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Selling Without A Brand: How To Position Yourself As A Startup With Drew Goulart [Episode 134]

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When you’re a new business owner, how can you sell without a legacy behind you?

It’s no secret that the longest-running brands have a loyal client base, and when you have a new company, selling without a brand can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In this episode, Doug C. Brown speaks with Drew Goulart, the founder of Zenlytic. Doug and Drew discuss buying decisions and what salespeople need to know about them, why you need to make your target buyer extremely clear from the start, the importance of changing strategies as you scale, and much more.

 

In this episode you will learn:

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Episode’s guest – Drew Goulart

CSS 134 | Selling Without A Brand

Drew Goulart currently leads growth at Zenlytic, an AI-powered data analytics tool that makes accessing data fast, simple, and easy for everybody. Drew joined his first startup as the 7th employee and first SDR. There, they launched a subscription service, which went from little subscription revenue to hitting $2M in ARR. Drew is passionate about building sales motions from the ground floor and is beyond excited about his work at Zenlytic. Outside of work, Drew is a Christopher Nolan super fan, avid golfer, mediocre musician, and former college soccer player.

Visit his website: www.zenlytic.com

transcript

Selling Without A Brand And Startup Selling Lessons With Drew Goulart

In this episode, I got a great guest. His name is Mr. Drew Goulart. He’s from a company called Zenlytic. Drew and I originally discussed that we were going to talk about how to sell without a brand because he started companies and has had to sell without a brand. When we don’t have a brand and we’re going up against the brand, how do we position ourselves that way so that we can get the business and use not having a brand as a big benefit for us and the potential buyer to understand the perceived value of working with somebody who doesn’t have the brand that other companies have?

We’re going to start in on that process. We morphed into not only that but also some of the startup processes and selling processes, some of the wins, and some of the mistakes. What I love about this interview with Drew is he is truly vulnerable in that process and shares everything that worked and didn’t work. Too many people only share what works, not looking at and teaching people what doesn’t work. We go through that whole process. I believe you’re going to get a lot out of this. Without further ado, let’s go talk to Drew.

Drew, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.

Thanks, Doug. I’m excited to be here.

Why don’t you tell everybody what you do, some of your background, where you are, and what’s going on so we can set the frame for this conversation?

I grew up in Boston like you. We’re from around the same area. Before my career started, I was pretty adamant about being part of the startup ecosystem. I didn’t know if it was because my parents were entrepreneurial or if it was because I watched The Social Network a few too many times in high school. I always wanted to be part of essentially building sales motions from the ground floor, being an early employee at a company, and helping that company be a little bit better each day than it was the day before. I started my career at a bootstrapped real estate tech startup in Boston. I was there as the first SDR sales hire to come in the door. I was there for two years.

We went from no revenue to being on a run rate to hit $2 million by the end of that. I had a lot of fun building that. I wore every single hat you could wear from product management to analyst to SDR to AE to what have you. After that, I jumped in and found a company called Zenlytic. I joined as the guy who was going to be responsible for building out the sales motion and taking them from $0 in revenue to hopefully $2 million. From there on, further scale. That’s where I’m at. I’m still trying to figure out what I lied about in my interview to get the gig that I have but it’s an amazing company with awesome, smart people, doing something revolutionary in the data analytics space. That’s a little bit about me.

What I love about our conversation in the past is not just that we’re from Boston. Boston Bruins, if you’re reading, you better win the Stanley Cup in 2023 because you disappointed both of us in 2022. What I love about the conversation is you’re looking at this from a startup’s point of view. You’re going, “Let’s get to the first $2 million.”

When we look at people who are exceeding numbers amongst other salespeople, they have long-term and short-term goals. You’re looking at a realistic short-term goal. A lot of times, people try to scale things long before they’re even stable. I’m hearing, “We’re going to start and get to $2 million. We’re going to go from $2 million and then get to $5 million or $10 million. We’re going to keep growing that. We’ll get it to a place where we can scale that hockey stick curve eventually.”

In the beginning, you want to stay at that place. It’s an intelligent way of building that unless we’re highly funded. If we’ve got investor money all over the place, it’s a different game because the investors are going to be like, “$2 million, that’s nothing. I’m not even giving you money if you only have $2 million at that point.” But when you’re organically building something, that is the correct way of building a business.

