Decoding Sales

Episode 34: ...And we're back!

June 03, 2024 Peter & Alex Episode 34
Episode 34: ...And we're back!
Decoding Sales
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Decoding Sales
Episode 34: ...And we're back!
Jun 03, 2024 Episode 34
Peter & Alex

Send us a Text Message.

After a break from recording, Peter and Alex are back at it with regular recordings. 

Catch-up to hear what Peter and Alex have been up to and how the state of play has changed within startup enterprise sales. 

Peter and Alex discuss:

  • Standing out in a hyper competitive environment
  • The importance of establishing founder branding
  • Multi-stakeholder sales in today's environment
  • The role of AI in sales
Founders mentioned on the episode for thought leadership examples:

Learn more about Peter's bootcamp Sales Sprint and his founder-led sales community, Zero to Hero!

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

After a break from recording, Peter and Alex are back at it with regular recordings. 

Catch-up to hear what Peter and Alex have been up to and how the state of play has changed within startup enterprise sales. 

Peter and Alex discuss:

  • Standing out in a hyper competitive environment
  • The importance of establishing founder branding
  • Multi-stakeholder sales in today's environment
  • The role of AI in sales
Founders mentioned on the episode for thought leadership examples:

Learn more about Peter's bootcamp Sales Sprint and his founder-led sales community, Zero to Hero!

Episode 34: We're back!


Alex Allain: All right, welcome to Decoding Sales, a podcast where an engineer, that's me Alex, and a salesperson

Peter Ahn: That's

me, Peter. 

Alex Allain: talk about the art and science of sales as it relates to life and business. It's been a few years since we recorded our last episode for our audience, but we're back. We're excited to be here and talking about sales again.

So in this episode, we are going to do a little bit of a Catch up for our audience, We're going to talk a little about some of the episode themes that we expect to see over the next few months, the kinds of things we want to cover. Spoiler, we're going to cover some new topics like state of play in 2024 and what's going on.

And we're also going to take some concepts that are rattling around in Peter's head that we haven't made into episodes yet and turn those into standalone episodes because we think there's a lot of stuff that we're hearing from his business, people asking him questions. We want to be able to have content that we can point people to. finally, we're going to spend just a few minutes at the start of this episode for anyone new coming in to the podcast and talking a little bit [00:01:00] about why are we here, and a little bit of Peter Sales philosophy. Just to kick things off, this whole thing came about because when I was a, originally a volunteer.

We started in March of 2020 to help governments with COVID, and we were talking a lot to governments and figuring out what are their needs? How can the work that we're doing support them? And I realized this, we weren't charging them, but it still had this feeling of being similar to a sales process. The two organizations kind of coming together, figuring out, is this a good mutual fit?

Can we work together? There's still intro calls, Showing demos, all of these things that felt very sales like. So I reached out to Peter for advice, and he gave me some great advice. It was really helpful. I was like, , you should record videos. You should do a YouTube channel. And, , Peter, why don't I let you take it from here?

Peter Ahn: Yeah, and, I took Alex's advice unfortunately, I was very camera shy at the time and even after trying to record 20, 25 times, I just didn't feel [00:02:00] comfortable,, speaking about sales topics without the natural organic banter that Alex and I had on our calls.

So I came back to Alex and I said, why don't we record our conversations as if they weren't being recorded? Continue the discussions we were having in these kind of natural coaching sessions that I was going through with him. And luckily he agreed to spend, you know, more than probably what, like 40, 50 hours of his time across.

It's probably more than that actually across editing, recording, and, you know, really drawing out a lot of my sales concepts. And fast forward to today, we have a bunch of episodes and I'm super excited and grateful that we're beginning this journey again.

Alex Allain: Yeah, that's, that's how I remember it. There's a lot of editing, it but, what's come from all of this, first of all, I've learned a ton about sales, but I think it's also been really interesting to see , the way in which those conversations just continued. We're talking about things that interest us that we think would also interest you.

And , Peter, I think the thing that really is central to all of our conversations is a specific [00:03:00] sales philosophy that you bring and a mindset that you bring to every type of situation. I think of it as authentic sales, you know, that's the the phrase I have in my head Can you talk a little bit what you mean by that?

