NYC Enterprise Sales Forum: Fireside Chat with Steli Efti
Steli recently gave an interview at the NYC Enterprise Sales Forum, a community for B2B sales professionals involved in complex sales cycles. Whether you’re doing enterprise sales or not, you'll still get value out of listening.
If you’re ready to master the mental game of sales and move deals forward, here's Steli's best advice on the power of following up, creating competition, thinking long-term, and more. Watch the interview now or read the transcript below.
Create a scalable & predictable sales process with the free Startup Sales Course.
Interviewer: Is this working? Is this working? Yes? No? Test 1-2-3. Mine working?
Steli Efti: Yes.
Interviewer: All right good. Thank you. Thank you. One person. We're probably going to end up having a pretty free-flowing conversation so Steli and I talked a little bit beforehand. But we're going to focus on a lot of the things that you received from us over the last couple of weeks about hustle, about competition, about determination, about grit, stuff that is near and dear to Steli's heart for anybody here who reads any of the stuff he puts out. Steli, I don't want to get this wrong so I'm going to read it. Steli is the co-founder and CEO of Close. He's Silicon Valley's most prominent sales hustler, a YC alum, advisor to several start-ups and entrepreneurs and the author of The Ultimate Startup Guide to Outbound Sales. Steli when you hear Silicon Valley's Ultimate Sales Hustler. What does that mean?
Steli Efti: It's an interesting question. I don't know. This is a quote from something around what you don't have in talent you have to make up in hustle, but I don't know who said that. Another way of saying Silicon Valley's Most Prominent Sales Hustler is Silicon Valley's Least Talented Successful Person. I don't know I just make up with effort what I lack in talents.
Interviewer: Awesome. That's a great way to put it. If anybody Googles you they're going to learn two things pretty quickly. One, they're probably going to learn that you have got a penchant for off-color language, and then they're also going to learn that there's an amazing talk out there that you put out that the team that asking you to give the talk threw a name around and they said "Hustle or go home," and you interpreted that, you said, "No, it's go home and hustle." Then you outlined three tenants of what hustle really meant to you. Can you walk us through those?
Steli Efti: Yeah, that was actually really because that conference to make me give the first talk and the last one. The challenge was that the first one, the opening keynote, the room was packed. There were like you'd be the first person ever to get the last queue to be as full as this one. Let's see if you can do that. That was how that happened. Just to explain a little bit of a context. I feel super weird today. There are multiple things going on. One, if you talk to me and I'm not as mobile as you would think, or if you think, "Why is he stretching his leg? Really there's not like some kind of body language power play going on between the two of us." I had ACL surgery recently so my knee is still kind of a mess. Then today, I don't know it is. I don't know what I have, but I'm hot, I'm cold. I feel slightly like on drugs but I haven't taken anything to my knowledge. I've been hanging all day with my co-founder, Anthony over there, that handsome blond fellow. I don't know you put something in the coffee we had this morning but I feel super weird. If I make no sense today, it has nothing to do with that. If I feel just out of it or if you see me sweat or chill or something or I change my colors, it has nothing to do with your question. My body temperature seems very critical, I might just be in pain. Just giving that out to context I feel a little funky but I'm sure that this will have healing powers for me this session. Having a roomful of salespeople, my type of people, is always going to be good for my body and soul and spirit. What the hell was the question? Oh, hustle. I'm like, I don't remember what I was saying a minute a second ago. I do think that sales, although I do think it's a beautiful thing, an essential thing for us humans, I do think that it's very simple. I don't think selling is that complicated but it is challenging nonetheless. Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. To me the formula is very straightforward, you show up, you follow up, and follow through if you go for the folks or you folks, to the three things. Showing up doesn't just have to mean in person. It can be in person, it can on the phone. You pick up the phone. You show up, you take that first step to create a connection between you and another human being. That's a crowded space but still, maybe people will reach out like that. But then the follow-up and follow through I find being like almost nobody is competing with you. That's where I find it's the easiest to move the needle. Then going for the close is something that's also challenging for people, creating that moment of truth. As I think of it that moment of beautiful truth: Yes or no. Let's create a real outcome here versus leaving in that beautifully comfortable space of maybe. Right? The hopeful land of, "I think they really like this and they are going to buy, but I don't know anything else about it and I'll leave them alone and I'm going to be waiting for the money to just come in." Those are the three steps.
Interviewer: I think the one that we'll probably all benefit from diving a little bit into is the second one.
Steli Efti: Follow-up. Yeah, follow-up.
Interviewer: It's the follow-up and you just start out something with the maybe thing. You got us going that maybe is where start-ups still die, I think that can translate to the sales.
Steli Efti: Yes.
Interviewer: Maybe is where sales divide. Can you talk to us a little bit about some times where you've really seen the follow-up turn a deal that seemed dead into something real again and then how you found the energy to do that when sometimes you feel like you really don't want to.
Steli Efti: Yeah, you actually are a quote on one of the follow-up courses that we do where you told us, "Hey I follow-up this very specific follow-up structure and I pulled this X-Y-Z deal. He doesn't even remember anymore. But we do have has handsome on some copy of ours. Listen, the advice I give around follow-up and follow through is the type of advice I can't hear myself talk about anymore, I've talked about it so much, but it's consistently the highest piece of value piece of advice that I give measured on the amount ... Emails I'm getting on a daily basis at this point I get two to three emails a day with people telling me, "I just closed a $300,000 deal by following your follow-up advice. You just hired this person. I just published a book on hiring and how you get to think really long term. Another handsome fellow right behind Anthony, Nick Persico. This guy, I was following up on trying to hire him for three years, four years?
Steli Efti: Every fucking month. All right? I don't give a shit. Once I know I want to work with you, I think in decades. I have the next 20-30 years to make that happen. It doesn't really matter to me if it happens this year or next year. Right? That's the time that I try to apply. People that hire amazing people press investment like hundreds of millions of dollars of value has been created by me screaming at people they need to follow-up more. I just keep doing it out of a sense of duty that I know that this is really valuable although I've heard myself say this a million times already. I think that's just applied for or for sales. To me, if you're in sales your number one job is to create outcomes. Yes is great, obviously. Yes is the preferred outcome, but no is equally good. To me, if you get a hundred no's, you're not going to be ignoring that. That's clearly something is going wrong here. Right? Either we're trying to sell to the wrong person the wrong thing, or I'm the wrong type of even if I attempt to sell something to them, but something is clearly strongly going the wrong way. If you get a lot of yeses, awesome. Right? I know I'm going to right here. Let's it. It's that maybe zone which you don't know what the fuck is going on and there's no clarity of what to do. Usually, in that bubble of maybe, people just make up a story they want to make up. You know? With most salespeople and entrepreneurs we have a big flaw is that we're such positive thinkers and we're hopeful, and we think the world is going to be a better place and we think we change things. When you have a lot of things in the maybe stage, you probably are fooling yourself that too many of these will turn out into a yes. Most of the times if something is stuck in the maybe ditch too long it will stay there forever.
