No one cares about your success more than you do. So what are you doing to get smarter? Are you likely to seek a trainer, or are you the type who prefers to be self-taught? Either way, there’s no getting around the fact that if you don’t invest in learning, you are not only limiting yourself and your prospects for the future, but the odds of your long-term success drops substantially.
On this compelling episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with Andy Paul, the sales Rockstar from The Sales House.com and host of the widely popular Accelerate! podcast, about the benefits of making a commitment to continuous learning, and the dangers of intellectual stagnation. They also discuss the pros and cons of whether your employer should foot the bill for your training, versus gaining leverage through being responsible for your own skill growth. This is a very full podcast that flies by, so listen closely as this is one episode you do not want to miss!
Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Andy Paul, The Sales House
Darryl Praill: Good afternoon everybody! How are you doing today? Darryl Praill here with INSIDE Inside Sales, the only sales podcast out there that talks specifically and exclusively to the soldiers in the sales militia; those who are on the front lines every single day, making the calls, sending the emails, doing the outreaches, engaging with prospects, and you’re compensated for it. This is how you measure your success. We do not talk vision. We do not talk strategy, and if I do this job right you will leave here smarter, more equipped, and better able to do your daily job because you will have learned an incredible soundbite that you said, “That was worth my time for listening.” Those are the rules for engagement, folks, between you and I. That’s my promise to you. If you ever find I’m not doing that, as always, I’m available on social media on LinkedIn. Give me a shout out, call me out, and I will weep, and I will repent, and we will move forward.
Darryl Praill: I am so excited about today’s conversation because, let me set the stage for this: today’s conversation is something I have touched upon numerous times, and if you are a regular of the INSIDE Inside Sales Show, you will have heard harp on this numerous times with my own vaulted opinions as well as that of my guests. It’s all around education. To posit my position, posit my position? Is that right? Anyway, we’ll go with that. To my posit my position, we’ll go with that.
Andy Paul: North of the border, I think that works.
Darryl Praill: Exactly, yes. I shall posit this. That’s the better way to put it: that I firmly believe you, as an individual, are accountable to manage and invest in yourself and in your success. If you are reliant upon your employer to improve your success, then your longterm viability and success in this industry is immediately limited. Like anybody else, a professional sports player or any other occupation; a doctor was used as an example, a lawyer, an accountant, where there’s always new procedures and new regulations and new taxes and everything else happening all the time, new laws, they have to continually reinvest in themselves to grow their craft, to master their skill, and be on top of their game. That’s my position, which means you need to be prepared to spend some of your money because you see the endgame and you see the opportunity.
Darryl Praill: That’s a long preamble, I apologize. So, who did I bring to the show today? I brought Andy Paul. Now, if you don’t know Andy, Andy is a sales legend in this space. He has got essentially one of, if not the, top podcasts on sales in the world. He has got an entire line of business dedicated to this called The Sales House. If you’re listening at your desktop, just google it right now, The Sales House. Go to the site, check it out while we’re talking. He’s taken all of his years, which are many, this man is old, guys, he is so old.
Andy Paul: Thank you.
Darryl Praill: He is really old. He’s using all that decades of experience to share it with you so that you can learn and you can do it affordably. We’re not going to necessarily promote or pitch Andy today, we’re just going to talk about the issue of education and you can take it upon yourself to do whatever you want to out of today’s conversation. So that’s that. With that, let me bring on Andy. You’ve heard him a few times on here already. He’s laughing, that’s good. Often when people are called old, they don’t react well. It’s weird.
Darryl Praill: Andy, welcome to the show, sir.
Andy Paul: Thank you, Darryl, yes. I own my age.
Darryl Praill: You know, I had this conversation the other day. Keenan and I were on a live debate, and we were talking about how you own it. We were actually talking about being authentic, and sometimes being authentic means you own your age, even though you know that for some people will judge you. Keenan and I both did a high five because we both determined that we were both 51-years-old. We both owned our age. We put it out there. Right about now, there’s people going, “Oh my goodness, I’m talking to old guys? I’m out of here!”
