Anthony Pullia, Account Manager for Strategic Accounts at Auvik Networks, joins us to share his interesting sales journey. How did he fall in love with Waterloo, Ontario? How did he transition into tech sales? How can you give back to your community what you’ve learned along the way? Stay tuned to find out!
Anthony Pullia, Account Manager for Strategic Accounts at Auvik Networks, on his sales journey, falling in love with Waterloo, Ontario, and his transition into tech sales.
Joseph Fung: Hi everyone, I’m Joseph Fung, and I am joined today by Anthony Pullia, a Strategic Accounts at Auvik Networks. Anthony, thanks for joining us.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, Joe, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Joseph Fung: Especially on such an auspicious today. You shared earlier to your dad’s birthday today. That’s right?
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, that’s correct, fifty-nine today. So next year, the big six zero. So hopefully next year’s birthday has a lot more celebration than this year.
Joseph Fung: Oh, man, I’ll keep my fingers crossed. And that’s a good time it’s funny when we were chatting earlier. I love the fact that we both shared. The fact that we have the long-form of our names while our fathers have the shorter form. So your dad was Tony right.
Anthony Pullia: Yes, sir
Joseph Fung: Yeah, and mine Joe so I go by Joseph, and we’re gonna have a fun conversation now there we we’ve built report and figured out how to navigate this would.
Anthony Pullia: Definitely.
Joseph Fung: I was so excited when your name showed up in a list of recommended guests. I have so much respect for your team, your company and Mercedes, who introduced us, spoke about your incredible growth to the company. And so I’m so excited to dig into that and share a bit about your journey. To dig in and start. Why don’t we start at the basics? Where did you grow up? Where’d you go to school? Let’s start there.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, sure, so I actually grew up in a little small town called Beamsville. It’s just between Hamilton and St. Catharines in the Niagara region. Not too many people have heard about it, even though you’ve probably driven through in it a million times. And then what took me out to KW is actually going to Laurier. So my sister went to Laurier. I always liked the idea of going to Laurier and eventually made it happen.
Joseph Fung: You mentioned earlier that the way he got into sales was a bit of a surprise, and for a lot of people, we hear that, so what was your surprise how’d that happen?
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, so like most students, I fell in love with Waterloo, and I didn’t want to go home over the summer. Because I was always trying to, you know, find a good co-op opportunity or find a good job between semesters, and I was literally applying to everything and anything. My background was in landscaping. I did it every summer in high school, so I thought I was going to a landscaping job. And I’m sitting in the application room, and they start asking me all these questions about sales, and you know it was always something. I thought I wanted to get into it, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for it. The next thing you know, it was a five-hour-long interview session. And I ended up getting the job, so it was actually canvassing door to door on behalf of charities.
Joseph Fung: Wow
Anthony Pullia: So those annoying people who knock on your door that was me. But it was for a really good cause, and I learned a lot from it.
Joseph Fung: So to make sure, I understood, was it you thought you would get into landscaping? Or did you interview thinking was a landscaping job?
Anthony Pullia: 100% thought it was a landscaping interview.
Joseph Fung: So you thought you’re gonna be a landscaper now you’re fundraising
Anthony Pullia: Yeah
Joseph Fung: And but when you graduated, you weren’t a fundraiser. You went in a different direction. Is that right?
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, so, it was really what spread my career in sales and where it kind of all began. Because when you’re knocking door-to-door, it’s all about perseverance and that’s kind of what’s tails is to me, in a nutshell, is just there’s always another door waiting for you to be knocking on. So I ended up crossing paths with this startup micro-brewery at the time it’s now known as forefathers. We were brewing out of the Guelph Rockwood area, and now they have an awesome facility on Haussler. If you haven’t been there, you’ve got to go check it out, but I was essentially wearing many hats for them. I did all their sales marketing social media deliveries. You know your name. It was for fathers and me, basically.
Joseph Fung: Okay, so wait, let me get this right. So, you go to school, and you love the town so much, you go into arguably the wrong interview, we get the job and then and a job selling beer.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah
Joseph Fung: Is that Right? Wow
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, that’s awesome. It started up as a summer gig. They were just looking for a co-op student, but I had taken them from about 20 accounts, 20 restaurants, and I guess pubs around the KW area. And by the end of my summer, we were at about 120, so they figured out I was doing something right. So, I actually stayed on while in my fourth year of Laurier and fun fact, I lived right off of Bricker, so there would be the big forefather’s beer van, and I’m in my driveway. So, I think every Thursday night, Friday night there’d be people knocking on my door thinking we were having a house party, but I just parking.
