Culture starts at the top, with Alex Newmann

podcast Oct 04, 2021

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Repeatable Revenue Podcast #008 - with Alex Newmann

Summary:

Ray is joined by Alex Newmann to discuss how to develop employees and build a company culture from the ground up. Alex is the CEO of Newmann Consulting Group. He was the co-founder & CEO at FinanceFuel, COO at Storefront, founder & CRO at TechDay & VP of Sales at PivotDesk.

Topics Include:

  • The crossover between sales and tech startups

  • How storytelling informs sales

  • The value of an MBA

  • Alex's transition from sales into management

  • The skills required to be in a leadership position

  • Learning sales as an executive

  • Building courses or programs as a sales expert

  • How to build a company culture

  • Developing employees

  • And other topics...

     

Resources Mentioned:
Alex Newmann – https://www.alexnewmann.com/
Kevin Dorsey's Patreon Page – https://www.patreon.com/insidesalesexcellence
Marcus Chan's Sales Resources – https://www.marcuschan.io/resources-1
Scott Leese's Surf and Sales – https://www.surfandsales.com/
https://www.coursera.org/
https://www.skillshare.com/
https://www.saleshacker.com/

Website: www.rayjgreen.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/raymondgreen



Transcript:

Ray J. Green: Welcome to the show, Alex,

Alex Newmann: Good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, happy to have you. I've been looking forward to this for a few weeks, man. So, I know for you have a great story, like a sales story in terms of the work with startups and how you got into sales and into sales leadership.

So just for listeners, can you give a little background on how you got into sales and management?

Alex Newmann: Yeah, so I started off in sales, doing Cutco knives, so door to door and appointments, and did that for a couple of years for college, came out, went through Wells Fargo, did the whole business banking route. I had five bosses at one time and I just was like, life is too short, this is not for me. I left and I joined the startup world was really interested in tech, went to a company as a sales rep. It was a telecom startup in Denver and kind of worked my way up addition by subtraction. So people started quitting and so I started working, moving my way up inside of this small little startup, and ended up, going back to grad school, always wanting to go to grad school, went to CU Boulder, and I needed to get an internship in between the two years.

And a mentor friend of mine said you should check out my friend's company. He just started it like weeks ago, I was called pivot desk, it's like Airbnb for office space and I said, cool, what the hell is Airbnb? So I did my research, loved commercial real estate before I was in telecommunications and I worked with a lot of commercial real estate brokers for leads.

And it was kind of a crossroads of techno and real estate. So I jumped into that and it was from the very, very beginning that I was a salesperson, and I just kind of started creating everything and ended up becoming the manager and DP of sales and kind of worked my way up and figured out what I needed to figure out and, found mentors for myself, where I needed in Techstars was really good, for kind of a launch point as well.

We went through that and found some great mentors. So, kind of got a crash course in sales leadership made probably every mistake that a person could make, learned a lot, and luckily enough, we had enough money that I was able to scale up pretty good and have gone on to do a lot of sales coaching, and consulting and turn around and acceleration all kinds of different things.

Ray J. Green: That's awesome. So you, I mean, that is sales fundamentals. I mean, I've done some door-to-door, managed some door-to-door sales teams. And, how would you say, how did what you learned in sales fundamentals in that environment carry over into the tech space?

Alex Newmann: I would say that it's where I was lucky enough that I got to make every single mistake from a sales rep's point of view at a very young age so that I got the learning right away.

I have a very much of a never quit mentality and I'm kind of obsessed with figuring it out. So when I started Cutco, it was $15 for appointment, and I know that I had a great work ethic and I figured that really care if I sold anything, it was just go out, do the appointments and you make money, and I figured I could do X amount of appointments every single week.

And I can make some good money, and one of the things that I learned really quick is if we don't sell anything, your boss is probably going to get mad and want to let you go. So I did one of the, I don't know, I did a hundred or so appointments and I sold like a hundred dollars or something, it was insane.

And I vividly remember my manager saying, like bringing me into his office. And he's like "I've never seen in the history of this company, anyone do this many appointments and not selling" and he was like I gotta let you go, you're just not good. And, kind of begged for my job and begged for help and beg for me to stay.

He gave me another chance and that's where I got a grasp course in true sales. When I actually started selling it was. I wasn't following a process, I wasn't listening to the customer, I was doing kind of what I wanted.

The places that I was insecure about asking for the order, talking about price, I just stopped doing it. It was almost like I gave this presentation and right when I was about ready to do the ask, I just close shop and say, thank you very much and walk out the door.

So I learned really, really quick. You have to follow the process, you have to be disciplined, you have to go for the close, you have to ask.

Can't just assume that they know that what they're going to, that they're going to buy or that they know what's going to happen, you have to be to tie the actual gain to your customer. So, I remember that we used to be able to like cut a penny and cut a rope and cut all these like materials. Well, people don't use kitchen knives to cut rope and pennies and these different things.

So being able to bring some type of fruit or vegetable or something that they could cut, really just kind of put that use case in their mind, whether it was cutting bread or tomato or whatever it is. So it really set me off on the right track, after making a lot of mistakes, and then it got to the point where I was doing appointments and I was trying to figure out, how do I sell on every afloat?

