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  • Writer's pictureBrian Burns


Hey, Brian can hear me? Yes I can. How are you doing? Fantastic. I'm good. Thank you. How are you? Excellent. Getting settled. One of the beloved in my conference room.

I'm here and ready to roll. Cool. I'm getting a little bit of an echo. Do you ever, uh, earbuds bunny chance? I do have earbuds. It's still an echo right now. Oh No, I'm in my room is too big. Or you talking into the earbuds. Is it picking them up or is it still picking up the computer? I can. I'm on headphones. Do you want me to try the uh, without headphones? I can't imagine any better, but I can try. I'm just wondering if, uh, it's recognizing the headphones or. Oh Gosh. Selection over on the lefthand side bottom. I'm very familiar. I do the same thing on most of my sales calls. They're like, I can the text box, I can hear you, but you can't hear me. It's like the audio thing in the top left.

Well, tell you what, this is the best I can do. So was it clear when I was in the phone booth, I just jumped back there. Oh no, it's fine. I just wanted to check with you. It usually takes a second or two for everything to settle in. Okay. Well, yeah. The, I'm in a, I got headphones on. I'm in a quiet room. Excellent. Uh, any questions before we dive in? I mean, it's all about, you know. Sure. I will keep it conversational with no expectations. Excellent. Much like a sales call. Right? Exactly. Cool. I'm ready if you are. Yeah, let's do it. Here we go. Hey Devin, thanks for joining us. Today is a way of getting started. Tell us about yourself. Absolutely. Uh, my name is Devin. I'm account executive That's all you have to say. I've been in SAS sales for about five years now.

They also do some freelance, a go to market messaging as well. Cool. How'd you get into sales? Uh, good question. Um, probably like most people, I'm somewhat accidentally. I graduated college from Sac State, Sacramento State, and I had three options I could go into teaching, continue my teaching career and get that certification. I had an option to go into like an entry level job at a, at a Sacramento, the state government. Uh, and then I had an opportunity to do an entry level role at clearslide for folks that know. Um, and so I said, hey, I'm young, I've got the shot, why don't I go big and see if I can make it happen in the city? Uh, and it's, uh, it worked out well. I got into sales about a month, two months later into a closing role and never looked back. Cool. And Oh, so you were on the success side.

Was like an interesting type of hybrid role of essentially, uh, clearslide had like a, you know, a pilot, a program. They do trials and whatnot. So what they do, they had us some entry level folks essentially calling into companies like twitter a, you know, that active pilots and say, Hey Brian, how's it going? You know, so you haven't logged in in a while. How can I teach you some tips and tricks on clearslide? Yup. Cool. And you, when you say you skipped over the SDR function, it's funny, I get asked that a lot. Um, but it's interesting. So it wasn't a closing role but it was 100 percent self sourced. Okay. So I was my own bdr and my own age, didn't know anything from anything and figured it out on the fly. The learning curve was sharp, but luckily it didn't last too long. Cool.

And ever since then you've been on the accounting side, is that true? Yeah, exactly. I think the next couple of jobs we're also more mostly self sourcing, so I've kind of worn that hat for awhile. Um, and then I made my way over to which had quite a marketing machine, so it's kind of more like on a 50 slash 50 basis. And so yeah, kind of over the years starting to be a little more little more away from Sdr and more towards the larger complex sales cycles. Cool. And what's it like today? Do you have a str is now or is it still 50 slash 50? What's it look like for you? Yeah, absolutely. So Gong is a rocket ship and making a lot of noise in the space, which is great from the, uh, you know, marketing interests. So I would say right now it's probably around 80 slash 20, just like any good sales person, the more you self source, you know, the bigger number at the end of the quarter.

