Sales Education Before Sales Tech w/ Asa Hochhauser

#68: Listen as Asa Hochhauser, the VP of Sales of, discusses sales technology in the world today. He goes over where to start, the best way to scale, and how to determine your team’s needs.

Listen to the episode by clicking play below OR search “the sales lift” wherever you get podcasts.

Check out the full transcript of this episode below:

The Sales Lift Podcast
Episode #68
Sales Education Before Sales Tech w/ Asa Hochhauser
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley


[00:00:00] Tyler: Hey, Sales Lift Nation, it's your host. Tyler Lindley. Today I have Asa Hochhauser on the podcast. Hey sir. How are you doing today? I'm doing

[00:00:11] Asa: amazing. Thanks, Tyler. Great to be here.

[00:00:13] Tyler: Thanks for having me. Yeah, thanks so much for joining Asa is the VP of Sales of, which is a really cool consultancy helping out.

Marketing automation or a lot of really cool companies. And today we're actually going to be talking about sales technology and all the sales tech that's going on in the world before we started recording. So we're talking about this idea of how you recommend doing sales education before you bring in sales tech.

What does that mean exactly to those founders in revenue leaders out there looking to scale.

[00:00:45] Asa: I think sales leaders who are implementing sales, tech stacks are in a unique position to learn from their marketing counterparts, because there is this explosion going on with technology that marketing experienced as well.

And one of the key lessons from that is. You have to put in the time and effort to make sure that you are ready to accelerate something in your business with sales tech, or if it's marketing sex. So with sales specifically, I really am a big believer that to start, you have to really understand your buyer and who your audience is and spend a good amount of time making sure your team is educated in that way, even so much so that when someone is onboarded within an organization, they're not even touching the sales technology for.

And until they are fully baked and certified and understanding who our buyer is, what their day-to-day looks like, the ins and outs, the pain points that they're experiencing, the problems that they're trying to solve. What does their job look like? Like really having to understand that before you can actually get into doing anything with technologies.

I mean, when I talk about sales education before sales technology, it's really an onboarding strategy to make sure that people are ready to use.

[00:01:58] Tyler: No, that makes a lot of sense. I feel like in a lot of startups that I see the technology has been introduced first, almost, it seems like you get these shiny new tools, you've got outreach or gong or HubSpot or Salesforce or whatever it is.

And it's like, all right, cool. Let's get them access. Let's get those licenses over on day one so they can start getting their hands dirty. But it sounds like you don't recommend that you think that there's. A hands-off period during a new sales reps, onboarding where they're not using the technology at all.

[00:02:25] Asa: Exactly. And I think there's different pieces of technology. You mentioned like gong and these conversational intelligence platforms. There's some components to that where you want to get them in there. And. Listening to calls, because I think that is part of understanding who your buyer is. I've also explored when I was at ion interactive, we did what we called an embed where they weren't even on the sales team when they first came on, they would go and sit with the customer success team for the first week and really listening to calls there and understand why folks were using our software.

I went back and forth. I found that there was a. Contexts that was lacking. So we thought it was actually more effective to do, to embed after they were about 60, 90 days in and really switched to focus on, we built out a lot of content and what we called our Wiki, where you understood, or just really read and studied our buyer and watched our webinar.

Because we're very content driven and all the companies I've worked for. And that's a great resource just to make sure that your team understands the problems that you're helping solve. Okay.

[00:03:27] Tyler: Totally agree. I think an internal Wiki, or just a place where knowledge is housed and shared where anybody can go and access it, whether they're day one or they've been there for years and years, I think a Wiki, or sometimes it's a playbook.

You mentioned webinars things that your clients, your customers might be watching as well. I think you've got to have some form of that. And I think that's where the education starts is getting that information down for companies that haven't maybe taken that step yet. Do you have any best practices in terms of how do you get started?

How do you build a Wiki or how do you build a playbook? How do you build that onboarding what those first few days are going to look like? So that knowledge transfer starts to happen. They really start understanding their buyer.

