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Building and Hiring for a Startup w/ Alex Berman [Episode 457]

Alex Berman, Co-Founder of Experiment27 (X27), a company that provides lead generation services for digital agencies. Joining or founding a startup is a thrill, but building a working sales process from scratch is notoriously difficult.

Key Takeaways

  • Alex is a digital nomad, and X27 is a virtual company of 11 employees spread between Mexico City and various U.S. locations. Alex’s personal drive for becoming an entrepreneur was to get rid of the office. He wanted to travel frequently.
  • Alex explains his why for the startup. He’s in Wichita now, specifically because it’s the “cheapest city in America,” for low overhead as he gets the company going.
  • Alex travels to learn new things. After New York came Las Vegas, to see Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project and share a drink with Tony, then to Chicago, L.A., and Las Vegas again, for family, and San Francisco, before Wichita.
  • Alex finds the tech scene in every city is growing. Besides Las Vegas, he says tech in St. Louis is very welcoming. Since he can Skype with any customer, where he lives is immaterial, and all American cities start to blend for him.
  • Alex had led a Marketing consultancy for Dom&Tom, and that encouraged him to start up a company. X27 does marketing for mobile app development agencies — UX/UI design branding. They act as CMOs and run the client’s team.
  • Dom&Tom had used Alex as a contractor, and he ran the operation as needed. He discusses the outsourcing and internal hiring that led to X27. In eight months they grew from two to 11 employees. The goal is to have $2M AR by year end.
  • Alex started the company doing all the sales himself by cold emails. Alex explains his effective email. Content matters, but targeting matters more. He reveals his secret for finding agencies that are good leads and discusses the email process.
  • Alex hired two salespeople at the same time, based on advice from Jason Lemkin at SaaStr. He also learned not to hire in Q4. Sales went to $0 for two weeks over Christmas.
  • Alex hired two salespeople, to check the process. They could both be good, both bad, or one each. If neither can sell, there is probably a process problem. If only one sells, the one who can’t has a sales problem. If they both sell, hire more.
  • Alex interviews in two steps, the first to check for how they fit, the second to perform a task for an hour — to build a list and write an email. Most people refuse to do the test. He doesn’t check references. Bad hires will weed out.
  • The discussion goes to hiring and onboarding procedures as the company scales. Will every employee be a self-starter? Alex learns as he goes along. Stress concentrates the attention!
  • Alex describes the stack X27 uses internally.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

Hi, this is Andy Welcome to Episode 457 of accelerate the sales podcast of record where I hold in depth conversations with today’s leading experts in sales, marketing and leadership six days a week. So Alex Berman, welcome. 


Alex Berman  2:08  

I’m in Wichita, Kansas,


Andy Paul  2:10  

Wichita, Kansas. Okay. Here we see your Deluxe Lea furnished apartment behind you.


Alex Berman  2:17  

I just got a comment on a video the other day. It was like, hey, Alex, you should get some furniture that’s commented on. No, I just said the word no and all


Alex Berman  2:23  

lowercase. Yeah.


Andy Paul  2:25  

Yeah. So living minimalist right now. Little minimalist. Not right. So tell us about that. So you run a virtual company, but you’re fairly virtual yourself.


Alex Berman  2:34  

Yeah, so we’re 11 people. I think I’m at 27 right now. And yeah, everyone’s a digital nomad. Our two sales guys actually live in the same apartment together in LA. Yeah, but that was just a coincidence. And yeah, my co founders in Mexico City. We’ve got a bunch of people all around the US


Andy Paul  2:51  

got it. And you actually pick up roots and move every month or so.


Alex Berman  2:57  

That’s the goal.


Alex Berman  2:59  

Yeah. I was Living in full time, I was living full time in New York City for about a year and a half, two years. And when I decided to become an entrepreneur, that was like the first thing that I wanted to do was get rid of the office. Sorry, I kind of hated going into the office, especially when I was launching my company. I was waking up at like, 7am. And it just made me hate the office even more.


Andy Paul  3:20  

So, I actually spoke to somebody earlier this week, another guest to come on the show. gentleman named Paul cortman, who’s picked up his family. He runs a digital agency. And yeah, they’re, they’re traveling through Central America. Full time they sort of sold their house and he runs his business from an RV near Cancun right now. So you’re doing something similar. So what, why, why? My guess?


Alex Berman  3:47  

Why? Yeah.


Alex Berman  3:49  

So I’m in Wichita, specifically because I google the cheapest city in America. Right. So I was trying to keep my overhead as low as possible when I started this company. Yeah. But in general Don’t know like I, what do you learn? Probably


Andy Paul  4:02  

like, that’d be the questions. What are you learning?


