Steve interviews Awesomer Authority Andy Paul about his Sales experience!
|Awesomers Authority - We'll talk to subject matter experts that talk about various topics that would be of interest to other Awesomers who are listening including, but not limited to, starting a business, running a business, best marketing ideas, sourcing in China, organizational development, tools to help your your business more profitably and much more.
|Over a successful sales career that has spanned four decades
I’ve sold everything from women’s shoes to complex
communications systems that sold for tens of millions of dollars.
• I’ve closed over half a billion dollars worth of products and
services selling to companies ranging from small businesses to
some of the world’s largest enterprises.
• Since founding my company in 2000, I’ve been on a mission to
educate sales leaders and sales professionals about the power of
continuous education to transform how they perform.
• My message is getting out as more and more people are paying
• I’m #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to
follow. More than 140,000 people have signed up to follow the
advice I share there.
• My podcast, Accelerate!, with over 660 episodes and nearly 2
million downloads to date, is on the top of every list of the best
• Accelerate! is also on INC’s list of the top 10 leadership podcasts.
• My two award-winning books, Zero-Time Selling and Amp Up
Your Sales, were both Amazon best-sellers.
• In order to help sellers educate themselves about how to
successfully sell in today’s rapidly changing world, I’ve launched
The Sales House, the first all-in-one modern sales education
community for B2B sellers and sales leaders. (Coming in July
• Visit www.thesaleshouse.com, follow Andy on Twitter
(@realAndyPaul), or email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sales is a fundamental part of doing business. It doesn't matter what business you are in, you need to understand how to present your offering and how to convince other people to listen to you.
On today’s episode, Steve introduces Andy Paul. Andy's had a successful sales career that has spanned literally four decades. He’s a global sales expert, hosts the Accelerate! podcast and also authored the Amazon bestsellers Zero Time Selling and Amp Up Your Sales. Here are more takeaways on today’s episode:
Andy’s newly launched program called The Sales House.
How to use data to help you make unemotional hiring decisions.
Why having the right people who can build effective relationships both internally and externally are the key to scaling your business.
And the four core habits you need to understand to establish relationships.
So put on your headphones and learn how you too can master the art of selling.
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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1:13 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Andy Paul).
Steve: You're listening to episode number 42 of the Awesomers.com podcast. As always, you can go to Awesomers.com/42 to see all the show notes and relevant details. Today my special guest is Andy Paul. Now Andy's had a successful sales career that has spanned literally four decades. He sold everything from women's shoes to complex communication systems that sold for tens of millions of dollars. He's closed over half a billion dollars worth of products and services, selling for companies ranging from small businesses to some of the world's largest enterprises. Since he founded his company in 2000, he's been on a mission to educate sales leaders and sales professionals about the power of continuous education to transform their own performance. His message is getting out more and more as people are paying attention. He's actually number eight on LinkedIn's list of top 50 global sales experts and that's a hundred forty thousand people strong in terms of his following over on Linkedin. That's impressive indeed. His podcast Accelerate! has over 660 episodes. Good lord! That's a lot of episodes. His podcast Accelerate! by the way was also listed on Inc’s list of the top ten leadership podcast. Very impressive indeed. And his two award-winning books Zero Time Selling and Amp Up Your Sales were both Amazon bestsellers. What can't this guy do, right? Now, recently Andy has launched a new program called The Sales House and he's trying to help sellers today educate themselves and be able to be successful in such a dynamic and rapidly changing world. And we're going to dive into all of this and how it applies to you as we get in today's episode. I'm glad you're here and I know that you'l be glad you joined us.
Okay Awesomers, we're back again. Steve Simonson here joined today by Andy Paul. And Andy it's great to have you on board today. How's it going?
Andy: Oh great Steve. Thanks for having me.
Steve: Certainly a pleasure. And as we've already declared in the intro that we've read in, you know everybody can tell that you're an Awesomer, kind of have a sales background but I always like to hear it from your own words. Instead of me telling the people how great you are, you tell us how great you are.
Andy: My least favorite thing in the world to do. Yes, talk about myself, right? So what do you want to know?
Steve: Well I always like to start out with kind of, if you could just summarize right today where you are, what's your business, how do you make your way in the world today. Just in general, where are you and what do you do today?
Andy: Sure. Well, we've actually just launched a new venture and we, meaning my son works with me and has partnered with me on this. And it's called The Sales House and The Sales House is a sales education community for small and medium sized businesses. So there's a lot of training out there but the training really for sellers isn't very effective and part of the reason being that really focuses on the wrong things. It's about processes, about methodologies. It's not about you know, how do you get the why behind the how? How do you connect with another human being? And you know why do you do it a certain way? How do you engage their interest? How do you build trust? How do you inspire them to go in this buying journey with you? And so really focusing on the the art of selling, if you will. The craft of selling, the science behind the art of selling which there's a lot of science these days so it's just something that doesn't get focused on enough. And it's and also for small mid-sized enterprises. Oftentimes they don't have access to these types of resources with this type of knowledge and content. So we've launched. We've got hundreds of hours of courses and content on the site. We're adding more all the time so this is really my focus right now.
Steve: I love it. Well, being able to partner up with your son, I'm sure that's a pleasure in itself. But Sales House, now, how do we find that? Is it saleshouse.com?
Steve: Yes, I knew there's a secret in there. Okay, so we’ll definitely have that in the show notes. So I'm definitely in high agreement that general small and medium-sized businesses or SMB, as they like to call them. They lack sales skills in general and when they try to deploy those, having access to sufficient resources, often lacking as well. So we're going to dive in a little bit more to The Sales House and kind of how some of your background has built into that. So first, I always like to know kind of where you came from. So what was your first job?
05:52 (Andy talks about his first job as a lifeguard and a women’s shoe salesman.)