[00:04:06] Asa: It's a mindset thing. One thing that I often talk to companies, they always have this question.

When should I invest in sales enablement? What should I invest in sales operations? And my answer is always as soon as you possibly can. And those who invest in that early on are going to be set up for greater success. Once they really find that product market. And are able to, or accelerating what I did when I was at both ion and Linux academy as the head of sales and even now, and my role at Bogata IO is anytime we're thinking about a process and the way we're going to go about our go to market, you just have to be in that mindset of documenting or just get it down and spend some time each day, cleaning it up and putting it into an area that's going to be accessible by the team.

And that's, I think a really important one. We use confluence. It's an Atlassian product when I was at iron and we built a very significant sales playbook in there, and it was pretty good. It was hard to navigate. That was probably the biggest complaint. It was hard to navigate, but everyone had that link bookmarked and it was the Bible.

And that was part of it too, is anytime someone would come and ask me a question that was in the Bible, I would say. Did you go check the Wiki yet? And it creates that motion for them to be able to use it. Now, right now we're using Kourou at myGov school has a Chrome extension and you can open it up and type in something you're looking for.

No, pop it up. But I think to get started, you just have to have that mindset of anytime you're recognizing something that works, or we would call it standard operating procedure and SOP, make sure you're documenting that and get into a place where it's going to be accessible.

[00:05:39] Tyler: I agree. And I like your point about when your company's asking, when should you invest in.

Sales enablement and sales operations. It's likely a lot longer way before you think you actually should. And I think companies think, oh, we'll do that once we get to five or 10 or 20 head count, whereas you should honestly be doing it when you're maybe just a founder led team or you have a very small team.

That's the time. Some of that foundation, such that as you onboard five or 10 or 15 new folks to the sales org, it's not a complete disaster. Talk a little bit about that. As companies scale up, a lot of the folks out there that listen to this podcast, our founder led teams team of one or a team under five.

What should that look like in terms of how do they think about hiring? Where does hiring and bringing on new folks come into play with the sales education sales technology? How do you make all these pieces fit together? Or what have you seen work?

[00:06:28] Asa: As a startup, who's keeping their eye on every penny. You wonder, does it make sense to make us sales operations higher?

They're super specialized there. A good one is going to be a good investment from a paycheck perspective, but you can also, what I've seen work, what we did is just look internally with what you have. What kind of skillsets do you have across the team? Because this needs to be something that is a priority who can actually help get this rolling.

And what I did is I leaned on marketing quite often and say, we're already managing things like marketing automation platforms. So as we started to really just start optimizing our CRM usage in Salesforce, you know, I leaned on marketing to really. With layouts, making sure that the right data was speaking surface to the sales team so that they can see what the customer journey looked like and have intelligent conversations.

Marketing was already in and around that for me, I was able to lean on them and have them help me improve the sales experience and help us be more successful. And then really when it just became time, you start to grow your team based on your goals. All the teams I've managed when I got to about between five and 10 people, five and 10.

Is where I found it was. We needed to actually hire someone for a sales, operations, specific role. Again, it's been found these people that are not only good at just the technology piece of it, but also the content and the enablement piece of it, because it is just documenting a lot of these processes, but then also making sure your systems are connected and integrated and working in a right.

Again, kind of a broader skillset. I'm a big fan of specialization. As you continue to grow. If you can get more and more specialized and find someone that's just focused on sales operations for the tech side and then sales enablement for the content side, just like SDRs focused on outbound focus on inbound.

I think that's the point. That's the goal you want to go?

[00:08:20] Tyler: Yeah, exactly. Obviously getting the right people on the bus is very important, but then you also have to have those tools to have a sales tech stack. And what does that mean? Exactly. So for those that, I think we've all heard of MarTech and have an idea about what that looks like, but sales tech is a lot newer of a term.

Is that just CRM or what does that mean to revenue leaders?

