Episode 2: What Metrics Matter to Be an Effective Sales Leader with Anthony Zhang
Welcome to the second episode of the Sales Samurai Podcast, hosted by Sam Capra! On today’s show, we discuss what metrics matter to be an effective sales leader. To help us tackle this topic, we have a very special guest joining us. With over 16 years’ of sales experience, Anthony Zhang has led sales and sales development for countless startups, including being the first SDR at Pardot, pre-sales acquisition, and the first hire at SalesLoft. His most recent accomplishment was taking Stax, previously known as Fattmerchant, from $3 million to $25 million and growing the sales team by 130 percent in just over three years, leading to the company’s acquisition by Greater Sum Ventures. Anthony’s passion lies in building sales for early stage startups, mentoring sales professionals, and giving back to the sales community. You’ve probably seen Anthony’s posts on LinkedIn, ranging from tactical sales methodologies and process to sales leadership and his own personal stories of growth, success, and failure. You can also find him in the RevGenius community and at Thursday Night Sales. In this episode, you’ll hear about the value of focusing on the end goal rather than obsessing over the numbers and why it’s essential that you know how to diagnose your KPIs, as well as how to manage your time effectively and avoid what Anthony calls “death by meetings.” He also shares some tips for optimizing effectiveness and understanding that your purpose as a leader is not to be heard, it’s to serve, so make sure to tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
“One of the big things that sales leaders and sales managers need to realize and unpack is the fact that you are working towards something. Those 50, 60, 80 calls are working towards something. You’ve got to reverse engineer that.” — @TheAnthonyZhang [0:09:46]
“This is really important for sales leaders to get a grasp of and learn: if you don’t know anything else, learn how to look at your KPIs and your numbers and diagnose.” — @TheAnthonyZhang [0:13:41]
“It’s death by meetings. I’m wanting to be a part of all these different meetings because I want to feel like I am making an impact, but the real impact that you’re making is by being with your team, and protecting your team, and coaching your team.” — @TheAnthonyZhang [0:21:11]
“My purpose is not for other people to listen to me. My purpose as a leader is to serve others. My purpose is to serve the community. My purpose is to make others successful. In order to do that, I have to train, I have to guide, I have to coach, I have to be empathetic.” — @TheAnthonyZhang [0:32:04]
“Always, always, always allow yourself to be receptive to knowledge from all different directions.” — @TheAnthonyZhang [0:36:02]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Speaker 0 00:00:01 Coming to you from Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Florida, and streaming around the world around the world. You're not tuned in to the sales samurai podcast. The only B2B sales podcast, providing unfiltered unapologetic views and tactics directly from the sales trenches. Here's your host, Sam Capra.
Speaker 1 00:00:27 Welcome to episode two of the sales samurai. Thanks for listening. Before we begin, do us a favor and take a moment to subscribe. Download on today's show. We're going to be discussing what metrics matter to be an effective sales leader. And I have a very special guest to help us tackle that topic with over 16 years of sales experience, Anthony Zaylin sales and sales development for countless startups, including being the first SDR Pardoc pre Salesforce acquisition, and the first hire at sales loft, his most recent accomplishment was taking steps previously known as fat merchant from 3 billion to 25 billion and growing the sales team by about 130% in just over three years leading to the company acquisition by greater sum ventures. Anthony's passion lies in building sales for early stage startups, mentoring sales professionals, and giving back to the sales community. You've probably seen Anthony's post on LinkedIn, ranging from tactical sales, methodologies and processes to sales leadership, to his own personal stories of growth, success, and failures. You can also find him in rev genius, community and Thursday night sales Anthony, welcome to the show. How are you,
Speaker 2 00:01:36 Man? What's up Sam doing well. How are you?
Speaker 1 00:01:38 I am fired up brother. Uh, super excited to have you, man.
Speaker 2 00:01:42 Thank you for asking me to be honest
Speaker 1 00:01:44 Is awesome. I know you've been traveling around the world. You were just in Newark, so I'm glad you could make some time for us, man. I appreciate,
Speaker 2 00:01:51 Yeah, I kind of felt the need to write. I feel like somewhere in my bloodline, in my ancestry, someone will be proud that I was on podcast called the sales samurai. Like that is very fitting.
Speaker 1 00:02:03 I wish I had a bully, a good reason why we named it that I have other than it sounded cool. That's probably not what I should really say. There's meaning there's not. So if you hear that, there's a deep meaning from someone is total BS. We just thought it was cool. So that's all, but Hey man, I really, I know this is probably one that I've done now about five or six we've recorded. This is actually one that I look forward to all them all, but this is a topic that is close to my heart cause I'm a VP of sales and this is a challenge for me, really deciding, you know, where I should be spending my time, where I shouldn't be spending my, and that only gets more and more challenging as your head count increases. So I want to dive into that, but before I do, I want to give the audience a little context because you have an amazing background, very familiar Derek grant and Kyle over at sales loft. So just talk to us a little bit about your background, Anthony, kind of how you got started in the sales game, if you will.