Andy Paul: Dinosaurs!
Darryl Praill: Dinosaurs, exactly. So I like that you own your age, as do I. That’s fantastic. Andy, tell us a little about yourself, your expertise, your experience, your thoughts, or even just jump right into the topic about the idea of owning your own continuing education to improve your performance and results. Your choice. Go with it where you want. We’ll bounce from there.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I’m glad you narrowed it down.
Darryl Praill: I like to. You know, refocus.
Andy Paul: Self-education is really at the core of my own career. I was a history major coming out of college. When I was in sales and sales management I worked for seven venture-funded startups, growing sales teams, growing oftentimes the first person in the door. So even though I had the title, I was also out selling for a while before we started growing teams. But in complex technical fields, I was a history major. What did I know about a lot of these technologies? I had to teach myself. That’s the fundamental thing, my ability to take on jobs of increasing responsibility, increasing complexity. I went from in high school selling women’s shoes at JC Penny to selling large, complex satellite communications systems. The largest deal I took was over 100 million dollars. I had a lot to learn to get from one place to the next.
Andy Paul: Yeah after my first job out of school, which was the big company where they put us in classroom training for a few weeks the first year, for the last 30 plus years of my career I haven’t been trained at all.
Darryl Praill: Why do we have you here again? You haven’t been trained at all?
Andy Paul: Well I had to teach myself, right?
Andy Paul: Thank you for the lead there. I started my own company in 2000, and one of the missions was ‘how do we help sellers, especially in smaller businesses, startups that have to go out and compete against big guys. How do you help teach them how to do that?’ And as I started getting into that, then we also started seeing change in the industry where a lot of the bigger technology companies started fading away, they weren’t training and investing in their people the same way. We saw this huge influx of startups in the tech space, and they weren’t training their people either, just ’cause they had no time or resources. So there’s this big gap left where we start seeing, and we see this even today. If you look at some of the research, there are declining levels of performance in sales, business sales, over the past ten plus years. Yet, at the same time, we’ve got this incredible influx of technology into the sales spaces. So clearly something’s amiss there.
Andy Paul: And it really does, as you said, it really falls to the individual to say ‘yeah if I have a vision for what I want to accomplish in my career.’ If I’m in an entry level sales job, my first sales job and I remember those days. I was out pounding the pavement making cold calls, thirty forty fifty cold calls a day. And I looked at where I wanted to be, which was not making those cold calls in four years or ten years or whatever. That’s what motivated me to start listening to, in those days, between calls listening to cassette tapes of Zig Ziglar and all these other trainers. Tom Hopkins, anything I could get my hands on to just get smarter about what I was doing.
Andy Paul: And I knew that at the end of the day, no one cared as much about my success as I did. And that being the case meant I had to go make that investment myself.
Darryl Praill: And you know Zig Ziglar wasn’t cheap, none of those people were cheap. Did you make that investment yourself? Or did you go to your employer, when you were employed and not on your own, and say ‘will you fund this for me?’ How did you do it?
Andy Paul: I paid for it.
Darryl Praill: You paid for it?
Andy Paul: I paid for it. So in some cases employers help fund the cost, split the cost, go to some conferences. There used to be these big one day events with Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, and all these sort of motivational speakers. Tony Robbins and so on. And they would split the cost of some of those.
Andy Paul: And I didn’t find those as valuable as having something I could listen to in my car, that I could repeat and go back and learn more in depth. Occasionally they would chip in, but typically you’re on your own. And it wasn’t like they were necessarily expecting you to do it, but at the end of the day somebody had a choice about who was gonna get the next promotion, who was gonna get the next big account to work on, and so on. And if you just expected someone was gonna hand it to you, it wasn’t gonna happen. You had to go out and make it happen for yourself.If you just expected someone was gonna hand it to you, it wasn't gonna happen. You had to go out and make it happen for yourself. ~ @realAndyPaul #SalesTips Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: So let’s talk a bit about that. I know there’s a lot of people who are listening to this and they’re reluctant to do that, and I understand some of you are reluctant. They may feel that it actually should fall upon the employer because if you invest in me, I’m going to generate more success for you and you get the perks out of that in the big picture, and we can rationalize this.
