Justin Welsh is an SMB SaaS advisor and executive mentor who enables founders to drive scalable growth. He recently led LA-based PatientPop from $0 to $50M in recurring revenue.
On today’s episode, we get serious about a topic Justin believes more sellers should be paying attention to: building your own brand as a seller. I enjoy having the opportunity to talk with yet another emerging young leader in sales. I love hearing these new voices with new ideas and new perspectives on what needs to happen to drive the sales profession forward. So we’re going to dive into a wide range of topics including what and who are the major influences on how sellers learn how to sell. And what sales management needs to learn in order to better help sellers improve their performance.
Andy Paul: Justin. Welcome to the show.
Justin Welsh: Andy. It’s great to be here, man. Thank you so much for having me on.
Andy Paul: It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. So you just moved in the middle of the pandemic.
Justin Welsh: I did, I’ve been, have been working on my own for the last 12 months and I was in LA for awhile. And it is not a super great state income tax situation there. I decided to move to a 0% state income tax here in Nashville, Tennessee, and my wife and I, rather than getting on a plane, we drove across the country.
Andy Paul: Very interesting. So tax refugees got it.
Justin Welsh: Yeah, we’re trying, it is. We’re trying to hack the system a little bit, we’re, trying to spend less time working now that we’re getting a slightly older and we’ve put in a lot of years together at startups and, decrease our expenses. So that is the, that is the plan.
Andy Paul: And kids?
Justin Welsh: No kids by design three dogs.
Andy Paul: Three dogs. They take a lot of work. I know. all All those things considered. So what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Justin Welsh: Boy, I would say the biggest lesson that I’ve learned about myself during the pandemic is when I’m tethered to, the computer and when you’re stuck in doors, I become much more of a workaholic that I would have anticipated. And so rather than, spending less time working or more time with my wife and my dogs, I’ve gotten up earlier, I’ve stayed up later doing work and that’s been, I think something that I’m now much more focused on now that we’ve moved here to Nashville and part of the move was reducing some of that stress. So maybe that was a bit surprising to me. And, it was unfortunate. So looking forward to correcting that behavior.
Andy Paul: I think a lot of people have experienced that. I’ve experienced it. eah, I think even my wife, same thing, it’s it just seems like work has expanded somewhat exponentially.
Justin Welsh: Yes, dangerous.
Andy Paul: Yeah, it
Justin Welsh: It’s tough. It’s dangerous. I think a lot of companies are taking advantage of folks as well. Maybe not intentionally, but, people are at- the companies know where folks are and they know that you’re in front of their computer. They know that you’re at home and work days are no longer nine to five, if they ever were there, they’re seven to seven.
And I think, there’s some danger in that. And I think that we all need to be a bit cognizant of how we spend our time with relation to work during this pandemic, I think we gotta be really cognizant about.
Andy Paul: What are you doing to change?
Justin Welsh: Part of it is, reducing the expenses. We just moved into a house that’s twice as big as the one we had in LA for half the cost. And, so that’s helpful. So I can potentially, work less hours and my wife can work less hours. So I think that’s one and then number two, we’re just changing our routine.
We live here near a really cool park in East Nashville called Shelby Park. And so each morning we get up and we head down to the park and we do a four mile walk. And, that’s a great, yeah, we had to get the day started and the kind of distress.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve always been somewhat of a morning person from when it comes to exercise, but yeah, in the early part of the shutdown, I got away from that. Cause I figured I’ve got the time. I’ll do it later in the day. And yeah, I found that over the last two months going back to that habit, getting it done first thing really makes a difference.
Justin Welsh: Totally. And we’ve always been exercisers. We walked around in LA, I never really turned my phone off, and I always had it with me on our walks and that’s just bad behavior. And for me, part of the change in behavior is just getting out to this park.
It’s beautiful. It’s got deer and all this stuff and no cell phone service. So I put my cell phone in the car and I just spent four miles. Just me, my wife just chatting, getting our day started effectively. So that’s one way that we’re really de-stressing, if you.
Andy Paul: No, I like it. I like it. And so what have you discovered about Nashville that you really like? So coming from LA both have show business connections, the music scene and so on. What, what have you gotten into anything? Or has it been just because of the shutdown you haven’t been able to?
