While most business owners attribute their success to different factors, many credit a huge part of their success to one thing—new level sales skills. In line with this, we interviewed someone who knows sales like the back of his hand, Ali Mirza.
Ali is the CRO of Crisp Video Group and the president of Rose Garden Consulting, LLC. At Rose Garden Consulting, they help businesses develop, document, and implement a powerful sales process and strategy that’s sure to scale and achieve revenue goals.
If you want to create a robust sales team but don’t know how, listening to this episode is a huge step in the right direction. Ali not only tackled the basics of finding and hiring great salespeople, he also shared a couple of tools that can help you in your search. So many gold nuggets in today’s episode so don’t miss it!
- How to find and hire great salespeople
- Three intangibles he looks for in a salesperson
- How to tell if someone is coachable or not
- How to get an honest answer from applicants during interviews
- How to gauge if someone is a true competitor
- How to figure out if someone is a top producer
- What a Kolbe test is and what it’s for
- How to know when to let a salesperson go
- How to get the best out of salespeople
- Why keeping the sales team hyped and excited is crucial
- How he creates a level of accountability
- What the PRINT assessment tool does
- How people can get in touch with him
- Topgrading by Bradford D. Smart Ph.D.
- Kolbe A™ Index
- PRINT Assessment
- REI Radio Program
- Rose Garden Consulting
- Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Whoo-ee. I am your Host, Chris Arnold, and very excited about this guest. I have. I’m going to sum this entire talk and podcast up in this quote. I remember hearing it, “There are two problems in business: sales and everything else.” We know that to be true, right? I think the thing in our business that will cause us to bang our head against the wall more than anything is sales, particularly getting our sales team to produce.
And so we are going to break this apart today with someone actually that is really important to me because my guest Ali, interesting story how we met, right? Mutual friend, introduced us and said, “You’ve got to meet this guy named Ali Mirza with Rose Garden Consulting. He is going to come in and change the way you’re running your sales operations.” I get these introductions all the time I call Ali.
And, dude, I think it was a couple of weeks, he had flown down on a plane, we brought him in to consult our team. We started at like 9:00 in the morning, something like that and went all the way until 6:30 at night and revamped our entire sales process. And so if we’re talking about sales, I have not come across anyone that knows more about sales … and I mean, this is what Ali does full time. This is what Rose Garden Consulting does full time is consults companies small to big to large companies on how to better their sales reps.
So, Ali, welcome, buddy.
Hey, thank you, Brother, Appreciate you’re having me.
Man, I’m ready to hash this out and more importantly, start pulling those nuggets out of your head so that the audience today can take away and run with some practical items. Now, if you’re listening, right, you are either a solo entrepreneur, solo investor, and you haven’t built a sales team yet. But this is important, because you’ve got to start building a framework in your head or you’re just hired someone or you’re more seasoned and you’re like, “Okay, I’m fully engaged, leaning in on this because I need some guidance on how to get more out of my sales team.”
So Ali let’s just like hop in, let’s go straight to the meat. You’re ready to go?
All right, here’s my first question. How do we find and hire great salespeople? That’s where it starts, right? Because we know that hiring and getting the right one is a really important part of this equation. How do we do that practically?
So there’s two parts of that question, right? There’s the finding and then there’s the hiring. Then if we dive a little bit deeper, there’s two parts to the finding, right? It’s where do you physically find this human, right, in a physical standpoint, but then how do you root out the people that say that they’re good versus the people that actually are good.
The one thing, and, I mean, that’s a whole rabbit hole that we can go down. But the one thing I will say, in my opinion, I do not like that “experienced salesperson,” that’s going to come in with that Rolodex and that’s going to day one, walk in and bring you all your riches. That person does not exist. What you’re looking for is a unicorn and we all know unicorns don’t exist. So when you start looking for that, you miss the little things that are in front of you.
