Rao Wu has started his professional B2B sales career in the mid 1990’s, and has been in a variety of mid-level and senior-level executive management roles since 2003.
He has been a key member and sales leader that has contributed to over $400 Million in total acquisitions, and has been part of a successful IPO. Today, many of his former sales personnel, are themselves managers, Directors, VP’s and even company founders; and Rao himself is now a pioneer in the Digital identity industry.
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.
Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast. And today, I have Rao Wu with me today, he is the Senior Director of Global Alliances, that's one kick-ass amazing title for Acuant. Rao, welcome to the show.
Rao Wu 0:55
Thanks Umar. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Umar Hameed 0:57
So before you took on this role, you were leading 13 salespeople yourself. So tell me, out of the 13? How many were A players? How many were B players? And how many was C players?
Rao Wu 1:09
Oh, I probably would say a third were A players, third were B players and probably a third for C players.
Umar Hameed 1:16
So let's go down into, you know, let's get down into sales. So the A players that were actually, I say they walk on water because they do amazing things.
Rao Wu 1:24
Umar Hameed 1:24
How did you lead them? Was it just like they're doing well just let them go? Or did you? How did you manage them? How did you inspire them? How do you keep them going?
Rao Wu 1:33
Well, first thing I noticed is that they were individuals on their own in their own right. So there, they had their own styles, their own methodologies. And it was just refining and honing in what they did well, and kind of, it looks slightly guiding them in a direction here there but nothing too intricate, as far as getting into, you know, what made them tick, what kept them going. So in other words, I treat them a little differently than the B players and the C players.
Umar Hameed 1:56
Excellent. And did you have any A players that you thought, you know, this person is doing a great, great job, but they could be absolutely fantastic? Did you have one of those where you could see that they were doing phenomenally well, but there was much more to go for them?
Rao Wu 2:10
Yeah, absolutely. There's certainly that, that level of visibility. And some of these players, and this was across many roles, I've had it, you know, managing others, I've been managing people since 2013. I'm sorry, 2003, actually, so even further back, I dig myself. But yeah, there was definitely some areas where even they could approve, and I'm no exception to that. I can always improve and get better at everything,
Umar Hameed 2:33
Guilty, me too. To go back to the 13th and think of someone specific, and what their issue was, and how you guided them to actually get better don't name names. But if you can,
Rao Wu 2:44
Umar Hameed 2:44
how you spotted the issue and how you coach them through it and what the results were?
Rao Wu 2:49
Sure. In this particular individual, there was great strengths, that relationship building, great strengths at being personable, moreso than even me. But there was a lack of structure as far as process was concerned in getting more of the conversations going, getting more of the meetings, to let her persona shine, so to speak. So adding some structure and some elements on how they can improve that in that area, started producing measurable, quantifiable results of getting more meetings, where again, the personality and the personal bonus that she possessed could shine, and that produce better results.
Umar Hameed 3:28
So for a lot of salespeople, my hypothesis is like, you know, "Don't bogged me down with processes. I know what I'm doing." And so sometimes we actually fight process when actually processes our best friend, have you come across that in your travels, where they're like, very like, "Hey, Rao, I got this, you know, don't wedge me in," and how do you get them to see the light?
Rao Wu 3:48
Yeah, that's a great question. I have come across that all the time.
Umar Hameed 3:54
Did you use a taser?
Rao Wu 3:57
If I can afford to use one, I would, but no, that's not legal in my profession. I'm from a standpoint of getting individuals to see something that they cannot see, you know, is, is definitely a big challenge, I think that's a big challenge. And in every profession, quite honestly, not just sales, but it definitely stands out in sales, right? teaching somebody, some somebody something that they cannot see or don't know, is very difficult. And I think that the biggest areas for salespeople to improve upon or really any profession to improve on, is in looking at things that they can't see like looking at things from the outside perspective,
Umar Hameed 4:36
Rao Wu 4:36
they can't see that from from the inside, right? So, so you need that 360 degree view, so to speak. From a standpoint of how, you know, you get others to see that, it's not easy, because there are some processes that I've been bogged down with and I'm sure maybe you have in your career somewhere where they're clearly over engineered and not effective, and you...