Peter Ahn: Yeah, I think authentic sales really draws back to my idea that you have to be brutally transparent in a sales process if you want to win large deals and you have to set the right expectations with buyers

and I think as salespeople to really bring clients along for the long term journey, you also have to be able to say no and to say, hey, my technology isn't great for certain use cases, but it is for the top one or two priorities that.

I know our pain points because we built this relationship. So I think that's what authentic sales is, is being brutally honest about the technology. The second part is also being able to showcase your own character and your values and your personality, 

you and I talked a lot about me being a young Asian American male in a heavily white dominant industry [00:04:00] and being able to leverage that as a superpower. Versus feeling like an outsider who doesn't belong in tech sales. I think over the last several years I've gained a lot of confidence from feedback, from talking to my former customers that, you know, really leaning into what's different, you know, and how I show up in the world differently, how I bring in my Confucian values of listening and collaborating, As positive qualities in enterprise sales has given me a lot of confidence.

As, I become, , more entrenched in the industry and that's what I want to give technical founders or founders who come from a non sales background is the confidence to show up as themselves without having to feel like sales is this black box 

Alex Allain: yeah, I love it I really think that one of the reasons that we work so well together and enjoy doing this podcast is as an engineer brutal honesty Transparency, it's sort of baked into how we look [00:05:00] at the world because when you're building something you're building it You have to be honest about it.

And I think it actually applies really well in the sales context. At the end of the day, like either the product meets the needs of the customer or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, eventually they're not going to use it. 

Peter Ahn: Totally. 

Alex Allain: that out and you can waste a ton of time. And I think that's one of , the insights that you really helped me understand is that sales and engineering, both at heart, get down to accomplishing some objective that people have.

And You can work together collectively, collaboratively to get there. And you want to figure out in the context of sales, whether or not there's an alignment or a shared objective. So, I love seeing that kind of parallel. And I think for our audience, if that kind of approach resonates, bringing Who you are to the situation and being transparent and honest, which I think is what engineers want rather than salesy and slick and all those other things.

Peter Ahn: Yeah. Yeah. And obviously there's still a certain amount of charm and, you know, getting to know people, right? That side of sales, I still really enjoy and making people feel good about themselves. But yeah, I think there's a difference between [00:06:00] that and kind of overselling and being too slick or too smooth.

And. You know, a sales process without friction isn't a productive or a high quality one, in my opinion. And it's also why I think you and I got along together at Dropbox, because before this podcast, we actually did work together. You know, even though it was a long time ago. And I remember vividly asking you a ton of questions about the Dropbox technology.

And at the time, when we were selling NBCUniversal, we didn't even have single sign on. And that was a beast of a project because NBCUniversal was using kind of an old school identity provider. And so to understand why we were spending time to focus on single sign on for A single customer at the time, we needed to be brutally honest about what they were buying us for, 

which wasn't a bunch of enterprise features. It was the quality of the sync engine and the quality of the end user intuitive nature of the platform, 

Alex Allain: yeah. I, the charm is, is definitely a plus. Nothing against charm.

Peter Ahn: I just wanted to hear that. I, that [00:07:00] you think I have charm, basically. That's why I brought that in.

Alex Allain: I love it. I love the honesty there. , I think really what we're saying is you can be charming without being dishonest. 

Peter Ahn: Exactly. 

Alex Allain: And I think that a lot of what we talk about is actually techniques to do that. I mean,, you know, taking clients out to dinner, that's about charming them, but not about doing in a fake way, but being in a true to yourself way, I think is, is actually really cool.

Peter Ahn: Totally.

Alex Allain: All right. Well,, that's a little bit what we're about. We're trying to show you how to , think about sales in a different way that I think is. It's also a lot easier, honestly. , Just doesn't feel like what you should do when you just imagine sales., There's the, what is a poor person's vision of a rich person look like? And what is a rich person's vision of a rich person look like? And they're very different. I think there's something about

that from, from sales here. What is a real, you know, expert salesperson thinks sales looks like versus somebody from the outside.

