What Good Will Come From 2020? Wake Up & Get Online! With Steve Brown
For many entrepreneurs, emails and cold calls usually fall upon blank walls and deaf ears with no chance to close deals. This problem can be addressed not by increasing the number of emails and calls but by learning how to provide the feeling of safety. Discussing this topic with Chad Burmeister is Steve Brown of ROI Online who goes deep into the strategy of making the target market a hero in their own stories to secure successful sales deals. They also talk about the power of using video rather than simple texts alone, the concept of getting past the "bodyguard" in every customer, and how Zoom meetings are probably far better than face-to-face business meetings, at least in terms of time and energy.
Listen to the podcast here:
What Good Will Come From 2020? Wake Up & Get Online! With Steve Brown
We've got Mr. Steve Brown from ROI Online, who comes at life from a marketer's perspective but also happens to be a good sales professional. Welcome to the show.
Chad, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Times are changing in the year 2020. I think if you go back in other prior centuries, there were probably pivotal years that occurred and it's wild to be living through this pivotal year. You could look at it as, “This year sucks,” or you could say, “Best thing that ever happened to the world.” I have a feeling good things are going to come out of 2020.
If anything's going to come out of it, I think a lot of businesses have been taken by the shoulders and shook like your mom did you when she wanted you to pay attention that you need to get your act together online now. Who would have ever thought there would come a time where people can come to your showroom? You couldn't meet them in a conference room and shake hands. You couldn’t meet them for coffee. If you were inclined, they could at least research you and interact with you online. At least conduct business remotely. A lot of businesses have been caught with their pants down.
I talked to the head of sales enablement at Edmunds, which is online. You want to learn about buying a car, you go to Edmunds. We talked about what happened at the beginning of COVID-19, what's changed. He said, “We have a chat channel and it's been used widely. We were thinking of getting into video on the chat channel. It caused us to fast-forward and accelerate that. That was an interesting outcome.” I also attended the TOPO event. TOPO said that, “Companies are having to do three things. One, it's about flexibility. Two, agility and three, speed and time to market. Typically, companies look five years out or even one year out.” Now, it’s 60 to 90 days out.
There’s a graph that shows how change is adopted. You've got your early guys and I'm the early adopters. You got your main adopters and you have the laggards. There's this line that shows you where it finally tips. All that's been mashed together. It’s a meet and either you adopt it or die now.
The chasm is what they call that piece. Everything moved in. The other side of it is airplane stocks took an increase. They started going up again and I booked a trip to go to Florida. I went to Utah. I think people are finally going to start to come out of their basements and get on planes again. It caused us to figure out where can we be more efficient? How can we move online? I think some of the in-person stuff's going to come back.
A little bit and think of it this way, let’s say you manage a sales team. There used to be this budget where, “You guys have automobiles. You have travel budgets. You have hotel budgets. You’re going to fly out and you see your customers. Why do we do this? We invest in acquisition. This is part of our acquisition process.” All of a sudden, the folks that are looking, creating and delegating these budgets are going, “Didn't we do a bunch of Zoom calls and basically accomplish the same thing? Why do we need to be flying as much as we were? Why can't we do it on Zoom first? Did you do it on Zoom first?” Think about it. If you had to pack your suitcase, kiss your wife and kids goodbye, be gone for a week. You’d sit in a hotel room a couple of nights by yourself while you're going to meet this important client. How cool would it be to get up, put a shirt on? You can wear your shorts, tell the kids to be quiet, close the door and have an effective meeting remotely and then get finished. Play with the kids, play golf or whatever and not have to do all this travel.
In sales, always remember that there's a human on the other end and not just a faceless consumer.
I think you came up with a phrase that we should patent and sell to Eric Yuan at Zoom. We're going to leave this meeting recording in a box and we're going to sell it to them. Zoom First Strategy. It's the ZFS, serious.
I've been selling on Zoom for a few years now that what we do, we can work with anybody anywhere. The leads that I've been getting, if you think about our perfect customer, they're not all in this town. They're scattered all throughout. We need a progressive business leader that has got a great service, great products, great people. They're at this point in the life cycle, that business that they go, “We need to buckle down because we're about to scale.” They're starting to evaluate systems that they can duplicate, replicate and teach so that they can scale. They look up, they’re covered with mud and sweat. They're working hard and they say, “Now we have to get our act together online.” They're not all in this town but they are everywhere. You can do this all like this. I had to learn how to observe body language remotely. It's a different game to how to set up meetings, how to do follow-ups. I've had clients that have been clients for years and we’ve never shaken hands.