Andy: My first job? Professional job or job job? Well as a kid, I worked at some pool. So I was a lifeguard and a swimming coach for years. Actually in high school, my first sales job was I sold women's shoes for JCPenney and in Madison, Wisconsin. So that was a great learning experience. It was for a 16 year old kid to sell women's shoes for my first day at work. Sort of a funny story. My first day at work, I backed out the driveway. My parents are sitting there on the front porch waiting to buy their youngest son, going off to his first job. Professional job, so to speak. And I get the store at 8:00 and the manager shows me how to use the foot measuring device and convinced he can turn me into the greatest women's shoe salesman in the world. And from the time, I show up at the store at 8:00 to the time the doors open. At 9:00, the skies opened up and we had the first huge snowstorm of the year and that was like a bat signal, if you will, in the sky for women from you know 35 mile radius of JC Penney shopping up their new winter boots. And so I was thrown at the deep end the first day. I waited dozens and dozens of women and I'd been trained so to speak by the manager. You know, I'd measure the feet and you know the woman always wanted a different size than where I had measured. And I thought, “Oh jeez, what am I doing wrong here?” And it finally dawned on me that you know shoes, different sized shoes, fit differently for different feet but the big lesson I learned was you know I kept sort of insisting “you are a certain size” and it finally dawned on me - well it's not about what I think, it's about what they think. That's important. So first day on the job, I learned that lesson which was a good lesson to learn.
Steve: I love that trial by fire and also for the Millennials out there listening you can go look on the inner tubes, internets or whatever they're called these days for what JCPenney is. It was a, still exists I think.
Andy: Yes, it serves as an anchor store in most malls those days and yes it's where people, lots of people shopped. Not so much as today.
Steve: Yes it definitely was one of those you know standard shops that you would see as you said, there's an anchor in many malls but those are in a state of change to be sure. So let me see. So I love that story but as you think about your career from then to now, you’re kind of 16 and now you're what? I'm guessing 19 but what's your defining moment along the way if you could pin one down?
Andy: Gosh, defining moment. There's been so many but yes interesting story. I was interviewing for my first professional job. So I was going to work for a company called Burroughs which again Millennials have to look that up. It's Unisys but at the time it was the second-largest computer company in the world and I was going in for an interview. And the job was to sell many computers to SMB's and really for accounting applications. So I was waiting in the lobby for the sales manager to come get me to interview and this guy walks through the whole lobby and asked me, “Hey why are you here?” I said I’m here to see Ray. He said, “Well I’m just going to warn you. He doesn't talk much.” And so Ray comes out. Says, “Hey, I'm Ray.” And that's what he always says. I follow him into a conference room. He sits me down. He's on one side of the conference table. I’m on the other. He opens his notebook and I was expecting some sort of “hey, beat him tell me about you” type questions. But instead his first question on his mouth was an accounting question and I'd taken accounting in college, I'd done reasonably well in it but I blanked. My first serious interview, I just blanked. And other than thinking “oh my gosh what do I tell my parents? I screwed up my first interview” But yes I thought for what seemed like an eternity. I'm sure it wasn't an eternity and I turned away and I said, “Yes I know the answer to this question but it's just escaped my mind and I don't want to try to tell you something I'm not sure of so you know I can go home tonight, get the answer for you and I'll call you tomorrow with the right answer.” And he doesn't say a word, closes his notebook, stands up and leaves the room. That's been the interview so far. And I'm sitting there with my head on the table and I’m like “Oh my god. What'd I do?” And a few months later this other gentleman walks in. He says, “I'm Brian. I'm the whole boss of this whole office. Ray works for me. So Ray tells me he wants to hire you.” Well that was basically my interview. Well takeaway was just to have some integrity right. Don't try to BS your way. Be honest. Owe up to something you don't know. You can always find out the answer but just be upfront with people. And I guess I've been raised right by my parents but to have that instinct it's just something that was reinforced day one and it's just carried through throughout my career. It's helped in many occasions.
Steve: Boy it's definitely a lesson that I have fun sharing my own, I shared my own version of that story over time which is to say that you know it's so much better to just go I don't know or I know but I'll find out later you know, whatever it is. As opposed to that whole idea that I'm going to beat us my way through it right. And this is actually I think where sales often gets a bad reputation. Because not everybody operates under that. Would you agree?
Andy: I think in life in general. I mean it's not just sales. We're seeing in the world today it's not purely in sales. You see but sales has a reputation for saying anything. Unfortunately, there's still some people who want to take the easy route and I mean the stereotypes exist for a reason.
Steve: Yes, I suppose that's true. That was a very good defining moment, in terms of you know, let's just stand on doing the right thing. What about, what’s the best day in your professional life so far? Some day where you just sat back and you go, you know what I'm glad I'm here. I'm doing the right thing and I'm loving it.
12:17 (Andy reminisces about the best day in his professional life.)
Andy: Gosh I don’t know if there's one that stands out. I mean there's so many stages that cross my mind. Yes, I progressed to a point and was able to do things I wasn't able to do before. Yes I think they're moments I found myself in certain meetings, thinking about who we’re dealing with and what we're trying to sell that it sort of dawned on me like, “Wow! I've come a long way from where I started.” But it was just, some of it was deliberate but some of it was just putting myself in a situation to learn and to absorb new things and be open to new experiences and to you know challenge my comfort zone, if you will. And I think that for most of my career I've operated outside my comfort zone. You know I've put myself in situations where I've had to learn something new whether it was selling a really complex technical product which I did for years for most of my career before starting my own company. I had 20 plus years selling you know complex technical products and I was a history major so I had to learn the products, I had to learn the customers, I had to learn how they applied it. And yes, I wasn't self-sufficient. They were complex. I need to bring in help but being able to orchestrate that and have the business conversations that needed to be had with the customer at a strategic level. It's just constant learning and that I think just sort of led me to various places in my career as like I said I started to wake up and said, “Wow, I don't think I'd be here.”
Steve: I love that. Sometimes and most often actually, those milestones at least in my experience, you only recognize later. So for me it's very rare that I in the moment go, “Wow. Hang on. This is pretty awesome.” It's happened and I think being able to have that recognition of you know I'm kind of happy to be here, lucky, sometimes people would say I'm lucky to be here but usually it's an engineered outcome.