Interviewer: I think there are two really important things. Let's go back to the first one first and put Nick on the spot a little bit. Nick, what did Steli say 2-1/2 years in that finally got to him?
Steli Efti: Well Nick worked for us.
Interviewer: Let's go back a little bit.
Steli Efti: Nick was one of the ... We were running sales teams on demand for startups in Silicon Valley. We did that for 200 venture big start-ups. During running what was then called ElasticSales, we built an inside sales CRM called Close, first just for our own means and then eventually we released that and that product became a bigger business than the main thing we were doing, so we just fully focused on that. Nick was one of the first salespeople, we were renting out to startups. Then he was the first person doing sales and marketing for Close. Right? We knew he was pretty amazing and then he broke our heart and left. Right? He left because one of our customers offered him an amazing opportunity and he was like, "All right let me do that. Let me move up in my career." Right after that, he started his own company so he became a founder. We had to go through all kinds of life stages on this journey with him to be very patient. We helped a lot. It was kind of a dual thing of helping him wherever we could and telling him, "If what you're doing isn't working out, we're going to be the next stage of your life again." But what convinced you ultimately?
Nick: Well I think what ultimately happened was I came to you guys because my company was failing and we were about to shut down. It was just this knowledge that they were always going to be there for me, just for me. The first thing that I talked to and say, "Hey this thing is happening." They gave me advice of that first and then they're like, "Well by the way," when that the founding, when he was talking about. Since they were always just keeping in touch at all times more or less, for every month for three years, they were the first folks that we talked to, to tell them what's going on in my journey right now and it worked out that way. They were just there, and continued to follow up.
Steli Efti: Very flatting your version of the story, but this is exactly what you want to be. You're just the first person they think of. You know what? The truth being, I don't give a fuck. I don't need him to tell me, "Well, I never loved the company more than Close and I knew there would be only one option." I don't need to hear that bullshit. It doesn't have to be romantic. He needs to be happy in what he does today. He needs to be fulfilled. He needs to be challenged and excited. He needs to want to stick around but I'm okay with saying, I would bet a lot of money that at any point in those three years if somebody would have woken you up at 3:00 am in the morning and said, "What's the company on this planet that wants to work with you the most and what's so high and the most urgently?" It would have just said Close.oi, right? He knew. There was no fucking doubt that we want to work with him because we never left any doubt about that and when the time was right, he didn't even have to think. "I wonder, who could I work for? What is another company that would be a good fit?" He just went straight back into our arms. Something romantic I had to throw in there.
Nick: But it sounds like it's not just that you were following up because you said you were to help as well and you were there to advise and answer questions and you were delivering help. That is an important part of that.
Steli Efti: I'm sure if it wasn't a fit, like all jokes aside, if left Close and thought, "These people are fucking horrible. I hated every minute of working there. Then he worked for another company and then for his own company. I thought, "My God, now finally I'm working with really talented, awesome people, big shit." He wouldn't have just said, "Well they talked to me on the phone. I hate them but I guess I have to work for them because they've been following up." He wouldn't say yes.
Steli Efti: See how that works? It needs to be a fit. Just because I follow-up with you forever when I'm trying to sell you that has zero value in your life, I don't think that that's going to work out, or that is a worthwhile endeavor. But when there is a fit, if I know that I can create value, then we're a good fit. I'll never let go.
Interviewer: We're in one of those times of the year right now where it's really easy to stop following up because we started a book saying on that television at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter. I think probably one of the places where we could because I've been following up even a little bit more on something as much as you talk about it, there's still plenty of people who probably aren't doing it, don't really understand how valuable it can be. What should everybody take away tonight, those that do following up? What should they do tomorrow on deals that aren't going to close this quarter?
Steli Efti: My advice on that is very simple. Take the amount of follow-up you do today, double it. If just 10% of this room do that, we'd make the world a better place. I guaran-fucking-tee you. We'd really make the world a better place that way. My follow-up philosophy is very simple. There's a lot of nuances. Right? It's different when it's cold versus when it's warm. If I had a conversation and I'm convinced there's a fit, there's a different type of path that I go down to that when I've never talked to you and I'm reaching out to make that first connection. When I reach out to make the first connection, if there is a connection, if there is a fit, I will follow-up with you forever, indefinitely. This means forever and ever. I will never stop following up until I get a result. I don't care. Yes? I'll leave you alone. I'm not even one of these people that are like, "Yes, no is the first step to yes." That is true in some cases but I don't even have time for that. I don't optimize for turning noes into yeses except it's really important for me. Mostly it's not, but if I don't get a response from you most people will assume it's a rejection. I don't. I assume you're fucking missing. You have a life, there's something else going on and responding to me is not on top of your mind. I'm just going to follow-up and champion that relationship until it was the right time for you to tell me, yes, or to fuck off or something, but I'm not going to leave it at that with great free call and a great demo and then they just fell into the depths of the earth and I don't know what's going on with them. You'll never get that from me.
Interviewer: I'm going to give you a story from early today where I was talking to a friend of mine who is working a deal with this large coffee maker that we all know. She said, "I followed up but it's a cell phone and I'm calling him in the morning. He's on his way to dropping off his kids and I don't want to bother him." What would you say to that?
Steli Efti: Okay, so you have the cell phone of the person. Who gave that to you?
Interviewer: He did.
Steli Efti: He did. That's awesome. All right, you can stalk him for the cell phone. Okay. In the morning he brings his children to school. Can you call at a different time?
Steli Efti: Have you done that?
Interviewer: Well he's been specific about telling her to call in the mornings.
Steli Efti: Oh, so he told you he wants to talk to you while he's bringing his children to school? Have you done that?
Interviewer: How far does forever go in this situation?
Steli Efti: Well, most of the times when I go through these therapy sessions, I realize the problem is not the prospect. It's us. It's a story that we tell ourselves about this. Because, the same thing, I always say my basic advice with businesses, the equivalent of it in health and fitness would be "Eat broccoli and work out." What do I need to do to lose weight? Eat fucking healthy shit and work out. The problem about that advice is I don't want to eat broccoli and I don't want to work out. One doesn't taste good, the other thing takes effort. Can you give me another version of this? That's why there's an industry and every year there are 10 million books coming out on new diets and new workouts. Why? Because people don't want to do the things that it takes for them to get what they want. They are looking for an answer that they want to do. Right? That's similar with most salespeople, they come to me with their problems and it's their problem more than the prospect's problem. In this case, let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say, he told her to call in the morning. He told her to call while he's bringing his children to the school but then every time she calls, he's like, you got the children screaming and crying in the background, he's like, "Well, maybe it's not a good time, can you call me tomorrow?" She's done that 10 times already. This is unheard of. This type of problem typically doesn't go with a reasonable challenge. It goes with, "I think this is not good." Or, "I'm mindfucking myself not doing the thing." Right? If even that were to happen, I would challenge her to challenge him if there's another way. The 10th time I would tell the person, "Listen, dude. I love you and I love your kids. Let's power through this together and I don't care if your children are crying in the background. We'll get through this thing. It happens every day, so it's not an unusual case. I'll help you. I'll distract you from the crying. Or, if that's not an option, give me another time. I just need one time. I don't want to be calling you every day. I'm wasting your time, my time. Your children are thinking, 'Who is that crazy lady that's calling all the time?' Let's find another option and get this done and gets you to the result that makes you money and makes this work, let's get off this fucking thing and both move on with our lives." I would challenge the prospect. If he sets me up in a way that constantly we both are failing, failing means we're making zero progress here. You need to push back and tell the person, "Hey this isn't working out. We need to figure this out right now."