Alex Berman  4:05  

So that was the original goal was to like to learn about stuff. So the first city I moved to after working in New York was Las Vegas. I’d read about this right around the time that Zappos did that whole holacracy thing where they made their management style so ready to go about the downtown project and, and all that stuff. So I moved out there and met a bunch of people at the downtown project and actually ended up meeting Tony Shea at his bar that he goes to. And I learned a lot about that project. But then after that, I just stopped having goals and I just started moving to places I thought sounded cool. Yeah. So Chicago, la Las Vegas, that’s Las Vegas. Also, extended family ended up living there twice


Andy Paul  4:40  

in Las Vegas. Okay.


Alex Berman  4:41  

Yeah. So just go to


Andy Paul  4:43  

San Francisco. Okay, so tell us some of the cool things you’ve done. Las Vegas. You had drinks with Tony Shea.


Alex Berman  4:50  

What other cool things Tony Shea and some other girl that looked very uncomfortable. We could shoot this on a date with him.


Andy Paul  4:57  

in there, you’re having a drink? Yes. smooth, smooth, right? So that’s gonna say What’s that? What’s that say about your empathy?


Alex Berman  5:08  

So short I just said hey, you


Alex Berman  5:10  

I really needed to walk away because I knew he was busy.


Andy Paul  5:13  

Alright so some of the other studies or some of the key things that takeaways you’d have from those cities.


Alex Berman  5:20  

I’m in LA, I realized that it really likes the traffic. But the scene that I found is like the tech scene, and every city is growing. Las Vegas at the time that I went there has probably the most nurturing tech scene. But recently I was out in St. Louis, and St. Louis also has very welcoming texting. I went out to a co-working space out there. And the entire time the two people I was with from that city were just trying to recruit me to move.


Andy Paul  5:46  

There are some top ups out there the SAS company or Yeah, I guess or Yeah, they’ve got an app that integrates with a number of others. My camera is successful tech entrepreneurs out there.


Alex Berman  6:02  

The main takeaway is just so we were talking about this a little bit before we started, but if you don’t have to go into an office, and you don’t really have to be interfacing with your customers besides Skype and phone, the place you live actually doesn’t really matter. And all of the cities in America just started to like, blend together for me now.


Andy Paul  6:22  

Yeah, well, sir, my question is about what you’ve done uniquely in each city because I I can see where they would blend together. But on the other hand, yeah, they all are all different as well, right.


Alex Berman  6:34  

Yeah, for sure. in their own ways.


Andy Paul  6:36  

Yeah. All right. So just the final travelogue question is so favorite thing you’ve had to eat in Wichita.


Alex Berman  6:47  

So there’s not really


Alex Berman  6:48  

Oh, actually, I got one. Okay, there’s this one barbecue place that does barbecue prime rib. So I’m a big prime rib fan. And normally I just have it the normal way would bake but this place will. They’ll smoke the prime rib. So it tastes almost like you’re eating a brisket or something. But it looks like a prime rib. And yeah, and I remember looking at it, and it looks like the finest prime rib you’ll ever eat. Like if you were served this at a steakhouse. Yeah, like it’s perfectly medium rare, like the colors right and everything. But it’s big.


Andy Paul  7:18  

Pink is from smoking probably though, right?


Alex Berman  7:19  

Exactly. Yeah. And the taste is completely different than any other primary. It really does taste like a brisket or ribs or something.


Andy Paul  7:26  

Ah, a young man’s diet. I like that.


Alex Berman  7:31  

Prime Rib all meats all the time. All right. So tell us why you started the experiment will tell us a little bit about experiment 27 tell us why you started it. Sure. So experiment 27. We do marketing, but it’s only for mobile app development agencies UX UI design branding. So any professional services type of agency will come in as an outsourced chief marketing officer and run their team, either through consulting or through the actual application and the reason why I started it I was a junior sales guy at this agency called DOM and Tom Chandler about 44 people, right? based in New York, right? And when I was a sales guy, they were all salespeople in the team who were fueled by inbound leads. And when I was looking at the analytics, I noticed we were only getting 14 leads a month through our website. So those 14 leads a month we’re fueling the entire business besides like word of mouth and that sort of stuff.


Andy Paul  8:23  

So they didn’t do anything to react to them.


Alex Berman  8:26  

Yeah, no proactive outbound and really no corrective inbound either. Like there was no marketing strategy at all. Sure. So I pitched Tom who was the CEO or their founder over there, on taking over their marketing, and he moved me from being a sales guy to a consultant and gave me a little bit, a little marketing budget of five k a month that I was also supposed to live off of, but within 30 days, I got their leads up to 40 a month. And within six months, we ended up adding a million dollars in close business to their bottom line, which is 16% of their company. So we ended up growing and by 16%. And now they’re up over a Hundred 50 leads a month and actually the agency this year went from 50 people at the beginning of the year now they’re almost at 100. They’re at 98 people. They’ve got two offices in New York in Chicago. I want to say it’s because of the lead gen efforts, and that allowed them to grow so much.