I’m sure there are going to be some people who say, “Doug, you’re crazy. That’s not the way I did it. I went to $5 million in my first year.” Congratulations. You’re the abnormal, not the normal in that curve. Sometimes companies will go from $0 to $5 million and implode because they don’t have the infrastructure to keep scaling. You were shaking your head there.

I’ve been on both sides of the table. In my first company, I was at a bootstrap tech startup that was very focused on growth but smart growth. We weren’t dumping money into marketing, paying for ads, going to big events, showcasing our name, and buying out speaker sessions at different conferences. It was different. We had to be smart about how we utilized every dollar we spent on the sales and marketing side and saw an immediate return to keep the company moving at the trajectory I wanted to move.

On the other side, I’m at a well-capitalized tech startup but the same applies. To your point, there are multiple different journeys in a company’s growth. There’s $0 to $2 million, $2 million to $5 million, $5 million to $10 million, and then $10 million to $50 million or whatever it is. Each of those different segments within a company’s growth needs to be treated differently because they are different. When you’re going from $25 million to $50 million, you have a good understanding of who your customers are and what your product does uniquely well.

You have a lot of data. You have this repository of historical context that you can pull from to understand how to keep moving the needle forward. At the earlier stage, when you’re moving from $0 to $2 million, it’s far more of an art than a science. It’s your job to figure out how to get those initial customers in the door and understand by doing so, what those customers like. What’s that ideal customer profile look like? What are their problems? What are their pain points? What are their issues with the systems that they’re using? What does their promised land look like?

When you're building a business from $0 to $2 million, it is far more an art than a science. It's your job to figure out how to get those initial customers in the door. Click To Tweet

When you are initially on the ground floor, it’s incredibly important to index on, “Let’s listen to our customers and the market.” The only way to be able to listen to the market and your customers is to have conversations. The most important thing from $0 to $2 million is to throw stuff at the wall as much as you can, have as many conversations as you can, and spend the time to listen and understand who you’re selling to and why.

That’s sage advice because the reality is you’re looking for your ideal target buyers. It’s always nice to know that upfront but a lot of times, you don’t. That’s one of the mistakes that people make. They think, “I got this market and they’re going to buy.” Not necessarily. They might buy something but maybe not what you’re offering.

It’s about understanding that ideal target buyer. Too many people I find, especially in this phase of the business, are trying to sell but not figuring out who the buyer is. It is like, “We got a sale.” That’s great. What I’m hearing from you is in this stage of that business, even though you do have some money backing up, you’re still looking at this like, “We’re going to set the frame and the foundation in the business to get it stabilized before we scale it up.” Did I hear that correctly?

When you’re at a well-capitalized company, you have the freedom to worry a little bit less about unit economics at least early on. You still need to build a skeleton of, “Who are our customers? What do we do uniquely well that they need? How can we position that unique solution so that we can build a repeatable sales process that scales?”

To your point at the beginning, sometimes you have this idea of who your customer is. Initially, out of the gates, you’re like, “This checks all the boxes.” It doesn’t turn out to be the case. I was talking to someone else on a show about this. When I initially joined Zenlytic, we ran into that problem. We sell a business intelligence tool, which is essentially a tool that analyzes and understands your data. It’s positioned to help non-technical people, meaning people who don’t know how to write SQL or Python access their data in meaningful ways.

CSS 134 | Selling Without A Brand
Selling Without A Brand: Sometimes, you have an idea of who your customer is. Initially, out of the gates, you think, “This checks all the boxes,” but it doesn’t always turn out to be the case.

When we were looking at the market and where we wanted to niche down, we saw the D2C retail space as a perfect target. Here was this community of D2C companies that weren’t inherently technical. They didn’t have technical people and they didn’t hire technical people as early on in their development lifecycle.

They have all this rich data from ad sources and customers that they need to make sense of to optimize their ad spend or improve their bottom line. We saw that opportunity. It’s like, “Here are these groups of people that need data and don’t know how to use data. We have a solution that solves exactly that problem. Let’s go after them.”

What we realized 4 or 5 months into that process is that while it was helpful to be able to niche down and speak the language of a specific demographic, that demographic that we were targeting wasn’t ready for the solution that we were providing. One of the things that startups have to their advantage is the ability to iterate and move quickly if you hear some market signals, you realize that you’re going in the wrong direction.

