Hello, my friends.
And welcome to another episode of How
to Sell Advice, the podcast, helping
you package and sell your expertise
by removing yourself from the long
tail of execution so you can build
a more profitable, leveraged, and
strategic solo marketing practice.
My name is Kevin Whelan, and today
I've got Rubin Swartz on the call.
He is a former software
consultant, turned CRM owner.
He owns a CRM business called Mimiran.
And it helps you cause
it, the fun auntie CRM.
Uh, for solo consultants, he's
just brings a ton of knowledge and
expertise around the topic of selling.
And what I really enjoy most about
it is is some of the mindsets that go
into and not just the necessarily the
transactional tactics, if you will, or
the nitty-gritty, but really about how
to approach sales in a way that benefits
your clients, benefits you and gives you
a better overall way to navigate a sales
conversation that feels less prescriptive.
That feels a little bit less.
Like I have to follow a step-by-step
process, which can feel really, really
rigid for both you and your clients.
So really he brings a ton of.
Great ideas and great mental models to
the table to help you navigate sales.
Give this a listen.
And if you can get enjoyment, share
with a friend and be sure to check
if you want to get up-to-date on the
latest and what we have inside of
that, I'll leave you there for now.
And we'll see you on the
other end of the podcast.
Kevin C. Whelan: So you
have an interesting story.
You sort of originated in the trenches
as a consultant, as a, I don't
know, freelancer consultant and sort
of worked your way up the ranks.
Now you own a SaaS business.
How did you go from service
provider to SaaS owner?
Reuben Swartz: Well.
There should be a really simple,
easy story, but everything I
do in life seems to be sort of
convoluted and only makes sense.
My background is actually in software,
so the real strange thing for me was
starting a consulting business, especially
a sales and marketing consulting business.
Cuz if you had asked me five or 10 years
before that, You know, what would Rubin
be least likely to do on planet Earth?
That might have been it, but I,
I was writing sales and marketing
software, so I ended up doing some
consulting in that area, and then
I never set out to build a SaaS
business, let alone A A C R M business.
But I was frustrated.
By my life being complicated
when it came to sales and
marketing, which I didn't like.
And I felt like we did a lot of cool stuff
and we built cool tools for our clients.
And I was like, well, why can't I have
cool tools to like make my life easier?
And the thing I really wanted to
know at the time that was kind
of driving me nuts was just, Hey,
are people reading my proposals?
Because that meeting to discuss it
would get rescheduled and then you're
in that voicemail loop from hell where
it's like, Hey, just wonder if you
got any questions on the proposal.
And so I put together a little tool
that would let me share proposals
online and know if someone was
reading 'em and that actually went.
Uh, took five minutes to have a
five minute conversation instead
of back and forth for a month
when who knows what would happen.
And I was telling some people
about this experience and they were
like, well, that's really cool.
Can I have that?
And it sort of snowballed from there
and people that said, okay, great.
The end of my sales
cycle is now really easy.
What can I do to get people
in the front of my funnel?
And I didn't intend to do
anything about that myself.
I was just gonna send them
in the right direction.
But I realized that for this
tribe of people, there really
wasn't a good solution.
There were great solutions for
e-commerce firms, great solutions for
big sales teams, but not necessarily
for the independent consultant tribes.
So like, okay, well I'm gonna
do this and then I'll be done.
And then people said, Hey, this is great.
I'm finally getting leads, and if I need
to send 'em a proposal, that's all great.
But man, I hate the CRM stuff
I have to do in between.
Can you make meran.
Do the CRM stuff too.
And of course I said, no, the world
doesn't need another crm, and I'd
be the last person to create one
if it did blah, blah, blah, blah.
And of course I'm trying dozens of CRMs
myself thinking what I need is out there.
And I just never could find what I needed.
And it sort of obvious to me
now, but it wasn't at the time.
And finally I was like, oh, maybe I should
just listen to my customers and do this.
And that's kind of how I
got to this crazy point.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
I love that you are taking a
customer-centric point of view.
I think if, if a lot of us get too hung
up on who we are, what our definition
is as a software provider or a, or a
proposal SaaS or a, you know, and, and
forget that we're here to solve business
problems and if we just keep our ear to
the street and focus on the customer,
uh, you'll, it'll take your business
in interesting ways and interesting
in your case that it landed on.
