Selling without Slides w/ Catie Ivey

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This is a podcast episode titled, Selling without Slides w/ Catie Ivey. The summary for this episode is: <p>Beware of “best practices” –– They’re not what they seem. We uncovered what’s preventing you from delivering deal-making discovery calls. Special guest Catie Ivey, RVP of Sales at Demandbase, joins Gong Labs Live! to share the shocking correlation between the use of slides in discovery meetings and earning a follow-up call. </p>
Data: Do slides help sellers with their discovery calls?
02:47 MIN
Learning mode vs. selling mode
00:18 MIN
Make sure you understand what the person you're selling to wants out of your discovery call
01:05 MIN

Devin Reed: What's going on everybody? Welcome back to another episode of Gong Labs Live. I'm your host, Devin Reed, head of content strategy at Gong. Now, I always like to open up with a question to get you warmed up, to get the crowd going, get the comment section bumping. So I have a pretty divisive question for you. Which would you pick up this iconic duo? You got to pick one. Are you a Beyonce fan, or are you a Jay- Z fan? Are you with the Queen B or are you with the Jigga man? Go ahead and put it in the comments section, which of those two artists that you prefer. If you ask me, it's tough. It kind of depends on what mood, but I think I'm going with Beyonce. I think I'm in the Beyhive. Cool. If you're just joining Gong Labs for the very first time, wondering what this is all about, let me tell you. This is exactly where you want to be every Friday at 9: 00 AM Pacific if you're interested in getting 1% better in your career. If you want to earn more money, if you want to shatter sales records, if you're looking for a promotion and some entertainment, this is exactly what we're all about. Every week, we share sales insights and sales real talk with experts and sales leaders. It's that simple. So let's hang out with our guests for today. Catie Ivey. Catie, how's it going?

Catie Ivey: It's going well. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Devin Reed: I'm excited because I've known of you for quite a while. We've exchanged digital messages, which is why I'm calling them, emails. And this is the first time we get to hang out. This is great.

Catie Ivey: I like that you called them digital messages. We have in fact exchanged digital messages in the past.

Devin Reed: I've never actually said that in my entire life. And the reason why I think I threw it in there is this show has brought me a lot of my digital friends. And we've met for the first time. So like Morgan Ingram, Kyle. A lot of people we've hung out digitally or sent messages, but we've never actually met in person.

Catie Ivey: I literally think that's one of my biggest silver linings of the last year and almost a year and a half. I have so many new friends that I would not have made friends with in real life. But somehow LinkedIn and social and other digital channels has forced us to connect in different ways, which has been a learning curve. But I agree, some new friends are amazing silver lining.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. And LinkedIn would love that sound bite, because I feel like bringing people together is kind of what they're all about. But speaking of new friends, you speak at tons of events. I see you on my LinkedIn feed all the time. I love it. I have to ask, is there an official Catie Ivey fan club? And if so, how do I join?

Catie Ivey: There is not yet, but stay tuned. One of these days we will make it happen. LinkedIn is definitely the best place to connect. I have fallen off the wagon just a little bit this last quarter or so. I feel like my day job has been a bit busier than normal. But I love connecting with folks on LinkedIn, and definitely I'm excited to get back out there speaking in person, hopefully very soon. I feel like it's just around the corner.

Devin Reed: I'm with you. I'm with you a hundred percent. I'm very excited to get back in person when the timing's right. But it's a shame you don't have a fan club. It really is. So I came up with a couple of names for your fan club when it starts. Is that okay if I share a couple.

Catie Ivey: I was about to say, if you'd like to start a fan club, I'm totally game for that. So you feel free.

Devin Reed: Okay. I'm thinking that the Catie Ivey fan group is called the Ivey League, and maybe celebrity sponsor is Katy Perry. What do you think?

Catie Ivey: I think that's fantastic. I will tell you, I spell my name with a C and Katy Perry's with a K, but that's literally the only kind of misalignment there. But I like it. Ivey League, that sounds amazing.

Devin Reed: I think it's fair to just ask her to change it, especially for you. I think that's a good call. Another idea could be, it's an in-person group, you meet at a garden club, and the slogan is Watch Out for Poison Ivey. What do you think about that one?

Catie Ivey: So that was a nickname that I had when I was much, much younger. So I'll leave it there.

Devin Reed: Ooh, there's a story to be had, but we'll get into our topic for today. I want to ask you a question. So I've got a product I actually want to pitch you really quickly. I wonder if you'd be open to hearing me out for a minute.

