Paul and Phil Gerbyshak have a great conversation about those middle-of-the-funnel stalls every seller experiences. They also tackle dealing with multiple decision makers and social media in this jam-packed podcast.
Go back to the buyer and find out what happened. “I like truth. I don’t like guesswork.” Phil Gerbyshak
“I believe in value over volume. Because value = progress.” Phil Gerbyshak
You’ve uncovered a specific need for the buyer. Schedule your next meeting before that need is de-prioritized.
Most social-media profiles stink. “Look at your profile through the eyes of the prospect. If you read it to them and they don’t throw up, you’re probably on the right path.” Phil Gerbyshak
“I believe to sell is to serve, and that’s why I love to sell.” Phil Gerbyshak
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How do I unstall deals, win larger deals, and leverage social media? With Phil Gerbyshak
(Transcribed from podcast interview)
“So, the first big miss is their profile stinks. And they talk about what a quote, crushing salesperson they are. That’s the first thing, but that’s easy to fix. Go through your profile and look at it through the eyes of your prospect. And if you read that to them, if they don’t throw up, you’re probably on the right path. Because they don’t care about your honors, and they don’t care about your awards. They don’t want to—they don’t want to hear that you’re the best salesperson on the planet. That’s not what they’re looking for here. They’re looking that you can solve problems.” Phil Gerbyshak
On today’s episode, we’ve got Phil Gerbyshak joining us. Now, Phil knows sales, plain and simple. He’s a sales speaker, a sales executive, a sales expert, a sales leader mentor, and even a sales podcaster and coach. Phil’s worked in sales. He’s actually worked in some leadership roles within sales, and he also sold in the digital space for a number of years. He started by selling high-speed internet when the internet was still in dialup mode. So he’s always been ahead of the curve.
Now in our conversation, we tackle some of the biggest challenges facing salespeople. One of which is why deals get stuck in the middle of the funnel—what happens. And Phil offers some great insight on how to get those deals unstuck. We also talk about why it’s challenging for salespeople to close those larger deals. And then finally, we talk about social media and some of the biggest mistakes that salespeople are making.
Now, Phil’s written six books on sales-related topics. He’s published more than 3000 articles and he’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Globe, Financial Times, and Investor’s Business Daily. So, Phil offers some great insight. I’m thrilled that he was on the show today.
Before we get into the interview, just a reminder. Now is the time to pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. We are in a recession and in the book, you’re going to learn why that is a good thing. It’s going to create much more opportunities than it’s going to cost you. Pick up your copy to figure out how you can thrive during this tough time. Available wherever you get your books. Now onto the show.
Paul: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Q and a sales podcast. I’m thrilled that we have Phil Gerbyshak joining us today. Phil, how’s everything down to Orlando?
Phil: Absolutely perfect, Paul. It’s a little overcast today, but most days are in the 90s, sunny, great place. And hey, the kids go back to school tomorrow so I’m a happy guy.
Paul: Oh man. There are so many happy parents around the world just waiting, you know. It’s like our summer break starts when they go back. Right? (Phil: That’s right. exactly.) Well, I’m, pumped that you’re on the show today. Before we started, you and I were talking about some common questions that salespeople have. And one thing that you mentioned, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, is that when deals get stuck (every salesperson has experienced this), it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of sales. I’d almost rather hear a quick no than a long maybe or stalled out sale, just because you don’t know where you stand. And, and I agree with you. Most of this happens in the middle of the funnel is where the deals tend to stall out. What are your thoughts on this, and what suggestions do you have on how to get those deals unstalled, especially as they get to the middle of that funnel?
Phil: Sure. Well, first, know that they get stuck because people are nice. Not because you probably did anything goofy, right. Cause people just don’t want to tell you no. Or they don’t want to, or they’re not ready to say yes. I mean, they’re just nice. Right? So that’s the first thing is understanding, “Why did I get here?” Right. “What got me there?” With that, I would say part of that way out is the way back. And that is, go back to discovery; go back to rediscovery. Right? Find out their real urgencies, find out their real priorities. Like “Why did you even talk to me?” And sometimes you have to be super direct. Like, “Hey, you took my call. You took this call a month ago… a week ago… yesterday.” Whenever. It could be a couple months ago. “Why’d you even take the call?”