Andy Paul  9:15  

All right, so we then decided to sort of take that and spin it off into your own. Yeah, well,


Alex Berman  9:20  

so it was all it was always kind of my own because he made me a contractor. And I think he paid a little bit less than a little boys and


Alex Berman  9:26  

so it’d be forced to get other grades,


Andy Paul  9:28  

especially in the right.


Alex Berman  9:29  

Yeah, yeah, exactly. So the first thing I did was I tried to hire a bunch of vendors to do the work for me, like fully outsourced, right, right. What I found is that even though they said they understood the agency business, almost none of them had a good agency case study, and they all failed. So we ended up hiring a paperclip vendor. That was really good at SAS but couldn’t sell our product. We have one cold email that didn’t work. So long story short, I had to hire a team internal in order to actually succeed at the project and that team became the experiment 2017


Andy Paul  9:59  

got it. So these are all contractors to you who are full time employees.


Alex Berman  10:03  

They’re full time now. But


Alex Berman  10:05  

our company’s grown pretty quick. Just in the last eight months, we’ve gone from just me and my co-founder who was actually just an employee before he became co-founder. And now we’re up to over 11 people. We’re at about 400,000 errors. And I’m hoping to get it to two millionaires by the end of this year.


Andy Paul  10:21  

Okay, excellent. Yeah. And then 20 next year, right.


Alex Berman  10:26  

Oh, yeah.


Andy Paul  10:27  

202 million, I think. Yeah, I think that’s what you said in this article we’re gonna talk about so. So you, you wrote an article about how to grow and scale your sales team. So you started the company doing all the sales? Yeah. Okay. And so what did that day look like for you?


Alex Berman  10:44  

So when I first started the company, it was me getting up at 7am. It was fairly earlier. It’s really like 630 going into the downtown office where it worked. No one would be in the office till about 10. So we had about two hours, and I would sit there building lists and sending cold emails, like for two hours, I didn’t really have time to take client calls. So that was right around the time when I was transitioning. I couldn’t even really hop on calls, let’s say unless I was like, taking away from my work. So that was what my original day looked like.


Andy Paul  11:13  

So what did your cold emails look like in terms of maybe terms of what you learned doing those but yeah, it’s a huge topic these days in sales about cold emails and what makes them what constitutes an effective cold email. So what did you learn about that? What made an effective email?


Alex Berman  11:35  

So the article you’re talking about is telling you went from zero to 400? k RR in 30 days, right?


Andy Paul  11:43  

Yeah, I think so are growing and scaling your sales team, something like


Alex Berman  11:46  

scaling your sales team. Okay. So, the thing, the main thing that I actually learned was, what’s in the cold email matters, but what actually matters is the targeting of the email. So if you’re not sending to people who need your service, and I know this sounds super simple If you’re not something to people who need your service, the emails aren’t actually going to matter. Like you can have the best email ever, and it’s not going to work. So the first thing I tried to figure out was, what are people that are going to be a good fit for experiment 27 showing online? What are their indicators that are going to make them a good fit for us? And what I realized was if you’re trying to work at your digital agency, one of the first things you’re going to do is search for the best digital agencies and see what pops up. And what popped up were these directories so sites like clutch co top interactive agencies that just listed the top agencies in any city. And I realized that you have to pay for placement on most of those directories. So any agency that’s hungry enough for new leads that they’re paying for sponsorship, it’s probably going to be a good fit. So I started out emailing those. So that’s the first takeaway, and so are your targets. Again, we’re so my target is any digital agency. It used to be with over $2 million in revenue. So $10 million in revenue with no director of marketing or marketing team. Okay. You said something before about mobile, I just wasn’t sure where that was for them. So they’re digital agencies. They do mobile app development. So Android and iOS development, or branding UX UI, alright.


Andy Paul  13:08  

Okay. So that was hard to build a list on and it seemed like it would be in that case.


Alex Berman  13:13  

So it’s not hard to build a list once you find the or once I found the place where all these people were listed, right? That’s why I always recommend that as the first thing like find out where you can find these pockets where your customers are actually listed. If it’s not LinkedIn, that’s better, right? It’s something that you, that your other competitors aren’t looking at. That’s also better now clutch like everyone on clutch and these other directories get spammed hardcore, right. But when I was doing it about a year ago, it was a lot less. So I was able to get through. And then the second takeaway is, yeah, craft the email in a way that’s going to get them to actually respond. The way that I did it was I like to send ideas. And in order to send these two ideas in a scalable way, I thought about what are two things that I could say right away to a digital agency owner that are going to make them perk up, right? Because I always like to assume that any services company has a ton of competitors, because services are some of the easiest to start up. So every one of your customers is getting pitched constantly. And it’s probably buying from and getting burned by people that are very similar to you. So a digital agency owner has worked with, I’m assuming like three or four other marketing agencies by this point, they all suck, obviously, because I worked with these marketing agencies, that they’re all bad. So what ideas can can I say that are going to get them impressed enough