Interviewer: I want to tie that fact to something you said a few minutes ago which is around the maybe.
Steli Efti: Yes.
Interviewer: Let's start with the premise that probably the fear of picking up the phone and calling while this guy is dropping his kids off, is I'm going to get a maybe if he picks up, I'm going to get a maybe. What can we be doing to prevent that?
Steli Efti: I think people are more afraid of the no than the maybe. I think most people optimize their pitch to get the maybe. Right? They set it up in a way that's like, could this be interesting for you? The people, "Well maybe." "Awesome. Let me send you some more information. You do whatever you, discuss it internally and I'm going to wait to hear from you. I have all the patience in the world and whenever you're ready to buy, you know my contact information." That's what I find in an exaggerated version of it. I don't think that people are afraid of the maybe. They're optimizing for not getting the no. They're afraid of getting a real rejection, hence while we're okay with the maybe. Maybe could turn into a yes, and no seems kind of a definite thing, which I believe is also bullshit. I don't think that a no is definite. I think that people don't want to get to a clear outcome because they're afraid that if I have 10 deals in the pipeline and I push really aggressively today to find out yes or not, make a decision, many people might say no. Well, what the fuck do I do then? The same thing. I'll give you a little YC story. When we went through Doubleday, this is 2011. I was one of the raw, cocky, arrogant, asshole versions of the founders then and I had gone through fundraising before, very unsuccessfully, where I raised nothing in three years. I was like NYC, "Fuck that shit. I'm not going to go through hell again." We got 50 or 60 investors to be interested in our deal and we dropped those off to Doubleday. I had this email set up and it was basically, "Hey! So excited and honored for your interest. Here's the deal. We're closing the round in two weeks. These are our terms, and they were like the most ridiculous terms ever. If the time limit and terms make sense to you, let's jump on a call. If not, let's stay friends. Who knows down the line, there might be a chance for us to work together." Right? I wanted to force a clear yes or no. I didn't want to fuck around with 60 people, have coffee meetings because while I sit there having coffee you as an investor, you're making money. This is your job. I'm losing money to sit there for an hour. I'm not making any progress about business, I'm losing money. I want to make sure I don't fuck around with all those wannabes but just talk with the people that are really ready to do this. I send out this email in a hotel room at night and I feel like it's big bad-ass. I'm like, "Fuck these investors," like in a really nice loving way. They don't have control over me and I'm not going to go through this thing where I'm trying to please all of them, and I feel pretty good about myself. Then the first response comes, it's like, "All right, no thanks." I can deal with that. The second response comes, "No thanks." All right, two, whatever, that's two. By the fifth no, I started to internally panic. I was like, "I just fucked up our company. I just fucked it up big. We're not going to raise money because I thought I'm going to be this bad-ass." "Oh my fucking God," I started panicking like walking up and down the room and figuring, "How do I save this? What do I do? What do I do?" Thankfully I knew that I was in an emotional state. It was like, "You know what? I can't do anything right now. It's too late, I already sent these emails. Go to sleep and tomorrow morning you'll see how many more rejections you get and we'll come up with a game plan." The next morning I had a few more rejections and then a few people that said, "Yeah, that sounds totally cool, let's talk." Then I was a genius again. It's like, "Oh groovy, obviously, it worked exactly like I wanted it to." It's not that, a) nobody's above liking rejection. I don't know anybody who loves rejection. There are people that have got desensitized to that. There are people that have learned that it's part of the deal, but I don't know anybody that's like, "Yeah, I want people to tell me what I do is bad and that gives me some ...", I mean there are some people that get some pleasure through that pain but I don't know anyone personally. People think I'm that way but I really am not. By this point, I don't even remember what the question was.
Interviewer: I think you answered it.
Steli Efti: That's all I need to know, that's all I need to know.
Interviewer: I want to shift gears a little bit. You wrote our poll recently that why am I sitting around with a bunch of friends, they all loved it. The title was something to the effect of The Start-up Culture is Killing Sales Culture. What are you doing? What's happening? How are we killing Sales culture?
Steli Efti: Well, first who here ... This is too late usually I would ask this very early in the process but whatever I just thought of. Do me a quick favor, raise your hand if you've never of me before this very moment. If you just came to meet-up but you know fucking who I am. Be really proud of that. You know, that's very good for my ego. Truly there's still a lot of work to do, that's okay. I just want to have like a sense for the room about how many people know some of my comments, some people are just like, "I like this meet-up and what the fuck talks, talks." The article was, it's a grander theme that I talk about a lot which is that I think that the ideal salesperson, this transits also to sales teams. I'll speak a little bit about how start-ups are messing with that. But it's not just start-ups, it's just start-ups it's particularly strong there. I think back in the day, the old model of being an exceptionally successful salesperson was kind of the both of Wall Street type person which in a quadrant if you want to psychoanalyze that personality type, you would call them "unfriendly and strong." Right? An unfriendly and strong personality type is somebody that thinks the world is a zero-sum game and they're out there to fucking kill the competition, take away the money from the customer, just crush everybody. Right? They're not very friendly the way they think but because they are strong, because they communicate from a point of strength, they bully people into submission. They get what they want because they push and pressure people to give them what they want. These people succeed in life oftentimes. Many times, unfortunately so, but they do, but they don't create a lot of value along the way. Oftentimes there is a challenge with longevity. Their customers, the people that have been pushed into submission, they don't come back for the next 10, 20 years to keep buying from them. Right? These people typically thrive in industries and thrive at a time where you could just burn through customers indefinitely. Right? You just didn't give a fuck. You just got as much money from that customer and then you go to the next one. There was just a big enough pool to do that. In today's world where reputation is a much more visible thing that sticks around forever and where it's harder to do that, it's a more challenging game to play but there's still room for that in the world. The exact opposite of that in that kind of psycho-quadrant profile is somebody that is friendly and weak. If you think of somebody that is friendly and weak, think of your favorite aunt, favorite art teacher maybe. Somebody that's always like apologetic. They exist. It's was like, "I'm so sorry that I've been calling, but would you mind listening?" They're the nicest people on earth but a funny thing happens. When somebody's weak and the way they interact socially with others, they will turn you into an asshole. They will make other people take advantage of them. Just the social dynamic dictates to take advantage of people that display a massive amount of weakness. Unfortunately, these people should be the most popular, most value creating people on earth but they're not oftentimes. The model that I preach for what I believe the perfect type of salespersons in it, especially the future type of salespersons, the sale person that will succeed over the next 30-40 years is somebody that is friendly and strong. Right? One ideal model of thinking of somebody that's friendly and strong is a good parent, for instance. A good parent comes from a loving place, loves their children but needs to have authority over them. You can't be that friend. You're not their equal. You need to be their boss. When played and your children are hungry and they're tired and they turn into fucking maniacs and they're running around, they're screaming and they're throwing things at you and telling you they hate you, you cannot stop.
