About Reuben Swartz: Reuben Swartz is the founder of Mimiran, the “anti-CRM” for independent consultants who love serving clients but hate “selling.” Mimiran helps companies sell faster and more profitably by streamlining the sales process, converting more visitors into leads, more leads into conversations, and more conversations into e-signed proposals. He’s also the host and chief nerd on the Sales for Nerds podcast. He went from a computer science and software engineering background to sales and marketing consulting for the Fortune 500. His mission is to help other independent consultants make a bigger dent in the universe and get more clients by using their talents to teach instead of the market, connect instead of the network, and help instead of sell. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Reuben.
In this episode, Nancy and Reuben discuss the following:
- The importance of having the right CRM.
- The key to identifying your ideal prospect.
- How to have a fun and productive conversation when you are not a salesperson and think sales are icky.
- Why do people find sales awkward?
- Being an introvert in the sales world.
- Tips on following up effectively.
- And one of the reasons why I ended up building an anti-CRM is because all the CRMs I’ve tried (and I’ve tried dozens of them) were sort of like necessary evils for me.
- Defining your ideal client is the foundation for everything.
- You don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to convince someone to have shoulder surgery who doesn’t need it.
- The main thing is when you have strong positioning, it acts like a magnet and it starts attracting your tribe to you, and just as importantly, it pushes the people who are not going to be a good fit for you away.
- Referral networks are relationships that are built on conversations.
- There’s a place for email marketing and automation, but when you’re in a sales cycle, you’re in a conversation-based context, and you need to talk to people.
” Try to think like a doctor rather than a sales rep trying to make quota. And me being a sales and marketing consultant for years and sitting in some of these sales meetings where people were kind of giving those always-be closing speeches was not a good influence on me. And I knew it wasn’t me, but I was like “Well, I guess this is what I must do”. I got to force myself to do it. And no, you don’t have to do that. And so, if you go back to that foundation of let’s make sure that we’re targeting the right people and attracting the right people to us, think about like the doctor who does shoulder surgeries. You don’t go to the ear, nose, or throat doctor for your shoulder surgery. You don’t go to the knee doctor for your shoulder surgery, etc. If you walked into the hospital and every doctor there was kind of trying to stab you with a business card saying “I’m a doctor and you know, by the way, you’re walking funny, let me fix your knee, etc”. That would be an absurd experience.” – REUBEN
“ You probably went to a restaurant recently and had a great experience with a waiter or waitress. That’s a salesperson. You go to the doctor. That’s a salesperson. A lot of these things that we don’t think about that’s really what we ought to be doing. We don’t want to be selling to anybody. We don’t want to be convincing them to do something that we want them to do. We want to be helping them to do the thing that they want to do.” – REUBEN
“Most introverts I know don’t want to be in a room full of tons of people, but they love having deep, interesting conversations, and they’re good listeners. They’ve got everything they need, except the mindset and the process, and the organization to do that with intention.” – REUBEN
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Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation! Today we’re speaking with Reuben Swartz, the founder of Mimiran, a fun CRM Mimeran that helps companies sell faster and more profitably by streamlining the sales process, converting more visitors into leads, more leads into conversations, and more conversations into e-signed proposals. He’s also the host and chief nerd on the Sales for Nerds podcast. His mission is to help other independent consultants make a bigger dent in the universe and get more clients by using their talents to teach instead of the market, connect instead of the network, and help instead of sell. Welcome to the show, Reuben! This is going to be a great conversation.
