In this episode of The Sales Ladder, Justin Barth, Commercial Sales Manager at Algolia, talks about modern tactics to win deals and shares his experience transitioning from a sales role to a leadership role.
Welcome party people to a new episode of The Sales Ladder, your podcast to think crazy differently about sales. Brought to you by Get Accept. I'm your host Thomas Eagle, and this week I have the pleasure to have Justin Barth from Algolia join us. So, Justin, welcome to the show, I guess for having me, Thomas.
Happy to be here. Perfect. So Justin, maybe just uh, a few words of introduction about yourself. Of course. So yeah, I work at Algolia. Uh, I'm a commercial sales leader. It's really our mid-market team, so I manage a team of six reps. Um, I have been selling fast for about five years as an IC before I took on this role this year, and before that I came through a little bit of an untraditional background.
I started traditional financial services, private wealth, private equity. Uh, I thought I would be a financial advisor for my entire career. It worked out a little bit differently, but I think all for the better. Okay. Well today you'll be advising sales, so it's almost the same things. Yeah, exactly. It has more in common with selling SAS than you would probably think.
Perfect. So, uh, Justin to, to get right straight to it and as is, um, tradition with the show, what is the craziest thing you've ever done in sales? Yeah. I, uh, you know, I really wish it was. I jumped out of an airplane to bring a, uh, physical contract somewhere to get signed in the middle of nowhere, but that was certainly not what happened.
Um, I think the craziest thing that I'd done in sales was, uh, prior to taking on this management role in interim management spot opened up in our team and for about six months, I carried two quotas. One as an enterprise seller, uh, and one as a manager. I probably was working, uh, close to about 90 hours a week, but I just recognized that it was one of the most exciting opportunities I was gonna have in my career and, uh, hit both numbers, which was, which was super exciting.
That was gonna be my first question. Did you actually get quota then? . Cool. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Good job. So, um, today we're gonna talk about two topics. Um, the first part is gonna be modern selling, and the second part, what you just kind of mentioned it in your story as well, but, uh, your experience transitioning from.
Being AE to being a sales manager. Yeah. And so first looking into modern selling. So what is meant by modern selling? Like when we talk about modern, what is that 2022? 20th or 21st century like how do you define what modern is? Yeah, I'm not really quite sure like what the, um, you know, BC ad, like what that, you know, line in the sand is for, you know, pre modern sales, post modern sales.
I kind of have the feeling like. The cloud wave started by Salesforce and the rise of inside sales probably is a good place to start to talk about the differences. I think when we think about legacy selling or, or pre-modern selling, we think a lot about like door to door sales, used car sales, you know, maybe sling like the Jordan Belfort slinging around penny stocks in the eighties and nineties.
Like that's really what I mean, and I think what it means to be a salesperson has changed a. Uh, in the last few years, and I think it's a, in a lot of ways, the same people, but in different roles. And I think really buyers are so much more in control of the process than ever before. There's a great book by Daniel Pink called To Sell as Human, which I highly recommend.
And he talks about, um, moving from sort of, uh, buyer beware to seller beware. I forget exactly the terminology that he uses. Um, but there's more information symmetry than there's ever. And there's less barrier to entry to having a conversation with a sales rep than there's ever been. Um, the media out there in order to acquire customers to start conversations has completely changed, and I think is now changing faster than ever.
I would almost argue we're moving to a new wave of selling, following Covid, uh, in light of where people are working. So, I think there are people that, uh, have been willing to change with the times or folks that haven't. I think there have been some mistakes made and some things that have been really successful along away.
Okay. Well, we'll, we'll get into those actually. Um, so especially when it comes to failures, what do you think people get wrong about modern selling? Yeah, I mean, I think. Sales is always about building rapport, and that's a critical element to sales. However, I think sales has moved from like a, Hey, I like this sky, I like this girl, so I'm gonna buy from this person sort of world to a much more of a cerebral game.
And the sellers that understand their customers businesses the best. Will be the ones that are the most successful in my opinion. And, and of course it takes charisma and charm, but, um, you know, last second, discounting at the buzzer, um, schmoozing somebody to a three martini lunch, taking somebody to play golf.
I think there are certain domains in sales where that still is a, is you. Par for the course, no pun intended with the golf reference, but I think for a lot of, particularly inside sales reps, and now there are a lot of enterprise inside sales reps. Um, it's just a little bit d. And do you think there's new ways to do that online?
Um, you know, doing a sales call with your kid on your lap because he's home from school or these kind of things are kind of a new way to, to build rapport, ensure that you're a person and not, you know, a salesman or, or a saleswoman. That's a, that's a great point, and you actually just reminded me that something about when the pandemic hit and all of a sudden you're talking to prospects in their living rooms and their bedroom.
Now it's so normal. Uh, not even two years later. But then it was weird. And I remember, it's funny because I remember actually like, uh, there was a video, you know, a year or two before the pandemic of this, um, person being interviewed, I think by the bbc. And he was in his living room and he had his kids come in the, the room where he was being interviewed, and then it was a woman who came behind and grabbed the kids out of the room.
Like it was, you know, a big taboo. Like, Oh my God, the kids came in during the, I know, can you, can you imagine the, the professionalism it was in the tabloids and the news everywhere. Then today it's like, well, , of course, that happens hundreds of times every day. I remember I'd be on sales calls and some ways like their, you know, their baby was crying and they'd say, Oh my God, I'm so sorry.