Andy Paul: Well but that’s a marketplace, right?
Darryl Praill: Right
Andy Paul: If you’re improving yourself and your employer doesn’t value it, then go someplace where they do. And that hasn’t changed, that’s always been the case. I remember my dad telling me a story when he was in his late twenties, early thirties where he went and found another job to have some leverage over his employer to get a better job.
Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s a marketplace. So if you develop your skills and your employer doesn’t value it, then go someplace where they do.
Darryl Praill: And that’s an interesting thing, right? So right away, if you do develop your skills if you make that investment in yourself and you do have success as a result of it, exactly to Andy’s point is that what you’ve done is given yourself a ton more options. If employer number one doesn’t like you because they don’t want to pay more money because you’re more successful, you can go get another job somewhere else.
Darryl Praill: What’s interesting is I was listening to a session the other day with Benjamin Dennehy, he’s a big cold call advocate out of the UK, and I’ve mentioned his name before. I’ve had him on the show before. But what was interesting was he was telling a story, and he was telling this story ’cause he’s not unlike you. He’s a sales trainer. And he was telling a story about how he went into a company, he was talking to the managing director, so the CEO, and he did the discovery process and he qualified it and yada yada. And he says we should do this, and he goes ‘how much’. He tells them a big fat number, this is what I’m worth, and the guy hesitated and then Benjamin turned around and said well here’s what you do. You take that big fat number, and the guy had 12 reps, and you divide it by 12 and you go back to them and you have them pay for it.
Darryl Praill: So the MD goes in there and he says we’re looking to bring Benjamin in, is everyone cool with that? Yay, everybody yes let’s do it. Are you gonna work? Yes, we’ll do the work. Great, okay so that means each of you for the next several months while he’s engaged will need to give me X dollars to do this. Are you still wanting Benjamin? Of those 12 only 1 said yes.
Darryl Praill: Benjamin’s takeaway to the MD, because they didn’t do the deal, was he goes ‘you thought you needed training’, he goes ‘you don’t need training, you need new reps. You’ve got 1 rep that’s worthy of being kept.’ How do you respond to that?
Andy Paul: Well I think that that’s not unreasonable for companies to say look these days we’re gonna bring in somebody special, whether is a Benjamin and he’s a trainer. You called me a trainer, I’m not really a trainer I’m a salesperson. But I’m an educator, and –
Darryl Praill: You’ll have to explain the difference to me between a trainer and an educator. But we can do that on another podcast.
Andy Paul: Well I don’t have my own proprietary processes and methodologies.
Darryl Praill: Okay that’s a fair point, I’ll accept that.
Andy Paul: I’m not Sandler.
Darryl Praill: That’s true.
Andy Paul: I think it’s not unreasonable for companies, and certainly some of our corporate clients that The Sales House company has on-boarded sales teams, I would say two-thirds of them so far are sharing the cost with their reps because they want to make sure they have some skin in the game.I think it's not unreasonable for companies...I would say two-thirds of them so far are sharing the cost with their reps because they want to make sure they have some skin in the game. ~ @realAndyPaul #SalesTraining Click To Tweet
Andy Paul: They say we’re gonna provide this resource for you, and we’re gonna bring it to you. But I want to make sure you’re gonna use it. And having that investment, I think, is not a bad way to go.
Darryl Praill: It is motivating, I tend to agree with you.
Darryl Praill: So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna take a quick little break here, kinda set the stage as we always do after we come back after our commercial breaks is we get into the real nitty gritty stuff and I got lots of stuff I want to ask of Andy. So stay tuned, we shall be right back.