I remember Webex circa 2005 to 2007 is when I was there and they were 87%. I say they now, past tense. For a lot of years, it's we. At the time, we had launched video. I remember that we said, “If you used video, it was 90% as good as being in person. You miss a few points but it's close.” If you use phone, it goes way down. If you're sending an email, it's down to 12%. Many people who are using digital communications and not running a video camera, the bus has left the station on that one.
If I was a salesperson and you think about all your peers that you compete and sell against, I would sit down and get good at this remote selling being on Zoom, utilizing technology and tools to get these appointments. Let's go back to that scenario where normally we'd get on a plane and fly out. We'd have to plan a week or two ahead to have that important meeting or I could, like you and I did, send a calendar link and here we are the next day. We don't have to make all these arrangements around it and I can be beating its speed.
That's the other thing I learned at Webex years ago was that I've got screen number two over here. If I'm in person, I got to look you in the eyes. I can't be going over here and fumbling around. You're going to be like, “What's this dude doing in my office?” When I’m here, I can move this window a little to the corner. I can drag this one over. It looks like I'm looking at you but I'm about to ask you a question about The Golden Toilet. It feels like you have a lot more at your fingertips and think about as AI starts coming in. What question do I ask next? When I get an objection from Steve, how do I handle the objection? The level of virtual interactivity powered by AI is about to get interesting.
We're recording this call. There's an automatic transcription happening. I can be taking little notes by hand if I wanted or I can use an app where I can click a start and mark those points of the call. There are a lot of advantages and focus. I can come out of the meeting more in tune than in person. Not that I wouldn't be good in person but I can be a ninja on video as well.
My company ScaleX been around a few years. We help companies do email and social outreach. It’s a little bit of paid ads. That's where we're dipping our toe in the marketing water. One of the challenges, we've had 4 to 5 writers over the last few years. Writer 1 versus 2 versus 3 versus 4 versus 5 versus internal, everybody does it differently. A marketer or a CRO, I could put both in the same bucket, will send a way too long of an email. They don't know how email behaves. They don't know about open rates. They don't know about spam boxes.
They want to tell every feature and function under the sun. The best one I've found, we did let's say 2,000, 3,000 emails in a month. The normal reply these days is 0.5% to 2%. Of that, more than 0.5% is taken off your list. When we found this one writer, because of the way their shortness and may be a typo or two, we got 45 responses on 2,000 emails sent in one month. It was crazy and amazing. What's your advice for somebody who's doing email prospecting? How do they get responses? How do they make that channel come back to life again?
First of all, you've got to remember, there's a human on the other end of this, not a consumer. Not this faceless, nameless person. This person has a dream, a life, family. They're real people. I always say our world has changed but our brains have remained the same. Meaning that when we were created, before language existed, before text, our brains kept us safe and in a survival mode. That brain is still operating when an email comes in. I think the average email that's across the board is 150 emails a day come into our inboxes. You go through, first of all, we're looking at the ones we know. We've got the important ones that boil up to the top and the others that are down at the bottom.
When you go and you look at the 30 at the top, you click on it to see who it is. Here’s what's going on behind the scene. You don't know this is happening. We have this old part of the brain. That's the brain stem. It's part of the brain we share with animals. I call that the body guard. We're all familiar with bodyguards. The VIP rolls up, bodyguards hop out. They assess the threat assessment. They look around. If everything’s okay, they give the sign, the VIP gets out of the car. One sign of danger, they grab them and whisk them out of there. They don't even apologize. They knock people over getting out of there. That's your brain going through your emails. That's your brain looking at the websites. That's your brain in any situation. When you're looking at those emails, it’s going, “That's two lines.” It'll read it then it goes, “Do we want to answer that?” There’s a short answer or long and it's done.
Any messaging that puts the prospect as the hero and the brand as a guide gives any salesperson a competitive advantage.
I'm calculating in the back of my mind going, “If I get on a call with this person that looks like an entry-level person, they're going to talk my ear off for 30 minutes. They're then going to put me on a call with another guy for 60 minutes. They're going to suck because they suck at selling too.” It’s likely because I've had experience with that company or someone like that company and all that happens in a split second. They get deleted and throw into the delete box.