And Peter is helping remove the mystery of that 

Peter Ahn: Yeah. And to translate that, yeah, I think that's a great analogy for sure.

Alex Allain: , Peter, with that foundation , you've kind of taken a really interesting path for yourself , So tell us just a [00:08:00] snippet of what you're up to.

Peter Ahn: Sure. Yeah, so, you know, as many of the listeners know, I spent a lot of my career at Google, Dropbox, and Slack. And I think the one thing that I couldn't prove to myself being at those companies is Can I actually help lead a revenue engine from zero to something? So the most recent stint I had was being VP of sales at a cybersecurity company called Twingate that literally had zero customers when I joined.

And You know, , I'm grateful for all the support I had. There is a huge team effort, but we were able to grow the business from zero to 600 customers from zero to 5 million plus in ARR over a couple of years. And that gave me a lot of confidence that, , even without a brand behind the product, there's, , a lot of things that I do in sales that translate to growing the business materially and quickly.

So last April, I decided to leave that business. And focus all my [00:09:00] energy helping founders going from zero to one, million in ARR. To start,, I initially asked some of my founder friends who I was giving organic advice to as an advisor and asked them, hey, would you pay for me if I left?

And luckily three or four of them said, yes, we'll pay for you and help you with the transition. And then a few months into that structure, I decided, you know, there's still a lot more founders I want to impact. So I opened up a group coaching cohort called the Sales Sprint. So it's a 10 week intensive bootcamp for founder led sales.

And specifically, most of the founders are from engineering backgrounds or product backgrounds or sometimes operations backgrounds, basically non sales backgrounds, learning from start to finish what great enterprise sales looks like. Now, after doing those cohorts, we're on the eve of our third cohort in a few weeks , that will launch.

But doing that, I realized, okay, even beyond the bootcamp, there's a lot of founders who want help. So I decided [00:10:00] to launch a founder led sales community that's a subscription model. For folks who are earlier stage than my bootcamp founders, maybe you have product market fit, or you think you do, or you're pre product market fit, but you still want to prepare for the enterprise sales journey.

That's inevitably going to come. Those founders. I also help through forum posts , in the community, the community is called Zero to Hero. And I also do bi weekly ask me anything's in a group format. , so that's what I've been up to. Just talking to a lot of founders. We're trying to go from zero to something.

And who are also trying to learn enterprise sales , throughout the way.

Alex Allain: I love that. And what I'm really excited about, , from the Perspective of the podcast is when you're at Twingate, you had this deep view into this sort of state of play in sales. You always have really interesting experiences to draw on. Some of which we could talk about in the podcast and some of which we obviously couldn't.

But today you have this broad view with many founders, both some of whom you've gone personally deep with and some of whom, you know, [00:11:00] are, , You're getting insight and sharing your insight. And , I've been in that community seeing what you've been helping people with. And I think , it's really cool to see it bringing a lot of the same depth and nuance that we talked about in the podcast.

, . We want to really take some of those learnings, share out some of it. Obviously Peter can't give away all the secrets on one podcast. He spends hours and hours curating and putting content in that community. So we're going to be pulling out some of here. And if you want something to specialize for yourself, , you're going to have to pay him, he's a sales guy, you know, anyway, Peter, , what's cool, like I said, , is this chance to talk about what's going on? You know, back in 2022, , we were worried a little bit about the state of play.

How's the economy going to do, And a lot of, I think what we talked about is probably timeless, right? A lot , content around how to approach specific situations, it's not going to dramatically change, but some things have changed. So, what's the state of the world today when it comes to, to enterprise sales?

What are the biggest challenges that people face? What are some of the opportunities?

Peter Ahn: Yeah, so I'll break it up into kind of three distinct pieces. [00:12:00] The first is just, Getting noticed, getting attention, right? How do you actually work with an outbound engine that truly brings you leads when AI has been on hyperdrive, , even over the last like 6, 9, 12 months? And , so the state of today with that is that a lot of people don't pay attention to their inbox in the way that they did even a couple years ago.