Speaker 2 00:02:57 Yeah, absolutely. For I've been in sales for about a little bit over 15 years now started my sales career, slinging personal training contracts at Gold's gym, doing telemarketing here and there. You know, all the fun sales gigs that you kind of run into when you first start, I was fortunate enough to land a job as the first email@example.com fact, I actually want to be an AAE, but didn't have enough tech sales experience. And so, you know, I got to talking to Derek grant and he's like, look, I got this other new role. It's called a SDR, a sales development rep. And nobody really knew who that, what the hell a SDR was at the time. Uh, but you know what? He gave me a shot. He allowed me to get my feet in the door in tech sales. You realize that I could punch above my weight class the way he puts it.
Speaker 2 00:03:43 And you know, it's been a fun ride ever since. You know, I was the first SDR, a that pre Salesforce acquisition. I was the first hire at SalesLoft. I got to work directly with Kyle Porter, slinging prospect or back in the day, if you guys remember prospector and then, uh, the migration to cadence of ran a sales sales development for a couple other startups here and there most recently just wrapped up my stint at a company called fat merchant. They're now known as stacks where I ran sales. There grew the company to about from like 3 million to 25 million, about 120 or 140% growth in the sales department from four to 50 plus. And now I actually am aligned with a company called blissfully running sales for them. They're a SAS it management platform.
Speaker 1 00:04:28 That's awesome, man. Hey, I always like, I'm glad you gave us the goals. Yeah, everyone's got that. Everyone's got that background, right? For me it was well, initially it was selling rainbow cleaners door to door, which was the toughest job I've ever had in my life. But then it was Cintas on the B2B side making 500 cold calls a week having a right
Speaker 2 00:04:49 Cintas. Name-dropping okay.
Speaker 1 00:04:51 I tell ya, I don't know. It's one of those, that's where you kind of grind your teeth at that you have to have that you have to have something like that in your background. I truly believe I could be dead wrong, man. I have no, but that's where my belief is. Well, that's awesome, man. Tell me a little bit about from a sales leadership standpoint. I know you've been, I know you've been in sales enablement kind of doing things from the ground up. I know you've been doing a lot of sales leadership, which is kind of what we wanted to pivot into in our conversation today. Talk to me a little bit about that. The sales teams that you've led. I mean, how big have they been just to give a little context because someone's managing one or two reps versus someone managing, I don't know, 30 reps, I'm making this up as I go. That's a type, it's a different type, right? Is that fair to say?
Speaker 2 00:05:35 Absolutely. Yeah. So I've, I've held roles as you know, a frontline leader managing AEs, I've held roles, managing an SDR team. And most recently I've managed sales directors and sales operations teams who have managed sales teams of their own.
Speaker 1 00:05:50 Gotcha. Do you notice as you're doing that and you're kind of going through your journey from a leadership standpoint, is there any commonalities or are they just astronomically leading a team of SDRs versus an A's? Maybe not, but correct me if I'm wrong, but leading a team of leaders versus a team of individual contributors, that's a different conversation. Is that a different leadership model? Help us understand that a little bit. That
Speaker 2 00:06:12 Is a different leadership model when you're leading frontline reps, it's very much immediate action, right? So if it's like a, Hey, here's the playbook, read the script to do it. You know, work this process when you're leading sales leaders, it's really giving them the opportunity to shine because they're their sales leaders for a reason, right? And you got to tap into their strengths. And really at that point, you're more of a consultant to your sales leadership team than an actual, you know, frontline sales leader. And so really it's about diagnosing, helping them diagnose their teams, the challenges, the highlights, right. And giving them those options and levers to say, here are the things that I should, I would recommend you focus on. What do you think? What are your strategies? And really giving them the opportunity to come up with solutions, right? Cause they want to grow. They want to be challenged. They want to learn. And so have them self-diagnosed right. Hey, your team's, you know, falling a little bit short on their number this month. What do you think is going on? Who's the culprit? Is it everybody? Is it the process? Is it one individual? And then having those conversations versus saying, Hey, you need to do better. Here's where you need to do better. Right? Let them tell you where, where they want to focus.
Speaker 1 00:07:21 Without a doubt I found as, as a VP and kind of just rehashing the topic. It's very easy to get lost. It's very easy to get times I call them time sucks, where you're just getting pulled in every internal meeting, there is on the planet. You're getting pulled in every direction and somehow some way the thing that should be the most important, which is coaching, mentoring, educating training, helping your team kind of gets pushed to last in line for some unforeseen reason. So talk to me a little bit about that. Like what are you seeing? Like what is just wrong right now, but KPIs just in general from a sales leadership and how they're spending their time,
Speaker 2 00:08:01 I'm starting to see a lot of micromanage, right? And this is the thing that really gets under my skin. When I see sales teams and sales leaders, especially say, you got to hit 50 dials, you got to hit 60 dials. You got to hit 80 dials a day. And then when they ask why it's a, because I said so, right? Like you ever, you ever you'd have parents. And they're like, Hey, you know what? You got to do this. And you as a child are like, well, why? And they think, because I said, so how does that make you feel,
Speaker 1 00:08:30 Anthony? What are you talking about? Parents? My wife doesn't tell me all this
Speaker 2 00:08:34 Because I said, so that's right.