Interviewer: What's it like to be a parent?
Steli Efti: Well, active boys, right? They come after me personality wise but thank God, look wise after their mother. When it comes to, when you get that kind of a situation a good parent, you're not going to start screaming back at the child and be like, "I hate you too. Don't you know what I've gone through to like raise you, you ungrateful ...". You realize this a child, I'm the parent. You tell them, "All right, little buddy I get that you're tired and hungry, but here's how it's going to go down. You're going to put on your pajamas, we're going to read the story and then you're doing to sleep." Then even if the child starts screaming, you put on the pajamas, You have assertiveness, you have clarity and comfort. You know what's going to happen and eventually, you realize the kid just goes, "Aw fuck it, all right. It seems like he knows what he's doing." They just go with it. They just push for a little while and let go. Similarly with prospects and customers. Or another model for those who aren't parents is a good doctor. Simply, they're an expert. First, when you come to them you want them to be empathetic. You want them to care. You want them to be friendly and to want the best for you. You want them to pay attention, ask good questions and what is really going on. You know when you walk through the door and the doctor goes, "You need surgery." You don't want to hear that, right? Just like you don't to talk to a salesperson, like, "You need to buy our product." "Wait, motherfucker, you don't know anything about me." Chill, let's figure this out first before you know the product is right for me or not. Once we've gone through the analysis from asking questions and testing and analyze unless we know what the problem is. You don't want them to be wishy-washy. You want them to have authority and tell you, "I'm the expert, this is what I'm doing." If you go, "Well, I don't want to do that surgery." It's not an option. If you have something with life or death, we're doing the surgery. We're doing it. We're scheduling it right now. It's happening in the next 48 hours. You want somebody that has that level of authority because you have an expert in sync with a great salesperson. A great salesperson is somebody that wants to create value, that only wants to sell people that should buy and where buying will mean they will get much more value from the exchange than what you charge them and only then, if you really want to make the world a better place through selling, but you do it from positional strength. You're not asking. Once I know that somebody needs to buy my product, I'm not asking, I'm telling. It's not an option. We're not two equals figuring out what should we do. I know what we need to do and I'm going to tell you. The same thing applies to teams in a broader spectrum. You want sales teams to be frankly and strong. Internally this means, the old school sales teams that were hyper-competitive and unfriendly with each other. Right? It's a dog-eat-dog world. I need everybody else to fail here so I can succeed. I need to get the good leads, give them the bad leads. I want to be the number one on the ranking board so everybody else gets to do bad, worse to me. That's a pretty toxic culture. It stops and I think increasing it as the businesses of the future, again because there's so much more transparency because there are so many more options the way it can work. People don't want to work in super toxic environments where everybody wants you to fail and everybody sabotaging you all day long. Life is too short for that shit. Right? You're like, "This sucks. Everybody here is just an asshole and this is no fun." I think that to really start to have created this and frankly an uncompetitive environment in their sales teams. They're like, "All right, we want no commissions. We don't want to know who is the best salesperson or whose quarter or month was good. We are one team so we're going to be reporting the entire sales teams' numbers. We're going to have 10, 20 people then you all figure out how to collaborate and they close the customer all together in a committee. Let's just sit down and everybody works really good to make this deal happen." Right? I get the appeal of that idea but it creates a lot of issues. It creates sales teams that don't know how to sell. They are not competitive. They don't develop that compulsory strength and certainty that you need to have within your sales organization. What ends up happening is the people who are your top performers they will get miserable and they will start being either deciding on leaving. Because they can tell that I'm bringing in 12 times the amount of customers than this other person does in the same amount of time and we get paid the same and there's no difference between the two of us in the recognition we get, our career, anything. That is an incredibly frustrating thing that happens and I see that, see more and more sales team they are openly concerned about culture which I think is super important. But they create this bullshitty culture of like the sales teams will just operate like the engineering team and we're going to pretend that that's a viable model and I don't think it is.
Interviewer: What's the pack because I think you made a point when you said it exists in the start-up culture but it's also starting to exist in the broader business culture over there. We do have to have some degree of that's meek and friendly personality and somewhat-
Steli Efti: Friendly, right? Not weak. If you think about top performing sports teams for instance. If you take a basketball team that's at the top of their game, these people are insanely and fiercely competitive and they want to be the best player. They want to be the best at whatever they do in the whole entire league, in the world, but also within the fucking team. They're competitive with each other but they're not competitive to the degree where they want everyone to fail because it doesn't fucking matter if all of you guys fail as long as I make my points, I'll get the super-duper bonus. Not like a salesperson in a very hostile environment, they're going to make tons of money, it doesn't matter if you fail. Right? It doesn't matter if you're the salesperson that has a horrible experience, because every salesperson's pocket would be completely disconnected from everybody else's pocket and results. If you think about a sales culture and team of the future more like a private team where we need to work together to win those championships, to get the best out of each other. We're going to be fiercely competitive with each other but in a friendly way, a way where I want you to be the best version of you today and I'm going to better than that. I don't want you to be a shitty version of yourself. I don't want to get the shitty things so I have an easy time to be the best. I don't wish bad for you, I just want you to be great and I want to better. Right? That's the kind of culture that we need to create I think to attract and retain the best comrades. I think lots of companies in the future, especially right now start-ups, they are attractive because it's cool to work for a start-up, it's cool to work in a technology business, it's cool to have the fantasy of hockey-stick growth and exclusive as IPOs and all that cool shit. A lot of salespeople will come because of that but I think if you work on a team where many people underperform, that's going to fuck with you and that's going to fuck with you mentally and emotionally and that's also going to make you weaker. It's going to slow your own growth down because you're not surrounded by excellence in your own team. I think ultimately that can't be a good thing.
Interviewer: When you say that sales model that's not like what? Let's dive into that a little bit deeper because a lot of people who are here are going to walk back into those offices and you just try tomorrow. The onus is essentially going to be on them to reignite this sales culture that you're talking about, the strong framing sales culture.
Steli Efti: Yeah.
Interviewer: What does a sales rep do if they walk in tomorrow and they want to be the spark to change that?
Steli Efti: First of all, raise our hands. Who thinks that that could be something that is an issue right now in the company or the team they work in?
