Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Liebman who’s currently VP of Sales at Seated who is known in New York City as one of the top sales executives in the tech ecosystem. Adam has built and grown sales teams for some of the largest tech startups in New York City such as Yext (YEXT) which is now a publicly-traded company where Adam was sales hire number one and SinglePlatform where he also played an integral role in craft the sales experience before rapidly growing the team. Adam started out wanting to be a journalist before getting into sales which turns out to be a pretty interesting story.
This is definitely a sales 101 episode as Adam drops some serious bombs on this one so make sure you got your notes app at the ready.
So Adam, thank you so much for coming on the show today absolutely happy to be here so I don’t when you are out and about how do you introduce yourself to people? That’s a great q uestion that you know, normally I just started that name. Hey, I’m Adam. And then you know in New York, it’s very common for people.
Oh, what do you do, you know sales leader and entrepreneur I help sales teams move fast. Yeah, that’s good. So before we get into a kind of like how to sells 101, which is what I’m really excited about, talk to me a little bit about early life. So where you from Adam so I I was born in San Diego, California.
I lived there till I was. Then I moved across the country to just outside of Boston where I was from for another six years or 6 to 12, but I tell people I grew up in Albuquerque New Mexico 12 to 18 6 years. I’m the land of enchantment. Great group of friends great place to grow up very normal upbringing and a lot of times when I’ll tell people I’m from New Mexico.
They’re like, oh my gosh, you’re the first person from Albuquerque I’ve ever met and you definitely are the first person from Albuquerque, but I’ve ever met. I mean, there you go. I don’t even I don’t even know if I know what that is. To be honest. I think I did the subway. There you go. Okay, so you moved around in six years since I see.
And then how did you get into cells? I mean where you always kind of like a Wheeler and dealer going up or like what was that like so I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Wheeler and dealer but I did have some early sales jobs one of the first jobs I had was working for the company MCI, which I don’t know if you’re familiar, but MC.
I was an old phone company back in the day when you would pay for a number of minutes. You know you were charged for pi the minute and long-distance calls were extra but not after eight and all this sort of stuff. And that was one of the first jobs I had it was a great job fun little story. I actually I was at MCI for a few years and ended up making a phone call that led to MCI getting a 50 thousand dollar fine from the FCC.
It was at the height of the. Do not call and one thing led to another I had switched this woman over to a plan and it moves faster than it was supposed to no fault of my own and it turned out that this woman was friends with the Attorney General of Arkansas and she wrote a letter and it got back and moved its way up through the chain MC.
I got this fine in there like you who made this call and that was me. I was I think I hit four hundred percent to goal the month before that job ended but it was it was it was great. You know, I think maybe from there. I was kind of hooked on the selling thing. Wow, did you get fired straight away?
Yes. I was just getting done with high school or school for the day and he goes out of my I’ve got some terrible news. We have to let you go and I was like what you have to let me go what’s going on. He’s like, yeah. It pains me to say this. We just got fined $50,000 from one of the phone calls, I said what what are you talking about?
He said yeah, that woman that you switched over to is called the neighborhood plant things went a little faster than she thought they were going to go and she ended up writing this letter and the next thing you know mci’s paying 50 G’s they’re like, hey who made this phone call and that just happened to be me man scapegoat.
So you’re gonna get a full guy honest. Unfortunately, usually the guys at the front line. Yeah, it was taught but it great job so fun. My first part was I was actually selling cell phone plans T-Mobile cell phone plans to families who used MCI for their phone service. This was I was 16 years old and it was it was great.
It was a lot of fun. This is just cold calling telesales. Oh man, this was telemarketing to the max would Press buttons on our screen. We would just get connected with people if we wanted to get up and take a break. We had to log out. They tracked how long you were logged out huge call center of hundreds of people, but it was it was a great job.
I was always top performer. It was a great money for a 16 year old. I had more money than I knew what to do with in high school, and it was a great experience. That’s when you kind of had your first taste of cells and you were like, hey if I just work harder than everyone else I can actually make a lot of money.
Yeah, you know listen, I didn’t set out to be a salesperson. It wasn’t something that you know, I said, okay, I’m going to go and study sales. I actually went to school to be a broadcast journalist. But you know, there was some selling experience back in my early days. And you know, I’m sure that he’ll.
What I did eventually end up in my, you know, first sales role coming out of school. Yeah, so I saw that you studied broadcast journalism, and I guess where did that passion come from or went to that? You know, what was the impetus for that? Yeah. So when I was in seventh grade, we had a class or social studies class that did kind of a fake news cast every week and it was 1998 and you reach got assigned a topic and you could pick your topic in an order.