Reuben Swartz: Nancy, so happy to be here. Thanks for having me. [1:18]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, so I want to just start with this. I see the word CRM and you tie it with fun. Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Reuben Swartz: Well, it is, or it has been in my experience until now. And that’s one of the reasons that I ended up building what I call an anti-CRM because all the CRMs I’ve tried, and I’ve tried dozens of them, they were sort of like necessary evils for me. And I kept hearing the same thing from other people. And I would love to tell you that I had a flash of insight and I set out to create a fun CRM that people would want to use, but that’s not what happened at all. I started building things to plug into other CRMs. And people started asking for access to these tools that I had really built for myself. And then they started saying, hey, I really like the way Mimiran works. I hate my CRM. Can you just make Mimiran do the CRM stuff too? And of course, I said, well, the world doesn’t need another CRM. And if for some reason they did, I’d be the last person who should build it. I am fricking hate CRMs. And of course, you can see where this is going. They were like, well, that’s why you should do it because you understand what… the problem is and why we want things to be different. And I kept saying, no, that’s ridiculous. No sane person creates another CRM currently. And of course, you can see where we’re at. So, you can make whatever derivations you want about my sanity. But the point is most CRMs are for the VPS sales to keep track of the sales team. Like that’s the job. And that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to want to do. But especially for my tribe, independent consultants. We are the VP of sales and the sales team and the VP of marketing and the marketing intern. And we hate all those things and we’re trying to do them in our spare time. So, in a traditional CRM, we feel like we’re working for the tool instead of the tool helping us. And one of the things that’s interesting when I look back on my time as a consultant was when I was working with these giant companies who had enterprise CRMs, we would pull the data out of the CRMs thinking it was going to give us all kinds of meaningful insight. But the sales reps were kind of playing cat and mouse. with the CRM too and they often had their own spreadsheet on the side. So, I wanted something that would be fun, that you’d look forward to logging into in the morning because it was going to make your day not just more profitable, but a better, more pleasant, more fun time. [3:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, so but how do you make it fun though? I mean, it is what it is, right? So how do you find fun in just working through a CRM?
Reuben Swartz: Sure. Well, I think a lot of the reason that we think of sales as not being fun is that we absorb a lot of the wrong lessons about what sales means and I know I did. And we think of it as we’re going to badger a bunch of people, we’re going to strong-arm a bunch of people, the whole Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross, always be closing stuff comes to mind. We’re going to do a bunch of tedious crap in our CRM because that’s how we log things, etc. And of course, it’s like you can sustain that for a while, but… Most people get worn down eventually, even people who love selling. And what I realized eventually is an introverted person, as a techie, who tried to use a whole bunch of technology to get out of selling, to get out of the conversations like, wait a second, I actually love having conversations with interesting people about topics we both care about. [4:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: I just hate having quote-unquote sales conversations. So how can I be more intentional about having fun conversations and never feel like I’m in a sales conversation? And a lot of it was realizing that I already know a ton of people who I enjoy talking to, who seem to enjoy talking to me, some of whom are prospects or partners, past clients, etc. Why am I going out of my way to try to badger people who aren’t my ideal fit, try to talk them into something that… they’re not ready for, they don’t want, they don’t need, it’s not the best thing for them, etc., when I’m not even having the conversations with the people who would really like me to call them and help them. Right, let’s start with that. And I think a lot of it is getting really clear with who your ideal client is so that when you have those conversations, one, there’s a good chance they’re going to say, oh my goodness, thank goodness you found me, I really need your help, or gosh. That’s so cool. I know exactly the person you need to talk to or even if they’re not going to buy, you’re just having a conversation almost amongst peers, colleagues, and joint experts who care about the same topic. [5:48]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: So, it doesn’t feel like I’m trying to sell. It just feels like “Hey, we’re just having a great conversation, more like a doctor than a salesperson”.
Nancy Calabrese: Right. OK, so I think the key to it is really identifying your ideal prospect, right?
Reuben Swartz: I think that’s the foundation for everything else. And if you don’t do that, everything gets exponentially harder. It’s like your positioning is a giant lever and it can make everything so much easier and more fun. Or if you have it the wrong way around, it makes everything way, way harder, and more miserable. And it creates a virtuous or vicious cycle depending on which way you have that lever positioned. And unfortunately, a lot of us don’t have that lever working to our advantage. [6:28]
Nancy Calabrese: Now why is this only for solo consultants?