And I would, my default responses, No, that's actually what I love about this. You're not face to face. You don't get connections. So that's, that's such a great thing. I mean, I mean, one way I love to start a sales call is just like, hey, like where are you dialing in from today? And you know, you, I think a lot of people start asking that question and you know, it, it was never.
The concept of where was never, was, never a question before. So I think you bond over, you bond with people over shared places that you both love. You know, a lot of times I'll meet, you know, I'm, I'm based out of New York City, so a lot of times it'll spark up a conversation about New York. So I think absolutely those things are true.
I think people more, more vulnerable about their personal lives, but I also think there's so many. Gifts. Gifts at home that you could send people for benefit not only themselves, but for their families. It's more common now that I'll buy somebody or at when, when I was selling, like gift, somebody, a gift card for a dinner for them and their spouse, uh, or their partner.
And it's more, it's a little more personal nature, but I also think there's a side of it that's a lot, has a lot more to do with respect and I think there's a lot more respect for people's times, for people's schedules recognizing. The barrier to entry to them doing anything else is unlimited. So when they sit down with you for a sales call, that in and of itself tells you so much about their priorities.
It's like they are sitting with you for a reason. Um, and they could easily be watching Netflix instead, and no one would know. Yeah. Yeah. So, Or they could be watching your YouTube channel with product demos instead of talking with you, because like you said, Exactly. They have so much information at their disposal.
So, yeah. Man, they could have your pricing page on the left and the YouTube channel on the right, and G2 Crowd reviews above and, and you know, your competitor on the other line, so who knows? Yeah, . Yeah, that could be interesting. A group Zoom call with, you know, different vendors in the same call as well.
Well, that's, that's not, you know, not to go too far down the rabbit hole, but, It's becoming more and more popular. You know, now software is, this is a little bit about sort of the ecosystem that we play in, but you know, software is moving more to an API economy and it's less, less, you know, sort of monolithic world where you're buying one thing.
And so very often there are contingencies for your product and other products. And it's not uncommon now to, to co-sell alongside other software vendors. And I have been in the same Zoom room with. Uh, with other vendors that sell complimentary products. Interesting. But so to, to go back then to, to your initial initial point.
So the, the way in today is really knowledge about your buyers, really understanding them, their needs, their company needs. Yeah, I think so. I, I mean, I think there's a few, We talk about ways in, I think there are a few really unique ways in inboxes have become so unbelievably saturated. That, and, and the, the book on outbound sales has, I think, and I'm not speaking of any book in particular, but I think, you know, sort of like the framework wrap on sales that I'm talking about has become a bit stale.
Yeah. That the sales reps that at least I see on my team, That are the most successful creating pipeline are using really novel ways of doing it. They're using tools like Loom or video to point out something very specific about somebody's website and make a recommendation, um, over video. I think they're using LinkedIn, other types of social media a lot more.
Um, I think the cold call actually might be coming back in some ways because you know, less people are. You know, conference room meetings are at the offices. They're just sitting at their computer with their phone, so, It, it's still hard. It's always about what comes cold calling, I must say. But yeah, we, we actually have, um, we do this sales bonanza like once a month, so all the, anyone in the company can kind of participate and support, uh, outbound.
So some of us in marketing join once in a while and, you know, so we just spent like half a. Cold calling from lists and yeah, the amount of actual people you get on the line is, is very, very low in general. But of course it depends on the sector and these kind of things. But yeah, and we could debate if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I, I really do think that the lines between work and business have been permanently blurred until there's a, you know, there's gonna have to be some sort of major tectonic shift.
The other way to draw these lines again. Yeah. And so, It gives you opportunity to catch people in different environments and you know, sales is a bit intrusive when it first gets started. Um, but I think by knowing your customer really well, you should be adding value from the first thing that you say. So how do you know your customer is very well?
Well, it depends on where you work. I mean, I think there are folks listening to this that work for public software companies with that, with. Thousands of employees and maybe millions of customers. Um, and in a world like that, or even like a company the size of Algolia, I mean, you have 10 years of historical data, you know, gong and course calls galore.
I mean, I think it's every new rep you join a company, even if it's from a different industry. If you don't spend your first 90 days living and go your chorus, you're doing it wrong because you could hear from the customer's mouth what matters to them. Um, A lot of it could also be documented, but I also think it's not just about hearing from your customers because then you only hear what your customers are saying.
What they want is someone that is ahead of where they are and can educate them. So in every single industry, there are writers, podcasters, speakers that are on the bleeding edge of whatever its is going on. And so I think if you take the time to put yourself in the shoes of your prospect rather than of your fellow sales rep, you'll do better.
That's interesting. Yeah. Um, okay, so digging back into what people get wrong about modern selling, any, anything else on that front that you feel, um, people haven't evolved or maybe not as fast as, as you hoped or, or wished? Yeah, so I think there's a few things. So I think, uh, first of all, I think there's, we've lost some professionalism in modern.
We lost it. I mean, there, the, the one thing that, you know, old school sales had value for, it was, it was suit and tie, it was handshakes. Um, and it was very buttoned up. And I think some people might call that informal or inauthentic, but I do think that these days it is refreshing to have somebody who is prompt, who's well dressed, who is speaking in a, you know, a thoughtful, considerate.
Way with some nice vernacular other than using like aroma every other sentence and sitting on their couch in a baggy t-shirt. I mean, it depends on what kind of role you're in. Of course. Um, I also think that a lot of sellers now, uh, esp, even if you're selling a technical product, it's very easy to hand a call to a solutions engineer and walk.