Speaker 1 00:08:37 The micromanaging is a piece that's kind of, you're starting to see that more and more. Are there areas of from a sales leadership standpoint, that is just a focal point that just doesn't like, I remember coming up, he used to always say, manage the numbers, lead the people. Right. And I think somehow some way that's kind of shifted to now let's all be numbers. I think everything is data, data, data. We should be number centric. Where are we going wrong with that? Because I do find myself looking at dashboards way too much.
Speaker 2 00:09:06 Yep. Yep. You're absolutely right. And, and you know, the 50 calls, 60 calls, 80 calls, whatever those numbers are, they came from somewhere, right. There's context behind that. They, he, they came from somewhere, but that somewhere was perhaps relevant to that team. Right? So it perhaps took 50 calls at that particular company to get to one or two or three opportunities. Whatever the end goal is, the metrics are to get to one deal close. Right. And they probably did that math, but somewhere along the way, the sales manager, you know, moved on to another company and just said, everybody's doing 50 calls because that's what we did our last company, right. Without that context, without that understanding. And so one of the big things that sales leaders and sales managers need to realize, and really unpack is the fact that you are working towards something, right?
Speaker 2 00:09:56 Those 50, 60, 80 calls are working towards something. And so you got to kind of reverse engineer that and understand, well, why am I asking this individual or these individuals to make 60 calls? And if you can prove that 60 calls equals one to three opportunities and that your conversion rate from those three opportunities equals one deal, then you can explain that to your AAE, right. Or to your team. Now, what if you have one A's that exceptional at just converting from, you know, 30 calls to one to three opportunities, then what are they still, you know, destined to make 50, 60 calls a day? Well, in my opinion, no. Why does an individual who is perhaps more capable, more talented, better, skillful, whatever you want to call it, right? Why are they being forced to make these dials when they could focus on other areas or other skills that they could be working on to improve, right. They already got the call thing down as a sales leader. You need to diagnose that and then help them in the other areas that they may have shortcomings and weaknesses and gaps in
Speaker 1 00:11:07 Make sense. What do you think you're actually doing as a sales leader from a behavior standpoint when that's, when you're focused on you're focused on just an arbitrary number, Hey, I want 2 million dials. Like it's just as easy as in 2 million as it is 50. So you start to create,
Speaker 2 00:11:23 Yeah, you absolutely start to create the wrong behaviors. Right? So, so again, think about the VP of sales, right? Saying you got to make 60 calls a day. You gotta make 60 calls a day. Well, the sales manager or sales director is going to repeat that you got to make 60. And then when the AAE gets promoted or even when the AA moves on to be a sales manager somewhere else, what are they saying? You got to make 60 calls again because it's this repetitive behavior, right. They think 50, 60 calls is good. You're inevitably creating the wrong behaviors. And then what else is, well, if all my manager cares about is 50 calls, well, I'm just going to log a call. Yeah. You know what, I'm going to log this call. I dialed three times. I'm gonna log this three times. Right. And so you're creating this behavior of, I don't really care about the effectiveness of my calls. They're just telling me to make calls. And so I'm just going to make calls. Right. Right. And so you, you inevitably just create this perpetual wheel of just dial, dial, dial without any anyone really understanding why,
Speaker 1 00:12:19 You know what, I, it's a fair point. And you know, I, I will be the very first one to say, I have definitely done that through my tenure coming up. It was all about activity, activity, activity, activity. And it was really an arbitrary activity diet. And to your point, it probably stemmed from somewhere, but it was ingrained in me. So when I became a leader, well, I guess that's the right thing to be doing. So let me ingrain it in someone else.
Speaker 2 00:12:41 And let me throw this at you, Sam, what if I make 80 calls a day? I am awesome at making 80 calls a day, but I hit, I missed my number. What would happen then?
Speaker 1 00:12:52 Right. You're exactly right. There's no doubt, but there's gotta be a fine line. Right? Anthony, like, you know, if you're not getting the results, right. I want you to come from this philosophy that you can only control two things, right? It's a sale, your skill and your activity of skill. They got, if you have no skill, then you better be doing a hell of a lot of activity. That's right. Help me understand that fine line. Cause it's a sales thing. You're like, well, what should I do? Like what is the most important thing that I should really be quantifying or from a KPI standpoint?
