April 14, 2022

5 Reasons Salespeople Miss Quota

5 Reasons Salespeople Miss Quota

In today’s episode of the ‘Sales Samurai’ podcast, host Sam Capra who helps marketing leaders in the retail space go beyond the sale/transaction talks with guest Ralph Barsi and discusses 5 reasons why salespeople miss quotas. He also shares how we can learn and overcome them.

Episode Highlights

  • 01:40 – Ralph shares, he oversees the global inside sales organization Tray.io in San Francisco. They are in a general automation platform and help a lot of companies integrate all the components of their tech stack.
  • 03:23 – Sam enquires, how did Ralph got started in sales and what's his origin story around sales?
  • 05:37 – What's not changed in sales is people buy from people and people selling to people must build rapport and credibility quickly by not thinking about themselves but the sellers point out Ralph.
  • 07:10 – Ralph highlights, buyers have access to so much information to learn from, that's where the sellers come in. That's where sellers need to differentiate themselves as trusted adviser.
  • 10:28 - The first obscurity just comes down to so many sales reps, especially sales development reps, who are initiating a lot of first conversations with prospects that nobody knows who they are.
  • 11:05 – Ralph mentions, you attract opportunities by becoming attractive in the marketplace. You do that by adding value to the marketplace, and the best channel to do that is LinkedIn.
  • 13:32 – You've got to build up who you are and why one should listen to you even more. You don't have to do that if you've been avoiding obscurity this whole time.
  • 15:52 – Sam asks when Ralph says lack of focus, how that impacts salespeople missing quota?
  • 16:25 - If you're trying to serve your mission of closing deals, making your quota, and moving the needle as a sales rep, you have to boil things down to one thing, says Ralph.
  • 18:00 – Ralph mentions, one of the best tools that he has seen that might be effective from a lack of focus standpoint is it was published a few years ago, by a gentleman named Brendon Burchard. He created and published a one-page productivity plan.
  • 22:50 – Sam enquires about Ralph’s thoughts around inactivity.
  • 24:13 – It’s about planning your work, and not just kind of hoping it all works out.
  • 26:28 – It doesn't matter at all if somebody opened your email, it does not move the needle but if somebody responds to your email, engages and books that meeting with you that means there's something you're putting in the right spot in terms of how you craft your messages.
  • 29:10 - No matter what models you look at or acronyms you want to toss around, it always comes down to taking action and doing what you say you're going to do.
  • 30:46 – You will establish conversation flow when you have a beginning, middle and an end in your mind in a conversation, states Ralph. 
  • 32:15 – You’ve to be prepared as a salesperson at all times to establish conversation flow, mentions Ralph.
  • 42:00 – Sam questions Ralph about his thoughts on failure to keep improving.
  • 46:10 – If you just ask yourself, how good am I at this, you'll get your wheels cranking and, in your head, you'll start making some little changes that make the big things happen.

Three Key Points

  1. To all the salespeople, keep your finger on the pulse of all that's going on. So be on point with where your competitors are today. Be on point with where your customers or competitors are today so that you can help and meet with your prospects and customers.
  2. The five reasons why salespeople miss quota: 1. Obscurity 2. Lack of focus 3. Inactivity, 4. No conversation flow 5. Failure to keep improving.
  3. You can work on developing these things. These are not environmental or landscape issues that are pushing against you but these are things you can control.

Tweetable Quotes

  • “This whole concept of five barriers came to mind back in 2015 when I kept reading data and seeing it first-hand that too many reps weren't hitting quota over and over again.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “You can overcome all five of these barriers if you just start leaning into it.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “What I've seen the best salespeople do is they attract opportunities to them.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “You have to discern quickly, is this urgent and important, is it important but not urgent, etc.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “Only 38% of salespeople's time is spent in sales-related activities." – Sam Capra
  • “You can't take a boat out on the lake and just expect fish to jump in the boat. That's not how prospecting works.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “I've noticed throughout life that every big disappointment in life is a result of not putting in the work and doing enough activity.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “We have conversations with people if you can't flow, you're screwed.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “You've got to always have in your mind, a couple of conversation starters, open-ended questions.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “I don't think people rehearse or practice much conversation flow and you never know when you're going to be rubbing elbows with a CEO in an elevator.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “The quota is if we did things that we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” - Ralph Barsi
  • “You got to always be learning and also contributing to the conversation.”- Ralph Barsi

