Ernest Owusu is the Senior Director of Sales Development at 6sense. In this episode we talk fatherhood, football and performance based professions. We dive into Ernest’s unusual journey from professional football to professional sales, plus he shares some of the disciplines he still carries on form his athletic career. Including one I really love: You have to practice with the same intensity you play.
Andy Paul: Welcome to the show.
Ernest Owusu: Thank you so much for having me. Glad to be here.
Andy Paul: Yeah, we finally made it happen.
Ernest Owusu: Alot of coordination, a lot of going back and forth.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Let’s get to the most important thing first, which is that you and your wife had triplets recently?
Ernest Owusu: Yes, we did. Quite the handful of say the least.
Andy Paul: I can imagine. So two boys and one girl?
Ernest Owusu: Correct. Yep.
Andy Paul: So the names are?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. Sure. So Louie, Henry and Ruthie. So we always like the whole like kind of thing. Yeah.
Andy Paul: Classic names that Louie, Henry and Ruthie. I love it. Now are they identical?
Ernest Owusu: So the boys are identical, obviously the girls not, but yeah, so they look very much alike, but it’s funny because even though they’re still so young and they have a lot more to grow, we can very easily pick them apart. But I don’t know how much longer that’s gonna be though.
Andy Paul: So I guess that raises the question is yeah, triplets. They probably all have distinct personalities then, I imagine, are you able to sort of, to your last point, sort of sort that out?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, honestly already because they’re right now, there’ll be six months in about three days, but you can very easily see what they’re probably going to be like. Ruthie the girl, is like very calm, cerebral, very patient. Louie is probably the one who’s going to be our fighter, the energetic one. And then Henry is just really happy all the time. So it’s funny how you catch that early on, but we’re already loving it.
Andy Paul: Yeah, you’re learning something that usually parents don’t learn until they have their second child. If they only have one the first time, which is that they just come out differently. And I was telling a story with my son, with my oldest, who’s actually my producer, you just met him. And, yeah, he was easy baby. Slept early, slept through the night early, after just five, six weeks, was going all the way through. Happy go lucky and we thought, gosh, when we have next week, we’ll do it the exact same way. So when his sister came, we said, yeah, we’re just going to adjust the way we did with Alec. Yeah. Didn’t matter. Different person came out. A different person was having none of that.
Ernest Owusu: It’d be great if we could predict it. And we knew exactly what’s going to be, how they be but, yeah.
Andy Paul: All right. So are you getting any sleep?
Ernest Owusu: No, I’m not, but I will say my wife and I have a pretty good, we’re both athletes. And obviously we come with a very regimented background. We’re both pretty aligned on the schedule to follow to make sure we’re trying to get as much sleep as possible, but still it’s not quite happening the way I like it to be.
Andy Paul: So you were a football player and we’re going to get into that in a little bit. So what sport was your wife from?
Ernest Owusu: Indoor volleyball. She’s actually the head beach volleyball coach at Cal right now.
Andy Paul: Wait, so beach volleyball is now a NCAA sport?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. So she started the program, I’d say maybe six years ago.
Andy Paul: Didn’t realize that, huh? Hadn’t kept track of that. Alright. So a question I usually ask guests is what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic, but for you, I have a special version of that question, which is what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself as a new father?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, that’s a really good question. You know, I think a lot of us are like a lot of us are sprinting, like taking things as they were, and not taking the opportunity to look at things as they should be. And as me, who’s eventually gonna be new father, I knew that I was gonna have to slow down a little bit because I wanted to, several times with family and, now that I’m home and I’m gaining the opportunity to be a lot closer with them, I could literally jump out of this after this podcast and go out and just hold my kids. It started to make me realize how much more time I need to dedicate to my family and myself, just even outside of work. And that’s probably a combination of all things COVID, but especially the fact that I’m just a new dad and, I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s going to be like when all this is over because a lot of these things that I have right now in terms of how much time you need my family, how much I value it. I don’t want it was those after this.
Andy Paul: Yeah, that was gonna be my next question is what happens when things start getting back to normal?
