Episode 23: Rohan Kale escapes the grind, starts a video marketing company, and travels the world

Rohan KaleRohan Kale is an international man of mystery. Ok, not so much mystery, but certainly adventure. He was on the typical track of a talented engineering student in India, grinding out 100 hour weeks for a big software company.

Wanting more, he made some bad choices, and got sucked into online gambling.

Needing to get away from that, he made his way to Germany. (He’ll explain why, and how we learned German and got a job at Daimler after arriving with no German language.)

Once again wanting more– to have the freedom to travel and explore the world– find out how he decided to start an online video marketing company (naturally, without knowing anything about video production).

In this episode, Rohan discusses:

  • How he got his first customers, before he even had a website, while he still had his day job.
  • The channels he used to get conversations and how he closed with no track record.
  • How he scaled his initial marketing efforts.

Plus, some tips from on a pro on how to craft your own videos, including:

  • Common pitfalls, especially the “Curse of Knowledge”.
  • The importance of a good script.
  • How to make different videos for your home page, for demos, and for support.
  • The simple setup you can use to get started.
  • When to use YouTube and when to use Wistia.
  • How to turn your videos into other forms of content.

Plus, get some travel inspiration from Rohan’s travel schedule and adventures at Oktoberfest.

Prost! (Or “cheers!” in German, as I learn.)

 

 

The wine…

Monchhof RieslingMönchhof Riesling, 2008. As I mentioned, if I think of it as “wine”, I find it way too sweet. But if I think of it as “dessert in a glass”, it’s pretty good.

Rohan was drinking a Helles beer from Munich. Helles (“helles” means “bright” in German— this beer was developed in response to the popularity of lighter Czech lagers in the 1800s).

 

Where to find Rohan:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

Episode 21: Michael Katz on Winning by being a likeable (human) expert

michael-and-emilyHow do you differentiate yourself when your competitors are also experts?

And would you want to take advice on differentiated service from someone who spent over a decade working for a cable company?

It sounds crazy, but in this case, you should.

Michael Katz did in fact spend over a decade at a cable company. But then, through a series of happy accidents, he became Chief Penguin at Blue Penguin Development, helping small services companies market better. He’s also been quoted in the WSJ, the NYT, Business Week Online, Forbes, Inc, USA Today and more. Plus, he’s won an award for humor.

Hear about those happy accidents (well, they seem happy now) and more, including:

  • How he quit his stable job during the internet boom and failed.
  • How he accidentally stumbled on a niche and how that turned into a great business.
  • Why he doesn’t care about SEO or Google ranking.
  • Michael’s 3 step process for being successful in services (some of this advice may start to sound familiar to regular listeners).
  • Michael’s “Sports Illustrated” Rule for successful marketing newsletters.
  • How your marketing is like going to the gym (and Michael saves me a lot of time, right on the show)
  • How Seth Godin has been stealing his best ideas for years (remember the humor bit)
  • How being authentically yourself at work and beyond makes life so much easier.

Michael’s also got a new book (it just happened to come out between the time we recorded the interview and the time it’s published, which is why we didn’t talk about it on the show) called The Likeable Expert, 121 Insights to Start Your Day and Grow Your Business.

likeable expert

Bonus: Get the first 15 tips free here on this page Michael set up just for listeners.

The wine…

8796499443742I enjoyed a(nother) glass of 2013 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. A nice, up the middle of the road cab. (It’s pretty expensive on the Franciscan.com site, but you can get it for $15-18.)

Yes, this was from the episode with Aaron, saved thanks to the Vacu Vin Wine Saver (really handy for enjoying a bottle over the course of a few days).

.beer-smokedagger-can.. and the beer…

Smoke & Dagger black lager from Jack’s Abbey in Framingham, MA.

Where to find Michael:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

Episode 20: Aaron Ross on going From Impossible to Inevitable

Aaron RossFew authors have had the impact on sales that Aaron Ross has had over the past few years. His first book, Predictable Revenue, called “the sales bible of silicon valley”, he co-authored along with Marylou Tyler, who was on Sales for Nerds in Episode 14.