So I, I definitely still keep that close to her and still make those practices and in what's the sale like because I got to imagine that parts of it are easy because it's interesting and it's new, but then other parts are difficult because it's new. Exactly. Yeah, that's very fair. I think yeah, there's two, there's two things. There's, I know exactly what gung is maybe had been following, you know, Chris Orlov and the Gong labs, uh, for shameless plug there, but honestly really great content. Um, so those people are pretty hot to trot as the tournament goes and I'm very interested. The other I would say is, you know, the cold, no idea that this type of technology exists. I had no idea what it is, how I would use it, so it has the typical, you know, education aspect to it as well. But I would think, you know, the sales cycle, just like probably most sas salespeople where it's, you surely have a cool product ready by wouldn't have gotten funding. Ideally the key is just finding it, finding it a priority list and making sure you're a part of it. So taking it from a nice to have to a must have is that. I think that's, I would argue that that's definitely what we're, what we're doing a cool and shiny and then there's, yeah, the cool and shiny that I must have today.

Who are you targeting? Is At vps of sales? Is it sales enablement? Is it? Yeah, I would say are are a buyer percentage. Would you go for your destiny? You know, vp's of sales, sales leaders, sales enablement leaders, essentially anyone that is running a sales team or is focused on making their team as effective as possible. When it comes to go to market that they're usually pretty interested in going,

what resonates with them? I mean, that's a tough crowd to sell too, isn't it?

It is. I always tell folks it's, it's a, it's a blessing and a curse because, you know, it is a tricky bunch sometimes, but the good news is if you have good sales methodology and acumen, they reciprocate, right? They know when you're doing discovery, they know when you're closing on a timeline. Um, and if you've earned their respect, they'll, they'll play ball and they'll help you out a bit. So I'd say that's definitely a part of it. Um, the other part is the main part of why they love this thing is it's a new set of data that they never had before. Right. Remember when email tracking was new, knowing that Brian Open my email was really cool and then. Sorry, go ahead.

Quite well. It was really hot for but then interview, but everybody had it with them like a year.

Yeah. Then everyone figured out you could drop a pixel on that thing and track it, and then the next stage was kind of like, well, I could see, you know, Brian looked at my slides and how long have you looked at my slides? Right? Look at clearslide, which is why they were really hot for awhile. This is kind of a similar new wave of now I know what my sales people are doing on their calls because before you know, it's probably still a lot of people know is I have to call shadow writer, do these classroom trainings, tell Devin the new pricing and the new feature set. But realistically a lot of reps go right back to the phone and go back to their old ways and there's no way to really manage that change. So the show sales leaders, hey, here's what your actual go to market messaging is looking like, here's what your a players are doing from your b and c players and here's how you can change it. That's when the light bulb goes off.

So for like the 20 percent that you go after that you know, isn't inbound, they, they may have heard of you, they get an idea of what you do, but they are not connected to it yet. They're not really. They don't see the need is probably at a nice to have level. How do you build that interest? I mean from, from the very beginning. How do you connect with them? How do you engage with them? How do you get them talking?

Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I think in any all sales cycle, it starts with good discovery. Um, I think everyone's kind of saying that now. So it's almost becoming a cliche, but as I kinda mentioned earlier that no one knows what you do and a lot of people are saying no one really cares, right? Until you make it personal to them. So my, my approach is always to understand what their top priorities are outside of what our company does. Right. Are you focused on ramping new hires year over year? Are you focused on spending globally? Either your close rates, single digit, right, whatever those are. There's always some aspect that our product can help with. It's really just understanding what are they focused on and then making the bridge up, well, here's how we've helped similar leaders and kind of put it on them to say, is that uh, you know, is, is that important to you?

Is this, is this a problem worth solving right now? Because the is right here. And what channels are they most accessible on? Oh, that's a good one too. It does depend. I think if you can get a cell phone number, then I think a cell phone is great and a lot of sales, digital respect that right to call a senior exec on their cell phone and have a good cold call pitch and talk track of why you, why now you'll get a meeting out of that. If you have a desk line, I'd say probably ignore it. I know, I know sales leaders that take pride in ignoring that exists, so you're probably not going to get too much traction there, but besides that, I think if you can present yourself as a thought leader, even if it's a smaller one on social media, specifically linkedin and twitter, I think you can gain some traction there and consumer engagement.