Andy: Well I think luck plays a big role. I mean happenstance if you will. Maybe you just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I mean my career took a huge change actually one day when I got laid off at a startup that was basically cratering. And I went home and I live in Silicon Valley at that time. I went home and it’s a Friday and Saturday my Fortune magazine arrived. And I was paging through it and saw this article at this local company in Silicon Valley that was pioneering the use of certain satellite technology and for very small satellite dishes, which was revolutionary at that time. And I said “hmm interesting” so I picked up the phone Monday and cold called him and managed to get my way and set up appointment to talk to the Vice President of Sales even though they said they had no opening in sales. And then I met the guy, it turned out that actually I had interviewed with him like four years before that. He had offered me a job that I'd turned down and so you know happenstance, luck, right. I mean it took me on a path of my career from selling computers to selling large complex communication systems that sold for millions of dollars. It put me in a completely different path and it was luck that it happened that way.
Steve: Yes, that is interesting. I do love the fact though that you're able to take that you know kind of unexpected or lightning bolt. You know you don't expect a surprise lightning bolt that's like Friday - good news! Everybody, you're out. And you know that's not a great time and then by Monday you've already turned that thing into something bigger and better.
Andy: Yes, well I mean it's again happenstance. Things sort of happened for a reason. So yes the guy hiring me was great. I mean I had to make my own success once I got there but I mean there was always things. I'm a huge believer that you make your own luck but there's also just you know confluence of circumstances, like you know, how do you how do you meet your wife? Out of all the billions of people in the world, how do you meet that one person? Well, luck got involved with that, right?
Steve: You know we like serendipity, that's A-okay with me. Let me ask you this - a lot of entrepreneurs and business folks, they struggle at times in their career and that you know there's times where many of them have looked in the mirror and go you know, “Should I keep doing this? Maybe I should just go get a you know cubicle gig?” Have you ever had one of those days where you’re like I just want to check out and go do something easier?
Andy: Not really. I mean and I say that in all honesty because it doesn't mean there have been really no hard days where it's like I need to go take a break but yes I started my company for reasons. One is I want to be on my own. I want to be self-employed as opposed to working for other people. And no real temptation to go back to that. I did have an occasion in my career where I was doing work for clients and they said, “Hey you know we need help doing certain things. You want to come on board?” So I did sort of set my business aside for a few years and and go to work for a client but it's a very collaborative environment. These are the founding members of the the company. So it was a little different environment in that regard. But yes, I wasn't running away from anything at that point. At that point it was, we're going to raise a bunch of money for this company and have a huge upside and ultimately it did.
Steve: Thanks. Yes, that's definitely not a give up time. That's a let's do something fun time.
Andy: Yes but I mean the goal is always to go back and work for myself and keep my company going so it's just one of those things, one-off.
Steve: Interesting. All right. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to have you frame up kind of the standard problem that entrepreneurs face when it comes to the sales process and perhaps, lack thereof. So we'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Okay, we're back again Awesomers and we're here with Andy Paul and he's going to talk to us about a common situation that entrepreneurs find themselves in and that at least in my opinion, I'm going to let him put it in his own words, is that kind of a lack of a sales process or perhaps even the lack of awareness that you need a sales process. Andy what say you? How do you frame up the problem that most entrepreneurs face?
Andy: There are multiple levels with entrepreneurs in sales. I mean one is certainly as you said, a lack of it was dependable process if you will for sales, but I'm thinking before that, the one that's most critical I find is having a reliable consistent process for hiring sales candidates. So getting the right people on board. Now hiring is not fun in the best of circumstances and requires investment of time and energy but especially in smaller businesses tend to done be fairly randomly right. Somebody comes in, “Oh I like this person. Let's hire them.” So not a sufficient amount of rigor in the process. So one thing I do is work with clients and also at The Sales House we've got a whole course on this. How do you use data to help you make emotional or make unemotional hiring decisions right? How do you take the emotion out of hiring? Because hiring is just like buying or selling. It's driven by emotion, first and foremost. So how do you get a good sort of candid objective view of a candidate? So we put together this course. It has our five steps you go through. And I said people can find it in thesaleshouse.com but it starts with getting as much data into the process as you can. So you know when you screen a resume what you do is put together a scorecard and say, “Okay. Here's seven attributes.” We’re going to look at, we're going to score these on a one to five basis. And one of the attributes could be the resume right? I had a client I work for who was an absolute believer that GPA was essential. Then he hired, you know it didn't matter if someone’s been out of school for 20 years, they needed to have a certain GPA even back in college for him to even consider them. So for him that would be one criteria and he could rank that from one to five. Another criteria could be your screening interview right. Were they prepared? Do they have the right questions? Had they actually looked at your website, the company? Or you know, three could be their experience level. You define these criteria. One of which are the interviews themselves. And there's a whole different processes for interviewing these days that's not just getting three people in the company to meet with this person and ask random questions but actually define a set of questions that everybody that talks to the candidate is going to ask these exact same questions at exact same order so you can put a score too, you can gauge how does the person answer these questions, how these four different people score it and look at it collectively. Well the point being is you have these seven criteria. You score and then you look at the cumulative score and say okay, if your max was let's say it's seven questions, max score of 35 - hey anybody that doesn't get above or scores below a thirty, we don't hire. Well that just takes the emotion out of it at that point and it doesn't mean you can't apply some judgment to it but you really have to put in place a process. Trust the process and it's actually pretty simple to do. It takes a little bit of pre-work but once you've got that in place then you say, “Okay the second thing is now how do we start attracting better candidates?” And the thing for a lot of companies is they don't try to market themselves through their job recruitment. You know when they put up a job posting it's like what's interesting about this company right? You're competing, you're in a competitive marketplace trying to get top talent, how are you making yourself look attractive to candidates? And that's something that takes work. Before that is you have to do a little examination of your own corporate culture and say, “Is this the place where someone wants to come work? Can we attract the A-candidates?”