Joseph Fung: So did that build, you know some good reputation so I mean you did throw the house party you got away with it.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, I mean, as soon as I started mentioning these stories, ears started perking up about new marketing opportunities around the student area. So that’s why the marketing cap came in.
Joseph Fung: Right, you know, I think part of what made our introduction so interesting is you’ve had this really amazing journey. You’re not selling beer anymore, you’re selling tech.
Anthony Pullia: Correct
Joseph Fung: To help our audience, can you share a little bit about what of Auvik Networks. Does it sell?
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, so we work with MSPs. We call them Managed Service Providers and basically what it is a third party or outsource IT who uses Auvik to better troubleshoot, better manage and document network issues. So most businesses won’t have somebody on-site on their team to actually do the troubleshooting. So they’ll contract third parties out who are our partners to come in with the fix. So we basically GPS out the network find where the issue is, and show them so they can sometimes fix these issues remotely, which is a big time-saver for us.
Joseph Fung: Wow! So now you’ve got this role right now. And we’re gonna come back to how you grew through your time idiotic. But I loved the story about how you land the gig? Can you share it?
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, sure
Joseph Fung: How did that happen? Yes, so I’ve emphasized this one because we hear this request all the time. How do I get into tech, and you’ve done this? So, please.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, I totally blind. Again, I’m probably the worst interviewer ever because I never even realized I’m interviewing or what I’m interviewing for. So definitely I need to work on but Mercedes, who kind of orchestrated today’s meeting. We actually went to the same high school now, not at the same time she was there a few years earlier. But I just got this LinkedIn message, and she basically said, hey, I usually send out these generic messages to everybody, but I saw we went to the same high school, so you’re doing awesome things. But if you know anybody else who’s awesome I’d love to chat with you over coffee. And so I had a bunch of friends who are all certain University Lauria BBA who are all looking for their starts, so I thought, hey, you know what’s the worst that’s gonna happen. No intent of all ever leaving for fathers I absolutely loved it there. I can’t say enough good things about them, and so I end up meeting with Mercedes. She sits me down, and she’s talking about how awesome Auvik is and all the great people how much the company’s growth, and by the end of it, she had basically flipped it on me and asked me if I would be interested.
Joseph Fung: Wow
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, so then I met with a lot of the higher-ups within the company it was. It was a very green experience for me. I literally had no context. And within the next week, I had an offer while still at Laurier, so then I had to make the tough decision of do I leave for fathers who basically treated me like their own son no put intended for this new venture that I had no scope into computer networks other than the fact that I use a computer. So it was a big risk, but I have zero regrets whatsoever of the decision I’ve made.
Joseph Fung: I love the maybe my confidence into the right word but the guts to make that kind of a leap that’s really awesome
Anthony Pullia: Mm-hmm, I mean, kind of like you alluded to your Joseph like a lot of people are just chomping at the bit to get into tech. It was one of those opportunities where I was still in school. I had my whole kind of life to figure out what came next, and I just took of faith, and it really worked out.
Joseph Fung: So on, that you took that leap of faith and sometimes when people take a leap like that you know the outcome isn’t what they hoped, but you’ve had I love how Mercedes said it skyrocketed to strategic Accounts Manager and looking at LinkedIn I mean we see five roles in less than three years that’s quite the pace I even if you could just give us a rough idea how did that happen well you know what really helped you advance so quickly because a lot of people aspire to do that. You know you clearly have figured out some of the journeys.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah I mean a lot of it is just timing the opportunity presented itself Auvik was I believe at that time around 40 employees well when I first came on now we’re at just shy of 200 so I really came in at the right time and the good thing about sales is numbers don’t lie I was doing really well as a BDR again to dial back to that knocking on the door mentality if there’s always somebody else waiting being a PDR in tech is tough and you know how to all my fellow BD ours in BD our alumni who have graduated out like I have but it really does help develop the acumen and the gift of the gab when you’re essentially trying to sell somebody on something where you can’t physically show them the product you’re selling them on the idea which is sometimes even tougher so again opportunity presented itself to become a junior Account Manager I doing all the right things I had great leadership from at the time Alex Hoff and Rob Auld and they took me under their wing and from there I was doing really well to the point where would they wanted me to focus on a new segment called our emerging accounts which was our smaller partners where there was tons of growth opportunity but we just weren’t targeting them that was a really big success on my own to the point where I started managing my own team. I grew to a team of about four people, and then from there, the program went really well. We automated it out as much as possible. And then, from there, it led me to an opportunity to helping open up our global office in Australia, so I was in Australia for six weeks, helping get that up and running. We had new leadership come in after the fact, and they wanted me to be on more senior more of a senior sales role, I guess you could say. I did that for a couple of months, and it was going really well. And now I’m the sole Account Manager for those strategic accounts, which are essentially your enterprise-level partners.