And so in my opinion, when someone tells me they’ve got 10 years of experience, I look at that more often than not as 10 years of bad behavior and bad habits, rather than actually 10 years of experience to which I always get the response, “Well, how can someone do something and be poor at it for 10 years?” I’m like, “Dude, yes, you can. You very much can.” There’s a lot of people that are very, very bad at their job that have been doing it for a long time. That time doing something doesn’t equate to being proficient in it, so that’s the one misnomer that I’d love to clear up in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately what I’m looking for, and depending on the market, depending on literally the physical location, depending on the type of organization around whether it’s all remote or whether it’s all people coming into an office, you know, where are you going to look for this person, physically, does depend.
So I’m not going to go down that road, but what does this person look like, right? From that standpoint that I can answer, because this is relatively universal. Ultimately I’m looking for three things, three intangibles, and this person needs to be creative, good salespeople think quick on their feet, right? You’re always thrown something that requires you to call an [inaudible 00:00:05:32], right, and nothing ever goes perfect. And according to script. So I’m looking for someone that’s creative that can think quick on their feet.
Second thing I’m looking for, somebody that’s competitive. I have never met a good salesperson that wasn’t pissed … Oh, how much can I … should I keep this relatively PG?
Man, bring it, man.
Oh, bring it. Okay.
If you can go raw, go raw.
All right, I’ve never seen a salesperson that gets super, that doesn’t get pissed off when someone beats them, right? I want that competitive spirit. I want that vibe. The one thing I will clarify there, that a lot of people, they want ex-college athletes or ex … Now I played ball in college a long, long time ago. I’m an old man now. But when I was playing ball, growing up, life was different than the kids growing up now. These kids growing up now playing AU ball, whether it be AU basketball, but whether they’re playing basketball, football, whatever it is that they’re playing, they’re babies so much. They don’t know what real work is. So be very careful if you’re going to be hiring a fresh college star today, because they got everything handed to them, everything through Instagram and all this other stuff. They’ve been floated up and their tires have been pumped. When I was doing it, I had to still go work a part time job at a 7-11, then I worked at a call center and all that other stuff. I had to go play ball at the school and college after that.
So you learn a level of grit and a lot of us old guys that are hiring these young sales guys now, think that the grit that we came up with is the same grit that they have. They don’t. I’m telling you, these are a bunch of prima donnas that are coming up now. So make sure you actually test that grit. And you want somebody that came from like a little bit of a … In my opinion, a little bit of challenged upbringing.
That grit is very important and that’s what’s going to determine competitive vibe, and that doesn’t mean that they grew up poor. I mean, I know a lot of rich people that have had a challenging lifestyle, I’ve known a lot of poor people that are just, meh, complacent, but then also flipped as well. I’ve known a lot of people that grew up without money that have now understood the value of hard work and understand that they don’t want to go back, and then vice versa. People that grow up with money don’t care if they don’t understand what a hard day at work is. So don’t let that be the guiding factor.
And then ultimately, the third thing that I’m looking for is somebody that’s coachable. Nobody, very, very few people believe that they can’t learn anything. So almost everyone will tell you they are coachable, but really look for signs to see if they’re coachable or not. So if they’re, if they’re telling you that they’re coachable, make them do something. And then even regardless of how well they do it … So one of the things that I was doing, our interviews … Golden nugget here for you … one of the things that I was doing, our interviews, I’d give the script to the person and say, “Sell me, read the script, sell it to me.”
I don’t care how well they do it, I will always look because there’s always something you can crack. So I will look for something that they did wrong. If they start telling me, “Oh yeah, I was going to do this,” and they start making excuses.
Right? What I want is somebody that’s going to be like, “Hm, noted.” I want someone to shut up, listen and be like, “Oh, okay,” and then ask questions on how they can get better. That’s the only way you can tell whether someone’s coachable or not. If they start making excuses, “Oh, I was going to do that,” “Oh, I thought to do that, but then I did it because of this reason,” and I don’t want, I don’t have time for that. I don’t need to convince you that you need to listen to me. So those are the three things that I’m looking for from that standpoint, from the intangibles.