Now, sometimes you’re going to find out something that you don’t want to hear. But I like truth. I don’t like guesswork. In sales, the soft squishy, maybe—. Promise in two months, like, you know, I, I got to pay the bills. So say yes or say no. I’m going to ask somebody else. Right. It’s okay. Right. I don’t want to chase you. So that’s the first thing, right? We haven’t discovered their real urgencies, they’re real priorities. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is it gets stuck because we haven’t added enough value. And I believe in value over volume because value equals progress. Like, no prospect says, “You know, Paul, what I really want to do is spend nine months dancing around only to make no decision.” Nobody says that, but that’s really what you’re doing if you don’t give them any value. They’re just dancing. They’re like, “Okay. So when the heck is this deal going to close? I want it closed as fast as possible.” I mean, that’s really what your prospects are saying. So, if you’re not adding value—and value, again goes back to discovery. You have to find out like, what do they value, not what do you value, but what do they value and add as much of that. If you’re looking at selling software, why do they need your software? Not because it’s the best of breed because of this, that, no. Does it save ‘em time? Does it make ‘em money? What’s the ROI for them? And again, a lot of times, it gets back to that discovery phase. But once we find that, then sharing some articles, some case studies, some insights, some videos, some stuff that helps them understand that, “Yeah. You’re making the right decision,” and “Yeah, this probably won’t be as hard as you might think,” and, “Yeah, it’s okay because I’ve worked with people just like you and, and working with people, just like you, they have the same challenge. And here’s some of the case stories of them.” So that’s the second thing.
And then the third thing—and, and this is where salespeople that are nice, this is where you get in trouble. You prescribe long term things and say, “So, okay, well, our next meeting… Let’s see. What works for you?” Well, what works for them is, they’re looking at their calendar and they’re like, “So I’ve got 68 hours of work I’ve got to fit in this week. And next week, I’ve got a vacation, and in two weeks, well, my boss is off. And then, you know, I’ve got another project kicking off.”
No stop. Stop. Of course, they’re busy. This is not their job to buy from you. This is one additional thing that somebody threw at them. Or if you’re dealing with the owner, it’s one thing they probably don’t want to do, but they know they have to do is buy from you or somebody like you. So instead, suggest near a timeframe: “So Paul, would it work better to talk to you Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning?” You might not get either one of those, and that’s totally okay. But the nearer the timeframe, the more you can control that, because then they recognize, “Oh yeah, this guy wants to move fast because he knows he can help me, because it’s important to him that it’s important to me to move this deal along faster and stop screw around and not waste time.” But ask them, “So what do you think will work?”
I see a lot of reps that try to be nice and offer that. When, instead, just be direct. “So is it going to be Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning?” So near term, that will help you get through that middle. And again, if they’re ghosting, look back and think about what did you discover? What’s the urgency? What’s the progress that they need to make in order to move that deal forward?
Paul: You know, and Phil, just to build on that a little bit. When we think about the discovery call, you have that customer, that prospect, at the moment where they have never had a greater need for what you have to offer. They’re more aware of their needs. They’re, aware of the problems that they face. As soon as you leave that meeting, the rest of the world piles up on top of all those problems that you just revealed. And the longer you wait between discovery and presentation, or moving to the next step, whatever it is in your process, the more you run the risk of that priority becoming deprioritized. That certainly is part of it. And also understanding some of the greater pressure points that are at play.
You know, when we think about it as salespeople, buyers will often try to make us feel like we’ve got to sell our solution more than they need to buy it. And they often do that to get a discount, to get some other concessions, whatever it may be. We’ve got to remember, your customers are also facing some pressure to get things done, to make things happen. They’re feeling pressure to buy your solution as well. And if we can make the buyer aware of those pressure points, geez, that’s going to help escalate things and move things.