Justin Welsh: No, it’s it’s such a great city. It’s really, it’s interesting. And without diving deep into, to the politics of the city, but it’s almost like two cities, like you have downtown Nashville and you have 12 South in some of the areas on the West. And then you have East Nashville, which is a little where we live, which I would say is more The Brooklyn of Nashville.
I know that’s thrown out, thrown around way too loosely, but it’s more of the Brooklyn of Nashville. It’s eclectic, it’s hip, it’s really interesting. The people are super friendly, very accepting so far, really cool that we’ve made some friends here already, which is awesome.
We’ve only been here five days. Businesses are not quite shut down, but they’re really, they’re taking the mask laws really well. And so I went out for my birthday dinner, I think on Saturday and went to a really nice restaurant called Husk, sanitize, gloves, masks, following great procedures. So the city in and of itself seems to be humming along really safely. And, and the people have been awesome. And, the neighborhood is exactly what we were looking for. Just peaceful.
Andy Paul: Was this a milestone birthday for you?
Justin Welsh: It’s not, it’s a, I guess they’re all milestones, I made it, so that’s a milestone, but, it was 39. So next year will be the big four zero. So that’ll be a milestone for me.
Andy Paul: The big one. Okay.All right well tell us how you got started in sales and what was your first sales job? And was this, was sales something you planned on going into when you graduated from school or is that like many people just are sheer accident?
Justin Welsh: Yeah, no. my dad has been a salesman for almost 50 years, so I think it’ll actually be his 50th year next year. And so he graduated college and was a pharma rep and has always been a pharma rep. And so when I grew up, when I went to school, I went to Ohio State and when I graduated in 2003, I thought, my parents have a nice house and two cars like that, be all end all, I’m going to get into doing what my dad did. That looks great. And so I went into sales and I actually was really terrible at it.
Andy Paul: Pharama sales right.
Justin Welsh: I did pharma sales and I did med device sales. So I sold in the operating room as well. So the first seven years of my career was in pharma and med device. And, boy, I was not very good at it. And I got fired, in my first three jobs. And by the time I was –
Andy Paul: Okay. let’s let me just, can’t say that and run by it. We got to explore that.
Justin Welsh: Sure.
Andy Paul: So… what’d you do? how’d you get fire it? Why?
Justin Welsh: Let’s see the first job I got fired for because, rather than going out and working in my territory, I hung out with my friends and worked out. So I didn’t, I was a field rep. Yeah. I was a field rep, so I didn’t, I didn’t really have a boss over my shoulder, that’s I was in the field and so I was young and immature and, I wasn’t focused on my career.
I was focused on having fun, making friends, partying, and lifting weights. And, I was. I was your typical kind of poor decision making 23 year old. And yeah, so I got fired in that and then I think my job, my next job in med devices, I got fired because after being there for a year, I went out looking for another job and my boss got wind of that and heard that I was interviewing at other places and cut me.
Andy Paul: Were you doing well there though?
Justin Welsh: No. I had no idea how to sell medical equipment. I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t have a strong mentor. I, I had no idea what I was doing. I was aimless and lost and flailing in the wind and anyone who even, suggests that I was average, is full of it.
Andy Paul: So was there a sort of this epiphany after the second- or did you say you were fired at the third one, too?
Justin Welsh: Yeah. And the third one, I think was a really short stint. And I, I got fired for, I think the same thing as the first one, which was, I just didn’t really go to work. That was my MO. that was my Mo and almost all of my jobs up until I was 28 is I was extremely lazy. I was really immature and I think that’s what, was the, was the killer for me.
It was this just poor maturity on my side. And I just didn’t understand. I was like, Hey, I’m young, I’m here to have fun. Like the career will be here in the future. And I didn’t have access to like much, listen, I had a lot more access than some people, but I didn’t have access to stuff like LinkedIn and some of these other platforms where people are learning a lot more at a younger age, I just, I didn’t have any of that stuff.
Andy Paul: Well, so on the first two jobs, were you trained at all?
Justin Welsh: The first job I was trained pretty well. The first for the pharma jobs, I was trained pretty darn well in, I knew my studies, I read the New England Journal of Medicine. If I got in front of a physician during a lunch, I could hold my own. And, and so I was well-trained. The med device, I was not well trained. I was what you would call a territory associate. And so essentially I was an underpaid, sort of, assistance to someone who owned a territory. And I happened to get placed under a guy that was like, they called him the Gray Wolf. He had been there for 30 years and he did not care about my ability to thrive.