And I was lucky enough to get to pick Sports and this was you know, maybe September October of 1998 and I don’t know if you’re familiar with baseball, but that was a really special year in baseball because Mark McGwire and Sammy so sad this Homerun Battle to break Roger maris’s record of 61 home runs that it stood for something like 34 years, and I remember I will never forget I was recording on a VHS tape.
With my dad and my little brother every Mark McGwire at bat where I was hoping to get the clip of him hitting that 62nd home run and then taking that into class and kind of presenting on it and I got the clip and I went in and I told everyone how special this was and I saw a couple faces light up and I thought then this is so fun.
And so cool to be the source of information and share this experience with people who might not have otherwise known. Well, could I do this as a job and you absolutely can do this as a job you can go and you can be a sportscaster and from that moment on I kind of oriented my life around trying to become a sportscaster.
So I anchored High School football games on the radio in New Mexico. I became the sports intern at the NBC station in Albuquerque had my first, you know, kind of mentorship experience from those guys who I’m still close with today. And then ended up going to the University of Missouri, which has a very famous broadcast journalism program.
They actually let students report the news on the NBC affiliate for Columbia, Missouri – you’re going out to something like 80,000 homes in the you know, greater Columbia area in the middle of Missouri and I got to cover the team and anchor Sports when the Missouri Tigers football team was actually number one in the country.
So it was very fun. It was an absolute passion. But at the end of the day when I started thinking about a career it was it was a tough road. They don’t really make new TV stations the same way they do companies. Yeah, and the economics are not so great either. I had a friend who coming out of school in 2008 was offered a job in Flint, Michigan.
For $19,000 a year and I heard about this and I said, you know what? I just don’t think this is for me to figure out what I was going to do had an offer to be an MC on a cruise ship which was not when I ended up taking but I saw a Facebook ad and it said come join a fast-growing company and I clicked on the ad and it took me to this website with a picture of this tiny office with lime green wall.
And it said the top 10 reasons to work at Alpha Four on one and they were all really silly and at the bottom it said if you think you could be a good media sales associate send us a paragraph saying why and I didn’t know what a media sales associate was but I thought those reasons really funny paragraph talking about how I’ve been a broadcast journalism major and I, you know knew how to speak to people and I would love to a chance to talk about this opportunity and the next thing you know, I’m on the phone with the president of the.
He says Adam, we really like you. We want to fly you out to New York to meet the rest of the team. I get on a plane the next day and he and I met I met the rest of the operation and I said, okay, let’s do it and move to New York the day after graduation slept on a buddy’s couch for the first week.
I started working, you know a couple days after that and I guess the rest is history. So yeah, well it wasn’t that was a great story. And then so this company, what did they do? Yeah, so Alpha form one which eventually turned into what most people know is what people know is Yaks today at the time.
They were paid for performance advertising for small businesses and what that really means is one of the first things I did was launched a website called TV repairman.com TV repairman.com was a directory of Television repairman who would come and fix your TV. And what Yaks was able to do was to make sure that that directory showed up on the top of the search results whenever someone like you or I would go and say fix my television and so you put in your zip code and you would see a list of TV repairman and could fix your TV and my job was to get TV guys to TV repairman to sign up for the site and it was free for them to sign up.
And the only time they ever had to pay us was when we actually sent that a customer and we could track that using this technology. We develop that would scan the calls and giving a phone number unique phone number that would register that we knew was it called driven by us. So they would a consumer would go on they would find a television repair guy and then they would call this special number that we provided.
It would go right to the TV guy and if he booked a job we would take a commission. And I actually ended up doing that for 11 other lines of business things like podiatrist optometrist chiropractors auto mechanics auto glass repair guys, all these different types of businesses. And that was really where I learned how to sell and I created kind of there’s almost Mad Libs style process where you could Sub in, you know, transmission repairs for bunion removal and still have great success and after doing that for a while they said hey Adam, you’re pretty good at this.
Can you teach people how to sell and I said yeah, that sounds great. And so I worked with my VP of sales. We had 25 sellers on the floor at the time and we are hiring really quickly and I help grow that team from 25 to about 95 in just under a year. So it was it was a great experience. It was a great company jetzt ended up kind of splitting off and doing some other things and then they went public and today, you know, they’re billion-dollar public company, but that was really how I got my start and how I.
Most of the things that I know today. Yeah, I mean there’s just so much in that stuff. I just want to delve into so so you get this job you fly out to New York in and how big was the team at the time it was 8 I was a tires actually, so I was the fourth salesperson. I started with three other people two of them were salespeople and one of them was a client operations.
And I was salesperson number four and your job when you join was to get TV repairmen onto the platform, right? So as a matter of fact my job when I joined was to get Jim’s on a website called Jim tickets.com and after a month of doing that and having a lot of success they were like, hey, we want you to launch this new website TV repairman.com.