But we can get into the actual, if you want into the tangible, actual qualitative measures that I’m looking for when I’m hiring a sales person, but just from a high level, that’s what I’m looking for from a gut check.
So what I hear are the three Cs, right? They’re creative. They’re competitive. Another word for that to really nail it down. I like that word is grit. Right? And then lastly, of course they’re coachable.
So let me ask you this. How do you sift that out in an interview? Do you do that face to face? Do you assess them? Again, you gave a practical for being coachable, right? Actually coach them and see if they get defensive or not. But the creative, the competitive, how do you find that out? Because in interviews, people tend to put their best foot forward and we know in resumes that’s as close to perfection as any human can get.
Yeah, I mean, resume, I think it was in the book, Topgrading, where it says like all it says is it’s a chronological list of all the things you’ve done. It doesn’t actually explain anything and it’s with all the bad parts omitted. Okay, so as far as competition goes, you give them an example and ask them how they would react because most people are not anticipating that question. So they’re going to typically just say whatever comes to … the first thing that comes to them. That’s typically the most accurate response you’re going to get from them. So I’d give them an example of, “Hey, so you know what, you are …” and again, this would have to be specific to your situation, “But you’re the top sales person for three years running this, that and the other.” And in fact, I would actually, if you’re hiring a sales person that has some sales experience, try to tailor it a little bit to that, so that then they’re going to tap their brain into what’s actually happening and you’re going to get more of an honest answer.
So “You’re the top sales person for three years running, this, that the third. Someone else comes up to, they get a better list than you do of people to call or whatever. They get some better leads or their family knows somebody.” You lace that, make sure you give them that excuse, if you don’t, you’re going to get a very politically washed answer. They have a better list than you. They have this, they have that, whatever it is. “And now all of a sudden they’re catching up to you and they want to shadow your calls. And in shadowing your calls, they correct something that you’re doing, that was incorrect,” right? Say that. “How do you respond to that?”
What you’ve done here … and this is something that I’ve used in the past. What you’ve done at this point is you’ve built up this backstory of what somebody else is doing, right, and you’re seeding it with the fact that it’s undeserved and they’re nipping at your heels. You’re about to lose your top spot, and now they’re correcting you. You’re going to get this person’s true competitive juices coming out. And remember what we don’t want is a negative environment where this person wants to now cut that person down. What you want, true competitive, true competitors, don’t believe that they have competition. True competitors want to dominate and they’re only focused on themselves and they themselves want to get better. The nugget that this person should have. If they’re a true competitor, should’ve picked up on is, “Well, I’m going to figure out how can I get better based off that thing? What did they correct? Why was I doing it wrong?” If they’re focused on that and none of the other garbage, that’s a true competitor.
It goes back to that picture of Michael Phelps, and I forget who it was maybe with Ryan Lockie or whoever it was. But Michael Phelps is focused on hitting that final stride and that other guy is looking at Michael Phelps, right? Winners focus on winning, losers focus on the winners. Based on what their response is that’s how we’re going to figure out whether that person’s a true competitor or just somebody that gets jealous or … and we don’t have time for that, right?
If I got two salespeople fighting, cutting each other down, I’m the one that loses. That’s it, right? You’ve got to figure that out before you hire these people. You want to hire true competitors that want themselves to be better and only then, everybody wins.
It’s well said. I love that picture that you give of Phelps, and so what I hear you doing to test the creativity, to test their competitive nature and their coachability, you’re actually generating scenarios within the interview process to pull out those philosophies. And so based on their response to these scenarios it lets you know, philosophically, where they stand and if it’s in alignment.
So let me jump to the next question. Why is it that sales people do not produce? When we get people we get into that situation. We think we got a ringer. We think we got a top salesperson. They don’t produce, why?
