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Starting a Conversation in Sales w/ Trish Bertuzzi {Hey Salespeople Podcast}

This week we are very excited to announce the launch of Hey Salespeople, a podcast hosted by the one-and-only Jeremy Donovan, SalesLoft’s VP of Sales Strategy and self-proclaimed sales nerd.

If you have a passion for the art and the science of sales, are looking to further your career, or just want to hear some great, practical tips, this is the podcast for you. Subscribe so you can follow along as he interviews the brightest minds in modern sales to bring you immediately actionable advice.

Episode one is with Trish Bertuzzi, CEO of The Bridge Group.  In this episode, Jeremey and Trish talk about topics that range from sales leadership skills to the right and wrong ways to prospect. (Spoiler alert: People appreciate honesty.)

She also talks about phones and voicemail.  Who knew that’s what this thing in your hand was originally intended for?

Trish Bertuzzi on being a woman in sales

44% of people in a Bridge Group survey don’t have a desk phone… but 56% DO have one. Plus, everyone has a cell phone. Trish admits that her phone number is easy to find, yet her phone never rings.

Are we losing the ability to communicate human to human?  Or will we shift back?

Interested?  Listen to this episode for more on voicemail and answers questions like:

  • What does it mean to be a vitamin vs. aspirin in sales?
  • What is on her cons list of leadership skills?
  • How is Trish’s data-driven approach so different?
  • What type of prospecting email or call will get her to respond?
  • Who actually picks up a phone?
  • How does like-ability matter in the sales process?


Partial transcription:

Jeremey: Welcome to the Hey Salespeople podcast where we focus on delivering immediately actionable best practices for sales professionals. I’m your host, Jeremy Donovan from SalesLoft. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome to the show, someone that I’ve been a fan of for years and years. I truly enjoyed her book, The Sales Development Playbook, and probably everything her company, The Bridge Group produces.

My guest today is Trish Bertuzzi, the CEO and Founder of The Bridge Group. Welcome, Trish. It’s such a good opportunity as always to speak with you and to share some of your wisdom today with our listeners. I always start with a couple of questions I like to get a baseline on everyone. The first question I love to ask is, as you reflect on all the sales books you’ve read over the years, which one is your favorite and why?

Trish: You know what a hard question that is, right? It’s so hard, but upon reflection, and I had been thinking about this lately, I think the sales book that had the most enduring impact would have been Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm.

Jeremey: Wonderful book. People may not be familiar with it. What was it there was so special about that for you?

Trish: The reason it was so special to me is that it articulated in a way I had never heard before, a plan for growing a business. You know, we all have these great ideas for our businesses, right? And I talked to people all the time who call me and they’re like, Hey, I’m going out with a startup and here’s what we do. Geoffrey Moore had a way of articulating, are you a vitamin or are you an aspirin? That’s my interpretation of what he said. If you’re a vitamin, you’re a nice-to-have, but not everybody’s going to buy you. You have one strategy.

If you’re an aspirin and you’re solving a pain, you have another strategy. And for those ‘aspirin’ people he articulated a way to go to market, that was very simplistic. Pick a niche, establish your benchmark, cross the chasm and expand. Because we get so excited when we start, we’re like, ‘oh, I’m a horizontal play. I can sell to anyone.’

No, you can’t. Those who focus are those who win and Geoffrey Moore owns articulating that in a way that was better than anything I’ve ever read sets.

Jeremey: It absolutely changed my perspective on understanding that whole concept about finding the niche. I think about a basic service and price frontier. You pick a place on that efficiency frontier and you’re going to operate in that place. But that signals what your brand is and some things are no frills or low frills and some things are high service.

It’s not that you can’t be both, but you can’t be the ultimate lowest cost and the ultimate best service. Those things don’t go together. The second question I’d like to ask is to wind the clock back to a story about the first thing that you ever remember selling.

Trish: The first thing I ever remember selling was me. And I didn’t even know I was selling it, but I did know when I had to close it. So a million years ago, I was a waitress at a place here in Massachusetts called Ken’s Steakhouse. It was back in the days of the three-Martini lunch for executives. And every day the CEO, VP of sales and CFO for a local tech company would come into cans and they would sit in my station and I would wait on them every day.

One day the CEO said to me, ‘Trish, you are rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and hungry and you should be in sales.’ And I said, ‘give me a job.’  He laughed. But he didn’t laugh for long because I went at him, the CFO, and the VP of Sales every day for the next three days, telling them why they should take a risk on an unknown entity to help them sell their technology. And they did. That launched my career in sales.

Jeremey: What was it? Obnoxious, arrogant and hungry.

Trish:  Rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and hungry.

Jeremey: I just want to be careful with that. It’s like if you’re hiring people, is that the profile that you look for is hungry? What about the rude, arrogant, and obnoxious side?

Trish: Well, you have to think about it. This wave, so first of all, they weren’t interviewing me. They had one view of my personality and anyone who’s ever met me knows I am extremely direct. I am extremely aggressive. I don’t suffer fools gladly. So their interpretation of me was couched in those terms. Which by the way, I was flattered. I didn’t view any of those in the negative.