Before I sell bigger deals or increase your average order size, and that's when I started really digging in, and this is all on Cutco about how to upsell, how to ask for the order and then continue to push, how to really tie in what the people are talking about so your buyers ask them, for example, how do they cook? What do they cook? And really tying in the use cases to what they do? Into what you're selling, and that's one of the things that has kind of stuck with me throughout all these years is, you really want to ask the questions upfront do your discovery correctly, and your in your close rates will actually skyrocket.

If you just focus on you and talk about you in the beginning and how great you are and how great your product is and your company is. So what, like who cares? Nobody cares, what you do they care why you do it, and when you can tell it in a story format, it's just like a movie trailer, people buy into that. They're attracted that story, they want to hear what the rest of the story is, they want to hear what the ending is, I mean, think of a bad movie that you watched and you've sat through just so you could see what was going to happen at the end, and you knew what was going to happen at the end, you just wanted to see it.

It's the same idea is that it's cracking the story works really, really well, whether you're in SMB sale or marketplace or enterprise, whatever it is like when you have their attention and you bought into that pain, like you can guide them to purchase, you're not gonna convince them to doing.

Ray J. Green: Yeah. It's interesting, when I think of like that the Cutco model and I sometimes think of it as that was before digital marketing, right? Like that was sales was marketing.

I'm going to knock on your door, you may not have been unaware. I mean, some TV ads, things like that, but for all intents and purposes like that last mile marketing was the sales team.

Is that you mentioned the process is the sales process from a model like that just completely fundamentally different than what you see in tech companies that probably do a better job of getting the customer further along before they talk to the sales team?

Alex Newmann: Not, no, the quick answer is no, I would stay that the model has changed a lot, due to the amount of information that's available, so a lot of the questions were a lot of what you would Google today that you would try to educate, like buyers would educate themselves.

So I look at things in a buyer's process so I have this problem I'm thinking about it, or I'm trying to think of his use case all the way to what is the actual purchase and kind of decision committee look like back then? I mean, it was, you had nothing, you had no information, you really had whatever the sales rep was kind of telling you, or maybe some of the advertisements or maybe your own personal experience.

So there wasn't nearly as much outside information that can influence, but it didn't change the way that like your tone, your confidence, did you come off as salesy or creepy? Did you come off as educated? Like those things don't change, and instead of trying to just jump steps, and saying "Hey, I work at Cutco, here's the knife. Do you want to buy it?" It's walking them through this buying process about seeing themselves use it, putting it in their hands, like talking about their use, like what talk a week look like for cooking with the family, and all of a sudden they're saying, well, how much does this cost? Versus are you ready to buy it? And so when you stop focusing on trying to convince somebody to sell something and just start from trying to figure out what the pain is and just latching onto that pain and guiding them to understand how they can solve that pain.

I don't think anything's really changed has the order changed and the speed that you kind of go through some of the steps, sure. But I think an educational sale and being confident in the products that you're selling and confident in the solution solving that pain. I don't think that's changed.

Ray J. Green: And creepy as a salesperson as bad in no matter how you look at it, yeah?

Alex Newmann: I think that, yes that would be a big goal.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, it's universal. You went back the MBA, I wanted to ask you because there's, especially in the entrepreneurial community and in the startup community there's this, an MBA is not necessarily worth it.

And I'm just curious your opinion, you wanted to go back, you did. How valuable or not has it been in getting you where you are today?

Alex Newmann: So I went back mainly because both of my parents have graduate degrees and it's just something that I've always wanted, and then from that decision, I decided what I want to get out of it.

I knew at the time having come out of the corporate world, working in a little bit of the startup world, That big corporate world was just not for me, and so I knew that I didn't want to go to this Ivy league school to be able to get this corporate job that made all of this money. I knew that just was not for me.

I was planning on going to California for school, and I was living in Colorado, I'd actually weird. I was living in Denver and I've never been to Boulder, which is like 45 minutes away, and I finally had a friend tell me drive up here, talk to me, let's walk around the campus, learn about what the school is about.

And I fell in love and it really came down to, I knew I wanted to be in entrepreneurship. My family and generalism are big entrepreneurs, and one of the things that I've always learned is you just bet on yourself. My uncle always said, if you learn how to sell, you'll never go hungry, and I took that to heart. He built his own companies, and it's his work ethic.

There's no quick fixes, there's no shortcuts, like you gotta put it in the work, whether you put it in the work now, or you put it in the world later, you still gotta put in the work. It's just kind of when you choose to do it. And I didn't have the money to go to some of these big schools.

I didn't have the loans and the things like that, that I wanted to kind of take on the debt, and I kind of looked at it and said, Hey, I want to bet on myself with the sole notion that I knew I was going back to school for the network, I was lucky enough that Boulder has Techstars and Foundry group and a phenomenal kind of early stage tech community.

And that's kind of more luck for me cause I didn't know, that's what I wanted right away versus going on to a, say Silicon Valley or going out into Boston and MIT and that kind of area in New York. So, I got lucky a little bit on the entrepreneurship front tech wise, but not entrepreneurship wise, and I had a great network, people are super nice, everybody in Boulder is RA, sometimes a little bit too ra-ra but they're very open, they're very helpful. It's a great place to really build a company, and for that, like the network that I built was fantastic, and so my MBA did what it was supposed to do. I got an MBA in finance and venture capital, and one of my mentors and teachers was Jason Mendelson at Poudre group.