And I think so many sellers, particularly successful modern sellers that do have the IQ to back up what they're doing, you don't necessarily have to understand the zeros and ones and the, the code that goes into the product, but you need to understand the, the first principles and the problems and be able to speak that your solutions solve or problems, at least at a conceptual level.
Um, I also think that a lot of salespeople write themselves off, uh, when it comes to numbers. And they forget how much of their job has to do with nuances and numbers. I can't tell you the number of deals that we've negotiated that, you know, took a little bit of financial engineering, I might say, which is where my background is handy.
Um, where you know, you can position buying back some time and prorating the year and drawing down your consumption and annualizing things out, and all of that matters. And it actually allows you to sell more and bigger. And is that due to, So, so why are we losing this? What, what is that due to you, do you think?
Bad recruitments, lack of training when, when ramping up or, Yeah. I, I, I have to attribute this to a great friend of mine, uh, Jack Berger, but he, uh, who sells at Algolia as well. He, uh, he, he told me that he thinks middle management's coming back and, uh, I, I, I tend to agree with him. I mean, I. That we've, we've moved into this informal culture in so many ways.
And I'm not saying it needs to be suit and time and zoom call at all. I mean, I'm certainly far from that person at work, but, um, I think there needs to be a little bit more accountability from managers, not just necessarily managing things at the deal level, but managing the softer side of how their reps are positioning the company, the products and themselves.
So, You know, you should be giving someone feedback on a chorus call if they phrase something in a little bit too of an informal, blase manner or just kind of maybe said something a little bit off color. They didn't think twice about it. And I think more that's happening a little bit more and more. We need to coach on the soft side as much as we need to coach on the, the hard, uh, elements of a deal.
Interesting, um, interesting approach. I think there's, I, I mean obviously will depend, you know, who you're selling to. Um, but um, yeah, I haven't really heard that kind of thought before to, I mean, like you say, it's not about bringing back the p on Zoom, but, uh, Yeah. Well, I, yeah, I mean, I think it's interesting.
It's just the way that you carry yourself, right? Yeah. I mean, yeah, yeah, for sure. And. And I think people underestimate or understate the impression that you leave on a Zoom call. You know, are you in a appropriate work environment? Are, how's your audio quality? How's your video quality? Um, and I think that's, you know, and I'll kind of tie it off here.
I mean, I think there are things as soft as I think we're gonna see a revolution in DSLR quality webcam. Because people are, are gonna realize that if I want, if I wanna have an advantage in a digital first career, I'm gonna wanna look really good. Yeah. You know, I'm gonna want a really high quality webcam.
Yeah. Yeah. Um, a microphone. So stuff like that, I think. Yeah. Yeah. No, but it's right. I mean, we spend so many time, so much time in Zoom calls that, you know, all, otherwise they all look the same. So to really stand out in them. Yeah. And don't get me wrong, like I love flexibility of, of a dig, you know, of remote first work environment.
And I, I'm certainly not perfect in that regard, but I, when I'm on the other end, it's something that I notice and I'm sure other people do too. Yeah, good point. So, so what are modern approaches to to winning, uh, to winning deals then? I mean, so better. Cameras on your computer. is one. I mean, that, that, that is one.
I mean, I think, let let you know, we could put aside the whole remote in person thing for a second. I, I do think there are some trends that are, that are, uh, taking place across the selling environment. I think some are a little more specific to the industry I'm in now than others, but I'm sure they're broadly applic.
I think one that I think is, is dramatically, uh, underutilized and one of, uh, my sales reps does this really, really well is using collaborative workspace tools, um, for different parts of the sales process. So often reps will use their slide deck for the first call. Then they'll use their product demo, they'll write down their notes on their own end on a notepad, on, on Evernote or wherever.
They'll send PDFs in multiple different emails for review and your prospect make it so hard on your prospect to dig for this kinda information. So there's a few things here. One, one of my reps, he, he uses this platform called Mural or Mural. There are these digital whiteboards. Um, he uses this for every single discovery call.
And I love this approach, and prospects are so engaged. He puts, um, everybody's, uh, face up like, you know, with their LinkedIn profile on the board. So you don't really need to do, to waste 15 minutes on formal introductions, um, because everyone sees the face on the role right there, you know who you're talking to.
Uh, the white whiteboard has sticky notes, they're sectioned out. And so it's, rather than taking this cause, uh, I think one of the biggest mistake. In modern sales is treating a discovery call, like a doctor's appointment, and Okay, ask you about this. Okay. Ask you about this. Okay. And you're, it's, it's either a doctor's appointment or an interrogation where you get all the value and they get nothing.
Yeah. So he turns into a brainstorm and it's a collaborative working session and it actually helps your prospect organize why they're having the conversation with you. And, and a lot of reps forget that their job is to sell, but they're also a project manager. And the more organized you could be for.
Prospects, the easier you're gonna make their life. And the biggest barrier between buying something, not buying something is how difficult you make it for someone because they have 1,000,001 other things to do. And if it's hard that it's human nature, they're just not gonna do it. So the, that's a very del, uh, collaborative discovery, um, tactic that I would encourage anybody.
Out there who's in the field to try at least once, even if it's not something as dynamic like that board Paul do Google Doc. I mean, anyone can use Google Doc and share it with your prospect actor. Um, another one is, you know, uh, uh, I understand it's something that you know your company works on, but like, you know, a, a deal room, there are all these different virtual deal rooms out there.
