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Hurdle the Barriers to Your Sales Success, with Ralph Barsi [Episode 406]

In this episode we cover the master strategies that top sellers use to tackle barriers to sales success.

Key Takeaways

  • Ralph oversees the worldwide sales development at ServiceNow. His teams work to feed the top of the funnel.
  • Ralph explains how he engages gatekeepers.
  • ServiceNow started in San Diego, streamlining IT service workflow. They have expanded their offering, worldwide, to all business units within the enterprise.
  • Gartner claims that in 2015, 70% of IT decisions were made outside of IT. How does this influence the sales process?
  • What are the five major barriers to a sale?
  • Ralph discusses how to help reps overcome obscurity. How do you maintain your LinkedIn profile? Ralph credits Jamie Shanks and his company for branding help.
  • Ralph suggests looking at your market carefully, and setting up profiles with pertinent stories and metrics.
  • Technology enables connection, but it distracts in the moment. What behavioral example should leaders set for smartphone use?
  • What does Ralph ask his organization to do each week on LinkedIn, and social media? How can the smartphone help, and how can it hinder?
  • What did Ralph learn about action, from Tony Robbins’ RPM model? How do Ralph’s team leaders incentivize behaviors and outcomes? What flexibilities do they have?
  • Ralph talks about Steve Richards and Call Camp. How is conversation flow a problem with reps? What about scripts and being present in conversation? How does small talk apply?
  • When is the right time to sharpen your craft, and better your game? What do you choose to do with leisure time? Take charge of your career path.

The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:56  

Hi, I’m your host, Andy Paul, join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership management, training, coaching, any resource that I believe to help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business, and most importantly, you. Hey friends, this is Andy. I want you to meet Dario Prioleau. He’s the CMO and demand generation practice leader. At sales performance International. We sell high value solutions with a long sales cycle and there are many influencers involved. His team wanted to drive more revenue from their target accounts, but they needed a breakthrough. Well, we really had to look at dozens and dozens of providers. And when we did that we did our research, we ultimately decided that engagement was right for us engage us account based marketing and sales platform enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale opportunities and our target accounts are up 25% and pipeline is up 30% it’s made them a lot more productive. They have a platform that allows multi channel multiplayer outreach to manage these complex relations and very large accounts. Marketing now has outstanding visibility into the most engaged accounts. And they really know where to focus their efforts much better. Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I am really looking forward to talking with my guest today. Joining me is Ralph Barsi. Ralph is Senior Director of the global demand center for ServiceNow. And he leads their worldwide sales development function and cash. We’ve met each other at that trade shows off and on over the last several years. So Ralph, welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. It’s great to have you. So take a minute to fill out that bare bones introduction I gave.


Ralph Barsi  2:53  

Sure. So, I am Ralph Barsi. I oversee what we call ad service. Now, the global Command Center, which essentially is our worldwide sales development function. So, in all parts of the world, we have teams that really focus on all the top funnel activities, setting appointments, and getting a premature pipeline going for our field sales team, and I just love doing this. And I’m, I’m thrilled to be here and you’re correct, we have met at many trade shows throughout the years. And in fact, Andy, I remember first hearing a webinar with you on it in 2010 2011. So it may have been a promotional tour. So I heard you on a webinar way back when and I keep an online repository of little nuggets that I hear at these trade shows that we attend and, you know, obviously the webinars that I listened to and at the time, you were talking about leads being like lottery tickets, right? And how much money is underneath that unscratched lottery ticket. And I just loved it. And it’s a note that I still refer to to this day when I’m addressing the team. So anyway, it’s great to be here.


Andy Paul  4:13  

Yeah, it’s great to have you. So what was your first job in sales?


Ralph Barsi  4:18  

The first job in sales was United Parcel Service, right out of college, I started as an account executive. What was interesting working for us was that you don’t know, you don’t sell by going through the front door and talking to the gatekeeper. It’s all done through the back door, you’re going to the roll up dock and and you’re talking with the shipping managers and supply chain executives in the back in the warehouse, and it’s a different type of sale all together. You know, they’re not into, hey, you call them four or five times first to book an appointment. It’s more like you walk up and they’re either available at that moment or they’re not. So you got to be really quick on the draw. You’ve got to bring value pretty fast too.


Andy Paul  5:02  

And you gotta be in the field. 


Ralph Barsi  5:06  

Yeah, you actually got to go out and do it


Andy Paul  5:08  

Do it, which is how I got my start in sales. And interesting questions. What comes to mind is, you know, we hear a lot today about, you can pick up a blog post nearly every day and there’s something published about how to get past the gatekeeper if you’re, you know, an SDR and you’re making a phone call. And I was thinking, Okay, when I was calling, we had physical gatekeepers, I thought that was a lot more difficult than getting by one on the phone. What do you think?