Darryl Praill: Okay so we’re back, and I want to talk a bit about how can I get trained? So before the break about an example of a Benjamin, or any other trainer. You mentioned Sandler, another good example. You have these trainers, or whatever. And that’s one option. But we have lots of options, so let’s look at it this way and start with this. And feel free to take me off in another direction.
Andy Paul: Sure.
Darryl Praill: If I’m sitting here listening to this and I recognize that in fact I probably do need to be trained, should I immediately go and seek a trainer or seek a proven system, like a Sandler? Or would I be better off to go and do the self-taught process, not unlike what you did where you just took it upon yourself. Because we have lots of self-taught ways today. For example, if I’m being budget conscious I can simply just do YouTube, I can do a lot of LinkedIn reading. I can probably go to my local library and get some of this content that’s still out there and use it.
Darryl Praill: So, I guess a starting point: pros and cons of the trainer and the proven system, versus self-taught. In your opinion and your experience.
Andy Paul: Well, there’s always going to be a little bit of a mix. I think training is what companies should do, but the thing with training these days is, especially in the inside sales roles, training is increasingly about compliance and conformity. We’ve got a process and a methodology, and you’ve got a target for so many activities you need to do whether it’s calls or emails. And you need to do it this way.
Andy Paul: What’s different today versus perhaps when I came up, when I was making 30 40 50 cold calls a day in person, is I was given the opportunity to develop a process that worked for me individually. It was my own way, I developed my own strengths and my own skills to be the best version of me. And I think we’ve lost this emphasis today, especially as I said in certain tech spaces where it’s just ‘look you’re gonna get into this SDR job and we’re gonna churn and burn you in 12 or 14 months and only the strong survive’. I don’t think that’s the way that you develop a generation of sellers that can go out and succeed in the world. And so I think that the education part is making a personal commitment to becoming this best version of yourself.Today's companies are more focused on their own sales processes and methodologies rather than allowing reps to develop a process that works for them. ~ @realAndyPaul #SalesProcess #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet
Andy Paul: And that’s why I started The Sales House is to provide a more structured resource for our sellers to come find that type of content to help them do this. But there’s other sources besides us, as you’ve said YouTube, LinkedIn. All these other resources that are available.
Andy Paul: But it’s about making that commitment. You know when I came out of school, as I said, I was a history major, I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. When I got into sales the two defining characteristics I have were an insatiable curiosity to learn and a competitive streak a mile wide. I hate to lose.
Andy Paul: So when you combine that when I was in the workforce, and maybe somebody was getting some better accounts than I was initially in the first couple of years in my sales job, yeah that wasn’t gonna happen again. That may happen to me once, but I was determined that that wasn’t going to happen to me again. Or I lost a particular account, I was going to learn from it and I was gonna take the lessons and go find some resource to help me learn to get better so I could do a better job the next time whether it was a mentor, or a coach, or reading a book.
Andy Paul: But you have to have that curiosity that says ‘look there’s something I’m learning every single day, I’m gonna make a five minute, ten minute, fifteen-minute investment. I’m gonna turn off my screens and gonna turn off Netflix, and I’m gonna read or I’m gonna watch this video, and it’s part of what you do every single day of your life.’ And then it’s like compound interest. Every day that’s building on top of each other, and you’re just gonna get smarter and more skilled, more aware of what’s going on in the world, and better able to serve your customers.
Darryl Praill: I love the premise you’re making about the intentionality. It’s so true. I can speak, sharing my own stories with the audience. My wife gets so frustrated with me sometimes because I like to get up on a Saturday or Sunday morning with my wife and we’ll have our coffees and have that quiet time that couples rarely get during the week. And she’ll be reading something that is feeding her soul, and I’m reading something about sales or about marketing or about tech stacks or what have you. And she’s like ‘you have got to shut off’ and I’m like ‘this is not work, I have a curiosity. I am intrigued. I’m not reading this and hyperventilating because I haven’t made 50 calls today. I’m reading this ’cause I want to learn so I can maybe make 40 calls and have the results of 50 calls. I have a genuine curiosity.’