Interviewer: There you go.
Steli Efti: We have to multiply that by some number, because I know how many people work together and you guys are like, "Fuck that. Why should I raise my hand?" But thanks to the people that raised their hand. I'll still keep this short. If you are one of those anonymous people that have a friend that this issue, shoot me an email and we'll talk about it. Steli@close.io. I don't think it's that complicated. You just need to be able to perform, get that framework yourself. Show up and push everybody in your team to be their best version. Again, from a friendly face, but not from a place that's just a supportive face. If somebody is fucking up, tell them, "Hey I think you can do better and I want to help you, but you need to step up your game. We all need to do that." Instead of just saying, "Hey I think everybody has a bad month, everybody has a bad year. I think you do really okay so just keep going." Instead of giving that bullshit encouragement just be honest with the world from a friendly face and just do that yourself without trying to have a meeting about it, and be like, "I need to talk with the CEO." Or, "Let's have a team meeting and I'm going to tell them some asshole at a meet-up said something about teams need to be friendly and I think our whole team structure needs to change." Then people ask you a few questions and you're like, "Oh shit. Why did I bring this up? Everybody hates it and I'll look like an idiot." Just do it yourself. Pick one person on the sales team and go like, "The two of us are going to be Version One of this." Right. Tell that person about it and go, "Let's get more competitive with each other, push each other for more excellence." If that works and it really enhances our performance we will start getting more people to attach to this idea. If not, if you're one of those people that are like, "I do this amazingly well but the company and the team just doesn't want to do it. They all suck and they will suck for a while." Let's find a better team. Then you do move on and find a team where that works out for you.
Interviewer: I think a lot of what you're talking about are very fundamental. Right? It's below the tactics almost. How do you get the energy to actually employ the tactics? Zooming forward a bit, a sales conversation in 2017 is remiss without a little bit of a touch on the tools that are out, the tactics that are being employed that are brand new and that are cutting edge. Obviously everybody in here is talking about how AI is going to either completely fall apart or it's going to replace salespeople. Right? We generally one of those poles. What do you think once we put the fundamentals aside, what do you think is going to lead the charge in 2017 from what's new and exciting for all sales?
Steli Efti: Probably work out is not as exciting to me. I don't care about the newest fucking diet, workout rhumba with Yoga with infusion of, whatever the fuck you do to work out and have fun. I don't care about any of that. To me, certain fundamentals ... Like I love Jeff Guys. This is a CEO one of the most mindblowing things that they thought up from a strategy point of view from Amazon was that early on they realized that technology is going to be changing at a rate that we won't keep up, so instead of trying to figure out what's going to happen next and how can we be part of that, let's ask the question: What will never change? Then let all decisions that we make follow along from that philosophy. They are thinking about, "Well what never changes customers will never go, 'I won't pay more for the same part.' Customers will never say, 'I want to wait longer to get what I want.'" They made some very fundamental things where they said, "That's going to be true in 10 years, 20, 30, 50, 100, 200 years, still people will want these things. Now, let's make all our decisions on how to use technology a servant to that goal. How can we make things go faster to the customer and cheaper." Right? In the same way that the same philosophy I try to use for everything I do and the same thing is true for selling. People, well I think the more complicated the decision that you are asking humans to make, the most important they need, and the more frightening strength they need. The more they need somebody to figure out, "Is this good in the problem, and necessary to the solution ." Someone needs to infuse confidence in you and direction to make that decision to happen and to turn it into reality. That's never going to change. Bless you. I think that if you focus on those fundamentals and you are better at that than anybody else, yeah, you can use technology today to cut out manual data entry, to move to particulars in terms of how you do up on it, email and cold call and all of that. There are lots of good tools you can use but the tools are supported act to what the fundamentals are that you are trying to deliver which is making your customers win and creating a massive amount of value for them and making sure that that happens in faster and faster timeline. Your customers they make the decision to implement your solution in two months versus every other competitor's customer it takes them nine months to make that decision. That's a really chilling differentiator that you can bring to the table as a salesperson. It has nothing to do with the technology that you bring to the table. That's the stuff that I would focus on. Most of the people, I have so many people that email me about their high-powered sales tool. Right? Most of them have when I ask them to tell me a little bit about the AI aspect of it. It's clear that it's all A and no I, right? It's like, there's no fucking telling them this. I say that lovingly. AI is such a cool thing to say. It's not Artificial Intelligence. There's no fucking that's like ... It's some basic machine learning, maybe and many of them don't even have that. There's nothing there but AI just sounds so much better today than not having AI, so that's what you say. Right? If I were in sales, yes, use some tools to do your job better. I'm not saying don't use any kind of basic technology or knowledge that we have today about gaining muscle or losing weight, but use some of the common knowledge that's proven that's out there. Don't focus on what's going to be the way to do better in the next year and the next year because you're always going to be a few steps behind and you're probably going to be investing multiple months into the year with something that's never going to work. You're like, the first time you figure that out. Right? If you do it every fucking year you're wasting so much time.
Interviewer: Awesome. I want to ask one more fundamental question and then we'll turn over to questions from the audience.
Steli Efti: Cool.
Interviewer: You talked to us a little bit beforehand about, it's kind of in vogue to say "mindfulness" but we're at the last eight days in the quarter here and Joe asked everybody beforehand who's already on top of their number, first a little stressed about their number, or more hands about the second question.
Speaker 4: Yeah.
Interviewer: All of the fundamentals aside, what are you telling your team to also do in the next eight days to make sure they're not getting completely overwhelming by the reality of chasing a number.