Ralph Barsi  5:30  

Oh, for sure. I mean, you’ve got to really stop focusing on you at that point, and really focus on them when you’re looking at them in the baby blues and they’re sitting right in front of you. You’ve got to have a pitch very fast as to why you’re even there and why you need five minutes of their boss’s time, for example. And also it’s right in your face that they are people to it. And sometimes you have to get to know them first and that might take a while until you can finally get through to the decision makers that you really want to have conversations with.


Andy Paul  6:06  

Yeah. Which is a good lesson though, too for if you’re an SDR and you’re encountering a gatekeeper is, how do you enroll the gatekeeper in the success that you want to achieve? You know, how does that align with what they’re trying to achieve for their supervisor?


Ralph Barsi  6:20  

For sure. And so many times I’ve used that analogy with teams who are prospecting into accounts for example, and when they call and get a voicemail greeting and hit zero and that person, maybe it’s a switchboard operator answers, you really need to visualize yourself walking in to an office building and looking at that switchboard operator and trying to navigate your way through the business. And when you put your focus on that visual, you tend to have the conversation flow that goes with it and you’re going to get where you need to go.


Andy Paul  6:52  

So tell us a little bit about ServiceNow and how you’re organizing your inside sales function.


Ralph Barsi  6:56  

Sure. So ServiceNow is a fabulous place to be. They started out in San Diego, which is a place near and dear to both of our hearts. And, they focused on streamlining IT Service Management. So anytime a company has a request that needs to be fulfilled, and typically that request comes to the IT team and is fulfilled by the IT team, ServiceNow built a platform that streamline that workflow and over time, through the evolution of the company and the scale of the customer base. The company has broadened the offering into all different business units within an enterprise. So we the global demand center are tasked with really driving a repeatable, scalable, viable pipeline of new prospects for us to work with as we broaden our portfolio.


Andy Paul  7:49  

And enterprise grade customers.


Ralph Barsi  7:52  

That’s correct. All right. And we’re worldwide so we have the PJ region Where we have a team in Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo in the Americas, we are in San Diego in Boston. And then in EMEA we are in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. So it’s, it’s a great time to be here right now.


Andy Paul  8:13  

So how many inside sales reps do you manage?


Ralph Barsi  8:16  

We have 120 people on my team in my organization. 80% of them are what we call account development reps. They’re the ones who are on the phones and doing the prospecting and the inbound, lead follow up. And then the other 20% are either frontline managers or directors.


Andy Paul  8:33  

What is that? Is that a different acronym? It has nothing to do with a financial ADR but as is, is that a hint that perhaps you guys are using account based sales development?


Ralph Barsi  8:47  

We are to an extent in fact, it’s relatively new in our organization. We’re getting better at it but I wouldn’t say we’re full fledged, you know, copy sales development yet.


Andy Paul  8:58  

So what’s remaining to be to help you get there


Ralph Barsi  9:01  

Yes, it’s really that we need better ways to discern what contacts are the most viable ones we want to reach as we expand into, as I mentioned, different business units. We’ve had so many contacts that we’ve had conversations with over the years. And as we broaden the offering to these different business units, obviously, there’s a whole new set of not just contacts, but as you know, it’s just a whole new set of teams that make the decision because, you know, gone are the days of the sole decision maker. So we’re always looking for the insights and intelligent data on all the different contexts that we need to talk to in a business.


Andy Paul  9:39  

Yeah, I think Gartner was saying that something like this past year, like 70% of IT decisions are no longer made by IT.


Ralph Barsi  9:48  

Yeah, that sounds right. Yeah. In our experience, that’s what we’re finding out. And also, I mean, it is still involved in most of the decisions, especially with what we offer, but No, they’re not making the sole decision any longer, like they did maybe 10 years ago.


Andy Paul  10:05  

Okay. So we’ve been talking before, and I thought big could get into here as we’re talking about, you’ve managed his team of ads as his user having five, would you consider sort of barriers to a sale that you’re seeing fairly frequently with that group? And so what are those?


Ralph Barsi  10:23  

Yeah, I appreciate you bringing it up. So over my career in sales, Andy, I have seen these five barriers surface over and over and over again. So I decided to just start talking more and more about it. So the barriers are, number one, obscurity. Number two, a lack of focus. Number three is inactivity. Number four is no conversation flow. And then number five is just the failure to keep improving. And I can go into the end of the world with all five.


Andy Paul  10:55  

So cool. So let’s start with obscurity? And because this is I think several things when you talk about obscurity are sort of starting to cash in on a lot of conversation about building a personal brand. But yeah, you know, it’s more than that. So what else are you thinking about when you talk about the obscurity?


Ralph Barsi  11:17  

Yeah. So, you know, especially people who are in a sales development function, they’re doing everything they can to learn as much about the prospects that they’re about to call or about, to email or about to engage. And what they’re missing. What they continue to make a mistake on is that those prospects don’t know who they are, the prospects don’t know who that sales development representative is. And so I’m imploring sales development reps across the globe, to better your brand and start focusing on the value you’re bringing to the marketplace. Because I firmly believe that the more value you bring to the marketplace, the more valuable you become and if you are trying to become a great salesperson in your career, you need to get to a point where you’ve been hustling so much that you no longer have to introduce yourself. And so it really starts with Yeah, just to building a brand, from your social media profile to what you’re deciding to put into the ether in terms of value.