That’s going on at one level. The next level is this. When you look at an email and you get the feeling that, “This this guy gets me. She understands me. I feel safe.” That comes from back when we were in the forest, we're in tribes and going through, “There's another tribe over there camped out.” Did you walk in, standing up and go, “My name’s Steve?” No, you got down, hunkered back and you observed them for a little bit. See if they were safe, whether this is a tribe that you do commerce with or a tribe that cut your head off and cooks you.
Our brains are designed to go, “I feel understood and safe.” In that wording, if the wording is set up to where you understand me then immediately, my brain allows me to have more time to evaluate this. There's a great book called Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. Our brains crave story and to receive communication based in a story format that honors the rules of story. Simplistically, any messaging that puts the prospect as the hero and the brand as a guide instead of the opposite, you immediately have a competitive advantage. Your prospect's brain feels safer and allows a little more time for evaluation.
It's interesting because I did a show with someone whose business is called Business of Story. His name's Park, we talked afterwards. I signed up for his masterclass because it's all about what you're talking about. I'm sure it probably comes from the same book, talks about making them the hero. The two points on this, let's use a story of a bodyguard. Kraig Kleeman, the self-proclaimed greatest cold caller in the world. He'll tell you self-proclaimed, it's not by anybody. In factuality, he wrote a book called The Must-React System. He goes into companies and he teaches them how to lead with safety and with insights. He was in Amsterdam with his brother and I've met his brother and they're both big partiers.
They're in Amsterdam together. Bono from U2 walks into the bar. Bono’s Pacific Islander bodyguard is standing there. I'm picturing what you described. I'm picturing Kraig’s story. About 8 or 10 people walk up, “Bono, I’m such a huge fun.” Pacific guy stands up, “Go away. Talk to the hand. He's busy now,” and he's not being rude. He's saying, “I get 150 emails a day and I'm not going to respond to all of you people.” Kraig's over there. His brother goes, “You claim to be the best cold caller in the world. Your job is to get a meeting for me and you with Bono right now. If you do, I'll pay for your entire weekend of Amsterdam, the hotel, the beer, the drinking, whatever it is we do.”
He goes, “I don't want to shame you. I don't want to take that.” Meanwhile, Kraig's like, “What do I do?” Finally, he stands up after about 2 or 3 noes and he goes, “Bono,” and he raises his glass. He goes, “I'd like to raise a glass to you and raise a toast.” This is 10 feet away. He's safe because he didn't approach him physically. That's the first thing. He then says, used one of Bono’s quotes, “I want to commend you for the work you do.” Kraig's got a way of speaking that's off the charts. He's using neuro-linguistics I'm sure in the way he's saying all of this. He said, “I commend you for the work you've done in Africa and all around the world.”
I remember the phrase, “Salt of the earth.” Somewhere, he threw that phrase in that Bono would know. He said, “I'm also on the board of a not-for-profit association. I have ultimate respect for you. Cheers.” Bono does a cheers back 10, 20 feet away. They both have a drink, sets it down. They sit down. Kraig's like, “I won.” His brother's like, “You didn't get a meeting. What are you talking about?” The Pacific Islander walks over, “Excuse me, gentlemen. Bono would like to have you sit with him, come and meet him.” They spent 4 or 5 hours at dinner and now Bono flies Kraig Kleeman once a year. When they perform, he'll fly Kraig out, put them in the front row and give them VIP backstage passes. It's because he learned how to get past the bodyguard.
That's a beautiful story. It's the truth.
This is a pair of sunglasses that were given to Kraig from Bono. The end story is that these are actually Bono’s sunglasses that were given to me. The key is leading with that. Nick is my marketing guy and he also works with other companies. He puts a clapping hand. He puts H in a lower case H, uses their first name. Nice to meet you. Who says that in their social media outreach connection? I'm without an apostrophe lowercase I, I'm not a fan of those awful invitation messages everyone uses, falls on his sword. This is terrible. Four dots. Know I'm here genuinely wanting to connect with more like-minded people. I would love to catch up soon and hear your story. I want to hear your story.
This tool can send 100 of these a day if you wanted to but he would have much business he wouldn't know what to do with. He's only sending about 10 or 15 of these a day. He's sending 25 a day. What then happens is when they respond and say, “Sure,” he'll use the recording feature on LinkedIn and he'll send a response back. An actual response back in there to now show that he's a real person, “I'm valid. I'm around the campfire. You can respect me.” Come on and sit down by the campfire. He'd literally done it out at my campfire one night. That's why I used the campfire example. It's simple yet it's the way to get around the bodyguard.