So we can break it down a couple of different ways, but how do we even know that this person was a top producer or should actually be, right? So I can go down that road, but let’s assume we know that this person should be good. Everything is relative. The one thing I will say is even the best people on the planet, when they get bored, it is not good. The King of the Jungle, a lion, right? You put a lion in a zoo and you’ve basically castrated him, right? And you feed him, and the lion is no longer a lion. A lion is no more than like one step above a large house cat is really what it becomes. So everything is relative and that’s why that competitive spirit and that breed is so important. And making sure you’ve got nothing but the right type of people in your environment, in your office, because, man, you know, it’s like the old, the old saying, right? “Never argue with stupid people. They’re going to bring you down to their level and beat you up with experience.”
If you let complacent or lazy people come into your environment and you don’t weed that out quick, it will make everybody else lazier and worse. Versus on the flip side, you fill it with bunch of great competitive fighters and people that actually want to achieve growth mindset people, you fill it with that. If I’m having a bad day, I have no choice, but to get out of it. I have no choice, but to rise at Bob and actually live it because if everyone else is tight, everyone else is doing that. So I always look back at culture, right? What is the culture that we have? Is it a growth mindset? Is it an aggressive, relentless culture? If we do the weak will weed themselves out real quick and everyone’s going to do well.
But from a tangible standpoint, this is why I’m a big fan of the Kolbe assessment. If I can figure out whether this person should have technically actually is a good performer or not, based on certain factors in there, because if you’re basing the fact that this person should have been a ringer, based on their last company, that is a bad metric. Because you don’t know what they were doing for marketing, you don’t know what it was that they were selling in the market. There’s so many other factors at play. You could get just pluck a “top performer,” put them in your spot and assume that he’s going to … he or she is going to achieve at the same rate. And frankly, most people that tell me, “Oh, I brought in a ringer,” “How did you validate that?” Because they said that they were? So there’s a million things that go in there. But nine times out of 10, if all else equal, and that person is a ringer, every time we point a finger, there’s three pointing back at us. I guarantee you it’s the culture that you’ve created that has ruined them.
Yeah, it’s holding them back, and so it comes back on the leadership to create that right type of sales culture. And if you caught that Kolbe, that’s K-O-L-B-E, is a great tool to assess incoming candidates on the sales side.
Now I want to ask one question going down this road, but kind of before we flip to the positive, right? And that is you have a sales person, you’re coaching them. You’re trying to get them to come up. It’s the old saying, “You can’t save a plant by over-watering it.” How do you know when to let a sales person go?
I can’t want it more for you than you want it for yourself, right? I mean, it’s just as simple as that. I’ll share something here. I’ve got a salesperson right now that I’m actually wrestling with this kind of the same way. I believe I treat them too good. They got it made here. I got seven that I’m managing right now, and they got me, and one of them just won’t listen to me. Right, I keep telling them, do this, do this, do this, do this. I actually really like him as a person, I really like him, but he’s constantly … You know, last month he had a huge month, but the month before that he did not even pay for himself, and so I took away his chair, right? I’m like, you’re not sitting anymore. I literally took away his chair.
You literally like physically took away his chair?
Took away his chair, he was not allowed to sit, at all, at all. I, from his desk. I see him in a conference room sitting, I lost my mind. I told him, “Go home for the day, come back tomorrow, when you’re ready to be an adult.” And he’s not allowed to be, he was not allowed to sit for the entire month until he hit his quota. Now this is me dragging somebody. This is, you know, “Do as I say, not as I do. This is not what you should be doing.” Right? So I’m telling you what I’m doing because clearly I want it more than he wants it and once you get to that point, it’s gut check time, and you’ve got a lot of them go.