So I got, I guess, doubly lucky that way. I would recommend an MBA if you actually understand what it's supposed to do for you, like it is a tool and I would use it as a tool to get to what you want to do.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, that's a good answer. When I was considering going back to get my MBA, my mentor at the time said, you go back for three reasons, like an MBA.

There's the network, there's the actual learning in the curriculum, and then there's the initials. You have an MBA and if you want one of the three, it's probably going to cost less if you want all of the three, it's probably gonna cost more, but just understanding what is it you want out of this?

Why are you pursuing this? And then go accordingly.

Alex Newmann: Yeah, I mean, I did finance in undergrad, so I wasn't about to go back to MBA school and go out, well, you know what, there's 12 financial statements like that assumed that wasn't going to happen.

So, I kinda knew what I was getting myself into. I mean, it's a nice refresher, just the time that you have, and I went full-time, I didn't do like an evening program the time that it takes to figure out what you wanted to do. I didn't know if I wanted to stay in sales, I didn't know where I wanted to go, I went to events in the natural space and green, I went in oil, gas.

I was in CPG, I was all over the map and I kind of gravitated towards tech because that's where really just my passion was, and my actions spoke louder than what I've said, and I noticed that I was constantly going to events and, I had a really, really great time with it, and I used it as a tool.

I used it as the ability to say, Hey, I have a little bit of a reset. I think I was 27, 28, something like that when I went back and it did what it was supposed to do for me at the time of my life and the stage of my career and what I was trying to accomplish, it did exactly what it was supposed to do,

Right now, I think people are using it for some good reasons and some bad reasons, and as I think you should be asking yourself, like at the end of this, what am I trying to achieve? And then you should be able to decide, is it right for you school? All that.

Ray J. Green: Begin with the end in mind.

Absolutely.

So you sold yourself back into Cutco, and then you stayed in sales, you did well in sales and you said you ended up becoming manager.

What was the story, your first management role? How did that, how did that evolve?

Alex Newmann: So it evolved because the manager quit and move to a different state and there was nobody else left. And I was the only person that actually understood how to make sales.

 I of got to by default, we had a couple other reps and I love the, go get more reps, that was a task that I had. So what is recruiting and hiring? I've never done it before, and it was just interesting, I've learned a lot, so I used to be a phenomenal sales rep.

And I knew how to sell, I know how to sell them very good at it for the place that I really struggled with was could I articulate what it is that I did in order to teach somebody else how to do it? And it's not that my way, isn't the only way, which of course, when I was younger, that's what I thought, but I couldn't even articulate what it is that I did in order to teach somebody else.

And it was always a just watch what I do get out of my way, but watch what I do and learn, and I would, I used to say this phrase religiously, which is funny cause then now I never say it is, it used to come down to, I don't understand why you don't understand, and it was always my, I couldn't understand why after watching me do what I do, you couldn't figure it out.

Or if I told you that weren't one time, you couldn't figure it out and. Fell pretty hard on my face, had some pretty intense conversations with a lot of different reps, as well as the owner.

I learned, and I studied and I read books and that's when LinkedIn was coming out more and content marketing was becoming a bigger thing and started to find some mentors.

And I learned about Techstars and I learned about all these different types of places where you can actually self-educate yourself, self coach yourself and again, it kind of comes back to the same similar understanding was this never quit mentality. And I knew I wanted to build my own company and I knew I couldn't do it alone.

 I knew I needed to learn those skills and being a manager and being a leader is completely different than being a salesman. So in the same soft skills are still there of course.

Being a manager is not about you, it's about them and helping them sell more. I remember, very, very first, Techstars mentor that I ever spoke to was Keenan, way, way, way back, many years ago, and I remember one of the things that he told me was like, realized that as the sales leader, your job is simply to help them sell more. I mean, he said a million other things with it, but he said, they're going to sell whether you're there or not, your job is to help them sell more.

So I took that to heart and I've learned a lot of different ways to really articulate it and learn and listen, and then kinda you find your different places, then obviously the data and the metrics and all that, it was started to help create insights. But that was a huge learning for me. People just learn in different ways, and following what I specifically knew is not the only way to learn.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, in helping them somewhere, the word that kind of stands out to me is helping them, instead of there's some, a mindset, especially with new managers that it's to make them some work, like my job is to make you sell more, and when you adopt the mindset of I'm here to help you, I clear the blockers, I get you, the tools I helped with coaching. That's my job is to help and support you, not make you do something.

Alex Newmann: Yeah. I think as soon as you try to tell people what to do, I get it right. As a manager, as a leader, you kinda need your people to do certain things, but there's the what, and then there's the why, and if you can get them to buy into the why they need to do something, especially the how to like how to do it and how to do it effectively.

Right. Ah! you need to set more meetings and you need to make more calls, okay, like help me understand why, and then others help me understand how to do it, like get into the trenches and show me if you were this hot shot sales rep back in your previous life, show me that you still got it.

The times of selling today are much different than they are years ago from like tactical point of view, the process is still the same, but like how you can go about it. And at Cutco, we used to do it and tell, celebrate, we just tell people what they're doing, that doesn't work anymore, we used to do conveys.