Umar Hameed 4:57
Rao Wu 4:57
...to get away from that sort of thing. But then when you can get individuals to see things intuitively,
Umar Hameed 5:05
Rao Wu 5:05
then it starts clicking, and that's that's the key element. That's an element that was part of my, my career in teaching martial arts, I taught martial arts for a long time as a profession. And so using those experiences with sales is also kind of how I got around some of those hurdles, in getting individuals to recognize just natural intuitions on what should be intuitive to them, and why they're not, you know, applying those processes. And how they can better improve those processes from a miserable standpoint, is something to, to work through and getting through that challenge.
Umar Hameed 5:43
So I'm seeing this book title for you, when you write your book,
Rao Wu 5:47
Umar Hameed 5:47
How to Win Clients Without a Throat Strike, I mean, it could be good,
Rao Wu 5:50
Umar Hameed 5:50
as martial arts to sales. So thank you for sharing that. And I actually wrote down getting people to see something they cannot see is what leadership has always been about.
Rao Wu 5:58
Umar Hameed 5:59
So let's take a deeper dive into B players. B players do a good job, we're happy, they're part of the company,
Rao Wu 6:04
Umar Hameed 6:05
And oftentimes, they, this is my hypothesis, correct me if I'm wrong.
Rao Wu 6:10
Umar Hameed 6:11
Is that the skill set of an A player and a B player is almost identical, the only difference is mindset.
Rao Wu 6:18
I would agree with that. And I'd also say on top of that, Umar, or at least in my experiences, it's a lot of the little things that they're not doing not big things, they're not big, big, big, you know, pieces, or techniques or tactics or strategies, that they're small things, that when you add up all the small advantages, you get a big advantage, right? From that standpoint, you know, I would say both those things are hand in hand, mindset, and then also doing the little things better, that add up that the A players are doing.
Umar Hameed 6:51
So there's very much martial arts, right? it's like, you know, perfecting the basic moves to a point, they become effortless. So give me an example of two, three little things that salespeople can do that would allow them to get big advances in their sales career.
Rao Wu 7:04
Sure, um, I'll get into the basics of, let's just say prospecting, right? Now, some sales roles, have another team doing that for them, that marketing driving it for them, they may have SDRs, delivering appointments for them. But you always need to be doing that in this line of work, right?
Umar Hameed 7:22
Rao Wu 7:22
You're always selling, you're always knocking on doors, you're always, you know, dialing are always sending emails, whatever the outreach may be, you can measure that, right? and you can statistically study that. And putting pieces like that in place on a day to day basis, start adding up to a large advantage. When you're not doing that or not doing that consistently, then obviously, your pipeline gets a little bit up and down, your wins and losses get a little bit up and down, and you're less consistent that way. So that's a little thing that can be done in fine tune better, from all of us really, in this line of work. That's one thing, that's one angle, I'll shift gears a little bit into, let's say, when they're presenting, negotiating and discussing,
Umar Hameed 8:08
Rao Wu 8:08
you know, their, their wares, or their offerings. From that standpoint, you know, a lot of times, reps, you know, like to A, you know, show up and throw up, that's an old expression, I'm sure you've heard, and not listen necessarily, to the prospect,
Umar Hameed 8:24
What was what? [garbled]
Rao Wu 8:24
to the prospect of the client, where, you know, everything that they're saying is 10 times more important than what a salesperson say, in driving,
Umar Hameed 8:26
Rao Wu 8:33
sales scenario, right. And so, I see that mistake happened quite a bit. And that's something that you can correct. And you may have to kind of sit in with some of your reps to do that, or do it for them, or do it with them, or in all the above, right? to hone in and get better at those areas. And then I'll take one step further, for my third example, on just the obstacles of the whole deal, negotiating and putting it together. A lot of times, looking at it, you know, from a big picture standpoint, and understanding, you know, the, does it make sense, does it not make sense scenario, right? is good at helping reps overcome, you know, obstacles or find out, they're in an opportunity, they're not going to win. And I think those things are all important too.