I was just his errand boy. He’s like here’s a piece of equipment, drive it four hours to Flint. I was like, all right, that was in Michigan. And, so I didn’t learn anything. I just. I just ran stuff back and forth and you do that for 12 months. You earn a promotion. I got my own territory and then I got fired.
Andy Paul: So what was the device?
Justin Welsh: So I sold, laparoscopic and arthroscopic high-definition towers. So essentially if you’re going to have your knee or shoulder worked on, or you’re going to have your abdomen, you’re going to get like a lap colonoscopy, a lap coli, and get your gallbladder removed. I sold both the monitors that the physicians use the HD monitors to see what they were doing inside of those minimally invasive surgeries. I sold the scopes. The, God, I can’t, remember the names. I sold all the equipment that got the scopes inside the body. I sold the pumps. I sold the water, stuff that you use to fill up a shoulder. If you’re going to do like a rotator cuff surgery. I sold all of that in the operating room. And, boy, I was not trained for that. So that’s really scary when you think about it.
Andy Paul: Alright. It’s not easy necessarily to get a third job after you’ve left the first two. So what turned it around for you?
Justin Welsh: Yeah, it was interesting. I got a call from a guy named Cyrus Masumi, who was the founder and former CEO of a company called ZocDoc in New York. And, here’s the deal. I put my resume on Monster. It definitely had some, it definitely had some exaggerated accomplishments on it. And I don’t, I tell people now, I wish that wasn’t part of my story, but it unfortunately is. And, I think all resumes are exaggerations. I guess I don’t feel that badly, but, I’ve never interviewed a bottom performer. but, I put that on.
Andy Paul: No. Nor have sales assessment company has ever had anybody take their tests that were hired that’s a bad performer too.
Justin Welsh: That’s right. Everyone’s rookie of the year. So I put my resume on Monster and I got a call from a guy named Cyrus Masumi and he said, Hey, we’re hiring for our, I think our second sales person. And there was only nine people in the company and I was living in Allentown, PA and I took a bus.
I took a bus to New York City and, I went to this interview. And I had prepared because I wanted the job because I thought the software was so, cool online doctor’s appointments. No one had heard of that in 2009. And when I got there, I interviewed with five people. I can remember the interview like it was yesterday.
I’m in this old building in Chinatown, they’re eating pizza, they’re drinking beer. It’s 7:00 PM. I’m interviewing with five people. They’re walking me through the medical systems of Denmark and why online appointments are going to work. And I’m like, wow, these people are brilliant. These people are super smart. And so I wanted this job and I was really well prepared. I had prepared, I could walk through my bogus numbers and I did that and I landed this job at ZocDoc and that was the first place where like a light switch went off for me. Like a light bulb went off for me. Like I, I just ate that job up. They loved it. And my career since then is, has been wildly different.
Andy Paul: And so maturity you’re talking about is, but taking it seriously. But what else do you think?
Justin Welsh: There was an intersection of four things and this is how I describe it to people. There was this product that I loved, I didn’t care about arthroscopic and laparoscopic surgery, I didn’t care about Coreg, the heart pill that I was selling back in the day, making a couple extra pennies for Mr. GlaxoSmithKline CEO. I didn’t care about that at all. And, but I did care about this small team and this concept that we were going to book doctor’s appointments online. That was incredible. So I had this sort of intersection of this incredible product. This incredibly intelligent team, this team that like I looked around, I was like, I’m surrounded by really brilliant people.
My own maturity level, having just starting to increase a little bit, really reaching this age where I was starting to become a bit more mature. And the last thing was the energy of the city. I had been working in Allentown, PA; St. Clair Shores, Michigan; Steubenville, Ohio. And suddenly here I was in New York City and that energy just lit a fire underneath me.
And so there’s these intersection of these four things and that almost made me a different person overnight. And I would say the last thing that really made a huge impact on me was I went out, on my first day with my boss, Ryan Stam, and I made a sale. On my very first day. And I don’t think I had ever really made a sale before. I had never gotten someone’s credit card.
I had influenced physicians and things like that, but I never made a sale. And I was like, Oh my gosh, the city’s booming. These people are awesome. This product is great. Like I just made a sale. This is it. I found my thing and I was super thrilled to have found that.