A lot of messaging has started to converge on this like AI driven, here's the formula you should use, which I think is causing, very negative effects on SDRs and people who rely on. , creating unique content to grab people's attention. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, , once you actually get somebody's attention and you get on a call, there's all of , this opaqueness around, how do you give a taste of the product without giving it away for free?

How do you price your product? If you're a category creator. How do you ensure you're not undercutting yourself, but then you're also, , not giving your prospect sticker [00:13:00] shock where they like completely ignore you in the sales cycle. There's a lot of that kind of value setting and positioning. I think that is difficult for founders.

In the sales cycle, especially because a lot of products out there have a vision that, , will grow into helping to do seven to eight things, but you need to clarify the one thing that is your wedge into a company. So I think that's also, , a big challenge. I hear a lot about just the positioning.

And then the sales cycle. What do you focus on to make sure it's a slam dunk to get the contract signed? And then the third bucket is just on renewals and competition and incumbents. You know, there's a lot of heavy competition . So it's not enough in this day and age just to close a deal anymore.

I mean, it never was, I would say in enterprise sales, but I think how important that is, is even more amplified because , people have more choices, ? So the delivery of how you actually make your customer successful is really, really important. And I think a lot of founders are thinking about that earlier, which is [00:14:00] great.

But I don't think that there's a lot of resourcing there for startups naturally, because you're focusing on generating revenue and, , even though the renewal comes up in a lot of cases in just a year after you, the contract closes, I think. There's still a lot of, challenges for actually delivering the value that you sold customers on.

So I think those are the three things that you're a lot about

Alex Allain: , those sound like perennial challenges. What's changed?

Peter Ahn: I think what's changed is I don't want to make an overly broad statement, but I think the economy is like, people have gone through this emotional rollercoaster. ? I'm in a group text message with my buddies and I feel like every other day I get a news clipping that says, oh, like, brace yourselves, like, we're, we're in for it.? , I feel like the emotional toll that it's taken on, , even B2B buyers is quite high, higher than people think. So I think people are much more stingy with budget. And tangibly what that means is there's a lot more stakeholders in the deal cycle.

, there's a lot more people who have their opinions on what to buy [00:15:00] because of this overall nervousness. And, , the other thing is AI, . When we were first recording this, I don't think we were talking a lot about AI actually. It was more about like the art of sales, not necessarily like the distribution or the factory of sales.

And right now there's like a lot of sales factories because AI has made that possible. I think that the smartest sales teams know how to leverage AI in a way that doesn't dilute their brand , but I do think there's a lot of companies that are following trends and it's becoming just increasingly noisy for people to understand what's snake oil and what's actually tangible value.

Alex Allain: So that makes sense. , I love that, you know, the stakeholders piece is one we've talked about many times in that like amplification of the number of voices in the room., to being able to orchestrate that. And then obviously , the AI piece, everyone's trying to filter out noise.

So , maybe a, maybe a question here is, let's say you were starting at a Twingate like company again, zero customers. What does your playbook today look like? , how has it changed for you? How do you [00:16:00] approach things differently?

Peter Ahn: yeah, I think the way that I would approach things differently is first of all on the outbound side of things, I would think more about making sure the first touch point is highly driven off of value versus my product. So what I mean by that is, I think it used to work where in the first email you could say, hey, this is what we do and let's talk if this is , something that interests you.

But now I think people want to be able to gain value from the interaction before they get on a meeting. So the first reply to a meeting step I think is like not as much of a reality anymore. The first reply to getting value, I think a lot of companies are doing well. So what is that value, right? It can be an insights report on a problem the industry is having.

It could be a networking dinner that, , affords the opportunity for a director or manager or C level exec to Talk about their problems in a real life setting when we've all been holed up because of COVID, , another [00:17:00] piece of value could be, hey, try this part of the product without even talking to anybody.

You know, self serving PLG has always been a thing, but you know, what if you were to do that in a way that was hyper easy, frictionless, and allows you to actually capture value from the company and industry? Get a sense for their opinions and views of the world before talking to somebody. I would think more about that funnel versus , Hey, I need to get meetings on the calendar, ?