Crm, which is a very competitive
space, and I would love to hear a
little bit more about how you, how you
were able to create the product in a
way that was sufficiently different.
Um, and then how does that map to
your general philosophy on how to
handle sales correspondence, whether
that's over call or over email?
Reuben Swartz: Sure.
There's so many CRMs out there and, and
that's why I was sure that there would
be one that I would actually enjoy using.
But what I found is the traditional
CRM is for the VP of sales to
keep track of the sales team.
And, and I should have known that from
my consulting cuz that's one of the
first things we did would walk in and
try to pull some reports outta the CRM
and usually find that the salespeople
were playing cat and mouse with a VP of
sales cuz they didn't really wanna be
tracked, which is a whole other story.
But that's why traditional CRMs
are built the way they are.
They want to track the sales rep
and when it's you doing sales and
marketing in your spare time, neither
of which you really want to do.
You don't want to feel like
you're working for the tool.
You want to feel like the tool
is helping you stay organized and
stay on top of things and getting
in your way as little as possible.
So that's just philosophically
And then, I also eventually got smart.
It took a while, but I eventually got
smart about exactly who I was trying to
serve and being very specific about that
because when I started out, I had people
asking me for this in various industries,
various sizes of companies, people
wanting to use it for big sales teams.
And it would do what it said
on the tin kind of thing.
But eventually the folks who were
not independent consultants wanted me
to go in a different direction that
would've sort of broken that simplicity
for the independent consultants and,
and at one point I was like, you
know, some of these larger companies,
they're paying me more money, but
it's kind of a pain in the neck.
That's kind of what I wanted to avoid
doing this enterprise type work.
And I really like helping.
Sort of the past version of myself,
because I was the sales and marketing
consultant, I was helping these
big companies, and if I may say so,
doing a good job cuz we got good word
of mouth, we got repeat business.
But I was really struggling with my own
sales and marketing and after a while
I realized that I wasn't alone in this.
There's reasons why we end
up in that spot when you.
When you learn to consult and reasons why
a lot of the traditional advice doesn't
necessarily serve you very well, and I
got such a kick out of being able to help
other people going through that and sort
of helping them make the, make the leap
a lot faster instead of wandering around
in the wilderness for years like I did.
And so that's really what I,
what I realized my mission was.
So I wanted to, to stay very focused
on that tribe and be the best.
Option for this tribe rather than a decent
option for a whole bunch of other people.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah, and I mean
that's a good lesson for anyone out
there is, you know, at the beginning
it feels like you can serve everyone.
Cuz functionally these things are
very similar, but it's only when
you start going deep on a target
market do you get into the nuances
of their needs and be able to.
Make something that like irks out extra
inches in the ways that matter versus,
you know, versus trying to paint with a
broad brush and, uh, hope that it solves
their pains and that it stands out.
Do people even try, try your, your SA
SaaS in the first place or any business?
Um, in terms of your methodology, one
of the things you, you talk about,
uh, on your website is that you help,
um, you help people win clients and
stay organized without being salesy.
And so what would you say like that?
Obviously that's a very, that's a very
opinionated stance in a good way, uh,
that that implies some kind of philosophy.
How do you approach sales and how do
you win business without being salesy?
Reuben Swartz: Sure.
And first of all, I don't think
there's anything necessarily
wrong with being salesy as long
as you're doing it ethically.
It's just not for me
and not for a lot of us.
And I think we can all point to an
experience we had where someone was
being let that arch type, pushy sales
rep with us, that made us feel bad.
We've probably have had way more
experience where somebody was
helping us and doing a much more
effective job of selling us, but
it didn't feel like it was salesy.
Kevin C. Whelan: Mm.
Reuben Swartz: Whether it's a
doctor or a waitress or a consultant
or whatever, we have these great
experiences where somebody is in effect
selling, but it doesn't feel like it.
It feels like they're helping
us buy, and so that's a big
thing of what I want to do.
I want to use really strong positioning,
not just for myself, but help my
clients do this so that you end
up talking to the right people.
Who are likely to want to buy and likely
to be a good fit for you, and have
enough of a system in place that you
don't feel any pressure to close this
person if they're not the right fit.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yep.
Reuben Swartz: then I like to
think of it as for me, uh, Bob
Berg, the co-author of the Go-Giver
said, Ruben, you don't hate sales.