Ernest Owusu: It’s gonna be interesting. One thing I will say though, is I was the kind of person who never, ever worked from home. I just never did it. I don’t foresee myself having a structure where I don’t do that at least once or twice a week after this, just because I’m starting to really realize how much time I get to spend with my family if I do that.
Andy Paul: I think it’s one of the great things about this era. and I say that, you know, very hesitantly. It’s not, none of this is good. But in terms of a lesson, people are learning and I think companies are learning is that, you know, I think the blended more flexible approach to work is a way you’re going to get more out of your people.
Giving people the flexibility to work remotely from two days a week and know that it’s not the end of the world. In my wife’s work, an academic institution, they resisted forever remote work for anybody. “Oh, it just doesn’t work.” And then suddenly they’re forced to have everybody remote and it’s, “Oh, maybe it works.”
And it’s yeah. I think you’re going to get more out of your employees and not from an exploitative way, but just, people would be just be more naturally productive because, to your point, they’re feeling a little more balanced. They get a little more in touch with families. I think, especially with people that the travel, I always found that the hard part I wanted to, because I traveled extensively, for many years of my career, all around the world constantly. And, yeah. Get back from a trip and had shop the office the next day. Itwasn’t a great day to work from home. Now, we didn’t really always have those times have the technology to do that, but it was still, I would have valued it and I’m sure a lot of people are in your situation. It’s like yeah, I don’t need to be remote all the time, but if I can have that opportunity to do it a couple of days a week, it would be great.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, and it’s gonna be real interesting too, because we’re gonna have a very large sample size depending on when the thing finally finished. Like what actually happens when you have your entire workforce working remotely, if you get the opportunity to do so. The business decisions that are going to happen after this based upon that are going to be real interesting to see. I’m looking forward to that.
Andy Paul: Because people didn’t sign up for remote work. This is one of the things that I keep coming back to. It’s okay, great, people have been hugely adaptable by and large, right? Across this country in all professions. We said, look, you got to work remotely. That’s not the way most people want to work. It’s not the way I think most people are productive is they want to go to an office. They want to be with colleagues. They want to collaborate in person. They want to do these things that are more personal. And I think given the opportunity that companies don’t foreclose that just for the purchase of saving money on rent, which I think foolish is yeah. Do this blended thing.
Ernest Owusu: Completely agree. Completely agree.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Okay. now as I touched on it, so for people don’t know you were a star football player at Cal Berkeley.
Ernest Owusu: Yes I was. It was a lot of fun. Go Bears!
Andy Paul: Well as a loyal Stanford alum, not really sure I go with that Go Bears thing. But, you guys have won at least one big game in the last three decades, right?
Ernest Owusu: I think we won the most recent one.
Andy Paul: About two out of the last 20 years. Okay, good. All right. We had to get, we had to do that. We had to get the other way it’s obligatory when Stanford person, Cal person talks together. Now I do have to ask though, are you any relationship at all to Francis Owusu?
Ernest Owusu: interestingly enough. No, I don’t because, The last name of Lucy was by far one of the most common, last names in the country that both my parents came from and funny, his brother, Chris, we were actually teammates together in Tampa Bay. So that was the first time I’ve actually had a teammate with the same last name as me, but no relationship.
We are all, we’re pretty close, Chris and I at least, but I get that all the time.
Andy Paul: Now I knew you weren’t I’d looked that up before, but, but. You realize why I was asking my Francis is one of the greatest catches in college football history.
Ernest Owusu: Oh, my goodness. Yes. I remember that.
Andy Paul: you remember the one right
Ernest Owusu: Oh, I definitely remember. I definitely
Andy Paul: For people who don’t know, look it up on YouTube, Frances OHSU catching against UCLA, for a touchdown where basically he’s falling backwards facing the direction of balls coming from the quarterback has his arms around the defender and he catches a ball behind the defender’s back. It was amazing. Yeah. geeking out a little bit about that, but so you were defensive end?A
Ernest Owusu: Yes, I was. Yes. I was.