Steve: That's a marriage a lot of us don't want to look into. So the reality is without having kind of that corporate culture or you know understanding your own belief systems and values, it's difficult to then say what you stand for. I don't know how you feel about that but we often say, you know it starts with your own values and if you can't say this person matches my values, it’s a key indicator on that scorecard you're off to the wrong start. Because it doesn't matter how talented somebody is, if they have different values than the organization where often the fit won't last long. Is that your…
Andy: Absolutely, absolutely. And you see that turnover a lot in small businesses, SMBs, as sales people tend to throw more frequently than they should but to give an example, one client was looking for a pretty top notch sales individual and he was looking at their job listing and it's just you know we need to make this amount of experience and this is the market we serve. Very dry but the story they have is not dry. I mean they're a family-owned business, they're minority-owned family-owned business. Been in business 40 years you know. They promote from within. You get to engage a lot with senior management on a day-to-day basis. They've you know innovated in certain product areas that are pretty cool. They're growing rapidly. I mean they have all these things they could have said which they ultimately did say and the job posting made them look much more attractive. That reflected the reality of the company and so as a company guys say, okay as you said what do we stand for? What do we really like? And if it's not something that you know is going to be attractive to people coming in from the outside then you need to take that step back and say what needs to change.
Steve: Well it's a good takeaway for all the Awesomers out there listening. Why not apply a little of those marketing chops to the the recruitment process? Ultimately you know your people are the key. They will define whether or not you succeed or fail in my opinion. As you try to scale, if you don't have good people you're going to be in trouble. Basically in my view, people are the key to scale. What do you think?
Andy: Sure. Absolutely but you need to be able to keep them and that's really the key thing. I think a lot of companies can be good at recruiting folks but they're lousy at retaining them and that ultimately gets back to the lack of culture that exists at the company in terms of how do we treat our customers? How do we treat our employees? That comes clear. You know it's hard sometimes from the outside to really discern that. I had one company that, I went to work ultimately very early in my career in a startup, did well. I thought it was a ton of due diligence and I got there, found that you know things were quite different than they had been represented. I thought I'd done everything I could to sort of figure that out. I'd talk to people at work there. I knew somebody that worked there, it's just, you can't learn everything until you show up. So as an employer, you have to think, “Okay, what's it really like to work here?”
Steve: Yes, that's a very good point. I don't remember the math but you know there's so many studies or examples of the you know the cost of kind of hiring and then having that new hire disappear you know within a year's time or whatever.
Andy: It's expensive. I mean the stats are it can be as a bad hire. This is one study, the bad hire will cost you seven times than your salary. Now on a high end. If they come in for a year let's say and they underperform and they don't meet expectations or they underperform and take off anyway or let's start at the underperforming scenario first. You've got your benefits, your overhead all that stuff and then the opportunity cost on top of it, yes seven times maybe not out of the question. And then if you have a good person that comes in and can perform but you know they don't think there's alignment between their values and the company's values then you know that's probably as expensive.
Steve: Boy both of those scenarios aren’t awesome and so now that we framed up kind of that general nature of the problem, well how do you go about fixing that problem? You know kind of giving us a little foreshadowing on a couple…
Andy: It's a process for hiring. I mean first of all you got to focus on attracting the right candidates so we talked about that. There are some great resources out there that talk about how to make yourself more attractive for candidates. I'm not an expert on that when it comes to hiring them as you do need to have this process that I described that and even small companies can have this process. Again, the objective is to take as much of the emotion out of the decision-making on who you're hiring and make it as data-driven as you can. Now humans I said were driven by emotion. I have a client and I went into this client, I was coaching the CEO and I saw him about once a week and I knew he was looking to fill a spot and I said, “Look whatever you do, when you interview someone you like do not hire them before you let me talk to them. Let's disagree on that.” Okay we agreed on that and I show up the next week, he hired this guy for the sales slot and I’m like - what are you doing? He says, “Well he came in. He was dressed nicely, spoke very well.” I'm like, “So? What's that have to do with it?” I mean was he an appropriate candidate for the slot? You're trying to feel their experience. Did you validate where they had the expertise to do what you need to do? Did you test it? No, they just the thought the guy look good and he didn't like the idea of spending time hiring.
28:37 (Steve and Andy talk about the most common source of trouble in hiring people.)
Steve: That is perhaps the most common source of the trouble, it’s when the leader, whoever's involved in the hiring process, the CEO for example in your case, don't want to spend the time right and let's just get this thing over with. I mean how many times have you gone you know - hey let's just go to the quickest solution possible. That was rarely the best solution in my experience.
Andy: Sometimes it can be but rarely it is.
Steve: Right it's just so rare that you know the first person or two that walks in that says the right stuff is kind of your best candidate. How about any general ideas of where people should be looking as far as part of the hiring process?
Andy: Where they should be looking for candidates?
Steve: Yes. Do you recommend LinkedIn or other top boards? Or how do you go about it?
Andy: Yes, your networks are most effective right. If you've done a good job of asking people within your network that you know personally right. Say, “Look, this is very specifically the type of person we're looking for, this specific type of business.” Be as specific as you can. Not just for the salesperson but yes, someone who can do these things, can talk to these types of companies, is comfortable in this type of environment. Start there and the thing is you should be doing that constantly right. You should always be working your network to see sort of who they know, who they might know, who they've met. That may be something that could be of interest to you and recruiting is really a full-time, should be a full-time occupation in terms of something you do a little bit of every day, not that completely consumes your day. So building your networks and then depending on the type of company you are, LinkedIn can be great. I mean I've had a lot of success there with clients I've worked with. They tend to be more in the tech space. I'm sure there are other spaces that works for as well but I have a client that was in like the oil and gas space and it wasn't as fruitful for them to find people on LinkedIn. So you serve to test it perhaps and see. Then yes there are job boards that people have success with - Indeed or Monster or one of these type of companies. It's like everything in life you just have to test it you know before you go a whole hog on. See which one might potentially generate the quality of candidates that you want but in general you know you can find your best I think your best bets especially if you're recruiting locally, is just your network, who you know and just being out there. You know if you're CEO and and you're in a specific field, let's say again, maybe in the biotech field. What are all the biotech associations locally you can join? Go to meetings and just meet people who are available you know. Maybe you think we're going to need a VP of Sales and in a year get out in the community, find out who's there before you need it.