Catie Ivey: Yeah, let's do it.

Devin Reed: Great. I have a slide deck I'll pull up here. And so I know this is an intro call, you've never seen this product, but I just want to tell you all about the Happy Ears Headset. Okay. Now, you probably have headphones, you probably have ear pods or Apple, whatever it is you use, that's now outdated. Because these are the only headphones designed to protect your forecast and increase your commission. Now, how does this thing work? We've got patent noise cancellation, end of quarter pressure tested. This thing stands the test of time and prospects. And it's got a customizable AI assistant. Now, before you ask any questions or before you jump in, I've got more features for you. You're probably wondering Catie, what is good for? Well, there's no more nonsense from prospects. It's going to cut out all of that BS that you're used to hearing. I mean, some of those things that we don't love to hear, so people. You'll get the ultimate truth in all of your deals straight to your ears. When it comes to end of quarter, which can be challenging, we're rolling up on it right now, it's going to help you hold price integrity under stressful situations. And in case you don't love my voice, there's customizable AI voices, including Cardi B, Samuel L. Jackson, Jerry Seinfeld, and maybe we'll get Katy Perry as well. So that's my pitch and I'm sticking to it. I'm curious, what do you think of this approach? What do you think of using slides to introduce you to a topic or a solution?

Catie Ivey: Well, first of all, that product, absolutely something that would resonate with me as a sales leader, because what sales leader isn't looking to solve for the challenge, the ongoing challenge of Happy Ears. I would say it's a very odd approach as an initial pitch, since you don't actually know anything about me, my scenario, what I'm looking for, maybe even just the team that I run, the size of the team that I run. I can't remember what you called it at the beginning, you know, what other noise canceling options I'm currently using. I think you missed some key opportunities probably in there.

Devin Reed: So it sounds like I have some room to grow here. But I think the bigger thing is, it sounds like you don't believe that slides are effective in discovery calls. Is that a safe bet?

Catie Ivey: It's a very safe bet, yes.

Devin Reed: Okay. Before we dive into that, I want to ask the folks that are listening, that are watching, put it in the comment section, put a yes or a no if you use slides in your discovery calls. So, yes or no. Now Catie, you might know a little bit about me and a little bit about Gong, that I've got some data to back up our conversation today. And so if we pull that up, what we did is we looked specifically at do slides help sellers with their discovery calls. Because I've been in multiple camps where I've been at teams where use a deck, don't use a deck, I don't really care Devin, go get the deal done. I've been in other teams where it's like, this is the discovery deck. You will use every slide. And there's a very specific talk track. And I've worked in the startup realm, so you can kind of tell those different kind of philosophies. But I was curious to know if they're really helpful or not because as I've moved into marketing and as the buyer, from time to time, I kind of noticed like, hmm, sometimes the tactics that salespeople use as the buyer doesn't really make that much sense. So we wanted to look into it. So we analyzed around, I don't know, 800,000 discovery calls, an enormous amount. And we specifically looked at did the seller used discovery... Or excuse me, did they use slides on the discovery call or the first call? And if they did or didn't, how did that affect their follow- up rates, or did the deal move forward? And as you can see here, calls where reps use slides, they had a 17% decrease in their follow- up rates. They're 17% less likely to move to the demo, the presentation, the next conversation. So I know you kind of hinted at it, in terms of your stance, but what was your reaction when you saw this data for the first time?

Catie Ivey: My initial reaction was heck yeah, it's what I've been preaching and talking about. Obviously I'm a huge fan of the data that you guys mine and the way that you're able to package it up and make it really, really bite- size. I was also thinking I need to connect with my Gong CSM and figure out how I get that exact breakdown with my team, because I don't quite know how to slice and dice my own Gong data to that level. But super, super powerful. I'm just a firm believer that the first conversation that you have with a new buyer is probably the most important conversation you're going to have throughout the entire sales process. So I don't care if we're talking about negotiation tactics, if we're talking about great demos, if we're talking about effective multithreading, like all the different things that we do as salespeople that are so important. Nothing in my book is more important than the first impression that we make in that first call, and the information that we gather. Discovery is always happening throughout the entire sales cycle, so it's certainly not a one- time event, but I think when we jump straight into slideware on this first call, honestly, any discovery call where the rep does more talking than the prospect, I think is a huge missed opportunity. But when you've got slideware in front of you as a seller, it's just such a weird crutch that I think we revert into the selling mode versus a learning mode. And I think the first call is really about learning.