Now he’s back with From Impossible to Inevitable: How hyper growth companies create Predictable Revenue. This time, Jason Lemkin, former CEO of EchoSign, leader of SaaStr, and more, is his coauthor.

This book breaks done how companies can grow quickly and sustainably, with 7 steps:

From Impossible to Inevitable Cover

  1. You’re not ready to grow until you Nail a Niche.
  2. Overnight success is a fairy tale. You’re not going to be magically discovered. You need sustainable systems that Create Predictable Pipeline.
  3. Growth exposes your weaknesses and it will cause more problems than it solves—until you Make Sales Scalable.
  4. It’s hard to build a big business out of small deals. Figure out how to Double Your Dealsize.
  5. It’ll take years longer than you want, but don’t quit too soon. Make sure you can Do the Time.
  6. Your people are renting, not owning their jobs. Develop a culture of initiative, not adequacy by Embracing Employee Ownership.
  7. Employees, you are too accepting of “reality” and too eager to quit. You can Define Your Destiny to make a difference, for yourself and your company, no matter what you do or where you work.

Aaron does all this while he and his wife raise 12 kids (!!!) (mostly adopted, for those wondering how that’s even possible for such a young-looking guy).

You might think that Aaron’s some sort of superman, or at least a cyborg, but what’s great about his books is that he admits that this is hard. There’s no “X easy steps to winning.” In fact, the books include painful episodes in Aaron’s life, and the admission that things will be hard and tiring.

His whole career in sales started because he didn’t really know how to sell. He never thought about sales, and certainly never thought he’d end up the author of best-selling sales manuals.

But when his first company failed because he didn’t have the sales chops he wanted to have, he joined Salesforce.com. He was employee number 150, which gave him a bit of stock, but not enough to get rich, and he was “on step up from the interns.” He helped build the outbound engine that developed leads before handing them off to account managers. This helped salesforce grow rapidly and efficiently.

However, it wasn’t until he left salesforce and was consulting with another company that he realized how critical it is to specialize your prospecting (early funnel) and your account management (late funnel).

Even if you don’t have a huge sales team, even if you’re just one person doing everything, you still need a way to focus on your time and energies on these different activities. As they write in the book:

Specializing your roles is the #1 most important thing for creating predictable, scalable sales growth.
Even if it’s just marking different times in your calendar for different activities.
What else did Aaron learn?
First, the importance of “Nailing your Niche”.
This comes up again and again, but “you’re not ready to grow until you nail a niche.” This doesn’t mean you can only work in your niche, but you need to have one and nail it. It makes everything easier.
While consumers tend to buy what they want, business tend to buy what they need. If you’re talking to people and they say, “that’s cool”, but they don’t buy, that means it’s a nice-to-have.

Once you’ve got your niche nailed, you can use your:

  • Seeds (word-of-mouth)
  • Nets (marketing– including testimonials, which are a form of word-of-mouth)
  • Spears (outbound targeted marketing and business development)

Aaron also offers some tips on how to handle the overwhelming number of possible sales and marketing activities, with what he calls “cake vs icing.”

The cake is the core thing that helps your grow your business. For Aaron, it’s writing books. For Jason, it’s being active answering questions on Quora. (If you’re in the software world, you should follow him.) Do that one thing well, and then you can use that in other ways (the “icing”). Don’t try to do everything, or you’ll never get anywhere. Aaron blocked out Wednesdays for a year to write the the book. For Aaron, social media isn’t very interesting, so he hires someone to help him with that part of marketing.

As a pricing guy, I also appreciated Aaron’s view that you should spend as work trying to double your average deal size as you do finding and closing twice as many deals. As Marc Andressen says, “raise prices“.

Aaron also provides some tips on how he manages the family schedule (“one day at a time”). If you’v got less than 12 kids, no complaining. 😉

The wine…

8796499443742Aaron couldn’t partake, because he was in the middle of the morning California time, plus, while he really wanted a glass of wine, he knew it would put him to sleep which is not good when you have a short workday and a huge household logistical puzzle to solve each day.