But um, I still think emails came personally. I mean if you can show them, send a, a good, a short compelling email that fits onto the mobile device screen, I think that's probably the best bet. And what does it look like? Is it a pitch? Is it, can you give us a sense of how long it is, what you're asking for? Yeah, yeah, definitely. So my, my first thing is always a hook. I'm kind of a cop, like I said, I'm a copywriter by trade and by nighttime there you go as a hobby and as a kind of a side revenue stream. So I'm, I'm good at writing things that are compelling, but just like anyone else, it's like I have to find not what every vp is dealing with, but what the specific vp is dealing with in terms of interest, right? Like there's linkedin profiles to go off of.

We can see what their social media interaction looks like. Grab something that looks compelling, that will stick out from the hundred emails, be he or she is going to receive that day. A good subject line and a good first sentence. If you can hook them in the rest of his money, you shouldn't know what your, you know your quote unquote pitches, right? You're solve, you know what vps in your buyer personas are struggling with. So make it personal, make it relaxed. I think you know what you want to be the cool, the cool age that hits their mobile device that day, right? Don't sound like everybody else. And then the ask is, I honestly, I don't even always ask for time and say, is this relevant? Because if you've made a really good hook and you've made a really good compelling reason why they talk to me, I shouldn't need to ask you for time.

I should just double check that it's, you know, it's apparent and I think that's smart because I think when, when everybody does something that no longer works, you know, so everyone's asking for 15 minutes today and it's just cliche at this point and I don't know how about how you feel, but when people ask for your time, it's like, oh, it's worse when the bugs. Yeah, I think it's like one, if you, if you jumped to the bottom of the email without reading it, I guarantee you they're asking for five slash 15 or 30 minutes. Like, I dunno, ask for 12 minutes as you know what I mean? That's something different that might catch their eye that we, our SDR team practice with little things like that. Instead of catching a cold call and say, can I have 30 seconds? They say, can I have 27 seconds?

Like, okay, that sounds calculated. Sure, let's go for it. Right? So it's already already peaked my interest a little bit cause it's not like the other 25 cold calls I got today. And how do you communicate the value of the product? Because I would think that that would be a hard part to do in a very concise way. Yeah, it is. It is. And that it's a blessing and a curse if your product can be sold to many people, that's a blessing and a curse, right? Because you have to know how those different people will use it. The way that I, I would say is like one is, you know, sales leaders, their job gets harder year over year, right? If you're a rep quartos go up year over year. If you're a leader corps headcount and leader and um, revenue targets go up your beer, there becomes a point where the demand is greater than your current resources, right?

You already have an email tracking, you have an Lms, you have an enablement team, right? You've kind of exhausted all of those options. There's only so much juice you can get out of those, um, those streams. And so really what I'm thinking is, you know, we're providing to you a new set of data and new way that you can control messaging and therefore control results and the ones that have really happy just with the Kpis, the quantity, you know, number of calls, number of connects called time. Uh, that's what I hear from the listeners all the time is that managers, that's all they care about. It's fair. I, it seems to be fading. Maybe it's just my experience. Like I know when I started kip guys were big. You have to have this many emails or this many calls a day I think. I think those kpis and those metrics are good representation of effort, right?

If someone's, if someone hits a, you know, mrs their quota this quarter, then I think it's fair to go look at their metrics. Were they sitting pretty easily or were they jamming on the phone and sending the emails they could write because you can coach the ladder, you can make the quality better. But if someone's not hitting goal and frankly not trying, then those metrics become very, very important. The way I also present when it comes to Gong is that there's, again, there's a, there's a tap out period, you know, a human being can only make so many calls a day and they can only make so many emails a day that's working hard and that's important, but you should also be balancing working smart, which is the qualitative approach of those 100 calls. You get two connects and you don't book meetings. Why weren't those meetings?

Right? Because if that's the outcome that everybody wants, because the manager really doesn't want the calls, they want the outcome. If the outcome doesn't exist, then they want the calls and yeah, I think the whole call 10 times and get three meetings listening. Let's replicate that across the team and get some other stuff done. Instead of just cold calling, just so you can tell your friends at your 10 cold calls. And that's it. Because when you talked about the personalization of the email that resonates and sticks out and that the not asking for time, um, you know, the former of that takes your time. You have to find something that's gonna, Click with that person, something that they're going to care about, and to do that you've got to take time.