Additionally, we’re talking about a long time ago. There were fewer women that had my communication style. Would they have used those same adjectives? If I was a man, I’m going to say no. Whatever it was, I took it as a positive. I saw an opportunity. I went for it. It launched my career.

Jeremey: I’ll preface this next segment by saying one of the things that made me a Trish Bertuzzi and Bridge Group fanboy for so many years is that you take a data-driven approach to pretty much everything you do. So I just wanted to thank you for that.

Trish: We take a very data-driven approach to sales. I think one of the ways we differ from some others who also publish data is we get very specific. If we publish a survey, not everyone on the face of the planet can take the survey or they can take it, but then their data is eliminated because it isn’t accurate. Understanding who has the information we need to collect and only allowing those people to participate has been the rock bed of what we’ve done. And I think it served us well.

Jeremey: It really shows. I know you as a CEO of a company and that is highly influential. You probably get a ton of prospecting emails. What engages you when you receive an email?

Trish: What engages me is someone who understands the business. They talk about what it’s like to be a services business… here’s how we help other management consultants or they reference something that they’ve seen. Whether they agree with me or disagree with me or they’ve read my book or anything that shows that they have invested a moment to understand how what they’re offering could potentially integrate with my business. When I get emails that are trying to sell me ERP systems and they’re quoting customers like  American Express, I’m like, ‘are you kidding me?’ That makes me crazy.

Engage with me; you need to know me to earn a reply. I would say I get two of those a month.

My phone number is everywhere. Everywhere. My phone never rings. Never.

Jeremey: It’s crazy. So it’s just the lazy ‘pull your name off a list, add it to their standard email, and fire away.’

I don’t even really have a phone number. Your sales engagement study that you guys did recently talks about this. I actually do have one phone number that I use as a secret shopper to test inbound response. I’ve become all email, which is so weird for me. From the folks that you run across is that now more the norm these days?

Trish: 44% of all decision-makers that we surveyed in that ultimate sales engagement guide don’t have a desk phone. It’s not that they don’t have a phone, they don’t have a desk phone.

Jeremey: They do have a mobile phone and a voicemail, presumably. Right?

Trish: Correct. 44% don’t BUT 56% still do. And there’s always mobile voice communications. We’re losing the ability to communicate human to human and it’s breaking my heart.

I actually responded to an email the other day and I said this is not a very good email because of this reason and I have to ask are you a Bot? And it wasn’t a Bot, but they were trying different things and I’m like well it’s not working.

Jeremey: What do you think it is about the Gen Xers that don’t like getting sales calls on their mobile phone… and if you’re older or younger, you’re okay with it?

Trish: I’m totally making this up. This is straight up gut conjecture. If you’re older, you’re used to a phone. That’s how humans communicated. It’s always been phone. If you’re younger, you’re kind of still phone obsessed.

Who are the busiest people? You know people your age – big jobs, busy jobs, commutes, small children. When they go to work, they’re in a workflow and they don’t want to be interrupted. The phone interrupts.

Jeremey: If you’re under 35, you basically were born with a phone attached to your hand. If I had a phone, I’d be checking it every time the red light was flashing.

Trish: That’s because you’re trying to get to inbox zero. So you’d be trying to get to voicemail zero. People do check their email once a day. It’s probably the biggest gap or their day, like while they’re eating their lunch. The stat itself isn’t what’s interesting. What’s interesting is what we can to do about that. If you’re leaving a voicemail – and you should be leaving a voicemail because it gives you an opportunity to tell a little piece of your story – you don’t want to sound like everyone else.

‘Hi, this is John Smith with Acme.’  Delete.

‘Hi, this is Kathleen Glass of XXX.’  Delete.

You have to think of voicemail is real estate and the beginning is Rodeo Drive. Don’t waste that real estate saying your name and company name. Say something interesting. Say something to grab attention. Arouse curiosity. There are fascinating statements you can make at the beginning of a voicemail that will make people just maybe sit back for a second and say, ‘okay, I’ll give it a go.’

Jeremey: What’s an example of that? Is it a question? Is it a provocative statement? If you had one of your own people calling you, would they start, ‘Hey Trish, did you know some factoid?’ How would you start it?

Trish: ‘Hey Jeremy, I was just looking at job descriptions on your website and I noticed that you have your sales development team calling back into your customers and going after new logos. I have research that shows that role specialization can increase productivity by 22%. I’d love to talk to you about it.’

Jeremey: In that phone call that you showed them that you know them.

One of your big takeaways in that sales engagement survey was how to engage professionals the way they want to be engaged.

Trish: You almost don’t know until they respond to something. One of the things that I think is a critical success factor – and you’re making me think about my own sales process. I’m taking mad notes for myself over here, by the way. You should say, ‘What’s your communication vehicle of choice? Email, phone, text? How do you want me to communicate with you?’

Give them what they want. We need to stop competing with each other and start just trying to do what’s right for the customer, based on what we can do for them.

THERE’S A LOT MORE AFTER THIS! Listen to the full episode fo the rest of Jeremy’s conversation with Trish.


Learn more from top sales leaders on Jeremey’s podcast, Hey Salespeople. Listen and subscribe here.