Reuben Swartz: Well, great question. And it kind of comes back to that ideal client thing that you’re talking about because I’ve had people at larger firms, bigger sales teams, enterprise sales teams using it and it does what it says and it helps them, but eventually those other larger teams, they need some of the more traditional CRM aspects. And if I try to please them, I’m not going to do as good a job as the tools that are already dedicated to those big teams. And I’m going to lose the simplicity and the ease that my tribe, the solo folks, really cares about.
Nancy Calabrese: Right. So how does one have a fun, productive conversation when they’re not a salesperson and they think sales are icky?
Reuben Swartz: I think that’s the zillion-dollar question for this day and age. And the way I started reframing it for myself was I don’t like selling, but I like helping. So, let me just go help people, right? Try to think like a doctor rather than a sales rep trying to make quota. And me being a sales and marketing consultant for years and sitting in some of these sales meetings where people were kind of giving those always-be closing speeches was not a good influence on me. And I knew it wasn’t me, but I was like, well, I guess this is what I must do. I got to force myself to do it. And no, you don’t have to do that. And so, if you go back to that foundation of let’s make sure that we’re targeting the right people and attracting the right people to us, think about like the doctor who does shoulder surgeries. You don’t go to the ear, nose, or throat doctor for your shoulder surgery. You don’t go to the knee doctor for your shoulder surgery, et cetera. If you walked into the hospital and every doctor there was kind of trying to stab you with a business card saying, I’m a doctor and you know, by the way, you’re walking funny, let me fix your knee, etc. That would be an absurd experience. But that’s the way a lot of business seems to work. And obviously, that would be miserable. But if you get known as, hey, I’m the guy who helps repair shoulders, and maybe it’s shoulders for young athletes, or it’s shoulders for senior citizens who have experienced a fall like the tighter that specialty is, people think that they’re going to give up. Business and I know I went through that process as well, but you get more of it. You get better referrals. You have easier conversations and it’s also easy for you to say, hey, somehow you ended up in this room, but you belong with Dr. so-and-so down the hall. [9:04]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: And you don’t have to think and worry about that. You don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to convince someone to have shoulder surgery who doesn’t need it, etc.
Nancy Calabrese: Wow. So why do people find sales so awkward?
Reuben Swartz: Well, I think we have a lot of weird lessons that we absorb. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this because like I said, I spent a long time as a sales and marketing consultant who struggled with sales and marketing, and I tend to overanalyze anything to begin with. So, I think part of it is we can all recall instances where we have felt sold by that icky sales rep, right? Everyone can relate to that from movies and popular culture to experiences we’ve had trying to buy something call as easily I think, but what happens far more often is all the amazing times that salespeople have done stuff for us where we didn’t notice it because we weren’t being sold, we were being helped to buy. [10:00]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: We’re kind of wired, I think, to remember those nasty experiences to try to protect ourselves, but we have far more positive experiences with sales. You probably went to a restaurant recently and had a great experience with a waiter or waitress. That’s a salesperson. You go to the doctor, that’s a salesperson. A lot of these things that we don’t think about, that’s really what we ought to be doing. We don’t want to be selling to anybody. We don’t want to be convincing them to do something that we want them to do. We want to be helping them to do the thing that they want to do. [[10:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: And if we can do that combined with the right positioning, that means we can make a living doing that.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, you know, you mentioned the waitress, the doctors, in my opinion, everybody’s in sales, because selling is all about communication, right?
Reuben Swartz: Absolutely. We’re all selling all the time, but somehow, and I think there are plenty, there are always those examples of people who are trying to manipulate others for their own gain against the other person’s interest. That’s always a threat. But there are far more people I think who are trying to help us, our friends, our family, our colleagues, etc., not just the people, like as you say, who have the sales rep after their title.
