The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 2 months ago

Ep 132: From AE to CEO w/ Asad Zaman

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 Pavilionpodcast. I'm your host, Brandon martin. You're listening to Is this a good timethe show where I put Pavilion members on the hot seat for 15 minutes and wehear their incredible stories. We really shows Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sohit subscribe. So you don't miss hearing from our experts. Our guesttoday is Asad Zaman. He's the Ceo of sales health agency and we talk aboutgrowing from an E to being the ceo of the company all in just a short eightyear period. This episode was brought to you by inside Square advancedrevenue analytics and forecasting for today's B two B organizations. Yourrevenue team wakes up every day with questions inside Square it gives youthe data driven answers in real time. Get 350 out of the box reports anddashboards. Self service, No coat. All right, let's do this episode 59. Isthis 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'tbe more excited man. Uh, you know, we're uh, you know, off audio here. Wewere talking a little bit about Toronto. I know you're typically in Toronto, butnow you're based in new york, but before we get into all that. Tell usabout your role how you got there and a little bit about the early part of yourcareer. How did you become a Ceo? Yeah, I'll go on, I can hop on for ages. Sowhen I've gone to law and tell me to shut up. But yes, I'm the ceo of salestalent agency. We are a 14 year old organization and we focus on helpingcompanies build elite, go to market teams. We've worked with about 1500different 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 aswell. And then as of last month we just started off europe, we've facilitatedabout half a billion in salaries. So we would be the largest in Canada by along shot but one of the larger players in our category, which is not theworld's biggest category but it's a fun category. So this is what I do. Wethoroughly enjoy ourselves in our work...

...and a lot of our work is withTechnology companies. So your world, I guess the way it works out is thatwhenever there's high demand for talent and there's limited supply, you need acompetitive advantage. And that's where we kind of pop in how I got here. Icame to Canada in 2007. The year the company was started, I had nothing todo with its founding though. I came here to study public policy with an eyeon law and very quickly through the first lost last, they make you do onejust 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 wasalso trying to make money to survive and doing all sorts of crazy jobs alongthe way. I cleaned bathrooms, was A security guard in a dangerousneighborhood wearing a bulletproof vest for $10 an hour and stumbled upon sales.A door to door sales company actually 100% commission model. And from therekind of fell in love. So ever since then my life has had something to dowith sales. I founded a top of the companies in university. They weresuccessful enough for what I was doing with them. But I learned lots and aftera year after graduating it was time to find a job. And then I came acrosssales Polynesians and I've been handing out here ever since. Well I want totalk about that because it's so interesting to me, just tell everyonewhat was your first title at sales talent agency. Well, I was like ajunior recruiter. I mean this is incredible. You went from being ajunior recruiter to being a ceo, you literally went from, you know mailroomto, to the corner office right? Like, I don't know, I almost want to be in likeput us in your mind when you were starting on the first day of work, didyou say to yourself, I'm gonna rip you know up the corporate ladder here ordid you say like, you know man, I don't know what I'm doing here, right? Likeit 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 thereal ounces imposter syndrome serious,...

...right? And especially when you are newto a country, you're building a life. I wasn't the best in school. So a lot ofmy successes were kind of through hard work and hustle and you know, figuringI figured sales out. But other than that I didn't have a lot of other, alot of other things to kind of put myself onto and say because of this, Iwould be great. I knew I love sales. I knew I really found what sales, talentagency did to be quite a lot of fun. I came there as a candidate and Iremember sitting in the interview and they were telling me about thesedifferent jobs. I was like, you know, actually forget this, what about youguys? This sounds amazing like what you guys are doing is fun. And the lady wasinterviewing 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 ofthe directors didn't get any responses, I would reached out to the president ofthe founder and he responded like seven minutes and since and then I got hiredand I actually got hired to work under him as a junior recruiter which wasfantastic. Early on. I I felt the pressure. I thought at any differentpoint 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 andwould you say at that point you were almost under hired? I don't know if Iwas under hired, I think founded companies, you have found it like threecompanies before that I did. Yeah, that's true. I think for me I felt thatwhen I was hired I was hired with an expectation that this guy will eitherbe really, really good or you know will be one of those like when you werehiring top talent when you're trying to make a bet on somebody that might begreat. The other side of it is if they're not great they'll probablycrash and burn right? And I knew there was this point of view on he could begreat. And so that pressure was real for me. Um and our business when thebusiness is solving problems and the thing about solving problems is thatyou need to get to a point where you...