And I said, yeah, let’s do it. So how you ex works, they basically get these. Domains these websites and they it’s like they’re like landing pages for your X-ray. Yeah, and then your goal is to make sure there’s enough Supply to match the demand that people are searching for and looking for television repair.
That’s exactly right and then they ended up splintering that business calling it he likes and then selling he likes to IAC where it still exists today under the HomeAdvisor brand right and I see. They own pretty much everything much date myself all of it. So so why were you so good at this like what made you and what did you do to become great at this job?
Yeah, so and how are you finding for example gyms? And how are you finding these TV repairman? Like what like what was your strategy around that sure so are we had a list of places that we would call so I wasn’t doing anything City or special there? I think one of the things from the beginning was I kind of intuitively had it back at what to say and when to say it to get someone to buy and for me one of my first Evolutions as a salesperson came when I didn’t just say stuff because intuitively it felt good, but I started really being able to analyze what I was saying and understand the why behind everything.
That I would say to a customer or potential customer and from that I was able to kind of, you know, create a training program around that where I felt I think all the best salespeople are very self-aware and they understand the reasons behind everything they do and that’s not just when they’re selling to a potential client, but that’s when they get up in the morning and why they decide to go to the gym and what car they drive and where they’re going to go eat and how they interact with their friends.
And I think the best salespeople are very self-aware. They understand the motivations behind doing that. They can take a very analytical logical rational approach to that. And then once they understand themselves, they can start thinking about the people they’re speaking to and try to understand them as well.
And if you can understand someone’s motivations and their desires you can start to think about okay Walt if I can lead them down a path that will fulfill those things will also, you know, achieving my goal of. In the sale, I’d probably going to be in a pretty good position. That was that was kind of my big burst Evolution with the ability to understand why I was doing the things I was doing and then teach that back to you know, a bunch of new College grads and help ramp up the exhales team and then obviously I was able to take a lot of those skills and continue to improve them and evolve them and single platform.
So ultimately when you when you. Going to speak to a potential client. You’re trying to understand what their motivations are first, right? Yeah. I think that’s a large part of it, right? You know, I think that. Sorry, man, the hold on a second here. I got to make sure my computer doesn’t go silent because it I’m did the recording.
Okay. Hold on one second. Record from now troll are. Gosh, darn it.
That’s fine. I mean no worries. If it if it’s not reporting any more we can give us our core anymore. Okay? Yeah, I don’t know what happened. Now the like the whole things just Frozen. Okay, so you’re good with just on your side. Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, go ahead. So ultimately you wanted to understand someone else’s.
Before they before you went ahead and sold something to them, right? Yeah, I think you know people tend to do what’s always in their best interest. And the thing to recognize is that what might be in their best interest can also be in your best interest as well. And as a salesperson, it’s kind of my job to articulate value in a way that makes it seem like you’re getting exactly what you want and hopefully you truly are.
I’m also getting what I want. Right? So yes, I’m selling this product that’s going to be amazing for your business, but I’m doing that because I have a quota T. Right and so I think understanding that and recognizing that that’s okay is a very powerful thing and then overlapping those two circles what I want with what you want to find that solution for word is ultimately how you can be very very successful at sales and you ultimately found.
This to be true because you were basically rinsing and repeating the same approach for every new channel. You were given. Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly right. We went in and we launched all these different types of businesses and it was very successful and you know allowed the company to be sold. And you know, I think the reason that approach worked is because it was a sound process with a very clear understanding of the objective and the why behind it.
And we effectively were able to teach that to our sales team. Yeah. I mean it definitely wasn’t because from employee number 8. IPO is a pretty big deal. You kind of like glazed over that you were there up until IPO, right? No, so I was only Yaks for a couple years. I would say the real wind story is probably a single platform and at single platform.
I was part of the founding executive team and then really join to run all things sales. Spend the first 9 months by myself cold calling every day trying to figure out a scalable repeatable process. And then after those nine months we found that process and started hiring people and I think probably what I’m most proud of.
We’re able to build an incredible team and incredible company. We went from zero to 25 million dollars in Revenue. We might from myself to a hundred and fifteen people on the sales side. And in the middle of it all we were acquired by Constant Contact for a hundred million dollars. So, you know Yaks was a great story.
It was a great place to start my career, but for me, the probably my biggest professional wind was definitely a during my time in single Bond. So what was single platform what they do? I think it was kind of similar to yes in the sense that was trying to serve a small businesses. Is that correct?
Yeah, it was definitely similar in certain ways. We were selling to restaurants and giving them away to update their menu information online. So the number one thing that diners want to see when they look for a restaurant is their menu but before single platform, the only place you could view a menu was typically on a customer’s or excuse me on a restaurants own individual.