Nancy Calabrese: Right, right, no, I get that. So, I know everybody likes to get into the office, they’re gonna be 100% every day, but the reality is some days are better than others. So how can people find better energy for sales conversations?
Reuben Swartz: I think that’s a great question as well. And I think a lot of it comes down to momentum and habit. And I kind of liken it to going into the gym, right? January 1st, everyone makes a commitment to go to the gym and I can’t remember what the percentage is, but you know, by March, most of them stopped going kind of thing. [11:59]
Nancy Calabrese: They’re gone.
Reuben Swartz: And in the same token, sales teams have these great sales plans, solo consultants decide, hey, I’m going to go meet X number of people per week, etc., and then it tends to fall off. And so, what I realized is most of us try to go from zero to 100 miles an hour. Like, oh, I missed my numbers last quarter. So, I’m going to, you know, I, you create your spreadsheet and I need to talk to a thousand people and blah, blah. And you’re trying to make that big leap. You’re trying to go from, I don’t know how to snowboard to I’m going to go off the double black diamond, and then I’m going to wonder why it wasn’t a fun experience, and then you’re going to stop and repeat the process. And so instead I tell people, to start on the bunny slopes. Call the people that are easy to call. And it doesn’t even have to be a businessperson, right? If you need to get that momentum going, call a buddy that you haven’t talked to in a while. Call a past client that you know is going to be excited to hear from you. Call an advisor or a mentor or a mentee that there’s no selling going on whatsoever. [13:03]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: Just to remind yourself, especially as an introvert, like this was fricking hard for me.
Nancy Calabrese: Are you an introvert?
Reuben Swartz: I’m an introvert, but I love having conversations like this. And that’s what I think a lot of introverts don’t understand. They think that to have conversations, I’ve got to go to some giant networking event, get stabbed with business cards, and be miserable.
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: And I think one of the silver linings of COVID was sort of forcing us to be more intentional about how we connect with people.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: And one of the big things about my CRM is… Let’s be intentional about having these conversations because if you’re in a relationship business, you’re in a conversation business, there is no way around that. And as an introvert, that seemed terrifying, but it’s totally fine. Most introverts I know don’t want to be in a room full of tons of people, but they love having deep, interesting conversations and they’re good listeners. They’ve got everything they need, except the mindset and the process, and the organization to do that with intention. [14:07]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So how can you use positioning to have a better conversation?
Reuben Swartz: I think the main thing is when you have strong positioning, it acts like a magnet and it starts attracting your tribe to you and just as importantly, it pushes the people who are not going to be a good fit for you away. A magnet has two poles of equal strength, and a lot of people try to have sort of a weakly attracting thing that doesn’t annoy or push away anybody else. You got to dial up the strength of that magnet so that the right people… are really attracted to you and most of the other people probably think you’re nuts and that’s totally fine. That way you save all those sorts of weird wishy-washy maybe conversations and you end up doing a whole bunch of sales and then they want a price cut and then if you win them as a client, it’s a nightmare, blah, blah. Because you’re working with somebody that you’re not really supposed to be working with, right? If you’re on an airplane and they ask for a doctor, they’ll take anybody. But when you go into the hospital, you want the right specialist, and your customers want the specialist. So, use that positioning to make sure that the right people are in your waiting room, and then you’re going to have conversations in your specialty, which are conversations you enjoy having with somebody who actually wants to have that conversation and that’s how you have that fun dialogue that doesn’t feel like sales versus, I mean, any specialist can give the spiel about how what they do is so important and you would benefit from it, but nobody wants to hear that if they’re not the right patient. [15:44]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. So, what’s your definition of positioning?
Reuben Swartz: That’s funny because I should really have like a crisp 10-second view of that. But it’s just who you help and how?
Nancy Calabrese: Okay. So, it’s going back to knowing your ideal prospect.