Alex Berman  14:33  

to answer the email. Okay, and


Alex Berman  14:36  

because they’re digital agency owners, I can come up with the same ideas and send them out to the same list. So my two ideas were number one, if you optimize your clutch profile, and you get on the first page, you can start seeing about 100 leads a month. And we did that for Domino’s. So that was my first case study. I was able to get downtown to the top so I called that out in the first idea. The second idea was if you are getting a lot of leads that you don’t know what to do with so a lot of these smaller trashed projects, you can actually reach out to small agencies and send them those projects. And I can help you come up with a partnership program for that, because I did something similar to Comic Con. So those are my two ideas. And when somebody saw those, then they were going to be a lot more likely to respond.


Andy Paul  15:16  

So what should you leave as a call to action? In the


Alex Berman  15:20  

does it Okay, so the actual email is framed like this. So it’s like, you know, the subject line was a question about company or about company and experiment 27. And then the actual email is like, Hey, Mark, came across Domain. Tom was really impressed with the work you did on Priceline. So calling out a specific app. I’ll experiment and I’m head of growth for experiment 27. We do marketing for digital agencies. off the bat, here are two marketing ideas you can try, but I literally wrote them. Number one, here’s this number two here says, I’d love to hop on a quick call to talk about potentially doing marketing for a company for Tom and Tom. That sounds like something you might be interested in, so I can send over a few times for a quick call.


Alex Berman  15:59  

Thanks, Alex. Very simple. Okay, I think it was five sentences. I always try to go for five sentences or less. Okay.


Andy Paul  16:06  

And did you suggest specific times that you want to talk to them?


Alex Berman  16:11  

No. So the main thing you want to know when you’re sending to busy people, which I learned from roommates four years ago, is that the less decisions they have to make the better. So really, all you’re trying to do is get buy in. So you’re so sure that sounds interesting? Yes, it does. And if they say yes, then you said the time’s right. You’re not saying hey, do any of these three times work? Because that’s, you know, too many decisions. If you can check the calendar, right? First, you want them to get bought in on what you’re pitching them, and then you can coordinate the time.


Andy Paul  16:41  

Okay. What’s interesting is I spoke with recently with, you know, Eric


Alex Berman  16:46  

Coleman, I don’t, but everyone’s got a different strategy. And I think they all, I think they all work. Like I don’t think anyone’s better than anyone else.


Andy Paul  16:54  

That’s why the question, yeah, he had suggested actually just the opposite, you know, give three times one near Close one out a little bit further one week out or something like that, or two weeks out. So you have


Alex Berman  17:06  

your own thing that they think works, right. And I think if your listeners try cold email as their own process, they’re going to come up with their own list of things that we’re


Andy Paul  17:15  

not just trying to give them best practices. Okay, so. So at some point, then you made the decision that you want to try to hire some salespeople.


Alex Berman  17:23  

Yeah, that came pretty recently. So in the last three months, I actually made the mistake. And I didn’t realize this was a mistake at the time of hiring in the middle of q4, which gave me about 30 days to ramp up before our sales went to zero for two weeks over Christmas, right. But yeah, I decided to ramp up because we had hit 35,000. In revenue, it was just me and my co-founder. And we hit that for three months in a row. And I realized that, you know, we could probably instead of just splitting this money because we were just splitting it down the middle 5050 that we could probably just cut both of our salaries and invest in a team, right. So yeah, I hired Jason Lumpkins advice from sester and I am two salespeople to sell at the exact same time. I found one of them on Angel list of none. And I posted up a I actually have a whole YouTube video that goes through that just search Alex put them an angel list, or Angel list hiring. And I posted an ad and he responded, and then his roommate, and this is why they ended up living together. his roommate actually worked with him at this other startup as a Series B funded startup where they were just making cold calls and selling all day. Right so I ended up hiring him as well because I needed a second sales guy anyway.


Andy Paul  18:33  

Okay. So bringing a lot of light on your face. Do you have a shade for


Alex Berman  18:40  

Oh, that means right I’m just gonna move back. Okay. Yeah, that’s a cool


Andy Paul  18:47  

So you said to decide to hire based on advice from Jason Lemkin. What was that advice? So the advice is


Alex Berman  18:53  

if you hire one sales guy, and he sucks, is it because your product sucks Is it because As the process is bad, is it because you didn’t give them enough things to do? Like, there’s so many variables. But if you hire two sales guys, and they are both bad, you know, it doesn’t have anything to do with the sales guy, right? It’s the process or the product. If they’re both good, then you know that


Andy Paul  19:14  

while they’re really really bad,


Alex Berman  19:16  

yeah, they both could be bad, then you know, it’s probably the product of the process, or Yeah, yeah, you just got unlucky, and your hiring process is bad. But if they’re both good, you make money and you can hire more. But if one is bad, and one is good, this is what Jason wants to look out for. He says, if one is bad, and one is good, that means that it’s the skill of the salesperson, and then you just fire the one that’s bad. And then you have a salesperson that makes money.