Resources Mentioned

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Speaker 0    00:00:01    Coming to you from Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Florida, and streaming around the world around the world. You're not tuned in to the sales samurai podcast. The only B2B sales podcast, providing unfiltered unapologetic views and tactics directly from the sales trenches. Here's your host, Sam Capra.  
Speaker 1    00:00:29    Welcome to another episode of the sales samurai. Thanks for listening. Before we begin, do us a favor, take a moment to subscribe and download on today's show. We're going to be discussing five reasons. Salespeople, miss quota, and I have an amazing guest for you guys today. Uh, Ralph Barsi advisor and VP of sales for trey.io. Ralph, how are you, man? Thanks for coming on.  
Speaker 2    00:00:51    Thank you, Sam. I'm great. How are you  
Speaker 1    00:00:53    Living the dream meal? 2022. It's a, it depends on how you look at, it's kind of getting a rough start to some degree, but all is great in my world.  
Speaker 2    00:01:01    Yeah, same here. I'm always working on my attitude of gratitude, so I'm just a, I'm grateful for even the most minor things.  
Speaker 1    00:01:10    I love it, man. And there's a lot to be grateful for. Right. I mean, obviously there's a tremendous amount to be grateful for. So you've gotta look at the bright side of things.  
Speaker 2    00:01:17    Amen brother. Hey,  
Speaker 1    00:01:19    So, Hey, I know just from an audience standpoint, I know I've gotten to know you on LinkedIn and we've kind of crossed some paths and we're trying to figure out where we cropped bass. I think we've landed on something around Italian heritage. That's where we've landed. We haven't quite tended to have, we were close.  
Speaker 2    00:01:34    Yep. Sounds right.  
Speaker 1    00:01:36    Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.  
Speaker 2    00:01:37    Sure. Hello everybody. I'm Ralph. Barsi really excited to be here. Yeah. I oversee the global inside sales organization at Trey in San Francisco. We are in a general automation platform and we help a lot of companies integrate all the components of their tech stack and drive automated workflows from them. This is, I don't know, you're 28, 29 of my career. I used to have a full head of hair. I now have no hair. Most of my career was spent actually as an individual contributor. I was an account executive for a lot of different companies in a lot of different industries, but of late over the last decade or so I've really, uh, focused on building and leading teams, specifically sales, development teams. Those who are, you know, at the top of the funnel, typically between marketing and sales responsible for lead qualification and lead generation. And I do a lot of writing and speaking on the side, just sharing all the observations and insights from my experience in hopes that it'll help someone and be useful.  
Speaker 1    00:02:39    That's awesome, man. Yeah. You know, it's funny. I think this profession, I'm sure there's a lot of professionals out there that are similar, but I'm not as aware of them. This is obviously what I live in Bri. This is a profession that you just constantly have to be good. Like it just changes so much. There's so many things going on from technology techniques, how you social selling all these different things that if you're not constantly improving, you're constantly falling behind. Right. Ralph is, am I fair to say that?  
Speaker 2    00:03:07    Yeah, no question. I couldn't agree with you more Sam, you know, you've got to have your finger on the pulse of the proliferation of apps that are out there, all the, just evolutions of SAS, startups, et cetera. And you've got to keep in mind that the big family tree as well, because people go from one company to the next to the next and they circle back and boom, there you are sitting right in front of them. 10 years later. It's a real trip.  
Speaker 1    00:03:31    Yeah. Without a doubt. I always love origin stories. How did you get started in sales? What's your origin story around sales?  
Speaker 2    00:03:38    I was a newspaper boy. I grew up in Pacifica, California, right on the coast in Northern California. And I used to ride my diamond back BMX bike all through the neighborhood, throwing papers on people's porches. And that's where I got it started because I had to collect the checks as well at the end of every month. So that meant literally walking onto the porch, knocking on the door and confronting your customers. And you learn your chops, how to Polish those jobs very quickly doing that.  
Speaker 1    00:04:08    That's awesome, man. What was your very first professional, wherever you want to call it B to B or kind of professional job of being sales job, if you don't mind.  
Speaker 2    00:04:16    Yeah. Right out of college, I started as an intern, a paid intern at ups and that morphed into a really incredible, uh, account executive role for ups where I was for close to six years. Uh, what I loved about it was going in through the back door, talking with all the leaders who were running the shipping docks and talk to them about their supply chain challenges. And I had to wear a full suit, carry the briefcase, the whole nine yards.  
Speaker 1    00:04:44    That brings back a lot. I remember the power of ties. I used to work for the uniform industry and I was like, I'm walking into a mechanic shop with a blue jacket, a red tie and a white shirt. Like I look like the IRS walking in the door.  
Speaker 2    00:04:58    That's so true. I was lucky enough to have a colleague at ups who worked in central California. And I went down to do some sales calls with him and he was like, dude, lose the tie. I mean, I understand you're here to represent, but you know, you've got to meet your people where they are and they don't wear ties. So if you want to build rapport and credibility, lose the tie as fast as possible.  
Speaker 1    00:05:19    Yeah. Th those are the things that you only learn from fellow people like people in the trenches with you, right. That, those little insights that when you get in the car, yeah. Take off the jacket, loosen the tie and head on your way when no one sees you, but that's what you have to do from just the dynamic of your environment. So that's funny, you've been doing this a long time, like you said, you've been doing it for now 26 years. I always ask this question, like, in your opinion, from a sales perspective, like what's been the biggest change in sales from the best from it's really gone the right way to, Hey, in your opinion, what's actually gone the wrong way  
Speaker 2    00:05:53    I have found. Let's see, here's, what's not changed. Sam people buy from people. And it's really, really important that people selling to people build rapport and credibility pretty quickly by not thinking about themselves, the sellers that's really important,  
Speaker 1    00:06:11    Not changed, right? Ralph, that's a consistent, it's always been that way in sales, right?  
Speaker 2    00:06:15    Not at all that has not changed. That's been a constant. What has changed is just everybody's access to information. You know, it's at everyone's fingertips. As you know, we have this deluge of information coming across the wire at all times. I can learn a lot about you, your podcast, your background, your company, before you even show up to my office or meet me on a, on an online call. And I think that's a big, big difference today than when I was starting out  
Speaker 1    00:06:41    Without a doubt. So you know how I've heard, I want to get your thoughts on it because you know, it always revolves around the similar answer. I'm hearing this as a trend, you know, technology. And I think this was that dilute of information you were talking about, right? There's just so much access, but I've also heard along that access is there's obviously the access of technology where some reps good make them a lot better from a bad side. It makes a lazy rep a little bit lazier because I think you can attest this. I mean, I've been back in my days, you had to go to the library. If you want to do a research on some company, like it took some work to do some research that it was a challenge right now. Let's just say this keystroke of a YouTube video or a Google search or LinkedIn search. Right? So like, those are the, that's kind of what I heard you agree about the automation kind of being a double edged sword.  