Reuben Swartz: Exactly.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, it all always starts with that. Okay, and then, you know, you talked earlier about referrals. How can people get more referrals?
Reuben Swartz: Well, it’s funny, I think a lot of it goes back to that positioning. People have this weak wishy-washy positioning because they think it’s going to cast a wide net, but in reality, it just makes you unreformable. People say, well, I’m a business coach and I help business owners who have business problems. Or it’s like, I’m a doctor who helps people with doctor problems. That’s great if you’re on an airplane, but it’s not so great in the rest of the world. So having that tight positioning. You want to be not the little bit of something possibly good for everybody. You want to be the 800-pound gorilla for your niche. And a lot of us are trying to compete, especially my tribe, right? Solo people, they think they’re in competition with these giant firms. They’re not. [17:02]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Reuben Swartz: They want to define their market such that they’re the 800-pound gorilla so that when somebody in their referral network comes across the right fit, it’s like boom, you need to talk to Nancy. And I know exactly what to say to introduce you. Now, the next thing that comes back to conversational selling is you must freak talk to your referral partners. And I say that with such vehemence because I neglected to do that for years and it was stupid. These should not be hard conversations. They should be fun conversations. But those referral networks are relationships that are built on conversations. You must talk to these people. [17:42]
Nancy Calabrese: And you know, lastly, I think a challenge most salespeople have, maybe most people have, is how do you follow up effectively? What’s your recommendation?
Reuben Swartz: Well, it’s going to depend of course on the person and what the nature of the follow-up is, but I think the mistakes I see made mostly are trying to automate that with email or other stuff that’s not actually a conversation.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: There’s a place for email marketing and automation, but when you’re in a sales cycle, you’re in a conversation-based context, and you need to talk to people. And the next thing is… not actually offering any value to the other person. So, just checking in what’s going on. And really that’s usually because you weren’t conscientious about taking notes about the last conversation that should lead naturally to the next thing, you’re going to ask in the follow-up conversation. [18:41]
Nancy Calabrese: Well.
Reuben Swartz: And this doesn’t mean you’re going to close 100% of people, but it’s like baseball. You can go from 300 to 400 and that’ll make a huge difference. And I think… A lot of this is just basic stuff. It’s not quote-unquote sales, but people put it under the quote-unquote sales umbrella and then they feel icky and they don’t do it. I’d like to think of it more as I just want to talk to people. And if I’ve got like notes in my CRM about here’s what we talked about and when we’re supposed to follow up and then I can follow up and it’s not just a hey, just checking in. It’s Hey, Nancy, remember you asked me to check in October about the blah, blah. Just want to let you know XYZ, right? And it’s just like you’re picking up where you left off. We evolved to be in these little tribes and villages or whatever, where you already knew everything about everybody pretty much. And instead, we’re in this virtual world where people are coming and going at crazy velocity, and you can’t keep track of it all in your head. You need some way to organize and follow up effectively. [19:40]
Nancy Calabrese: Yep. Yeah. And that goes back to the power and the importance of having the right CRM. Our time is up, and I could continue to talk and talk with you, but tell me, how do my people find you and learn more about what you sell, even though you don’t like selling?
Reuben Swartz: Oh, that’s right. Well, they can find me on LinkedIn. I think I’m one of the few Reuben Schwartz is around. You can find my podcast, Sales for Nerds at salesfornerds.io or wherever you listen to podcasts. And of course, you can find out more about the anti-CRM at mimiran.com. M-I-M-I-R-A-N.com.
Nancy Calabrese: Awesome. Another great conversation with a great expert. And I suggest you all reach out to Reuben, check out his CRM. I mean, you need a CRM as, I guess, a home base to keep yourself organized. And he has a wonderful solution. So, Reuben, thank you so much for being on the show and for everyone out there. Make it a great sales day.
Reuben Swartz: Thanks for having me, Nancy.
Nancy Calabrese: Loved it. [20:49]