Andy Paul  19:38  

Okay. Yeah, that’s right, by the logic 100%. But yeah, like, it’s certainly certainly if you’re, if you’re a VC talking about companies and giving money to and they’ve got funds and that’s, that’s not an issue.


Alex Berman  19:50  

Yeah, but I was doing it bootstrap, so. I don’t know. I don’t


Alex Berman  19:53  



Alex Berman  19:55  

So you pay them based on commission. I pay them yeah. 3000 a month each and then a 15%. Commission on sales. Okay. And then I pay out everything once a month.


Andy Paul  20:05  

So, what was your interview process?


Alex Berman  20:09  

So, I do two parts of any interview. So the first one is I’m just on a quick call, just try to get culture fit. So I try to see if they’re cool or not. So I asked him questions about their background like basically we’ll just converse like, like, Man, you’re having a conversation right now.


Andy Paul  20:23  

So definition of cool.


Alex Berman  20:26  

Cool, just like, you know, can we get along? Have we ever been before?


Andy Paul  20:28  

All right, he has a technical term. I know. I just want to


Alex Berman  20:32  

Yeah, no, no, I’m not a big fan of any of those in depth, like corporate interview questions. I read an article A while ago that I can’t remember where I read it. But it said that the entire vocal -like interview process going back and forth is actually not predictive at all of the actual job success. So I try to not put too much emphasis on that. The next part of the trial I do actually put them into so if they are cool or if they are Good culture fit that don’t give them an hour or two of work for them to do. So for sales. It’s almost always to write a cold email campaign for x 27. Right? Come up with 20 people that you could send it to. And then let me know how it goes. They don’t usually have to send the emails, I just want to see what the lead quality is. And I want to see what the type of email that right is.


Andy Paul  21:21  

So you give them names from your list of dissenters?


Alex Berman  21:23  

No, no, I want them to do they’re going to build a list with them. And I want them to write the emails. But this shows you and what I do here is it shows you how they are on their feet, right? Like, are you going to have to train these guys? Or are they going to be able to pick it up basically. The other thing it shows you is about 70% of people aren’t going to do the trial. Right? Even if they say they will. And it is usually about like two and five. We’ll come back and have answers for this test. But most of the time most people just just like to leave


Andy Paul  21:57  

Yeah, absolutely not. I’m glad To hear that you did a test of sorts, because I think that one of the things that didn’t sell was most overlooked is people make claims that they can do certain things when you’re interviewing them as you have to verify they can do it.


Alex Berman  22:11  

Yeah. And we had to start doing tests because we had two people. Two people, yeah, that we hired before we hired them, because we tried this about a month before, and we didn’t do any tests or anything. One of them quit two weeks after starting. And then the other one didn’t even show up for his first day at work. So they both ghosted, so also, when you’re like a fully nomadic company, right, you just make sure that people are reliable as well. And that the 70% of people that don’t turn in the test are obviously you know, not reliable.


Andy Paul  22:42  

Yeah. And also you get people to think that they’re doing work for free for you or something like that. So all sorts of mind games are going on.


Alex Berman  22:50  

Well, that’s the thing that’s another test right? Because people who I’ve had people ask me to pay them


Andy Paul  22:54  

and I was gonna say,


Alex Berman  22:56  

consultant with one guy that I was doing, doing this for It wasn’t for sales. It was a marketing hire. She was like, hey, yeah, I normally do this as consulting. Can you pay me? And I was like, Yeah, what do you want me like $50 an hour. And actually, that made me gain a lot of respect for him. Because if he’s asking me to pay him, he’s gonna ask my clients to pay him.


Andy Paul  23:12  

Right. Like, he’s, that’s a good thing. How do you work out?


Alex Berman  23:17  

I don’t really like the work, but I paid him anyway.


Andy Paul  23:19  

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I can sort of see your point. I mean, I’ve used this for working with clients and hiring, you know, VP level people. And same, same dynamic. I mean, one client, gosh, we had, I think we had about a 90% Fallout rate from people that that refused to do a test, in which case it was in this case, I was giving a presentation but we had another another client I worked with where we did a national search for VP of sales and and yeah, we want people to show us a little thought about let’s say how to enter a market and would be their plan about how they’d enter a new market, build up the sales. capacity and so on. Yeah. And we had five finalists and three of them basically said, Yeah, why should I do that? But you Andy, on board, they’re paying as a consultant you do it. I was like, well, that’s, that’s not the point. The point is they won’t see if you can do it.