It kind of works today. If you really stretch it now, I mean, what is consultative selling or what is challenger selling? You kind of have a flavor and a mix of a lot of these different types of methodologies and what used to work doesn't necessarily back in the day, it doesn't necessarily work.

Ray J. Green: You mentioned that you went out and kind of learned this intentionally, like deliberately, and I know you work with some founders this way too, but we work with a lot of founders CEOs that they know their business really well. That's how they started it, it's how they got it to where it is now, but they don't necessarily know sales or marketing.

And if they wanted to, if they wanted to do a crash course or just go dive in. If I'm a founder, CEO, and I want to go learn sales better right now, or sales management, where would you, what advice or what resources or what would you recommend?

Alex Newmann: There's a lot of different places. I'd probably avoid a lot of the long form course trainings.

I would get on LinkedIn, I would look at some of the things on, like a Coursera or a Skillshare, fine. Kind of the people who you vibe with their advice the most, there's a lot of sales advice being thrown out there right now. I think before you start listening to the advice, I think you just kinda hear what they're saying, understand who they are, understand their backgrounds, seeing kind of what you vibe with and what you don't, and then move forward.

You can reach out to people, so I think that it's very flattering when people reach out and say "Hey!, I think what you're saying is fantastic. Can I take 30 minutes and just get your insights around ABC topic and where you want to go from here? What do you think I should do this or that?"

I think get involved on LinkedIn is a fantastic way that, that you can really learn. It's kinda like in school when you would take notes, what the teacher was saying, and the more you wrote down, the more you consumed it, but if your friend just gave you their notes, you didn't really get it, didn't make all the sense it didn't work the same way.

So I think the biggest thing was get in there and you got to start trying it, whether it's courses like I have a course that people will buy and listen to you and that's great, it could be podcasts, I mean, there's a million free podcasts, just like this, where you're really just sharing a lot of great knowledge.

I think the sales hacker community is fantastic, they feel like they cover and exhaust every possible angle. I mean, when you look at somebody like a Kevin Dorsey who has a patrion group wildly successful, or a Marcus Chan these guys know their stuff, and they're really like at the pulse of what sales reps are doing and the things that they're dealing with, learn it right from people who are doing it today versus, reading a book that was probably actually written a year ago, took a while to get published and is more theory based like that was the hardest part for me was taking a book that I'd read and go, how do I actually translate this into my day to day? I can, I know that I took a bunch of like Gary V books and been like I'm going to copy this word for word.

And then it didn't work, pieces of it work, but you need to be able to adapt it. It's okay to ask for help, I feel like sales reps or a male female young, old doesn't matter, like it's okay to ask for help, I mean, how do you translate this asking targeted, like pinpoint questions versus, Hey, can I pick your brain on sales?

Like I have no idea where you're going with pick my brain on sales so, I think once that happens, you can start to you figure out who you vibe with, pick on, ways that you learn, whether it's audio with, whether it's video, whether it's something that you can download, like you can figure out what works well for you.

And I think the most important piece to it all is push it out into the world, especially as like a technical founder or like a non business sales hype founder, start with your friends. One of my clients is always says I made my pitch, I made it so that my grandma can actually understand what I do.

And, you know, tech can be very complicated at times if your grandma gets it, you probably simplified it enough for most people to understand. So try with your friendlies and your family and your friends, like they'll give you real feedback. You're not just gonna be like ra-ra all the time, as much as I think they will be.

Ray J. Green: Right, same audience, if you're an entrepreneur starting your business, because you've mentioned the sales process quite a bit. I know we've talked about that a lot before. When should founders or entrepreneurs or small business owners, when should they start thinking about really formalizing a sales process or creating sales playbooks that, is there a specific stage you usually advise people to start thinking about that?

Alex Newmann: So thinking about it, I'd say from the very beginning, I think that a lot of times you start too late. And I'm along the idea of build it as you go, with the tools these days, it's really easy to document things as you go create videos, record calls.

So when you understand the process, I mean, in the beginning, it's just the yes. I mean, there's some common sense in there, you can do some but when you're just starting out, how do people buy? Oh, that it goes from the meetings set to qualify the proposal to, close one type of thing.

And you just kind of fill in the gaps and you start to learn, and in the beginning you make mistakes and that's okay, you can hire people like you and me who can help you try to avoid a lot of those mistakes. There's plenty of business models and processes that are out there that if you have an enterprise sale or an SMB sale or a marketplace type business model, there are processes that you can use as a template.

And the goal was to confirm, improve. Yes, that works, maybe you need another step, maybe you need less of a step, but I would document it along the way to say, this is what I did, and I did this next step that I did this next, and while you're doing it, just write it all down on a simple Google doc or something that makes it really easy.

You talk to your clients or your prospects record the call, there's a, my Ted already says there's three sides to every story, there's your side, there's their side, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. And when I hear call recordings, I hear the rep say, one-on-one, this is what happened that listened to the call.

And I go, this is your version of it because something else happened different, and right then and there, you can improve your own pitch, you can prove your own process, you can talk about next steps and you're documenting the process along the way. You know, you edit, delete, add a new one, and then it's beautiful because as you're doing all of that, as long as you document it, you literally just created your own onboarding and training plan for any future reps that you do hire, whether they're sales or anybody else in the company.