...can have a doctor patient interactionwith someone for which you need expertise and to develop expertise. Youdo need to be smart and you need to be curious, but you also need time and ittakes time to develop it. You need to be patient until the point where youget that, where it clicks, you're not knocking it out of the park. Like I hadnot a fantastic first year. It wasn't bad by any means, but I had no point inmy 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 toCeo. So there's a couple of the roles in there as well. Tell me about thetransition to Ceo. How did that all come about? Did somebody tap you on theshoulder and say, hey, we're gonna be looking for a new leader. I mean, youknow, you don't have to go into the sticky details here and some of itcould be that way. But but what is, what was that transition? I honestly, Ifeel like first, I think we're on a high level, this became the thing thatwas at the intersection of my talent and my interest and I think in lifewhen you're trying to build a career, if you have to find the thing that canmake you money and be your career but has to be at the intersection of thosetwo things? This was that for me. And so over time I developed expertise. Itwas 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 andthat's the reality of it, right? Like some of it is just locked. Um, and someof it was locked right? Like I, I did well and I grew and I knew the businesswell. But at the same time the founders also felt and very progressively thatfor the next stage of the company's journey, they want another, they want achange in leadership. They want to take a step back and let the next generationtake over. So they tapped Kristin Condon who is our chief customerofficer was employee number three I believe and myself too can irritate therains And so both of us will push...

...forward at that time. And honestly, ifthey 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, itwouldn't have been there. Well, it's almost a perfect segue. I'll actuallyjust take this as your luck story, right? So there was somebody in someroom somewhere who said, I mean, how many potential candidates could therehave been for this role in the company at the time? 6, 7 maybe that could havetaken 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, Imean, I think it's, you know, you were talking about the intersection of yourinterest in what you're good at and like, I think it's the intersection ofthe hard work and the luck that you put in or that you got right, you wouldn'thave been there if not for the hard work, but there's a spark sometimes. Imean 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'sthe fun part about life, right? That's the stuff you control. And if you doyour part well enough once in a while, random doors open, random things happenand when those two things intersect it can be pretty magical. It can also bepretty disastrous, right? Like that's the other end of it. Like sometimescrazy things happen in life. Sometimes wonderful things happen in life. Whatyou can control is how well you put your feet forward, right? If you doyour 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 manysimilarities, right? What some of the sales or marketing tactics that youwould want to share with the audience that people could kind of throw intoaction for us to be great at what we do. We need to understand the problembetter than anyone else because we need to understand the problem of sales inlet's say software companies to be partners, right? Because we're notinterested in being a vendor and throwing candidates at a company, we'reinterested in having a conversation which is we need to build an elite teamwere at three million in revenue. We...

...need to get to 10 million. That's whenwe raise our nets around how do we do it? How do we frame with this, who wehire? How do we win? Right then we want to be the ones that help a clientunderstand how to do that. So that's a sophisticated conversation andintellectually stimulating conversation. But a sophisticated conversation forthat. 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 atleast want your point of view on the solution. And if your point of view onthe solution made sense, then you're going to get a lot of business becauseof that when it comes to sales and it connects with that. The idealinteraction between a salesperson and a buyer is a doctor patient interaction.When you think about the basic fundamentals of that interaction, it isexpertise that's developed through curiosity, patients and intelligence,right? You have to have, you know, no one is saying you have to be like 100and 80 I. Q. But you need to have some basic level, you know, processing poweras well. But then you get to that point where you can have that interactionwith someone and think about whenever you met a doctor, you never asked for adiscount, right? Like the interaction is such where you're like ok, I getwith this person is saying this person knows what they're talking about. Itrust this person, let's move forward. This is not unique to me. Like I didnot come up with this, I think I read it in the sales acceleration formulaand it just hit me like you know sometimes you read a book and somethingcan that's this thing for me, awesome, awesome, incredible men. And so youknow, what are any of the positions that are key positions that you'rehiring for? So across the board we're hiring for more than 250 rolls, cros tobe DRS and everything in between. But internally there's um and that's whereour clients, internally we're going through this transition, we're buildingSDR two point to point All right, so Kristen and myself are leading theorganization and we're rethinking the foundation of the business, having alot of fun doing it. And we've realized one of the lessons we've learned fromworking with software companies is the value of support roles, things likeenablement and operations, um etcetera.