These tools are nice when you connect with real connections not just connect them. I would think about it a little bit but you have to convey you understand they have an expectation of this but it's a little bit confusing who to connect with. You can go, “I like how he started off with that. I know you get a lot of connection requests and wonder which ones are legitimate and aren't. I think you would make of a value add to my list. I hope that someday that you'll reach out and let me offer. Let me support you.”
We hate change because we get pushed into a place that's not familiar.
Let me prove it to you that I can be a value add to you as well. What I hate is, “If I can make an intro to anyone in my network,” because that's getting overused. It was probably okay at first because it was genuine. Some person genuinely was like, “I know everyone, I'll be happy to make an entrance.” It's probably a good offer but now everybody offers me that. You're the same as everybody else now. This is hugely valuable email. This applies whether you're doing email, have a website, anything and everything that you're putting out there.
The brain is always in play no matter if they're looking at a brochure, doing a presentation, doing a phone call. These things are always in play. I use a form of story-based selling. If you think about, what is a story? A story is you watch a movie, you meet a hero that is realized, the status quo is not going to keep going. There has to be a change. They struggle with that change but they look for someone to give them a little bit of advice, suggestion, a donkey or something that's going to help them move on through. They have these insecurities about handling that. They reach a low point and then they start to March out determined to make it to the final battle, that final test, if you will.
They come back and bring their knowledge to their community. When you think about the folks that you're working with. For example, Chad, the folks that you've got a great service that I'm excited about implementing in my situation is, how in the world do I take advantage of LinkedIn? I used to think it was a lagger and I didn't get what it was for but I can see now it's coming on. I can see the value. I see other people using it well but I'm a little insecure about how to take advantage of it in my situation. How nice would it be if you had a little model that I could fit, that I could see some success happen out of this that doesn't cost me a lot of money? I don't have to hire a full-time person to figure out LinkedIn what I'm supposed to be figuring out in YouTube. I'm supposed to be figuring out all these other places. It would be nice to have someone that hold my hand a little bit, get me going and then I can figure out the rest most likely.
You helped me crack the code on 2.0. When I think of Webex, we had a free trial offer and it was two weeks. You'd go into a company and I'd say, “Do you have anybody that's going to travel anytime soon? Let's put this in place.” I remember there was one quarter that I was going to miss my number. I was going from Phoenix, Arizona to Denver, which is where I grew up in Colorado to see my folks, I was bringing my girlfriend at the time, now my wife. I'm sitting at 80%. I’m like, “This is terrible. How am I going to get there?” I couldn't even stay at my folks' house. I went and stayed at my friend's because people kept knocking on my dad's office door bothering me.
I’m like, “I got a number to hit. I've never missed. I'm not going to miss.” I remember doing that free trial and saying, “Let's see if you can avoid that trip. Do you have?” They said, “We've got this trip of three people that's coming up. Over Christmas, it'd be great if we could stay home.” I was like, “Let's add up the money.” It was going to cost them $2,500. I said, “I'll give you the free trial. I need you to sign by December 31st. Once I've saved you the $2,500,” at the time our rate was $375 a month. I always had this deal with Mitch Tarica, who was the SVP of sales. “I could take them down to $250.”
A beautiful brand gives you a feeling of familiarity, away from any danger.
I was like, “I want to take care of you. This one trip pays for five months of service for five people in your company.” They were like, “Okay, do it.” You called the switchboard and nobody would pick up the whole week of Christmas. I'm sitting there banging my head like, “We saved you the money. We did what we promised.” I had to find this guy’s cell phone number. We found his cell. I got him at a club house in some golf course. He ended up signing it on his mobile phone that day. It all comes back to if you can make it safe, that's the key verbiage that you shared with me. Make it safe for someone to try.
I hadn't heard a great description of branding. What is branding? Why is it important? Here's why it's important. I wear the same shirt. I wear clean ones. Think about you got your logo in the background, you got it on your shirt. You've got this nice, neat thing. Every time someone talks to you, they know what to expect there. It's familiar. We hate change because we get pushed into a place that's not familiar. We don't feel safe. We feel anxiety. When someone pays attention to the little details, all you're doing is helping the brain know you're in the right place and you’re safe. It's that familiar. That's what beautiful branding does. You're in a place you've been before. It’s okay and you're safe. You're not in danger.