Andy Paul: And all academic PAC-12
Ernest Owusu: I was . hat’s honestly part of the reason why I went to why I chose Cal, just that. Yeah,
Andy Paul: Of course. Great education. Won’t knock it. As a Stanford alum, I can knock it, but it is a fantastic education. Yes.
Ernest Owusu: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.
Andy Paul: And your major was?
Ernest Owusu: Political economy. Interestingly, I want to try and find, cause I knew football wasn’t always going to be a thing that, I was going to retire eventually. I saw that the mix between polisci and economics was something I was interested in and that’s why I chose that.
Andy Paul: Interesting. I sorta thinking about that as I was doing research for this interview, I thought, that’s about as relevant as my history degree. Good background for sales, I thought. Because yeah, one of the real things that was stressed in the history degree was analytical thinking and yeah. good grounding. So curious now, and I have a connection to sales for asking this, but so were you drafted by the pros?
Ernest Owusu: No, it was not it. So I instantly knew. So I have the opportunity to do a ton of visits with teams. and the way the process goes is sometimes they call you and say, they’re going to draft you, but they actually don’t because someone else is available. A couple of those, ghost calls, if you want to call them. But at the end of the day, I ended up going on drafted. But one thing that people don’t really realize is when you are like in those later rounds, especially for eventually it’d be a sixth or seventh rounder, it’s actually better to go on drafted. Cause you can choose your team. Was it going somewhere if they want to go. Because I was one of those fringe guys that was like six, seven drown, potentially like a preferred free agent. I had about 14 teams that I could’ve chosen to go to and I chose the Vikings based upon the roster, the organization, et cetera.
Andy Paul: Now did you go to the combine.
Ernest Owusu: So I actually, I did my pro day, but my numbers, I will say, had I gone, would have been top three almost on every single board, which was pretty cool to hang my hat on.
Andy Paul: so did you do like that Wonderlic test and the in depth interviews they do on all of that?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. So they actually hosted most of those at Cal, which was great and the whole process is actually pretty crazy when you think about it. I didn’t really realize it while I was going through it, but like the amount of analysis they are doing with like your personal life, your injuries, like everything is just weird. But yeah, I went through all of it. it was a blast. It was interesting, a lot of different ways, but I enjoyed it.
Andy Paul: I’ve written about this before because I’m always fascinated by this process that pros go through to evaluate pro football, to evaluate kids coming out of college for basically, it’s a job interview for your first job and there’s this amazing rigor that’s applied to it from this test and the interviews and so on. But interestingly, when you look at the statistics is, high draft choices t typically don’t succeed very well. and it’s huh. So what’s that? Tell us about what we do to hire sales reps.
Ernest Owusu: I think I got the answer to that .
Andy Paul: Oh yeah, go ahead, please.
Ernest Owusu: Honestly, when you look at how people get drafted and how people select their preferred salesperson, people find comfort in tangible things. You find comfort in the fact that there’s that one person who went to an Ivy league school, they went through sales training programs, they have two years worth of sale experience. Because that typically is an indication of success. You have, in the NFL it’s if that one person read a 4.3 and they went to Alabama and they have all the check boxes marked then obviously that gives you a lot more comfort.
But the reality is there are a lot of really strong intangible qualities that people have that are typically a lot better indicators of success, but there’s a lot more difficult to measure. And that’s the reason why my opinion, when you see, sales hires or, draft pickss, that’s why people make mistakes. Cause they’re not as willing to be as comfortable with relying on the intangibles.
Andy Paul: Yeah. it’s interesting to think about my interview process for my first job. I’m part of it was the sales manager really wanted to hire me. But the branch manager of the large computer company I was going to work for who had the ultimate say, he took a little bit of convincing because yeah, he had never, he was the opposite, he was suspicious of people from Stanford. Ah, you’re all going to go to law school or business school and I’m not getting any time from you. I just wanna hire someone from a local Cal state school cause they do great. So it was like, yeah, you can have all the things checked, 4.3 from Alabama, and think okay well that’s a safer choice. But sometimes people, to his credit, the branch manager said, yeah, there’s more to it than that. let’s dig down deeper.