You just can't put it into your cadence and click a button. Those days are long gone. Well you would think. Oh, sorry. The effectiveness of those days or the use of it still work or still active? Yeah. How do you guys use Gong? I've always wanted to talk to somebody about that.

We use it. I mean as an organization that's a long answer. I'll start with how I use it and then I can kind of branch out. I think the two, the two really quick things that come to me as one was how I approach my call, so not, not necessarily just the content of what I'm saying, the way that I'm presenting myself, and by that I mean we had these things called interaction stats. Essentially what it does is it looks at your rep looks and your team and it says, here's Devon's talk time on his demo calls. He talks 60 percent of the time and he listens 40 percent and you can see how that changes throughout your funnel. The other things are like monologue. How long do I monologue for speak uninterrupted vice versa, how patient am I between responding, you know, how much time do I leave between when Brian ends and sentence an ISP and one off.

They can kind of seem almost silly, but kind of like an adult, but what you can do is start to paint a picture of your approach and by that I mean, you know, if you have a really high talk time on a demo, probably not listening, which means you're probably not doing great. Discovery probably means your deal cycles are longer. If you can start to show people you know, hey, this part of your pitch, the most compelling part, you're talking for three and a half minutes, chances are that people aren't grabbing three and a half minutes of that. All that information, right? There's ways that you can be more effective in your communication, I guess is what I'm saying short. And so what it's done for me is even now as I'm monologuing skew, I have this internal monologue timer have like a minute, minute 30, and I could hear it go off. It's telling me stop talking and either pause and just wait for them to talk or ask a good open ended question. So this is a conversation and not another demo, not another presentation from an eight.

And those are skills that usually take a long time to learn. And we're really not taught that. He's certainly not in school. And even if you take sales training, it's like, oh, you do a roleplay. How long has that? Um, and you know, when I moved into management that was like, I could just tell, you know, the reps that were going to be successful and the ones that weren't, you know, they would run me over when I talk and they were like, voice activated robots. And then you go on a call with your manager and your manager would do it and you'd be like, oh no, you know, because you only have that certain amount of time and if you're talking you're, you're spending that time on things that they may not.

Exactly. And I think that's the other thing too, and talking to me immediately was, you know, I was a top performer in my previous company and I had a great, you know, different pitch offs and you know, I did well and I had this, I think it was unconscious, at least I'm going to say it was unconscious. But this concept of the more I tell Brian, the more I talked to you, the more value I'm providing because I'm giving all this great information when reality, the less I talk, the more I'm listening so that the, instead of talking 80 percent of time I can speak 50 percent of the time, they'd be much more effective. And my audience is gonna. Enjoy that conversation better.

And that's it. That's been taught now for 30 years to use questions instead of statements, uh, to listen rather than to talk. But it's just counterintuitive and I think it kind of is a holdover from the simple sale where you know, you go to buy a car, you don't know much about the car, you have a couple of initial questions, but you don't know how to buy a car. So you're kind of entertained, guidance and, and that's fine. But when you're selling something that's complex, multiple calls, multiple levels, levels of interest that you have to build a, you have to certainly with your product, have to. There's a technology and an understanding gap between what they think it is and what it is and what they can get out of it. So you gotta take them through that journey and if you do it in a monologue, they're not learning that you've got to kind of use a case study and example of the story and pull them through.

Exactly. And I think I coach Sdrs and even myself, and it's like if you catch a friend or someone you kind of know what a coffee shop, you know, you do the, you do the interactions, how have you been, what's going on in your life, these, these legitimate questions because you carry your interest in. I don't, I don't know why sometimes we lose that in a sales conversation or you should feel very much like a two way street and both people are giving a, gaining energy and knowledge from this instead of just a, Oh, there's a guy I know he's been talking to Europe for five minutes and then walk off and go on about his day.