That’s one thing we found early. There are other buyers, groups, and companies that we naturally got in contact with through inbounds and referrals that happened to be much better targeted for our product. The initial hypothesis that we had that the D2C community was the route we were going to take proved to be a little wrong.

Anyone who’s reading this and selling, you have to move quickly and determine what is working and what’s not. We all have what’s called a burn rate. D2C is Direct to Consumer. The thing is that a lot of people, whether you’re well-funded or not, you still have money in money out equals something. If that equal is a negative, that is in a burn rate scenario. If it’s a positive, you stay in a burn rate scenario but it’s at least in a positive column.

What you brought up, especially for people who are selling, even salespeople like corporate salespeople, they’ve got to run their business by the P&L. They don’t iterate or move off quickly enough is what I have found. The fact is you spent five months, made some sales and money, and realized, “This is not our ideal buyer. This is a subset of somebody who might buy but it’s not the ideal buyer.” You’re scoping back into that ideal buyer to get to that place so you can continue to grow the revenue. When you’re saying ARR, you’re talking Annual Recurring Revenue.

Subscription revenue. We sell a subscription service to our platform.

Some people are selling subscription services and some people are not. It’s important to pay attention. We originally were going to talk about how you sell without a brand. How do you start this thing up? What we’re bringing up is so important for people to understand that they need to be planning their sales and sales outcomes accordingly like we would plan any budget and that we would utilize that budget for the purposes for which it was intended, which is to grow into the positive column at the end of that money in money out equals. I’m very grateful you’re bringing this up.

You’re starting this company and you don’t have a brand. Let’s move to there. A lot of people who start companies up don’t have brands unless they’ve been fortunate enough to maybe have a ton of money that they came brought from another place or they’re famous. Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank or Oprah Winfrey happens to go open a new whatever Oprah wants to open. It doesn’t matter. She stomps her name on it and puts the name on it. She’s Oprah. Everybody trusts and loves Oprah. She has a brand.

When you don’t have a brand and you’re out doing what you’re doing, you’re selling. How do you build and make sales without a brand? A lot of people write into the show and ask these questions, “I don’t have a brand. How do I compete against people who have brands? How do I sell against these things?” I’ll leave it to you.

I’m still trying to figure that out as well. Selling without a brand is selling without this immediate predetermined credibility that comes with a brand. When you go, “I’m Drew from Google,” people know who you are. They get your product offering. You don’t have to do the whole introduction. They know you’ve worked in proven success with other companies, big companies, and small companies, and that you’ve done your job in the past. You don’t have the same credibility as a startup. You don’t have the same proven track record. That doesn’t mean that you can’t sell. You’ve got to sell the non-lazy way.

As a startup, you don't have the same credibility and proven track record as other companies. But that doesn't mean that you can't sell. Click To Tweet

For me, to use a hockey reference, my buddies will make fun of me because I’m a fake hockey fan but it’s important to use Wayne Gretzky’s quote, “It’s worth convincing people to skate in the direction of where the puck is going, not where it has been.” You have to find a way to convince your buyer that there is a major problem in their workflows and way of doing things, whatever the category is that you’re selling. You have to be able to dig into that problem so that they understand that there is a big cost to doing things the same way they’ve always been doing them. That’s the first step.

First, dig into the problem. Convince them that they need to skate in the direction where the puck is going. The second is that you have to be able to convince them that your team or your product is uniquely positioned to get them to the point where the puck is going. When you don’t have a brand, you can’t rely on the same things that people out of big brands can rely on, “We’ve done this for these companies. Here are 1,500 case studies. Here are the things that my marketing team has told me I should say to people like you because you fit this cohort of customers that we sell to.” None of that exists. You have to find ways to be creative.

One of the things you can do is sell the credibility of your team. When you have a team that has proven successful in other areas in their careers and has done stuff similar in the space, you can build credibility that way. You can build credibility through your product by showing how your product differentiates from the legacy tools that companies are using. There are always trade-offs. If I’m a company that’s buying a product, I have two options. I can buy from a large company. The value there is that it’s safe, proven, and easy. I can buy something from a small company that has innovation to solve a problem, maybe better than a big company can. Maybe there’s a little risk but you also make up for the risk.