But it all starts back to some type of universally understood process because otherwise you're going to get into some mess where everybody does something different, sell different, say seven different steps, and you're fixing issue that you could have proactively solved or avoided.

Ray J. Green: Right, yeah, that's good advice, and think about it early, but I mean, there's only so much you can do, you can end up overbuilding early on for something that you realize you had to take a right turn at some point, and it's no longer applicable you've wasted a lot of time and money.

Alex Newmann: Yeah, I mean, when I say it, you start from the beginning. I don't mean that you like down for an hour scheduled on your calendar day in and day out and say, okay, what's my process for this, and some of it can just be, this is kind of gut instincts and reactions to how to solve something. But if it worked take three minutes and write it down and say, these are the five things that I did, and this was the result.

So that if you have to do it again, go back and see if you tweak it and you get a better result or a worse result, it doesn't have to be this like overly obsessive thing, but if you just start to document the things that you do in the order that you do them, the processes kind of built for you, and it takes a lot of the pressure off yourself in the future because now you don't have to have this big, like implementation of a new process or every, everybody has to change what they were doing.

You kind of built it from the beginning and it's just kind of built in from the patient.

Ray J. Green: Right, I know we share some pretty strong opinions on culture in sales organizations, and I think it can be hard to quantify, I completely get that, but it's undoubtedly contributed to either the great successes that I've been part of or some demises that I've observed and I know, we agree on that, but you improved culture in one sales organization so much so that people were withdrawing their resignation letters, and I'm just curious, can you tell me that, just that experience, like what was going on? How did you identify it? How did you determine what you needed to do and then execute it? What is that story?

Alex Newmann: Yeah, so this is a couple of years ago is a global company that an investor friend of mine asked me that we get involved with two companies merged together probably six months before I got involved.

And on paper they had merged, but in actuality there was no merger, they were kind of just jammed together and everyone, there was just, I think it was like a massive email that said, "Hey, we are now one company and go for it" and come into the company and very similar to you before I do anything, I do like an audit, I just do like a listening tour and I walk around and I talked to all the different leaders and the different reps and the different employees and all the different departments, and in this case I was the kind of brought in as a COO, and one of the things that we did is just start listening to what people had said.

And I think it was the end of the first week that I got an email that said these are the five people that have handed in their resignation letters. It's very interesting when you're in Europe, they it's really hard to resign, it's like a long process, maybe it's changed since then or not, but it wasn't like, Hey, you quit that day or do you have two weeks? Like it was a multi-step process.

So we had a little bit of time, and so after the kind of doing my listening for things that I kind of learned were there was no intentional culture, there was no goals, there was no mission, there was no direction, so there was no place that the reps could all kind of rally around to say, this is what we're trying to achieve.

It was very much of, just go get more revenue, which not the greatest thing to kind of rally around, people understand that companies need to get more fun to do in order to grow, but are like why this company? why this team? Like, why is this solution? Let's buy into the people. I am a huge believer that people quit people, not organizations.

You could have the worst solution in the world, but if you have an awesome man manager, they can kind of make it pretty awesome and I was really focused and I talk transparently and from the heart, I said, "I can't change what has happened in the past, but I can change what happens in the future".

And we had a lot of leadership discussions, we had a lot of company-wide announcements and plans and strategies that said we are going to change this.

We've listened to the employees and I would say like the overarching theme was a thing nobody trusted anybody and for a while, and I would sure your time was I don't demand respect, I don't demand Russ. I earned it and I earn it with my actions and I earn it with what I've done, and that was able to, I guess a lot of the people who had quit and I'm sure there was other people that snuck through on me, but yeah, I vividly remember five people withdrawing their applications specifically because they said, Hey, we like where this is going we're buying into what you're saying and it changed.

And I've talked well since then say a lot of the things that I built on are still there today but it's one of those things where I used to think that I was at a customer-first kind of person and I'm not, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing to say, but I'm an employee first kind of person and, if you take care of your employees, your customers will benefit from it and if you treat them with respect like these aren't ponds, these aren't numbers, these aren't widgets, they got families, they got lives. They're not going to just kill themselves for he had just to, because they buy into something and, they buy into that vision in that.

When you actually speak from the heart, people want to be around those types of people. People don't want to be around assholes and who demand things and expect things and tell you what to do and never back it up, and that type of intentionality, I'm not saying like we want a fun culture.

I'm talking like actual true, like an intentional high integrity, trustful, respectful culture that we are all moving together in the same place to team, the same vision people buy into that.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, they do. I've experienced it firsthand in a couple of turnaround environments too and one thing that's always been helpful is at least from my standpoint, is when the change in culture is kind of preceded by a change in the business. So in your case, you were the new COO, so that change in and of itself it gets you there, and because of that I tend to think that there's people will open up, right?

Like if I haven't been working with you or you haven't, I don't feel like you've been part of the problem necessarily. So you can get people to open up if you're in the CEO role and, you just recognize your gut tells you it's not right, but it's tough to get people to open up to you. Cause I mean, I experienced the same thing when we do audits, when we initially I was surprised with people, how much they would just share with me and I was like, holy shit, I feel like I'm like a psychologist sometimes they have all this pent up energy and, they want better for the organization, but it's easier to kind of communicate that to an outsider or somebody that's new.