Speaker 2    00:07:28    Totally. Yeah. I totally agree with it. And because people, buyers that is have access to so much information, content, et cetera, to learn from that's where you, the seller really come in. That's where you need to differentiate yourself as a trusted advisor. That's where you've done your due diligence and your homework on them and on their industry and on the big challenges that personas like them are facing. So you can come in and say, look, you know, all this information you're reading and all this content that's in your face. Here's what you need to think about first, second, third. And here's why here's what we've been finding. Here's what I want to talk to you about today. And I want to get your take on it because I'm seeing a lot of lift from people who are going this route in other light companies. And now you're different from all the other sellers who were like, you know, Hey, so what did you think Sam, you read at all? Like, tell me what you think versus really taking initiative and being proactive as a seller.  
Speaker 1    00:08:26    I think to your point, you know, it used to be, there was not enough information. They had to rely on a salesperson to educate them. Now it's almost the opposite where there's so much information, but they still need a salesperson to help them sift through it and understand it and articulate it and basically be a sounding board to understand how, how do we navigate this to make the best buying decision we possibly can as a good sales person? That's what you should be focused on doing.  
Speaker 2    00:08:50    Yeah, without question. And it, you know, the onus now is on the salespeople to, again, as we talked about, keep your finger on the pulse of all that's going on. So be on point with where your competitors are today, be on point with where your customers, competitors are today, so that you can really help. So together a narrative when you do meet with your prospects and customers, that's  
Speaker 1    00:09:12    Fantastic. Hey, so it's a good segue into kind of what we discuss because obviously as a salesperson, it's probably one of the only positions I've ever seen that is 100% performance based. I mean, everything depends on you performing at a high level, right? You're not staying at a company very long if you're not performing, not hitting quota. So we're going to talk about five reasons, salespeople misquoted, right? So I want to kind of dig into this because obviously it's near and dear to my heart. I know it probably is as well on your side, leading salespeople and sales organizations, quotas, we're all benchmarked against either as leaders from a board and the CEO or the sales reps from their leader, from a VP of sales, kind of helping them understand that and articulate that. So let's walk through it because there was a few things as we were discussing this and we were bouncing back, some ideas, number one jumped out at me, we're going to read the list. We're going to go through it. And I want you to help me Ralph. Cause there's five things that you put we'll read through it. The woman to tackle them one by one, number one was obscurity. This was the, I was really loved. Then lack of focus in activity, no conversation flow and failure to keep improving, which I love that one by the way. So let's go back to the top obscurity, help me understand that. Give me some context around that.  
Speaker 2    00:10:25    Yeah, sure. So this whole concept of the five barriers came to mind back in 2015 when I just kept reading data and seeing it firsthand that just too many reps, weren't hitting quota over and over again. And it really boiled down to these, to these five barriers. All of which, by the way, Sam are self-imposed. The good news is you can overcome all five of these barriers if you just start leaning into it. So the first obscurity just comes down to so many sales reps, especially a sales development reps who are initiating a lot of the first conversations with prospects that nobody knows who they are. Literally, nobody knows who they are. So an email might come in from a seller SDR or an account executive, and the buyer has no clue. They might know who the company is, but they don't know who the person is.  
Speaker 2    00:11:14    So obscurity is a really big barrier where you need to start getting known. I mean, what's most important. What I've seen the best salespeople do is they attract opportunities to them. They don't pursue opportunities and chase them down. And you attract opportunities by becoming attractive in the marketplace. You do that by adding value to the marketplace, the best channel to do that, that both you and I know about is LinkedIn. If you send a halfway decent email or leave a great voicemail for a potential buyer and they're kind of interested and they want to look you the first thing that's likely going to come up, when they Google search you is your LinkedIn profile. So give them something to learn about when they arrive there, you should have a great profile picture. That's professionally taken. I suggest just smile in the picture, you know, and be a warm spirit in that profile picture, fill out the stuff that your profile allows you to fill out your header, the endorsements that you might've received, accolades or things that you've accomplished, how you've moved things from X to Y in a given timeframe throughout your career. Don't just repeat your resume. Don't just tell people what the tasks and responsibilities were of your roles. Actually show people how you move the needle. Not only for the companies you've represented, but for the customers that you've served. And that's how you start to build your brand in the marketplace. That's just one major channel. As we all know that everybody could probably double down on  
Speaker 1    00:12:52    Without a doubt. It's funny that as you're talking about, I think 100% and some people will call it social selling, they'll call it personal branding. They'll call it, thought leadership, whatever you want to call it, a bucket. It as I still am surprised at how many people I'm not saying do it completely, because I think there's elements of LinkedIn that I, I still am not doing to the yet that I should be doing it, but to not even take it to, I still see people that don't have a header or don't have an about me and kind of what I do. The basically the value prop, if you will. And it is a glorified resume, it's uninteresting. There's nothing of engagement around it, but that's how they approach the market. Right? And that's a very, that's kind of the first depression, especially in today's remote environment. That is that's your first impression is that platform, if you will. Right, right.  
Speaker 2    00:13:43    It is. And now as a buyer or a prospect, if I'm trying to learn about you and it's really, really an uphill climb for me to figure some things out about who you are now, you've got to really make an extra effort when we do talk granted, if I, if I'm even gonna give you a call or write back to you and create a two-way street of conversation, now you've got to really build up who you are and why I should listen to you even more. And you don't have to do that. If you've been avoiding obscurity this whole time, perhaps you're also contributing to a blog, or maybe you presented at a conference or on a webinar or something. And there's just something I can see to learn more about you and your product offering.  
Speaker 1    00:14:26    Yeah, that's fantastic. Somebody gave me an idea and I can't remember it was in a book. I thought it was a great idea and I'm still in the process of implementing it. But, you know, I always thought it was a good idea when you sell an account, why not reach out to that champion, that buyer and ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn. It's basically saying, Hey, I endorsed this person. Look what they've done for me. It's just connecting those dots. It's a way of separating yourself from the pack. Look, I got this brand. This brand has given me recommendations. And it's from someone that will probably give it to you because they just did business with you. And they're more than happy to say why they did business with you. And, but that's an easy gap,  