And what single platform would do was go to all the other places that people look for restaurants, like Yelp and Urbanspoon and Foursquare Facebook and Google and Yahoo. And we would distribute that then you contact and in our back end restaurants can update that whenever they wanted and then it would push out to all of those websites including their own and that was a great value prop for restaurants.
And you know, we signed up. Thousands upon thousands and the company was very successful is very successful still exist today. Yeah. So talk to me about obviously you are salesperson number one, right? So what were some of the challenges in trying to sell restaurants because historically, you know, small restaurants, you know, if you’re thinking about you know, the small Chinese store family-owned they’re not really into technology.
Like how did you overcome certain barriers like that? Yeah, you know with a lot of phone calls 2010 and. You know, thank goodness that most places at this point did have a computer inside of their restaurant, but they weren’t really focused on digital the way they are today and emailing these restaurants wasn’t how you were going to get in touch with them.
It was pure raw horsepower via the phone and we made an awful lot of phone calls. We had a pretty compelling value proposition, I think. And we never gave up and I think you know one of the early challenges are just finding that business model. That would be both something we could sell and also something that would make sense from an economic perspective.
And eventually we were able to come across that charging restaurants 250 dollars a year to update this information. But you know, that was a long nine months we sign up a lot of restaurants, but we weren’t in a place where we can say, this is a business that’s going to make sense. But then we figured it out, you know started building a team.
And again, the rest is history. How did you stay motivated during that time? I mean, especially joining the startup while you’re doing cells like how long did it take you to get like the first cell for example, and like any point where you you know, like disheartened you think this is not going to work?
No one was to use I’ll take this is not working. Like how did you like push through? Sure, so I joined single platform through my good friend Kenny hermant any introduced me to the CEO the founder why Lisa really and while and I got together and it was one of those situations where you just sit down with someone and you click and you say yes, this is I believe in this I believe in this person.
This is the kind of leader I want to work for this is the type of business. I want to build and it was great because why we looked at me and he said listen if you can figure out. How to sell this thing over the phone will build the company and the team around you and I was 24 years old and I said, oh my gosh that that sounds incredible like absolutely sign me up.
Hmm and in my first week, I actually ended up bringing on a 20 location Pizza chain in Phoenix, Arizona and that that was one of the more fun sales I’ve ever made because. This new sales guy comes in is he going to be able to do anything? We don’t know and out of the gate to bring on a 20 location spot.
I remember 10 he’s saying, you know looking around saying man. This is this really makes me look good and it was a fun experience. So, you know, how did I stay motivated? I it was through our leadership is through our team. It was through the family. We were building it all of us were working so hard.
Grinding towards this common goal and I didn’t want to let my teammates down and you know that was kind of the inspiration for me to keep going. But I also I felt really confident that I was going to figure it out and I think part of that again comes back to leadership Wiley really instill that confidence inside of me and said listen, we’re going to keep working at this.
We’re going to keep hammering away. We’re going to keep getting better and I feel like you know, I feel like we’re going to figure it out and you know, lo and behold we did. Yeah. And I mean like, you know in cells you hear all the time super high turnover, you know, 30 60 90 days of you know, if it’ll bring anything in or not moving the needle enough like you’re at the doors.
So why you must have really believed in you to give you kind of like that Liberty to last nine months to figure it out. Yeah. He did. I’m so lucky that we were in a position where he. Pressured me to try and hire people before we were ready to try and grow faster. We really took an approach of let’s get this right.
Let’s make this a coin-operated machine Let’s get that process in place and then let’s start to scale. And then I think that’s part of the reason we were able to grow so quickly because once we did have it figured out it was really that coin-operated machine. It was really plug and play and you know that let us go from zero to a hundred sales reps in.
You know less than four years. Yeah, that’s incredible. So I want to switch gears a bit now and drill down the bit more and kind of at the sales process in a general sense. So like what are some of the key attributes it takes to become a great salesperson sure. So I get this question a lot when I’m interviewing sales people, you know, they always ask you what are you looking for?
What are you looking for on your team? And it’s the same three things that it’s been for me for the past 10 years. And that’s mental mental investment internal motivation flexible and adaptable and coachable. Those are kind of the first three things. I look for so you’ve got to be internally motivated.
No one. I’m never going to run a team or were, you know coming around and we’re saying hey make another phone call dial phone get on the horn. Like that’s just not the kind of environment that anyone wants to be a part of you got to wake up. With that internal motivation every day at startups. You do have to be flexible and adaptable and I think that you know, sometimes people who want that really Define structure where it’s like clocking at nine leave it five.
That’s just not the right environment and then I mentioned earlier that the best salespeople I’ve worked with are always the ones who are most self-aware. They’re also the ones who are the most coachable. They’re the ones who will make all the mistakes but never the same mistake twice. So they’ll take that feedback that they get.