Andy Paul  12:15  

Okay, so yeah, let’s break down a couple of those specific examples. So we can start with your LinkedIn profile. I’ve recently been asking a lot of people in enterprises and just people are buying things. You know, I’ve heard people bought something for their business. They say, okay, when you first encountered the sales rep, did you look at their LinkedIn profile? And getting a pretty uniform answer? Yes, I did. And we shouldn’t be surprised by that at this point. But it seems like what you’re saying is people aren’t really mindful of the fact that’s happening and they’re not paying attention to what they need to have in their profile to demonstrate value and demonstrate worthiness of the customer’s time.


Ralph Barsi  12:55  

Oh, for sure. I’m really surprised to this day. How many LinkedIn profiles? Pictures, for example, are silhouettes. They’re not even a profile picture, people just have not uploaded a recent picture of themselves. And you’re just doing yourself such a disservice, especially when, if you’ve sent a compelling email to a prospect, for example, and they want to look you up, what they’re going to do is likely go to Google and type in Andy Paul. And for most of us, some of those first search results are going to be our LinkedIn profile. It’s got a great PageRank on Google. 


Andy Paul  13:33  

So usually, if they type it will be mine first not there. 


Ralph Barsi  13:37  

There you go. That’s he put in sweat equity. And, you know, but seriously, you’ve added value to the marketplace to where you rise to the top of the search results with stuff you’ve already given the marketplace. It’s not necessarily your LinkedIn profile, but somebody in a sales development role there. It’s a different book out that they’re in so compelling email and you come up in the search results and it’s your LinkedIn profile and the process Expect clicks on it, you know, how much of the buying process can they get through just by reading about what your company does from your profile? Or what customers have helped with similar business issues, etc, etc, before they decide to write back to you or even engage with you.


Andy Paul  14:16  

So how many of your120 ADRs don’t have LinkedIn pictures?


Ralph Barsi  14:23  



Andy Paul  14:25  

Okay, I just want to make sure.


Ralph Barsi  14:27  

For sure, in fact, one of the first things I did when I started at ServiceNow, is I went through the entire organization that would that I would inherit, and I looked at every single LinkedIn profile I made it made a Google spreadsheet for myself, and just knew what I was going to be dealing with first, when I arrived at this company. Unfortunately, the LinkedIn profiles weren’t too big of a problem. And so what do you do with them relative to the content part that you alluded to? Do you have, you know, a standard content library that each of the rep says once a week, they have to do something? Or how do you? How do you organize that? How do you measure what they’re doing in that regard? Yeah, sure. One, one way to do it is, is by measuring the number of shares, and I know that recently you had the likes of Jamie Shanks on your podcast, yes. And he just put out a great book on social selling mastery. And we’ve worked with Jamie’s company with sales for life to make sure that we’re measuring the activity and the return on that activity in terms of real pipeline. So it’s tangible, it’s measurable, and there’s many ways you can do it. It’s just something I think a lot more businesses need to start looking into and maybe taking a little more seriously than they might today.


Andy Paul  15:40  

And really the bottom line, especially in the enterprise or organization, such as yours is the responsibility. We’d like to say, yeah, the sales reps the ads,  they should be motivated to do it. But as a manager, if they’re not you need to take responsibility, make sure that you’re coaching them and training them what they need to do to overcome this obscurity issue as you talk about it.


Ralph Barsi  16:00  

Absolutely. And I think a lot of attention needs to be paid on the marketplace that you’re selling in the critical business issues that your company has already resolved for other like businesses or like contacts, and start sharing those types of insights, those type of types of stories and metrics in your LinkedIn profile versus like, I crushed quota, eight quarters in a row. And this is all about me. Instead, focus on the marketplace that you work in and what lift you’ve been able to provide, right through your services. And that’s, that’s really going to resonate with your audience.


Andy Paul  16:35  

Right. And I think, you know, if we look at this realistically, and sure everybody uses LinkedIn to a certain degree also for looking at that next opportunity is going to be even if they’re not proactively looking, is I think reps need to understand that. People are much more potential employers. Be much more impressed with thoughtful content that you might be sharing that demonstrates passion and accuracy about what it is you’re selling, versus saying crushed quota when people discount don’t believe those numbers anyway?


Ralph Barsi  17:03  

Absolutely. And when you’re sharing the content that has piqued your interest, and you think it’s towards sharing, put a little comment in there, like, Hey, this is a top five list of these three areas. And, you know, I particularly like number four and five because of this data, the other and now you’ve got a little humanization added to it. And people know that you actually read what you’re putting out what you’re sharing, and you think it’s gonna add value and it certainly will, if it’s genuine.