Steve: Yes that's so smart. I definitely would echo this idea that the network can be your strongest asset when it comes to this. Especially if you have that kind of ongoing you know, I'm going to be hiring a lot of people for a long time. You always have that eye towards you know making relationships and developing those relationships. One of the ways we find I would say high quality people is using your network idea and often it's through like sales people that already work for suppliers or vendors that call on us. When we see those people especially when they get to know our business and maybe in our businesses you know some E-commerce bent to it so it's a little more exciting for them and and if there's an opportunity, many of those will come and start to sell us on the idea of you know coming in. And so sometimes, you can actually have that network be feeding you.
Andy: Sure. I mean that's certainly one or taking another a step is if you have salespeople and I've certainly seen this in the past as salespeople calling on you. Well they call on lots of companies like you and so the same thing you can ask, “ If run into anybody ar any of your other clients that potentially could be interested…” They have seen that work many times.
Steve: Yes, that networking is very powerful and for those who source from China, I get this question a lot you know. How do they find somebody who's a good asset in China? And just a little pro tip this same networking idea works there too if you have a really great you know foreign trade rep that works at a factory in China. That's a good person to talk to about who do they know or perhaps they're even interested themselves in some sort of sourcing position you have. So that networking is really really a valuable tip. Thank you for that.
Andy: It is. So to your point, you need somebody especially in China, somebody on the ground there that can help you discern who's good and who's not.
Steve: For sure, yes. No question about that. When we come back, we're going to talk a little bit more about a deeper dive into how your process, all these hours of courses and things that you've created - how did you get all that stuff? I'm curious to know. I'm sure others are as well. We'll find out more right after this.
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Steve: Okay we're back again everybody and Andy Paul is giving us the whole rundown on how we get a sales hiring process. How we find the right people and maybe even how we can make a sale and make a sales process that works for us. Andy, you mentioned that earlier, I thought you said a couple hundred hours of course material at your new website?
Andy: Right. So at The Sales House common sales educational platform, if you will, community for B2B sellers and we're targeting primarily small midsize businesses with this because we think it's it's an underserved population when it comes to sort of the latest and greatest in terms of sales, sales perspective, sales thought leadership ,sales technique, tools, the technologies and so on. I think we in total in terms of total hours of content now we're probably over 400 and it's a mix of courses which largely things that I've put together over the years in my business. We have what we call master classes which are conversations with world-class experts about a specific topic we had doing live workshops, a kind of webinar type thing for the community. We're doing a couple of those a month again about a specific topic of interest and then we have live coaching hours every week so people have sales challenge they can come in. And so it's all a byproduct of all the content of 40 plus years in sales and nearly 20 years as a consultant, as a coach working with small and mid-sized enterprises to help them transform their sales efforts. So we're prioritizing the topics that we're creating courses about and we have some courses that are longer form like the hiring process that are divided into five parts. Each part’s about 20 minutes long and then we also have a number of courses just specifically, 10-minute courses right. Somebody doesn't have a lot of time to invest and a whole theory is if you want to succeed in business, if you want to succeed in sales, you have to become a continuous learner and I'm sure your audience leans in that direction because they're listening to this podcast. But you have to be deliberate about investing some of your time every day to get just a little bit smarter. And that has a compounding effect and you know use the imagery of getting one percent smarter every day. That knowledge is going to compound itself and so we're trying to be that resource for people to come. And for another example the content we're providing which I think is really valuable for entrepreneurs is there's been this huge revolution in sales technology in the last five years, where I think there are five years ago maybe a hundred companies that were developing not just CRM systems but a whole range of tools designed to help sales teams. Now I think there's like 1500, 2000 companies that are offering these. So what I'm doing is I'm picking the ones that I think are interesting and and I have no financial stake in this at all, it's just the ones I think are interesting. I’m bringing the CEOs on, I'm doing less than 15-minute conversation then we're recording a demonstration of the tool for 15 minutes. So we’re looking at this library of applications that members can come in and say, “Look! I might be interested in something to help me with my outbound prospecting.” I go, “See a demonstration here on The Sales House.” I don't have to call the salesperson quite yet, I could serve, do my research. And so we're trying to expose you know entrepreneurs and again in people in SMB space to this fast emerging space where there's a lot of new chain, new things going on, a lot of change taking place. Things that aren't appropriate in all cases but well I'm trying to highlight the ones that could be appropriate for for SMBs and for you know more skilled sales team.
Steve: Certainly. Well, I first of all want to just reinforce this idea of being a you know ongoing learner. This premise is something we truly believe in and as you said it's a kind of self selecting audience here, people are here to learn and they're here and they're expanding their mind. So that's already highly accretive in terms of their own knowledge. We do believe in intellectual equity and that compounding effect. We think that is some kind of value that you can never take away. It's really cool.
Andy: Absolutely. Huge differentiator for people as well.
Steve: Yes, without question. It's for me, it's the people who just start coasting that they find the more challenges in life right. Often if you're pushing yourself, you're kind of expanding your own mind, ideally it's fun too right. If you can enjoy what you're doing and that's one of the biggest keys. I did have a chance to listen to a couple of the past things that you've done and I found you know your style very engaging. I have no doubt that the content as well. How do you find that you know you're able to keep up this pace of just kind of continuous teaching to help us?