Speaker 2    00:15:02    Right? W I think it is. I mean, two other ways you can address that is you can ask them who else like you in your network or in your industry could use this offering. Who else do I not know that you might be able to broker an introduction for me to another thing you can do as a, a great top-notch sales rep is reach back out to that customer in three months and say, Hey, it's Ralph, how are things going? Is, has it been a bumpy road? Has it been smooth? Tell me the feedback that I need to know. So I can really close the loop well, on this end and make sure that we're serving you at world-class levels. I mean, so many salespeople just neglect to do the basic stuff like that.  
Speaker 1    00:15:45    Yeah. Without a doubt. So I want to hop into number two. So I think obscurity is as well on point, I think in today's day and age, there's so much information to your point earlier in a dilution that you need to separate yourself from the pack and brand awareness, personal branding, whatever you want to call it is I think it's all a part of it's just micro steps, right? Every little advantage you can get. That's what separates yourself from the pack. And that's what you should be focused on. Lack of focus, because I actually find this one to be an intriguing one. I don't think enough emphasis is put on, but kind of help us understand when you say lack of focus, how does that impact salespeople missing quota?  
Speaker 2    00:16:23    Well, the old adage is if you chase two rabbits, they both get away talking about all that information. That's coming across the wire, using our mobile devices, and we've got slack or teams popping off every five seconds, et cetera, et cetera. It is very, very difficult to focus. And it's okay that there's a lot of people out there that are working on a lot of different things. Spinning a lot of plates is what I call it. But at the end of the day, if you're really trying to serve your mission of closing deals, making your quota and moving the needle as a sales rep, you have to really boil things down to one thing. You have got to decide what it is you're not going to focus on and why. So sometimes you need that urgency and importance quadrant, you know, where you're like you have to discern quickly, is this urgent and important? Is it important, but not urgent, et cetera, et cetera. And that should help govern your days and your weeks. So we would also step into talking about owning your calendar and owning your time versus other people owning your time. And that's another thing that just kind of brings literally things into focus and gets you centered into what matters most right now in the moment.  
Speaker 1    00:17:39    That's awesome. Okay. So what are some ideas? So you were kind of going down that path, owning your time versus someone else, like what are some tips that you would recommend Ralph and your experience to kind of start in and really kind of getting more focused on the things that matter. I love that because such as where you choose to spend your time, it's where you choose not to spend your time is just as important. What are some ideas, some tips that you can kind of give to the audience that might be effective from a lack of focus standpoint?  
Speaker 2    00:18:04    Yeah, sure. So one of the best tools I've seen out there, it was published a few years ago by a gentleman named Brendan Burchard. He created and published, what's called the one page productivity plan or planner. And it's literally a one-page PDF that you could download from his website, but it really focuses on the three P's projects, people and priorities. And on that one pager, he helps you map out, like, what are the three most important projects for me to focus on right now or in this given window, the second. And I think the most important comes down to people and he breaks people into two categories. There are people that must hear from you today. And then there are people that you must hear from today and you kind of don't move forward until you get some correspondence going on with those important people.  
Speaker 2    00:18:57    And then thirdly, with respect to priorities, it's basically the main things that I have to do or focus on today, no matter what. And I think if you just put up barriers, I mean, pun intended. If you put up barriers of your own and limits and you get really good at, I don't know, crafting an out of office message in email or managing expectations for those that work with you the most that, Hey, look, I check email twice a day at this time, and this time I will respond, et cetera, et cetera, just kind of communicate and put those signals out that you're pretty focused on what you need to do right now in the moment. And people will honor that for the most part.  
Speaker 1    00:19:36    I love that, man. I am not as familiar, but I want to make sure we get a link to that in the show notes that that productivity guide, because that's fantastic. I would say this is an area where I think I can always improve. I think most people could always improve finding greater efficiencies, finding better ways of staying on task, because what is the old saying? What only 38 someone godly amount, like only 38% of sales people's time is actually spent in sales related activities. Like it, it's an unbelievably low number, which is almost shocking, right? It's because all of the other minutia that you get bogged down with breaks my heart. One of the things that I know mentor taught me and it's really trivial and it's very slight, but it's helped me. It's just blocking off times in the calendar, like dedicated, prospecting, dedicated lunch hours, that those things that, Hey, it's already in my calendar.  
Speaker 1    00:20:26    I have dedicated meeting slots that, you know, people can select though. I have dedicated internal meetings. And if you want to meet with me, it's only on Monday and Friday between this window of time and this window, no time. Like I think doing some of those things, I think it goes right, what you were saying, Ralph it's, it's all setting proper expectations. And I find myself doing it and then peeling back for a minute, trying to get back to it. But those are the basics, right? For off. If you just got to get your arms around.  
Speaker 2    00:20:52    Oh, big time. Yeah. You're a hundred percent, right? You've got to make prospecting to your point, Sam, you got to make it sacred. You've got to have those blinders on and everyone needs to know, Hey, between these hours of these days, I am prospecting. That's a critical part of what I do everyday because that pays the bills for me. So nobody messes with that. And you'll find, like I said, most of your colleagues and peers, they'll totally respect that time, but you know, unless you're putting it out there and letting people know, you're just going to get bombarded all day long,  
Speaker 1    00:21:27    Without a doubt, I used to have that same mentor said, Hey, manage up right. Manage expectations up or set that set expectation for your boss. And they'll, they'll respect it because obviously that's what you're supposed to be doing is what you're hiring for. But as an individual contributor own that piece, and it's not up to your boss to say, Hey, this should be blocked off like own that piece from a self-development standpoint, if you will,  
Speaker 2    00:21:49    Big time, I'm glad you brought that up. You know, I host office hours internally for my team and some of my, a players are so focused and so specific and so good at managing up that they have shared with me, Ralph, look, I love you appreciate the guidance and the offer for your office hour. I won't be attending many of them if any of them, because it's right smack in the middle of when I'm doing my prospecting and I'm not going to mess with that. I totally respect that. And they have yet to attend it, but at least I understand why  