I wouldn't think about getting meetings on the calendar. I would think about how many value interactions can I create for the funnel short term and long term, ? Because at any given point in time, this has always been true. Like 10 percent of your ICP is going to be ready to buy your product, ?

Or less than 10%. So, in that world, how do you build your funnels? You need to provide value that's not your product. To understand who's raising their hand , to say, Okay, I may want to talk to these people at some point. , so that's one thing I think , I would change, and I would kind of [00:18:00] enlist a lot more kind of creative growth experts to think about what that value is and work a lot more closely with marketing versus just trying to, , look at a model and say, okay, if we hire five SCRs, this is the number of meetings we're going to get.

That's one thing. The second thing on the multi stakeholder side of things, I would think about that value funnel across more people. For a lot of companies, it's always about, like, mapping to power, 

it's, get the C level exec on the call. Otherwise, , this is not a valuable meeting, ? I'm not going to give you credit for getting on a call with a manager, right? . But I think in this day and age, there's so much movement. Both from people moving outside of companies and within companies that I think it's highly valuable if you can map the junior, mid level, and senior people all at once, , without hitting them with the same message.

And so I would do a lot more training on that with the team to be like, hey, how do you talk to an influencer in an organization differently from an exec sponsor? , , how do you leverage your CEO to [00:19:00] talk to the CIO and not, you know, have it be single threaded on you trying to map these five stakeholders?

I think a lot more focus on that will help sales teams today and will help founder led sales as well. Just to think about that as a multi pronged, multi threaded, multi channel, multi stakeholder approach versus a, hey I need to get to the decision maker. 

Alex Allain: Both of these sound on the one hand, as like an engineer who's pitched to, I like it, I want people , to show some proof of work, show me that you actually are useful before I want to spend my time, I'm like, I'm never going to get a video call with somebody. Just pitching a product.

They have to have something that catches my attention. It might be a really deep understanding of the problem. If somebody can really explain. In a new way or in a way that makes it clear that they get the problem the same way that I get the problem, like I might talk to them, but that's like the barest minimum for talking to somebody.

And it sounds like

what [00:20:00] you're talking about is like, well, now with AI, everyone has to have that same filter because , otherwise it's just noise. And I think that's great. That seems like a great thing for the world. Now, now y'all salespeople have to do a little bit more 

Peter Ahn: Yeah, yeah, create more value, right?

Alex Allain: Yeah, exactly. I think that's great.

I love it.

Peter Ahn: hmm. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Allain: , but I gotta imagine that from your perspective as a salesperson, that's more work, like how do you handle that? That seems tough, right? Like, does that entail for every company having to do more research? Does that uh, just having to have higher quality collateral? Like, what's, what's that actually translate that to?

Like, I'm a founder trying , to execute this vision. How do I do it?

Peter Ahn: Mm hmm. Yeah, great question. So, I think I think a lot of it is more collateral creation. And I don't mean that catchy one pager or , that highly produced video, right? Cause obviously I think the other part of , what you're alluding to is it takes up a lot of resourcing, ?

And these founders aren't going to hire , hundred K per year [00:21:00] agencies to run this when they don't really know what the output's going to be. So I'm a firm


Alex Allain: And by the way, just as somebody who receives like, I don't give a shit about your fancy one 

Peter Ahn: Yeah, exactly, . And so, my suggestion to a lot of founders, and I'd love your thoughts on this Alex, is really invest in your personal brand. You know, obviously I work with a lot of B2B founders, and LinkedIn still is relatively untapped. , and I think something like X or Twitter, , there's also a lot of gold there that, you know, Is it currently being mine for and so what I suggest is like get your opinions out in the world, ?

. Get your view of the world your perspectives And your thoughts out into the world and by the way when you close your first one to customers leverage their voice to do a podcast or video like this and And, , take something you've already invested time in with your customer or, , with your team, mapping out the vision and repurpose it so that you could start to scale that message in a consistent manner.