Umar Hameed 9:22
So one of my clients, he is, runs a really successful company, they're sales driven and he does prospecting every day. But instead of doing it in his fancy office, he comes out to the bullpen sits down with everyone else and just walks his talk, which I thought was, A amazing leadership, and B, even though he's been doing it for 30 years, he still prospects every single day, because that's how greatness happens.
Rao Wu 9:47
Umar Hameed 9:48
So let's go down to the C players.
Rao Wu 9:50
Umar Hameed 9:51
So a lot of organizations have like a third of C players, let's say, or a quarter of them. And the question is, why are you keeping them there? And there's like inclination to get rid of them, kind of what are your thoughts on that?
Rao Wu 10:02
Yeah, that's a great, that's a great dilemma. Um, you know, at a certain point, you have to obviously make difficult cuts, no matter how well you do or don't like some of those folks if they're not performing. I think from a standpoint of, there's so much guidance, you have the tolerance for so much learnings and teachings and developing that you have in your role, depending on the role depending on the organization, of course, that you have that tolerance level where, you know, a certain point they're not getting it,
Umar Hameed 10:29
Rao Wu 10:29
and certain point, they're not putting in the effort. And if either those two occur, then of course, you have to, you have to make the cut, there's no, there's no question about that. Sometimes, it's the mindset of really just understanding that they're just not on the same team you are, right? they're just not going to do it, they're just not going to buy into the company vision or bind to the management's visions. And then of course, you have to make difficult decisions there and make the hard cuts as well, because it's not going to work. But then there's other times and I've been through that scenario to where you have the C player that struggling a little bit, but you know, with some guidance, you can get them on the right track with a process, a little bit of processes, you can get them going. And if they stick with that, you can see the development, then you start seeing the results. I I've had managed people like that in my career that have...
Umar Hameed 10:49
Rao Wu 10:50
...become A players. And that's really where you shine as a leader in developing those folks, and that's really where you shine it. And not only just getting the results you want for your company, for your team, but in developing fans for life, because to date, some of those have bigger roles than I am now. And they're still friends and fans and they miss me all the time.
Umar Hameed 11:36
Nice. So actually was one of my clients was telling me like he was a sales superstar. But he was saying, you know, it was the third visit with the CEO with the guy said, "Okay, that's it, your ass is out of here at the end of the month, you're just not good enough." And something about that last conversation just sparked a fire within him, and he moved up to be like the number one sales guy. And so sometimes you just never know.
Rao Wu 11:56
Umar Hameed 11:57
So Rao, you've been doing this for a while,
Unknown Speaker 11:59
Umar Hameed 11:59
you've reached a certain level of performance. Where are your sticking points? What are the barriers you're trying to improve in your performance? What do you see in yourself?
Rao Wu 12:09
Um, well, so the first part comes down to again, sometimes it's hard to see what I can't see from [garbled]
Umar Hameed 12:14
Rao Wu 12:15
I need the criticism in the direction from others, my superiors, my subordinates, my peers, whatever that might be. So there's always that challenge. B, and I think this is something that we all suffer for, you know, we get to a certain threshold certain successful point in life, and we're complacent, right? We're kind of happy with where we're at.
Umar Hameed 12:34
Rao Wu 12:35
And pushing that is always something that I find myself challenged that from time to time, can always be pushed, I can always do better. On the grand scale, I'm doing some big things, I'm impacting the world, quite literally.
Umar Hameed 12:49
Rao Wu 12:50
But yet, I can see myself doing bigger things, right? And I could see myself doing going beyond that. And so so those are certain areas that I always kind of challenged myself with every day thinking, maybe, maybe I can do a little bit more, maybe I can get better here are starting winding out my experiences.
