Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 312: Q & A with Robert Gitell

Shaun H. Ruff


By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m Pacific on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can subscribe right at Sales Pipeline Radio and/or listen to full recordings of past shows everywhere you listen to podcasts! Spotify,  iTunesBlubrry, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Stitcher and now on Amazon music.  You can even ask Siri, Alexa and Google!

This week’s show is called The New Rules for Managing Remote & Hybrid Sales Teams.  My guest is Robert Gitell, VP of Global Sales at LawVu

Join in on our conversation to learn about how to navigate the transition between pre-COVID and post-COVID sales leadership, management and organization. Learn more about:

  • How to recreate those “fringe moments” with customers in a virtual world
  • Customizing each B2B customer experience to fit their needs, mannerisms and cultures
  • The importance of mentorship in a sales organization
  • Capturing attention from a lead prospect

Listen in now, watch the video, and/or read the transcript below.

Matt: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. I am your host, Matt Heinz. Very excited to have you here every week, as always, Thursdays at 11:30 Pacific, 02:30 Eastern.  We’re going to talk about some of the new rules of remote hybrid sales, how to manage it, how to do it. Very much looking forward to this conversation.

Thank you very much for all of your subscriptions and downloads. We’re up to about 312 episodes of this program. All available on demand at Very excited to have our guest today. He’s the VP of global sales at LawVu. Rob Gitell. Rob, thanks so much for joining us today.

Robert: Oh, thanks for having me, Matt. I’m really happy to join and I’m excited about our talk.

Matt: I mentioned this before, you have one of the more unique resumes just in terms of managing sales over the last couple years. You’ve got a pre-COVID period, a during COVID period. You’re fairly new at LawVu now as well. On the frontlines as a sales executive, you have seen various phases of the evolution of managing sales and this remote hybrid sales. What have you seen change? And what are some trends that you saw maybe before that have been accelerated now because of COVID?

Robert: Yeah, it’s an interesting question, and it’s an interesting thing to contemplate. In terms of the work world, at least in my world, sales has always been remote. The team has always pretty much worked out of their homes. So from a leadership standpoint, leading a team, used to working in that environment where you’re not together with the people on your team very often. You’ve got to manage them, you’ve got to motivate them, you’ve got to ensure great sales performance. So not much has changed there. Although periodically, I would be in the field with them. Obviously that’s changed, at least temporarily during this COVID time.

The big change has been with how we deal with prospective customers, how we actually interface with our prospects. So that has traditionally always been in person and we’ve always found, as I’m sure everybody would agree, that that’s the most effective way to deal with, to have sales meetings, to be able to be in person, be able to make that human connection, be able to read the room live.

And then before and after the meeting, you learn an awful lot. While you’re getting set up, you’re talking to your contacts. Afterwards, when you break down and you’re on the way to the elevator, those are very valuable minutes where you actually learn how you did, what the initiative is with the prospect. So obviously, we don’t have that now. Everything’s done by appointment at start. It’s a hard start and a hard stop. You don’t get those fringe moments that are so important. Sales is all about making a connection and helping the client, and being curious about the client’s business, the client’s job so that hasn’t changed. It’s just probably more difficult to do that on a video call.

Matt: So let’s delve into that a little bit because I think you’re right. I mean, honestly, I think back when we were just on the phone (very, very different than being in person) I would argue that when we can see each other, you can see my facial expressions, I can see your body language, there are elements of that in person piece that still exists. But the before and after, I love that you describe those as fringe moments. Those before and after moments when you walk into someone’s office. Someone taught me once, when you walk into someone’s office, look at the walls, what’s on the walls? And what’s on the walls is what they prioritize and what they love. It gives you some small talk opportunities to learn more about the person. I love, obviously when you’re walking out and you can comment on that or just talk about, “Hey, I noticed you got an Alabama sign,” like the game coming up.

Those are different now because we do have hard stops. How do you recommend remote sellers try to replace that? What are some tactics that you see are working to try to still build some rapport and connection with prospects remotely?