Joseph Fung: So you’ve had this kind of surprise journey into sales and then a remarkable tech journey. Yeah, you’ve seen a lot of sides of, the sales process. What surprised you most?
Anthony Pullia: I think for me, it’s the misconception that not everybody sells does a sale. You know, we actually had a breakout session at Auvik one night and what really resonated with me was a gentleman in the crowd had said everybody sells, you know. To sell my wife on choosing me, I have to sell her continuously about what we should be having for dinner. And I never had thought about it like that because sales are so often product-focused, where if you actually take a step back, it’s like I sold myself on the outfit I wore today. And that’s the one thing that sometimes gets lost in the translation of sales is everybody has this misrepresentation of what a salesperson truly is, and anybody can be a salesperson. And that’s I think ultimately what I like about the space is you get to kind of be a chameleon and adapt to the conversation or situation at hand and that’s what keeps me going is always kind of being alert and ready for the next thing to come.
Joseph Fung: I love hearing you speak about it because your enthusiasm for sales really clearly comes through in everything that you’re saying I’m really enjoying this very much speaking actually that speaking of that outside of the office you’re also involved in an I suppose enough a profit organization for sales professionals could you share a little bit about that
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, I mean, I literally can’t take any credit for this at all, Joseph. I was actually approached by the founder of what’s called young sales professionals KW shortened for why is PKW. My colleague Maddi, Maddison Fairbairn she’s our founder. she’s been in the channel sales team, everything for the past year or so, and ultimately what we wanted to do was create a platform where you know, when I was at Lori when Maddi was at the University of Waterloo, there just was no real course dedicated to sales specifically so, a lot of this is kind of like developing a trade like an apprenticeship. If you will, and that’s kind of how I approached my time at Auvik of you know, I always had somebody to consult with or somebody to be my mentor. Whether it was Mercedes as a PDR or Rob Auld, Alex Hoff, outs Marc Morin, all the list goes on and all the people I get to work with. But not everybody has that benefit of being in that collaborative team environment, and that’s ultimately what we wanted to do with YSP is just give people a platform to network meet industry leaders in the KWA region, and we’ve actually had a series of hires just from hosting two events. And I think Brett, you know over a few hundred members now and going strong we’re looking to host a virtual event at some point over the next month or two, depending on how the rest of this all plays out. But the same kind of mentality of a Vivaro look, you guys are doing great things around that style of training. So it’s kind of like a rising tide lifts all ships where it’s great to see that sales are getting kind of the attention that it deserves.
Joseph Fung: I love hearing your comments about kind of improving the ecosystem in the environment. Thanks for the plug for you, Varro; I always appreciate that
Anthony Pullia: Always
Joseph Fung: Yeah, I know that I said I wouldn’t take up too much of your time. And you know I’m sure we’ve all got calls that we need to hit too, so maybe I can ask you a couple of rapid-fire questions before we wrap up.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, definitely.
Joseph Fung: Awesome, okay, so let’s hear your answer to some of these. What’s your favourite sales tool?
Anthony Pullia: Sales force, I’d be lost without it.
Joseph Fung: Nice, and what about movies? What’s your favourite movie?
Anthony Pullia: Forrest Gump, it’s like watching like five movies and one it’s got everything. It’s got sports; it’s got war; it’s got, love. It’s got everything.
Joseph Fung: I love it now it to be, to be fair. I don’t know how we can top-selling beer, but when you very kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Anthony Pullia: So I always had that Indian dream, mostly young boys, of being a professional hockey player when that started to fade. The next best thing was to be a sales rep for Bower, which is one of my favourite hockey companies.
Joseph Fung: Oh, nice.
Anthony Pullia: So I always wanted to go into sales, just never really knew it.
Joseph Fung: There we go.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: I love that anything. Thank you, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you for being available
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, no problem at all, Joseph. I actually really enjoyed this was a lot of fun.
Joseph Fung: Awesome; I hope you have a fantastic day. I hope you and your family have an amazing birthday party and I’m looking forward to our next conversation.
Anthony Pullia: Yeah, we’ll see how much we can decorate up the zoom virtual backgrounds for it, but whoa, well, you know we’ll make the most of it.
Joseph Fung: Awesome, you take care and have a great afternoon all.
Anthony Pullia: Right, thanks so much, you too.