And, you know, the next thing too. I think another reason some of these deals get stalled out is maybe because we’re not talking to the right person. You know, in fact, a question I know you’re getting all the time is, what is it that is forcing us—. when we’re working through these larger deals, what are some of the mistakes salespeople make? What are some of the things they overlook when they’re trying to move these bigger deals through their pipeline?
Phil: Well, the biggest thing that they overlook is the decision-making process itself. Who is the actual decision makers. So who are the decision makers? It’s seldom—unless you’re in an organization less than 20—is it one person anymore. Because they want to de-risk the solution. But often, the first person you talk to doesn’t know. Again, they want to be nice. They, “Oh yeah. It’s me.” They want to say it’s just me because they don’t want you to feel like, “Oh yeah. Well, you know, Phil, you’re actually going to have to have three or four of these meetings.” “It’s just me,” and that’s total BS.
So we have to push. We have to find out who is the real authority here. First, who is the ultimate decision maker? Who’s going to stroke the check? Who’s going to write that out? Is it the CFO? Is it the owner? Is there going to be a credit card involved? You know, does it ACH? How long is the contract? All that good stuff. I need to find that out, sure—the financial person. But then, who else is going to need to see this and hear about this and be demonstrated that this is the valuable solution that you need? Often, it’s decision by committee. So who has all the authority? Who has final authority? Who writes the check? And then, who are the other people that, maybe they’re not authority, but they’re certainly influencers? And if they don’t see it, they might not say yes, but heck they can kill your deal. They can make it say no. So you have to find out about them too.
And then you’ve got to tie off or you’ve got to isolate each one of them. Make sure each of them is happy. Make sure each of them gets their needs met or at least, in priority order, that they get their needs met enough so that they say, “Well, Paul, it doesn’t do that. But because it does this, we’ll do this instead.” Right? No solution is perfect. It doesn’t always 100% line up, but it should give enough that everybody’s happy enough that it’s time to move forward. Because again, that opportunity cost of not moving forward—. They have other priorities. They could spend nine months, a year, 10 years looking for the perfect solution (air quotes there), and never find the perfect solution.
So help them with that. Find out that authority. Find out all those points. And then don’t forget to tie it off. Don’t forget to say, “Did that answer your question?” Or “Was there more that I could answer for you about that?” “Did that solve the problem?” And even better, “How do you see that that solved the question that you had, Paul? How do you see that solving?” Because they want, you know, buyers want to solve problems. They’re not buying it because your product is pretty. They’re not buying it because your product is cheap. They’re not buying it because you gave a discount. They’re buying your product because it solves a problem that they have, that’s important enough that they’re going to make time for you. Never forget that.
And I see sellers forget to do that. And then buyers just, they come back and they get buyer’s remorse, or they get cold feet because they’re like, “Dang it. I have these problems, but I’m not sure if Phil’s really going to solve them.” So that’s a big miss for a lot of salespeople.
Paul: Absolutely. And especially when we think about pursuing larger deals, we’ve been tracking our internal research over the past several years, and what we’ve seen is that more and more decision makers are getting involved for the reasons you mentioned. People want to mitigate risk. They want to spread the risk over multiple decision makers. That is clear. And the way to view it—because every industry is different on what titles will be involved, how the purchasing process works. If you could put it to two factors, I think salespeople need to think in terms of authority and expertise. So who has the authority to buy, and who has the expertise to influence the decision—the knowledge, right? And the even mix of both of those types of decision makers is going to give you the playbook on who’s involved. The more authority they have, naturally, they’re going to be involved. Ideally, you want to find that decision maker who is the knowledgeable expert within their own company, and who has ultimate authority, right? But rarely does that ever happen where it’s one person. It’s going to be a collection of people. Not only that, but you also have to ask yourself who is impacted by this decision the most.