Um, so rather than sending your prospect. 13 emails with different resources, attachments and links. Use any number of these tools to compile all of the resource that your prospect needs into a centralized place so that they can always access it and share. That's easy. Um, Google Doc's great. One thing that we use is we use Slack Connect as well.
So you know, your inbox brings you. Slack for some people, bring some dread, but it's just a lot easier to send somebody a Slack message than an email. Yeah. If you're working on a considered purchase where there's maybe some sort of technical evaluation and you need to communicate at a higher velocity, spin up Slack channel.
So, you know, using Slack, these collaborative workspace tools. Um, a couple of others that I like are, um, one is just, and this is kind of an old school thing, and this used to be around in the days of field sales, which is team. And I know a lot of folks talk about like top to top alignment at different elements in the deal cycle, but I can't tell you what a game changer it's been with my team, and this came from one of my directors.
Um, your reps working with their champion, they're working through an evaluation and there's some sort of executive sponsor on the project or senior member of the team, maybe with whom they're not working directly or they met once and maybe they are working directly, but they're a layer. As a sales manager, you should be reaching out to that person, get your hands dirty and getting them mud and engage in the deal.
Cuz it creates a second outlet, even if you're not asking them for something even. It's just, Hey, I know our teams are working on this thing. Um, I just wanna be a resource to you. Like if you need anything that you're not getting, let me know. And creating that like parallel path of communication. This might, this might totally miss the mark, but have you ever been on the street in a big city that two people get into an argument and.
And this doesn't happen all the time, obviously, but you almost like try to calm people down. Yeah. And then this has happened to me once where someone starts telling me why they're right and the other person are telling me why they're right. And I'm like, I don't know either of you. I dunno what happened.
But they're just dying for a mutual third party. Yeah. Or another line of communication. Yeah. So I think team selling has been a huge unlock, particularly to avoid deals stalling and uncovering hidden objections. Um, those are a few, uh, really, really good ones. And. I think I could leave it there, but there there's a ton.
Yeah, no, that's, um, a lot of good info. So team selling, just again to, to clarify, then it would be, uh, one of your rep has a deal ongoing with their champion and then kind of in the buyer committee there's higher up decision makers. So you as that your reps manager, you would get involved. Totally with, Yeah.
And we, we call it executive alignment. And um, and you know, I, first time I heard about this, I'm like, who am I to executive align with anybody like I'm a sales manager, You know? But at the, it's not necessarily about that. It's about creating another line of communication for, and, and, and you could take it further, have your solutions engineer teams sell with their technical.
And they should intentionally create separate lines of communication to build trust with those people. And so one of the biggest unlocks as you move up into more complex sales is multithreading. Like that's something people talk about all the time. You've got a multithread deals, you've gotta engage different contacts.
But, um, I, I actually think the bigger unlock is the multi threading end. Single threading. And so you have to find your opportunities in these complex deals. To, um, engage with large groups of folks, but then you need to find them what motivates them individual.
Yeah, it, it reminds me a bit of how I, I mean, before, uh, get accept, I was working in the events business, so then I was, uh, kind of a program director for, for our conferences. So we would do a similar approach, especially when we were selling sponsorship packages. So bigger, bigger sum of, of investment as well.
Uh, and then I would be kind of, Product experts always tagging along with the sales reps. So then same thing, kind of multi-threading because we were speaking with their salesperson and then the marketing who was more in charge of, well, signing the deal in the end, but also more in charge of the communication that they wanted to, um, yeah.
Portray at the event and these kind of things. So, Hundred percent. I mean, I think another way you can do this too is, and this is a rare one, and it can be hard to do if you're not selling directly to finance. In a previous, my last, uh, SAS sales role, I actually sold to finance. So this was kind nice. Cause you know, it's always hard to get, like, get CFO approval when you're not talking to finance because they're usually blind to whatever's happening.
Then they just get a business case. But, you know, on the, on the thread of making things easier for your buyer. Every buyer out there, every single one has to justify what they're paying, like how much they're paying for. So when you're working on a pricing model, it's, it's how much could some, will someone pay for this? And then the way you back into that is, well, how do they value it? And then, well, how do they value it? It's, what's the magnitude of the problem that you're solving?
Okay, how do you quantify the problem? And so why not take off your buyer's shoulders, Not just, okay, what are the problem statements, but can we take a conservative impact assumption on those statements? And then can we build you a model? How many sales reps would say they're extremely proficient in Microsoft Excel?
I mean, I bet you it's, I I bet you less than 30% of. Sales reps would say they're really good at Excel, and maybe I'm being generous. Knowing Excel and being able to build these types of models for your customers could be a game changer because by the time you're done with the process, you have this brainstorming board, you have this mutual plan, you have a, all these resources in a deal room, and then you give them the rationale and you package it up and you say, Good luck on that call with clients when you can't be there.
Um, So, and I, I just think it takes creativity. You gotta use tools and, and it doesn't, it's not always the same way every single time. No. But then wouldn't you say it's also, I mean, don't, don't you want to move away from, from. The technical aspect and kind of, you know, saying like, you wanna sell the whole and, and not the drill.
So for the customer, it's much harder to quantify how much a hole costs because that's the outcome or the value they get, rather than of course, a drill. They will, okay, well how much does they cost to manufacture, distribute, and these kind of things. Right? So, yeah. Well, what do you wanna put on the wall and what's it costing you not to have the thing on the.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. , you know, I mean, and, and obviously listen, so many sales methodologies are focused on, um, on covering. I mean, I love, I love this, I love Sandler's analogy of just like living with surface pain. Uh, mostly because the analogy hit home for me cause I was dealing with knee injury at the time.