Speaker 2 00:13:22 Absolutely. And so there is truth to that, right? It's skill versus will. Right? So if you're really good at something, going back to that scenario of that individual, that only needs to make 30 dials. They're very skillful in that approach. Now for the individual that's making 80, 90 dials. It's because we've actually reverse engineered them in particular. This is really important for sales leaders to get a grasp of and learn. If you don't know anything else, learn how to look at your KPIs and your numbers and diagnose if I know that you Sam, let's just say like your goal is one deal a month. Let's just keep it very simple. And it takes you what, three to five, typically, you know, when you ask a sales rep, how, when you ask a sales rep, you know, well, what does a healthy pipeline look like? They're going to say what like about three to five X, my pipeline or my target.
Speaker 2 00:14:10 So if we diagnose that, then you need three to five opportunities in your pipeline. And so, and now when we reverse engineer, one more, we say, well, how many calls does it? Sam typically need to make to get that three to five deals in their pipeline. Now, when I come to you during our one-on-one, I'm like Sam, let's look at the KPIs together right now, you're averaging about one deal a month, which is fantastic. That's your goal. That's your quota. You are averaging about three opportunities to one deal. That's your conversion. So that's awesome. But now it takes you on average, about 250 dials. I've just kind of accumulate everything. 250 dials to get to those three opportunities, which means that you need X number of dials per day to hit your end goal. Stephen Covey start with the end in mind, right? Seven habits.
Speaker 2 00:15:01 So when I'm talking to you, I'm actually talking to you, I'm saying Sam, this is where your skillset is today. Good, bad, ugly, and different. This is where your skillset is today. And so this is why you should be making X number of dials a day so that you can close one deal. Now we can change the levers here we can do. To your point, you can do two things. You can increase those dials. If you want to make more money to hit those accelerators, you can increase your dials or we can work together on some of those gaps, whether it's dials to connect, connects to conversion, conversions, to opportunities, right, opportunities to close. We can work in these areas together to improve your skillset. Or we can do both and really see the wheels turning. So as a sales manager, I am working with you. I am not telling you to do something. I am working with you based on your interest in what you care about. That
Speaker 1 00:15:56 Makes perfect sense. Man goes back to the old adage, right? Not everyone is created equal and everyone has their differences, their strengths or weaknesses you needed to manage and lead to those strengths and weaknesses. Don't pick an arbitrary number because it's arbitrary. But if it really takes Sam $25 to get to one meeting and four meetings to get to one deal, then managing to those numbers and leading an educated to do so first and foremost, your team may take a hundred dials and that means steady. They improve their skill set to bring that activity level back down and be more manageable. Is that fair?
Speaker 2 00:16:29 That is absolutely fair. And I have, I have worked with AEs that when we did the math, they had to do a hundred dials a day. That's not terribly realistic, right? Because then they're just focused on, you know, getting those dials in. And so I said, look, this is not super realistic for us. Let's focus on getting your skills up. There is clearly a skill gap. Maybe the phone numbers are bad, the data's bad. Maybe you're just spinning your wheels on the wrong accounts. Let's work together to improve the quality of your deals so that you don't have to work 12 hours a day to get those dials in. This is me looking out for you, Sam, my AAE, to make sure that we're on the same page and we're after the same thing without
Speaker 1 00:17:08 A doubt. I know it depends Anthony. And I know we can talk about different industries, SAS, and different business to business industries. But if you're just boiling it down, the most simplistic level is the ultimate driver. The main cake, because everything is, I mean, at least in SAF is ARR, right? Striving, you know, annual road run rates and those types of things. But before we get to the annual run rate, you got to get the opportunity or the meeting. That's kind of the leading indicator. If you will, of opportunity. Is that what you just, I'm trying to boil it down for new leaders or whatever, is that a, like if you don't have anything else to base anything on, should it be built around how many meetings you're getting? How many opportunities are starting? Is that to boil? Is that the right KPI? Help me understand that a bit more. I
Speaker 2 00:17:52 Think there's tons of different trains of thought. And I respect everybody's train of thought for me personally, I look at opportunities generated. That's what I care about real opportunities. So on a week to week basis, I will measure, Hey, how many opportunities did you generate today? Is your pipeline in an area where based on your conversion rates can get you to your number. That's all I care about. And then the activity drivers, or sort of supplemental to those other things. But at the end of the day, I care about that one thing, which are your number of opportunities generated on a weekly basis and I will help you get there.
Speaker 1 00:18:27 Gotcha. I just look at my week and I just know how busy it gets. And I know it gets busy for every leader out there. I'm sure there's a lot of they're out there. Like, Hey, I would love to be managing to that specific level to each of my reps, which we shouldn't be doing that that's the job. But as you're talking to sales leaders, like, cause what you're saying is really coaching, right? It's, it's really coaching and training it to say, Hey, this is unique to you. Here's what you need to know. Here's how we're going to get better together. If I have 48 hours in that 40 hours in the week, realistically, then your estimates, like what portion of that should be spent doing those types of things.
