The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Ep 132: From AE to CEO w/ Asad Zaman

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Ep 132: From AE to CEO w/ Asad Zaman

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton. 

Hello and welcome back to the Pavilion podcast. I'm your host, Brandon martin. You're listening to Is this a good time the show where I put Pavilion members on the hot seat for 15 minutes and we hear their incredible stories. We really shows Tuesdays and Thursdays. So hit subscribe. So you don't miss hearing from our experts. Our guest today is Asad Zaman. He's the Ceo of sales health agency and we talk about growing from an E to being the ceo of the company all in just a short eight year period. This episode was brought to you by inside Square advanced revenue analytics and forecasting for today's B two B organizations. Your revenue team wakes up every day with questions inside Square it gives you the data driven answers in real time. Get 350 out of the box reports and dashboards. Self service, No coat. All right, let's do this episode 59. Is this a good time? All right, incredible to have assad to man with the me today. He is the Ceo of the sales talent agency assad. So great to have you here. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be. Yeah. Are you excited? I couldn't be more excited man. Uh, you know, we're uh, you know, off audio here. We were talking a little bit about Toronto. I know you're typically in Toronto, but now you're based in new york, but before we get into all that. Tell us about your role how you got there and a little bit about the early part of your career. How did you become a Ceo? Yeah, I'll go on, I can hop on for ages. So when I've gone to law and tell me to shut up. But yes, I'm the ceo of sales talent agency. We are a 14 year old organization and we focus on helping companies build elite, go to market teams. We've worked with about 1500 different companies, mainly across North America early on just in Canada. That's where we were founded as of the last five or six years in the US as well. And then as of last month we just started off europe, we've facilitated about half a billion in salaries. So we would be the largest in Canada by a long shot but one of the larger players in our category, which is not the world's biggest category but it's a fun category. So this is what I do. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves in our work...

...and a lot of our work is with Technology companies. So your world, I guess the way it works out is that whenever there's high demand for talent and there's limited supply, you need a competitive advantage. And that's where we kind of pop in how I got here. I came to Canada in 2007. The year the company was started, I had nothing to do with its founding though. I came here to study public policy with an eye on law and very quickly through the first lost last, they make you do one just to help you figure out if you'd like it or not. I was in the bucket of, I do not like this. So I had to start figuring out something else. And I was also trying to make money to survive and doing all sorts of crazy jobs along the way. I cleaned bathrooms, was A security guard in a dangerous neighborhood wearing a bulletproof vest for $10 an hour and stumbled upon sales. A door to door sales company actually 100% commission model. And from there kind of fell in love. So ever since then my life has had something to do with sales. I founded a top of the companies in university. They were successful enough for what I was doing with them. But I learned lots and after a year after graduating it was time to find a job. And then I came across sales Polynesians and I've been handing out here ever since. Well I want to talk about that because it's so interesting to me, just tell everyone what was your first title at sales talent agency. Well, I was like a junior recruiter. I mean this is incredible. You went from being a junior recruiter to being a ceo, you literally went from, you know mailroom to, to the corner office right? Like, I don't know, I almost want to be in like put us in your mind when you were starting on the first day of work, did you say to yourself, I'm gonna rip you know up the corporate ladder here or did you say like, you know man, I don't know what I'm doing here, right? Like it was, I think I've always had a lot of imposter syndrome to be very honest. Like if you want to get super real important, let's get real good. So the real ounces imposter syndrome serious,...

...right? And especially when you are new to a country, you're building a life. I wasn't the best in school. So a lot of my successes were kind of through hard work and hustle and you know, figuring I figured sales out. But other than that I didn't have a lot of other, a lot of other things to kind of put myself onto and say because of this, I would be great. I knew I love sales. I knew I really found what sales, talent agency did to be quite a lot of fun. I came there as a candidate and I remember sitting in the interview and they were telling me about these different jobs. I was like, you know, actually forget this, what about you guys? This sounds amazing like what you guys are doing is fun. And the lady was interviewing me, she's like, we have a hiring freeze and I was like, okay, sure. Uh so then I went back home and I sent a bunch of emails to a couple of the directors didn't get any responses, I would reached out to the president of the founder and he responded like seven minutes and since and then I got hired and I actually got hired to work under him as a junior recruiter which was fantastic. Early on. I I felt the pressure. I thought at any different point they'll figure out that I'm not all that I might seem to be and okay. But you felt the pressure as a junior recruiter. I mean like you know and would you say at that point you were almost under hired? I don't know if I was under hired, I think founded companies, you have found it like three companies before that I did. Yeah, that's true. I think for me I felt that when I was hired I was hired with an expectation that this guy will either be really, really good or you know will be one of those like when you were hiring top talent when you're trying to make a bet on somebody that might be great. The other side of it is if they're not great they'll probably crash and burn right? And I knew there was this point of view on he could be great. And so that pressure was real for me. Um and our business when the business is solving problems and the thing about solving problems is that you need to get to a point where you...