Right? I think it's a profession kind of attracts people who are outgoing. Um, and they feel a, certainly when they're junior, the obligation to be talking. And sometimes it's like a freight train. Once it starts rolling, it's hard to slow it down. And if the other person isn't gregarious, you kind of gotta fill the air. But I think universally, I've seen the most success full salespeople be better listeners. The people who have, you know, really insightful questions, use questions to guide the customer where they want them to go instead of statements. You know, when, when you, when you tell somebody something, they're more apt to kind of try and fit it into their world, but when you ask them something, they have to elicit that in their mind.

Exactly, exactly. If you try to force them to your right answer on them, it's going to be met with apprehension and it a little defensiveness, but if you got, like you said, guide them there with a couple of questions. Even if you know where it's gonna end, you know, they'll get there on their own and it's not, it's not that it's manipulation, it's, it's that it's, it's a better way to learn and to engage people.

And how, what is the cadence of your use of the feedback of the product? Is it after every call? Is it after every day, week? What's your.

Yeah, there's a few. I think it depends on the culture of coaching at any company. For us, as you can imagine, we use gone all the time. I've been very, uh, you know, our culture, very much values, feedback and coaching. So, um, for me personally, if I get off of a, an interesting call, an interesting to me is something, I don't know, maybe a use case, I'm not familiar with an objection that's off the wall or just sometimes it helps to kind of debrief. I'm after something we can, you can tag your manager by manager and the call request feedback, he'll listen to it and then we can either comments and the call itself, you know, as we go go about, uh, our tasks or sometimes what we'll do is we'll do a just go over calling or one on one, right. Political call from last week.

I can pick it. Sometimes he picks it depending on, you know, kind of the theme that we might be working on as an individual or team. But we can go together and review the call and now as we're going to the end of the quarter, you know, next week we're starting to look at the last calls of deals I've got, forecasted and committed. Right? What are the things that we might've missed? Any objections that would, might have slipped by are here the first time. And also sometimes you hear things that, you know, hey, we can get ahead of the ball, you know, he said he needs to talk to amy will have we talked to amy, maybe we get front of amy now instead of waiting until next Thursday. Right. And so it has that, that, uh, the angle of effectiveness as well.

I had the privilege early in my career to have worked with very senior people and we would do a post mortem after each call were typically physical in person calls, have at least an hour in duration. But we would go back to the office and just pull apart the, the meeting, uh, and, and try and predict what would happen and get everyone's vantage point on it. And I'm on a phone call. You certainly can't do that. But the reps that I, I, I interview and really excel, they all have some kind of system, whether they grade themselves one to 10 on the call, a, B or c, even if they do it at the daily level, that kind of constant awareness of how well they're doing. And the problem is that it's subjective to them or to the other people. I mean with, with a product, with an ai that can map things against historical data and is completely a unjudgemental because unbiased. And let's face it, I don't, I haven't met many reps that come running into my office and Hey Brian, can you give me some feedback?

Well, if they do, they've got this great call they just nailed out of the park and I want you to tell them how good they did nature. Yeah. That's why people say we're already. We're already doing call recording. What's the difference? It's like, well what calls make it to your desk, but one good call a week or a month, right? That you request. And of course your reps are going to submit their best work. No one's going to go to the VP and say, hey, here's a call I bond, can you help me get better?

And that's it. And even if the manager did have the time to or had the interest in reviewing it, they're going to fast forward through the first 45 minutes and see how it ended. Exactly. Going to say, okay, do you have a next step? A, do they raise the right competitors? Do they, uh, w, w, w, what are their concerns that they even get what you're doing? Are they the right person? Do they blow you off to, is it happy years or is it real actions?

Yeah, exactly. And that's what's Nice. He said like the AI portion, it takes care of all that. All those initial questions, when you look at it, you know, look at a call you don't have to listen to and just kind of automates the things. Here's your objections, here's competitors, et Cetera, et cetera. So that way when you're listening to the call, you're listening for discovery, you're listening for questions and listening for the actual, the objections which are, to me the qualitative things versus the, you know, the kind of check boxes, like you said, like where their next steps, did we do this, we do that,

and if you don't have something like this, it's like, you know, it really comes down to style and philosophy in fact. And that that's what annoys me about selling. It's like, well you can either change your personality or you can really understand what a good sales call is like. Talk to listen ratio or words per minute. These you would think are obvious, but they're not. I worked for this guy in New York City once and he came down to Atlanta with me and it was such a cultural mismatch of words per minute. That guy in Atlanta, he was like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, whoa. What are you talking about? He was the New York guys. Talk a New York time and you know, and I was kind of mid Atlantic at the time, but I was, I covered Atlanta and I understood the difference. You build the rapport for awhile, but you followed their pace and you become a chameleon to their speaking a rate and if you don't do that, that mismatch puts you outside the tribe immediately. That's a great way to put it. And how about as far as the big brother part of it, did that ever bother you?