However, I enjoyed a glass of 2013 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. A nice, up the middle of the road cab. (It’s pretty expensive on the Franciscan.com site, but you can get it for $15-18.)

Where to find Aaron:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Get the episode on iTunes (check out the new Apple Podcasts– nice!)

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

Episode 8: Erik Luhrs on Positioning

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs (“The Bruce Lee of Lead Generation”) He is the creator of Subconscious Lead Generation and GURUS Selling, and is the author of BE DO SALE. In this episode, Erik talks about how good positioning provides the foundation for successful sales (and how bad positioning ruins your sales efforts, even if you execute well).
Here are some key nuggets:
  • Why if you’re crashing into a (sales) wall, you don’t want to check the last 50 feet, you want to check your map.
  • Why you don’t want to try to make up for bad positioning with sales heroics.
  • If your market doesn’t appreciate differentiation, you’re in the wrong market, or you’re looking at the market the wrong way. (The majority of businesses that have problems are going after the wrong target market.)
  • If you have chosen the right target market— what’s different about your perspective?
  • Why you need to have a niche (sound familiar if you’ve listened to other episodes?), with some great examples.
  • People’s biggest problem is that they don’t know what they’re biggest problem is.
  • If they don’t understand their biggest problem, they’ll bring in the wrong solution to the wrong problem.
  • If you’re going to do the same stuff as everyone else, you don’t need to open your business.
  • Effective positioning doesn’t just attract the right prospects, it eliminates the wrong prospects, so you don’t waste time and energy on them.
  • Once again, how we are not rational creatures…
  • How he broke the single day sales record at Champs Sporting Goods when he was 17.

 

 

The toolkit Erik mentioned.


14pn_huntington_smThe Wine

 

Pali Wine Co Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 2014. Really nice jammy Santa Barbara pinot. 😉 (Erik had a Blue Moon.)

 


Where you can find Erik: Web site, @erikluhrs, LinkedIn

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (2x/month):

Episode 6: John Livesay on How to Pitch

John Livesay (aka “The Pitch Whisperer”) helps entrepreneurs craft compelling pitches. He’s the author of The Successful Pitch: Conversations On Going From Invisible To Investable (pretty good pitch, right there in the title), host of The Successful Pitch Podcast, and has been featured in Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, CBS, Fox, and more.

….

John Livesay
In this episode, John discusses how he got into this niche, how hard he worked on his own pitch, plus:

Plus,

  • The two simple, critical elements of a pitch
  • Why people are so bad at pitching
  • Why stories are so important
  • The importance of establishing your niche (it’s not just about your pitch)
  • What happens when you confuse prospects with your pitch
  • How surviving in the Amazon is like surviving in the business world
  • And much more…

Books mentioned in the episode:


The Wine

Stags Leap ChardonnayWe did this via Skype, so we each had to bring our own wine.ron-rubin-russian-river-valley-pinot-noir-2013

John had some Stag’s Leap chardonnay (@StagsLeapWines).
Reuben had Ron Rubin (no relation) Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (2013). Quite yummy for folks who like Russian River Valley pinots.

 

 


Where you can find John: Web site, Twitter, The Successful Pitch Podcast

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Subscribe to get updated on new episodes:

Episode 5: June Rodil on wine, customer experience, delegation, and more

June RodilJune started her career in restaurants as a waitress, paying her way through college on the way to a law career that never ended up happening. Instead, she learned a ton about wine, became beverage director for some of the top restaurants in Austin, became one of 147 Master Sommeliers in the world, and opened her own restaurant.

In this episode, June discusses how to pick wine as a beginner, how she became as Master Sommelier, and how she opened her own restaurant.

Plus,

  • Secrets for great customer service
  • How to delegate as a control freak
  • Why spreadsheets are still important
  • How to set up your product offerings to maximize customer happiness and minimize your stress.

 


The wine: 2012 Rosie Shuster Sankt Laurent (the ‘k’ is silent). $24. I didn’t know Austrian wine could taste this good. A little sweet, but not overly so. Lots of flavors. (Listen to June give the real description.)