Speaker 1    00:22:23    That's awesome, man. I think it's good for the younger people to hear that. Like, you're good. I mean like that's what a leader expects of their sales team is to own that own, their time own with are responsible for it and really drive that to the goal. Why? I mean, I, I've never bucked back on rep. I say, Hey, that's dedicated time. Don't book that Sam and me say, no, I want to book it. I need to talk to you. But I think as a younger sales rep, you're almost like, well, I got to do what my boss tells me. They make take that the wrong way. But I love hearing that there's a lot of everybody I've ever talked to has always been that way. He's like less than as a sales leader. That's what I want to see my rep do. Oh,  
Speaker 2    00:22:56    Without question that's leadership by example. I mean, through and through  
Speaker 1    00:23:01    Without a doubt. So this one I think is pretty evident, but I want to talk through this because I think in today's environment, it's becoming a little bit difficult to understand some success criteria and we'll talk through it, but an activity I want to get your thoughts. I want to understand when you say inactivity kind of what your thoughts are around that.  
Speaker 2    00:23:19    Yeah. It's rampant in sales. It drives me crazy. As a sales leader, people often say they're going to do things and they just don't. People are lame when it comes to following up and following through I'm interviewing what I think are top-notch candidates. And then I don't even get a thank you email. They just don't take the action to do things. Uh, talking about activity level with my team is the last I want to talk about. If you ask why five times, you know, you finally get down to people just aren't doing the work. You know, they're not taking any action. It's I call it. Don't just do something stand there, right? It drives me crazy. But you know, Sam, you talked about prospecting and that's a really good example where people could be a lot more active just with their outbound work or even with their lead follow-up, you know, with respect to outbound prospecting, I liken it to a fishermen. You can't take a boat out on the lake and just expect fish to jump in the boat. That's not how prospecting works. You got to go out on a certain time of day. You got to bait the line with the right bait. You got to know what kind of fish you're likely going to catch when you drop the line. It's cetera, et cetera. It all translates to what we do in sales all the time. I mean, it's about planning your work and actually working your plan, not just kind of hoping it all works out.  
Speaker 0    00:24:44    You're listening to the sales samurai podcast. We'll be right back after this break  
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Speaker 1    00:25:23    It's funny you bring that up because, and I think this is where I was going with it earlier. I was saying success criteria has been a little bit skewed. I think this goes back to the technology thing is sometimes I find that salespeople almost equate like, Hey, I did 500 emails. I was productive today. I made 200 calls. Like, well, how many conversations did you have? How many meetings did you like? It what's the net result. Right? I think. And then the other piece of that is there is this through this automation, I did send 500 emails back, got no meetings and there's this anticipation. If I build it, they will come. Like the fish will jump in the boat just because I sent out the perfect email Sam's going to respond. Ralph has got that. Just doesn't happen. Like I can never remember anyone I've ever met cold on the very first email. I cold called them that I literally got, I never remember the first email. I got an immediate response. Maybe it has happened. I don't know. But most times it's after I've called him twice. I've emailed him once I've linked in to them twice, I commented I've reviewed his profile. Like it takes multiple, multiple steps in that process. Like you said, working your plan and not just hoping for the best. I said a lot there. So I want to get your thoughts on.  
Speaker 2    00:26:35    Yeah. Well, the reason you're not hearing back from them the first time is because guess what? They're the ones actually working. You know, they're not on automation to do their job for them. And I have a lot of respect for automated outreach. My team uses it. I even use it. Uh, but you can't measure, engage your activity level to your point, Sam, on, you know, like an open rate, you know what I mean? So what if somebody opened your email? It doesn't matter at all, does not move the needle. But if somebody actually responds to your email and engages and books that meeting with you, now we're talking. That means there's something you're really putting in the right spot in terms of how you craft your messages. So yeah, really important. But I mean, I've noticed throughout life that every big disappointment in life is a result of just not putting in the work and doing enough activity  
Speaker 1    00:27:28    Without a doubt. And I think there's another layer to that raft, to that inactivity. And you've said this a couple of times is not even not just the activity. It's the plan. Because if you have a plan, an activity is a part of it. You just follow through with the plan. I think you mentioned follow through as well. It's like, what is the plan? And having those conversations both internally to self-critique yourself. I, what is my plan with this account? And then also from a sales leadership standpoint, helping guide that sometimes it's not even a question of lack of follow-up, it's just a lack of a plan. Like, Hey, what's the strategy here? What are we doing here? That's what I'm always kind of not dumbfounded. I'm always like that's, what's missing. And I don't know if that's because of the technology or what that is, but that's just been my viewpoint if you will.  
Speaker 2    00:28:12    Yeah. There are three acronyms that I'll leave the audience with. And hopefully this will help those of you listening, who are struggling with framing up a plan to frame up a plan, a one that's really going to be effective for you and your life. The first comes from Simon Sinek. He talks about a concept of a golden circle. And it's very similar to what a bullseye looks like on a dark board. He always starts with why, why are we doing this? Why, why do we exist? Why are we at work? Why is this the mission? Whatever it is, you have to start with the why the purpose. Then you go out one ring and you're talking about the, how, okay, we've identified the why now? How are we going to put things in place to get this done? And then the last ring is what?  
Speaker 2    00:28:58    So what is it that we're doing? What does it look like, et cetera. So that's a great model that might help. Second model is like you hear in golf, par P a R what is the problem we are trying to solve? What are we trying to resolve? And what solutions are we thinking about applying to address this problem? That's the P then the a is obviously the action that's going to take place or the activities that are going to take place to inform, solving that problem. And guess what happens when you do that? The R shows up and now you've got results. Now you've got outcomes. A third, very similar acronym, I think came from Tony Robbins. It's RPM, it's results, its purpose and its massive action. So no matter how you slice it, no matter what models you look at or acronyms, you want to toss around, it always comes down to taking action and doing what you say you're going to do.  
Speaker 1    00:29:55    I love that, man. I think that's, I've found that that piece, that inactivity or lack of plan or however you want to bucket, I think it all kind of falls into the same realm. That's the difference between an a player B player and a B player seat, the level of what you're able to do that at that's what distinguishes, you know, conversation flow. This is actually one that I didn't even give a lot of thought to, but as I was kind of thinking through this for our conversation, I want to get your thoughts on it. But I have some very distinct, I want to understand a little bit more. We say no conversation flow.  
Speaker 2    00:30:28    It's what we do every day. All day. We have conversations with people. If you can't flow, you're screwed. You're really, really, it's a steep climb for you. It reminds me of a great quote from the rock band, the police man with one breath, with one flow, you will know synchronicity. And that's really what it's all about. You will establish conversation flow. When you have a beginning, a middle and an end in your mind when you have a mental map of where you are in conversation. And in order to prompt conversations with people, you might rub elbows with the CEO of your company in an elevator, and you've got 20 seconds to build rapport with her. And you better be game point, I'm sorry. You better be game tight for that type of situation. So you've got to always have in your mind, a couple of conversations, starters open-ended questions.  