[00:08:40] Asa: No, it actually goes well beyond CRM. Now I think CRM in itself is the definition of it is continuing to change over time as well, because we have sales engagement platforms out there now that are your outreaches and SalesLoft and there's Xanax and there's a bunch of them out there.

And even though. Company's data providers like zoom info or making some interesting acquisitions that are starting to become an all in one platform. The system of record for the sales rep and CRM is really just becoming more and more, some companies, just a database and that, that these other tools are sitting on top of and enabling it.

But when you think about sales, tech, technology, So advanced now, anytime there's a problem that you experience in your sales process, you could probably go find a technology to help fix that problem. That's where I think you have to always start to when you're going in and implementing sales, psychology is making sure, like, all right, what are my goals and objectives that I'm trying to achieve here?

And how can technology enable me to achieve those goals? You always have to start there that will help avoid the shiny object syndrome. Like, oh, this is a really cool when you go and buy something that you really maybe didn't need, or it wasn't going to help you achieve the goals that you have.

Short-term you've got conversational. Intelligence is no very popular. Now they are. I like that because it's an easy lift installed really quickly and you get valued right away. Sales engagement platforms are another very popular tool that leaders are going and evaluating these. I believe you have to be careful with though, because it can be hard to get a lot of return on those.

If you don't have the proper practices put in place that you want to accelerate, we haven't defined what actually good looks like. I find sales engagement platforms can actually sometimes be dangerous. There'll be distracting. They'll accelerate bad sales behaviors. So you just gotta make sure.

[00:10:35] Tyler: But like you said, it's back to your original point that where you need that sales education before sales tech, you almost need your sales playbook and your go to market strategy clearly defined before you go and buy one of those sales engagement tools, which is really just amplifying a message in a very efficient manner, right?

It allows those SDRs or AEs to really amplify that message to a lot of people quickly running cadences or sequences. So there's automation built in, if you don't know what you are doing. What are you amplifying? What message are you amplifying? That's exactly right. You gotta be careful there. It sounds like you think sales engagement tools, obviously there's CRM, there's sales engagement, there's conversational intelligence data providers, the zoom info's of a world.

As you're looking at evaluating these different categories in sales tech, and you talked about goals and objectives, how do you know what you need? And I think everyone needs a CRM. Everyone needs that source of truth. But outside of that, how do I know if I need some of these other tools and even which tools are right for me?

How do you. Figuring that out when you're growing, it's pretty similar to when

[00:11:34] Asa: you're on a sales call and you're trying to diagnose the problems that your buyer has. I like to look at my sales team in the same way and thinking about what do we need to achieve the first time I bought a sales and engagement platform.

We needed a way we recognized, and this was a lesson learned. We recognized that we needed to re in essence, double our output. So our goal was like, all right, let's go buy a Dyler that could help us style more. That was a real PR problem that we were trying to solve for. But. What about it wrong and actuality, our dials really didn't even go up that much.

So that was my lesson learned. We want more output so we can hit a number that was given to us without hiring a bunch of people. But that was the lesson learned where the tech decision probably wasn't the best decision because we used it. We didn't really have a plan on how we were going to use it. And so it hurt us.

But again, just going back to the problem and understanding it, really looking to improve the conversations that your team is having. How do you go about doing that? You've gotta be able to surface the conversations that are being had. So you can coach on them. So I think a good coaching platform, like a conversational intelligence or something along those lines is going to help solve that problem.

So I always start with the problem and then work backwards from there. Yeah. That

[00:12:47] Tyler: makes a lot of sense. And it sounds like a lot of this hinges on you having a source of truth, you talked about. Some of these platforms are starting to build an all in one platform. Obviously I think everyone's goal like the Salesforce or HubSpot or Adobe or any of these platforms are trying to become, ZoomInfo trying to become that one-stop shop where you've got as much as you need under the hood.

Do you think companies should gravitate towards those solutions where it is a one-stop shop, where you've got one vendor and they're handling multiple different parts of that sales tech stack? Or should you go and invest in. Best-in-class and have different providers that you're working with to solve for different problems.