Devin Reed: I agree. I agree completely on all fronts. And I think maybe that's why I was kind of mentioning as a seller, what my... I hadn't really thought through it, but you know you have that kind of gut instinct when you're going through emotion. Like, I don't know, is this really the right thing to do, or is it kind of just what I'm being told to do or what other people suggest is best? But it does make sense. And I liked the way you worded it. I might slightly tweak it, reading it back to you, but essentially you should be in learning mode versus reading mode. And I think that's what, as you mentioned, is a crutch. A lot of reps pocket the slide instead of the prospect.

Catie Ivey: Yeah. I think it's learning mode versus selling mode. Every product is different of course, and some products are much more complex than others, but I don't care how simple your product is. Until we know our buyer, and a little bit about that buyer, I don't think we know one, whether we should be selling them, and then two, we don't really know what to sell them and how to do that unless we've learned something from them.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. And I don't think slides themselves, the actual Google slides or PowerPoint aren't the enemy because there's a time and a place, especially in the sales cycle. What was interesting is we did this analysis. It was only in the discovery call phase, the first call, where it had a negative correlation to success. When you look mid funnel, late funnel, your presentations, your demos, your proposals, all positive. crosstalk.

Catie Ivey: Yep. Because it typically makes you look much more prepared and buttoned up when you've got the right data coming into those next calls. Like you want some things, even if it's very basic, I'm a firm believer you want an agenda, that's on a slide. You want to be able to use that to validate, are we showing up to talk about the same thing? There's just a lot of really positive ways that you can use slides or Prezi or whatever it is that you're using to anchor the conversation. I just think that the first conversation is not the time and place.

Devin Reed: That's really interesting, yeah. I like that. You're right. When someone brings in a slide deck you're prepared to present, we're prepared for something, and the discovery call, you should be prepared to, like I said, listen, not pitch me on all the features of Happy Ears Headset, as cool as it might be.

Catie Ivey: And it's interesting because there's something that happens on the buyer side. Like for me, because I get pitched a lot too, when I see slide decks go up, I go into this more passive mode. I think I visibly lean back. It's not that I'm always multitasking, sometimes I am, but there's just sort of a level that I relax, I think, where I know I'm not going to be actively engaged with as much. And that's the last thing that you want to have happen as a seller.

Devin Reed: That's really interesting. It reminds me almost... I don't know if you're like me sometimes. There'll be a, I call it dual screening, like your TV's on. Maybe it's in the evening after work, maybe on your phone or kind of half working, but you have the TV on in the background. I feel like maybe that's kind of what it's pulling. Oh there's a slide show. I'm not going to be super engaged. There's not a human being talking to me. I can kind of do other stuff too. Versus me right now looking directly at you. You're like, I can't be on my phone. I'm talking to someone.

Catie Ivey: Yeah. I quite often have CNBC on right here over my shoulder. It's not on right now, but I totally get you on the dual screening or the three screening or whatever it is.

Devin Reed: Yeah, three screening, that's the real trifecta. Okay. To wrap up this before we get to rapid fire, what's one discovery call, tip, tactic, best practice that you would relay to our listeners.

Catie Ivey: Gosh, there's so many because it's such an important piece of the process. Make sure you understand, going into the conversation, or the very beginning of the conversation, depending on what back and forth has happened, what that person hopes to get out of your time together. So if you've got 30 minutes, your ultimate goal is to one, figure out whether this is a deal that you actually want to sell and you're the right fit. And then to understand how do you make those things happen. And I'm not of the belief that it's all about all I'm doing is selling the next step. No, I'm selling a lot more than a next step. I'm trying to understand whether this makes sense, and then what that holistic process looks like. And so I think sometimes there's misalignment at the beginning of that conversation. And then 20 minutes in you realize you've both wasted each other's time a bit, and not taken advantage of the time together. So I think just get some really clear feedback on the front end of the call. And get access, make it very clear, hey I want to understand if this is a good fit for you. So I'm coming into the conversation with some questions. Like, are you okay with the fact that I'm going to dig in and really try to understand a few things before I go into pitch mode? If you get someone to give you a yes in that, then they've basically opened themselves up to have that real conversation.

Devin Reed: Phenomenal advice, phenomenal advice. Set the expectations upfront. And what you're kind of saying is co- create the agenda, get their buy-in.

Catie Ivey: Yeah, totally.