Think about, I don’t know. I mean, let’s pick like a software type system. And you think about, okay, for this software solution, whatever it may be, who is going to be affected the most by this implementation? And it’s likely not going to be the CEO. It’s likely not going to be the VP of sales. It’s likely going to be the IT department, or whoever is responsible internally for implementing, fixing issues, all of that. We’ve got to be aware of who’s affected because that individual, they may not be able to say yes, but they can certainly kill that deal. It’s DOA if you don’t have an audience with them, if you don’t have their buy in. Or, at least, you can minimize their willingness to tighten the grip on the status quo.
Phil: So this week, actually, or late last week, I gave a training session about selling to IT, because that is often an interesting challenge; IT is a challenge, because they’re not the decision maker, but they’re impacted. And that is explaining the impact to them for support purposes, for administration purposes—frankly, that someone else can handle the administration and that IT doesn’t have to do that.
Right after that training, one of the sales reps that was in there had a conversation with someone in IT and said, “Holy cow! Like that could have been an hour long conversation that took him three minutes to make, because all he said was, ‘You know what? This is simple enough that anyone can administer this and it doesn’t have to be IT.’ And the IT director was like, ‘Oh, cool. Okay, great. You got my buy-in. We’re good to go,’ and the deal closed.” So, it’s fascinating how much faster a deal can happen if sales reps prepare to sell to all the different possible constituents, and to understand that the authority stretches beyond just an economic buyer.
Paul: Absolutely. Absolutely. And one other piece to build on that further. In Value-Added Selling, we added a new chapter on managing multiple decision makers, just because it has been, it’s been a growing trend, at least in the past, you know, let’s call it seven to ten years. The key is not just gaining the buy-in from the individual decision makers. We also have to make each of the decision makers aware of the shared buy-in from the group. And what that’s going to do is help bring the group together and get that consensus, because that’s what we’re going for. And groups naturally want to generate consensus around an idea. They want to get to that point. And sometimes the healthy debate that we have, the discourse in group settings, is so we can get to that consensus. And as a salesperson, you’ve got a, you’ve got a delicate dance to make that happen. But that’s part of it is just managing those multiple decision makers. (Phil: Yeah. So important.)
Man, Phil, we’re already getting close to like the end of the interview. We want to give it to salespeople so that they can listen to it in between sales calls. So we’re getting close to that point. But one last topic that I know every seller is struggling with: social media and how to fully leverage that.
From your perspective, what’s the biggest miss you see with sales reps as it relates to using social media?
Phil: So, the first big miss is their profile stinks. And they talk about what a quote, crushing salesperson they are. That’s the first thing, but that’s easy to fix. Go through your profile and look at it through the eyes of your prospect. And if you read that to them, if they don’t throw up, you’re probably on the right path. Because they don’t care about your honors, and they don’t care about your awards. They don’t want to—they don’t want to hear that you’re the best salesperson on the planet. That’s not what they’re looking for here. They’re looking that you can solve problems.
So let’s assume you get past that. Let’s assume that you get dressed before you get busy and you have a good profile. Okay, so you have that. That’s miss number one, fix that, take care of that. Now, let’s step forward. You and I are connected on LinkedIn. We’ve never had a conversation before. We’ve never had anything before. We’ve, you’ve never left a comment than anything I’ve posted. I’ve never left a comment on anything you’ve posted. I’ve never even read your stuff or, even more fun is I connected with you a year ago and right before we get on the phone, I have the illusion of intimacy that I just referenced seven posts that you made on LinkedIn and forget to look at the dates, and recognize that those seven posts were over the last 12 months, and you act like they’re yesterday.
So Paul. We talked before you got on. You went on vacation. Now that’s relevant. You went on vacation like last month. But Paul, if I talk to you about the birth of your child—how old’s your kid? (Paul: 11) Ten years, 15 years, right? Eleven? Right? So if I talk to you about the birth of your kid, you’d be like, “What?” And so sales reps do that. I’ve seen this happen, right? They have this illusion of intimacy because they just take notes and they don’t know that your kid’s 11 years old. And you’re like, “Really Phil?” Or worse, they don’t do any of that homework. They think because they’ve been connected a long time, and have never interacted and never commented, that right away, we’re buds.