Ernest Owusu: I completely agree. And honestly, with the teams that I hire, so we have our criteria that we look for, for the birth of the perfect STRB our candidate. And the reality is we assess people for the qualities of like how well they can talk, they can write their business acumen, but a lot of the main principles or characteristics are intangibles and, yeah, it’s uncomfortable to try and assess that and like people even build out those assessment profiles that they, use to get a sense of what those qualities might be. But personally, I don’t really care if you went to Stanford. If you went to another school, if you have the experience or not, like if you’re whatever, as long as you possess those intangible qualities that we’re looking for, those are the people that typically, in my opinion, at least, lead to the success of your expecting.
Andy Paul: Yeah. This moment, hiring a new sales person as their first job or in your case, your first job was playing football, but in either case, it’s a crapshoot, right? To your point about the intangibles, which I agree with a hundred percent is that there’s nothing, usually there’s nothing very tangible, at least done from a sales perspective that you can hang your hat on.
Yeah. Somebody that’s worked in a retail store. There’s little things perhaps, but yeah. They tend not to translate. It’s so much of it is gut feeling, which, some studies will say, don’t rely on your gut instinct. There’s one study that’s showing people interviewing for jobs and sort of a control group.
And one, looked at the resume reviewed, and then had the people in for interviews. And the other was, we just hired people based on what we saw on their resume and you know, the ones that hired on the resume actually performed higher than that was it. And they brought an interview because, people did get their emotions involved.
So like I said, it’s a real crapshoot for entry-level jobs. And I’m not sure. I think I’ll always be that way. I’m not a big fan of, personality assessments and some of those other things, but, yeah. Yeah. somebody asked me once, so I thought my success record was with new hires and entry-level jobs. And I don’t know. I don’t remember, but I’m sure is no better than anybodyelse.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, I’d be curious to see that for a lot of people as well, and how they’re grading themselves based on what’s actually happening.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no. And I, the thing is I remember the failures much more than the successes. I’ve hired people into jobs that were not entry level jobs. In this case, the stories are were talking about an entry level jobs, but people that were stellar performers at other companies came with high recommendations. People I knew and trusted that showed up in and the environment that we’re in and it just didn’t work.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. Yeah.
Andy Paul: And didn’t work in a dramatic fashion. And this is, I think the thing that makes us so hard about hiring, whether it’s entry level, whatever is just context is everything.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, exactly. One thing that I try and do, and obviously this is a little bit easier said than done is when I’m interviewing people, if there’s one thing that I’m really not okay with and someone spends X amount of the interview, like demonstrating that. In my head. I’m like, okay, am I actually going to be able to accept the fact that this person’s going to do that. Say ten percent of the interview, you’re talking about like how they don’t get along with their teammates or how they’re not agreeable.
If someone’s doing that with 10% of the time that they’re talking to me, they’re going to go with 10% of the time they were working in my company. So if I’m okay with that, then I’ll take it. But I’m not okay with that. I just absolutely can’t make a decision on that.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I think I, you have to pay attention to the red flags. I mean it’s, if you don’t, what you’re doing is settling and every decision, some degrees of compromise, a big believer in this, they’re all basically good enough decisions. But to your point is you have to decide, which are the ones that you just can’t accept and it’s true of relationships in general, right? You still have to put it in that context.
Ernest Owusu: Exactly. Exactly.
Andy Paul: All right. So I have one last, I want to ask one last football related question cause I, before we go on, but would you let your sons play football?
Ernest Owusu: That’s a great question. At the moment, no. And I will say as a defensive end, because there are two on the field. This was literally my dream my entire life to have two boys, same agre, same position watching both at the same time. It’s kind of like cruel, I got this, at the current moment, no. And a lot of that stems from the fact that, when I first finished playing football, I worked with a company called Persado. And part of the whole football environment is like very much of a warrior mentality where you ignore things and don’t embrace them for what they are. And, honestly, even in the professional ranks,
Andy Paul: You mean like concussions and head injuries and things like that-
Ernest Owusu: Exactly. Yeah, but you know what, with concussions and head injuries, I did not pay any attention to it while I was playing because I saw it as one thing that was gonna prevent me from playing is something that was going to pull me down. So when I had my first interview after finishing football, I had no sales experience.