Andy Paul  17:30  

Okay, so let’s jump to the next one. Number two is focus or lack of focus. And yeah, this is a huge one I don’t like to say, but I give workshops on this, this issue about, you know, how to be focused, when you’re engaged with a customer and when you actually manage to get some of their time. You know, how do you make sure that you’re really present, you’re there, not to sound too in the moment? Which is really important, mindful of what’s going on.


Ralph Barsi  18:03  

Yeah, you know, we were all of us, AMD, we’re hit with this deluge of information 24/7, because of the strengths of technology, and what it can bring literally to our mobile phone in the blink of an eye and and it’s very easy to be distracted. And with the sales development rep role in particular, you know, SDRs or ADRs, or BDRs, whatever you want to call them. They’re not in that role very long. I mean, the average 10 years, maybe 18 to 24 months, a lot of reps themselves, their jaws would drop thinking, oh my god, this is an eternity, when in reality, it’s a very finite limited amount of time for you to learn all there is that you can in terms of sales and business acumen, etc, etc. And then on the flip side, your business and the leader on your team has a very finite limited amount of time to invest in you in developing your competencies and your skills. hills. So you’ve really got to focus. You’ve got to focus on bettering your brand, sharpening your skills if you are, for the most part reps are aspiring to become great salespeople. This is the time to learn and the time to master your craft.


Andy Paul  19:15  

Yeah, not that focus is not really two dimensions right and we’re going to talk about the second dimension isn’t learning your craft as number five, but today, I just gave a workshop two weeks ago to the sales team at 80 reps inside. And yeah, I I took my cell phone in my pocket and said, okay, who raises your hand if you keep your cell phone on your desk while you’re making calls? Yeah, they all do. So why isn’t that in your desk drawer? I mean, you’re blocking out time to call prospects. Why is that phone on your desk? Why isn’t it in your desk drawer? What could possibly be happening on that phone that you need to know of while you’re talking to a prospect, though you may have called 15 times before to try to get hold of.


Ralph Barsi  20:00  

That’s right. Oh, man, so bang on is what I call that.


Andy Paul  20:05  

Yeah. So that, when people need to think about focus, think about the little things, you know, you’ve got this instrument of temptation that we carry around in our pockets. These are smartphones. And yeah, just put them in your drawer. Turn it off.


Ralph Barsi  20:18  

Yeah, if it, you know, if anything, Andy, if you really need to use your phone, why don’t you use your phone to see what the statics of your emails look like? You know, because that’s where most of your prospects are looking at your email, if they’re reading your email, I mean, is it? Do they have to scroll? What’s the font look like? Do you break up your paragraphs and sentences properly? How is your email structured on a mobile device? That is, there’s a great reason to use your phone.


Andy Paul  20:45  

Sure, but not while you’re on the phone with another prospect. I mean, you want to look at that before you talk to the prospect. And the other thing with the focus, I think is a key thing. I’d be interested here how you get because suddenly you’ve got a clearly well trained force but but you know, we Again, you can go online anyone day and find literally thousands of articles or blogs written about, okay, if you’re going to send a cold email, you’re gonna make a cold call, you got to lose some preliminary research on who you’re writing to or who you’re calling. Yeah. And what I find is just sort of as a general rule, and I’m grossly over generalization generalization is that the companies or the reps seem to be seemingly the best trained, or oftentimes the worst offenders. You know, when I’m getting emails that say it’s spent two seconds looking at my LinkedIn profile on my website, I would have seen them not as a prospect for what they’re selling. I don’t need a big data logging solution or something. Yeah, I’m a one man shop. So why is that? To me? That’s really, you can say, well, it’s the fault of the reps that really starts at the top.


Ralph Barsi  21:50  

Oh, I agree. Yeah, it’s, um, what is it ? What is it? What’s the term where the fish stinks from the head? Something like that, right. That’s right. Yeah. I mean, it’s really the Leaders are leading by example, whether they know it or not, they’re not always going to be told that they’re leading with a great example. Or a bad example, people may not say anything at all. But what the leaders need to be sensitive to and cognizant of is, hey, you’re setting an example, you really need to walk the walk, because your entire organization is watching, and will model your leadership or model your example. You’ve got to be aware of that. 


Andy Paul  22:28  

I also need to stress the importance of these basics, which everybody talks about. And it’s one of the things that again, I think it’s sort of like lead follow up to some degree, it’s people management assumes that it’s taking place. We’ve talked about it in a sales meeting, so therefore, it must be taking place. And, and I think sometimes instead of focusing purely on the metrics of how many calls we made, and how many conversations we had, it starts measuring. Did we do our research and was that it? Was that an effective email?


Ralph Barsi  22:59  

That’s right. It has tasked my organization for example, with I want you to get five introductions booked this week. So all of us, most of us have pretty robust networks, at least the higher you go in the organization, we have pretty rich networks. And we’re well connected to the people in that network. At the very least, you should be on LinkedIn, for example, seeing who I am mutually connected with in that organization, whether it’s by one or two degrees. And perhaps I might be able to walk up an introduction for you and help get you connected to the person you’re trying to reach. Or someone in this organization might have that connection. But if you’re not even doing step one and trying to see if or how we are mutually connected, it’s just an uphill climb.