Andy Paul: And so you’re selling to doctors to get them to sign up, to be part of the system.
Justin Welsh: That’s correct. It was a dual sided marketplace. So there was people on one side who were looking for doctors and doctors on the other side, who were looking to promote their practice. And so we were going out and we were connecting those folks on a platform and essentially, we would go out and sell private practice physicians, a license for, per provider. And then back in the day, I think it was, 250 bucks a month for doctors to be featured on the platform.
Andy Paul: It seems like he’s easy decision for their part. Before we get too far down the line, so you go through this track and you said you were well-trained sort of on the pharma, subsequent to that, no training and you’re going to start up, there’s no real sort of training. You’ve referred to a mentor, but how’d you learn how to sell? Who taught you how to sell?
Justin Welsh: Great question. So Ryan was my boss and he was a really awesome sales person. And, he taught me, he didn’t teach me how to sell. I think he’d probably agree with this, he taught me to stop blaming everybody else for my problems. And that was like a really interesting mindset shift for me.
He’s listen, man, this is New York city. This is a startup. Like you’re gonna either figure it out or you’re gonna get fired. And I was like, man, I don’t wanna get fired again. And so that was a good mindset shift. So there wasn’t forums as much back in 2009 and stuff like that. So I was really lucky because there was like a sales guy hired ahead of me named Javier Rosis who’s gone on to do really great things. There were other salespeople hired around me, Matt Gutu, one of my best friends to this day. And suddenly I was surrounded by incredibly talented salespeople. And so we taught each other.
And one thing that’s really cool about being in New York is, at the end of your day, what do you do? You go out and you have happy hour, right? Yeah. You’re young men, 28 years old, what you have, you’re pumped full energy and what are you doing? You’re arguing with each other.
No, I sell better than, this is how I would have done it. Oh, this is how I would have handled that objection. And you actually learn through almost like fighting, so it was just really interesting to all be all, be hyper competitive. And to me that was, how I learned.
Andy Paul: if you were to think about it in the context, same question on context of sellers today, right? Cause you’ve worked at a number of startups is, and you support startups. It’s a question I’m really curious about because we spend all this money. $20 billion a year, supposedly in the US on sales training, and yet when I ask people how they learn, how to sell. And if I say I give five choices, assuming you learn from your own experience, that’s just a given, between coaches, your peers, as you talked about, customers, your own self development or company paid training. If you had to assign percentages to all of those, so they go a hundred percent, where do you think most sellers are these days?
Justin Welsh: What do I think they are? Or where do
Andy Paul: In terms of where they’ve learned, where-
Justin Welsh: Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Got it. I think the majority of people learn selling in two places. They learn through their own self development. I think that’s what makes curious salespeople so excellent. And they learn from their peers. That’s what I truly believe.
And listen, I have great friends who run sales training programs and who run training consultancies and that’s awesome. And they definitely add value, but I think, boy, if it were me and I had to pick two it’s, I’m online looking at YouTube, I’m Googling, I’m reading blog posts on sales hacker, and then I’m going, and I’m chopping it up with my here’s during the sales day, I’m out at lunch, discussing objection, handling. I’m talking about the best way to, set it up for a contract to close business.
Like those are the two areas to me that are most meaningful and have the highest impact. I don’t know. I’ve never really gone through a company training before and been like I am a phenomenal seller, having gone through this training to me, it’s self development and peer development.
Andy Paul: So what’s that in terms of how we should be enabling sellers, how to sell?
Justin Welsh: Wow. That’s another really great question. I think especially now, so let’s do it in the context of where we are right now with COVID. I think we’re going to start cutting real estate expenses across the board and because you’re going to cut real estate expenses, suddenly you’re going to have an extra few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars depending on the size of your business to invest in your business. And what I truly believe should happen is that there should be a stipend. And that we should invest a particular amount of dollars in every single person in our organization to allow them to self-educate. I want my salespeople buying courses. I want them going to webinars. I want them listening to podcasts. I want them subscribing to Patreon accounts of the top performers. I want them spending money on behalf of the company to further educate themselves, because what I’ve found is, when you educate yourself, you tend to remember more of those and you tend to want to continue to consume that type of knowledge.