The fact is that if I’m selling to a big company and I’m trying to get them in, they know that if they work with our team, they mean way more to Zenlytic than they mean to Google, or whoever else is trying to sell to them. Providing that level of support and assurance that we’re going to be with them, holding their hand to guarantee success is something that moves the needle for people. At the end of the day, people don’t always want to just buy a point solution. They want to buy a point solution that works. Having a human in the loop on the other end that will guarantee that it works for them is a great way to do that.

You said so much. I wrote down 4 or 5 things here. Everybody, write this down. “That’s exactly why you want to do business with me.” There’s your line. People are like, “What are my lines?” “I don’t know you or your company.” “That’s exactly why you want to do business with me.” That’ll take them off the path. What’s the value perception? If this company does business with you, that company is so important to you that you’re going to pay so much attention to them. Not picking on Google, they’re a great company and all that stuff but the reality is you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

I used to do enterprise selling and do a lot of enterprise sales. When you’re selling enterprise, I hate to tell all of you this but one enterprise is pretty much similar to the other enterprise when you’re focused on that sector all the time. If you’re a smaller company and you lose a big account like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, you don’t want to lose it. The reality is that if you’re already dealing with eighteen other prospective buyers that are the same size account, it’s not a big deal for the company a lot of times to lose these big accounts when they’re consistently doing it.

A company like Zenlytic, when you are there, if you had a $2 million account, that’s first-class gold standard platinum whatever. It’s so important to the company. That’s one way you can sell without a brand. We’ve got to remember that it’s about value perception in terms of how the buyer perceives that value. That is the key to this whole process.

There are two types of ROI, Drew. This is what I’ve learned. There’s a business ROI, which everybody sells to, “You got a problem. You got this. I can solve this. I got that. Here are the numbers. Here are the metrics.” Where they forget the value proposition is in the personal ROI. If this person makes that decision, what is the return on that investment?

Without a brand, that is as equally or more important most times than the business decision itself. If somebody takes a risk on a company without a brand, for example, and it goes bad, guess who gets the head chopped off in the corporation? It’s the person who made that decision. That goes back to that old statement, “You never go wrong buying IBM,” and that’s why people pay way more money.

If we can create that value perception to the point where it reduces the risk, improves the buying confidence, and we can position ourselves, we have more than a fighter’s chance of securing that account against the Goliaths. I love what you said. I have a question for you, Drew. I find problems are great and a lot of CEOs are looking for solutions but also for innovation. Are you also finding that in the process of what you’re doing with the analytics side of the business?

What do you mean exactly by that?

We know we’ve got a problem and we want to fix it. There’s a solution. If we have a solution, how do we expand upon that solution to get not just a problem solved but to get more strategic outcomes? In other words, I get additional value out of solving this problem that I never thought about in the first place. Maybe, for example, we have a problem. We can’t track our data in an appropriate way. We know we’re not as profitable as we’re supposed to be.

The solution is, “We track your data. We get this. We figure out what the profitability is. We get you into better profitability.” How do you capitalize on that profitability to your stockholders or clientele? How do you innovate on that solution to expand that out so that the value perception is bigger? That’s what I’ve been finding with CEOs. I’m asking you if you’re finding that as well.

We sell an AI product. The way you can think about our tool is we use large language models so that any normal person can ask any natural language question like, “Can you show me sales by channel in the last month? Show me how it compared to the year before.” Our tool will then translate that into an SQL query, run it across your warehouse, and get you back the data.

CSS 134 | Selling Without A Brand
Selling Without A Brand: If we can create value perception to the point where it reduces risk, improves buying confidence, and we can position ourselves, we have more than a fighter’s chance of securing an account against the Goliaths.

As we are dealing in such a topical/revolutionary space that is AI, everyone’s talking about it. Everyone wants to know how they can use it to expand on not only their problems but go further. Part of my job is to be an educator and not be just someone who hops on a call and says, “This is the solution. Here’s the product. Have fun,” but, “Let’s dig into every single product problem you’re having on the data side. Let me tell you the ways that we might be able to help you solve this using the large language models and the components of our tool.”