What would you recommend as people can see? Going all in with one provider or trying to figure out what's best in class and choosing multiple providers and trying to make all those systems work together has

[00:13:35] Asa: been a big fan of the best in class. That when you go with this monolithic stack, it's a heavy lift.

You're going to need multiple people to manage that piece of it. And you're always need some people to be 100% dedicated to the stack, but I find you can really. Do more MVP type of testing when you are going best in class. A lot of these companies are really focused on product led growth these days. So they have a nice way for you to try things out.

So just really understanding your internal culture, the team that you have. Decide, should you go monolithic or best-in-class, but I've always found that, especially in the technology world, we love agility and speed and best in class. I find supports

[00:14:18] Tyler: that the best. Exactly. I totally agree. And I think you have to figure out what is that balance for your organization?

What else should companies be thinking about in terms of their sales tech stack? We haven't really talked about. The marketing technology that they might already have in place. And does that need to integrate with that sales technology? Is it important that marketing and sales are integrated and aligned from a technology standpoint?

How should companies be considering their MarTech and their sales tech working in conjunction with. That's

[00:14:45] Asa: another big mistake I see companies make is they don't think enough about the integration and how technology needs to fit into the entire tech stack. For sure. It's all data. Every piece of tech that you're putting in market is collecting data in some way, shape or form.

And what I, where I see companies struggle often is how do they surface that in a usable way for their sales team, if you can figure out and think about the integration point so important to be able to surface the customer journey. To the sales team, so they can have intelligent conversations. And whether you're surfacing that in your CRM, which is where I've most seen it.

And that's between an integration between your marketing automation platform. And you're making sure that all your advertising is full funnel, being surfaced into that. If you're working on a campaign basis than Salesforce, having that easily visible to your sales team so that they understand. What's going on and use that to enable their sales process, I think is super important.

I think the integration is important. Data's everywhere. How do you get the useful data surfaced to the sales team so that they can actually use it? And that's usually going to be either a layout in your CRM, or if you're using a sales engagement platform, making sure that data is making it into their using custom fields.

If that's the direction that you use that. Exactly.

[00:16:03] Tyler: Because if the data is not readily available for the rep, then you've missed that context, which can really help them wherever, part of the customer journey that they're in, whatever part of the sales process, if it's missing, if it's not there, then they don't have it and that's not ammunition they can use.

So I think that's so important. And it sounds like we've got to think. This data and think about way things are flowing before we add to our sales tech stack, because sometimes tools, even if you have a best in class tool, if it doesn't play nicely with everything else that you're using, is it the right tool for you?

Should companies be really thinking about those integrations and that data flow before they purchase it before they add to their cell texts? Absolutely

[00:16:41] Asa: because it should be a part of the evaluation process as well. When you're going and deciding what tools you want to use, you've got to make sure that it's going to be able to integrate and funnel data in a way that's going to be useful for your team.

I think is super important for sure.

[00:16:54] Tyler: What haven't we talked about yet, as you think about these founders, are revenue leaders trying to scale up their organization. What else should they be thinking about when it comes to the sales tech stack that can work with best for them? Anything we haven't brought up.


[00:17:05] Asa: would bring it back. I wouldn't necessarily state anything new, but just really putting the importance on that education piece for understanding and taking the time to think about the integrations, making sure your sales team is up to speed with the buyer's journey and then certify them in a product.

And then you can start to look at your sales tech stack and making sure that they're using that correctly. Yeah, no, I love it. That hierarchy

[00:17:30] Tyler: there. Do you see commonly folks missing on that hierarchy where they're doing those things out? I do see

[00:17:36] Asa: that it's just about him to the wolves. Unfortunately, I see it kind of time and time again, with not much of a playbook.

We have salespeople are good at figuring things out. And so I think that's what we rely on that, but I think there's a responsibility at the leadership level to make sure that you're enabling them from the get-go

[00:17:53] Tyler: talk a little bit about that shiny toy syndrome to lots of these sales tech companies are high growth VC backed companies that have sales reps themselves reaching out to sales leaders, founders executor.