Alex Berman  24:14  

Exactly. You rather that laziness come out during the interview process or six months in right? The honeymoon phase,


Andy Paul  24:19  

right? No one guy said, Yeah. Okay, as long as they pay me what they’re paying you. It’s like, well, you’re still missing the point. So, yeah, well, good. I’m glad you did that, because I think that’s absolutely essential. So what do you do in terms of a background check and the reference check, nothing? Okay. I just


Alex Berman  24:36  

looked at the quality of work, you know, if I hire scumbags, I feel like they’ll weed themselves out. I’m a big proponent of hire as fast as possible, and then just try to fire people as fast as possible. So to get the 11 that we have now, I probably went through 20 people, you know, having the month started full time and then they were fired within two weeks.


Andy Paul  24:55  

Do you think that’s sustainable?


Alex Berman  24:57  

Do I think that’s sustainable as you’re growing?


Alex Berman  25:00  

I think it’s kind of heartless, for sure, you know, to cut people’s jobs, but as long as, as long as my hiring managers as we scale frame it correctly, like, normally will frame it as a trial period. Okay, so they’re they’re expecting to get like, oh, if they don’t perform


Alex Berman  25:15  

so well, it’s totally sustainable. Why not?


Alex Berman  25:16  

What actually, please, please answer in Hindi? Why wouldn’t it be?


Andy Paul  25:21  

Well, there is an investment of time if you do have lots of people that just don’t cut it early on, fine. Now you fire them quickly, but you’ve still wasted that time that you might not have wasted had to do a little more due diligence upfront.


Alex Berman  25:34  

I think it depends on your definition of wasted time, right? Because let’s say, let’s say you hire them, you know, it’s not like you have to stop the hiring process. Like if you know, it’s a one month trial, you can hire them, you can still be interviewing other people at the same time. Sure, and then swap them in. Do you find that you’re doing that? Usually, yeah, we were having to constantly interview because our company’s been growing every month. So that’s one reason why We had to get very quick. Yeah, I had a process.


Andy Paul  26:04  

Yeah, I just think there comes a point where you look at the trade off of time, even if you still have people in the pipeline, is there still an expenditure of time that you’re making? So let’s say it’s a month. But if you spend two hours doing a good reference check, not just, uh, you know, check the boxes reference check. It may save you some time. And there’s a couple questions you can ask. We can talk about offline that become very, very good questions, ask that to start cutting through the crap.


Alex Berman  26:32  

Yeah. And then I think that goes back to that original article. I read, like probably a year ago that I can’t even remember dearly, and I base all my decisions on hiring off of, Oh, it’s always


Andy Paul  26:41  

good to do that one article. Yeah,


Alex Berman  26:42  

exactly. But basically, the takeaway from this article was, you know, you can’t really learn much from an actual reference check, right? Because the references people give you they’re either going to be really good or


Andy Paul  26:53  

not. So that’s why you don’t ask the regular questions. You’re great. A great question to ask and is in the surname. listening. I think they’re listening to a private conversation. But if, you know, you can ask if you’re speaking to a former boss and say, Okay. What advice would you give? Let’s say the guy’s name is john, you know, what advice would you give to John’s new boss about, you know, how to coach them how to manage them, you could pick one of a variety of questions off that but you know, you sort of frame it in that sort of context is, and then you start getting ideas that aren’t Yeah, he is an idiot, or Yeah, he was super fantastic or whatever is just like, concerns that get surfaced. And even if you’re just even if you don’t act on them, you’re at least forewarned, which is, you know, could be a time saver for you.


Alex Berman  27:48  

Could be Do you really want to go in with that frame, though? So like, let’s, let’s say one of the old bosses say that he’s lazy, or he doesn’t get work done effectively. But maybe the reason he was lazy or didn’t get work done effectively was because that guy was like a bad Manage, you’ll never, you’ll never know.


Andy Paul  28:01  

There’s so many variables. And so all you’re trying to do with hiring over a period of time, I believe it’s you’re trying to minimize your risks. And the risks run multiple dimensions. No, but time is certainly one of them. So, essentially, I’m trying to scale quickly, I want to try to minimize the amount of time because of what you do to onboard the people.


Alex Berman  28:24  

I mean, usually, so they’re working under a manager, most of the time, whoever’s running the department. So right. For me, I’m the sales manager, right. So I was just onboarding them, you know, by having them on client calls.