Darryl Praill: But that is compounded with I know I need to take time out of my weekly schedule for me, and maybe daily for others, to actually self-educate because if I didn’t do that, then my own personal marketability and my long term success drops dramatically. I am very intentional about that, combined with the curiosity. That’s a really strong point.
Andy Paul: There’s a quote that I love that I found relatively early in my career, and I had it on my refrigerator for a long time and I still lead my life by this. It’s a quote from a guy named Thomas Huxley, who was a British author back in the 19th century, I think related to Aldous Huxley who wrote “Brave New World”. It’s about learning, and he says “In life you should try to learn something about everything, and everything about something.”
Darryl Praill: I love that.
Andy Paul: So you think about that in a sales context.
Andy Paul: I read widely, about everything. Every day. I’m the person that people didn’t like to play in Trivial Pursuit, back when that was a thing. I just retain things. But I’m interested in everything, and I’ve been able to use that everything in my selling because no matter who I meet I’m able to make a connection with them because I understand something about them, the country they’re in, the culture they’re from. Whatever it is, the job they’re doing. I’ve just had this voracious curiosity my whole life. I’m always reading about something.
Andy Paul: And then to know everything about something, that should be sales. If you’re in sales, the one thing you should know everything about, or attempt to, is your profession. So you should be reading deeply about not just how to make a cold call, but I always tell people to start learning about relationships. That’s the first thing you should learn about. And then learn about trust, and then learn about influence and how people make decisions. It’s not about what you do. Start reading about how you could have an impact on other people.If you're in sales, the one thing you should know everything about, or attempt to, is your profession. Read about not just how to make a cold call, but also about relationships. ~ @realAndyPaul #SalesDevelopment Click To Tweet
Andy Paul: Then just start digging down and you’ll become smarter and smarter about sales if you start learning everything. You should be more than anything else you should be a relationship expert, you should be a trust expert, you should be a sales expert, a buyer expert. And you’re only gonna get that through making that commitment to learn.
Darryl Praill: I’m like ‘preach brother’. I love what you’re saying. You should talk to my wife for me, I’d be grateful.
Andy Paul: Okay! Anytime.
Darryl Praill: Anytime, I already have her on speed dial. One of the things that is interesting is I’ve heard people talk about how the challenge they have is that when they go to some of these other resources, I’m reading these books from sales expert A versus B versus C or watching YouTube videos, or just watching the average Joe on LinkedIn who’s made time to make a video and share their thoughts. I will get wildly different points of view and guidance, and that confuses me and I think it gets away from me. I’ve heard this complaint.
Darryl Praill: My counter to that is that it’s good to be exposed to multiple ways to tackle a problem because now you know to A/B test it. Do I do it A, do I do it B, do I do it C, what works best for me and my product or my service that I’m selling? And that no matter who I listen to, even though they may be wildly different in their approaches, there’s always going to be some nugget that I can take from it and apply it to me.
Darryl Praill: That’s my thought.
Andy Paul: Right. So here’s my thought, and I agree with this because every book you read there should be one thing you hope to take away from it. So my advice would be to people listening is when you look at resources that claim that they are the truth, like “this is the truth!”
Darryl Praill: The only thing you’ll ever need to buy!
Andy Paul: The only thing you’ll ever need to read about sales, I don’t necessarily recommend that. Because the fact is that you are gonna be, at the end of five years ten years or the end of your career, you are gonna be the sum total of all these influences. And so if people are coming to you and saying “This is the one way”, well that’s just not the way the world works. There is no truth about sales. There is what works for you as an individual, and that’s your truth and that’s what you need to discover. That’s why you need to go learn, to find out what the truth is for you. What makes you the best version of you, makes you the most effective seller, and that’s not just somebody saying ‘here’s the book of truths’. That doesn’t exist.
Andy Paul: Not everybody agrees with me. Surprising! But that’s okay, because I write coming from my point of view and my experiences, what has worked for me, and yeah I believe it works for a lot of people but I know it’s not gonna work for everybody.