Trying to push their best-in-class product or their soon to be best in class. So I think there is somewhat of a, there's a lot of energy around the market right now. And I think there are a lot of options, but you gotta make sure you build it in the right way. Do your homework first and build the foundation before you just go.

And let's just buy that tool. And then we don't implement, or we don't know where it fits into our current process. Yeah, sales education before sales tech. Love it ASAP. All right. Awesome, great conversation. If my listeners want to find more out about you online, how can they do so I

[00:18:32] Asa: think LinkedIn is the best place to find me.

We'd love to connect on there. We said I worked for Macada IO. We have a website with a lot of free tools to help build out your tech stack. So I definitely recommend heading over to that site

[00:18:43] Tyler: and checking. Nice. And we'll link to your LinkedIn profile and the muggle website in the show notes. Thanks so much, Jason, for coming on.

Really appreciate you joining great conversation. Thanks for having me, Tyler. All right. Thank you.

Thank you so much for listening to today's show. You can find all

[00:19:00] Asa: the links discussed and the show That's the T H E sales S a L E S. Lift

[00:19:10] Tyler: L I F have questions for me. Email We look forward to seeing you back here next week, and we hope today's show brings you the sales lift.

Your business needs. Remember ideas.

[00:19:26] Asa: Plus action

[00:19:27] Tyler: equals. You've got new ideas.

[00:19:30] Asa: Now it's time to take action and the results will follow.

[00:19:35] Tyler: See you next time. .

Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:

Looking to Scale (0:40)

Sales leaders implementing sales tech stacks are in a unique position to learn from their marketing counterparts due to an explosion with technology.

You have to put in the time and effort to make sure that you are ready to accelerate something in your business with sales tech.

Understanding your buyer is a mindset thing, and one thing companies always have questions about. When should I invest in sales enablement? What should I invest in sales operations? 

The answer is always as soon as you possibly can, and those who invest in that early on will set you up for greater success. 

The biggest complaint about building a playbook is when they’re hard to navigate, so it’s important to iron it out as soon as possible for a smooth onboarding.

Where To Start (6:08)

Start by looking at what kind of skill sets you have across the team? This needs to be a priority for those who can help get everything rolling.

If you’re already managing everything like marketing automation platforms, start optimizing your CRM usage in Salesforce. 

Lean on marketing to help with layouts and improve the sale process. As you continue to grow, you can get more and more specialized. 

Find someone that’s just focused on sales operations for the tech side and then sales enablement for the content side, just like SDRs focused on outbound focus on inbound.

Always start by implementing sales psychology and determine what the goals and objectives are that you’re trying to achieve.

Determining Your Needs (11:15)

It’s similar to when you’re on a sales call, and you’re trying to diagnose the problems that your buyer has. 

Look at your sales team in the same way and think about what you need to achieve.

To increase output, you have to be able to surface the conversations taking place. 

Do more MVP type of testing when you are going best in class. A lot of these companies are focused on product-led growth, so they have a nice way for you to try things out.

It’s about understanding your internal culture and the team that you have. 

Another big mistake companies make is that they don’t think enough about the integration and how technology needs to fit into the entire tech stack.

Put the importance on the education piece for understanding and taking the time to think about the integrations. Make sure your sales team is up to speed with the buyer’s journey and then certify them in a product.

Asa Hochhauser’s Bio:

Asa has been helping customers make magic with their marketing & sales tech for more than 13 years. He was the Director of Sales at ion interactive which was co-founded by Martech pioneer Scott Brinker, and was an instrumental part in their acquisition.

He was also head of sales at Linux Academy and helped the company successfully exit via acquisition. Asa loves helping companies create tech stacks that align sales, marketing, customer success, and product teams so that they can create magical experiences for their customers and grow revenues.

Important Links:

Asa’s LinkedIn Profile