Andy Paul  28:34  

Okay. So it’s fairly informal, because you’re small and so on. But, you know, that necessarily changes when you start scaling up a little bit. So,


Alex Berman  28:42  

but I’m also of the opinion that a lot of companies are too stuffy. You know, like, even if you get to 1000 employees, like yeah, sure you have processes in place, but it kind of goes back to what what Peter was saying on the show, like, if you hire people that have ADHD and you give them processes I know every time I’ve been given a process to follow I do worse actually, than when I’m just given a goal and forced to work towards that. So I think having a very open ended training process serves us better.


Alex Berman  29:10  

I think a lot of companies get that wrong.


Andy Paul  29:12  

Undoubtedly. But I do think you reach a point though, where with the size of the company it’s easy, sort of at a certain size to hire a founder’s culture. But then it reaches sort of a tipping point where it’s hard then to impart the culture the same way to everybody that you hire. And what you get is you get the employees start thinking, Okay, where’s the onboarding program? Right? Who’s really gonna teach me? Yeah, where’s this? And so it’s not an issue for you right now. But I mean, something to think about as you get just a little bit bigger.


Alex Berman  29:47  

But it’s something to think about. And I’m actually thinking like, when you said that I’m thinking, How can I create a screening process from hiring people that don’t need to be on board?


Alex Berman  29:55  

Yeah, right. Like, why would I want to hire somebody?


Alex Berman  29:57  

It’s gonna sit there and be like, Hey, where’s the onboarding process? Right, exactly when somebody is going to be entrepreneurial and say, okay, exactly, Nicole, let’s say the goal is $10 million this year. How do I hit the head? What’s going on? Should I reach out to these other sales guys and like, try to learn, okay, I want somebody who’s gonna be totally self starting. Right? But yeah, like you’re saying it probably won’t scale. Who knows? And that’s maybe another mistake that I make it and that


Andy Paul  30:20  

it’s hard to get self starters forever. Yeah, I mean, that’s just it’s just below the math just doesn’t work that way.


Alex Berman  30:28  

That’s something that I’m learning is I am making a ton of mistakes and the obvious ones the ones that I’ve seen other people make in the past I’m not making but then it’s always like stupid stuff pops up that I know in retrospect is like the worst possible move. So like hiring these guys in quarter four was like the stupidest thing probably ever did. My company almost failed because of it right. If I didn’t have a couple Hail Mary closes in the last five days, right? We probably would have gone under.


Andy Paul  30:53  

Well, it does concentrate the attention doesn’t it?


Alex Berman  30:57  

Yeah, it does it Yeah. It stressed me out a lot. But yeah, We survived because of it and our sales team became stronger. And I think our team is stronger because of it. But yeah, like that, don’t hire anybody in q4. I’ve never heard that written anywhere. I’ve never seen an article like that.


Andy Paul  31:11  

So I’ll give the contract to that. Yeah, I mean, me personally, before I start my company, actually, I was hired in December for the vast majority of the jobs that help. Interestingly, and I think that that was primarily because the hiring managers weren’t traveling as much. So unless they hadn’t met the year, in which case they’re out traveling like mad, but those that had met their number, were pretty much close to home. So yeah, I would say I probably had three quarters of the job site I had before I started my own company, hired in December.


Alex Berman  31:52  

I think it has a lot to do again, with the company size of like, for us, you know, we’re 11 people. So no, these weren’t much bigger. They’re almost all startups.


Andy Paul  32:02  

So it depends. I guess, your point, your point is that I think a good one is when you keep recruiting when you find good people and find a way to bring one.


Alex Berman  32:13  

Yeah, for sure, even to the point where your company almost fails because of it. And I think the only reason we were stressing is because it wasn’t. Maybe the mistake I made actually was not planning for those two dead weeks and in the end of December,


Alex Berman  32:26  

Yeah, maybe it was Wichita.


Alex Berman  32:29  

Maybe I don’t think so. Okay.


Andy Paul  32:32  

What system is our last question on this point? Then we’ll move on to the last segment to show us so what to sales guys remotely? What system? Are you using a CRM system or cell development platforms or anything? Are you using it?


Alex Berman  32:46  

Sure so I do all my communication over messages such as text messages. We use base CRM to track our deal flow to track everything in Word stands in the funnels, and then we send all our cold emails using Yes, where I really liked yesterday because it’s got a lot of automation. So you can write all your cold emails out and then it’ll send them basically on a drip. So like send this up to three days in this after five days. Okay,


Andy Paul  33:10  

perfect. All right, so Alex, blast I’m gonna show I’ve got some standard questions, ask all my guests. I know you’re familiar with these, because you said you were just listening to some episodes. So the first question is a hypothetical scenario, which you gotcha. So what we just talked about you Alex, I’ve just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have sort of hit a rough spot and you’ve just been hired to hit the sales reset button, get things back on track. So what two things could you do your first week on the job that would have the biggest impact?