They're like, and it was not like a severe injury, it was just one of those, like, I just kept putting it off and they're like, How many people live with surface pain and do nothing about it? So, A lot of time it's a, it's a pain in the neck, but like if you could open up people's eyes to the, either the life they could have or really how much they're suffering, then you know, it changes the.
Yeah. So one last question then about modern selling, because now we, we kind of covered, uh, what are people doing wrong and, um, what are modern approaches, but what is, what are, what is the biggest challenge for your sales team today with kind of modern selling? So you covered a lot of you. Uh, tools they can use, you know, tactics like team selling.
But what is something that you don't have the answer to, like, that you would get, um, that, that you find challenging with selling today? That is a great, great question. You know, and, and I don't know if I have an immediate great answer for you.
The, the challenges in sales are as old as time, you know what I mean? It's, they've sort of taken different forms. So like what, Well, what are the, what are the challenges you have? Well, you know, you have one opportunity in a discovery call to show somebody what you have to offer and, and paint their picture of, of the.
Um, I really don't know if this answers your question, but like, one thing that immediately comes to mind is like,
buyers sit through so many bad meetings, so many bad meetings. How are you going to not be that I role of a sales meeting and how are you going to educate and. So like Tony Robbins, who, who am I've been off and on with over the course of my life. Uh, I don't agree with everything he does or does, but I remember he said one thing that always with me, it's like people wanna be educated, but they really wanna be entertained.
So it's like, don't forget, you have to entertain people as well. Yeah. Um, and, and at the end of the day, uh, someone becomes a champion. So people buy with like, you know, CEOs, CFOs buy with the business case, right? But someone becomes a champion based on emotion. It's an emotional response. It's, it's, we see the world the way that you see the world, or you've, you've enlightened me on a new way of seeing the world that I personally am aligned with.
Like, how do you get someone to that state? Um, and I would argue that the challenge is not necessarily, we don't have the tools to do something like that. It's, I think we are drastically under utilizing the breadth of digital selling. And I think more things like those mirror boards and those deal rooms.
I had a , I had a rep close the deal the other day because she was playing Wordle with the prospect. , but, but that's how she kept him engaged. She played Wordle with him. , and I mean that You can't make shit like that up. That's awesome. That is for, That's so awesome. Uh, so that would probably her answer the craziest thing she did in sales, but , which is way better than mine.
But, you know, but I, I guess what I'm just saying is it's like we're so focused on the dead now of like, send your prospecting emails and, and ask your discovery questions and, and, you know, move through your sales process. Like, don't forget to take a step back, but think about what this prospect probably wants to hear today and.
And remove yourself from the day to day pressure to think about what if I tried something a little bit new And yeah, maybe you have to spend an hour after dinner on it. Maybe you have to wake up a little bit early before you start your work day and like carve out some time to be a little bit creative.
But as a seller, you're an entrepreneur and if you do what everyone else is doing, then you're just gonna have an average business. Yeah. No, but that's, um, That makes total sense, and that's playing waro with a prospect to close a deal that that is pretty interesting approach as well. Yeah, that, that's a good one.
That's a good one. Um, Justin, how are you on time, by the way? Because I know we have a second segment, so I'm thinking, I don't know if you wanna continue. I'm good. Yeah. All good. Perfect. I'm good. I think we're on our roll, so let's, let's keep it going. Let's continue then. Uh, as long as you're good. Yeah, yeah.
I'm, I'm fine. For me, it's, you know, midnight, so midnight, 1:00 AM same difference. Do you want me, you want me to order you? Do you want me to order you some dominoes? . Don't even know if we have, we have pit pizza Hu in Sweden. I don't know about dominoes, actually. Um, You're missing, You're missing, You're missing out.
And that's New Yorkers said that. Yeah, I mean, I used to live in New York, so I know all about Dominoes, but yeah, here it's different world. Oh, right. Yeah. But second segment to get back to, to the podcast. Uh, so we, we are also gonna talk then about the transition, which you went through, uh, not too long ago as well.
So moving from AE to, uh, sales manager. Um, so my first question was, And in all honestly, can all sales reps aspire to be a sales manager or does it take specific, uh, trades or, or qualities to be a sales manager? I just wanna say I've been a sales manager for touch over a year, half of which on interim basis.
So let's take this whole segment with the grain of salt because I have no idea if I'm doing job or right. But I will say that, um, there are reps that get into management for good reasons and bad reasons. Um, The best from just my experience being a individual contributor. The best managers get into management because they are pulled by the opportunity to lead and drive change.
They are not pushed because they're so burnt out selling. You constantly, I dunno if you've seen this personally. I'm sure a lot of people out there have seen this personally. Sales leaders that have gotten into their sales management role because they were just done selling. They like, cause it's, it's a grind as a man and we could talk all about this, but like as a manager it is a different kind of grind and I think it's a one to one trade off of being a rep.
There are things that you get that are awesome, but you give up that, that suck. But like as a, as a rep, you know, especially at the farther up market you go, you lose a big deal. It could change your quarter and it could be devastating as a manager, if you have a team and you lose one, you get one. Over here, it's a little bit more diversified.
Um, so, so I think the answer to your question is no. I, I think there are a lot of people that like, there's, there's nothing wrong. In fact, there's a lot right, with never managing anybody. And there are people that are making a crap ton of money. Way more than I'll ever make in a leadership career spelling software.