So we are looking to bring on boardrecruitment operations and enablement lead, who's going to own the trainingand development of our people, increased parts to productivity,increased productivity per person, make sure our technology has been used whilemaking sure that people know what's going on in the market. So they canthen articulate that to their clients, making sure they understand thedifferent approaches that have been working for other people in the companyso 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'thave 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 andwhat 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 togive a shout out to that are, you know, putting out good content or folks thatyou 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, intransitioning to this role in a new area for me was marketing. So I spent alot of time trying to understand marketing so that we were marketingourselves well. And I stumbled upon Christopher lock head and he's one ofprobably 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 conceptof a category is T and it's under appreciated in the market and I thinksalespeople will do really well listening to his content. He's got afantastic podcast market on marketing, reading his newsletter. So they'vereleased this news newsletter called Category pirates. And to me there's afew pieces of content I pay for and I'm always happy to pay initially and tryit 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 eitherrecruited 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 themto do. You want to know why the story. Um, so we run this competition calledthe great Canadian sales competition. The idea was to introduce sales as askill set and career path to students to increase the supply of sales peoplein the market. It's Canada's largest national student competition because ofthat. We land up in a lot of universities talking to kids aboutsales and so we landed up at this university a few years ago and part ofthat, the time we were spending, there was these kids would come in and theywould pitch something in a video to us in this room. And so in this room comesthis kid, his name is Ryan, Ryan is a slightly nervous, really nice guyprobably, I think he was studying finance, getting ready for aninternship and manulife or something of that sort and Ryan does this bitch, itwasn't great. And then once he's done, he's like, listen, can you just tell mea little bit about this world of sales? This sounds fascinating. And so weagreed to connect later on, we connected, he inquired about how tobecome a sales professional what to do. And in that conversation I threw in theSprinkle of for me, what worked was that my first sales job was door todoor and after that, everything is easy, right? Like when you left in aneighborhood knocking on doors for 16 hours a day after that, like you couldhave the worst inside sales job on earth, There's still an airconditioning, a bathroom like you'll be fine. So this kid, he disappears fourmonths later comes back says, I said no to my internship. I took 100% sales joband I think new Brunswick selling security solutions door to door shotfor three months became number one in the fourth month, became a manager inthe fifth month. Came back then earned himself an internship at IBM, became atechnical sales person and is now a young account executive core. It'll Ithink he will go places. So that's my shoutout. That's incredible, shouts tohim. 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 getlet's end on a high note. Tell me a great restaurant that I need to eatthat 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, soif you go to Toronto and you are looking to have be adventurous, then Isuggest trying Pakistani food because that's where I'm from. Um and sothere's a place called Claire. Hi boys, K A R H A. I This is not the this isnot a westernized version of Pakistani food. This feels like you're eating onthe streets over there, it's amazing. It's mind blowing and if you're lookingfor something a little bit more like a different type of meal, I like pipefood and there's a place called phi and phi is fantastic. So you should gocheck that out. You know what his hysterical, Where did I eat last night,incredible, incredible. We, I ordered the whole menu, we have entire Torontoteam and that's where we ate before we went to carry out, which is why myvoice, 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. Sogreat to hear your story and I'm really looking forward to hanging in new yorkand then up in Toronto when I'm up there. Well you're gonna bring me tothis Pakistani place so I know what to order. We will do it, I will take youthere. 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, rateand 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 trustInside Square delivers predictive deal scoring, unmatched visibility andinspection and advanced goal management...

...for your entire team. Everything youneed 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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