And so then they ask right away, instead of doing discovery, they just assume that they have some intimacy here and, “You know, Paul. I’ve been reading your stuff and I know what your problem is, and here’s a solution.” That’s like, no. That’s not even close, right? So we have to still, even though we’re connected on social media, we still have to add value. We think we might added value by posting, by doing videos, by maybe doing some informational article, something like that. Right. But really, our prospect has never watched any of that stuff. Or if they have, they’ve watched that in their one hour a week of personal enrichment time. And they can’t tell yours away from anybody else’s because you’re not branded and you don’t look any different, you don’t sound any different, and you just regurgitate the corporate crap that everybody else does instead of actually sharing your opinion and being opinionated and being a thought leader instead of a thought follower.
So that’s probably more than one answer there, Paul, but those are a couple of the ones that I see: crappy profile, illusion of intimacy, and then just the inference and forget-ness of what time it really is and how long ago you had your kid.
Paul: Yeah. Oh man. I’ve got to say that that’s gold, Phil. Especially that illusion of intimacy. We come off just not being genuine. When trying to meet with a prospect and we throw out all this stuff that happened years ago that’s no longer relevant. That certainly is a miss.
And I love your take on the profile, The first impression no longer happens when we’re meeting face to face or over the phone for the first time. It happened well before then. And so we need to make sure we’re professional.
Another miss, and we don’t have to dive deep into this, but something that I’ve seen more and more, especially on LinkedIn, is political commentary on a range of issues. And I’m not going to talk about one way or the other, which is right, who is right. Save it for Facebook. Save it for Twitter. You’re almost guaranteed to tick off half the people with your comments. You know, so that’s just my thoughts, my two cents as we finish up.
But Phil, I’ve got to say, this has been great. You have really served the Q and A Sales Podcast community well. Please share with the audience—how can they get connected with you?
Phil: Well, you can go to my website. Go to PhilGerby.com. Got lots of articles on there. Lots of podcasts. Paul, an interview with you is up there. So all that good stuff you can find. You know, it’s a sales and leadership show. So I’m talking about sales, talking to sales leaders, and people that are also sales leaders. Right? Because that’s what I’m passionate about and that’s who I love to serve. So you can go there. And, if you’d like, you can connect with me on LinkedIn: spelled Gerbyshak (G E R B Y S H A K). You’ll hit my cousin Brock who’s an engineer, my cousins Thomas and Joseph who work for the department of natural resources, and my brother, Paul, who’s a school teacher in Seattle. And then, yours truly, right outside Orlando, Florida.
So, feel free. Send me a connection request or just follow if you’re shy. That’s cool too. Connection—three dots. You can do that, even though it says “followed” by default, because I’m a creator on LinkedIn, I’d still love to connect with you. That’s just how LinkedIn sets it up, that it has to be “followed” first, because technically I’m a creator, but don’t worry about that. Feel free to send a connection request and tell me you heard me on the Q and A Sales Podcast. I’d love to connect.
Paul: Awesome, Phil. Thanks for sharing that. And, and everyone we’ll make sure we have all those links on the show notes page for this episode. So we’ll have that available.
You know, Phil. One more bonus question. Now, before you go, would you mind just sharing with The Q and A Sales Podcast community—why do you love sales?
Phil: Well, I love sales because I believe to sell is to serve. I love to help people. I love to solve problems. I love people that light up when they say, “Oh my gosh. That’s a solution that can actually help me. It can make me more productive. It can make me more profitable.” Or “It can give me more time with my family.” That’s what I love. And I love being able to provide those solutions to people in interesting and new ways and fun ways that actually helps them instead of just sells them. So I believe to sell is to serve. And that’s why I love to sell, Paul.
Paul: Phil. That is, that is gold, man. Thanks for sharing that with us. I couldn’t agree more: to sell is to serve. You heard it here with Phil. Phil, thanks again for being on the show.
Make it a big day.