So my VP of sales was like, Hey, I want you to sell me anything. obviously all I knew was football. So I went down that path of doing research on helmets and concussions. And I was like, did I really just do that to myself in the past, like 15-16 years. It was very eyeopening to the point that, under the conditions that we have right now, I can’t let my kids play, unfortunately. Not to say that things couldn’t change where, protocol and promptness and helmets can improve. But if it’s like this, unfortunately I can’t do that.
Andy Paul: Well, there are a lot of sports for kids. Swimming, for instance, very little head injury risk and swimming, or volleyball for instance out.
Ernest Owusu: Exactly. Exactly. It’ll be tough. I will say it will be tough because obviously, I played, so they’re gonna want to play, but I just can’t do that.
Andy Paul: Yeah, maybe they won’t want to. That’s the thing. Kids they get their own interests, yeah. So you’re out of football. You’d sort of after what? Vikings, Tampa Bay, Canadian football leageu. Did you actually play in the Canadian football league.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, I did. The CFL is a real, it’s like the rules are completely different. The field it’s it’s a whole different game. And I had no exposure until I had the opportunity to go up there. But your point cells with the Vikings, the Buccaneers, then I got really badly injured with the Buccaneers, took a couple months off, try getting back onto an NFL team. It didn’t happen. So then I started going to the, Canadian football and even the arena route to try and get back onto the team, just to basically build my resume show people that I wasn’t hurt. And then honestly, at the end of the day, when it was like, I realized that there was no way I was gonna get back in because I was more of damaged goods, if you want to call it everyone else, that’s how I made a decision to stop playing.
Andy Paul: Interesting. So yeah, there was a moment and I was wondering, what was that like CFL, AFL, where it’s just yeah, this isn’t gonna happen.
Ernest Owusu: And it’s funny. Cause the last AFL team I was on, I was 26 turning 27 and though, obviously I’m still young, relatively young at that time in football years, you’re like middle age. And I was like, there’s no way a middle-aged footballll player is going to get back onto a team with an injury. So I was like, I’m done.
Andy Paul: Yeah. By the way, you still look incredibly young. I don’t know if anybody’s called you that.
Ernest Owusu: I think it’s the lack of facial hair.
Andy Paul: Cause the first time we talked, I looked at you and said, Oh, you probably the same problem I did. When I first got into sales, I looked like I was 12.
So why sales?
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, that’s a good question. Honestly I think a lot of especially football players, professional players are always struggling with trying to figure out what they want to do next. And for me, I hit that crossroads when I was done of like, all right, there’s no, I don’t want to be a coach because the only way to get fulfillment, if I was doing the college level or in the NFL, but the hours as a coach, you’re doing like a hundred hours per week. It’s really demanding job. So I knew I didn’t want to do that, but I wanted to find a way to take the skills that got me to the NFL and apply it to something else. Honestly, I just did a lot of talking to people after the fact to talk to people in wealth management and finance and all these different industries and all signs just started pointing towards sales because of what I did as an athlete and how I can parlay that into a successful career. And, honestly, I just took a big leap of faith based upon what reasons I had done as well as recommendations from people. And I’ve been extremely happy ever since.
Andy Paul: Was it, sort of, part of the mindset of thinking, I’d been in the elite athlete and sales is like one of those professions where, the top performers are like elite athletes and the path to get there oftentimes is like being an elite athlete.
Ernest Owusu: 100%. And it’s, I knew that, when I was an athlete, I worked really hard. I was very coachable. I looked very process driven in terms of how I made myself better and what I already knew that before I even started thinking about what I’m going to do next. So when I was talking to people, how I did that, all sides points, where sellers, because the great salespeople have the ability to do that. and it was basically a no brainer once I started realize that.