That’s where I think it’s going to go. I think it’s going to go to very regular stipends. If it’s not already there in many companies. I hope it goes that direction. And, I think the last thing is you’re going to start to see even stronger, like buddy systems and trainings. I know when I built my last sales organization, one thing that I love we had, we didn’t just have a manager. We had an onboarding manager, like a person who was distinctly responsible for the beginning of your career at our business. And then they pass you on to another manager who was distinctly responsible for managing your career, in your full time role. And you always had buddies like it’s an ecosystem training to me is an ecosystem. It’s not a classroom for two weeks. It is a continuous learning environment fostered by a really smart company.
Andy Paul: Yeah. first of all, to the point you’re making there is sales is an apprenticeship and we seem to want to try to defy that. And the fact is, people learn at their own pace, but they also learn primarily through other people that they’re working with, like your peers that you’ve talked about.
And we seem to have lost patience, it’s like, gosh, we have to onboard people in 90 days. And it’s yeah, but yeah, this person is really great person. It may take them twice as long. Are we putting them in the right context and with the right people to learn from.
Justin Welsh: Yeah, I agree. But the flip side is the pressure, right? Most startup, most startups now are venture backed and there’s pressure from the top too. I just did a talk on this this morning, to increase likelihoods and Yeah, it might. It’s interesting that Bill takes eight months to ramp and Cindy only took three.
And unfortunately, while Bill might be great, five months from now, my game is, my game is managin likelihoods. And the first three months of Bill’s career, and this example suggests that he’s going to go the way of the poor performer. And if it’s going to be Bill or it’s going to be me, it’s going to be Bill. And, I unfortunately have to move on to a higher likelihood person and that’s the environment that we’ve created. And it’s double edged sword.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I think the problem is that yes, that’s us startup environment. I’ve worked for too many venture funded startups to remember, but you know, the world is not venture funded startups. And so these issues we have extend far beyond, I think some of the culture from the startups has sort of, invaded other more mainstream companies and they sort of do it the same way when they really, they don’t need to.
I love your idea about the stipend. I believe that’s absolutely a way we should be going. Instead of spending tons of money on sort of, formalized training. I would take a step further though, which is that I would have at least for sales, salespeople’s part of their compensation is that we, and I don’t know how we do this yet, but I’ve been thinking about us. How do we establish a baseline each year of what they know and what they’re going to learn? And then part of the compensation is did they improve? Did they invest in it. And did they improve as part of that? Yeah, I was talking to a group of startups CEOs, as matter of fact, not all startups, but some more mature they’re private equity portfolio companies.
and you had this conversation with them about it. are you, why are you raising quotas next year? Who’s raising quotas. How much are you raising now? It’s okay, great. I think the average is 12% or something and it’s Alright, who’s invested in their people to make sure your people are 12% better next year. It’s dead silence.
Justin Welsh: Of course.
Andy Paul: No one ever tries to correlate it, but we’re going to keep raising the goals. We have to have a, equal investment in making, helping our people improve.
Justin Welsh: A hundred percent. I’m huge. And I’m huge. And again, I want companies to unlock the potential for someone to invest in themselves. There are lots of people who want to invest in themselves. There are salespeople who say, I’m looking for mentors, I’m looking for guidance, I’m looking for information.
But a lot of times that stuff costs money. And so they’re actually prohibited from improving. And to me, that shouldn’t be on them. If I hear about another person, who’s like my company wouldn’t pay for this so I paid for myself. That makes me so frustrated. if I have another, I’m just going to scream.
So for me, I think it is really unlocking the potential for someone to invest in themselves. Now, once you do that, the next question becomes, do they. And if they don’t, then that’s a different story, but you’re going to have a- I truly believe that intrinsically, most people are pretty motivated at some point in their life.
And that, we have to make an assumption. We have to assume positive intent when we give out a stipend and assume that a large majority of our folks will invest in themselves.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I agree. So I was just thinking, I’d seen you had commented on, there was this post I think Scott Leese had done it recently, but, we’re talking about online and advice and so on. Is, should there be like some public way of rating or calling out what they thought was bad sales advice?
Justin Welsh: Yeah, I saw that.
Andy Paul: What’s your thought about that?