Speaker 2    00:31:23    Hey, Hey Sam, tell me about the time when, and what's been your experience with, and you, you use yes, no questions like, is this a good time? No, it's not a good time. Well, now you've got to figure out another question to ask. So use those. Yes, no questions sparingly. Consider yourself standing on a throw rug. And you're standing at the head of the rug, which is the beginning of the conversation. And you begin a conversation you're standing on the rug and you throw a pivot question so that you could step forward and go to the middle part of the conversation. A pivot question could be, oh, interesting. So based on what we just talked about, then, how would you approach considering 20, 22 and then embarking on the new year? How would you approach it with the business now? You know, you're in the middle of the conversation, throw another pivot question to get to the end, which is, Hmm. So all things considered, what's the best way to proceed here. Now, you know, you're in the end of the conversation, no matter how you slice that, you're going to have to be prepared as a sales person at all times to establish conversation flow.  
Speaker 1    00:32:26    Yeah. That's fantastic. It's funny as, as you were talking through that. Yes, no. And I always learned early on that. I always liked to regurgitate things back to people. Hey, so here's what I understood. Here's what I hear that correctly. And it always feels like when I do that, there's always another layer that they give you just like, oh, well it's actually this, this and this. But when I was thinking through that, it just helps keep along. And then maybe that's where the yes, no. Did I understand that? Yes, I did. Cool. Great. No, to your point, what's the pivot. Hey, what am I going for most? Well, based on that, how does that affect this, this and this just curious and you kind of move you're right. I think the conversation flow from a couple of different aspects is a challenge for most. I think everyone's heard elevator pitches to your point and you're talking about, Hey, how do we kick off a conversation? But I've also thought to myself, you should have very unique conversations based off of obviously who you're trying to get your foot in the door with, right? Talking to someone at a senior level of sea level is a much different conversation than talking to someone that's owning the day to day stuff. Right? Ralph. And so even separating those conversations out is somethings you need to be thinking of.  
Speaker 2    00:33:34    Yeah. I think conversation is a part of what we do every single day. And it's just a critical, critical piece. That's often overlooked. I don't think people rehearse or practice much conversation flow. And you never know when you're going to be rubbing elbows with a CEO in an elevator. For example, you might be at a networking event, whether it's in person or online, when you're on, you've got to be game tight and you've got to be able to have a conversation starter. You have to be able to ask open-ended questions that are going to prompt dialogue. You have to use those. Yes, no questions sparingly. I hear salespeople to this day when they get somebody on the phone, they'll say, Hey, is this a good time? And if the prospect says, no, I mean, they're screwed. They've got to come up with another question now to earn another nanosecond before that person hangs up on them. So I just think it's something that's often overlooked. That shouldn't be,  
Speaker 1    00:34:28    I love it because you know, we were talking offline about just different layers of question. You, you, as you were mentioning, you know, pivot questions, how to pivot between the beginning, the middle and the end, which I, I actually believe is the, one of the biggest challenges salespeople, miss, right. Is how to do that. And then actually confirm what I heard. It's always shocking that when I'm on the other side and I'm kind of laying out, they ask the right question, right? They tell us a little bit about kind of what the challenges are, help me understand your level of your sales team, all of that. And then I give them to it. I give them the answer and then you fast forward two or three minutes later. And they're, they've completely like, it's not what I said. Like it's completely pivoted into something else because they were just hoping that, you know, they weren't even listening.  
Speaker 1    00:35:13    It was just kind of a, a question to check off the box. Say, I asked him, let's move forward. I've always made the rule RAF. Anytime I hear something, I always try and say, Hey, listen, here's what I understood. Just to make sure I heard you correctly. You said this, this and this. Did I miss anything? Is there anything else that you would add to that? No, you hit the nail on the head that just confirmed for a couple of things that I'm not losing my mind and B it helps them understand. I was actually listening to them and that's always reassuring as a buyer. Is that, what's your thoughts on that?  
Speaker 2    00:35:42    Yeah. It's reassuring as a person too. You want to be heard, you know what I mean? And you're right. Oftentimes, you know, salespeople aren't present, they're not present to the conversation or to the person that they're talking to. So they're kind of half listening. They're being genuine. They're being sincere. They don't mean any harm, but because we're moving so quickly all the time, we tend to just not slow things down, calm things down and get a very comprehensive understanding of what the conversation is about. And what's actually needed from the prospect also to your point, Sam, when you're reiterating or recapping by saying, Hey, you know, I think I understand what you were saying. When you talked about a, B or C, that's a sign of respect and courtesy that you're a good communicator. You're an active listener. So that when you do come back with a question, it's a thoughtful question.  
Speaker 2    00:36:34    And it's also going to move that conversation forward versus just kind of bypassing it as if the prospect never answered you in the first place. And you're on to your little checklist. So I think what works, especially with sales development reps, who often have those very first conversations, again, talk about why you're calling them in the first place, what you're trying to get out of the prospect in this time, understanding how precious time is, and then ask your questions and then recap what you heard them say so that you can move into the next piece of the conversation. Super important, not practiced very much. Right.  
Speaker 1    00:37:11    And I love it because that recap actually allows for a pivot, right? That's that pivot question where a lot, Hey, thanks for that. Helps me understand that with that mind, there's almost a natural pivot. So it almost gives you the opportunity to understand digest and then move forward, which I that's, how I've always taught. I mean, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. Most people would understand that.  
Speaker 2    00:37:31    I've always tried to envision myself standing on top of a throw rug with three sections to it, a beginning, middle end. And so when I ask a pivot question, I'm envisioning myself literally stepping forward to the middle of the rug and asking the next set of questions before I step to the end. And I'll often tell people, Hey, look, Sam, it's going to sound like I'm a, I'm ambushing you here with 15 different questions. Let me tell you why I'm asking the questions in the first place. Just so you have some color and context as to what I'm really trying to get at. And that really, really helps drive a dialogue when you preface it like that.  
Speaker 1    00:38:08    I love that, man. I used to use the term, Hey, get ready for the interrogation or the rapid fire. I'm going to do my best to hold back. And it just, I think it tries to lower the barrier a little bit, but I love that piece of it.  