There's a service called Hyperise. It's $99 a month and it will take your website and logo and put it on my site. If you came to ScaleX, if I had it installed, I don't know. Imagine coming and saying, “Steve,” you see your name on my website. It shows ROI Online and maybe your website on a little computer in the corner. It feels like you're meant to be there. This is amazing. It's $99 a month. They can do it in YouTube videos. They can do it in emails, texts and it's all automated. It's a little piece of code. For an agency like yourself, it's either $99 or $249 and you can run as many as you want for as many customers as you want. Hyper personalization for savvy marketers. All I do is I type in my email address when I go to their site and I say personalization demo, it's all there on their website. “CEOs heart the Hyperise impact. Is ScaleX.ai next? Start your free fourteen day trial.”
There you go. There's the hook. That's the story book. It’s making you imagine what the future would be. Your brain starts filling in all the details.
That's brilliant. This has been fun. I think the audience is going to learn a lot. Emails for emails’ sake are dead. It's not a dead channel if you leverage it in a way that's personal. That keeps in mind that your buyer is a person and has a bodyguard standing in front of them. How would you want to be treated if you were on the other side?
Think about it. Using Vidyard, I use that. If you had a little hook like that thing you read, there's a video and you did the Cheers story or a version of that. Every Vidyard video I send gets watched but I've written long emails and I asked them later, “Did you get that email?” It took me an hour to go over and go over it and they go, “I haven't done it yet but I'm going to.” It's like, “Why did I invest all that time?”
This is how it looks. CEOs’ heart sign. That's magical. Heart the Hyperise impact. Is ScaleX next? It's got my ScaleX brand here. If I'm not mistaken, the further down you go, they may even have it built in. It's neat. All of the modes. If I'm doing Facebook posts, if I'm Hyperise, the whole thing all done for you at scale.
Here's the thing, I wrote this book called The Golden Toilet: Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget Into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business. Here's the thing. When people come to me, the conversation usually starts on the marketing doorstep. If we were listening to everything they were saying, then we would miss the point that if that was a foreign language, we’d have the subtitles under there. The subtitle would say this, “I'm concerned because I know I need to invest in this. My customers are expecting me to go this way. This is the way the world's going but I'm insecure about what I should do. I need to make sure that it compliments my sales process.”
That's what's huge about what's going on now. It's not marketing and sales being different but I look at it like this. I was watching a pro golf tournament. I was thinking to myself, “If I had a caddy follow me around, my score would be way better too so then I could play.” It hit me, “If I was a salesperson and I had a marketing caddy following me around, I would be dangerous because all my stuff would be branded. I have all the assets I need and I'd be able to go, ‘I need this thing to be there.’” I would be a ninja with great spelling and all the branding. It's amazing to me how that point is lost but the technology, the marketing, the sales, they all need to be working together to be impactful.
I think MarketingCaddy.ai is likely available because most of the .ais are still open. You may want to invest in that one because that's a good one. That's outstanding. We've invented some things. We've explored a lot around emails, social. We looked at Hyperise. What a deep conversation. I think there's some pullouts from this dialogue that need to be pasted all over internet because there's some cool conversation and dialogue. I appreciate.
I love sales and thanks for having me, Chad. You’re a great host. It was fun.
We'll catch you on the next one. I think we're going to have Steve back for 3.0 because there's too much to talk about in a 25-minute discussion. We'll reach back out and get you back on. It's like Holyfield-Tyson 3 coming right up. Thanks. Signing out.
- ROI Online
- Building a StoryBrand
- Business of Story
- The Must-React System
- The Golden Toilet: Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget Into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business
About Steve Brown
Steve is the author of the funniest book on marketing titled, The Golden Toilet - Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget Into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business. He's also the host of The ROI Online Podcast.
Steve Brown has a passion for inspiring and empowering the entrepreneurs who power the American economy. He is the founder of ROI Online, a HubSpot platinum agency partner, and the first StoryBrand certified agency. Steve and his team at ROI Online have worked with hundreds of clients, from solo entrepreneurs to Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies, to grow their business by implementing a holistic business growth system. As an entrepreneur himself, Steve knows what business leaders face today as they fight to grow their businesses, and now, he wants to share what he's learned to help these hard-working heroes conquer the struggles that are holding them back.