Um, now you're, you one might argue that you are managing a lot of people just don't work for, you're basically latching onto giant enterprise projects and, you know, aligning yourself to their, their timelines. But no, I, I think there are people who are incredibly charismatic sellers. They, they are singular people who possess a very unique set of skills that.
Really struggled to teach those skills. It's like, it's just who they are. They're just so natural. And those people should keep selling because they're gonna make more money. And it's probably rewarding for them to have the flexibility of working if they, you know, you hit quota a halfway through the year, take two months off, and then start selling again for the holidays.
You know, and, and I just think you have to be wired that way. And then there are people that are also wired. Like for me it was just that like, I, I could never let anything go. Like I can't let anything go ask anybody in my life. So when there were opportunities at the company to improve a process or adjust a policy or change the way that we sell, like great.
I think, I dunno about great managers, but I think managers feel this need to share what's working with others. And reps that wanna be reps feel this need to keep what's working for themselves. That's, that, their secret sauce. So I guess that's all I'll say about that. I mean, I can go on for a while. Yep.
And, um, so in, in your one year, uh, since you've transitioned, what would you say is your biggest learning experience? So say anyone that's listening today that is about to go on the same path that you've just gone through. If you could go back when you're in time, what would you tell yourself then? What, what have you learned that's.
I, that's one of my favorite interview questions that I ask, I ask sellers and interviews I ask sellers. I love that question. I ask sellers and interviews all the time. Like, what would you tell yourself that you've learned now to start your career? Um, I, I wouldn't say I've like learned these things.
These are things I still struggle with, but I just know they're important. Um, so one of them is, uh, It's, it's easy to super rep and like, it's just so easy to super rep and reps ask you to be on their calls because they know you have experience selling the product and they want your expertise and they want your support and guidance.
And, and to be honest with you, I think I do it. I'm bad at this. Like, I, I really struggle not cause I love, I love the competition of selling. Like, I love getting in there. Like I, oh, there's an objection. I know the how to handle it. You know, I wanna get in there and, and you. And what I'm missing is the opportunity for that seller to give a better answer than mine, which is very likely, um, or fail.
And you don't have to win every deal. You know, it's like I, Sellers, I'm mean, manager of myself needs more comfortable with like, there needs to be deals that, that maybe I could have won that my seller didn't win and I need them to lose that deal so that they can. That's hard, That's so hard to accept as manager.
Um, it's hard to shut your mouth, especially if you're someone like me. So that's, that's one. There's another one. Um, that, that's also, um, it's, it's you, you need to trust your reps. It's a very hard line between trusting your reps. And asking thoughtful questions that help unearth hidden objections and hidden risks behind deals.
Because a good man, I think a good manager helps rep, uh, find blind spots in their own, uh, myopia and, and it's so natural to get happiers, even for experienced sellers. And so, When your best rep comes to you and says, This is a committed deal, it's a green light, it's a go. It's so like the natural reaction is, you're my, you're my guy.
You're my girl, you're on my team. I trust every word you say because I'm your leader and I need to fully 100% for you. And like, I'm gonna now roll this up to my forecast. And what you need to do is be like, you need to be excited, but I also think you need to. I love Chris Voss. That book never split. The difference is the, like the greatest sales book of all time.
And he talks about systematically running out of no, not getting to. Yes. And that same approach that you take on the front line, I think you take to the management line and help your rep understand, you know, hey, what are, what are all of the risks and how are we gonna manage them? Um, because you're selling through a.
And that's, and that's hard, but I don't want that to come off like you don't trust your people. You should always trust your people, but you need to help them see around corners because you have the benefit of being behind. So is it, um, To help them better see it, or it's more for your clarity and having a better understanding of the pipeline or the forecast.
And in that sense, do you, do you say deconstruct? The trust or, or you know, what they're saying directly with them? Or are you using it through a mix of, you know, tools say, you know, if you're using a deal room, you can kind of see, okay, have my prospects opened the proposal? Have they seen the pricing page?
Like, you know, how are you then, um, finding that truth? Yeah, so I think it's a good follow up question. I think it has to be about, You need to think about it bottoms up, in my opinion. And when I say you need to, this is just all of course, my opinion, but like all great forecasting is bottoms up. Um, in my view, a lot of people would disagree with me on that.
And it depends how, how many layers up you are in the, you know, as a sales leader, if you're, you know, a CRO for a high velocity sales business, it's all now. But, um, for me it's. It has to be to the benefit of the rep. It's not just about me covering my ass on a forecast call. Cause if that's what it's about, my incentives are perverted.
That's not right. It needs to be about how can I help my reps succeed for, because they wanna succeed. And so it's being excited for them, trusting that there are great things happening, and being excited about those great things and showing them like, Okay, this is great, so we can solidify. Let's for a second.
Uh, let's red team this deal. You know, like in the military, red teaming is, is pretending to be the enemy to try to like foil your own plan so that you don't get blindsided, right? So like, let's red team this for a second. Let's just say X happens. Is that, is there a non-zero probability of that happening?
It could happen. Okay. Let's just say it does. How would we combat that objection? How do we still make sure it gets signed? Like how do, what's our negotiation strategy? And so I think it has to be to bolster their excitement by eliminating risks. Not go snoop behind their back and like check activities and Salesforce and whatever.
Like that's, I don't think that's, in my opinion, conducive to a healthy team culture, at least for the type of team that we're building. Yeah. Okay. Um, so last question then, um, regarding the transition, and I don't know if, if that was an issue for you or, or if it was easily managed, but how do you. How do you handle the perception of your peers, who one day or your colleagues and then, you know, the next day your, their manager, or at least their senior, Um, in that sense?