Andy Paul: So the disciplines then that you brought over from sports that helped you on sales. obviously you talked about preparation being one, mindset obviously has to be part of it as well. Process along with that I imagine is also important.
Ernest Owusu: Exactly. Yeah. So I think, even talk about this one thing, and I know it’s a little crazy, but, when I was a BDR, I was on the West coast, working East coast accounts. there’s an industry best practice to call them in the morning. So I started something which I actually still do to this day of getting into the office at five 30 every morning, because I wanted to put myself in the best situation to be successful.
So I have not deviated from that. And I’m very well aware of the certain things that yield towards success. And once I pull those out, I’m not going to change my process or stear away from that. So I think athletics allowed me to be extremely disciplined in that front, but one thing that’s pretty cool that a lot of people don’t always think about is just the process, to be a great athlete.
I think I was even talking to a couple people about this a few days ago, but most great athletes have like this one thing they do better than every single person. And once you identify what that one thing is like constantly optimizing it, making it better, tweaking it, learning how you can improve upon it.
And a lot of my processes, once I have the framework built out, this is probably my biggest strength is as a seller. But once I have the framework around what makes me good at a certain task or certain set of tasks, I outline it and just hook it to death, trying to find anything you can do to make it better. And that’s how I’ve been able to succeed as a seller.
Andy Paul: So besides showing up early, what’s that one thing for you?
Ernest Owusu: Besides showing up early, it’s definitely, like I said, it’s more the process. Even from when I was a BDR, it’s like how I called people from influence your pitch to your clothes. Like I was voraciously, always trying to find ways to improve just those tiny three segments and the same thing as a seller in terms of how I’m motivating my team in terms of how I’m tracking towards a metrics, hitting my goals.
Like once I understand what it takes to be great at those, I just keep going. So it’s never really it’s more process and looking for ways to improve. That’s always made me great. It’s not really that I’m a great color or I’m a great closer or anything like that. It’s just I’m very focused on the process all around.
Andy Paul: And I think that’s an important lesson for sellers to learn is that it sounds like what you’ve done. and this is actually what you need to do is you analyzed in advance, but you continually do it as, what do I need to do to really excel at this and you said you put your process together.
When you start, we all have started, we have no idea what we’re doing wheb we get started. But if you start to create that framework, you can say, look, I’m just going to keep improving and be consciously improving, not just going through the motions and hope that I get better through experience, but I’m consciously going through it. Yeah. I think that’s a huge separation from those people that consistently succeed versus those that just sort of get along.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. And one thing I do want to add to that too, is, it’s really important to know why those things work for you, because if you’re the kind of person who’s, if you’re the kind of person who’s constantly searching for like the new thing, or like a new strategy, tactic, whatever it may be, and you’re applying it to your processes because you’re hearing that it’s working.
And you don’t really know how that applies to your process. That can be probably problem itself. So there’s definitely an aspect of selecting what you should take on versus what you shouldn’t take on. But your ability to do that is contingent on whether or not you actually understand how you’re winning with that process. And I think at times, especially people that are new in their career, they struggle with that a little bit.
Andy Paul: We said, understand how you’re winning. I would just modify that to align with what you said before is understanding why you’re winning. And I think that’s really the why. And then this is to me, is the fundamental shortfall with most of the training we provide to sales reps, sellers in general, as sales managers even is, it’s always about how to do things, but never why these things work. And the fact is that yeah, if I teach a class to somebody and I said, yeah, this is why this works. it may not work that way for everyone in the same way, but you get people, the rationales to, within a context as to why these things are effective. Not just, we looked at some data and, 26% of people reply to this or respond to this. It’s no, this is everything. To your point, everybody develops their own unique way of doing things. You just have to be thoughtful about it.
Ernest Owusu: Exactly. Exactly.