From whoever they’re getting feedback from and they’ll apply it in what I call almost real-time and that next phone call. They’ll be working on that stuff. So I think those are three of the things right you got to be internally motivated. You got to be flexible and adaptable and you got to be coachable and then I think on the other side of it something that we came up with a single platform three things that that we bring to work every day, which you know are somewhat similar hard work mental.
Positive mental attitude and that was what we would preach every single day. And those are three things that are in a salespersons control and I think one of the most difficult things about sales is it’s one of the only function. That relies on someone outside of the company to be successful. So I have to use my words and I have to use my presentation skills to articulate value in a way that takes someone who by default didn’t want the thing that I had and convince them that it is actually something that they want and that’s really difficult.
And sometimes you have to rely on this other person and that can make you feel like you’re not in control and when you feel like you’re not in control, it can be very difficult. To stay focused it can be very difficult to stay positive. So what I wanted us to do was have a team where we felt like we were in control and coming to work everyday with hard work coming to work every day with a positive mental attitude coming to work every day and being mentally invested.
Those were three things that we could control and I can I can dig in a little bit on those. You know, you’ve got to make the calls hard work beats Talent when Talent fails to work hard. It doesn’t matter how talented you are at. If you’re not out there working hard someone else is working harder and they’re going to end up selling more than you.
Yeah, you’ve got to be mentally invested. So sometimes as a salesperson you can start to run on autopilot and it becomes routine, but the thing about it is it might be routine for you. But for the person on the other end of the phone or the person on the other end of the table or the other other side of the room, it’s not routine for them.
It might be the very first time they’ve ever heard anything about your company and you owe it to them to make sure that you are giving them that a plus experience and I think sometimes we tend to forget that or we assume that it’s not going to go well or we assume it is going to go well and we get sloppy we get lazy.
We stop being mentally invested so you’ve got to be mentally. He said laser fucking Focus that single platform. I was all we talk about it. And then the last piece the positive mental attitude, you know, our energy is contagious when you’re in a good mood people can tell when you’re a bad mood people can tell that you know affects the people around you and while being positive might not necessarily always lead to making more sales.
I have never in my selling career seen someone make less sales with a smile on their face and there’s an incredible Ted Talk called The Happiness Advantage from Shawnee. You wrote a book called The Happiness Advantage as well. And that was a TED Talk that we watch in every single training class that I led at single platform because that talk about positive mental attitude.
When our porn we are positive our brains actually perform better than when we are negative neutral or stress salespeople are actually better dopamine, which is released when our brains are positive actually opens up the Learning Centers of our brain. So, you know putting that smile on your face smiling thread tricking your brain into being positive that has Downstream effects that really help salespeople be successful so hard work mental investment positive mental attitude, you know, you bring those three things to the table every single day those three things that are in your control you’re on the path to success for sure.
That’s that’s incredible. That’s also an in terms of like. You know you historically worked in B2B space is I mean, I know you did to have a b2c product and we’ll talk about that shortly but in the B2B environment, you know, one thing that I hear from startups or people working in the B2B environment when it comes to sales is the cell cycle.
Like what should I be doing? If something is a six-month cell cycle, like how do what can I speed up as anything within my own control unit mention control earlier? How do you stay motivated? How do you have that positive mindset when it’s such a long sales cycle of some businesses? Yeah. So listen, if it’s a six-month sales cycle and you know that then that sounds great.
Right. The only time you should be positive is when you don’t achieve the outcome that you want or things don’t go according to plan. One thing that I often talk about with salespeople is anytime you delegate anytime you leave it to someone else like a decision-maker at a company you’re trying to sell to.
You are making it less likely you achieve the outcome that you want because no one is ever going to be more motivated to get the outcome that you want then you hmm. So you want to put yourself in a position where you’re in control and sometimes that just looks like making sure you have next steps making sure you have buy-in from the people you’re working with setting a timeline that you both agree to set expectations really life is all about just managing expectations.
You know the joke, I always say is if you know you and I are sitting next to each other and I say Phillip. I’m going to you know punch you in the face and 5 Seconds and I start counting down from five and then I go to punch you and you don’t move your head out of the way. Well that’s on you. My man exactly.
What was going to happen. I think sales is sometimes very similar where you know, we say, okay. I’m going to you know touch base with you or lets lets, you know sync up. Next week to get you know, you and your other stakeholder in the room. How does that sound? That sounds great. Okay, and if I haven’t heard from you or haven’t gotten that document back by day tax, you know, I’ll just reach out later next week.
Is that okay? Yes, and now I have every right to go and reach out to that person and follow up with that person. I’m not being annoying. I’m not being a pain. I’m merely following through on exactly what I said if you agreed was going to happen and I think that’s something that some salespeople struggle with sometimes they don’t feel comfortable setting those very clear very bridge and next steps.
