Three Practices for Selling as a Founder with Sanj Sanampudi
INTRODUCTION: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.
Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with Sanj Sanampudi. Sanj is the CEO and founder of Bardo, and the former CEO and founder of Concert. He also used to work as our Head of FT& A at Return Path years ago. Sanj, it's great to see you here.
Sanj Sanampudi: Good to see you, man. Thanks for having me.
Matt Blumberg: Yeah, so one of the things that really impressed me and a lot of the people who worked with you over the years is that you came up through finance, right, after you left Return Path, you were a CFO, and then you became a founder and CEO a couple times over now, and you've been masterful at selling. And CEOs who come up through marketing or sales or even product tend to sort of have that vibe. They spend that time with customers as they're growing their careers, and you had a little bit less of that coming up through finance. So my question for you is, for founders who become CEOs up through things like finance or tech, what are a couple of your best practices for learning how to sell, which is something that founders have to do all the time?
Sanj Sanampudi: Yeah. Learning how to sell when you come from a more quantitative background is much more difficult than I expected it to be. The first thing I would say is not to lean on the numbers game. Especially if you're coming from a really quantitative background, having this perfect funnel with all these conversion metrics and optimizing, that feels really easy. But what that ends up doing is it focuses you on quantity because that tends to be an easier lever to pull than quality of your activity. So the second thing is related to that quality. When I'm coaching on sales quality now, what I really focus people on is listening for emotions. So there's a Harvard study that shows that 95% of our decisions are made based on emotions, not just kind of facts. So the things that I typically listen for in calls now that I wasn't before are, well, what's the difference between someone who's annoyed versus a little nervous. And which one is really more actionable? What are you looking for? The answer is annoyed. So those are the two things that really kind of got me to reframe myself more as a seller than a sort of technical finance expert.
Matt Blumberg: All right. So I have to ask, why are you listening for annoyed?
Sanj Sanampudi: So anger is an adaptive emotion that helps us like fight. It's the fight in fight or flight, so we're ready to make a change. The opposite is fear, which usually holds us back and has us avoid change.
Matt Blumberg: That's interesting. I'm going to have to give that one some thought. I always talk about how people buy on a spectrum of fear to greed, but maybe it should be annoyance to greed.
Sanj Sanampudi: They're all rooted in anger, so it's probably the right spectrum to look at.
Matt Blumberg: These are great, great suggestions, and they really match the way that I always think about the evolution of selling in an enterprise. Stage one is the founder selling on whiteboard, and founder can't sell on whiteboard if founder is hung up in managing a non- existent funnel. And founder can't sell on whiteboard if you know they can't look into the eyes of the person they're talking to and read them. So those are great suggestions on how to be a selling founder, particularly when you come up through a more quantitative functional area. So thanks for sharing that with everyone, Sanj.
Matt Blumberg: Thank you, man.
Tune into today’s episode to up your selling game! Matt and Sanj Sanampudi, CEO and founder of Bardo, dive in to what it means for a founder to sell effectively. Sanj shares his tips for learning to sell as a CEO with a background in finance. His top piece of advice? Forget the numbers game! Making meaningful connections and focusing on sales quality over quantity will change your selling game.