Devin Reed: All right. Poison Ivey, we are going to jump into our rapid fire round. That means you have five seconds or less to answer the questions. Now, the good news is I don't have a timer. We don't have special effects. You're not going to hear a buzzer, but do your best. All right, you ready?

Catie Ivey: Ready.

Devin Reed: Who is a sales influencer we have to follow on LinkedIn.

Catie Ivey: You already said Morgan Ingram is your new BFF. But I think he's one of the best on LinkedIn.

Devin Reed: He will not agree that we're BFF yet, but I'm working him over.

Catie Ivey: Okay, keep trying.

Devin Reed: What's a piece of advice you want to give young women or all women in sales who are trying to shatter the glass ceiling.

Catie Ivey: You're capable of more than you believe. And you'll never get something that you don't ask for.

Devin Reed: Great advice. Great advice. Probably applies to everybody.

Catie Ivey: Yeah, not just women.

Devin Reed: What's one podcast every salesperson should listen to?

Catie Ivey: I mean, Reveal is a great one. 30 minutes to President's Club is another good one that I've listened to recently.

Devin Reed: They're fantastic. I love Nick and... Oh, I'm dropping his name. What's his name?

Catie Ivey: I do not know.

Devin Reed: Oh man, I hope you're not watching. I totally dropped the ball on your name. I just signed a partnership with them too. My bad, guys.

Catie Ivey: I was just really pleased that I remembered the name of the podcast. The last two I've listened to were stellar.

Devin Reed: Yeah, they're really good. Good tactical stuff. Go check them out. Okay. Here's a good one. You said before the show, you didn't have one, so maybe you came up with it since then. What's your hype song when you're feeling down or just need some energy?

Catie Ivey: So I didn't know that your Beyonce Jay- Z question was going to open it up, but anything Queen B is always going to be a win for me. I actually got to see them in concert together a couple of years ago. It was magic. It was the best of both worlds. I'm also from Atlanta, so like old school Jermaine Dupri, Welcome to Atlanta. There's some really good like old school, Atlanta songs.

Devin Reed: When you told me you were in Atlanta, I was really hoping for like Jermaine Dupri, Ludacris, something like that.

Catie Ivey: Yeah.

Devin Reed: Cool. And then last one. What's something you think everyone should do to continue growing their skills?

Catie Ivey: Five second question, that's hard. Learn about business. If you don't understand business, you can't sell very well. Watch CNBC, learn how the markets work, learn business so you'll sound credible.

Devin Reed: Now the TV over the corner makes sense. I'm going to get one over the microphone. I'll put it on that little shelf.

Catie Ivey: I'm actually really jealous of your background. It's way more fun than mine. I think I got to rearrange my home office.

Devin Reed: I'll tell the wife. She did most of the designing, the proof.

Catie Ivey: I love it.

Devin Reed: You did it. You made it through rapid fire rounds. And I also want to correct. It's Nick and Armand. Nick and Armand. It came to me in the middle of the round. I've had his last name in my head, which is a little tough to pronounce.

Catie Ivey: Well now we've given him three plugs. So I think you're growing his audience right now. He'll forgive you.

Devin Reed: The best... What's the law? I think it's Cunningham's law, I saw on Wikipedia. The best way to get the right answer on the internet is to say the wrong answer and someone will correct you. So that's what I did to myself on the show. Anyway, Catie, thank you so much for hanging out with us on Gong Labs Live. Provided some great feedback, or some great advice and some feedback. So want to say thanks for hanging out. What is the best way for folks to connect with you, get ahold of you, follow you?

Catie Ivey: LinkedIn is definitely the best. I'm Catie with a C. So Catie Ivey with a C. I'm pretty easy to find.

Devin Reed: Fantastic. You have it there folks. Thanks for hanging out with us on this Friday morning. Make sure you follow Gong on LinkedIn, if you're not already. You'll get firsthand access to all of our upcoming data. Follow me because I'm the one who publishes it. And I also talk about sales tips if you're into that. And if you liked this episode, you can look for the link in the comments and you can see previous episodes. They're called on- demand episodes. Yeah. There's about four or five of them. Go check them out. Hope you have a great rest of your day and we will see you in next week or two weeks. See you then.


Beware of “best practices” –– They’re not what they seem. We uncovered what’s preventing you from delivering deal-making discovery calls. Special guest Catie Ivey, RVP of Sales at Demandbase, joins Gong Labs Live! to share the shocking correlation between the use of slides in discovery meetings and earning a follow-up call.