Speaker 2 00:19:03 Yeah. I would say 80% of your time as a sales manager, as a frontline sales manager should be spent on coaching your team. And when I say coaching, I mean, pipeline reviews, deal audits, deal support, jumping on the calls with them, helping them close deals, negotiating and sales coaching itself. Right? So for my, my sales leaders, my sales directors back at fat merchant, I said, you should have one pipeline review at the beginning of the week, that's going to help us forecast, help them manage the deals. Right. Make sure everything is moving forward in that week. No surprises. And then at the end of the week after you've had all your pipeline reviews, you have a coaching session either on that Thursday or that Friday on a skill that you discovered that there was kind of a gap in whether it's follow-up, whether it's objection, handling, whether it's just simply running demos and role-playing, whatever that thing is for that individual should be spent on coaching. And then for the rest of the week, you should be in those deals, helping them close.
Speaker 1 00:20:03 Makes perfect sense, man. Why aren't we doing more of that? Is it just that the constraints of time, the confidence level as a sales leader, maybe they're newer set, like why go and do more of that and your, from what you've seen from self-leadership I
Speaker 2 00:20:17 Wish I could give you a definite answer on that. But from what I have seen, when a sales manager first enters into this management role, they feel like they now have the keys to the kingdom more is, oh, I want, I want them to know what marketing is doing now. I want to know what products do we, I want to know what CS is doing. I want to align with CSOC has just called me into a meeting to talk about the customers that are traded because of AEs and all this kind of stuff. Right? And so now that you become a sales manager, now everybody's trying to take over your time and you have to be dedicated and protect your time and your team. Right? So, so take, take that opportunity to say, look, I can't do it. I got my team. They got to hit their numbers.
Speaker 2 00:20:58 Now, if your team's hitting your numbers, go do it. Right. Go, go have a meeting with the CS team, whatever you want to do. But I think that's what's happening right now is, is we're starting to get all these it's death by meetings, right? Especially in a, in a virtual environments, death by meetings. And so I'm wanting to be a part of all these different meetings, because I want to feel like I am making an impact. But the real impact that you're making is by being with your team and protecting your team and coaching your team perfect
Speaker 1 00:21:27 As a leader, whether a new leader or somewhat tenure leader, a lot of these things and correct me if I'm wrong, a lot of people get thrown into a leadership role because they were a good salesperson. Well, they might be a good sales, but that's not the leading indicator, but some of these people were not equipped. They're not equipped. They were never trained. They were never given the tools. If you will, like, how do they get to that level where they like, they know how to coach, they like, where are they turned? Like what would be your advice to someone that, Hey, you want to learn how to be a better leader, a better coach. Here's some ideas. Here's some tips. Here's some techniques, whatever the case might be.
Speaker 2 00:22:02 I'm going to, I'm going to give some plugs, follow Scott Leese. He's a fantastic sales leader. Follow Scott Leese. He actually has a book from rep to manager. Definitely check that book out. So that's a great book, but I'll tell you right now, they're the reason why the most successful AEs sometimes fail to become sales leaders. A they're selfish. They are selfish with their time. And that is a good thing. As an AAE, they are selfish with their time. They are also very aggressive. They are aggressive with their prospects. They know when to push. They know when to get the deal done, but pushing does not work with your AEC team, pushing them in the same way that you push a prospect to get to do something does not work the same way. So those are the two things. So what I would say is, you know, a really, really kind of review that review. Scott leaves, check him out, follow him. If you haven't read the book sales management simplified, Sam, have you read that fantastic book? It's one of my yearly rereads. If you haven't read that book, sales management simplified really breaks it down for you. And so those are kind of my two things that I would recommend.
Speaker 1 00:23:12 Fantastic from that note. Talk to me a little bit about the other side of this, because I'm sure there's ratios. I don't know the ratios, but I'm sure that for every five A's, there should be one sales manager that rolls up to a VP. I'm sure there's something, but we also know that startups, they run pretty lean. They don't always have the right head count because they're running lean. And if those leaders that are like, Hey, I got 5, 6, 7 reps that I'm leading and I'm also contributing as well, which I'm not a big believer in, but there's that school of thought like, there's just like, okay, if I'm doing one-on-ones, there's seven. I can say, I'm doing 30 minute. One-on-ones there's already four hours of my week gone. If I'm doing 30 minute coaching session, there's another like, like what would your advice be to them? How do they, how do they multiply themselves to still give the tools they need to the reps?
Speaker 2 00:23:59 There's different schools of thought in this too. And I think it goes back to really tailor to the, the manager or the director, right? So certain managers can only handle six. The really effective ones can handle 12. I've seen really effective ones manage a team of 12 very effectively. And so it really boils down to how effective are you with your time as a leader? Are you taking on ancillary meetings that you don't need to be taking or you don't need to be involved in? Are you properly delegating? That's the other thing, are you properly delegating tasks? Maybe if you have an AED that is primed to be a team lead or, or even a manager themselves, give them some projects, give them some tasks. If they're crushing quota month over month, over month, and they can afford some time to do some extra projects, will a, if they really want to do it, they're gonna feel rewarded. They would love the extra responsibility and to make an impact with the organization. So delegate some of that as well. But I would say it really depends on the leader. I personally, when I'm just kind of starting out and kind of feeling the leaders out, I like to have about 10 per sales leader, 10 frontline reps per sales leader.