...can have a doctor patient interaction with someone for which you need expertise and to develop expertise. You do need to be smart and you need to be curious, but you also need time and it takes time to develop it. You need to be patient until the point where you get that, where it clicks, you're not knocking it out of the park. Like I had not a fantastic first year. It wasn't bad by any means, but I had no point in my first year had knocked it out of the park seven times over everyone else. And so later on it clicked and when it clicked it was magical. But early on, yeah, there was some pressure, wow, that's incredible. And so, you know, there was a couple other roles you didn't go from, you know, a E here to Ceo. So there's a couple of the roles in there as well. Tell me about the transition to Ceo. How did that all come about? Did somebody tap you on the shoulder and say, hey, we're gonna be looking for a new leader. I mean, you know, you don't have to go into the sticky details here and some of it could be that way. But but what is, what was that transition? I honestly, I feel like first, I think we're on a high level, this became the thing that was at the intersection of my talent and my interest and I think in life when you're trying to build a career, if you have to find the thing that can make you money and be your career but has to be at the intersection of those two things? This was that for me. And so over time I developed expertise. It was fun. I was able to think outside the box. I wanted to do it differently. And so I was able to rise with the company and the company also, you know, the way that these things sometimes happen is it's not just all you and that's the reality of it, right? Like some of it is just locked. Um, and some of it was locked right? Like I, I did well and I grew and I knew the business well. But at the same time the founders also felt and very progressively that for the next stage of the company's journey, they want another, they want a change in leadership. They want to take a step back and let the next generation take over. So they tapped Kristin Condon who is our chief customer officer was employee number three I believe and myself too can irritate the rains And so both of us will push...

...forward at that time. And honestly, if they were not thinking that way, would this have happened? Obviously not right. I've done everything I did. But if they were not ready for that next step, it wouldn't have been there. Well, it's almost a perfect segue. I'll actually just take this as your luck story, right? So there was somebody in some room somewhere who said, I mean, how many potential candidates could there have been for this role in the company at the time? 6, 7 maybe that could have taken over who knows, you knows these things. Yeah. And and somebody said, hey, we need to talk to assad and see if he's interested in this. Look, I mean, I think it's, you know, you were talking about the intersection of your interest in what you're good at and like, I think it's the intersection of the hard work and the luck that you put in or that you got right, you wouldn't have been there if not for the hard work, but there's a spark sometimes. I mean that big bang at the beginning of the beginning of time. Like, you know, there's a little bit of something that happened, I agree, I think, and that's the fun part about life, right? That's the stuff you control. And if you do your part well enough once in a while, random doors open, random things happen and when those two things intersect it can be pretty magical. It can also be pretty disastrous, right? Like that's the other end of it. Like sometimes crazy things happen in life. Sometimes wonderful things happen in life. What you can control is how well you put your feet forward, right? If you do your part, right? Good fun things can happen. Love it, Love it. Well, look, why don't we get into kind of obviously recruitment and sales have so many similarities, right? What some of the sales or marketing tactics that you would want to share with the audience that people could kind of throw into action for us to be great at what we do. We need to understand the problem better than anyone else because we need to understand the problem of sales in let's say software companies to be partners, right? Because we're not interested in being a vendor and throwing candidates at a company, we're interested in having a conversation which is we need to build an elite team were at three million in revenue. We...

...need to get to 10 million. That's when we raise our nets around how do we do it? How do we frame with this, who we hire? How do we win? Right then we want to be the ones that help a client understand how to do that. So that's a sophisticated conversation and intellectually stimulating conversation. But a sophisticated conversation for that. We need to understand their lives better than anyone else in our market. And I think that's my first piece of advice to be great at market team, articulate the problem better than anyone else because then people will at least want your point of view on the solution. And if your point of view on the solution made sense, then you're going to get a lot of business because of that when it comes to sales and it connects with that. The ideal interaction between a salesperson and a buyer is a doctor patient interaction. When you think about the basic fundamentals of that interaction, it is expertise that's developed through curiosity, patients and intelligence, right? You have to have, you know, no one is saying you have to be like 100 and 80 I. Q. But you need to have some basic level, you know, processing power as well. But then you get to that point where you can have that interaction with someone and think about whenever you met a doctor, you never asked for a discount, right? Like the interaction is such where you're like ok, I get with this person is saying this person knows what they're talking about. I trust this person, let's move forward. This is not unique to me. Like I did not come up with this, I think I read it in the sales acceleration formula and it just hit me like you know sometimes you read a book and something can that's this thing for me, awesome, awesome, incredible men. And so you know, what are any of the positions that are key positions that you're hiring for? So across the board we're hiring for more than 250 rolls, cros to be DRS and everything in between. But internally there's um and that's where our clients, internally we're going through this transition, we're building SDR two point to point All right, so Kristen and myself are leading the organization and we're rethinking the foundation of the business, having a lot of fun doing it. And we've realized one of the lessons we've learned from working with software companies is the value of support roles, things like enablement and operations, um etcetera.

