SalesTechStar Interview with Gary Zuder, Vice President of Sales at Malbek
The first thing to do during this time of a pandemic is to ask yourself what your core business challenge is suggests Gary Zuder, VP of Sales at Malbek as he discusses his time in tech sales and shares tips on the evolving technology sales landscape and how to capitalize on new sales techniques given the current economic climate. Catch the complete story:
Tell us a little about yourself Gary? What’s a typical day at work like for you at Malbek?
From my early college days, as I sat in a Marketing class of 700 students at Ohio State, I was exposed to the important truth that life was all about sales, and I was destined to make a career out of it. I learned early that we’re all salespeople – salespeople at work, salespeople at home, even salespeople with our friends. But this doesn’t mean that we spend our lives giving a sales pitch to people. To me, it means understanding life from the other person’s point of view (yes, the empathy word!), and trying your best to make their lives better with your product, solution, or, just you.
I’ve sold for some of the largest tech corporations in the world (Dell), and now at Malbek, a startup with an incredible vision, helping to transform an industry in high need of innovation. It’s a tremendous opportunity to build a winning sales organization and foster a fearless culture to do whatever it takes in the name of the client.
My workday never gets old! I realize it’s a very “tired,” canned response, but at a startup, there is no typical day. At a company like mine, some days you are part attorney, part customer support, and of course part player, part coach. But there is a typical day in terms of themes. Start with your agenda, not others’, and do your best to prioritize the “Urgent/Important,” and then continuing to schedule those priorities – the timeless nod to Dr. Stephen Covey.
In your time in technology sales roles, could you talk about some of your biggest learnings and highlights when it comes to expanding the business and winning more customers?
You can be a great salesperson and still finish in second place. How can you be superlative? A “sales” cycle is shared between you and the customer. I think many salespeople forget that. The vendor thinks it’s only their process to manage (research, demo/pitch, demonstrate value, give updates to your manager, QBRs, etc.). At the same time, the customer is going through an experience of their own (vision casting, business case development, market research, vendor eval, competing priorities, internal political interests, etc.).
While the salesperson may feel that the client is shifting and swaying during the evaluation (asking for more information at the drop of a hat, long delays of silence), there’s likely a reason for it. Before just asking for an update, ask yourself questions to confirm if you are an active participant in helping them solve the problem. Once they make that critical decision, choosing their solution partner for the long term, they are the ones who get up every day, log into your system, and hope the value you promised comes to fruition. Be proactively patient, as it’s the buyer’s journey, not the seller’s journey.
This mindset builds the relationship, and most importantly, builds the trust. The magic happens when there is a mutual appreciation of value between the two parties, and you can help each other understand and reach the common goal.
How have you seen the typical role of the B2B technology sales executive evolve over the years? We’d love your observations on how you’ve seen the impact of the changing salestech landscape play a role in the transforming sales development process.
The B2B sales executive role continues to change dramatically as more and more information is available before that first interaction with the customer, however, also realize that we as salespeople have that same information about our clients, from business challenges, industry events, to personal history of our main clients. It’s faster, more efficient, and fun to leverage some of these salestech engagement tools, of which there are hundreds. But what’s first? New tech to help augment or refine your current sales process and methodology, or, new tech to help create new, innovative ways of doing business? Some solutions were born from industry experts, but many solutions were essentially crowdsourced from businesses in the form of multi-tenant SaaS solutions. Ideally, solutions will have a nice balance of both – software to support your process and innovate, similar to what our co-founders have done with Malbek’s contract management software in the legal tech space. Have an open mind. Now it’s the salesperson’s turn to be the client – and do research for what’s best for the business.
What are the biggest takeaways you’d share with sales teams the world over (who are now forced to be remote) given the current world situation due to Covid-19 and related challenges?
The first takeaway is that this is temporary, but right after that I would concur with those that say it will never be the same. It’s a stark wake-up call and acceleration of what we’ve been seeing for years. The way we interact with our clients will always be evolving, but now it’s being revealed in an “in your face,” uncomfortable way. Start making changes, experiment, see what resonates. Some may say video is more important than ever before (I agree), but it’s a bigger picture – it’s a lesson on adaptation. If that competency wasn’t one of your strengths before, it needs to be now.
Most technology sales and marketing teams are focusing on developing business relations during this time, without actual selling – what are some of the ways you as a sales leader are making changes to business plans given current challenges?
I believe it’s too early for wholesale strategic changes. Adaptation (more specifically the ability to quickly pivot) should be the focus. For Malbek, we are continuously listening to our customers and potential clients, understanding more about the correlation between the current environment and the need for efficiencies in legal operations, and capturing revenue streams from current contractual obligations. At its core, our sales strategy and business plan remain laser-focused on how we can help our clients come out on the other end of this crisis in even better shape to grow their business, and serve their clients.
How would you advise technology marketers and sales teams to pivot their strategies and plans given the current business challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic? What should they be doing as part of their revised strategies to help ensure business continuity?
The first question I would ask ourselves, what is the particular challenge due to the pandemic? Is it lead generation? Ability to close deals in process? Ability to recruit? Or perhaps it’s an opportunity. Do your clients depend on your solutions now more than ever before? Is there a unique way that your solution can adapt to provide even more value? Through all the challenges, there are opportunities, so there is a chance to both problem-solve and innovate.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the tech/startup/salestech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Jack Dorsey – Co-founder and CEO of Twitter, and the founder and CEO of Square. No need to elaborate on the value-packed answers we’d see here!
Your favorite Sales/SalesTech quote and sales leadership books you’d suggest everyone in Sales reads
“Celebrate for a nanosecond. Then move on.” Michael Dell. I was reading an article about 15 years ago, and this one stuck. If I recall correctly, the context was to not display many of the older PC artifacts within Dell HQ. We all must celebrate our successes, but don’t turn your head on the future.
A really interesting read is Alan Fine’s You Already Know How to Be Great. It’s a book that addresses not only what to do, but how to remove interference – a different approach. Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss, is a fascinating read by a former FBI agent on human interaction, which focuses on an empathetic approach.
Tell us about some of the top sales/salestech/fintech/ other (virtual) events that you’ll be participating in (virtually, given the current global pandemic) (as a speaker or guest!) in 2020!
HubSpot Inbound 2020 is on our radar this fall, and we’re taking a look at the many virtual conferences which gives us many more options. We also need incremental and strategic nourishment that can help us learn, collaborate, and get better at what we do. Take the time to reach out to a former mentor and understand what kinds of current tactics or strategies they are employing. Also, follow individuals on LinkedIn that share your passion, give you inspiration, or even make you laugh once in a while. Angela Duckworth, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian G. Burns are definitely worth checking out. And don’t forget the TED talks; always look for different perspectives.
At Malbek gone are the days of complicated, outdated contract management platforms that are difficult to use and even harder to configure. Malbek innovates at the speed of now, giving the same consumer-grade user experience when managing contracts. With self-service configuration tools built-in, their contract lifecycle management solution requires minimal – almost zero – IT assistance, which leads to a lower total cost of ownership.
Gary is the VP of Sales at Malbek