You, you hate what you
mistakenly think sales is.
And he's right.
But for me, it's just simpler
to say, I don't like sales.
I like helping.
So let me help.
And I don't like marketing, but I like
teaching and I hate networking, but I
kind of like connecting with people.
So just shifting the words that I use
in my own head to think about what I'm
doing is really, uh, a powerful thing.
And then you combine that with
having really specific positioning.
It's kinda like if you are
the doctor who specializes in
fixing shoulder injuries for.
People who exercise too much or
something like that, you're gonna get
referred a bunch of people who exercise
too much, who have shoulder problems.
That's probably gonna be a
good set of patients for you.
If you try to say, well I could
treat your knee, I could treat your
ankle, I can treat your uh, treat
your stomach bug, you know, whatever.
Cuz I went to med school.
Then you're gonna end up with a lot of
resistance and a lot of problems and
you're actually gonna end up with fewer
referrals cuz I'm like, who's this guy?
But if you are the person for the sports
shoulder, indu, indu, uh, injuries
in town, you're gonna end up with a
bunch of people in your waiting room.
You can talk to them, have a good
diagnostic conversation where you're just
trying to figure out what's going on.
And then you send them, you know,
it might be to the or it might
be to a different specialist.
It might be, do these stretches
and call me in six months.
Whatever that right thing to do is.
That sort of mindset of the doctor versus
the sales rep, I think is very powerful
for folks who love serving the clients,
but feel awkward with the selling.
So it's like, let's not
sell anybody anything.
Let's make sure we're specialized
and then let's just diagnose, and
the right people are gonna basically
pull us through the sales cycle.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah, that's so powerful.
I love the reframing of sales to helping
of, you know, marketing to educating and
teaching and networking to connecting.
It just changes completely how you're
approaching things and how you, how you
see your, your role in those capacities.
And Zig Ziglar's got a quote about
being a co-buyer with their client.
And, uh, meaning, you know, and that's
how I see all of my work as a marketing
and consultant and advisor, is I like
to feel like I'm sitting on the side
of my client's table and helping them
make their decisions, including whether
or not they should hire me and acting
in their fiduciary at interests or
their, you know, being an advocate
before, before they even hire you.
And sort of sitting on their
side and saying, okay, let's
look at this challenge.
What are your challenges?
Let's understand them together so
I can see what you're seeing, and
come to some sort of conclusion
to see whether we're a fit or not.
Or maybe there's another way.
Or a better way to solve
that that doesn't involve me.
And it does take a bit of confidence and
you do have to, you know, be okay with
losing a sale in order to serve people.
But I think if you take that mindset,
you're gonna close more deals than
if you see it as a transaction,
someone across the table that you
can take money from, uh, regardless
of whether you can help them.
So I love that mindset in terms of how
you kind of restructured it and then
specializing, you're saying is a key
thing as well, is having a really core,
dialed in set of skills that makes
it so that the people you do help.
You can help really well, and therefore
it kind of feels like an obvious fit.
Probably when you're more specialized,
you're seeing a knee doctor or for a
knee problem, you're not seeing them for
your stomach issues or what have you.
And, and that makes a
lot of sense as well.
So really love, love that method.
And so how would you encourage people
to engage in a sales process and using
the CRM as a tool, but what do you
foresee as being kind of the evolution
from okay, someone reaches out.
How do you usher someone through that
sort of general process in a way that,
um, in a way that helps them hire
you or not as, as quickly as need be?
Like what's your kind of mental
model for that entire sales cycle?
Reuben Swartz: Let's go back to
the doctor's office and think
about how do you diagnose somebody,
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: right?
Like maybe the doctor has a diploma
or something on the wall, but
they don't spend a bunch of time
talking about how awesome they are.
They're focused on understanding what's
going on with you, and they know as
the expert here are the, you know,
it could be three, it could be 30
questions, tests, diagnostics, whatever.
We have to run to figure out.
What's going on?
Or to figure out if you're even in
my domain, and if you're listening
to this, you're the expert in your
domain, whatever that domain might be.
So what are the questions
that you need to ask?
Not just to like extract money
from somebody, but to really
understand their problem.
And I love what you're saying about
being a coyer and trying to help them
figure out what the right path forward
is, whether or not it's with you.
And if you have the confidence
that, hey, I don't need to close
this person to make payroll.