Steli Efti: I can't see directly, I can't just use the words that we'd use with my team in this room because we don't have quarterly pressures. Okay? Right? We are profitable. We are this unique little piece, where we're a tiny team that does pretty big business so we don't chase a quarter-to-quarter, the month-to-month thing. We don't have these pressures so that's not a stress that our salespeople in our team experience so there's nothing that I'm telling them that I could just tell you guys. I honestly think, I truly believe this goes back to the follow-up and long-term and it all comes into, I think most salespeople are not thinking long-term enough. I think most humans aren't thinking long-term enough. The thing I'm most inspired by when I talk to people that have created, the friends of mine that are billionaires and have created incredible change in the world. The thing that I'm always most impressed about is how long they're thinking, how long-term they think and that is always what blows my mind and is really challenging for me to do. I think that most people get to the point where they overestimate what they can do in a month and they underestimate what they can do in a year or a decade. A year goes by faster. We all know these years, it's the beginning of the year, then shit the year is over. We know these decades, like oh shit, when did it happen that I went from my 20s to my 30s or whatever. We know that time flies by pretty quickly, so if you use that philosophy and you're like, "This is what I want to do the next five years and the next 12 months," then you're optimized for that. You're going to be in a much better place than trying to optimize. If you're in a fucked place this quarter, here's the deal: Anything you can do in the last two weeks to make the quarter better is going to fuck your next three quarters most likely. You're going to take a bunch of shortcuts that are bad. Right? That's what you're going to do. You're going to do a bunch of shit that's going to make certain numbers look good but then you're going to struggle so much more in the next few quarters because you fucked up some things. You pulled some shit that you shouldn't pull. You made some people sign something that they weren't quite ready yet. You made all these funky things happen, crossing your fingers thinking, "Oh please, something's going to work out here." I'm going to make short-term decisions but long-term will never serve you. If you're in a bad place right now, fuck it, own up to it. It's going to be a shitty quarter. Just deal with it. Swallow that stuff. My advice to you would be, but what did I do not last quarter, not what did I do this quarter to create a shitty quarter, what did I do the last 12 months to create a shitty quarter. Right? Because the results that you're getting today are the results of your past hustle. What you did a year ago, what you did six months ago is what is creating your results today. This is very confusing again for us as humans because when things are going well we relax because we think the actions of today are turning in the results of today. I don't do anything and still deals coming in. Of course you did. This is so awesome. Right? But it's the stuff you were doing last quarter when you think you were struggling and the quarter wasn't good, it was shitty and you did all this extra work at the end of the quarter and if you didn't do a lot of short-term work it paid off in the next quarter. But equally, you might be doing all the right things right now and correcting a lot of the things, you're not going to see instant gratification just because you're now working on the right things, tomorrow is not going to be a great day or tomorrow is not going to be instantly raining money. You're going to have to wait one or two quarters to get the results of that. You don't like it. I don't like, we don't want to do that. We look at that and go, "Sure I need to eat broccoli and work out to lose these 500 lbs. Extra that I've gained over the last 10 years, but I don't want." Right? Otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation but I don't have an answer for you that includes something that's easy for you to do and wanted to do anyways because if you wanted to do it anyways you're already doing it.
Interviewer: I think that's right that the answer isn't easy. I think I heard three major things over the last 45 minutes or so. The first one is show up, follow-up, close the deal. The second one is find a way to compete. Go grab somebody in your office tomorrow. Fill the contract with them and start actually doing the work. Don't meet, don't make a big initiative just do. Then the third one which you just mentioned which is think long-term about yourself, about your customers, about the activities that you're doing and the actions that you're taking. I think those are three incredible points. I want to turn over the questions from the audience.
Steli Efti: We got the first question, yes sir?
Speaker 5: Hey awesome start-up by the way, so thanks.
Steli Efti: Thank you.
Speaker 5: There's what you're saying a lot of great stuff but there's also the kind with me how you're saying, you seem to have a lot degree obviously a lot of energy. A higher energy level than most. How do you get that? Was that born or do rituals?
Steli Efti: I'll take the question. I think part of that is my personality. I can be very passionate but it doesn't mean that I'm like that all the time. Most people think that I just, especially when you see me on a big stage, people think that every day I'm kicking in doors and screaming at people. Right? I'm not like that. There's people that are like that but I'm not like that. I have two stages, either I'm screaming at you or I don't have to deal with anybody. Either I want to be in front of a thousand people or nobody. I am not always like that. I like to be a little, I like to, I hate networking events. If you put in a room and there's tons of people, it's like, go and talk to everybody aimlessly until you find somebody that's interesting or we can create real value. Tell me right now. I want to do this, suck it up and do it. If I'm here I might as well put it up I think we all agreed to do here but I don't like it. I find it painfully inefficient. I have to talk an entire night to get to one person who is interesting. It just sucks. But sorry, I'd rather just be in the part and be by myself in another situation so I'm not always like that. For me, energy passes, for me it comes from asking yourself the question, what gives me energy and what costs energy. I love that framework also but time management. Instead of trying to manage your time ask yourself, how can I manage my energy. There's multiple things you can do to increase your energy. Right? There's a physical component to that, what you eat, the broccolis, the workouts, all that gives you a bigger battery life or more intensity in your battle. There is a mental part of this. Your attitude, the way you look at the world, the kind of questions you ask yourself will influence the type of energy that you infuse into your life. Right? There's a spiritual part to it. There's multiple levels of that. When I talk about things that I truly care about and when I talk to people about these things that I care about, I just get loud. It's just a natural thing, I just get passionate. It doesn't matter if I'm in a coffee shop, there's a or I'm in front of a large audience I start getting louder and louder. I've just designed a life today where a bigger and bigger portion of my time is dedicated to the things that give me energy versus costs me energy, not to say that's all. Not to say that it's constant. This is another where long-term thinking is. We have all this illusion of arriving at a place. Oh, I'm striving to get balance in life. Balance is not a destination. It's not like a city or hotel or some place you check in and then a balance. Hoo! Fucking found it, that 40, now I'm balanced for the rest of my life. Balance is constantly adjusting and you gain it and you lose it. Right? Similar with this stuff. There's times when I get a wild energy for most of my day and there's times where I think, "Why is everything so difficult?" Usually when things are difficult it means I'm doing them wrong. I'm doing the wrong thing and I'm doing it the wrong way. That's usually when I'm like, "Oh shit yeah. Well I need to do cross-correct things." Doing more things that give me energy makes it easy for me to passion. I'm sure the Greekness in me in my DNA also helps. It's people that are passionate about what they do but they're just not wild. They're just not animated. It's not part of their culture or their DNA, but that's probably also a big part of it. Yes?
Speaker 6: Hello. Just competition, how would recommend fostering competition and in an early-stage start-up where we're basically an office of one and you can't barely afford to hire two salespeople.
Steli Efti: How do you do that when you're a tiny team, right? There's two things. One is you challenge each other and you're creating a culture of people seeing what you can do and what you are and challenging you to be that today. You want to have people that don't just believe in you but that demand that that belief is manifested, that you are living up to that. But in coming from a walk-in place because they want you to succeed and they want the company to succeed. That's part one. Then part two is you find outside competition. Right? You go, all right, what is the initial we're in. Who else do I know who does sales in a start-up today? Then out of all the people that I know who's the best? I would start asking around the investors of the stock or the advisors or other people that I've worked with of course. Anybody I know, who's the best salesperson you know that's working at a start-up. Then we talk to these people and until I find somebody that I like, "Hey you seem to be way ahead of me. You would be crushing me if you worked with me. I just want to be like, I'm going to be pinging you once a week telling you my results because I'm doing that, I just want to get some feedback." Whatever, you just turn that person into your competition. Right? You ask them to tell you what they have done and if you're intimidated and you are dreading the call and the email you have to send them. Good, you chose the right person. If you're like, "Oh another coffee meeting with Mary." It's the wrong thing. They're not challenging you enough to make you feel uncomfortable to make you feel intimidated. It's like I'm talking the shit I've done and they tell me what they've done and I'm going to look really bad. That's what you want. Again, it's a stumper but that's what you're seeking out if you want real growth. Yes? Question from the very back row. Yes?