What kind of advice would you give or what recommendations would you make to a CEO or a sales VP that sends is what it is, but they've been there, they want to lead change without having necessarily flip over everything?

Alex Newmann: Yeah, no, it's interesting. I'm actually going through that with a couple of new clients now.

The best way I've ever done it is I let my guard down first. I do it both from a inside the company, like leader to employee, and I do it same way in sale cause I think a lot of prospects are kind of have their guard up, they assume they're going to get sold.

I think the key is the transparency around this isn't right, I think we can all agree, there's something wrong here like we can all do better and I think it humanizes you. I think it makes you like this person who people can go, all right, like you're not a robot, you're not this machine.

I made a lot of mistakes in my life. I worked really, really hard and there's times where I'm going a million miles an hour and I'm just plugging the machine and I take out the people factor and all of a sudden, all it takes is somebody on the, Hey, just like, stop, like slow down and like, what is going on here? You're going so fast that you don't even realize what you're actually doing and what I started to do was build like schedule time for reflection into my week and into my frankly, my months in the beginning.

But now I do it every week is this the look back and go, what's going on? Let me be a little bit more intentional from a people point of view, like what's working? What's not working? And really listening to your team yeah, you're the leader, you're supposed to know all the answers well, you know what, you don't, you don't know all the answers and it's okay that you don't all the answers.

The goal is to hire a bunch of really, really smart people, who can go do the things that the business needed to do and help as a whole educate everybody else and work together to build it and you can build that type of an organization, or you can build an organization that nobody wants to be in it and you're the only person that knows how everything works, you can never take a vacation, you got to work a million hours and everybody hates you and you have, Hey everybody just to stay. Right, I mean, it's just, I don't know. I look at it and go, oh, I was younger, right. I was earlier in my career like I remember the bosses and the things that they did and what I did and did not like, don't do that shit.

It's not that hard like it's not being an asshole.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, I remember as you started talking to her, where would one of my first VP of sales, we were in an inside sales environment and, there were grumblings or were, it wasn't completely dysfunctional, but it was going down and he said, all right, tomorrow, we're meeting up and he rented out a floor above us.

And we're like, this is probably going to be some cheesy team building or something, and we went upstairs and there were these tables out and he said, all right, everybody's pissed. Like, tell me why let's go, let's chat about it, like, you have immunity, absolute immunity, like nothing is going. I need to understand what is going on, I don't understand it and like one person spoke up and then another person spoke up and then there was just this flood of criticisms and not one time was he defensive? He's you said, okay, got it. That one, I can work with that one I can't, it was a very transparent conversation.

He was completely vulnerable and so it was, yeah, I've seen that. I've seen that work. That's good advice.

Alex Newmann: But the thing is, it takes the leaders like it has to come from the top because if it comes from a manager, it's gonna affect a very small portion of the people, but all of the other team members in other divisions and other departments are not going to buy into it. It has to come from the top and there's not everything has to come from the top, but this has to come from the top and it takes a lot to just kind of put your ego on the shelf because if you're the founder, right, you can get a bruised ego and you can, you know, you're yelling at my company and you're saying how much this sucks and that sucks, blah, blah, blah.

But it's also, it's not intentional or I should say it's not an attacking personal attack. It's why we're here, we bought in, this is something that I do, 50, 60, 70, whatever hours, every single week I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, like I'm telling you because I want to actually help listen, listen to me.

I mean, these people aren't stupid. They say it enough and, you don't listen. They're going to go get a job someplace else whether they are.

Ray J. Green: Right. It's actually, it leads a good segue into my next question that I've seen with several organizations recently, even with COVID and everything that the sales organizations are starving for good talent right now.

I mean, at least from what I've seen from SDR to AA, I mean all the way through finding really good people, it's always been hard in sales, but it seems because of the remote nature of things now. I mean, people in Silicon Valley, I can compete anywhere, you know, in terms of hiring people.

If you're building a sales organization and you want to be really competitive in and get the best people besides throwing money at it, I mean, obviously there has to be some money, but what would you do to make your sales organization more competitive for challenge right now?

Alex Newmann: I would learn how to develop employees. That's about as simple as I can get. Um, most people think that they're going to come into a company they're going to do their job and they want to get promoted and they want to learn new skills. And they want to believe that what they're doing is impacting the overall business it's bringing all forward.

I agree, and I think you need to communicate those things very appropriately. You have to have all of those things, but most importantly, like you have to develop people like you have to, they have to be curious, they have to be motivated, they have to be all of these things that you can look for and attributes.

But you need to kind of pour a little fuel on the fire for them, you need to spend time onboarding them, don't just throw them for PDFs and expect that they're going to figure it out, don't send them to your top sales rep and say, Hey, follow this person for two weeks. This is a time where there are a ton of jobs for AEs and SDRs and just, I don't know if you're in like the go-to market side of the house, you can pretty much get whatever salary you want, like right now. And you're going to have to pick and choose between different types of offers and if pay is the same and rank as the same similar type of position, like you buy into the people you buy into the culture you buy into, what's training look like, how do you invest in employees?