Justin Welsh: Yeah. I said, no, like I said, only if there is no possible way that- If that advice is objective really bad in it, any arena, then you might do that. I can think of a few times where people have given advice online that is objective bad. It’s terrible advice. Nope. No matter what business you’re a part of. There was one person who recommended that, it’s a good thing to sandbag your deals. And I just don’t agree with that. I think that in no way, shape or form, is that ever good advice?
Andy Paul: What was their motivation for saying that? You mean to carry something from period to period?
Justin Welsh: Yeah. So that you should manipulate your comp plan because no one else is looking out for you. I just thought, I think when you sand bag deals, you have a chance of losing them. So for many other reasons, do I do it for many other reasons do I think that’s really terrible advice.
And I don’t even remember if I called them out on that specific one. I think I did on something else. But either way, if it’s objectively bad than I, I say sure. But advice is so subjective. What is good advice in one industry, vertical, sales cycle, ASP, may not translate well to another.
And so oftentimes, I don’t want to do that because I feel like, Oh, this might resonate with someone somewhere. And then another thing is I don’t know, part of the way I feel about people is natural selection. Like it’s in, it’s on you to figure out who’s got good advice and who’s full of, whatever crap.
And, and, if you can’t do that, then you lose and that’s unfortunate, but like it’s part of life. And it’s part of the responsibility of you as a person is to figure out who the right people are in the right advices. So I don’t like that. I don’t like calling people out. I just think. I don’t know, I’m all about positive energy. And when people are like negative online and get into arguments, I just, I don’t like to participate in that. I just block those people. I’m positive energy guy.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I think there’s, and I agree, I don’t jump into those debates either. But there seems to be an increasing amount of it. It seems like people are afraid of something and I’m not sure what they’re afraid of. That you, I think sometimes sales managers get so controlling that. Yeah, what’s the word that something like we’ll learn something and actually try it and not do it the way they want it done.
Justin Welsh: I have a different take on it. Here’s my take. Let’s think of it. Let’s think of a sports team people hate. People hate Duke Blue Devils basketball, people hate Ohio State football. You want to know why.
People hate those teams because they’re good. That’s why they hate them. No one hates like Wichita State basketball, unless you’re like their rival. And the reason that they hate them is because they’re good.
And I think that naturally, if you gain traction in anything, whether it’s posting on LinkedIn or being a sales manager that’s winning a lot of awards, you get people angry. And generally you get people angry because they’re projecting their own frustrations onto you. And, I think that’s frustrating. I think that’s where trolls come from.
I think that’s where a lot of these unhappy people online saying really nasty things about people all the time comes from. And I don’t know, I just refuse to participate in that sandbox. I get out of that and I go play in another one.
Andy Paul: Yeah. And I, when I thought so I thought that whole questions sort of misses the point, which is that, the primary source of sales advice to sellers, isn’t coming from LinkedIn, it’s coming from their sales manager. If we have, as CSO insights research says, if we have fewer than 50% of reps making quota, then the primary source of questionable advice to our sellers is really coming from sales managers. Shouldn’t we be, to our point about where we spend our training dollars. Shouldn’t we be doing more to enable our sales managers, as opposed to worrying about what people publish on LinkedIn?
Justin Welsh: Oh yeah. I think that, I’m just, sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off there, Andy, but I just wanted to want to round that out. Like I think there needs to be a whole reimagination of who is a sales manager, like Michael Jordan, great ballplayer, terrible coach. And it’s because he’s naturally gifted and it’s I know so many salespeople who become managers in, when they go to explain how they sell or why they tick or how they tick or why it works the way it works. It just, it doesn’t translate. And I think we need to reimagine, is it top performers who always need to be sales managers? Because in my opinion, I’ve seen middle performers who have good fundamental skills and good people skills and good coaching skills turn into be incredible sales managers and CEOs. And and so I think it’s a reimagination of the entire role.
Andy Paul: So how would you reimagine it? Because I, I agree. I think there’s a lot of things we need to radically rethink in sales. I think that’s one of them. Because I think that, for whatever reason, whether because we’re promoting the wrong people, whatever, is my current hypothesis on this is that if you look at performing, or excuse me, improving sales performance as a process, and every process has a rate determining step, is I think the right determining step in helping improve the performance of individual reps is the rate at which sales managers improve themselves.
Justin Welsh: Yeah, I think that’s probably true. I don’t, I haven’t given enough thought, to give you how I might reimagine it, but I think that we need to start thinking about what are, and I know companies are thinking about this already, so don’t let me s uggest that they aren’t, but what are really the core fundamental skills that make a good manager, not who is the best sales person on my team.