Andy Paul  23:46  

Yeah. And to me, this gets back to the general topic we’re talking about, which is lack of focus, and part of that focus is focusing on doing the things that will increase the odds of success.


Ralph Barsi  23:56  

Over and over again.


Andy Paul  23:59  

Okay, and when includes turning your phone off for goodness sakes.


Ralph Barsi  24:02  

Yeah, exactly.


Andy Paul  24:03  

I mean, just for two hours, like two hours of call, bang, two hours a call, then check your Facebook profile after that. Okay, third one, lack of action.


Ralph Barsi  24:13  

Lack of action.


Andy Paul  24:14  

Now this is interesting you bring this up, because as you and I were talking before we got on the air here is what we’re talking about, you know, the science of selling versus the art of selling. And given how, at least on the inside sales world and SDR BDR is at ours, where every moment is tracked, and every activity is tracked. It’s funny that we’ve been talking about lack of action.


Ralph Barsi  24:39  

Yeah, exactly. So this really stems from a model that I’ve always loved. It was shared by Tony Robbins, and it’s the RPM model results, purpose, massive action. So essentially starting with the end in mind and knowing what outcome you’re after, and then going one layer beneath that to the purpose, why are you even getting out of bed every morning and coming to work? And why are you coming to work at this company? Why are you selling to this audience, so on and so forth. And then once you’re in touch with what your purpose is, or your trigger that’s pulling you through even the toughest of times, you’ve got to take the massive action towards that target. So sometimes that’s as simple as you know, just framing up how the week ahead looks for you. You know, maybe instead of starting at eight or 9am, on a Monday morning, maybe you kind of start mentally, at 4pm on Sunday, and you start taking a look at the week ahead. And you know how you’re going to spend Monday and Friday, maybe those are your days of the week where you do a lot of admin work. But Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, your blinders are on, and all you’re doing is making phone calls and emails and just taking massive action towards the target.


Andy Paul  25:51  

Well, how do you block out or have your reps block out their time? 


Ralph Barsi  25:56  

Let’s take that bookending example. For example, I might share with all my leaders in the organization, hey, let’s do all the one on ones and team meetings and just internal meetings on Mondays and Fridays. And you should expect if you’re not having regular one on ones, for example, with your ADRs, you should expect an email from them every Monday with what targets thereafter what they plan to accomplish by Friday. And then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, leave them alone. Let them do their work. You know, you can always measure activity records in your CRM, but let them do their work, let them make their dials and get engaged with the marketplace. And then on Friday, they recap how well they did against what they said they would do on Monday. And that’s a very simple way to at least get started with framing up the week and making sure everybody’s kind of on the same page.


Andy Paul  26:51  

And during those Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays, are you having them, you know, we’re gonna call two hours in because it’s hard to sustain both in the two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon. or an hour at a time. How do you have them block out the time actually for call?


Ralph Barsi  27:02  

Yeah, yeah, for sure. It really depends on where in the world they’re calling. But yeah, it’s usually taken in bite sized chunks, it’s, you know, you might want to follow the Pomodoro effect, for example, where, you know, you just work on exactly 25 minutes, and you take a three minute break, or a five minute break, so on and so forth. But it’s usually no more than a two hour block at one given time. And then also, you know, as leaders, we want to incentivize and add spiffs if we can, if there’s a specific behavior we’re trying to drive or a specific outcome, we’re trying to drive by the end of day, for example. So there’s a lot of ways you can get super creative as an organization. But what’s really important, as you know, is it’s got to be a collective effort. Everyone’s got to know which way north is, or else you’re just off in all different directions. And it’s really tough to measure at that point.


Andy Paul  27:52  

Right. And so do you then have you talk about you giving your manager some sort of leeway in terms of one on ones and they’re running and so on. I mean, do you try to have more structure or you try to let them sort of determine what’s best for their team?


Ralph Barsi  28:08  

No, there’s a structure that my leaders and I will follow and, and if they want to tailor it to their specific region or office or to him, they’re successful teams, for example, where we have pretty 10 year old seasoned reps, where others have Junior reps who have just started and are just trying to find a bathroom. So if they, the leaders can tailor what our overall goals are and time management goals are with their respective teams that works for me. 


Andy Paul  28:41  

Yeah, I was only laughing because I remember that day. That first day in sales.


Ralph Barsi  28:45  

I know it’s brutal. 


Andy Paul  28:50  

I think I mean,  if there’s something beyond humbling by my room, literally the first day being sent out on calls, and I had no training at all. I mean that I would do it. Well, I think like the first day I went with somebody but then like the second day I was out making calls because it was like two weeks from the time I was hired to time I was being sent off to a training class.I wasn’t gonna have me sit around do nothing. So the rubber met the road a little early. The rubber met the road very early. And yeah, so there’s something beyond humbling. That was sort of it, a lot of good luck. 


