Deborah Gavello - President of Gavello & Associates

Find good people. Learn how to interview properly. Have someone watch you interview, without asking any questions and give you constructive feedback. Prepare for your interviews ahead of time, and don’t ask leading questions. Hiring good people is your most important job.

Deborah Gavello has her own consulting business and teaches adults sales and customer service skills. She is accustomed to being the subject matter expert, the one who gets asked the tough questions, and controls the group environment. She was the top salesperson in California for Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and number two out of 1,000 salespeople nationwide. Her best references come not only from the presidents who hire her but also from their top salespeople, some with 30 years of sales experience, who tell her, “I wish I had had your training years ago; I think about how much more successful I would have been then.” She never imagined that things would go so well and years later over 100 companies have hired her.

Now, imagine this expert, sitting in “Math Boot Camp” two years ago, at Columbia University’s Graduate Executive MPA program, questioning why she ever wanted to go back to graduate school after being successful in the business world- reviewing algebra and geometry, which she hadn’t seen in a long time. The worse part was, she haven’t done calculus since she was 17 years old and in her first semester of undergraduate school. She was feeling overwhelmed. She thought to herself, “Wait, now I have to learn calculus again for economics? Where is the exit?” She studied math every day for a month straight. Failing wasn’t an option! She received her MPA with a specialty in Sustainability and Water Resource Management. She now consults in a variety of areas including sales and water. She is open to speaking engagements across the country.

Where did the idea for Gavello & Associates come from?

While I was working in sales management at Automatic Data Processing (ADP) I was conducting sales training for free at Regional Banks. The Bank employees and senior management really liked it, but didn’t appreciate it, because it was for free. I thought, “If I charge for this, they will show up on time.” It was a huge risk to leave a very successful career at a Fortune 300 company and start up on my own. I was a top performer; I had stock options, and a great life at ADP. They fought hard to keep me there. The Vice President of Sales, Bud Angeles called me directly to try and keep me. I loved working at ADP; it was a very good experience.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

There is no typical day. A lot of my time is spent marketing and networking. Some days I might be working on my excel database. At one point I had every email address and phone number of every bank in California. Keeping up with the changing hats of decision makers at my prospects is a constant battle. I read magazines and newsletters to stay abreast of the industry. I also try and publish an article at least several times a year. Some days I might be on the phone for three hours cold calling new decision makers.

How do you bring ideas to life?

One of the most utilized subjects my former students say they learned from me is: the Change Cycle – how to successfully manage a change. Therefore, why not go through this challenging change myself? I love people that can handle change. This being said, I graduated this past year with my Masters Degree from Columbia University, and I strive to inspire others that it is important to keep the brain challenged, at every age. No one can operate and be successful long-term with fears of failing. The ones that take the calculated risk and adapt to new changes will succeed in the next decade! Remember if starting a business were easy everyone would do it.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Drought-friendly landscaping. I really believe we need to plant like we are in the desert, which we are.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Me and Eds Pizza. Take the time to quality control before you start cutting the pizza. I left a toothpick in a pizza- slow down and think. I was 15 years old then.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Order business cards and have them in hand before a very important first client meeting.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Find good people. Learn how to interview properly. Have someone watch you interview, without asking any questions and give you constructive feedback. Prepare for your interviews ahead of time, and don’t ask leading questions. Hiring good people is your most important job.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Not being afraid to pick up the phone and cold call. Also, I am very focused on marketing consistently, good listening skills and knowing how to sell “Value”.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One client of my clients had negotiated a contract with me for a good amount of money. I had a signed agreement and had done work for them the prior year; furthermore, they were happy with my work. It was not easy work, they insisted I conduct the training on Saturday and Sundays as to not effect their branch operations The poor employees, were nice but resented working on the weekend, so they were not fully engaged in our training. My employee and I did the work and tried to make the staff’s hours fun and informative, knowing they didn’t want to be there. The following year, the HR director later, decided to try and re-negotiate my contract and save $5,000 dollars. I told her “NO”, she thought I should take it. I thought to myself, “I will re-place this with a better client. This is a lose/lose situation. I want to do work for clients who appreciate my work.” And I did. Do not re-negotiate your prices down ever; you give up your value. Your price is your price and should be respected by your clients. I learned that she didn’t treat her employees nor her vendors well, and not all work is good work- you have to stick to your own values. I should have never started negotiating at all with this client.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Develop better shopping services for the retail industry. They are not doing a good job with their email surveys.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

An antique glass side table.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Excel, PPT, and Word. They are easy to use and can allow you to run your business seamlessly.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Spin Selling. Everyone is in sales. This book is not easy, but once you understand it, it will help you sell correctly.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

A lot of my personal friends have inspired me to do more. I am very internally motivated to do more. My father, Fred Johnson, PhD he is the smartest man in the world, he wrote a book that proves the origin of the universe. Voyage into Astronomy- We are not alone.


Deborah Gavello on Twitter: @deborahgavello1
Deborah Gavello on LinkedIn:
Company website: Gavello & Associates