Speaker 1 00:25:04 Gotcha. I've seen this a couple of different ways to your point though. Earlier around you gotta be hyper diligent around your time. I mean, everyone's got the same finite amount of time. No one gets any extra hours in the day. I've always learned. People have taught me, be really like block off the time. Like I just dedicated 92 and I'd put, do not try to book over this. Like it won't be accepted. Like what are some of those tips and tricks, like even going down to the calendar level that you seen, that's really the that's helped you kind of get a jump on being a little bit more because you said time management. I heard you said that a while back, you gotta be good with time management. What, what's your advice around that piece of it?
Speaker 2 00:25:42 Yeah. Your time is not your time as a sales leader. Your time is your AEs time. So what I mean by that is if you have a do not disturb, but you're just sitting behind the computer doing work that is not okay. Your AEs, especially in a virtual world, a virtual environment, they need full, fast, quick access to you. And so you have to be diligent and available and vigilant on slack or whatever solution you're using to make sure you were there for your team and not sitting behind the computer, building dashboards, building reports, all this kind of stuff. If you have a sales operations or revenue operations individual, ask them to do it for you, right? Your time belongs to your AEs. So anytime my sales director, if we're in a one-on-one and my sales director says, Hey, this age is paying me. They need me to jump on a call for them. I say, go get out, go do it because their time belongs to the AA.
Speaker 1 00:26:40 That's a good catch. And you know, it's funny, I, 100% agree. I mean, I think at the end of the day, your success is dependent on their success. Absolutely. It's definitely, it goes hand in hand with one another. One of the things I was going to ask you a little bit ago was as we were talking through just effectiveness, and I'm just thinking through some scenarios, cause I'm actually going through some of these scenarios myself. So it's real world to me in this new world of everything is remote and sales is kind of our always been remote. At least enterprise sales is, well. What about those kind of silo teams that you have people on the opposite coast that are three hours behind you and you have two on the noise, you know, in New York you have to like, that becomes a whole different ball of wax because you still want to coach and mentor, but all of a sudden, your day becomes extremely long because of the things that we're discussing here. I'm sure you've ran into that before. Like what are some feedback? Cause I've actually heard that three or four times now from even colleagues of mine and I've got seven reps on the west coast. I got two now in Europe, I got, it's just becoming an all day affair if you will. That
Speaker 2 00:27:46 Does become a challenge. You're absolutely right. There's a couple of things you can work with your team. You can collaborate with your team. You can say, we can have these meetings at, you know, 9:00 AM Eastern, sorry, west coast guy here going to be 6:00 AM your time. That's what you signed up for though. Right? You know, you know, we're an east coast company, you know, this is our time zone. This is what you signed up for during the interview process, you got to vet them out as well. Right? If they're okay with it, option B is, Hey guys, you know, as, as in a collaborative team effort, would everybody be open to having our team meetings at noon? Now some people will say yes, like, Hey, great. I can get my morning started. I there's no distraction in the morning. I can kick off to the races.
Speaker 2 00:28:22 And then, you know, at noon I can eat lunch and then we can have our, our, our morning meeting while it's, they're waking up on the west coast. So you can really play around and get creative. But the whole point of it is it's really around setting the right expectations and getting consensus. So it's really pulling the team together and saying, Hey, here's what we're thinking about doing. Here's what we're thinking about. Changing. How do you guys feel about it? Let's let's come together as a team and make sure this works for everybody and get their buy-in and get their buy-in.
Speaker 1 00:28:53 And you know what I found Andy, on that note, trying to get them to take ownership of some of that training and like have them, Hey guys, we're doing it right now. You know, every two weeks we're doing a different type of training topic. What are they hearing? What am I hearing on these calls? And don't around Robin again, Hey Jessica, you're taking the lead on the agenda and building up like, what are we going to talk about? Like, what is our training curriculum? Hey Kelly, you're doing it two weeks and giving them ownership so they can understand, Hey, what's top of mind for them. And to your point, put on that hat a little bit more good approach, bad approach in your, in your eyes. I
Speaker 2 00:29:28 Love that approach. If the individual wants to do it right? So many individuals are voluntold. Hey, you know, Sam, you are doing an awesome job. I want you to run training next week. I got to what I'm doing to build a training deck for the team, right? Like Sam you're, you're probably working your ass off, hitting your number and you're doing a fantastic job. Now I'm putting more stuff on your plate to help the team again, to your point, there has to be buy-in right? Like, Hey Sam, you are doing an amazing job right now. Would you want to coach the team on some of the things that you're doing? Is that something that you think would be fulfilling to you? Or do you want to hold off? Because I know you have a lot on your plate right now and let them say yes, let them say no.