So we are looking to bring on board recruitment operations and enablement lead, who's going to own the training and development of our people, increased parts to productivity, increased productivity per person, make sure our technology has been used while making sure that people know what's going on in the market. So they can then articulate that to their clients, making sure they understand the different approaches that have been working for other people in the company so that we can amplify good practices across the board. We're really excited. I have very challenging role to hire for because recruitment agencies don't have this role, so it's not like I can go out there and pop somebody over, which means we've got to think outside the box about who could do this and what skills to look for? So this is the role I think about a lot these days. Very cool, very cool. Great. And so who are the folks that you would want to give a shout out to that are, you know, putting out good content or folks that you listen to, who are maybe articulating the problem, as you say, well of uh Groovin or marketing or any of these things, I think um, in transitioning to this role in a new area for me was marketing. So I spent a lot of time trying to understand marketing so that we were marketing ourselves well. And I stumbled upon Christopher lock head and he's one of probably the best marketers in the history of software, role play, bigger, which was the book focused on category design, creation, dominance, etcetera. He wrote it with a couple of partners. I think carol understanding the concept of a category is T and it's under appreciated in the market and I think salespeople will do really well listening to his content. He's got a fantastic podcast market on marketing, reading his newsletter. So they've released this news newsletter called Category pirates. And to me there's a few pieces of content I pay for and I'm always happy to pay initially and try it out. This is one of those who I remember paying for it and being like, holy shit, this is so good. Like this is worth every dime. And so right now, top of mind is marketing. Hence...

Christopher comes to mind, Love that. And uh, and any shout outs for like up and comers that you, you either recruited and placed in 10 men, that person's a rock star. And it's just, you know, just like you going from AIDS to ceo that you place your bet on them to do. You want to know why the story. Um, so we run this competition called the great Canadian sales competition. The idea was to introduce sales as a skill set and career path to students to increase the supply of sales people in the market. It's Canada's largest national student competition because of that. We land up in a lot of universities talking to kids about sales and so we landed up at this university a few years ago and part of that, the time we were spending, there was these kids would come in and they would pitch something in a video to us in this room. And so in this room comes this kid, his name is Ryan, Ryan is a slightly nervous, really nice guy probably, I think he was studying finance, getting ready for an internship and manulife or something of that sort and Ryan does this bitch, it wasn't great. And then once he's done, he's like, listen, can you just tell me a little bit about this world of sales? This sounds fascinating. And so we agreed to connect later on, we connected, he inquired about how to become a sales professional what to do. And in that conversation I threw in the Sprinkle of for me, what worked was that my first sales job was door to door and after that, everything is easy, right? Like when you left in a neighborhood knocking on doors for 16 hours a day after that, like you could have the worst inside sales job on earth, There's still an air conditioning, a bathroom like you'll be fine. So this kid, he disappears four months later comes back says, I said no to my internship. I took 100% sales job and I think new Brunswick selling security solutions door to door shot for three months became number one in the fourth month, became a manager in the fifth month. Came back then earned himself an internship at IBM, became a technical sales person and is now a young account executive core. It'll I think he will go places. So that's my shoutout. That's incredible, shouts to him. I love I love I love the hustle...

...stories like that. That's all right, well, we'll look last but not least so many great gems from you. But let's get let's end on a high note. Tell me a great restaurant that I need to eat that next time I'm visiting Toronto. Yeah, I want to call you out on Toronto. I want to do something. Yeah, next time visiting Toronto I thought of, Okay, so if you go to Toronto and you are looking to have be adventurous, then I suggest trying Pakistani food because that's where I'm from. Um and so there's a place called Claire. Hi boys, K A R H A. I This is not the this is not a westernized version of Pakistani food. This feels like you're eating on the streets over there, it's amazing. It's mind blowing and if you're looking for something a little bit more like a different type of meal, I like pipe food and there's a place called phi and phi is fantastic. So you should go check that out. You know what his hysterical, Where did I eat last night, incredible, incredible. We, I ordered the whole menu, we have entire Toronto team and that's where we ate before we went to carry out, which is why my voice, a little horse, sorry, everyone, there we go. But incredible, incredible. I'm so that just makes me so happy. It's not awesome to have you on men. So great to hear your story and I'm really looking forward to hanging in new york and then up in Toronto when I'm up there. Well you're gonna bring me to this Pakistani place so I know what to order. We will do it, I will take you there. I look forward to it. Thank you for having me, awesome man. All right, that is our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, rate and review apple podcast, Spotify app, you know the drill, send it to friends, do the things. A reminder. This episode was brought to you by Inside Square, Say goodbye to spreadsheet, forecasting and hello to crm data, you can trust Inside Square delivers predictive deal scoring, unmatched visibility and inspection and advanced goal management...

...for your entire team. Everything you need to take back control of the revenue process, I had so much fun. Hope you did too. Now go question numbers, Say something. Mhm.

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