you afterwards. I need to get a couple of those in here.
BT: Yeah, we'll send you a package, Andy.
Andy: Thanks, man. Much appreciated. Okay, so you've got another point that you'd like to share as well, mate, right?
BT: Yeah, just in thinking about this, again through the lens of what the best people seemingly do naturally. Look, we are operating in a world that's different, like a lot has changed. Don't over index, but recognize that the market is different. We're not in this just hyper growth, everyone's spending money and not thinking about it, because there's a lot of uncertainty out there, and I think it's improving, but there's gonna be some economic ripples here for quite a while, particularly in places like the United States, where we've genuinely mismanaged this entire epidemic.
So one of the things that I think is really important is to just genuinely be curious about what other people are doing across your organization, across your team, and emphasize in learning from them. There are new plays, new messages, new objections, things that we have to adapt to as sellers. So I think now, more than ever, it's really important to understand what your peers are doing, and to continue to invest in learning, in honing your specific craft and skills that pertains to your organization, so that as you get hit with things that you're not accustomed to handling as a sales rep, like you've got a quiver of different plays or arrows that you can deploy as needed.
Andy: Sure. I fully agree the need for learning, the constant upscaling on the job as much as possible. Sometimes that's facilitated by companies. The better the company, typically the more facilitation is there. A lot of the time though, you see that reps are just sort of left to themselves and then they get a whipping when things don't work out.
And it also happens with a lot of junior reps, so let's take the BDR or SDR position. A lot of the time those guys, they're either sinking or swimming without enough... Well, enough support really. I think of SDRs as probably having the toughest role of any organization, which has been given to normally junior people, and at the same time, probably one of the most important jobs in an organization because if you don't have SDRs, you won't get pipeline 'cause...
BT: One hundred percent.
Andy: 'Cause pipeline won't happen without meetings being booked, and typically, the SDRs are the ones that are down to book the meetings and hand it then over to an account executive. Right. But the problem that I've encountered that myself is that you need to go and learn yourself.
So you as a leader, you've been promoted to a leader in the past year. Prior to that, you were at Gong. I guess Gong has a good program there for helping people learn and so on. What areas are you going to do your own self-learning and so on?
BT: Yeah, so I think one of the biggest assets that any organization has are the top sellers at that organization in terms of just from a learning perspective. So as a rep, I encourage you to spend time with those top reps. Sit in on their calls, ask them questions.
Obviously from time to time, you've got those lone wolf reps that are just kind of like on a mission on their own and you're not gonna access them, but a lot of sales reps... Like, there is team camaraderie. They do wanna help their peers. They want to win as a team, if there's any semblance of a healthy culture at the organization.
So ask people for their time, get involved in their deals in terms of a shadowing perspective, sit in on calls. If you have something like Gong, set a target of how many calls you wanna listen to per week from other top reps at the organization. The information is there, and frankly, as a leader, invest in...
Emphasize peer-to-peer learning, emphasize collaboration, and do things that force that. One of the things that I do at Gong is my team does a peer-to-peer coaching exercise each and every week. So I pair two reps up, I assign a random top... Not a random topic, but something that's top of mind, and I have reps to listen to one another's calls and give feedback on them.
And at the end of the week, we review a couple of them as a team during our team meeting. And what it does is it creates a ton of leverage around all of this tribal knowledge, learning and everything I'm trying to reinforce across the team, or frankly makes my life easier as opposed to trying to do all the learning myself.
Andy: For sure. That makes 100% sense. And just something that you touched on there and reaching out... If you don't have the facilitation there to be able to use a tool like Gong, for example, like to reach out to those top performing reps, especially if you're a junior, and ask them, "Hey, I wanna learn from you. I wanna be able to see how you do it so that I can help, and then I can also deliver more meetings to you."
So the best sales reps that I've come across, see that as an opportunity for themselves as well, because they see it in a way where they're like, "Okay, this is a hungry SDR coming to me, wanting to learn from me about how they can add more bookings or meetings booked into my pipeline. Of course, I'm gonna wanna help." So that's an another area. So if you're an SDR or a junior, just remember that the sales reps as well, by them teaching you, you're also helping them.
BT: Absolutely, and it goes all the way up the food chain. If you wanna become a manager, doing manager-esque things prior to becoming a manager... That's just what one of my reps who just got promoted, that's what she did for a year.
Two out of the three reps on my team who are the top reps would spend hours and hours with people over the course of the week to help them just because they know that it's the right thing to do in terms of making the organization more successful. The other one, is just like a lone wolf. He's great and he's gonna do great things, but he's gonna go close million dollar contracts rather than help everyone else close 500K contracts.
Andy: That's the thing, that's the thing. And in the long term... I should say lone wolves have their place, but are they really...
BT: It's okay, yeah.
Andy: It's okay, they have their place, but it's... They're also part of the ecosystem, let's say.
BT: You need a healthy mix.
Andy: Exactly, exactly. Look, we're coming right to the end of this Bryan. But just before we finish up, where can people find you and where can they find Gong?
BT: Yeah, so I'm on LinkedIn, Bryan D Tucker on LinkedIn. Gong, we're all over LinkedIn, encourage you to follow our content and check out the Gong Labs. Devin puts out a bunch of awesome content related to actual sales conversations and data from sales interactions that people absolutely love and find a lot of value in. So I encourage you to check us out online.
Andy: Fantastic, I'll definitely be checking that out myself. As I said, I love the content that you guys are pushing out. As a marketer, I've been back and forth a little bit with Duddy, just getting some tips from him as well, because the work that you guys are doing are super.
But yeah, Bryan, it's been really nice speaking with you man. It's been a good discussion and look, all the best, mate, I'm sure you'll find a way to spend that 200 million.
BT: We're gonna give divvy it up 200 ways and we're gonna put our hat... We're gonna put tickets in the hat and see who wins.
Andy: Raffle it off, man. It's the best way to grow.
BT: I appreciate it, Andy, it's been a pleasure.
Andy: Thanks, man.