We have a lot of people that reach out to us and they’re like, “We want to use AI in our business to operate smoother, faster, and more efficiently.” AI is massive. There are so many different categories of AI and different problems that it solves. One of the things we try to do is pinpoint, if a company comes up to us and they’re like, “We want to use AI,” we want to make sure that there’s a real reason that they want to use AI and drill into, “What problems are you guys seeing? What are the ripple effects of those problems? How are they hurting your profitability? What is hurting your profitability doing to the trajectory of your company going forward?” From there, if their problems align with the product and the solution that we provide, then we explore the conversation further.

One of the things we were talking about in the beginning, selling without a brand, oftentimes when you’re selling without a brand, you’re a small team. When you’re a small team, you don’t have all the resources to allocate to every single project and opportunity that comes your way. You have to be particular about, “Do you have this problem? Do you need our solution? We do this. Is that good for you or not?” If people are like, “No, we’re looking for something a little different,” then it’s like, “Let’s part separate ways. We’ll talk in the future. I save you and me a lot of time. I can go find people that have this problem that need it solved immediately.”

In many cases, that’s a personal return on investment. You save them time, energy, and aggravation. They remember these things. What I love about the educator part of this is, remember, I had said there are problem solutions as well as innovations. You’re saying, “We’re looking at this consultatively and all the challenges that are going on. We’re trying to figure out ways to expand upon, not the initial challenge that’s going on but how do we create some more strategic outcomes for these people, which is the innovation side through consultative selling.”

Disengage if it’s not a win-win. You’re doing the honorable thing, Drew. “It’s okay. I like you and you like me but this isn’t going to work for you. It would work for us because we’ll get paid for it but you’re not going to be happy.” You’re not taking that business is what I’m hearing, which is also establishing you as a brand of trust.

Potentially, and not to show my hand but it’s also selfish. I don’t want to bring on companies that are going to require a lot of work because their problem-solution fit isn’t perfect. If we bring on a company and find a way to sell them in the beginning, get them in the boat, and make a little cash in the beginning, that’s fine. If by six months in, they’re constantly reaching out to us asking for help because our tool doesn’t solve the problems that they’re looking to have solved, then 1) That’s going to require a lot more resources on our end to keep them happy. 2) Come year two, maybe they churn and that becomes a bigger hit than if they never worked with us in the beginning. I am trying to be honorable but I’m also trying to be selfish because we need to be with our resources.

Selfish in a win-win capacity is healthy. That’s where I see a lot of people who are not 1% earners. They are being selfish not in a win-win capacity. They’ll take the business. The business will come in. 6 months later, it is a 2-headed llama running in different directions and nobody’s happy. It ruins the relationship not only now but for future expansion, whether that’s internal, if that company grows or external, if they want to give referrals, whether it’s internal or external referrals. A lot of goodwill is lost.

I find that 1% earners think long-term like you’re thinking long-term. They’re not thinking short-term like, “I’m going to get the quick hit and I’m in and out of that process.” One of the reasons they think that way is they always create an overabundance of incoming leads. It’s easier that way. The reality is that when you’re playing win-win in the capacity you’re playing in, then people remember that. They’ll come back later on and already have that built-in brand of trust that is there for you because you did the right thing for them in the first place.

It’s so important. One of the things about that initial journey at a startup where you’re trying to get from $0 to $2 million or $0 to $5 million is that you need to move relatively quickly. It’s important to dot your I’s, cross your T’s, and do the necessary things to build the skeleton and a sales process that scales and identifies the customers that are perfect. You also have to give innovation a chance to find distribution before distribution finds innovation.

CSS 134 | Selling Without A Brand
Selling Without A Brand: Move relatively quickly. It’s important to dot your I’s, cross your T’s, and do the necessary things to build the skeleton that scales, a sales process that scales, and identify the perfect customers.

When you’re a company like ours that’s trying to revolutionize some segment of a space, you’ve got to move quickly and disqualify as fast as possible. Think about if you’re in a room of 2,000 customers. It’s a cocktail party and you have 10 minutes to get 15 of them to talk with you or take a meeting with you. That’s similar to the timeframe you’re operating in at a startup. You have to move quickly and you have to get those initial people in the door.