Andy: Well as I said, were close to 700 episodes of our podcast. And I tell people this is really perhaps one of the most selfish things I've done in my life, is to produce this podcast. Because I've been able to talk to nearly 700 really smart people and learn and yes I'm 42 years into my sales career and I'm still learning something new every day that I can apply in my work. And so the podcast has been great, actually I started with that purpose because I just felt there were things happening that I wasn't keeping up as abreast as I should have. So this has been a great thing for me but in my life I tell people the story and it's in there in The Sales House. Part of our philosophy is there is a British philosopher Thomas Huxley who wrote at one point, he said, “In life, your goal should be to try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” And so for me I've had that in my back quote in my life for a long time and I've sort of this insatiable curiosity about all things not just sales but you know things in general. So yes so I read widely, I read about a lot of different things. I you know engage and have a lot of interest and then that's sort of the something about everything and then the everything about something is not just sales but really, well we're focusing on The Sales House, the relationships right. How do you connect and engage with another person? How do you you know build trust? How do you inspire people? I said to go on this buying journey with you and that's part that's overlooked so much and so much of our sales training, that's what we're talking about. Educating people and the importance of of that and that's a field that's just booming you know. Since World War II, there's been so much work done on neuroscience and understanding how the brain works and decision-making works and how we influence people. There's the art and science to it and we think people should learn as much as they can because my belief has always been based on my experience in sales, that first moment you meet somebody a potential buyer, that's the critical moment, that's the decisive moment. I mean if that goes badly you don't have a chance to sell them and so yes we teach people this advanced sales techniques all over the map. It's like - yes let's just get back to the basics. Now there's really four core habits you need to understand and master if you can master those, then you can perfect that first interaction, the second interaction. You can build a relationship with someone that's going to lead to a trusted adviser role that means. It's just four simple things. I created an acronym about it. The acronym is BALD, B-A-L-D. And so it's very simple. Be human, that's the B. A is ask questions. L - listen slowly. D - deliver value. Now if you can be human, ask great questions, listen slowly deliver value, you can build a productive relationship with anybody. Whether it's in your personal life or in sales context or a business context, that's the key. And we need to be educating people more about that and if they do that then I think we'll have more people successful at sales and all walks of business.
Steve: Well first of all I love the acronym and secondly I appreciate the fact that what's unique about your solution is that you've reinforced this basic premise for those of us who've been around. You know, this is my 30th year in business. We know that relationships are the key. Too often today, we get it mixed up and we get it twisted to think - oh technology is the key. We're going to send out a million emails, that's going to be the key.
Andy: Yes, we're going to personalize that “scale” quote unquote as if you're just listening. I'm giving you air quotes which is you know that's an oxymoron - you can't personalize that scale. So you're right.Technology is, you can't substitute technology for the relationship.
Steve: It's a tool, it's leverageable, we like it. You know I love technology in the right usage but it's not a substitute for relationships, certainly not in the complex sales space. So I want to ask you Andy, so a lot of harvest is there in the E-commerce space so they have this general idea that, “No, no. My website makes the sales. I don't have to make sales. So what do I need to know about sales?” What would you say to somebody with that attitude?
Andy: They're wrong.
Steve: How so?
Andy: Well I mean you still have to engage some of their interest, you still have to connect with them on a human level, you still have to build trust. People are yes, if it's a small dollar or amount they they may go ahead and you know make a speculative purchase but in general you know people are a lot conservative with their money. They're going to want to trust the source before they go ahead and make the purchase so you may be doing that not face-to-face but doing that through the copy on your website, through the sequence you take them, through once they sign up for your mail list and you put them in your funnel, but the basics are still sort of the same. I mean what happens is, we've seen obviously in the last twenty years, there are products that where the person selling the channel, selling has no value. So it's a perfect time to be sort of E-commerce base and transactional and then you know you still need to stand out and differentiate yourself in those spaces. There are also products where people get human validation for the decision before they bolt and pull the trigger. So for E-commerce I think it's mirrored the same, it's just handled differently. It'll proceed a little bit differently and usually again, usually stakes a little less but even in complex sales now a lot of times the early stages of the funnel are taken care of through you know digital means. And I’ve seen a very effective uses of chatbots on websites that sort of mimic humans. Some are kind of effective, we'll see a greater role for those but depending on again if the product adds complexity or value to it people still would like to talk to a human. And so I think what we'll see over the long term is that we’ll see more AI and machine learning and technology coming into sales. But yes people within today still want to talk to a person. So its ability to connect and engage really becomes even more important, I think in that environment than it is even today. So people with those skills already in high demand.
Steve: Without a doubt. I definitely want to you know kind of give my own perspective that you know I always like to break it down. The marketing is kind of generating the lead and sales is converting the lead and the process of doing that in E-commerce could be that you're having the funnel or the website doing itself. It could be that you're driving up to the telephone to get somebody on the phone to sell them. Too often E-commerce guys are thinking too small, particularly when they've started on a marketplace concept like Amazon or Ebay or something. They don't have this broader picture that you know if you had a sales force answering telephones especially if you have bigger ticket items, that can rationalize this, you can get sales more often, you can get you know drive higher average order value. There's all kinds of ways to leverage a sales process. I mean just your website. One of the other things that we find and I'd love your input on this one, you know selling into big boxes, selling into you know maybe you have a product that has a licensing deal or patent on it, you know being able to sell those complex items into big boxes to really add some serious scale that seems to be a classic sales job. What do you think about that?
47: 17 (Andy shares his view on selling complex items into big box retail stores.)