And in that I think the latter is how companies think most commonly, but it’s because of pressure, right? It’s because oftentimes salespeople, they want to get out of the field. They want to get, they want to stop selling. They want to move into leadership roles because that’s the traditional linear path to growth. And, so I think have another direction to go. So what you get is you get bottoms up pressure from the sales person saying, I want to move my career forward. You get top down pressure from your CEO, says, Oh, Gary’s the best salesperson on the team. Let’s make him a manager. And here you are as a VP of sales or a CRO and you’re stuck in between saying, I don’t know. I don’t think Gary’s way of selling is going to translate very well. And how do you start? How do you start as that. Person is that executive with an average tenure of 16 months, how do you buy the time to reimagine that role while it has to be done across the entire industry.
And so I don’t have the answer, but that’s a frustrating challenge that I think about frequently.
Andy Paul: I think you’re touched on something though, too, is that so much of the, or so many of the behaviors that we adopt as sales managers and so on, at least in the startup environment are really driven by fear.
Justin Welsh: Yes.
Andy Paul: And the inability to change is really one of the critical points. That’s all. I think holding back sales, I’m having a conversation with somebody last week who has done tremendous amount of research into sales rep productivity and not looking at activity based productivity, but actually productivity from a dollar per hour generated or, dollars per hour sales time generated.
And the conversations are based around the ideas that yeah, individual sellers today are probably actually less productive than sellers were 30 years ago before the tech revolution. And it should not be that way at all. But I think we’ve. I said people are so afraid to change
Justin Welsh: And in tech.
Andy Paul: we, and we think there’s been all this change, but we’ve had tech, but I still can turn that sales is basically managed the way we manage sales a hundred years ago.
Justin Welsh: Yeah. in tech is if you have a great sales team, And you put in really good tech, you have a better sales team. If you have a really crappy sales team and you put in good tech, you still have a really crappy sales team. And so oftentimes like, different tech solutions are used as a bandaid and they are used as a reason to not coach as hard or, not right, not write great emails or, not learn how to do cold prospecting.
And I think where tech really helps is when you’re teaching the basics and the fundamentals and you have. Tech is like a house and selling skills are like the foundation. You can only really build on top of a sturdy foundation. I know it’s an overused analogy, it’s a, it’s a.
Sturdy foundation that’s that’s required. And I just think that too often, and again, I think it’s because of fear. I think it’s like, Oh, I just became a sales manager. I gotta prove myself. Or I just became a VP. I got 12 months or I’m fired, two quarters in a row I miss I’m done in. I don’t know.
I just think is in, until someone takes a step back and says, and by the way, I think this is starting to happen with some of the stuff that happened at WeWork and things like that. I think efficiency. It’s starting to become more important. I think growth at all, costs is going out the window. And I think it’s that growth at all costs mentality that’s been around for the last, however many years. That’s driven a lot of that fear and driven a lot of that, poor behavior.
Andy Paul: Okay. One other thing I want to get into before we let you go, is, you talk a lot about sales people building a personal brand.
Justin Welsh: I do.
Andy Paul: And so why do you think that’s important?
Justin Welsh: I think, I think Dave Gerhardt put it really well today on LinkedIn. He said, think of your personal brand as your reputation. It’s your reputation online. And to me right now, like we just went through a pandemic and what happened? Everyone got rift. So many people got laid off and when you get laid off ,and that’s just one scenario, what do you have to fall back on?
Are you Jim, the account executive who, I can’t really tell if you’ve been successful or are you Marry the account executive who I see online sharing, good content. I see being really thoughtful and really caring and having really meaningful things to say, I see your awards. I see your numbers.
I get to know you as a human being. You build a network. And suddenly you’re networking your way to your next job pretty quickly. You’re networking your way to your next promotion pretty quickly. And to me, it’s what was once the business card is now your online persona is now your personal brand.
And people are like, who cares? LinkedIn is stupid or Facebook or whatever. And that’s great, but I have connected, and I know other people have connected in my network with so many influential people on that platform that at this point in my career, maybe some other folks aren’t there, but keep doing it right.