I'm sure you're similar. I talk to my clients like the actual reps who I work with and I talk about, I go your boss, like your leaders, Hey, a lot of money for me to come in and invest into you. You should be thrilled, do you have any idea how many companies don't do this? I'm not talking like giant companies like Verizon or Salesforce or whatever, they have massive departments.

I'm talking about small to medium-sized businesses who you can invest from the outside in, you can invest with your people and your managers and your leaders but if you focus on developing talent and you promote from within, and you do what you're say, you're going to do your employees aren't going anywhere, they're not going to jump ship to the next place, they're not going to be grass is greener on the other side.

And you know what they're going to do, they're going to refer their friends and then if somebody asks, Hey, where should I work? Word's going to spread around. I want to go work with those people, I want to work for that leader, I want to work for that CEO that's what you want. I mean, it's no different than customer, but look about like stop trying to convince people to stay after they give their notice and saying, here's another 10 grand, why do I want to work at a company that I've worked at for however many years? And then I quit and then you give me more money, how about you give me more money? And instead of even more money, invest in me, help me develop skills that I never thought about, or couldn't attain on my own where I needed to do better at my job. And maybe you don't need to hire as many people and you can just get the current employees to actually do more because they understand better.

That's the way I would look at it, like money is obviously mandatory like it is a part of, especially in the sales group like you have to be able to pay your people, but there's a lot more than just money and I think it focuses on developing and that's where I've got pretty much everybody that to kind of buy in and that's why the terms low.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, it's a really good point the development and as you've mentioned, even earlier, the understanding the why, when there's a mission and, the purpose and, we're rallying behind something.

It's always better to be in the boat with a team that you want to be part of it makes it harder to leave too and, then if they're developing you, one of the things I've thought about is that sales leadership is good or bad at scale, right? Cause you're one sales manager, as, you know, 10 people, if they suck at their job, that's 10 people at they're effecting, but all the resources, not all, but primarily most of the resources that companies invest are into the 10 less into the one and that's where you really have a big impact.

I want to ask you from your experience if you're looking at a sales team and in a growing company, and you want to identify who is most likely to have some good leadership traits are good, be the next bird, instead of just making the best salesperson gets the promotion which we know is, terrible way of going about it. What are the things that you would look for those skills?

Alex Newmann: Yeah, sales is not just performance, this is a piece of it. One of the things that the review is identified at doing peer coaching without being told to do peer coaching, I think that's a really big place, someone who's kind of mobilizing the team in general around what leadership is saying.

So for example, if we're all trying to focus on getting better at cold calls but nobody's recording calls and no one's analyzing calls. Maybe they step up and say, "Hey guys, let's all record our calls, let's do this cadence so I'll review yours, and you review mine and let's focus on one or two things".

So I really focused like seeing if that sticks out, almost someone who kind of takes on this leadership role without being either asked you or being told to, they just do it because it's kind of upleveling the team. I also look at it of, who is bringing people along? So when new hires are first starting, there's a handful of people that always reach out and actually provide help, provide mentorship, provide some type of roadmap to say "Hey, follow this, this is what will help you avoid roadblocks".

So I really focus on not just the performance, but those intangibles and those attributes that reps are doing inside of the company. I always go, would you rather someone who is a top performer, number one and not the most social or not the greatest teammate and pro versus someone who's an average sales rep, but everyone loves them, knows how to articulate their value, those types of things.

I go back and forth and think a little bit of it has to do with how coachable a person is and what you have around them but, there's definitely a case to be made, to go hire the person who wasn't the greatest rep in the world but, understands how to do it all. You see a lot of that, in like basketball or football coaches, who they weren't the star player, but they able to articulate their value the most and rally the team and know what it takes to be valid.

I think that's the key is it's not just, I'm the greatest sales rep sometimes the best sales rep should stay a sales rep and just come crush it for themselves, and sometimes it's not that fun. You got to worry about somebody other than yourself.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, yeah. It's a very different role for sure.

You said earlier when you early on in your management, so I don't understand why you don't understand and I've absolutely been there and it's kind of reflective of how different the management job is from the execution of the sale and we've seen, it seems like the good salespeople, like top third, like when they're good like you said, they can articulate the value proposition and that have already been demonstrating some leadership on the floor already.

I mean, like you said out there coaching some peers and helping and, those are all kind of the servant leadership characteristics of somebody, even before they're in the role formerly.

Alex Newmann: Yeah, I mean, you could even take on extra projects, places, doing the right things when nobody's looking, when you see a problem, you try to fix it and you go a little bit above and beyond. I'm not saying like, redo your role and do a bunch of those things in addition but, if you see that a process between marketing to sales, isn't working or sales reps are failing on this specific thing, and you're really good at it like just put it together.

Don't just do it and ask for forgiveness. No, one's gonna say, oh, that was a horrible idea, Alex thank you so much for screwing everything up. No, it's like, you've done it you know how to do it? You put together something. I feel like I'm talking to myself around marketing materials, but that's a whole nother subject around creating marketing materials.

I'm like, just do it, throw it together. I mean, I have a Canva license just 12 bucks a month is nothing, but I think it's about going above and beyond and helping everybody else cause that's really what leadership is about. If you can show it without only being financially incentivized as a leader to do it like now, you're showing leadership that you'll do it versus telling them that you will do it.