Speaker 2 00:30:09 Great. So here's the template. I've already put the template together for you. I've already put the presentation format for you. You just got to fill in the blanks, right? You don't have to think. You don't have to create anything new. All the elements are in there. If you want to use it, I'm going to make this as easy as possible for you. And then Sam, just one, one thing after you're done, let's just kind of take some time, maybe quick fit, 10, 15 minutes to review the deck together. Make sure that everything is copacetic. Things are, you know, we're not saying anything that we don't want, maybe the team to hear or anything like that. Right. And then this way now, Sam, you, you feel that level of I'm being raised up. The other thing that I'll ask is Sam, okay. Maybe you don't want to do training, but can I borrow one or two of your demos? And then I can train the team on it through you. I can borrow some of your call recordings. I can borrow some of your demos. And I can use that as almost the theme of our training next Monday. Is that okay with you, Sam? And you just keep doing what you're doing.
Speaker 1 00:31:01 Perfect. I always ask this question, like from a philosophy, how has your philosophy or leadership style, how has it changed, evolved when you very first started? What have you learned? Like, I actually did that three years ago, but like, what's the one that you look back. You're like, I don't know why I did it that way. Or like, I just believe I did it that way.
Speaker 2 00:31:22 I remember that because I said so, yeah, that was, that was this guy right here. I was the, because I said I was the, because I said, so guy. Yeah, that, that worked really well. Let me tell you, uh, yeah, my sales team loved me. No. So it was very much a learning opportunity for me. And I was fortunate enough to have led 14 AEs over at sales law, got to really learn what not to do. That was a very humbling moment for me. I got to grow in that experience. And I think now one of the books that really kind of changed my life was Simon Sinek. Start with why and eaters lead last, or it's a servant leadership eaters late, less. Those two books really helped me kind of understand what my purpose was, right? My purpose is not for other people to listen to me.
Speaker 2 00:32:08 My purpose as a leader is to serve others. My purpose is to serve the community. My purpose is to make others successful. And so in order to do that, I have to train. I have to guide, I have to coach, I have to be empathetic, right? To everything that they're going through. And then this boils back all the way around to the beginning of the conversation, which is I have to teach them why I'm asking them to do certain things. I have to be fully visible and transparent about my expectations because this is going to help them be successful.
Speaker 1 00:32:44 Makes sense. One of the things I learned, I still struggle with it a little bit, but it's the whole, you can fish and feed him for a day or teach them to fish and feed them for a lifetime. Sometimes just do it right. And get on the call. You asked the right questions, get the deal across the goal line. And then you move on to the next like versus, you know, challenging them. Why should we go down that path? I mean, what do you think? The work that this as a newer sales leader, it was a lot easier because I was tapping into mine. Well, that's what I did as a salesperson. Let me just do it now. And that's, that's a bad habit because when off time to coach, let me just do it. And that's an excuse. So it's a rationalization of why I'm not doing what I really should be doing, but I still struggle with it to be quite candid with you. And it's one of those types of things that I don't know if it's just the old rep in me or what it is. I know a lot of young leaders do that as well.
Speaker 2 00:33:34 So I'm gonna blow your mind here. There's actually a middle ground. There's the, there's the, I'm going to fish for you. I'm going to teach you how to fish. And I am going to hold that pole with you while you're fishing. And we're going to tell, we're going to talk about why that fish came in or why that fish ran away afterwards, right. Or swam away rather fish don't have feet these days. Well, maybe we'll, we'll see. But, uh, yeah, so we're going to actually diagnose, right? So there is a middle ground to it where I'm working with you. I'm going to jump in if I need to, to help you close this deal, we certainly don't want to lose the deal. I'm gonna jump in and help you. But then we're gonna kind of take it a step back. We're going to do a play review. Right. And we're going to kind of watch that unfold and why it kind of started to unwind. And why did I have to jump in? Right. And I think as you do this more and more, they're gonna say, oh, I get it. I get it. Okay. So let me try it this time. Okay. Great. Try it. And then let's do it again.
Speaker 1 00:34:28 Right? The main takeaways, you know, as we've been talking about this and that's why I love these podcasts, right. Because just as we're having a conversation and that's really what we're doing, just having a conversation around what we've seen, haven't seen, what's working, what's not working where we think people's time for being wasted. And not that you learn you constant. And I think, and I think you would agree and I'll give you a minute to answer, but I think you would agree that that's really what you've always got to be focused on itself is constantly wondering, is everything I, somebody told me there is one universal truth in sales, but there's no universal truth in sales, but there's no universal truth. Like, so what is your thoughts around like, you know, those types of things around self? Like, is there any, I remember Anthony, I'm not think I'm older than you. I remember the days where I actually had to go to a store and buy an old book, put in a tape into the cassette player. I had to put some work into actually learning today. Don't just hop on a podcast, do a weapon or Google site. Is there any excuse not to take it upon yourself for more self learning?