You’re not going to go to everybody and have 2-minute or 3-minute conversations about, “What’s going on,” and all the fluff. You’re going to get down to the point and say, “This is a problem we solve. Is this a problem you have because this is a solution we solve?” If they say, “No,” it’s like, “Cool,” onto the next. You keep going because there’s this blue ocean, especially in the beginning where you’re getting from $0 to $5 million.

You have to find the people that are so ready to buy because they’re out there. You hear this all the time from people who don’t find success at startups, “We don’t have a brand. People don’t trust us. They don’t want to work with us.” My opinion is you’re not moving quickly enough. You’re not finding those people. They’re out there. They always are.

What you’re saying goes back to what I brought up a little bit ago with 1% earners. They’re creating massive lead flow. You’re looking at this like, “There are unlimited leads out there. I’m going to qualify them quickly and make sure it’s a good fit. If it’s not a good fit, I’m moving on to the next lead. I’m going to keep doing that and keep prospecting because I know that I will find the right buyer.” As you’re scoping in what the right target buyer is, you can quickly filter that out.

I had a company one time where we knew that certain countries worked well and other countries didn’t work well over time. If a lead came in and they were from one of the countries that didn’t work out well, we would pass them off to competitors. We’re trying to serve the person but at the same time, we’re spending 30 seconds on that. We know it’s not going to work. A lot of people in the beginning, especially when they’re selling, are like, “I can make this work. I’m going to get in there.”

They stay in so long. What ends up happening is that the burn rate goes by and they run out of runway. You’re doing this in a highly intelligent way. I also wanted to go back to something. When you were saying you’re finding problems and solutions, one of the things I find that people don’t do effectively, and this is one of the reasons they lose sales when they don’t have a brand, is they’re not finding the problem and then monetizing the solution for every single thing.

Let’s say that we sell something that’s $20,000 in monthly revenue. The company’s got to spend $20,000 a month. If we find $20,000 a month in savings and they’re going to invest in $20,000 a month, it is not that big of a need to move. They might or might not. However, if you’re finding 8 areas where you can monetize at $20,000 each per month, we’ve got $160,000 a month monetization going on, and we’re asking them to spend $20,000 a month, the perception of the value is much higher.

I love the fact that you’re doing that consultative process. I didn’t want people who were reading to be like, “That’s great.” Remember to monetize that because the more you monetize that, that’s where the logical side of the brain goes, “The emotion’s great but I’ve got some foundational logic there as well.” The human brain loves to make decisions in that capacity.

We are, in many instances, emotional buyers. Initially, when we have conversations and a problem, and someone picks at that and provides a solution that makes it feel like the promised land is right there, and you can have it, you are emotionally attracted to that solution. The CFO who’s signing off on the deal wasn’t in the room when you were having that emotional conversation. They are looking at a piece of paper where you built out a business case and you said, “Here is going to be the ROI of working with Zenlytic.”

That’s how they’re making their decision on that side of the house. When you’re working these larger deals with larger enterprises, you have to be smart about how you initially orchestrate the sales process and get emotional buy-in from the people who are going to be using the product but then how you also, during that initial process, do the necessary discovery so that you can uncover all the pain points that you can then monetize in the business case building process of the sales cycle later on. That’s a great point, Doug. That’s where you have to hone in and say, “Here’s how we’re going to make this worth your while.”

What you said is so key. Everybody reading, write that down. When you’re selling to an account that has multiple people who make decisions in that account, the CFO’s going to look at it differently than say the technology department or the IT department. They’re going to look at it differently than the sales department or HR but every single person in that company and every department has a business return on investment they’re looking for. Sometimes CFOs are bonused on their actual ability to make margins the way they’re supposed to be.

If you’re bringing a huge amount of savings, they might be like, “This makes total financial sense.” However, the personal return on their investment is, “I get my bonus at that quarter. I can send my kid to private school. I could take my spouse out on that trip. We could buy the boat we wanted to buy,” or whatever they’re thinking.

I’m so glad you brought this up, Drew. One of the things I would recommend to everybody reading this is to write down who effectively is touched by the sale on all ends. Build that into the conversations and the presentation component of it right up front. You understand not only who’s the ideal buyer but who the influencers are in that sales process as well. Therefore, you could take the business case and the personal case and hit all of these buttons. It’s emotional but eventually, it comes to logic. The CFO looks at this thing and goes, “No, we’re not doing this.” Sales are gone. It’s super important. Thanks for bringing that forward.