Yeah. I mean, I came in, I like, personally, I, I dropped one segment, so like I went from enterprise to like basically mid-market. So from as an IC to a manager, so I didn't step into a role where I was then managing my peers. I think that would be very challenging. Um, I haven't had to go through that, through that, I think, and I always think the best promotions that were the ones, and I'm not saying I don't think mine was this way, but like the best promotions are the ones that it's like, wow, that was so long overdue.
It's like that person was doing that job, that person was mentoring other people for so long, You. That person was supporting the business and bringing ideas to the table to benefit everybody else for so long. It's like, of course they got put forward to be in a management role. Um, I, I think where the cynicism comes in from former peers is probably because that person didn't conduct themselves as a teammate in a way that I respected, and now they're a manager.
Right. So I think the lesson. is probably that no matter what level you're at, you probably have to think about yourself. Like, what if you became everybody's boss tomorrow? Like, how would they perceive you? And that that could be something that, you know, And, and I certainly, you know, it's hard. Like you're, you're a young sales rep, you're having a good time.
Like you, you know, you say silly things to your team, You ra people, you, you get competitive and like, it's like, hey, like everyth. Was that, you know, if I were promoted tomorrow, would people look at that weirdly? Right. Or would they, would they judge that person? So you have to always conduct yourself for a step or two ahead of where you wanna be.
And, and it's hard, it's hard to do that. Yeah, because I'm thinking even going back to, to a previous point you were making earlier, writes about, uh, reinstating a bit of professionalism in cells, for example. I mean, That would be for me, much easier with a group that doesn't really know you than with the group that, you know, was joking around and, you know, um, I don't know how, how you, It's funny if you don't understand what I mean.
Totally. It cuts both ways. Like if you come in, So here's the thing though, like, and I'll kind of take it back to my situation. One benefit that I had tremendous benefit was that I was an established seller. So when you're established seller and you come into a management role, you kind of have instant credibility.
Cause the sales reps know who's good and who's not good. And so if you're an established seller, people are like, Okay. Like if nothing else, he, she knows how to, they, they know they've had, they've been in the trench, they know how to do battle. They've been successful. That per that person has credibility.
My, my biggest fear has always been good. Imagine somewhere else while I never sold the product. It's like, how do you establish credibility? And that's really hard. And so there are other things that you have to do in your first 90 days to build that credibility. And maybe it's advocating on behalf of your team.
Maybe it's taking a deal yourself, maybe it's on course or gone looking at the analytics and it's like, holy crap. You know that new manager, Thomas, he. He watched twice as many calls as our, the person who was the power user on this platform. Like he really cares about what's happening here.
You know, and downside for me is like, I don't watch enough calls. Cause I feel like I've seen a lot. So that's, that's, I gotta, I got, I gotta get my numbers up. Those are, you know, um, about another, maybe this one will be the last then, uh, question that popped up is, um, so you mentioned as your, uh, crazy story that.
You carry two quota, I guess, in your early days of your, uh, manager career. So you still had a sales quota and then you had a manager quota. How does that, is that typical or is that, was that just, um, an extraordinary situation just for you for. It, it was, it's, we have done it in other situations where there's been like this weird bit of ramp time.
Maybe it's not a full team, it's not typical. But for me, uh, we actually had a manager take a paternity leave and so there was a, like a very immediate gap. And then that person had come back and then like immediately left. So it's like, I did it for like eight weeks and then I took a, I thought I was done, and then a week later I'd take a job again.
Um, it was a bit of a weird, like it would, it was weird to do it for that long, like maybe one quarter as reasonable as you hand off your pipeline close that wish you have. Um, so, so the reason, Yeah, why I'm asking that then, uh, is because how do you see, so you were also talking about, right, um, you don't want to to promote people that are burnt out from cells, right?
So more towards the end of. Sales lifecycle career. Right? So how do you balance the fact of then promoting somebody who's then still in their prime, not burned out, but then you're promoting someone into a management career that. Is still a heavy quota carrier and, you know, hitting their numbers. So you're kind of taking that away from the sales force in itself if you, if you know what I mean.
Yeah. So I mean, I'm sure that's a que great question for a VP of some kind. Um, It's certainly not something that I have any. So you're future self as a VP then? ? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I, I just wanna, I just wanna say like, I don't have the right answer to that one, but, um, I think the idea, like, if I were just from my financial background, here's the math that I would do.
It's like, can this person be a force multiplier for me? Can this person take what they've done to be successful? Like, is there, are they limited only by their capacity as an individual person? Can you take those principles, those tactics, those strategies, can you apply that to a team and can you level up a.
So that's where it's like, well this person's like, cuz you definitely have heard that before, where it's like, for such a high performer, I can't lose them to management. Well if you view it as losing a management, they shouldn't be a manager if they, you know, of course there's short term issues, but like in the, you know, in the medium to long term, it's like that person needs to be a forced multiplier for you.
And um, one of the, you know, going back to the transition, one of the hardest things. That I found was just like I had to know everything about everything when I started. And I also, I treated every rep like me, you know, And you can't do that. Like, that was, that was, It's funny I mentioned that before. One of the hardest things ever was realizing that everybody operates very differently and people are motivated by different things and people have different styles.
There's not one path to success at all in sales. Um, but I do think there are some timeless principles. and the things that I've seen across that people do well, irrespective of their, of their disposition is, um, they work harder than anybody. First of all, they, they are, they are, you know, you could say, All we talk, all we want about like, hustle porn and, and like, Oh, burning out and overworking.