They’ll do it that, so many folks that if you find yourself in a scenario where you need a job, or you need a recommendation, or you need to make a hire, or you need to buy a piece of tech, like you can go to your network and instantly you have a hundred people that are like, let me help you.
I’ve done this before, and I’ve done it really successfully. And I know all the pitfalls and why wouldn’t you want that? Like it shouldn’t be based on your company. This is your profile. This is your online persona, not your companies. This is you. So invest in yourself in that way. And to me, you’ll never be jobless.
You’ll never be without a recommendation.
Andy Paul: Which I agree. And so the other point though, is what about from the brand actually helping somebody sell
Justin Welsh: Yeah. it
Andy Paul: the networking career stuff is great. Got another point. If we have time, we’ll get into about that, but. It seems like ultimate value has to be yeah. Is a prospect or a buyer’s gonna look at the things you share, the point of view, you have the things that you’ve done, your recommendations, and they may say, yeah, this is somebody we want to talk to.
Justin Welsh: Yeah, it depends. It depends on if your prospects play on the platform, right? At PatientPop doctors aren’t super active on the platform. Our buyers aren’t there, but I’ll tell you who is there? Our candidates. So like I worked there, Kevin Dorsey works there like Derek Jankowski, Jesse Getler, people who have, Sam Lewis, people who have really good brands online. And when people, when we’re going to make a hire, it’s pretty darn easy, right? Like, I want to work for Kevin Dorsey. I want to work for Sam Lewis. I want to work for Derek Jankowski. So there’s benefits, not just in selling, but there’s benefits in hiring, but then you take it on the flip side, you want to talk about benefits and selling. Look at the Gong team. Like Sarah, Braziers all over the place. Her buyers are online. It is what it is. That’s just an example of a company investing in their people to buy software. And, there’s other companies out there doing that really effectively.
There’s the guys over at Gravy, which is, I, I think in North Carolina’s small company, but they’re all over the place. And whenever they need to make a sale, like it’s likely that their CEO. And I think that opens doors for making sales. So that’s, I think there’s a huge benefit there. And I just advocate that people do it all the time.
Andy Paul: Oh, I agree. A hundred percent. so what are the sort of the keys to building the brand? And just again, we had about five minutes here is what are the things people should focus on?
Justin Welsh: I think the first thing that people should focus on is treating their profile like a landing page. So you gotta be interesting and you have to garner interest in three to five seconds. I think Donald Miller and his book Building a Story Brand call calls it, the cave, the caveman test, can caveman and grunt in three seconds and know what you do. And so for me, it’s like designing your page in a way that guides people naturally down through it. So that they get all the way through it and read a lot about you and get to know you a lot. And so I always say, start with the banner, move to the headshot, get your one line in there.
Who are you? Who do you help? And what do you help them? And then drive them down to that featured section. That section should be, demo or whatever you’re selling, whatever you want people to click on, call to action, call to value. I think that’s really important. And I think the next thing is to really identify who is your ICP?
That you want to make content for and get really right. Really figure out who that buyer is. Or if you’re, you want to build a network who those people are that you want in your network and write content for those people. And the easiest way to write content is to document what you’re doing every day.
We’re all learning something every day. We’re all solving problems every day. We’re all, solving unique challenges every day, right? Write about that every day, you solve something, you just forget, take a note, write about it. Take people on a journey that is a huge, kind of piece of advice that I read early on that helped me frame up mine.
And then I think last but not least be authentic, Don’t try and be someone else don’t try and be intentionally divisive. Like we have enough division in this country, in world at this moment. Just be authentic, be kind, be compassionate, be empathetic. I know those are all cliche buzzwords, but do it. Be yourself and add value to the community and don’t do a lot of asking, do a lot of giving.
Andy Paul: All right. Justin, unfortunately run out of time, but if people want to learn about what you’re doing now, how can they connect with you?
Justin Welsh: Sure. Two sides of my business, but you can learn about them both at my website, which is theofficialjustin.com. And I’ve got a consulting side where you can learn about how I help SMB Saas founders, or you can click on my personal branding section, if you want to learn about how I help folks build personal brands on LinkedIn.
Andy Paul: Perfect. Justin, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Justin Welsh: Andy. You’ve been a real pleasure on my side as well. Thanks for having me on man. Great to get a chance to meet ya.
Andy Paul: Yeah, we’ll talk again soon. Alright.