Your point is so important as well, which is you need to scope out what your sales process looks like before you engage in these sales processes. In months 1 and 2, we were focused on so many other things like how we wanted to position, what we wanted to say, how we wanted to talk about Zenlytic, and who we wanted to sell to.

Scope out what your sales process looks like before you engage in sales processes. Click To Tweet

We didn’t think about scoping out the sales process and every single influencer that touches that process as well. It’s so important because when you have that, not only do you know how to make the different emotional, logical sales to the various stakeholders along that funnel but also how to guide the initial person that you’re selling to so that they can sell it internally. If I’m initially speaking to my champion and they love it, they get excited about the solution, they see the value, and they want to go move this internally, I have to have a pretty good understanding.

Maybe I don’t know their business exactly. There are bureaucratic processes that I can’t account for. Every business is a little different but at least I’ll know, “Typically, when a company like you or I meet with someone like you and they love that we can solve this for them, the next process is we escalate these people. We need to do this from legal.” We outline that all in the initial call so that the person that I’m speaking to, the champion doesn’t have to do any extra work in trying to figure out how to move this thing to the finish line but instead, I’ve outlined that for them. We can move forward swiftly and seamlessly.

It’s ultra important in the process. There’s a saying, “If you are going to carry a message or someone’s going to carry the message for you, you better make sure it’s clear at the end.” We must make sure that what we’re saying is transferrable from person to person. The old saying was, “Boy kisses girl on the bleachers.” It’s a wicked old saying. “People talk. Girl’s pregnant.” No. She got kissed. He kissed her. She kissed him on the bleachers. She’s not pregnant. We don’t want tribal training passed down from human to human.

The message, the torch that you provide, if we think about the Olympics, is the same torch that’s being passed. We know it’s the Olympic torch. We want that type of messaging to carry through. What you said is so important. Many people think, “Here’s the stuff.” They don’t prep the person for the next conversation. They go from their frame and say, “This is what we’re planning to do.” The CFO looks at it and goes, “We’re not doing that.” HR comes back and goes, “Do you know how that’s going to affect us?” As the selling entity or the party, you have no control over that because it’s happening behind the scenes. It’ll knock the sale down or dislodge the sale from happening.

I was going to say one thing. We brought on essentially a former CRO at a couple of big companies to come in, be my advisor, and work with me and my CEO. One of the things that he brought up, which was incredibly helpful and eye-opening for us is exactly what you’re saying. Many of these conversations about your product happen at the water fountain in the office.

If you don’t have a crystal-clear message of what Zenlytic does, who we are, why we do it, or just like Zenlytic: What We Do and Why, if that’s not crystal clear to everyone, whether they’re extremely technical or not, then you’re going to miss out on the water fountain opportunities where otherwise people have the opportunity to boast and become your champions internally. Having that crystal clear message that you invest time upfront in developing so that water fountain conversation can happen and it can go in your favor is something to index on.

CSS 134 | Selling Without A Brand
Selling Without A Brand: If your message is not crystal clear to everyone, you will miss out on the water fountain opportunities where people have the opportunity to boast and become your champions internally.

I could talk to you all day. What I love about our conversation on this thing is you’re not only sharing the successes but also the vulnerabilities and mistakes that you’ve made. I appreciate that because so many people think that people who are successful in what they’re doing had success in previous companies. You come here. You’re starting this up, working your way through this, and getting some traction and success in this. It’s the old saying, “How long did it take you to be an overnight success?” I talk to people sometimes who built billion-dollar companies and sold them off for multi-billion dollars.

They start up another company and struggle like crazy. People go, “Why would you struggle? You were a billionaire.” The reality is that it’s always consistently been the same. You learn a little more every time you do this. You get smarter as you do this but you got to go back to the basics. That’s what I’m hearing every single time. You’re figuring out the target market, the target buyer, the clear messaging, and all of the basics. That’s what we need to do and must do every single time. Understand that times are changing. When they change, we’ve got to change with them. Drew, people want to know more about you and the company. How do they get ahold of you or learn more?