Andy Paul: Yeah. You wrote something interesting I liked recently you said that, you have to practice with the same intensity that you play. I’m a huge soccer fan and this is really one of the hallmarks of a professional soccer professional football in the Europe is that everything’s based on how intensely you train. You have to train at a hundred percent, you practice a hundred percent. So how do you bring that into a sales context to say, we’re going to practice with sort of game intensity.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. Sure. So I can give you an example that I learned from the NFL, as well as what I went through like BDRs. One thing that was really cool from the Patriots is, in NFL training camps, you get the opportunity to do some cross team practices. So I got spend some time with the Patriots just for about a week or so watching their practices, practicing against them.
One thing that Bill Bellechik does is he makes practice extremely difficult. Like he wets the balls because he wants people to try and fumble. He makes the grass really tall. So it’s harder to do, to run like all the elements that you have in that practice are abnormal and things that you don’t necessarily experience during a game, just so when you actually get to the game, it’s a lot easier. So in context of a seller, like if you’re the BDR who gets a call script and you’re sitting in a room and just practicing on your own. And granted, sometimes we don’t have someone to practice with, but if you’re just practicing on your own and trying to refine it, that’s not a real situation or even a situation that I was going to prison to really press you.
So what I encourage my team to do is like, when you’re doing, role-plays like, come at the person with these strongest objections with anything possible is going to get this, going to throw them off because when it gets to the actual call, if they’re prepared to handle even more difficult situations at times, then it’ll be a lot easier for perform because they’re gone through already.
But a lot of the practice that people do in terms of like their first calls and negotiation calls, aligned, whatever it may be, they’re not really going live bullets and not really taking these calls on as, like preparing to fail as you say. They sell themselves short.
Andy Paul: I think going along with that though too, is I know some sports I presume it’s true in football as well as is visualization before you. Before a game before, a shot in golf or before a shot and basketball or whatever is so important and people don’t do that enough in sales. So I agree with you a hundred percent on the role-play intensity, but I think part of it too, is in call preparation is you have to take a few seconds and I know it’s hard because people think, Oh God, I’m under such pressure to make my 50 calls, but I’d rather you make 30.
Really good calls as opposed to 50 calls, but play through all the what ifs and if thens that you can envision will happen in this call based on what you know about this account. If it’s, especially, if it’s not a first call and you’ve got some background, how it’s going to play out, what are all the variables that could occur?
And you can do that in just a few minutes. Just think through that. To me, that’s part of the practicing with intensity as well as is you have to bring this, you have to be deliberate and thoughtful about sales. And this is yeah. I think a part that a lot of sellers misses, this is a really a thinking person’s profession.
Ernest Owusu: 100% and actually I’ll definitely take that away because that was a practice that I had as football in football, where I’d sit down for the night before day of, and just visualize myself making plays. And I did it a little bit when I was an SDR BDR, but I’ve definitely gone away from that. So I appreciate the call on that.
So I’ll definitely take it back to our team and share with.
Andy Paul: Oh, excellent. Okay. Yeah. Just give me the credit.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah.
Andy Paul: All right. Now the other thing that I thought was interesting, that you’ve written recently, which I liked is you talked about. People publicly shaming salespeople. You wrote about this on LinkedIn. so tell us what you meant by that.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah. it’s funny how, even with LinkedIn, even introducing the stories recently, it’s funny how LinkedIn is evolving. And for some reason it’s Facebook, it’s basically Facebook it’s slowly turned into a networking system, but now it is literally what am I doing outside of work and social media.
And it’s full, not just with work. I’m starting to see that people are posting things. In the hopes of gaining attention while putting people down. And there’s absolutely no room for that. I don’t understand how or why. And even at certain times people are doing these inaccurate scenarios, just for the sake of getting attention for calling someone out for doing something wrong.
And like the reason why I have a problem with that in particular with salespeople, because you’re supposed to be failing in sales. Like you have to fail if you’re not failing, you’re not growing. So if something’s happening on social media, we’re making it okay for people to, shame people for literally doing what they’re supposed to be doing and failing fast that does not align with what it takes me salesperson and also makes it also is really difficult for those earlier sales.