Ralph Barsi  29:35  

I had to open the door , you know, after I sold that up.. It was the late 90s. Everything was poppin here in the Bay Area. And I started working for citysearch.com. And I had to go door to door to different businesses to sell them the value of having a presence online. And you know, building a website and crafting a website. So in that door to door experience. I mean, I would walk in two stores. I walked into a kitchenware store one time and I started pitching, you know, the value of having a website, etc. And the guy’s live owner just literally walked me out to the sidewalk and just said, you know, keep pitching all these other merchants. I have zero time for you right now. Yeah, very humbling. Put your ego in check very fast.


Andy Paul  30:19  

Oh, yeah. No, I love to tell stories. So I was working in the East Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Area in Oakland. And early on, when it was getting discouraging, I bought a sandwich for lunch. And I would take it to San Leandro, which was placed at a roadway Park was right at the foot of the runway at Oakland International Airport, so the planes would come land overhead. Yep. And what I noticed is that after doing that for a couple days, it was all the same people parked there. And as I looked at them, they were all like me, they’re all young people. At that time, we’re all wearing the three piece suits white shirts. ties, mostly male. And I thought, Oh yeah, these are all other sales reps that were sitting there going, why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this?


Ralph Barsi  31:11  

Yeah, that’s a good exercise for gauging, like, what is my purpose?  Why? Why am I in this gig? 


Andy Paul  31:18  

Yeah, there’s several of those days. I was like, No. Okay, if I felt better actually saying that our boss was having misery loves company.


Ralph Barsi  31:26  

Yeah, a little crew.


Andy Paul  31:27  

Yeah. All right. So let’s go on to the fourth one here is the fourth one’s no conversation flow.


Ralph Barsi  31:53  

Awesome, awesome. Well, the premises You know, he has a technology that allows sales development reps to record board calls, basically, so that they can play back this game to ape. And their coaches, their leaders can go through these calls with them and kind of pinpoint spots where they can improve or spots that they just gotta keep doing what they’re doing. And it’s amazing when you hear some of these recorded calls on call camp and just walking around the office, you hear some more junior reps have no conversation flow, they might, they might do their due diligence and research the prospects that they’re really trying to engage. But then, you know, who knows what they might say, when that call point actually picks up and says hello, you know, what’s their flow of conversation? Like? Do they match and mirror the tone of that person’s voice? Do they have a beginning, middle and end of the conversation in mind? Are they asking yes &no questions and kind of pigeon holding themselves in the conversation or are they using more open ended questions to you know, infuse some dialogue and some life into the conversation. There’s a lot of different nuances to conversation flow that a lot of Sales development reps and sales people frankly just don’t have down yet.


Andy Paul  33:04  

Well, I think part of the thing is, companies have to be able to help SDRs with some of the opening questions. And unfortunately, because I’ve listened to a lot of recorded calls, is that this whole idea about people being too scripted, is, it’s not too scripted. It’s not. They’re not aware, they’re not present in many respects, and they don’t see the opportunities to ask that follow on question that’s not on the script, they’ll open the door to a greater level of engagement and conversation that’s more natural. And I hear that all the time, as you know, the rep will ask a question. The customer will give an answer and they’ll be a pause while the rep is recording the answer. You know, you’re writing it down or typing it in, and then they go, Okay, yeah, next and next, they go to the next question. Yeah. And oftentimes, the customer leaves the door open a little bit and rather than kicking down the door and asking the great follow on question of which are several I’ll give an example of here’s the sort of pass that opportunity. And so yeah, it never is, they don’t develop that flow and that flow comes from being more authentic and more relaxed and in the conversation. So, you know, a simple tip for people is if you’ve got that opportunity for the next great question. This comes from several people, but a guy named Michael Stan had written this book called the coaching habit. Sure, and a great book because not people who read it. And yeah, he’s got a question that he calls the AWS question, which is the end. What else can you tell me about that? Beautiful, right, beautiful, so people give you an answer, but there’s something there. If you’re paying attention, then you have gotten the next question asked that. And what else can you tell me about that? That will take you right, that will take it on a path where suddenly you start to add value to the prospect because they’re starting to talk about what they’re really concerned about. And you’ve got an opportunity that maybe your competitor is doing what you were going to do isn’t uncovering.


Ralph Barsi  35:00  

You know, what you don’t want to do is have your checklist of questions like you mentioned, and just go 1234 without any, you know, preface for this prospect as to why you’re even asking the questions and what it’s leading to. And I remember, it wasn’t long ago, you had Jeffrey Gitomer on  and I once attended a seminar of Jeffrey’s. It was a good 10 or 15 years ago. And he said, you know, just one simple way that a lot of people look past just to build rapport and credibility is, Hey, if you’re calling somebody in Chicago, one question you might want to ask is, hey, cubs or Sox, right? I mean, sometimes it’s that simple. You know, put yourself literally in their neck of the woods and start to build a little rapport by being personable and personal with them. It just goes such a long way. It’s not even funny.