Ray J. Green: Yep, that's good. So you're a mentor at if I'm right six, six organizations. Can you, that's a decent amount of time. Can you describe to me what is that mentorship and when would CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs be being the best position to utilize that kind of help.

Can you just give me a little bit of background?

Alex Newmann: Well, different mentoring at different times. So it's not just, only mentoring for like day in and day out, hour in, hour out but I mean, a lot of it is so a Techstars has a cohort or a class, or I think it's like 12 or 14 weeks. So I might be a lead mentor.

I might just be a sales mentor and someone can reach out to me and talk and, we'll talk like best practices. Other places I'm just there as office hours, and you can come to me with help. Sometimes I give presentations like I gave last week so, it just kind of depends. I mean, the big thing is, I went through Techstars at kind of the early onset of my career when I just got into entrepreneurship and, they have a big give first mentality, which is what David Cohen and the gang made there.

And I kind of drank the Kool-Aid if you want to call it, but it really, really makes them.

Avoid all the stupid things that I've done, and you see the success, and you see the clients and, you'd see the traction and see the fundraisers is, and you see all of those types of things. It just kinda makes them feel good so, I get involved, I try to mentor, I try to give hours here, hours there.

Sometimes I'm the lead mentor for a cohort, sometimes I'm just more reactive and, you reach out to me. If you have a question it's usually some kind of sales or go to market or, leadership type thing. But yeah, it's not a all day, every day, I'm mentoring companies every single day.

My wife might get a little bit mad about that, but it didn't do anything.

Ray J. Green: And what would your advice be for somebody that, that sees the mentoring opportunities? Is there a stage that's usually best? Is it before you get going? I mean, what's been your experience, when can you help the most typically?

Alex Newmann: Really it's at all stages that the key is there's mentors who know each stage. So are you early-stage, mid-market and enterprise versus hiring? Is it founder-led sales converting of your first hires? Are you trying to scale for the first time? Are you hiring managers, to run your sales team for the first time? Are you hiring VPs of sales?

There are different stages of your company and, there are different people who know that specific skill and, you should really seek out the mentor for that thing when you're early on, there's great mentors that might not be the best people to talk to in three years when you scale to tens or maybe hundreds of millions.

So I think the key is to just understand who to listen to, be careful about not asking so many people that you eventually just look for, what you want to hear. There's a lot of that goes around, listen to the people who you believe in, who you trust, who you would listen to about life advice and other types of things.

It doesn't have to be everyone and everyone until you hear the answer that you want to hear like sometimes there's advice overload, and then you're kind of paralysis by analysis or analysis by paralysis. So, I would say is find two or three people based on the stage, based on the division, based on kind of what you're trying to do, get some advice, and then make a decision. I mean, decisiveness it's such a crucial thing; it doesn't take a year to make a decision.

Ray J. Green: Okay, I like that. So you mentioned earlier you have your online course. What's the course for who's the ideal person for it?

Alex Newmann: Yeah. So the course is called the startup sales playbook, and it's a kind of a combination of everything that needs to go into an initial foundation of a sales playbook from identifying your customers and building a buyers process and mapping it to a sales process to negotiation qualification.

That's if you're a founder, if you're a first-time sales thing, I think it's a great starting point. We have a lot of different sales reps and sales leaders who will buy into it as well. It's good for the individual contributor who's in sales, but it's also good for, or who wants to create kind of the framework for everybody to buy into a single playbook.

It gives you a lot of good frameworks and things too to follow is to get everybody on the same page.

Ray J. Green: Okay. Okay, cool. And where can they find you and where can they find the course?

Alex Newmann: alexnewman.com with two wins and you'll see that the core right there, startup sales playbook and as far as where you can find me, obviously the website and then LinkedIn.

I'm on LinkedIn and post five days a week, starting to getting into the weekend as well, I'm very active on LinkedIn that's my jam right now. Unfortunately, I don't have time to go to all the other channels one-day clubhouse and some of the other things but, right now just.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, I put out a couple of posts. I mean, you and me, both man, LinkedIn is where I spend the vast majority of any social media time in like the clubhouse thing.

I got it and, I hopped in and, I was like, I'm not sure that I understand it, I don't know if that's a function of me getting old or if that's just me being there on LinkedIn, but I hear you and me, you have some really great content on LinkedIn.

Alex Newmann: Thank you. I appreciate it. I think it's one of those things where I'm super disciplined on one, let me figure it out one and then once I can figure that one out, maybe I'll go to another one, but I don't have the rhythm for Tik-Tok and I think I'm too wordy in my, in what I want to say for Twitter and could care less about Facebook so LinkedIn is kind of my data.

Ray J. Green: Yeah, I hear you as well. I really appreciate you coming by and your time and feedback here.

So, we'll send people to your site hopefully they pick up the course, and thanks again for your.

Alex Newmann: I appreciate it. Thanks for inviting me on the show this was a lot,

Ray J. Green: You bet, we'll do it again.

Alex Newmann: Absolutely, thanks a lot.

Ray J. Green: Take care.

Alex Newmann: See ya!

 

 

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