We would have the confidence to keep going forward, and I just don’t understand. Why that has become an accepted normal social media. it’s just completely counter productive to what sales people need to be successful.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I think there’s a corollary to that goes on too, which is that. And I’ve seen this recently is calling out on LinkedIn, calling out and I’ll put this in. Sales experts for supposedly giving bad advice. And my thought is my perspective on sales is that if there’s 7 billion people in the world, there’s 7 billion different ways to sell.
and who’s to judge what’s good or bad because. I obviously have an audience and I talk about what I think people should do, but I know it doesn’t work for a hundred percent of the people. and it’s don’t make a bad advice. It’s just this great advice for some people it’s not going to work for others.
And I think that’s in sales. We have to get past this idea that there are absolutes and that there are
Ernest Owusu: Yes.
Andy Paul: Cause the are no one recipe that works for every seller. you have to make your own.
Ernest Owusu: So it all comes down to this. Cause people in sales, people just find comfort in data. They come, they find comfort in knowing there’s a silver bullet by and everything. And like after what a silver bullet, if there was an exact way to do it every single time, then we would not be unique as sellers.
We’d be robots. You wouldn’t need sellers because there isn’t, there’s a solution that’s in hand that everyone can use and repackage, and it works every single time. You would not need sellers to the scale that you need right now, the reality is you need that dynamic aspect. You need that creativity that sometimes can’t be replicated based upon, different scenarios or whatever it may be.
And people lose sight of that because they’re looking for way to just find comfort in the fact that if I do X, Y, and Z, no matter what a win, which. at least from what I see the near future of sales, that will not be the case.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, it won’t be. And yes, there is this tendency, I think in newer sellers these days, because of the technology we have to say, yeah, there must be this data tells me this is the way to do it. And the trouble it’s so much of the data that’s published about sales is it’s completely without context. And so somebody can say, look, we’ve analyzed a bazillion phone calls. And if you say these three words at this particular point, you’re gonna increase your ability to, probability of winning. there’s a list of 20 variables that affect that at least
Ernest Owusu: Yup. Exactly.
Andy Paul: a male cell or a female cell, are they selling to a male selling to a female?
you just got to go down the list. and yeah, I love what you’re saying. Cause I think it’s a good lesson for people to learn. It’s just gotta be your own person all times. Gotta be your own person.
Ernest Owusu: Yeah, and we try and coach that. So one thing that we focus on here is we have a really good onboarding path, reteach, really strong fundamentals. But part of our process is to really identify like what you as an individual seller are strong because the things that I was focused, that folk I focus on as a BDR SDR, my other top performers may or may not be focused on that, but Part of being a great seller is really understand the fundamentals and knowing your identity and marching towards that path.
And, honestly the people that are constantly searching it’s more so because they just haven’t been identified with their actual identity is as opposed to the ones who already do know that in they’re winning and producing great ways to win, because they already know who they are.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I agree. And I think the only caution add to that is just that changes as you mature and grow. I couldn’t have explained why I was successful as a, 24 year old seller or as a 26 year old sales manager, probably wasn’t until I was probably my late forties. They really had a good handle on that.
but it kept changing because the environments I was working in kept changing. But as long as you’re trying to be self-aware about it. And I think that’s really the critical thing is as long as you’re trying to be thoughtful and self-aware about how you sell where your deficiencies are, what you need to improve on and constantly work on, then that’s the path you need to go down.
Ernest Owusu: Completely agree. Completely agree.
Andy Paul: All right, Ernest, we have to jump off. It’s been fantastic. so if people wanted to connect with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Ernest Owusu: Sure. Thanks. So you can find a LinkedIn very active on LinkedIn. My name is Ernest there. You will also find me on Twitter, the Ernest, the resource IDR solutions. Cause you can go into Twitter and search it and you will see a ton of Ernest who was probably on my steak.
Andy Paul: I’m glad you got that one. I tried to get the Andy Paul, I didn’t get it. I got real Andy Paul, but yes. Yeah. Surprised. I’m always surprised at how many. People have your name.
Ernest Owusu: Exactly
Andy Paul: All right. good. Ernest, it’s been a pleasure and we’ll make sure we do this again.
Ernest Owusu: I would love to, Andy. It’s great talking to you.