Understand that times are changing and that when they change, we've got to change with them. Click To Tweet

The best way is to Drew Goulart on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active there, talking all things data, sales, and startups. That’s where I am a lot of the time. You can always email me at Drew@Zenlytic.com. I’m excited to chat with anybody, whether you’re interested in data or want to talk sales startup and get your initial feed off the ground. I’m happy to help in any way.

Thanks so much. Drew, I appreciate you being here and being on the show. Is there anything I probably should have asked you that you were hoping like, “I hope Doug asked me this question,” but I didn’t?

I don’t think so. That was awesome. That was conversational and fun. Nothing pre-scripted or pre-engineered. I had an awesome time hanging out with you.

This last question has nothing to do with business but I want to know from a Boston guy, a professional hockey fan. Are the Bruins going to win in 2023 or are they going to disappoint me like they did in 2022?

The sad part is when my buddies read this show, they will rip me a new one because they’ll think I’m the biggest fake hockey fan ever. I don’t know. I’d say they’re not going to win in 2023.

We’ll make a bet. Thanks for being here again, Drew. I appreciate it.

Thank you, Doug.

Rule number one, understand who your target buyer is, not just your target market. If you’re starting in a startup capacity, you’re going to maybe fumble a little bit through this but one of the ways of discovering who your target buyer is is to do as much research as possible prior to you even selling. In the formation of that process, if you’re new to selling or you’re a 1% earner in another business or capacity and you want to be a 1% earner on the other side, you know this as well as I do. You want to be dealing with the buyer.

The buyer is the person who can give you the money. Not the one who writes the check per se but the one who says, “Write that check. Give them the cash,” whatever it might be in the remuneration that you’re doing. An ideal buyer will help you do multiple things. 1) It’ll help you go after more leads eventually. Once you understand what you’re looking for, you could target those. 2) It will help you go after and get better-quality leads. Those better-quality leads turn into better conversations. Those better conversations turn into more first appointments with qualified people.

As Drew said, if they’re not qualified, disengage. Do it in a nice way. You don’t have to be a meanie about it. Disengage and let them know, “I’d love to help you. I’m not the right fit. This person would be better serving you than we are.” A lot of people go, “Why would you do that? Why would you even send them to your competitors?” I used to do this all the time. I’d send them to my competitors. Guess what my competitors would do? Not all of them but many of them in return, when they couldn’t serve it, they knew that they could get a lead from me and it would close. I knew I could get a lead from them.

Don’t be worried. There’s a big world out there. Let’s say your market has 90,000 potential buyers out there. You’re not going to go all through them, I guarantee, in the first month. Don’t worry about the scarcity play. Focus on abundance and the long-term because what happens is, as you go along, more people come into the business world that you’re in and you’ll have more ample leads.

As you’re establishing your brand, if you don’t have a brand, you establish your personal brand and your company brand as trust, and you establish that play of, “We’re reliable. We’re steady.” That’s sexy. People love it because they can rely upon that. Remember, people are more afraid of making a buying decision mistake and looking foolish to themselves, their peers, or their board than they are of departing with more money. If you understand that capacity, you look for that target buyer, you disengage when it’s not right, and you serve the heck out of them and you build this trust.

There are so many more things that I could go through. This was a pretty long episode so I don’t want to keep you but I do want to say this. If you love this episode, please give it a five-star review. Go up and rate it. It takes a few minutes. I’d be forever grateful. The more reviews we get, the better we look and the more we can continue to keep bringing great content, which we will do regardless but it would be my way and my ask of you to help us out.

If you want to be or you know somebody who wants to be in the top 1%, think and act like a top 1% earner through selling, whether it’s your individual or your company collectively, reach out to us please at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. If you’d like to get a copy of the latest eBook that we put out called The Art and Science of Being a Nonstop 1% Earner in Sales, it is at www.CEOSalesStrategies.com/1PE. If you are an expert or you know somebody’s an expert and you say, “We should be on this show,” have them reach out to us again at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com.

In between all of this, please go out and sell something. Sell a lot of it. Sell it win-win. Preferably win-win-win, where three people win. Do it honorably and profitably. Don’t discount when you don’t have to. That’s a big mistake a lot of people make. When you discount, you have to sell another thing to make up for the discount. Sometimes it’s 7, 8, 9, or 10 things to make up for that discount. Be careful of your margins. Play win-win. Until next time. Thanks for reading this episode. To your success.

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