Speaker 2 00:35:35 Absolutely not. I am still an avid student to this day of sales and sales leadership. I don't have this ego about me. And I think that's the big thing is you gotta leave your ego at the door. Really kind of humble yourself to say, what else can I learn? I don't care what book it is. I will read a sales book. I will read a sales leadership book. Some of it might be a refresher and there may be one or two nuggets in there that I can take out of it. Right. So always, always, always kind of allow yourself to, to be receptive to knowledge from all different directions and you can decide, right? You don't have to agree. You can decide, well, that doesn't work for me. Right. You may not agree with the things I'm saying in this, in this podcast. Right. But maybe there's one thing that you can align with and just take that one thing. This isn't gospel. Right. But again, just be receptive and be open to all the schools of thought in this arena because there's so many fantastic sales leaders that I look up to and that I admire and that everything they say is, is something that I'm going to incorporate and implement. But damn, do I respect what they've done? And if I can take one or two things away from that. Fantastic.
Speaker 1 00:36:48 That's awesome, man. Well, Hey, as we wrap up final thoughts, tips, techniques like just, Hey, I want to leave the audience with this. Like, here's some things, if you heard, like you said, you've heard nothing else. Nothing else has resonated. Here's a couple more hope they do.
Speaker 2 00:37:03 Yeah. God, please stop micro-managing activity. First of all, let's let's start there. Right? Really lead with trust. I think that's number one, lead with trust. Number two is, uh, I would say, understand your KPIs, understand your world, right? If someone just comes up to you tomorrow and says, Hey, what's your close rate. You should be able to spit that sucker out, you know, in an instant. Right. So really understand your KPIs. And then not only that, but know how to break them down and diagnose those KPIs. Right? So be able to spot like, all right, everything is looking good, except for this one thing, let's fix this one thing. And here's how we're going to fix this one thing, right? Don't just say, Hey, everything's good. Except for this. You need to fix it. No, that's your job as a sales leader, Hey, we should work on this one thing together. So honestly, those are my two thoughts. The more analytical you can get, the more you can break these KPIs down to show them exactly where their leaks are in their sales process. And the more buy in you're going to get from your AEs in fixing those gaps with you.
Speaker 1 00:38:01 That's awesome, man. And uh, you know, one of thing I'll piggyback on that because I think it's worth noting is don't micromanage and don't manage, you know, don't get so in the weeds on numbers, that don't matter. However, and I, and I think you would agree with me on this is I am a big believer though in, you should be providing those dashboards bacteria. So they have trans numbers. You can't hold them accountable. If they don't know what you're being held accountable to, you can't say, Hey, your number is X and then say all the metrics. But I don't, I'm not going to share all the metrics with you, reverse engineer. And I think that's, that's a slippery slope because all of a sudden we start saying, don't create dashboards. Don't waste time. That's not what we're saying. We're saying use it the right way. Use it for transparency, use it to coach. So they understand where they're currently at in their sales journey so they can get better. What'd you what'd you agree?
Speaker 2 00:38:54 That's right. Going back to start with you than in mine. Why am I doing this? I am doing this for my team. If I have to create a report, I have to create a dashboard. It is for my team. It is not for myself. It's not for my own vanity, right. It is for my team to have visibility.
Speaker 1 00:39:08 Awesome. Well, Hey, how does the audience, how do they connect with you? How they learn more about you? How do they all that kind of fun stuff? What can they find me, Anthony? Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:39:17 Absolutely. Uh, you probably see me post on LinkedIn every now and then. So, uh, you know, you can certainly reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm always open to connecting with individuals. You can probably find me on rev genius. If you're a partner of genius, you'll find me there. If not get into rev genius, it's a fantastic sales community. Definitely check it out. And then lastly, you know, every so often I'll show my face on Thursday night sales with Amy Wallace and Scott Lee. So, you know, if you catch me there, please do say hi as well,
Speaker 1 00:39:43 Shout out in our, uh, just recorded it. Uh, but uh, someone shouted that out. Uh, as a, as a resource, they really tap into it and I thought a couple of hours. So I'll have to give them that plug as well. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for being with us, man. I sincerely appreciate it. It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you, Sam. Take care.
Speaker 0 00:40:06 Thank you for listening to the sales samurai podcast with your house, Sam Capra. Be sure you subscribe to our podcast and visit <inaudible> dot IO and join the conversation. Access show notes and discover bonus content.
VP Sales @ Blissfully
With over 16 years of sales experience, Anthony Zhang has led sales and sales development for countless startups, including being the first SDR at Pardot (pre-Salesforce acquisition) and the first hire at SalesLoft. His most recent accomplishment was taking Stax (previously known as Fattmerchant) from $3-$25mill and growing the sales team by 130% over 3 years, leading to company acquisition by Greater Sum Ventures.
Anthony’s passion lies in building sales for early-stage startups, mentoring sales professionals, and giving back to the sales community.
You’ve probably seen Anthony’s posts on LinkedIn, ranging from tactical sales methodologies and processes, to sales leadership, to his own personal stories of growth, success, and failures. You can also find him in the RevGenius community and Thursday Night Sales.