Andy: You're saying something with probably big-box retail stores? It is. I mean it's different right because the process of those companies will use to evaluate products and decide whether they're going to move fast enough to warrant the shelf space. This is a little different calculation that someone saying, “Look we're trying to invest in specific solution to solve a problem within our business.” So it is a little bit different in terms of you know what the end result is and a little different depending on how the game is played. But if it's a product with complexity it's relatively similar you know complexity - or the equalizer if you will to some degree. There's study that's done on medical care that showed that there were almost... not robots but there are AI machine robots if you will, that they're programmed to help people make medical decisions, medical care decisions and you know the surveys they took of the people who participated in this program was that generally as a rule, people didn't feel comfortable making those final decisions without a doctor. Doing it purely in consultation with the machine was not adequate. So I got tracked a little there but I think that yes the lessons still the same. It’s that you know as you deal with products that has complexity, you're going to have more like enough humans involved and that's this ability to build those relationships is really critical. If you're selling into a retail environment, you've got a product, I've done that a couple times. Sometimes it’s hard sale because again just the decision criteria is completely different and you don't have quite as much control. You know we were selling a product that they didn't have any experience with so they just wanted a trial at at one store and then we could do two stores and we could you know, we're within a region. Then if that region worked, we go to another region and it's not like selling to a large enterprise. Hey here's our enterprise wide solution which is you know different sale so it's not necessarily same skills. A little different patience level so I was doing that. I found that wasn't as well suited to me as selling directly to an enterprise.
Steve: Yes, there are definitely different animals and I think that's the fundamental takeaway is if you're not prepared to sell into a particular channel with your sales team with all the right recruiting and even the patience level which you talked about, I think all of that's going to be irrelevant. People too often, in my experience anyway, they have a cool product that's selling well online. Maybe they've done a Kickstarter or something like that. I mean they're getting some excitement. Even now they have big boxes or retailers contacting them but the process is so different. That sales channel is so different then I want them to kind of pump the brakes a little bit and get prepared for it. Because it is a different animal and it sounds like you're experienced, I prove that out.
Andy: Yes, well on our case, we're a venture funded startup and it became a daunting prospect to the investors to say, “Look we're going to build up a retail distribution on a nationwide scale for this particular product because that's a different financial game.” than saying, “Look we're going to be you know an OEM supplier.” Or you know white label supplier to two other people and they'll handle all the distribution. But I sort of got into, it sort of the easiest one actually, that was actually getting our product into Amazon, getting it then into some other big-box stores was way more difficult.
Steve: For sure. I think that experience continues to this day in that same regard. It's much easier to get things online particularly at Amazon because they want the largest catalog on the planet right. They're driven to have the largest catalog.
Andy: Well they still have category managers that I think their incentives are based on obviously on how much sales in their category. But the planning horizon is different than a physical store where they've got their planograms that go out six, nine, twelve months in advance. And if you're not there and that interval then potentially you're shut out for the next cycle. And that was problem we ran into.
Steve: That's not uncommon for people. Oh hey good news the planograms coming up again in March and it's like June and it's like - oh that's nine months away. That's just when we start looking at it by the way. That's not when we buy our product. That's you know another nine months after that before they do the reset of the store.
Andy: We missed Christmas even though it's well, Christmas. We missed it. So that was not the problem.
Steve: Yes, the nature of the beast in retail for sure. So let me ask you this - what’s one of the types of calls to action that you would have for entrepreneurs out there listening? Anybody who may recognize you know they need some fine-tuning on their sales process? Their hiring process? Whatever the case may be. What would you say to those folks?
Andy: So for hiring, you need to have a process. Let's start there and a process that's geared to get a lot of input into it. So again you mitigate the impact of emotions and hiring. You know a sales process, a lot of different opinions on this, but the fact is you need to have one you've written down that you understand what is happening in your sales today. I did a survey a few years ago of about 350 small businesses and less than 30 percent about 28% actually had a documented sales process and just for the heck of it. Do you have a written sales process? No. Why not? And just for joke I put in the one they answer. Well we just like to make it up as we go along and that was 42 percent of the people responded that way which was a little frightening. It doesn't mean you need to be a slave to your process. Sometimes I think processes are too rigid these days and they're not designed to really help bring the best out of your sales team and the individuals on your team but you need to know how your product gets sold. And from the time let's say you're got inbound leads coming in from the time the lead is received, what's the process? So it gets into the hands of a salesperson. The sales person picks up a phone and calls the prospect. How long does that take? How many touches have along the way? You need to know all of that stuff because then you can say, “Okay this is what it looks like. These are the results we're getting.” Now again, analyze and say, “Okay, well these are the people we have. Where do we need to start making changes?” You know otherwise you're sort of sitting in the dark so having that document really becomes important for you as a starting point. But then as an ongoing basis, you know if you have a process then you can also then create expectations for what people should be doing because one of the biggest causes of sales underperformance is the sellers aren't really clear about what they should be doing. It seems sort of counterintuitive but you need to make it unambiguous, clear to people what the roles and responsibilities are and what the expectations are for them in that role. And you can see that in teams at any level and also in in sports even the system becomes so critical when sales is no different as people really understand what they should be doing then you know it's much easier for them to succeed right. They can plan their day, they can plan their activities, they can work with a manager to help improve their skills, like you can develop as a corporation, you can invest in developing their individual skills and capabilities if you know exactly what the target is.
Steve: You know I love this idea that you know we don't want to be so rigid on a process that we kind of break ourselves and we don't add the human element back into it right. You gotta have the human piece but I really want to reinforce this idea that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it right. This premise thing you know, if you don't know your process, you don't know how long each things happening and how many calls are being made or you know some of those little basic data points, it's really tough to figure out where the holes are sometimes.
Andy: Absolutely and so sales is a numbers game. I mean there's no escaping it. At the end of the day, everybody has ratios. And so I work with sales teams, net sales individuals, I want them to know what their number is right. How many calls do they have to make to generate a prospect? A qualified prospect that is going to go through the sales process and you know that eventually will convert to an order you know. They gotta work through the entire chain. How many calls, discovery calls, proposal, so on. Understand what it is for you. The problem is we get so many teams, they think that it should be the same for everybody on the team and it doesn't necessarily need to work that way. This is where we're getting to a lot of inside sales teams. They have activity metrics, fine. To some degree but though suddenly it becomes the king’s the activity metrics and not the quality of what they're doing. And so it's yes, it's a numbers game but it's not all about quantity. It is ultimately about the quality. You'd say - okay well we've got some guy that has his process down. His numbers are, he closes one out of every five proposals. He goes okay. But do we standardized on that? Maybe you got somebody else who closes two out of every three that they give but they sell the same dollar amount. That's fine. I don't want everybody to be on the same track. In a small business, I want people to perform to a certain level but they may have different paths to get there and that's okay.