Andy Paul  35:49  

Well, actually, there’s been some studies that have come out recently about the value of small talk. So here we are, sort of a generation of sales reps really being trained to try to dispense with the small talk Because you’ve got to make so many calls, you know, time is a premium. the customer doesn’t have time. Ashworth funding actually makes a big difference. And so they’ve done studies that actually start with animal studies, not people. But they’re finding that just that just that once or personal connection from a small talk can actually make the difference between winning or losing.


Ralph Barsi  36:22  

Oh, for sure, without question, and these are super busy people. So be sensitive there to their time. I mean, all but it doesn’t mean you have to, like you said just dispense of small talk and ignore it altogether.


Andy Paul  36:32  

Yeah. So another thing about conversation flow, it just that I think is getting back to the core question: the answer to the two things one, is that it sort of extends your curiosity question. But the other is, where the companies can help is to make sure the reps have questions and why called killer questions, but do what there is the questions that ask the customer something about their business that they should know but don’t.


Ralph Barsi  36:57  

That’s right, and have it written down in front of you. 


Andy Paul  37:00  

So those are corporate assets. I mean, you shouldn’t be if your manager isn’t this, you shouldn’t say, Well, my rep should come up with those. No, these are things you come up with because you have the, the more insight, the more experience. We in the business, the marketing people come with, arm your reps with one or two of those. Those become great conversation openers.


Ralph Barsi  37:19  

That’s right. Wow, I’m really glad you said that. Because I think so many sales and sales development leaders need to not lose sight of the fact that they are teachers, and instructors and coaches, they all have different styles. They all have different levels of that instruction that they’re going to give or not give. But at the end of the day, you are your teacher. And these days, your team’s looking at you for guidance, and you just have to be aware of how much guidance you think they need. 


Andy Paul  37:48  

Okay, so the last of the list is failure to keep improving.


Ralph Barsi  37:52  

Wow. So I live in the Bay Area. As I mentioned, I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors. The 40 Niners I’ve been a drummer my whole life, there’s a ton of bands I love to go watch and listen to. But Andy, not one of them has cut a check to me yet. No one has paid for my kids’ education or put food on my table. So I can only talk about and focus on them so much. So instead of going home after a day of hard work, yeah, the game might be on and it could be an important game. But I know I have to sharpen my craft. And I have to improve my competencies and skills. So I’m listening to podcasts like yours. I’m listening to the conversations you have often with Bridget, for example, or I’m reading some of the books that we talked about. And I’m just trying to better my game. I have a very curious mind and a very beginner’s mind when I approach my craft. And I think a lot of salespeople fall short of that. And they’re not focused on improving their game. And they’re wondering why people aren’t calling them back. They’re wondering why they’re not hitting quota. they’re wondering why they’re struggling. And it’s a pretty simple fix, like, just start focusing on your craft and being the best at it. And you’re gonna find you’re moving the needle a little bit. So that’s what that’s what that fifth barrier really, really focuses on just fine tuning the craft and your and your skills around it.


Andy Paul  39:19  

Well, I think using the word craft is something I really, really appreciate. Excited selling is a craft, right? I mean, it’s  a human pursuit. And it involves a lot of complexity, you know, between two people that are multiple people that are trying to engage in this transaction. And yeah, there’s this element of a craft that you have to and I know, that’s a lot of writing these days of saying that, hey, it’s all about the science of selling and if you think there’s still an art to selling, you’re mistaken. And quite frankly, those people are wrong. It’s not either or, there’s elements of Science and elements of craft. You have to Master both in order to be optimally successful these days, and that craft’s importance is not diminishing. If anything, I think as we become more data driven, it becomes a differentiator. So, to your point, Ralph, I agree, I think we were talking before he came on the air about conversation I’ve had with Mike drapeau recently from sales benchmark, talking about a term they use as the sacrifice tolerance level and that they use to measure sales candidates and I think that’s a you know, if you’re listening to this, think about that. What does that mean? It’s what they’re trying to measure as potential employers. What sacrifices are you willing to make to succeed?


Ralph Barsi  40:44  

I love that. You know, are you willing to say I love it?


Andy Paul  40:46  

Are you willing to sacrifice, watching your favorite TV show? Are you willing to sacrifice Game of thrones or whatever it is. I mean, I fly to Hawaii, a lot. That’s what I use on top I do on the plane as I catch up with my binge watching


Ralph Barsi  41:04  

Perfect venue.


Andy Paul  41:05  

Yeah, my daughter thinks I’m a hermit because I’m aware of all these cool new series that are coming up in this golden age of television but yeah, we’re making a choice we’re gonna focus on doing this podcast and other things to improve my craft rather than watching those at this time. And that’s why sales reps really it’s a deliberate choice you’re gonna make.


Ralph Barsi  41:25  

Yeah, I feel you know, as I go through the sales career of mine, I want to leave a nice trail of breadcrumbs behind me of the insights and findings and recommendations that I want to contribute. Just think there’s a lot that salespeople are going through that others can learn from, and leverage and, you know, use that time to write a great article or something, or, you know, tee up that your next 10 social media shares as we talked about, or fine tune your profiles, or reach Yeah, read a book, learn, learn. Some new skills. There’s always something to learn and something to apply that’s going to up your game. get after it.