Speaker 2    00:38:20    One of the things Sam, one of the things that I think is just a natural gift that you have is you've got a great sense of humor, man. You don't mind smiling and cracking a little joke before you get the questions going. And I mean, who does it love that? I mean, that's going to in the right setting when you can bring humor into it, it's even better.  
Speaker 1    00:38:38    Yeah. I always go back to the phrase that our thought process that at the end of the day, just be human than, well, I mean, if you just have a human car, like if you're just a human conversation, like if I felt like you were in Tara, I would be the very far, I would say it like, Hey, this is going to feel like I would just own the fact that there's a checklist I'm trying to get like early on. I would actually own it. Hey, there's my four or five things I'm going to blister you with, but there's a rhyme and a reason. There's a method and a madness. I want to make the best use of our time. But once we get past that, I'm happy to try to navigate the waters a little bit. Ralph, just own the piece that you might be even a little bit sketchy or like, Hey, I don't feel as comfortable, but own it to the prospect nine times out of 10, they're going to be human back to you and understand what you guys do.  
Speaker 2    00:39:21    Oh, without question, when you set the tone like that, you'll be super surprised at how cool and smooth that conversation goes  
Speaker 1    00:39:28    Without a doubt. And the other piece of that I want to layer in here. And I think you would agree with this is like have those framing questions that are specific to the buyer. What I mean by that is asking what tool you use to a CMO is probably not the most effective use of their time. They're more strategic. Those questions should be much more strategy fo like I'm boiling it way down. There's for the purposes of our conversation. But what am I trying to get from someone that is using it as leveraging whatever solution that they're leveraging is more tactical. Maybe I should say, versus someone that's much more strategic. I can't tell you the number of times that you may get 30, 40 minutes with the sea level and the questions that you asked you either going to make or break you in the very first minute or two and their interpretation on how you are as a sales professional, based on the questions you're asking  
Speaker 2    00:40:20    A hundred percent and you know, I would suggest, for example, like you used a CMO, a chief marketing officer shoot straight with them, let them know, look, I'm going to zoom out and I want to talk about strategy. And I want to talk about vision with you. As we think about embarking on the next year or two what's in store for the branding and imaging of the company, all the way to the key engines that are filling the top of your funnel. But then I also want to zoom in and I want to talk about the criteria of what warrants an MQL versus an SQL, what the conversion rates look like today. What are your highest producing sources to lowest producing sources are their SLA is involved between you and sales and you and demand gen and you and sales development, et cetera, so that they, without even saying it, that you're leading by example just by talking their talk. But also you're adding that color and context saying, Hey, look, let's zoom out and talk about strategy. Then we'll zoom in and we'll talk about tactics. It just shows that you know what you're talking about and you really, really care about what's on their radar.  
Speaker 1    00:41:26    I love that piece. I love that piece of things, zoom out and zoom in. I used to use the term macro micro, but I love component of things that at least gets them prepared that, Hey, I'm going to ask some strategic questions, but I'm also going to ask them in the weed questions because there might be multiple people in the room, right? It, depending on what the context of the environment is, but that at least helps them understand that you know where you're going and there's a rhyme and a method to the madness. Just kind of bear with you. There's going to be things that are going to be really relevant to them as a buyer. I love that piece of it. A failure to keep improving. We talked about this early on a bit. I think we even talked about it offline. This is one that baffles my mind in the lack of improvement, like in our PR I'm talking about our profession. Like either they say the company's got provided all, or I've heard so many different things. I want to get your thoughts on failure to keep improving. And I'm talking about skill improvement, like you were saying, asking better questions, the whole nine yards. Tell me a little bit about failure to keep improving. Yeah,  
Speaker 2    00:42:26    It comes down to, um, gosh, of course it's some racking. My brain now, as to who said this quote, it was either Thomas Edison or Thomas Jefferson. I don't remember which one, but the quote is if we did things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves. And I just think, you know, as we talked about at the beginning of our conversation, as I step into it's like my 28th or 29th year, I started in 94. So I think this year 28 of my career, I feel like a beginner on so many levels. There's so much that I still need to learn. And I really aim to master my craft while I'm in my professional life. And look, you know, I'm from the San Francisco bay area. I grew up here, the 49ers are playing the NFC championships this weekend, but I'll tell you right now, they have yet to pay any of my bills.  
Speaker 2    00:43:14    So I can't get that fired up about the 49ers yet. A lot of people, when I go to work and we get on calls, they D they want to talk about sports. They want to talk about a show that they're watching on Netflix. They want to talk about a bunch of stuff that doesn't really move things forward for our business or for them in their career. It's okay to like that stuff and to get into it, but you can't live it and breathe it all the time with the amount of books that are out there that you can gut and highlight and scratch notes in and learn from and apply. I mean, you would be amazed at what content and materials out there. There's just not enough precious time to read it all. You've got podcasts like yours, Sam, you know, sales, samurai podcasts. We've got the sales hacker podcast, one-up formula podcast and on and on and on all the conversations that are happening, all the webinars that are in play.  
Speaker 2    00:44:08    I mean, for God's sake, you got to always be learning and also contributing to the conversation. So if you're really good at something and you're keeping it close to the vest and not sharing it with us, shame on you because you represent all of us in this beloved profession of sales, and we've got to represent this profession. Well, there's way more good apples and bad apples. And if you can make a contribution to our conversation, what it is we're trying to do in the world, then we want to hear from you. We want to see your stuff. That's awesome. So that's what I mean by the failure to improve. I just think a lot of people don't care so much about that stuff. They want to make their paycheck and move on and not let anybody bother them. When like all of us, they possess gifts and strengths that are unique to them, but they're just not sharing it with us.  
Speaker 1    00:44:58    I love that. It's funny. You've mentioned that for the simple fact that there is so much at your fingertips. I mean, you're right. And there's so much free stuff at your fingertips. I mean, there's paid stuff, obviously. I mean, there's just so much at your fingertips, whether it's a podcast. And I think the misnomer here is like, don't go into that. Thank you. You're going to learn something. Revolution, find one, two little nuggets that you could potentially implement. Like you said, highlight a couple passages from a book, take 10, 15 minutes a day to read two or three pages. You don't have to go through a whole book in a week. That's not the expectation, but like there's so much available. And what drives me mad. And I gotta be honest. I was this person early on in my career while my company didn't provide any training or they didn't do enough.  