I'm just telling you that people that do the best, they work hard. There's no way around that at all. The second thing is they are, they, op I talked about this. They operate on a poll model, not a push model. So you think like a poll notification versus push notification. So like they are constantly coming to me and saying, Hey, I need X, I've I, I'm in this situation.
Here's my blind spot help. And of course part of the job is also helping them cover the blind spots, like I mentioned before. But the best reps, like I have this blind. I need this information, I need that. And they always, actually, some, a lot of times I come to their manager, they just go get it. They're like, like, Hey, like I found this resource from three years ago and I realized there's a partner over here and I reach out to our partner manager and blah blah.
And like, I put all these pieces together, but can you come with that last bit best? Those are the best reps. Um, and then there's also just an incredible amount of, of, uh, c. Um, and the, and competitiveness, which could either live within themselves or others, but like without those things, like I've actually, I've seen sales reps that are actually good sellers, but they're not that competitive, which it sounds a little weird.
Yeah. And so they're like good at the job, but it's kind of like you have to want it, but. I think most of my sellers that, that really want it, they're very competitive. They're actually not competitive necessarily for the money. That's more of an outcome. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it doesn't need to be for the money.
Could be just to be the best, but that could be dependent on, I guess, different metrics you have internally as well. Uh, yeah. Yeah. I mean they, they all, they, a lot of them are intrinsically mo I think it, it's to, it's like I need to be, like, I am capable of more and I wanna do better, and I wanna be, And when you get somebody like that, who's, who's smart, like actually smart, um, and has that another, uh, my former boss called, called, that having the disease.
It's like, well, he only hired people to have the disease. And the disease was no matter, no matter what you did, you were never good enough. I mean, obviously there's there's a very unhealthy side to that too. Yeah. Which is worth calling out. You, you need to at some point feel wins. But that's what that doesn appeal too.
Well, um, but it, but it's an, it's all in good spirit. Like it can't be that, and they're a bad teammate. It can't be that, and they bring people down. It can't be that, and they're a mess every time you talk to them. It has to be that in a constructive way. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Um, but I think Justin, I have, well, I have not run out of questions, but I've probably run out of time.
Um, but um, yeah, usually end with, you know, what your, um, kind of. Tech stack look like, but I know you've kind of already gone through that a bit, um, earlier. Um, so we use, we use what everyone else is used and my role, the same stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Same stuff. And Wordle also. Yeah. And add that to your tech stack.
Yeah. But, uh, yeah. Perfect. I don't know if you, if you have any last comments, um, to make for, for listeners, One last tip that you have in your notes that we haven't gone through. Yeah, I mean, here's what I'll say. The one thing that I would say is there's a couple of, of truisms that I think come up again and again and again.
I would just, I would love this forum to, to speak to what they are. Um, one of them is just, uh, a few different people have said this. I've heard Tim Ferris say this. I've heard Jess Sims from Peloton say this, and it's, it's how you do anything is how you do everything right. A lot of reps look like updating Salesforce as this tedious thing that needs to be done so that leadership gets visibility into their deals.
Um, there is so much outside of your control in sales, so much outside of your control in sales that if you don't, you know, uh, control the things that need to be controlled, um, and you don't take ownership of the things that you can own. Then there's even more that's outside of your control. And so that's just one, one thing.
And then what's very close related to that is like, I think most new sellers, um, like I think you both simultaneously have more control than you think you have and less control in the, And what I mean by that is a lot of sellers, when they have a really great deal, they think they, like, if they don't think about all of these like long tail black swan things that could happen, um, But a lot of times when a deal's not going great, you don't realize all the things that you could potentially do to put it back on track.
And if there are 10 deals, no matter what, you're gonna lose five of them as a rep no matter what, because they're just not the right fit, not the right person. So there's only five deals that are even winnable and one or two of them are either gonna come in no matter what. Cause they're just such a perfect fit.
There's only three deals out there that separate the okay reps from the amazing reps. It's like, you know, deal 3, 4, 5. So it's. How do you become that person? And I think it has to do with a lot of the little things actually compounded over time. So that's really all, and I think, uh, it's a very exciting, uh, career path where there's always so much more to learn because every deal's different.
So last question then, on this word control. Uh, do you think it's easier today? To gain that control than it was say, five years ago when, when you started in at least kind of SaaS sales?
That's a great question. Uh, I think it's all subjective because like, I, I, I think the environment is in some ways conducive to less control. Because I think just turnovers higher, like comp, just like things move faster. Um, but on the other hand, you have so many powerful tools at your disposing like insights into the nuances.
What's happening? Things that you could have never, ever, ever seen before. And I think a lot of like the product led growth stuff, um, a lot of these systems where you could track views and engagement on things and marketing platforms to track website visits and like, there's so much stuff that you can, you know, link in sales now to, there's so many things you could see.
So Twitter, portal. Perfect. So, uh, so yes is the answer in both ways, . Good. Perfect. Well, Justin, thank you very much for, um, for your time today. I think we probably have done the longest episode. Uh, In, in the podcast history so far. So, uh, thanks for anyone than anyone that knows me would not be surprising.
thanks for sticking around for those listening and, um, yeah, thanks again Justin. And make sure to, um, yeah, if you're still listening, make sure to follow us. Uh, on LinkedIn, uh, on the different streaming platforms. Apple, uh, Google, and, um, Spotify. And, uh, stay tuned for more exciting episodes coming up.