Andy Paul  42:08  

Yeah. I mean, it’d be nice if and I think, too many employees in general, not just sales reps, sort of say, Look, I’m depending on my employer too, you know, give me this training, give me this knowledge. And unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. I mean, it may have been the case 40 or 50 years ago where, you know, companies embraced new college graduates and put them through these extensive training programs. But that’s just not reality. So reality is you have to take responsibility for your own development. First and foremost.


Ralph Barsi  42:41  

Absolutely. They remind me of a great quote from the US Navy SEALs and it’s very simple. You’re not here to survive this. You’re here to take charge of it.


Andy Paul  42:50  

Right? Oh, good. I love that. That’s great.


Ralph Barsi  42:53  

So tweak your mind set to start taking charge of things and don’t hope things happen or wait for things to happen instead. expect them to happen and take initiative and you’re just going to create a much more entertaining and fun career path for yourself.


Andy Paul  43:08  

I love it. Okay, perfect. So we went through these five barriers to sales success. Had a great talk. Long one to compare the many of them so hopefully people will stick around to the end to listen to this. So yeah, sound so now we go to the last segment show. I’ve got some standard questions I ask all my guests. First one, you’ve probably heard time and time again, hypothetical scenario, you’ve just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have stalled out. The CEO is anxious to get things unstuck, hit the reset button, and get back on track. So what two things could you do your first week on the job that could have the biggest impact?


Ralph Barsi  43:48  

Number one, go talk to the existing customers. And when I say that, I mean physically go talk to the existing customers and find out from soup to nuts. What were the critical business issues that they had before our company, parachuted it in and fixed everything? And how well have we done in doing so that’s that’s one of the first things I would find out. The second thing is probably unconventional, but I would really get under the hood of how effectively or not the companies can be indicated with the marketplace. I think a lot of people overlook the importance of great writing. And what I mean by that is everything from, you know, obviously emails to how the contract is drawn up, or how a statement of work is drawn up. And how things are communicated in terms of this is what you invested in us to do for you. And this is how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to measure our progress. I think those are two areas I would look at first and foremost.


Andy Paul  44:53  

Excellent. I like that. Okay, so some rapid fire questions you can be one word answers if you want or elaborate. And the first one is when you Ralph are out selling your services, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?


Ralph Barsi  45:10  

I don’t think about myself Andy, I think about the person I’m talking to


Andy Paul  45:15  

I love it. Who’s your sales role model?


Ralph Barsi  45:22  

That’s a tough one because there’s many. 


Ralph Barsi  45:31  

He runs two different businesses that you could look up. One is called a growth lab. And one is called I will teach you to be rich. Very interesting. And he is a fabulous writer and speaker. I actually look forward to the regular emails I get from him because I subscribe to his blog years ago, and I highly recommend people start checking out with me.


Andy Paul  46:07  

All right, excellent. Go check that out for sure. Okay, what’s what’s one book every salesperson should read?


Ralph Barsi  46:15  

How to Win Friends and Influence People


Andy Paul  46:16  

Dale Carnegie number one, you know after I’ve interviewed about 400 people now and number one on the list by far


Ralph Barsi  46:24  

I’m not surprised. It must be in your bookshelf written I’m just to be as a human, not necessarily a salesperson. Get that book.


Andy Paul  46:34  

Okay, last question. You talked about bands and so on. So what music is on your playlist these days?


Ralph Barsi  46:43  

Oh, good one. Let’s see these days if I’m listening to the new Metallica record. They have a new record called hardwired to self destruct and it’s like bringing back the old school. Man. I listen to them. When I had a paper route. I would be folding papers in the driveway. I had to kill them all on a tape cassette, and they’re bringing back that old school sound and I just love it gets me all fired up. 


Andy Paul  47:08  

I was just listening to the new Green Day album. Yeah, same thing. Cool. Green Day gets me going. Alright good Metallica Love it. Love it. All right, Ralph. Thanks for being on the show. So tell people how they can find out more about you or connect with you or find out more about ServiceNow.


Ralph Barsi  47:24  

Well, thanks for having me, Andy. To find out about ServiceNow just go to ServiceNow.com.. You can learn a lot about us there to find out about me on LinkedIn. I am Ralph Barsi. Twitter is at Ralph Barsi and I have a kind of a blog at Ralphbarsi.com. I think I’ve got five subscribers now. I’m pretty excited about it.


Andy Paul  47:58  

There you go. All right. Well, thanks for being on the show. And remember, friends, thank you for taking time out of your day to join us here and make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success and easy way to do that is to make this podcast a part of your daily routine. That way, you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Ralph barsi, who shared his expertise on how to accelerate the growth of your business. And if you enjoy the content we’re putting out please take a minute to go to iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you listen, and leave some feedback for us and review. We really appreciate it. So again, I’m Andy Paul, thanks for joining me Until next time, good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher comm for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com