Peter Ahn: So that's my suggestion , you're probably already doing a [00:22:00] lot of value creation and content creation, whether it's at all hands with your team or a one on one with your co founder or, , a customer meeting, start to repurpose that so that people get a sense for how you think not just what you're building.

, because then you start to gain a following of your thought process and it also, I think, makes the first conversation easier because a lot of these folks will have seen you talk or will have read your messaging in a way where when you get on the call they understand your philosophies to a certain extent and you're just building upon that.

Alex Allain: That's super interesting. First of all, , the brand building seems like a good bit of work , and on the other hand, , I like the way it's about getting out the vision and we taught, we've talked in episodes in the past about the importance of like roadmap alignment and vision alignment, but.

, It also does seem like it sort of puts a lot on that one person to be out there and be that figurehead. Like, how does that scale? Is your view on this? , that, you know, these founder led [00:23:00] organizations should be kind of leaning into the founder , as , external vision setter or is there a point where it shifts and it's more about the company kind of creating the category or sort of setting their vision for the category and it moves away from the founder? Like, talk to me a little bit at the scaling here.

Peter Ahn: Yeah, I think initially it can help you cut through the noise a lot faster than, , if you were not doing that. I think eventually for sure, , when you have hundreds of customers, you probably focus more on like the product functionality or roadmap and much more company centric because you already have somewhat of a brand out there.

But I think in the early days, it's necessary as a founder to get , their thoughts out there. Because enterprises are betting on opinions and perspectives as much as they are the product. And , it is a lot of work. So, you know,, I, for my own business, I have a content calendar, but obviously I'm not the only one in there.

You know, I've, I've enlisted support, I have an ops contractor and she's also a branding business advisor as well, who helps [00:24:00] tee up some ideas based off of, , what she knows about my company. So I do think there's a role there. Where it doesn't have to be your salesperson kind of feeding you these ideas, but there's probably a jack of all trades or maybe someone in your co founding team that can help collaborate with you on like what to post.

But in a lot of cases, I think founders will be surprised once they get over the hump of being afraid of putting something out there and not getting any reactions, it's just repurposing what you're already saying. You know, going back to authentic sales, I believe in authentic branding, too. Right? So, if I'm in a one on one coaching session, and I feel like I gave great advice, why not use that to tell the world about the advice, too?? And so, , there's an initial uphill battle where you think it's a lot of work, but then once you understand it's repurposing your work, it changes the mentality a little bit.

Alex Allain: Yeah, that's really interesting. I'm thinking about this also from the perspective of, like, recruiting. It seems like it's really helpful when your message is the same internally and externally. 

Peter Ahn: Yes. 

Alex Allain: And [00:25:00] it kind of creates a more, like, seamless experience for how people think about the world.

, it's nice when the model can be sort of the same internally and externally, rather than one story you're telling customers and, you know, Sort of another story you're telling everyone on the team internally and yeah in some ways They sort of maybe make sense together but they feel very different obviously when you're talking to customers you're gonna talk about things a little bit differently as you need to Make it relevant to them.

Alex Allain: They don't care about your internal company KPIs or whatever nonsense but When you're talking about the things that are relevant to the customer and and obviously the CEO That's one of the bigger things you'll be focusing on is that strategy piece and I think that of sense, and especially, , the way in which a lot of this is really about technical sort of trends over time, and, , putting a company You've talked about this before, like, how do you sell a firewall?

Well, you don't just talk about the firewalls of today, you talk about the evolution of firewalls and why what's new today is better than what was there in the past. That's the only way somebody's gonna buy it.

Peter Ahn: exactly.


Alex Allain: And that kind of thing really is, like, a [00:26:00] big part of any kind of product strategy is how it's different.

Peter Ahn: Yeah.

Alex Allain: I really like that.

Peter Ahn: Good. I'm glad that resonates. Yeah. And it's

Alex Allain: of folks out there that are doing this well? Like, who can a listener go to and be like, I am going to copy this person's superpower?

Peter Ahn: so interesting. I would say some of my clients are starting to do

it, right? So, I feel like Oshu at Glean actually puts out a lot of content and he does this well where his marketer will interview him and they'll take like a 30 second clip of that. And I love that because he's literally just having a conversation with the marketer and he's not really thinking about the production of what do I say in front of the camera.