Very clear very rigid expectations that put them in the position to be able to move the deal for. And what ends up happening is things stall out because it starts moving on the decision-makers timeline. And that’s when it can feel like you’re powerless. It can be frustrating you get annoyed and it really just again comes back to making sure that you stay in control.
Even when you are relying on other people to kind of fulfill next steps. Yeah, that’s really good. I mean I can definitely. Testified to that. I mean sometimes I think it’s just a case of like you said people feeling like they’re pestering the following up. They don’t want to nag the person but in actual fact, you’re just not top of mind for some people and they might be interested but it’s up to you to really, you know, lead the charge on that deal 100% So how should startups approach the sales process from day one?
That’s a great question. I think you know, obviously there’s a lot of variables but the biggest thing is just start. I see a lot of teams go deep into the theory try to get it perfect coming out of the gate and the simple truth of it is you’re never going to get it perfect coming out of the gate.
It’s always going to be wrong. It is an iterative process. It really comes down to how quickly can you make those changes? And the most important thing to do is to plant your flag in the ground and say okay, here’s where we’re going to start. Let’s see how that goes and then just be open to being flexible and adaptable it you don’t have to solve this on day one, but you can’t start to solve it until you start interacting with customers and I see people tend to shy away from that or get nervous about it.
If you blow through a hundred customers, it’s not going to matter in the long run you are calling. Thousands and thousands of people you’re presenting to even if you’re just going after Fortune 500 companies taking a sample size 20 and try to reach out and get feedback from them is not a bad thing.
And that was one of the very impactful things. I did it at singleplatform when I was testing out pitches and scripts and models. I would go in and I would try to sell them and you know, they would sometimes a lot of times they say no, And I would say okay like after I went back and tried to handle their objections a couple times.
It was very clear. We were not making the sale I would stop and I would change gears I’d say, okay. Listen, I’m not even trying to tell you we’re kind of just getting started with this does this idea even make sense to you? Does this, you know pushing your menu information everywhere. Is that something that you think would be valuable like do we agree that just the.
Thing that I’m trying to sell. Is there any value here would you pay 10 cents for this? Would you pay a dollar for this? Would you pay $50 for this? Oh, I wouldn’t pay $50 Okay cool. So we’re saying that there is some sort of value. The values between one dollar and fifty dollars and then I would take that feedback what you know, what would be valuable to you?
What are the things kind of in this vein that you feel like would be worthwhile? And I think that’s a very very very valuable exercise for startups to go through with their potential clients in the beginning and asking them and being vulnerable and saying listen I get it tell me that this isn’t even valuable tell and then what they’ll say is.
Oh, yeah. I don’t think that the, you know, the menu is really important. It’s like oh. Holy crap. Well, we’re just disagreeing on facts now because every study tells us that the menu is indeed the most important thing that people look for the number one thing people. They want to see when they’re researching a restaurant so that that’s just simply not true.
And now it’s my job to use the Challenger sales methodology. Teach Taylor take control and explain that that is actually something that you should care about but really it’s just I need to figure out again coming back to those overlapping circles. What’s in it for them. How is this going to help their business?
What words am I going to use in what order to articulate value in a compelling way that makes them say, okay. This is something I want to take a look at and you got to talk to your customers and understand why they don’t. You’ll that way if you’re not getting that feedback of yes, I want to buy so someone like that and thanks for going through all of that because I was excellent.
Someone like that, right you disagree on the facts. So conventional wisdom would say that’s not sailing. Don’t try and sell to the non-believers cells with the agnostics, right? So would you not just walk away? Oh, no, I never walk away from a fight. I love getting in there. Big Challenger sales guy.
Teach Taylor take control and I think that’s an opportunity to teach most clients are used to running a sales process themselves. They go up their Pace. There is a traditional, you know salesperson buyer relationship where the salesperson is almost subservient to the buyer and I just don’t think that that’s the way you should think about it when we were reaching out to businesses to tell them about single platform.
That was the best phone call. They were going to get all week. Thank goodness. They were so lucky that they got a call from us because we’re going to help their business grow. And that was the mindset and the attitude that all of our salespeople had and it came from the top and it was very very effective.
So, you know, I would love to have a conversation about the facts. That is an unquestionable place where I feel very comfortable that will come away from that conversation with a positive outcome by using logic and reason and eventually breaking it down to get to irrational place. But yes, many many decision-makers many buyers are not rational and it’s our job to use logic and facts to teach them and help them get over to a place where they can start behaving in a rational Manner and come to the logical conclusion that they should buy.
Yeah, that’s good. I mean you advise a number of startups on the sales process. That’s your thing. So what have been some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen startups make I mean, I know you alluded to some just now in terms of acting quite subservient to their clients, but there any else that come to mine.