Umar Hameed 13:07
Brilliant. So you did to transition from, you know, Sales Leader to Senior Director of Global Alliance. And so first let's talk about what your company does is all about the brand for companies, you know, a couple of bad reviews can actually hit you really hard. And if you have an avalanche of them, it can knock your stock price for a loop. So define the problem and then we'll talk about your role and how you interact with your strategic partners.
Rao Wu 13:32
Sure. So the company I'm with is Acuant, and it's a leader in the digital identity space. And that's the problem of solving that a person is who they say they are in a online or mobile or web environment. The digital identity
Umar Hameed 13:47
Rao Wu 13:49
Exactly, right. So on the internet, anybody can be anybody and, and you know, when you are building businesses that deal with e-commerce,
Umar Hameed 13:58
Rao Wu 13:58
or compliance issues, like know your customer, KYC, they call it or any kind of onboarding scenarios, and you get bad actors into your space, you now have a challenged environment. A lot of the gig economy, so to speak, you know, your Ubers or Airbnb, they're built on trust and safety, you're all in worse...
Umar Hameed 13:58
Rao Wu 14:03
...places, right? things like that. And as soon as that's violated, their brand gets hit hard, but obviously, their customer base gets hit hard, too. So the world as we speak, is trying to solve for these challenges and issues on a day to day basis. And these are some of the biggest brands and biggest companies we've all heard of right, that are still challenged in this area. Because the you know, technology's moving so much faster these days, especially over the last couple years, right? Where this is an issue and this is a challenge.
Umar Hameed 14:49
So you were going from you know, a direct Salesforce with these 13 people report to you, and now you're working with strategic partners that have their own sales forces. So tell me how that's changed your role, and how do you influence those sales teams, because they used to be in the high tech industry. And when we sold to distributors, I would go do floor days and give spiffs and educate, motivate the people to sell these products, so how do you cross that bridge?
Rao Wu 15:14
Yeah, it's a little different now, because now you're dealing with sales reps that don't report to you. In fact, they don't report to the organization, right? that you're part of. So they're not beholden to your rules and regulations, and that sort of thing. So it's a little bit more challenging from that regard, your influence and developing them is a little less than it is when you're managing your direct team. But at the same time, you know, you are arming them and helping them with the tools they need to go in and win for you, so to speak, right? So it's really trying to do my best at getting them what they need, as fast as I can, in the most professional manner that I can. And obviously supporting them when needed, a lot of times they'll bring me into their sales calls to...
Umar Hameed 15:55
Rao Wu 15:56
...send our product line within their tools in their tool sets. So I'm basically an advocate from our for our company in that regard.
Umar Hameed 16:03
So how do you train their sales leaders? Because they have to do the leadership and other selling other products as well, besides yours?
Rao Wu 16:11
They are they they're selling their own products, they're selling other products as well. Yeah, and the training part is a little bit more, invite only like you can only get what they allow you to to provide. And that's something that again, I'd like to work on to get a broader audience and a broader and more time consumption from their mindset of their companies and their reps.
Umar Hameed 16:31
And how big of their salesforce is typically?
Rao Wu 16:34
Umar Hameed 16:35
Rao Wu 16:36
Big salesforce. Yeah, large.
Umar Hameed 16:38
Brilliant. So as you look at your career, and especially as a sales leader, you probably did earlier on some things well, and something's not so well.
Rao Wu 16:50
Umar Hameed 16:50
So what would be some of the advice you'd give a seasoned sales manager on how they can do better?
Rao Wu 16:57
Yeah, that's a tough one up. So I manage managers to in that role, and then it's always a challenge there. But I would say, one first, I guess, lessons I learned early on 2003- 2004, was that managing people differently, was essential. You know,
Umar Hameed 17:18
Rao Wu 17:18
you start with the [garbled] "I want you to everybody the same, you have the same," but but nobody is the same. Nobody thinks the same, nobody works the same.
Umar Hameed 17:18
Rao Wu 17:19
And that was one of the first management lessons, I had to kind of learn myself the hard way, right? because everybody's different. We talked earlier about A players, B players, C players, you really almost can't treat them the same, right? You can't manage them the same way, they're different.