Speaker 7: One of the main things that you mentioned the fact that even when they're saying no, you still follow-up, and that's something I don't deal with that.
Steli Efti: Can you speak up? What do you with people that say no and then following up?
Speaker 7: Yes, I asked a question [(Crosstalk 00:50:33]. People say no and you still follow up with them.
Steli Efti: Yeah.
Speaker 7: Do you know that actually you're a good fit. How do you do that because we're in a high Silicon environment so no is no and they won't to tell us we can't so fuck out. How do you guys tell yourself I know this person would be good. What do you about that make them see that they're .
Steli Efti: What do you do basically when are in an environment where let's just accept it. We are in an environment where people will tell you no a lot and you need to keep following up with them even when they say no because you're pretty convinced that they are a good fit, for whatever reason. I think you have to find a good balance between taking that no seriously but not too seriously. Right? If you don't take it seriously at all. Fuck you. Right? From a customer perspective, no, but you don't know. Let me tell you. You don't really know that is not for you and I know better, and like fuck this person, right? They're not taking you seriously they're telling me that, "What I'm telling you doesn't matter in my life." It matters a lot. I believe that I am right about myself. That's too harsh and a lot of people will try that, again pushy, super overly dominant."Well, no, it just means yes, but you really mean yes." "No, motherfucker, I said no." I actually met them at the moment. Right? I know you mean no. Don't tell me what I mean and don't tell me that it doesn't matter what I say. You need to take me seriously but not too seriously. Right? What that means is that you need to acknowledge that I just told you no. Actually one thing that I found that creates warmth like that can make that happen, it's not just what you say but how you feel when you say it. If somebody tells me no and I feel defeated, I do this. Well are you really sure? Yes. Right? Basically what I'm communicating between the lines with my body language or with my tonality is I'm defeated and I actually agree. When I ask the question I believe the answer is going to be yes too and I'm bummed by that. But I can't do that. I can't also go when they go, "No, I don't think this is a good solution for us." "Well it is a good solution." That's not going to work, that over aggressive, over powering. What I found what works really well is when I can create an energy that communicates that I expected you to say to say no and I'm actually okay with it because I think it might turn into a yes. Right? If you wanted to say something, you would say, I would go, "Are you ready to buy right now?" And they go, "No." I'd be like, "Great. Most of best customers at this very moment said no." Right? "I know that what I think if it turns out to that this relationship works out you're going to be a really long-term customer. This is going to be a great relationship." "Let me tell you, I knew that you would probably would say no, let me tell you why I told the other ones." If I say this is not interesting to me, you go, "I assumed that you say that and I still called you. Let me in a second tell you why." I'm going to pay attention to that sentence. Why? Because it's not what I typically will encounter. The energies that somebody ... The person sounds like they're leaning back, they're comfortable. They expected that they still want to keep talking to me. That alone, that comfort level doesn't mean that I'll turn into a yes but I will keep listening. Now you better have a really good reason why no could mean yes down the line. You need to tell me something I didn't know before. Right? That's the importance of the technique. You need to realize they need it in this moment but also the underlying message is, you haven't gotten the information you need to really make a decision right now that's truly educated. We need to continue for a second so we already talked. Yes? You're going to be next.
Speaker 8: You're like really knowledgeable like so many different topics. Can you hear me?
Steli Efti: Yes.
Speaker 8: Okay, super know a lot of the topics. My question is, like how do you educate yourself? Where do you learn this about? How do you learn it?
Steli Efti: Hey, just like experience. I've done a lot of shit in my life and most of that stuff didn't work out the way I wanted it to work and I kept going at the same rate which is tough. Usually you do things they don't work you start slowing up because it doesn't feel good, so you don't want to keep going in that direction. If you can maintain going in the direction the same speed, some people accelerate. I look at those people and go, "Oh my fucking God." I'm not there but I just kept going the same kind of speed taking my punishment. If you do a lot of shit in your life you'll learn a lot of things. If you're not afraid of doing things you're not quite ready to do that you're not at all ready to do, you'll learn even more. Now, it's not nice learning, it's a painful but I've just done a lot of things. Basically I've been an entrepreneur since I was 17, 18. I dropped out of high school and saw my first business and that worked out well and then I did the next thing and the next thing. 10 years ago I sold everything I had and bought a one-way ticket to Silicon Valley. I knew nothing about software, technology. I arrived at SFO and I asked somebody how to get to Silicon Valley. For those of who don't know, it's not a city. It's not a place but that person was nice enough to go, "Do mean Stanford, Palo Alto?" I'm like, "Stanford! I heard of that place, yes!." I didn't know shit. I know lots of people that have done the same thing more or less that have like, "I'm going to go Silicon Valley and start us off." They come and they leave really quickly because it's super fucking painful. It's not that easy to do. I had both the ignorance to do but then I also had the tolerance level of pain to just not quit until I figured it out. Most of it, if you look at people that have a lot of knowledge, people that do a lot. Anybody that you're consuming a lot of content from. They write books, they oral talks, they do podcasts. How do they know all these things? Life experiences. You have to pay an admission to have content stories to tell, things to know, real-life experience of this works and this doesn't work. I don't know a short cut. I mean there are people that are geniuses. The first thing they did, boom, the Google guys. Zukerberg, like there's some people the first thing they touch turned into gold and they were brilliant enough to life up to that challenge as it grew but that's so rare for mortals like me. It's life experience, it's awesome. I need to get that question. First I'll get to you guys, yes?
Speaker 9: In regards to the long-term goals that you mentioned, as a leader what is your advice for somebody who is working month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter to help them internalize that and also successful and look at the long-term.
Steli Efti: That's a good question. I don't know other than I've never given general advice about this so this is an interesting question. Usually I try to be contextual and just figure out who are you, what are you doing, what's going on in your life and then give advice based on that. You can do that in this room. If I had to give an answer I would say that if it's not a mindframe that you have been living so far, I would come up with a baby-step plan to do that. Don't be too grandiose. Don't go, "You'll lose 500 lbs in one day. Set the world record." That's setting yourself up for failure. What I would do I would ask myself, "Okay, I've never thought long-term, what's a simple, practical way for me to get started? Maybe something could be, all right, I direct with lots and lots of customers. Maybe I do thousands of cold calls and I have lots of customers, more transactional. You know what I'm going do from now? Every month I'm going to pick the challenge to find one customer of the decade. One customer that I'm going to try to build a relationship for the next 10 years with. Maybe somebody that's young and ambitious and I think will go places in the world. Maybe it's somebody that really does amazing work and is just an incredible human being and I'm going to kill it and take over the world. I want to be the person that's going to help that person get more chances and more opportunities. When I think of framework as you talk to hundreds of people every day, you don't just talk to them yourself, you talk to them and you're also screening for who's that person I'm going to sell, but then also invest in the relationship. Make sure that I keep up with their career, keep up with what they're doing, offer help whenever I can and do that forever. Right? That could be an easy, simple, practical thing. Then once you start doing this, I found that once you start shifting your mindset in small steps and you do them consistently you build momentum. Also you think in other ways that way. You're like, "Why don't I apply the same thinking here?" In five years into it, not a one eye, but three or four years into it you've started, you've shifted in your life and direction that it's going through, it shifted from that. I will try to find a big step to then compensate. Yes?