Robert: Yeah, boy. I don’t know if I have all the answers to that. But first of all, and most people don’t think about this, there are little things that you can do, for example, looking into the camera. The camera should be focused right on you. You should have adequate lighting. You should be speaking slowly, just those things that make it a warmer meeting. And you can still have eye to eye contact. I see a lot of folks that don’t have good audio, they don’t have good lighting. There’s just discomfort, and making it harder to connect human to human on a virtual call. So that’s something that’s easy that you can do.

And then you just have to do the best you can. The other thing that is really important that sales people, I think, make mistakes on frequently is if they’re doing a demonstration, they go right up to the last minute and don’t leave any time for questions, for wrap up, for small talk. And that’s really the most important time. The tendency is to show everything you know about your product, your service. And you frequently run out of time, of course, because you’re going too deep, taking too long in some areas. You’ve got to leave that 10 minutes, even 15, to wrap up, get their feedback, learn more. Did you hit what they were interested in? It’s an opportunity to probe more and ask more about the challenges they’re facing. Does this seem to solve your needs? So you’ve got to have that talk. You’ve got to have that interaction, and that warmth and connection.

Matt: We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Rob Gitell. He’s the VP of global sales at LawVu. What I’m hearing from you is that the process of selling and relationship building is no different. The formats and channels we have have changed. We have to adopt the tactics of how we do that there, including knowing you’re not going to have a few minutes to walk them to the elevator. You need to do that in the meeting time and so adjusting to that is important.

I mean, LawVu is global. You own selling across various markets. I remember back when I was working in a company selling to real estate agents, and we had different approaches for east coast realtors than we did for west coast realtors when they were calling, just because there were regional cultural differences in terms of how people wanted to have that conversation. Are there regional cultural differences that you’re seeing in a remote world when you’ve got sellers in North America, Europe, Asia, etc.?

Robert: Yeah. Good question. I don’t necessarily buy into that. You’ve got to deal with the person that’s in front of you, whether that’s virtual or in person. It might be that there are cultural differences. Even if you’re in the same state you could be dealing with somebody that is quite different from you culturally or just behaviorally, or maybe not.

I’ve led sales teams. I lived in Australia for the last three years, or three years previous to LawVu, and I led teams across Asia Pacific. There are more similarities than differences. You cannot make assumptions about uh-oh, I’m going in and talking to a New York company. So obviously they’re going to be impatient, direct, to the point. You can’t make an assumption about the person you’re about to meet before you’ve even met them. You’ve got to get to know them, see what makes them tick, see what problems there are. In the first minute, whether it’s virtual or in person, they’re going to see whether you’re interested in them and their business or whether they’re interested in just making a sale and going through a checklist of conversation. I really don’t buy into painting with a broad brush about a person or a company based on whether it’s east coast, west coast or other countries, US. You’ve got to deal with the person in front of you.

Matt: I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s pivot a little bit to career development. I really feel for a lot of people that are new in sales, that are new to joining teams, that are new to joining the sales ranks, maybe fresh college grads. I know earlier in my career, having a team that you got together, hearing other people sell, seeing other people sell, having mentorship relationships, even just grabbing a beer after work and just chatting about your day. That comradery and the learning of junior versus senior with senior people. How do you replace that? How do you continue to build early sales careers when you don’t have that environment the same way anymore?

Robert: Yeah. In my sales career, I’ve never, well, not never. But in the beginning, probably for the first 15 years, we were all remote. I remember I started with Thomson Reuters in 1998 as a Sales Rep and I was remote. I was in Arizona at the time. The company was based in Minneapolis. My manager was in Los Angeles, I would rarely see him. I was dealing with that kind of a situation, no different than now. I think there are some things that apply today just as they did then. If I think about, how did I get acclimated even though I was by myself in my home office? Well, having a mentor on the team, making friends on the team, having regular calls, sharing experiences. I remember, I would sometimes have hours to drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas going on appointments in my territory. I would frequently call colleagues and we would talk and sometimes commiserate, sometimes celebrate together, so just making those connections internally.

So now as a sales leader, when I have somebody start new I set them up with a mentor, somebody that’s more experienced on the team, I encourage the connections between that new person and not only other folks on the team, but other folks that they’re going to interact with around the company, in marketing or in product development or in sales support. So just encouraging regular conversation so that they don’t feel like they’re on an island all by themselves having to learn to sink or swim.