Yeah. So I think the the biggest thing I came up with something called the minimum selling method. So most companies today kind of go through this process where they have a. And they hire a salesperson and they don’t really teach the salesperson out of sell they just kind of teach them how to talk about the product.
And so the sales person gets on the phone with a potential client and they start telling them all this information about the product and then they stop talking and they stopped talking to me. Hope that the buyer on the other end of the line is going to say, oh my gosh Adam that was so much great information that you just shared.
I would like to buy. Now in reality that typically doesn’t happen though. The salesperson thinks in their head. Oh, man. I must not have shared enough valuable information. I better share some more info and they start talking again and they share more and more info and then they stopped again and they hope that they get that response that the you know, the buyer wants to buy but they don’t and they continue this process a couple of times until they run out of information to share and the buyer says, okay.
Well that was a lot of information. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you and that’s the worst thing you can hear but they do at that point truly need to think about it because the more information I share with you the more complex the decision-making process becomes if I give you a very little bit of information, it’s very easy for you to make a quick decision that decision might not be the answer that I want but it’s easy for you to make that decision if I give you a lot of information it becomes more complex to make that decision.
And so what I noticed was. Companies weren’t teaching people how to sell they were just teaching people how to talk about their product and I came up with this thing called the minimum sign method in the minimum sign method is pretty simple. The job of the salesperson is not to share information.
The job of a salesperson is closed. Now in order to close a certain amount of information needs to be shared your goal as a salesperson is to share the minimum amount of information. While still getting the customer to buy and that is a somewhat when I go in and I came up with this after Consulting for you know, probably a dozen companies and seen literally the same pattern over and over again.
Sometimes this makes people by surprise because all right. Wait a second. No, it’s my job to explain the product and it’s not as a salesperson. It’s just my job to get the sale now. I do have to explain certain things about the product by just call you up and I say hey Phillip, my name is Adam. I’m calling I’m calling from company a.
Would you like to buy you’re going to say absolutely not hang up the phone or maybe if I’m lucky or going to say what’s company act as a company X is a you know, we make the best piece of software to help your business make the most amount of money. What’s your credit card number? And you say well wait, wait, what does it cost?
And then you’re gonna have all of these other basic questions, and I don’t want you to ask me those basic questions. I want to get ahead of that and tell you the answers to those basic questions before you. And that is effectively what becomes that information said that you share it are those things that everyone is going to ask you every time but you know, I tell companies that you’re going to have a hundred percent of the information.
You’re probably only going to need to share, you know, let’s call it 25 to 30 percent of that to make the sale now the trick is that 20% of that 25 to 30 percent is going to be the same every single time and the best salespeople what they’re able to do is think dynamically. And take from that knowledge base of all the information the key points and key things that are specific to that business that will really push things over the edge.
But all in all my job is to get out of there as quickly as possible with the sail and the more information. I share that doesn’t necessarily always correlate to the higher likelihood of closing and I think that idea is sometimes a new one to sales people and even sales leader. I mean that’s a massive one for me right now.
My mind is blown that to lately. So, you know tells people what they always told the more information you can communicate the better you sound and the more likely someone is to convert. So you’re saying you’re going to need to to share 25 to 30 percent of that. How do you even know what that information is?
I think it’s the information that the majority of your potential customers are asking. You right they’re going to want to know why this is good for their business. I laughs ain’t that fa Q’s cost. They’re gonna want to know who else is using it. They’re going to want to know why they should sign up or whatever.
It is. Those are all the things that go into your pitch. That’s your standard kind of walk through whatever your product is and then there’s going to be additional things on top of that. You know, I think of decision-makers I think of sales is kind of like a lock-and-key game, right? So. Every decision maker is a lock and we are the key and it’s our job to figure out which key we need to be and when you start in sales, you’re not a very good locksmith.
You only have a couple keys on your belt. But as you encounter more and more situations you figure out how to open more and more locks. And the reason I like that analogy so much is every key. Is kind of similar, right? They all look a little bit in the same family. They go up they go down they go across but every T is also unique and it’s a little bit different and I think it’s very similar with sales.
The majority of what we’re going to do is the same but then there’s those little pieces that are different and it’s all about those little pieces that will open or close the door. And so, you know, I’m trying to get out there. Get out of that conversation as quickly as I can. I want to share the information.
I need to share in a compelling fashion to get you excited. But it’s not my job to tell you everything and anything about what the product can do. It’s my job to tell you enough about what the product can do so that you can’t wait to buy it and I again, I think that is a sometimes a different mindset that how people approach these conversations.
Mmm, and I guess this also depends on. It does it does this depend on the price of the product, you know, do you take the same approach if you’re selling a product that costs for example, $250 a year or a month or $5,000 a month. Like is it the same approach across the board? I think fundamentally, it’s a similar approach.