Speaker 10: I have two questions. First one, what are the things that you care about the most and the second one, are you following Greg Cardonas]?
Steli Efti: First, my two sons. More than that even before I had children, I care about creating a lot of value and I care about personal growth. I care about pushing. I get depressed if I look back a year ago and I think that everything I said a year ago was ... If I don't look back a year ago and think I was a total fucking idiot and knew nothing, I'm getting scared because I know I wasted a year. I know that I didn't really learn that much. Again, it's not like every year I learn so much in every year. This test I think almost every second year, I push myself out of my comfort, I've learned some new things, I'm challenged. I've mastered these things, shit and then I enjoy that for a moment. Boom! Now I'm successful. Well, I want to move that, create this new level of value. I'm enjoying and then I go, "Shit a year has passed and I've been in that spot of success and I haven't taken the next step." Personally I just really need to have the feeling that I'm pushing myself to grow in terms of life which is the thing that I fucking care about, I'm sure more than anything else. The coolest thing in my life. The second thing, do I follow Greg Cardonas? I know Greg Cardonas. I think he is an interesting character. Right? I'm not a big fan but I'm also not somebody that's like, "Geez he sucks at everything." The last thing those things I think there's not a lot of black and white. There's a lot of gray in the world. There's a lot of things that he does that I think are technically working. Some of them are still good today and some of them are I think are really stupid ideas to do. They work when you have this kind of business or the type of business that he teaches people how to sell too. But I don't think it's really good that I need to do that. Some things that of how he's building his business that I don't like. He's bad ass. He's really good. There's some things about him or his life are pretty shitty and kind of psycho. I have multiple opinions of him but I would never tell somebody what to like or not like about somebody else. I know who he is and I think that some of the things he does are worth looking into.
Interviewer: We've got time for one more.
Steli Efti: One more question, make it the best one yet. No question.
Speaker 11: How you doing. I'm there. I'm a former account executive that turned myself into a software sales recruiter if I can find and get recruiters. My clients are people I used to work for and candidates are jobs that I've done. I've covered this huge problem. How many people in the room, seriously stand up if you legitimately want to be a sales leader on that, manage a team. I'm talking about stand up seriously. People stand up in the room if you want to be a sales leader and manage a team of quota carrying people. No bullshit. Now sit down if you've never done it. If you've never managed a team of quota carrying people. I'm not talking about SDRs, I'm not talking SEUs. That's about half. I keep running into this problem where you have to have done it before you can do it. Right? A lot of sales leaders say, "Bring me candidates that already are sales leaders." If you're one of the people that sat down what's your advice to them to close that gap? How do you become that first-time sales leader? Have you ever hired one? The last question for you, have you ever hired anyone in the sales leader job that was never a sales leader to work for you, or have you ever hired one to carry a quota that never carried a quote before, so those would be some good examples.
Steli Efti: I've only hired sales leaders that never been a sales leader. I have only hired salespeople that never had a sales commission before.
Speaker 11: Wow.
Steli Efti: It's actually policy more than anything else. It's not an exception to.
Speaker 11: I got to remember that.
Steli Efti: Because I know how to teach people to be good at sales but I cannot unteach you all the bullshit that you're going to learn outside. I find that, no offense to the people that are here. Whatever I say, you don't like it, ask yourself if you don't like because it's what you need to do, or if you don't like because it's not ... If it's not for you, it shouldn't bother you at all. Right? If it bothers you, it's probably for you. My belief is that if somebody's truly exceptional, they should be almost unhireable. If you're the person that I want to hire, I should not be able to hire you. When we did recruiting in Germany, one thing that we would tell people is we would hire them and then we would say, "Hey." Lots of people when they do referral recruiting, they go, "Who do you know who's looking for a sales job? Or who do you know who is in sales? Or who do you know who would be good here or something?" Then this person is not going to but all these massive filters and what is going to come out of it? Just the worst type of people. The people that have nothing going on in their life. The question I would ask, you know, in a lovely way. We have all been that type of person in our lives at some point, believe me. What I ask instead is I say, "Who is the most talented, amazing person that you know that would never work here, never would ever consider working here? That's the person I want to talk with." That's my opener. Hey, every time I work with Bob, Bob just joins here and every time we hire somebody, we ask who is the most talented genius person that ever known in their life, you are supposed to be the name that came up. First, I'm also interested in getting to know amazing people. Just want a chance for 10 minutes. I know if there's no chance for hiring well we'll just get to know each other. Do you know how many people we hired that never wanted the sales? They would have never considered a sales job. If it's the right person they will gradually fall in love with you, the opportunity and you will gradually follow-up with them and then you have something special. That's the way I, but that's not the ... If you wanted to be a recruiter for custom kinds like me you'd be fucked because there's not that many probably you know. But that's my answer to you. It's probably not what you wanted or what you expected but that's the truth. All right that's it, that's all I got. Hey, one thing. If you had a question that we didn't cover, or even if we covered a question that you have and you have a follow-up, shoot me an email. Steli@close.io. I'm always happy to help salespeople, always happy to help people that are thrilled, that want to make things happen. Just ping me. There's a bundle we just released by the way. If you want that. I've written a number of books, ebooks around selling different types, The Sales Hiring Playbook is a book that we just released. Before that, it was like How to Go Up on Sales as a Start-up. There's all these books that were written, all these templates, resources, cold emails, all that shit, over 25 resources, templates, books, stuff like that. You can get that all for free, just shoot me an email. Just say "Bundle motherfucker," I'll shoot you back a link and you're going to be able ... Usually when I say that most email subject lines, there's one or two that say that and then most of them are like, "Bundle please? A bundle?" Then I did this for 500 Start-ups the other day. I had like a hundred "books motherfucker, books motherfucker." They say go first, motherfucker. Just you being more if you want to get all the content in like one download then that's the way to go. Thanks for listening and thanks for asking great questions.
Want more great sales advice?
Join the free Startup Sales Success Course now
No fluff, no filler—just actionable sales advice.
JOIN THE FREE STARTUP SALES SUCCESS COURSE
Follow up like a champ: How to win every deal with the amazing power of the follow-up!
Learn how to close more deals and make more sales by following up more and better. Boost up your follow up strategy and hustle.
Startup culture is killing sales teams. Here’s how to save yours.
The sleazy, high-pressure salespeople of the past are gone. However, in an effort to shake their past reputation, have today's sales teams lost their edge?
PODIM 2016: Go home and hustle hard!
Get ready to be motivated and elevate your hustle game. These are the 5 things you need to do to get what you want out of life & business.