It didn't. Uh, but here's how I, here's how I view it. I'm sure anyone listening that it's taken a sales call, they'd probably done it from a cubicle or a closed off area and they've probably done the, uh, the open floor plan, the pods. It's like the ladder. Remember the first time you put your headset on with like six people around you and they can take me to hear you talking. You think about it a little bit. I didn't get that right the first couple of times I'm like, ah, they're going to hear my pitch. They're gonna hear me stutter. But when you're five minutes into the call, you're not thinking about that anymore. You're thinking about the conversation you're having. So it has the same element of, Oh man, I'm. My calls are being recorded. But the thing is there's not just a, you know, the aspect of now my.

No, there's transparency, right? People can hear and see me, but the value of the upside is much bigger because now it's not just, hey, we're call recording for compliance reasons because work at Bank of America, it's, hey, we're doing call recording because we're going to help you be better at your job if you're better at your job and make more money, make more money, you're happier. It was a lot of upsides of the concept as opposed to a lot of the things that we do in sales that there's a lot of activity in time that there is no upside for trying to get the Roi of salesforce upkeep from time to populate the forecast. It's not showing up. Can you fill it in the Sunday night pings from your boss because you know the Monday pipeline meeting and it's not up to date.

What's the hardest part of your job? Hardest part of my job. Um, you know, I don't know if it's, if it's a gong thing, I think it's just being a full cycle. I'm a he at a, at a tech startup. Um, my biggest challenge is focus and by that I mean there's my calendar, there's my set meetings, there's the to do list into the pipeline, moving things forward that I have to focus on. And then when you're at a small startup there's a million other things that land on your desk, right? Coaching, other reps, helping with new hires, grabbing, starting a culture squad, things like that. So to me mine is keeping organized and keeping focused and like, you know, there's only so much bandwidth I think a human mind can take and going from activity to different activity, task to task. So what I've done is I blocked my calendar.

That's for meetings and that's also for things that have to get done. If someone comes up to me and I'm, you know, I've got 45 minutes to, you know, what I call salesforce tasks, which are just need calling the right people doing those movements. If someone comes up to me during that time, I asked them how urgent this is. This is like a right now thing. Then yes, I'll pause what I'm doing. If not, can we, can we do this at two? And so it's kind of like a, I don't know, I think it was the Steve Jobs, like you know how to say no, right? Kind of something along that line, but if you just find yourself bouncing from task to task and then you'll find yourself on a hamster wheel that we're not getting too far and not getting anything done as far as like, um, you cover the east coast from the west coast.

I cover the world, so yeah. Okay. So time. How do you manage that? Um, it, that's a tough one. I'll be honest. So I, I tried to get in as early as I can and really I would say I started really looking at email at about 7:00 AM Pacific and by that I mean able to, you know, awake enough to respond coherently. Um, but I look at my opportunities is as I go about my day and anyone in the east coast. I mean, I, I try to get it done by two, right? I know East coasters cost five, but if you can just give yourself the time window of folks that are overseas, they got to be done by 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM and you won by east coast will be done by essentially noon or two. And then I can focus on Pacific, uh, folks, you know, for the, for the second half of the day. And I think that alone just helps me kind of get into a rhythm of making sure you're, again, working within our timeframe, I should say, the people you're talking to them, hey, I really appreciate your time today. Where can people go to connect with you and learn more about gone? Yeah, absolutely. So, um, again, my name is devin read. You can check me out on Linkedin or on twitter at ask the Reader Co. That's the reader to ease co and also have a website, [inaudible] dot co if you want to check it out.

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