Darryl Praill: So let me ask you this, you mentioned The Sales House and I’m starting to see a little bit of this, I think you’re a pioneer here, where now we’re making this sales training on somewhat of a subscription basis, ’cause it is a continual learning process. Which probably means instead of me getting dinged with the big sales trainer or the big cost from the experts, this is something far more manageable.
Darryl Praill: If somebody wanted to do this, is this a good investment versus a trainer or versus anything else? Like, talk to me about the benefits of this approach.
Andy Paul: I can only talk about our case. In our case, you look at it as we actually just increased our prices to five hundred bucks a year. So for five hundred bucks a year if you’re trying to increase your income by five percent, I mean if you’re an SDR or you’re an AE or whatever. Whatever your target is, the five hundred at the end of the day is nothing. That’s not really the issue, it’s not the price, it’s really the commitment of time.
Andy Paul: And that’s for us, as what we see as people at the hardest time. It’s not the dollars, the dollars are nothing. If I make an extra ten thousand bucks as a result of investing 500, I’ll do that every day of the week. But I have to commit to the time, I have to make that a habit. And so this learning habit really becomes, the most essential part is, ‘can I commit some of my time?’ I work with companies on this. I offer a book club, where I’ll help them sort of run a book club internally on sales. But they have to commit that they’re gonna set aside time during the sales day for everybody to set everything aside and just read. That’s really hard for managers to do because oh my god, we’ve got time where people aren’t making calls or selling, the fact is we know from all the research that there’s plenty of time in the day where people aren’t calling and selling, and that’s okay. Let’s use some of that time for a really productive purpose, which is concentrated, focused learning.
Andy Paul: To me it’s the time, more than the money that’s really the issue. You have to be committed to it. It’s just day in, day out. You have to have little triggers in the process to make it part of it, so maybe it’s something you do every morning, maybe it’s something you do as soon as you get home, maybe it’s the 20 minutes before you go to bed. You have some part of your process in your daily life that triggers you to say ‘yeah I need to learn.’
Andy Paul: Just an example of habit development for me is I was always thinking when I exercise that I don’t do enough ab work, core work. So I got in the habit of saying look, every day before I exercise I spend five minutes doing core work. And I went from hardly ever doing it a year ago to now I do it every time I exercise, five-six days a week. I’m doing it six days a week. So I had that trigger as ‘exercise, oh yeah I gotta do ab work first’, you have to have similar triggers in your life for your learning habit.
Darryl Praill: I love it. So people want to learn more about you, Andy, where can they reach you?
Andy Paul: Well they can reach me at The Sales House, firstname.lastname@example.org. They can find me on LinkedIn, you and I are connected there as well. So it is The Sales House if you search for that on LinkedIn, or Andy Paul you’ll find me either way.
Andy Paul: Do connect with me, I’d love to hear from you and see what you’re up to.
Darryl Praill: All right, so what did we learn here today folks? What we’ve learned is, ideally, as part of your personal attributes and habits you want to be no just competitive but you want to have curiosity and you want to be committed to the effort of learning.
Darryl Praill: As Thomas Huxley said, “You should know something about everything, and everything about something.” That’s a wonderful quote.
Darryl Praill: Andy Paul, he’s awesome. If you don’t follow him you need to on LinkedIn. Reach him at The Sales House. Also follow his podcast, called Accelerate. It is a big, big podcast. Fantastic content, amazing guests. With that we are done, we’re out of time. Thank you, Andy, for your time today!
Andy Paul: Thank you for having me.
Darryl Praill: With that, folks, we shall see you soon again in another week. But in the interim, there’s always back episodes you can listen to. You can like, share, give us reviews, do whatever you want to but spread the love, spread the word, I’d be most grateful! Until then you can find me on Twitter, and me on LinkedIn as well.
Darryl Praill: I’ll talk to you soon, you guys take care. We’ll talk to you soon! Bye-bye.