Matt: We talked earlier a little bit about selling into multiple regions and really just treating people like people. Let’s have the same discussion, but let’s talk about the persona and the role you’re selling into. I mean, you spent most of your career selling into the legal space, currently LawVu selling to in-house legal counsel. How much adjustment are you making to that audience? And what kind of lessons have you learned over time that may be unique to people selling into the legal space?

Robert: Well, I don’t think it’s that unique. So the personas that we’re dealing with day in, day out, lawyers. At LawVu, our product speaks to the in-house legal department. The corporate legal department, not necessarily law firms. Those people are very, very busy, whether they’re lawyers, legal operations folks, paralegals, staff lawyers within the department, they’re all extremely busy. They have way too much work to do and not enough time in the day. They probably didn’t wake up that morning thinking that they needed to speak with us.

The most effective way to sell in recent years is digital marketing. To where the marketing department is, they’re really generating very thoughtful pieces to try to gain interest. Maybe it’s a thought leadership piece. Maybe it’s a have you thought about tackling this problem? And putting it out on LinkedIn or direct email, and then letting those folks that see something interesting raise their hands, ask for a demo.

Obviously in a perfect world, all of your leads would come from people raising their hands and coming to you rather than you doing the traditional prospecting of cold calling or cold emailing. But there’s probably no sales organization in the world that can exist on just those. You’ve got to do reach outs, outbound, you’ve got to do grassroots prospecting as a sales professional. You’ve just got to say that your messaging has to be spot on. And you’ve got to think about, whether it’s the lawyer in the department, the general counsel, him or herself, the legal operations person, you’ve got to think about what are their problems likely to be before you talk to them.

If you can say a few things to catch their attention, and if it’s a key problem that’s keeping them up at night, they’re going to want to talk to you. Same thing as a sales leader, I think about if somebody called me and they said the right thing at the right time, that they’ve got a tool that might help accelerate deals through our pipeline and help us meet our targets and get sales people onboarded more quickly, if they said some of the things that are top of mind with me, I’d probably want to talk to them.

Matt: I agree. It’s knowing what the problems are. Even further, knowing when those problems pop up and become hotter for that prospect. And the more you can understand those general focus areas, as well as understand maybe more dynamic heat map and intense signals of when they’re coming up more likely at the attention. And just like you said, having a great marketing department that can provide those commercial insights, that can provide content. It’s not just marketing campaigns that are generating those. Some of the best salespeople are using those as well. And I mean, let’s not forget, if a new prospect, you got this crazy busy in-house counsel, you’re the mailman driving by a house at 35 miles an hour, trying to throw something in the mailbox. If they don’t know who you are yet, there’s going to be a lot of mail that misses. And when you do get something in there, is it valuable? Is it useful for them? Is it helping them make sense or understand something in their world differently? I love that approach.

Well, Rob, I know you’re a busy guy. Want to let you go. Thank you so much for joining us, sharing some insights. One of my big takeaways from this is, sometimes we worry too much about some of the differences between different people, different regions, different industries. Really just having that common approach to creating value, being empathetic and sensitive to their time and interest, focusing on their value. I don’t know, pre, during, post COVID. That seems pretty universally valuable to me.

Robert: Yeah. Great. I’ve enjoyed the conversation, Matt. And anybody that’s listening, I’d love to connect with other sales leaders, share ideas and see how everybody’s doing things. Feel free to link up with me on LinkedIn, happy to connect.

Matt: Awesome. Well, Rob Gitell. He’s the VP of Global Sales at LawVu. A quick shout out for a new group that I know just formed about a month ago, called the CRO Coffee Talk, chief revenue officers, heads of sales, getting together on a biweekly basis, doing exactly what Rob’s looking for. So thank you everyone for watching us live. For those of you listening on demand, appreciate the download. And listen, we’ll be here next week again with more talk on B2B sales and marketing. My name is Matt Heinz. 

Thanks for watching and listening another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.


Sales Pipeline Radio is produced by Heinz Marketing.

I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to [email protected]. For sponsorship opportunities, contact [email protected] 


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