 


Where you can find June: June’s Restaurant, Twitter (here’s one of those pictures with an interesting mixture of drinks)

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Subscribe to get updated on new episodes:

What Not to Say in a Sales Call (Courtesy of Apple)

If you’re doing something that upsets your customers and prospects, whether it’s changing prices, revising a service plan, or removing the universal audio port in favor of a proprietary standard, don’t insist on giving yourselves credit for “courage” in front of your customers. Certainly, explain your reason(s), and don’t feel obliged to share everything, but even Apple can’t pull this off properly. (In fairness to Schiller, he was trying to paraphrase Steve Jobs, who put it more eloquently– not just “having courage”, but having “the courage of our convictions” and “being willing to take the heat”.)

Networking for Nerds

Of all the uncomfortable sales and marketing activities you suddenly have to handle, networking is probably the least favorite for introverts. Trying to make small talk is painful. You know some people can “work a room” without apparent effort, but that’s not you.

Here are some tips to make the experience more fun and more productive.

  1. Know why you’re there. It’s not just to eat lunch or make sales. (More on that in a moment.) Are you there to find contacts for your pipeline? To hire employees? Meet experts who can help you with key business tasks? Meet people who have expertise you want to gain? Knowing the purpose lets you target the right events. If you’re targeting prospects, visiting with your peers may not be helpful. But if you need expertise and a sounding board, your peers will be more useful than your customers.
  2. Don’t try to sell. The power of the network grows exponentially with its members. If you try to sell everyone you meet, you’ll not only not make (m)any sales, you’ll shut down sales to those peoples’ networks, which is where the real opportunity is.
  3. Meet people, not opportunities. Don’t treat people just as dollar signs. If there was no business involved– say you’re at your kid’s soccer game, talking to other parents– you’ll establish a human connection, not an economic connection. Do the same thing at business networking events. Of course, the central topic of conversation may be business, instead of excessive homework, but talk to people like people. Ask people about themselves. Be interested. Not just “what do you do?”, but “this may be a silly question, but is that like X?” or “Why does someone hire you instead of doing it themselves/using popular alternative/etc?” Ask questions to get a real understand of who they are and how their business works. People love to talk about this stuff, and I always learn more by listening than by talking.
  4. Offer to help. When you make a connection with someone you like, ask who is their ideal customer? If you know someone who is struggling with the problem they solve, offer to introduce them. (Depending on how comfortable you are, you can always ask the person already in your network if they want the introduction. If they do, obviously make the introduction. If not, just explain that the timing or the fit isn’t as good as you thought. The new contact will still appreciate that you tried.) Often, people are not good at describing their ideal customer. I have met people who say “any business” or “anyone with a website”, and stubbornly resist my attempts to get more specific. Unfortunately, these people don’t get introductions, because I am not confident in their ability to help people more than anyone else in the market. But if they say, “we help dentists get more patients from their websites”, then I know who might be a good fit, and I have a good reason to make an introduction to dentists. (The flip side of this is that people will often ask you the same question, and you should be ready with a very crisp answer.) Beyond introductions, if there’s something simple that you can do without cost, offer to do that. (Maybe you can’t optimize the dentist’s website, but you can offer to take a look at it and make some suggestions.) Keep in mind that the people who will be most eager to get your free help may be the least likely to pay you to actually solve their problems. It’s up to you have a way to be helpful that doesn’t take too much time.
  5. Follow up. So many good opportunities die because people get busy. If you’re organized and disciplined about following up, you can get much more out of networking than the people who work the room and collect all the cards and never follow up. I’ve had opportunities materialize years after meeting people, because I stayed in touch with people, because I introduced people, because I tried to be helpful. Don’t think of the goal as “get X business cards at this event”, but instead, “make X introductions over the next 3 months based on people I meet at this event.”

Networking is a long game. Don’t be one of those people who thrusts business cards at everyone they meet and doesn’t make a single actual connection. Be helpful to the network, and let the network work for you. You’ll take a lot of pressure off yourself and a lot of awkwardness out of the events. You’ll have more fun, and, before you know it, get more business.