I think how you execute that approach may be a little different the information set that you can draw from. For a million-dollar deal is probably going to be a lot larger than the information set your working with for a 50 dollar deal when you’re going into complex Enterprise sales with multiple stakeholders were many pieces of the business are being touched.
You do need to educate all of those people about all of those things. But again, the principles remain where you only need to educate them enough for them to be excited to buy. You know and sometimes maybe that does require going through every nook and cranny, but it’s been my experience that that’s simply not the case and oftentimes the by is being made, you know as much for emotional reasons as it is for rational reasons, which you know implies that there is some emotion you can create by taking that Challenger sales mentality of teaching tailoring and controlling that sales process.
Absolutely, and on top of you know, executing on the MSM model minimum set of all method. That should be a name of a book by the way. I hope you got a copyright what else can startups do to set themselves up for Success from a practical standpoint? So like what tools can they use or can you talk about anything that has made you more effective and more efficient in your role as ourselves?
Sure, I think you know Salesforce is always a good one most companies that don’t start with Salesforce typically end up there and I always say that those costs are not going to be why your business succeeds or fails. So there’s no like, you know, you might as well start with the right stuff. I think hiring is really important, you know.
Some people say hire slow Fire fast. I actually think it’s hire Fast Fire fast in the beginning. You just need people in there and you want that good solid really strong a plus player, but don’t necessarily look for that unicorn because there’s still so much more to prove never hire. Just one person always hire at least two, so you.
Compare them against each other. You want to know if it’s your process that’s broken or if it’s the person executing that process very difficult to understand that if there’s only one person and I think. you know really making a commitment to culture from the beginning. I know that’s not a tool but I I know there’s a ton being spent on sales enablement.
Sales operations and things like that, but for me, it’s really about putting in that work and actually engaging with customers and selling and if you can do that, well, that’s far more valuable than any tool that you could plug in to your to your CRM fulsome. I wonder what tools wrapping up now Adam and ask a few rectified questions, which I always ask all guests that come on the show.
So what has a who has been your biggest inspiration. Biggest inspiration is Will Smith. I’m a huge huge Will Smith guy. I called the best rapper actor alive. And I really love the way that he thinks about wife. He’s recently got an Instagram and his posts on responsibilities and fall. And here are all so incredible and he’s got a another video that I would show to all of our new hires Will Smith shares his secrets to success and it’s just great.
You know, it’s unrealistic to think that you know, you could walk into a room flip a switch and have a light turn on thank goodness. Edison didn’t think so. It’s unrealistic to think that you could Bend metal and fly it over the. But thank goodness. The Wright brothers didn’t think so and I think he’s just got a really great approach to life.
And you know, he is truly an inspiration for me. Yes good favorite podcast favorite podcast the only podcast I listen to right now. Pardon my tate by Barstool Sports. Nice favorite blog. I’m a big fan of faster. I think Jason lemkin is one of the smartest sales leaders. In the game and he both tweets and right great great insights about what it takes to make a successful sales organization custom.
That’s what Harris Toppings is. All right, I think maybe he’s a contributor. Yeah favorite book. Harry Potter, no, no way. Oh, that’s why you’re friends with Derek. I. Yeah, favorite Instagram account. Obviously Will Smith. I guess Will Smith is a green Instagram account. I’m trying to think what else do we constantly share?
I like a lot of the food stuff and a lot of the travel stuff three basic answers, but those are good too. Yeah. What do you wish you could do that? You currently can’t.
Oh man, great question. I wish I could play. Any sport at a professional level? I haven’t had that wonderful. That’s good. What’s the advice you would give to your 21 year old self?
I would tell myself. Don’t ever slow down. If you had a hundred dollars in your favorite City, what would you spend on? Food no question. Great meal. Yeah, what’s the one thing startup should ignore in the early days?
I get it. Here’s the haters. You gotta ignore the haters. There’s definitely some value in understanding why people don’t like what you’re doing, but you have to have a rabid unwavering belief that you are going to change the world. Yeah, that’s good. And I guess what is what does the future look like for Adam right now?
I mean do we do you have a book coming? You know, I really like this this minimum set up this minimal selling method. I think that’s a that’s a book right there. I don’t have a book coming. You know, I work with tons of startups both as a consultant and advisor. I love digging into sales problems and try to figure out how to cut that key to open that lock and just looking at companies and helping sales teams move faster.
So some Adam thank you so much for coming on the show. This was awesome. Where can people find you if they want to get in contact with? You can always find me on LinkedIn. They can always find me on Twitter at Adam Lee Min. That’s why handle on Instagram as well and feel free to drop me an e-mail Adam J dot Liebman at gmail.com.
Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Hey, thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.