He's being prompted, much like you prompt me, right? He also has an impressive set of customers now. I think he's doubled his business over the last four

months. And so he's 

Alex Allain: Thanks to Peter Ron Sales.

Peter Ahn: partially, you know, I'm part of the support system, hopefully but And so he will take customer quotes and put it [00:27:00] out into the world.

And I love that because he's amplifying his customer's voice. He's not saying, this is what I do, like, Listen to what my customers have told me is their impact of something like Glean, right? So I think , he's a great person to look at. I think Julian Park from Bezzy is starting to do this too. I think he's a really interesting company because they have the first 3D whiteboard.

So a lot of like, you know, with the advent of Oculus and the Vision Pro devices, and there's going to be a lot more of these, obviously. How do you actually collaborate on a design, a 3D design with something like Figma? And the answer is you really can't. So, , he's putting out a lot of content and I would encourage him to do more of this because every time he puts out content, there's a lot of reactions around this paradigm shift.

And so people are starting to get a sense for his brain, which I love,

. There's probably a bunch of other of my clients that I, you know, haven't really mentioned, so I apologize. But Animesh from PlayerZero is another one, right, where he's starting to put out more content.

[00:28:00] Victor from Ava, I'll say, he's doing a lot of this. So, anyways, some, good ones, I think, to look

at. Yeah, 

Alex Allain: to some examples in the show notes. 

Peter Ahn: Great. 

Alex Allain: that, , folks can really go out there and see the playbook. You know, I think one thing that's really interesting about this is when you think about playbooks, , you think about templates. And templates are always such a turn off.

And I think what's interesting about what you're talking about is the playbook is provide value. And that's a pretty enduring playbook in a way that, like, Sort of spammy, scammy, salesy kind of playbooks that are more about like surface level tactics 

Peter Ahn: hmm.

Alex Allain: Um, And so I think like one thing maybe people should be thinking about here is like, Hey, this isn't something , that's like on trend.

I mean, it's possible that over time people will decide that they love AI generated sales pitches and take meetings with AI bots, but I think it's more likely

that people are going to be more and more persnickety [00:29:00] about How they waste their time or spend their time and so it seems to me that this is like not a Fashion trend but more something that's just fundamentally going to be more and more important And I really hope so because it'd be great if we could get less less noise and more value 

Peter Ahn: totally. Yeah, and if there's a world where AI bots can provide amazing value, then sure, like, you know, I think this hopefully withstands the test of time because it's based off of first principles, not trends, ? , and I think the other thing that is important for this is you have to be intentional about it.

And you have to put in,, a lot of upfront effort to understand what is the value that I'm providing, which I think is just generally good for the world. If people slow down and think about intentionally, like, what is it that I'm going to offer before I like spray it out

there? You know?

Alex Allain: spray and pray product development or 

Peter Ahn: exactly.


Alex Allain: Yeah, well actually that's a good point like how does this fit in you know let's This might be a little earlier stage, but for some, founders to be, who are thinking about starting , who [00:30:00] might be listening to this, and they've read books like Lean Startup, they're like, I just need to pivot my way to success.

Like how do you think about that here? Because I, I do feel like that sort of like experimental iterative approach is a little bit at odds with what you're talking about from a. Share the vision perspective. Like, , how do you square those two? Or, what have you seen in the founders you've 

Peter Ahn: Sorry. Let me clarify. Can, can I, cause I don't know that I understand the question a hundred percent. Are you saying. How do you rely on a consistent story when you have to be experimenting?


Alex Allain: see if it works. Kind of see what sticks and then, like, pivot. , so , it's not as from first principles, it's more just, like, empirical. Whereas what you're talking about, I'm not saying it's literally from first principles you come up with a new product, but there is something that's a little bit more, you know, it's founded on a specific customer need and a [00:31:00] vision for where the space could go. Like, what are the trends in technology?

It's almost like, deductively, it becomes clear when you see these trends what the next step probably should be.