Now, once I took away as chair, I mean, last month he was, if he didn’t hit quota was gone. It was that clear. He ended up overshooting his quarter by about $130,000. So I let him stay and for perspective, that’s about, I’d say 20% above his quota plus or minus. So yeah, about there. So he overshot his quota. All right, I’m going to let him stay. But I sat down with him because there was … He hit it on the revenue side, but he didn’t hit a couple other metrics that he was supposed to hit. Because I try to [inaudible 00:18:53] everything, and so I said, “Okay, well you didn’t hit these other ones, now you’ve got …” He’s a closer for me. I’m like, “Okay, you’ve got two choices,” and I had already had this conversation with him and set the expectation, right? I say, “You’ve got two choices.”
Well, actually, I only gave him the choice of he’s got to … He’s getting demoted. He comes to me and says, “Wait, instead of demoting me, I’ll give my money back. I’ll give my commission back.” He keeps his base, but he’ll give his commission back. So I’m like, “All right.” He’s being a man. I’m like, that to me showed me, he wanted it. Couple other things ended up happening. So he’s still around here and whatnot, but you have to show me that you wanted it, and he was willing to put $8,000. Give it back to me. I’m like, “All right, well that shows me that he wants it.” And that was more like … I don’t know … His base, I won’t get into that, but anyways. That answer your question? I know I started rambling because I started thinking about this fellow and that just …
No, no, no.
Pisses me off.
I’m totally tracking with you on, on what you’re doing and how you’re processing that entire equation. So what I hear you saying bottom line, if I could summarize it, is when all of a sudden you’re putting in more effort, you’re having more desire to see that sales person succeed, then they’re doing it themselves. And really, if I could sum that up, all of a sudden you, as the owner, sales manager, et cetera, began to take more initiative on behalf of that salesperson, than they’re taking for themselves is really the way that I, that I hear you saying it.
So I want to flip this, right? We’ve talked about the reverse side of this. You said something important. You said that a lot of times it comes down to the culture and you can have a right sales person, wrong culture. And so can you give us some practicals on how to get the best out of our sales people, how to create, call it what you want, the environment, the incentives. What do sales people need from us in order to flourish as leaders?
I’ll break it down to one word and that word is hype. All of that, all of that leads up to one word. The culture will be determined based off of the leader, right? You can put in whatever culture it is that you want. But if that … the leader does not embody that, it does not matter. And so my entire, my entire job here at … is just hype everyone up. I am one big hype, man. That’s all I am. And so I get everyone excited and that’s every single morning, do a daily stand up. I come in there and I yell at them and I do all of that stuff. I walk around here with a baseball bat. And it’s all about making sure they’re focused about the task at hand and constantly pushing, constantly pushing. I don’t preach anything that I don’t do.
And if you’re listening and you don’t have a visual. He’s holding up a bag.
Yeah, but my bag is almost empty, but this was a bag full of cash. So I got to go back there.
Like real cash.
Real cash, yeah, yeah. You’ve got to pay them. That’s the way we are. We’ve got shirts that say “Dark to Dark Crew,” right? Because they show up when it’s dark, they leave when it’s dark.
Dark to Dark Crew.
This whole thing is geared around getting them hyped, getting them excited, getting them to a point where they are constantly doing that. I’m walking around with stacks of cash and here, I got another one. Now remember, this is not a lot of money. These are just ones, right? But stacks of cash walking around, throwing at them, because it’s all about getting them excited, getting them … and like $50, it’s not a lot of money, but when I tell you, I’m going to give you 50 bucks. You’re like, “Eh, I’ll do it or not.” But when I throw a hundred bucks at you, that gets you a little bit excited, right? And when everyone else sees it, it’s about that.
It’s all about how can you create hype? It’s when I’m yelling at you, when I’m getting you excited, you get that much more focused. That’s how you’re going to create a culture where people actually want to come in. No one’s going to do anything for $50. Believe me, but people will do something if you get them hyped around it. And so all you need to be doing and all you need to be focused on is how do I get my team hyped up? How do I get them excited? How do I have them focused on what they do? We track every single number. I’m a very libertarian person, right? I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t want to do, right?