Speaker 1    00:45:41    And I didn't get the cold calling until somebody came to me and say, you can do this on like, there's have you done this? Have you done that? Have you done this? Have you read that book? I'm like, well, no, it's just, it was an enlightening experience. And it wasn't like revolutionary that, Hey, I'm going to go spend $20 on my own money to go read a book that might actually help me make thousands of dollars in my profession. Seems like a pretty good ROI for me. And that just amazes me. When I talk to reps to this day, like how many books have you read? Well, I haven't had a chance. Well, how many podcasts you listen to? I don't have time. Well, what about webinars? Well, I like one, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Like, so how are you improving?  
Speaker 2    00:46:19    Yeah. And I'll put money down. They're not making their quota. So you're right. Same. You don't have to try to boil the ocean. You know, when you're reading a book, sometimes it's just one little nugget of value. Where if you just ask yourself, you know, how good am I at this? You'll get your, your wheels crank and in your head. And you'll start making some little, little changes, but it's the little things that make the big things happen anyway. So you might as well start small.  
Speaker 1    00:46:45    I love that, man. I can't tell ya, just going through some books and I've been doing this now for a couple of decades. I feel the exact same when you do, like, I read a book and I'm like, I never thought of it that way. Like, that's a real good ideal. That's a great idea that this guy's coming up with. Like, I think there's one book I'm reading right now. They talk about a pile of words. Just start bucketing things into piles of words. As you're coming up with a script, let that be your guiding light. And then here's the framework. I never even thought about. Just get the words together and think through just a bunch of words and just like word clouds. Like that thought process to me was so unique that I was like, you know, I never thought of it that way.  
Speaker 1    00:47:23    Let me go down that path. And it was enlightening and I took an extra 20, 30 minutes to do that. And I felt that it helped me in some aspects. So I think you're right. I think I look, I used to look at it. I think too many people look at it as, Hey, I don't have the time to read a 500 page book. That's probably going to regurgitate the same thing versus looking at it as, Hey, can I get one or two nuggets that I can glean from this that might actually make me close one extra deal? That's the key. Like, it's not trying to be, I'm going to close. 100% of my deals is it, can it help me get one more deal across the goal line can help me convert one more contact into a meeting. That's how you're going to approach it.  
Speaker 2    00:48:00    And we both know Sam, all the answers are out there  
Speaker 1    00:48:03    Without a doubt. What's the old saying that there's nothing new being created. It's just building a better mousetrap and just making a better  
Speaker 2    00:48:11    That's right. It's all been done and been said before, for the most part.  
Speaker 1    00:48:15    That's fantastic, man. Well, Hey man, I love the conversation around this because I truly believe when we're talking about missing quotas. We always think there's Hey, not enough territory. They always come up with these reasons of why, but nine times, like you said, it's, self-imposed all of these are things that you can work on. You can develop on your own. These are not environmental or landscape issues that are pushing against you. These are things you can control.  
Speaker 2    00:48:40    Oh, no question. Oftentimes when I hear people rattling off the excuses, they're not on the list of excuses for some reason it's everything and everyone else, but I don't ever hear them start with, okay. Starting with me. Here's what I could be doing better. I never hear that. Yeah,  
Speaker 1    00:48:58    That's fantastic. Yeah. I always, it is always, uh, things that are outside of my control and that's, what's keeping me away from it. Yeah. So, Hey, final thoughts for the audience along these lines. Just kind of things that you want to keep people to kind of keep top of mind, maybe that one or two nuggets that they didn't glean thus far, you might want to share with the audience as well. Ralph.  
Speaker 2    00:49:16    Yeah. Thanks Sam. Hey, if you're listening to the two of us still, you've got two resources in Sam and me just again, if you start small, if you ping either Sam or me on LinkedIn, or you find us online, we'll get back to you. We'll help connect the dots for you. We may know somebody who has the answer. If we don't have the answer, but we're here to help. It's why we do what we're doing and why we're publishing episodes like this one. If you want to follow me or learn more about me, it's Ralph barsi.com. I have a blog would love it. If you subscribe or share with others, I'm constantly trying to better myself and putting out really relevant content that's useful and helpful for people. So get to know me and let me know when you, um, connect on LinkedIn by adding a note, instead of just sending me an invitation request, because oftentimes I just don't know the color or context behind the request. I don't know where you found me. So just put a line or two in your request and I'll go ahead and accept and probably connect with you at some point. But yeah, all the answers are out there if you're just looking for them.  
Speaker 1    00:50:24    That's awesome, man. Yeah, I appreciate it. Cause you know, Ralph, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, Hey, obviously all the answers are out there, but I think people are a little bit like, I mean, LinkedIn was intended to be a networking site, like it's intended to engage. Right? And I think people forget that, Hey, if you just reach out to someone, the worst thing that they could say is, no, I don't have the time or Hey, can we get back to this? But I've never, if someone's, Hey, do you have a few minutes to connect? If I really have to, do you have a few minutes to chat? I'd love to pick your brain about X, Y, and Z. I'll make every concerted efforts. I know you would to say, I have some time next week. How about 15 minutes? Can we find some time to get it on the calendar? Or it might be something that you have on your blog that you can just share a link. Hey, why don't you take a look at this? See if this kind of answers it and we can always dig in deeper. If you want to and find some time on the calendar. I love that piece of it. Yeah.  
Speaker 2    00:51:13    Bus help. You just be specific with your requests and we'll help you find the  
Speaker 1    00:51:18    Awesome, well, Hey Ralph, sincerely appreciate you taking the time. We're going to put all that information in the show notes, how to connect with Ralph, his blog, connect on LinkedIn, all that kind of good stuff and what he's doing over our tray and go from there. Uh, Ralph, thanks again for your time.  
Speaker 2    00:51:32    Thank you Sam. Thanks very much for having me.  
Speaker 0    00:51:36    Thank you for listening to the sales samurai podcast with your host, Sam Capra. Be sure you subscribe to our podcast and visit sales samurai.io and join the conversation. Access show notes and discover bonus content. 

Ralph Barsi Profile Photo

Ralph Barsi

VP, Global Inside Sales at Tray.io

Ralph Barsi is the VP of Global Inside Sales at Tray.io in San Francisco. Tray is a cloud platform that integrates and automates workflows across the enterprise. Ralph is a recognized builder of world class sales development organizations.
Ralph is also an advisor to software companies Hubilo and Emitwise. Before Tray.io, he advised Toronto-based company, Loopio; and scaled and led the sales development organizations at ServiceNow, Achievers, and InsideView.
Ralph has served as a mentor for #GirlsClub and Women In Sales, among others. He earned a certificate in Executive Decision Making from the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business and a B.A. in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California.

Ralph lives with his wife and sons in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can learn more about him at ralphbarsi.com.