Alex Berman  33:41  

So the first thing that I would do is try to be on as many calls as possible. So whether I’m sitting in or I’m like, trying to BS my way through the product, I would try to either book as many calls is possible or just sit in on every single call that was going on, back to back because there’s a There’s not like you can’t learn anything if you’re not talking to customers, right? And I know that’s kind of a, it’s kind of a weird thing to say like, I know a lot of people will say talk to the department heads and like, learn what’s going on all this stuff. But when I first started at Tom and Tom, my first day, actually, the first hour of the first day, my onboarding was me sitting in a meeting, where somebody was selling apps to another guy. And actually, the sales guy turned to me and asked if I had any questions for the client and had to make up one on the spot. And that’s how I’ve always learned, it’s the first thing I would do. And then the second thing is, I think I would ask the business owner, what’s wrong? Because I know a lot of people say, you know, talk to the employees, figure out what’s wrong, do an actual program like that. But I found that learning the business owners assumptions, will actually paint the picture a lot better, right? So if the business owner or the entrepreneur whoever your boss is that points out a bunch of stuff, then you can have a plan for actually confirming that right? Like if they pointed out like three or four things are wrong, then You know what teams to actually talk to? Okay, start your search to fix the sales issues.


Andy Paul  35:04  

All right, excellent. All right, some rapid fire questions for you, then you can give me one word answers or elaborate, if you wish. So the first one is when you, Alex are selling, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?


Alex Berman  35:14  

I asked a lot of questions. I always try to approach the customer. My monitor used to be and actually still is, what would you recommend if the customer was your friend? So I always try to figure out if they were my friend, would I recommend this service? And if I wouldn’t, what would I change about the service and that helps improve the product? Or if I also, if I would have what questions do I need to ask to try to break that mold and figure out if they’re a better fit? Okay, so


Alex Berman  35:39  

That’s my mantra right there. All right.


Andy Paul  35:42  

That’s a long mantra. It’s hard to chant that in the morning.


Alex Berman  35:45  

So would you recommend if the client was your friend? Okay, perfect. I used to write it on a piece of paper added up by my desk. That’s


Andy Paul  35:50  

a good affirmation to use in the morning, too. So who’s your sales role model of


Alex Berman  35:55  

sales role model? I really like Grant Cardone. I know myself Deal styles are almost the exact opposite of him, but I just like the way that he’s just like super fired up.


Andy Paul  36:06  

Okay, Grant Cardone. So what’s one book you’d recommend every salesperson read?


Alex Berman  36:12  

I think 10 x rule by grant is really good.


Alex Berman  36:15  

All right. Why do you like that one?


Alex Berman  36:16  

I only listen to audiobooks. So the audio book on it got me super fired up. And the main idea in that book is any goal that you have in life is too small, and you need a 10 X the goal. And I always think that’s amazing. When I was at Tom and Tom, my quota was 750,000. And I wrote 700, I wrote 7.5 million as my quota for the year. And because of that I ended up selling, you know, everyone made fun of me. My sales manager was laughing because I had it up on the on the right or nose racing and as I was going, but I ended up closing 1.1 to 5 million, which was about double what 750,000 shirts, and I think in part because the goal was so high.


Andy Paul  36:56  

Alright, love it. Alright, last question. What music is on the playlist. What music is on my playlist?


Alex Berman  37:02  

I like to listen to a lot of real oldies. So like Bing Crosby was Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald. And then also, I’ve been listening to a lot of like, like Maroon five recently


Alex Berman  37:14  

has been what I’ve been playing.


Andy Paul  37:15  

Okay? Why Maroon five? That’s an interesting juxtaposition with Bing Crosby. Oh,


Alex Berman  37:21  

well, what I like about Maroon five is that they’re like the most corporate band ever. So like every song, you can tell that they like to buy it from somebody else, because they’re all in completely different styles. So I liked to listen and think about who sold them the song like, why they went after this song. Like, why did they hire the producers? I like the story of my musical.


Andy Paul  37:39  

Yeah. Well, I mean, actually, I think Adam Levine does write a fair amount of their music, but I think a lot of partners too. So yeah, he must have some good producers that are like various producers like he must have a lot of different partners. Yeah, I’m sure of that. All right. Well, Alex, great to talk with you. Great to have you on the show. So tell people how they can find out more about experiment 27 and connect with you.


Alex Berman  38:03  

Yeah, come on, come on down to it. The easiest way to contact us if you want to work with us or see our services for marketing for a digital agency is experiment 27 calm. And if you want free videos on sales, training, and also insight I go deep into like, what’s going on with the business and stuff like that? That’s b2b sales. training.org. Okay,


Andy Paul  38:24  

perfect. And thank you again for being on the show. And friends. Thank you for spending time with us today. Remember, make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success and easily do that. Join my conversations with people like my guest today, Alex Berman, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks again for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.