Peter Ahn: yeah, yeah, that's a great question. So, let me answer it and let me know what you think if this is hitting the button. But, I do think , the lean startup way of putting something out there and iterating, I think is going to be very risky for a lot of founders. I'm not sure that it's going to be able to create the companies in the noise that's out there today.

If that makes sense? Like it's too noisy to do that. Which is why I also Love working with founders and I'm, I'm not saying it's impossible to create a company if you haven't felt the pain point firsthand or if you haven't been a historian of the problem. But if you are building a company because an opportunity and a pain point that you've experienced, you're gonna have a much higher likelihood of standing out and really becoming a credible, long-term company, in my opinion, .

Alex Allain: [00:32:00] Hmm. 

Peter Ahn: Because things are harder, so to stick with it, you have to have almost like a personal stake in the issues that you're solving. Which is why I like to go back to my founders. All these founders that I work with, they've actually personally felt the pain points of the products they're creating.

So for them, they're probably not going to pivot the central thesis. They might pivot how they approach or maybe the wedge they attack the problem from. But it's not like they're going in there being like, Oh, this is interesting. Let me see what the world gives back to me. They're going in there being like, I know this is a huge pain point because the last 10, 15, 20 years I've had to grapple with it, and I know how to attack it because I'm an owner of the pain.


Alex Allain: And I think that that really squares the circle in my head too, which is like, you're still, the vision is around the problem. The solution. , you might be iterating, you might not know what's possible today and what's possible in a year are probably pretty different, and you might not even know.[00:33:00] 

What the solution exactly should like, , because you don't know exactly what the technology is capable of, but you still know the problem and you can get people on board with joining you on the journey to explore what you might be able to do to solve it.

Peter Ahn: exactly. You're not, pivoting away from the problem, but you might still be iterating on the execution and the solution,


Alex Allain: I love that. I love that. And that's great because that also means that, like, you can really start your marketing and your brand building actually even, like, before your product is built or started or even started the company because you're still talking about what is the pain that I am trying to Put, you know, some kind of numbing agent on.

Peter Ahn: Yeah, and , you mentioned the word story, which I think is really important, like everybody's buying into somebody's story, and if you're focused on a pain point that you own, you could talk about the stories of the past, 

Alex Allain: you say pain point that you own, what do you mean by that? 

Peter Ahn: I mean that a pain point that you felt [00:34:00] and had to grapple with.

Alex Allain: you had to fix and deal with. It was like your

Peter Ahn: Yeah, you had to fix or maybe you couldn't


Alex Allain: Right. 

Peter Ahn: from Bezi couldn't fix the problem of like working out of Figma for 3D design. So he was like, okay, let me fix the problem by actually building something for 3D design, 

for me,, I was grappling with a lot of sales challenges, obviously, for the past however many years. So now I'm trying to help alleviate the challenges of sales.? But I could talk about those challenges that I faced in 2015 because

Alex Allain: Hmm.

Peter Ahn: I was focusing on the problem my entire career, 

Alex Allain: and even your journey . We've always been pretty centered on , the challenges that founders are facing. That's what we've been talking about. And it's like, okay, what, how do we, Produce content. How do you create courses, create communities, things like that, that really you know, salve that, that pain and really up level founders.

. Well, Peter, I think this has been super interesting. Talking about how to position. In this kind of new noisy AI spam [00:35:00] era. And, , and I think that's a good place to wrap this particular episode. We talked a lot about, I think the way in which authentic sales like are really relevant in this era, , And you know, , these other steps about , once you've actually got somebody's interest and how do you handle renewals are going to be some great topics for us to cover in some subsequent episodes as we go back into a more regular publishing cadence. with that, , normally we'd say please like, subscribe, share us on your favorite socials.

But look, we haven't earned that yet. This is

only the first episode we've done in two years. So y'all, Don't do that yet. Hold us accountable. We're going to do a few more episodes and then we're going to ask you, we're going to give you some value before we ask you to

do something for us. So, just hold off, .

Just make sure you check back, I guess, so you can see the additional value. But, , we'll be back with more decoding sales in the coming weeks.

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