Umar Hameed 17:38
So before we go to another tip on how to do better, let me ask you a question, Rao.
Rao Wu 17:42
Umar Hameed 17:43
Are you a towards person or away person? And what I mean is, some people like we give them a sales goal, "Hey, if you close this many deals, you're going to Hawaii. And if you don't close this many deals, we're going to fire you."
Rao Wu 17:55
Umar Hameed 17:55
What motivates you more towards a goal or away from calamity?
Rao Wu 18:00
Wow, it's a good question. I would say, they both been, you know, heavy influencers in my personal career and in the career of others that I've managed, but I would say I'm, I'm more towards person than an away person.
Umar Hameed 18:15
And that's just one of 21 parameters that we can use to customize how we coach the people that we lead, because a towards person is different than and away from person when you're coaching, and, so anyway, what what would be another piece of advice, you'd give sales managers to do better because the first one is critically important?
Rao Wu 18:36
Sure, um, I would say another piece of advice is, you know, adhering to not heavy duty processes, but the fundamental concept of, if I can measure it, I can manage it.
Umar Hameed 18:52
Rao Wu 18:52
It's kind of acceptable in the management leadership role. I have known personal managers and even know managers today that is more how they feel, as opposed to you know, what they can measure and I think that's, that's not a great way of managing.
Umar Hameed 19:06
Absolutely. And just going to add to that, it's very much if you've got a play on Broadway, no two roles are going to be identical. If you've got Tom Cruise doing the lead versus Anthony Hopkins, they're saying the same words, but they're getting a different response in the audience. And I think process is essential, it doesn't mean we strip away your individuality.
Rao Wu 19:27
Umar Hameed 19:28
But if we don't share a common process, then we can't figure out what the problems are. If everyone's doing something different, then we're at a loss for what's going on.
Rao Wu 19:36
Umar Hameed 19:37
So Rou, before we part company, I've got two questions for you.
Rao Wu 19:40
Umar Hameed 19:40
Number one, what is a mind hack that you use to become more efficient, or more effective or happier? What's something you use to help you do better?
Rao Wu 19:50
I would say it's definitely meditation. And I don't necessarily mean no sit down and just concentrate and focus, I mean, daily walks or...
Umar Hameed 20:01
Rao Wu 20:02
...just kind of, you know, getting a time where it's quiet and I can concentrate and focus on certain goals or certain tasks I need to accomplish, or certain problems or hurdles. You know, I've had many, many of those situations where an epiphany occurs or some sudden, you know, shock,
Umar Hameed 20:17
Rao Wu 20:18
a light bulb goes off, right that, like, that's how I solved the problem, that's how you deal with the issue, right? I think, you know, in my line of work, there's day to day stressors, and there's big stressors. And sometimes I need to focus and get my mind set on those big stressors to come up with a solution or come up with a scenario where I can overcome that challenge.
Umar Hameed 20:35
Rao Wu 20:36
When I was commuting work before COVID, I would have the train rides every day, that would help.
Umar Hameed 20:40
Rao Wu 20:40
But now I have some working from home, right?
Umar Hameed 20:44
And part of it is like, "Thank God."
Rao Wu 20:45
Umar Hameed 20:46
So the last question I have for you is, is there a particular book that you would recommend that our listeners and viewers read?
Rao Wu 20:54
You know, there's lots of them, if I pan the camera around, you'll see a whole bunch of sales books over there, on the wall that I read all the time and challenged myself with. One that comes to mind just because it was recently brought up in in the day to day life is crucial conversations, which is a book that helps others deal with with crucial, you know, difficult conversations. And this helps both with subordinate superiors, and of course to the outside public when you're selling to them or their prospecting to them as well. That's definitely one that's come up recently in dialogue.
Umar Hameed 21:26
Brilliant Rao, thank you so much for being on the program. I really appreciate it.
Rao Wu 21:30
Sure. Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.
Umar Hameed 21:37
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.