But understand there’s consequences, so for us, you have a certain call count every single day. You don’t hit your call count. That’s fine. But you have a forced remote day, next day, meaning don’t show your face in the office tomorrow. I’m not going to yell at you. I’ll yell at you about other things, but I’m not going to yell at you about that but I don’t want to see your face. So the number you commit to, you hit it, period, right? We just set up rules. The rules are what the rules are. And now we can all have fun. That creates a level of accountability. It creates a level of a culture where it’s like do your job, period. I’m not here to babysit you.
Yeah, and so I hear two things there. You know, as, as you’re processing through this. As the leader, you see it as your responsibility to infuse the energy and to unify this team, right? And you will utilize kind of whatever tactics, whether it’s throwing bands of money at them, walking around with a baseball bat. But you understand, it’s my responsibility to bring the energy every day. But the flip side of what I seen you do on that as well is you have no problem also bringing in the accountability that they need as well. And if that means I’m going to take your chair, if that means you’re not coming in the office tomorrow, because I don’t want to see your face, but here’s what I understand about salespeople, and we’ll start to wind this up.
That is really, if you’re dealing with a driving personality, highly competitive, highly creative, you know, you might be listening or thinking of your administrative staff, that doesn’t work. But with this particular brain wiring of a sales person, you would agree that these tactics are what they need. You’re … let’s say it this way … You’re speaking their love language.
Yes, absolutely. And this is why 100% agree with everything you said. This is why I’m a big fan of, and I don’t get paid by the man, no, nothing, not even certified, but this is why I’m such a big proponent of a Kolbe assessment and a Print assessment. For Kolbe it’s how you do things, Print is why you do things. And when you understand what Kolbe’s and what … which Kolbe’s and which Print numbers and reports lineup well with salespeople, you put them in that role, and then now you motivate them this way. And this is how you have a high charging organization, a sales organization.
Because you know, to put an accounting type of personality in there and then do this type of reinforcement, it is not going to work. It’s a countdown to when they quit. But on the flip side, there’s really nothing you could do for that accounting personality to get them going. So just make sure you have the right person as well as the right, the correct reinforcement. And that’s a recipe for success. But if either one of them are off, the whole thing falls off. So you’ve got the right personality, the wrong reinforcement or the right reinforcement and the wrong personality and it will not work. Both have to be correct.
Yeah, and just to clarify that you said Kolbe, and then you said Print?
Print. P-R-I-N-T. That’s why you do what you do.
That’s it, and that’s another assessment that you have sales people take.
That’s a different one.
So and I want to tie that back in, not only are you interviewing them, right, and creating scenarios to draw out their creativity, their competitiveness, and their ability to be coachable. You’re utilizing also those two assessments to understand the way that they are wired, literally from a brain standpoint to reinforce what you’re seeing in the interview as well. Right?
I love it. So Ali, I know you’ve been a big value to our organization. If someone’s listening, going, “You know what, man, I need to bring in what Ali has.” How do people get ahold of you?
You always shoot me an email. Ali, A-L-I, @RoseGardenConsulting.com and you can also find more information about our organization @Rose Garden Consulting.com, Rose like the flower.
Rose like the flower. Awesome. Well, Ali, man, I appreciate your time. And Ali, you know this because you came in and coached us, you know, lead generation is important, right? You’ve got to feed your sales people. And as you broke apart our business, you saw how valuable Radio was to the salespeople and our organization as well, and so you’re nodding your head, going, “Yeah, I remember that being down into Loom.” So, you know, this is something that we’re helping people set up. And so if you’re tuning in, again, you want to learn more about sales, definitely go to Ali. And if you’re interested in learning more about Radio and how all we helped us to utilize that as well, to continue to get more of our salespeople, go to WholesalingInc.com/REIRadio. Again, that’s WholesalingInc.com/REIRadio.
Ali, thanks for your time, buddy. Thanks for the candid conversation.
No problem, brother. Take care.
Talk to you later.