Steve: Nice, yes. Definitely the flexibility, especially in the smaller organizations is so key because you know there's just differences in people. There's differences in their approach. Also as we talked about earlier, the serendipity of it all. Sometimes you get guys who are lucky in the early sales process. They hit some numbers and then they have a dry spell because somebody else is farther along or less advanced in the sales process right.
Andy: What I think the thing that entrepreneurs need to look out for is as they grow, there's this tendency and I see it all the time. So the first sales person in the door has all the good accounts. And so as the company grows they add more salespeople, they’re saying, “Well, why aren't these people performing the same way that John did when we started the company?” Well because John's got all the accounts and so what I do and I go to a company in that situation is force John to divest. And because you took John who was your best new business development person and turned him into an Account Manager which is crazy. But I again I mean 90% of the companies I've worked with over the years, some former this has happened. You take your best person, he was really good at going out and capturing new businesses from new clients and you made him Account Manager sitting there clipping coupons. So you need to get them back doing what they're really good at and the way to do that is make them divest account. So I did one client. Their situation was a guy I had 70% of the business coming flowing through him, there are three other salespeople. We say, “Okay well you have to every quarter you have to give up 30% of your accounts.” And toll is equalized. And these other people went from struggling to suddenly - oh yes they just needed the opportunity, they needed the right accounts right. This was not a company that was selling to an infinitely large market. They're selling a kind of complex technical product of which there was a finite number of accounts. So it wasn't the big guy wasn't giving them the attention they needed. He started the bottom, started divesting. Suddenly somebody's account started booming in ways they never had before.
Steve: I have seen that myself in a number of cases, distribution and manufacturing relationships where they've you know kind of brought on new people for the smaller accounts and suddenly those accounts turned into too much more than they were before. They had the kind of that bottom of the attention span. Very nice. All right Andy as we bring it to a close let me get sure to get out your crystal ball here. Maybe just tell us you know what the the world of sales or you know you talked about chatbots - just anything that you think is going to happen in the next five years that would be worthy of entrepreneurs taking note of or thinking about ahead of time. Any predictions you can share?
1:00:21 (Andy shares his predictions on sales and marketing.)
Andy: I'm just laughing because there's so many predictions that occurred that you know get some fraction which will happen. But you know look at the trend so there's more technology coming to sale that's geared to helping the seller right and not really geared to helping the buyer. They're carried to helping the seller and the sellers got the Internet but some of these tools are going to prove to be very useful and we're serving the stage now where there's a lot of adoption going on and the results aren't really reflecting the value of the technology yet. That's going to change absolutely. I’m convinced what’s going to change is that we're going to learn how to use these tools effectively to be able to finally eliminate some of the repetitive tasks that take time of sellers but also enable people to engage on a different level and serve the customers. Because if you assume that what customers are trying to do, buyers are trying to do, is they're trying to quickly gather information to make a good decision with the least investment of their time and effort possible. The technology's going to have to span that gap and help them do that so it can't just be all about the sellers and I think that is going to happen. You know we're seeing a lot happening with AI versus the intelligence. I think the initial problems of AI and sales is going to be this whole idea of again automating recurring tasks that free up salespeople to hopefully go out and and spend more time with prospects. And then you know start seeing it get involved with I think helping customers evaluate the alternatives they have in ways that don't exist now. It's not going to supplement the salesperson. Again I think if you read what people are writing about AI, reading about you know what's going to happen, what the impact will be on organizations. There’s a good book, Geoffrey Colvin wrote a book called Humans Are Underrated. It's a great book for people to reduce or start with. I absolutely believe that in this environment it’s the ability to connect and engage another person to collaborate with another person. It actually become more valuable skills so I think for you know entrepreneurs, you're looking at this as putting more stake on hiring people who are good at working with others, who are good at building relationships, give you that flexibility to react no matter where the market ends up going in that regard. So I think those are sort of the the big things. We've got this inevitable pace of technology focusing in the right people who can build effective relationships both internally and externally and you'll be in good shape.
Steve: I love it. Well you guys heard it here first. I definitely like this premise that we're going to have you know the tools that exist today start to take into consideration the buyers of all people. Great idea. The buyers really are the ones to make the end go around. Thank you Andy for joining us. It's been very informative for me. I thank you for your time and and salute you on 600 plus podcasts. It's unbelievable.
Andy: Well, thank you Steve. It's really great. It's a lot of fun.
Steve: It is fun yes but it's a really monumental task so kudos to you and Awesomers we'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Wow what a fun episode. I really enjoy spending time with Awesomers from all walks of life and Andy is certainly no exception to that. Now one of the things that I like to remind people out there is you know that sales is a fundamental part of doing business. It doesn't matter if you're in the E-commerce business or a land-based business, some sort of creative type of enterprise, or maybe you know you're an artists or even a studio. Any kind of business anywhere requires sales. You really need to understand how to present your offering and how do you know convince other people that what you have to offer is something that they may be interested in. One thing that I think a lot of people forget is that selling is not just a matter of you going door to door to sell something right. You need to sell your employees, your team, why what you're doing is an important venture, why they want to be involved. You need to sell your vendors why they should sell to you, why they should trust you, why they should give you credit. Obviously, you need to figure out how you sell to your customers to let them know your offering and why that is worthwhile. Selling is a part of who we are and it's a part of what we do in every walk of life and I hope that whether or not you consider yourself a salesperson or not that you take some of these sales messages and remind yourself that you know marketing, sales, making things happen, relationship building - it's all part of kind of the same tapestry and it's a really important thing that I think Awesomers around the the globe should pay close attention to. This is again episode number 42 and all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/42 to find links to Andy's programs and books and so forth and all of the relevant show notes and details for today.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.