Cause I've been in that situation where
I'm like, oh my gosh, I finally got a
referral and I better figure out how
to make this work cuz I don't know
how to make payroll otherwise, that's
a terrible place to be in, right?
Because you're trying to be
ethical and, and all that.
But you can feel that cloud hanging
over you versus I have a whole bunch
of patients in the waiting room.
I'm gonna take the right
time with each of them.
And the right ones are going
to come back to the OR with me.
And the ones that that's not the
right fit for, that's totally fine
cuz there's another person behind
them and behind them and so on.
And it's almost like if you have a, have
a systematic way of doing this, it's
not just you sort of convincing someone
to go with you, it's them convincing
you that you should work with them.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: think that's one of
the really powerful things that that
can come outta this sort of diagnostic
session, the coying collaboration,
whatever you want to call it.
Sometimes you, you're talking
to somebody, you're like, Hey,
I don't think you need this.
Like, you're fine.
Or, you know, why don't you just do
this thing that you could go do this
weekend or tomorrow, or that you
could hire a Fiverr or whatever for a
fraction of the cost of engaging me.
And sometimes they're gonna be
like, oh my gosh, thank you.
You're so right.
And then you have an ally, somebody who
knows that you don't just try to sell
them stuff And sometimes you learn,
well the real issue is, blah, this
thing that I didn't know how to, how
to express, or wasn't ready to tell
you yet cuz I thought you were just
gonna try to pull money out of me.
The real issue is X, Y, Z.
And I heard that when X, Y, Z is
going on, you know how to handle that.
Kevin C. Whelan: Right.
You talked, you did mention one thing
about being a, around the ethics of
working with prospects that come.
Through when you have to meet payroll,
and yet they may or may not be a fit.
I actually recently wrote on that
marketing is essentially your ethical
duty to be able to generate enough
demand so that you can truly act in your
client's best interest above your own.
Because if you're at the brink of survival
and needing to meet your basic needs
financially, you can't really in earnest.
But their needs above your own,
especially when they represent a paycheck.
And that's where I think
it gets into murky water.
So I was trying to, you know, I'm a
philosophy major, so I was trying to
play, take a philosophical angle to it.
Um, obviously we all have to
help clients the best we can.
Sometimes not every single client's
gonna be right down your, your lane, but.
Most times you can help
people to some extent.
But just interesting you
kind of mentioning that.
And uh, and that ties very well into if
you have a good marketing engine that
is education focused, that is helpful in
nature, you're going to naturally bring
in some people that want your help if your
help is unique and, and seems appropriate.
Uh, so I just really loved that piece
that you mentioned, uh, there as well.
Um, I wanna talk a little
bit about referrals.
So one of the things I noticed
was even though I market my
I also get a lot of referrals and
maybe that's to do with, they see
some of my marketing and some of it's
to do with, well, they heard I was
good and some of it's, I keep seeing
your name come up in conversation.
Do you have any kind of mental
model for how you either
generate or handle referrals?
Whether that means incentivizing people
who refer people to you or what, what
makes you more likely to get referred?
Do you have any thoughts on how
referrals, how to basically leverage
referrals and cater, cater to
that, uh, in the best possible way?
Reuben Swartz: I have a lot of thoughts on
that and we may not have time for all of
them, but that was actually one of the key
drivers for me saying, okay, let me listen
to my customers and make this thing a crm.
Because one of the things that
drove me nuts with traditional CRMs
was they don't track referrals.
Uh, you know, this is.
A core business development activity for
most consultants, and I mean obviously you
can pay someone to customize Salesforce
to, to do all this or whatever, but it's
not like baked into the tool and I'm
like, this is, this is the key thing.
Let's make sure we're tracking
this from the ground up.
And then how can we be
intentional about it?
Because I spent a long time
thinking, oh, I'm, I'm doing great.
I get referrals, and I didn't want
to be one of those sort of sleazy.
How can I help you today?
Do you have any referrals for me?
Do you have any repeat business for me?
Kind of consulting shops and I, you can
see a lot of those, but at the same time,
I kind of swung the pendulum so far in the
other direction that it was ridiculous.
So, Here's how I think about referrals.
One, we gotta have really
Same thing for everything we're
doing with sales and marketing.
The stronger you're positioning,
the more work that will do for you
and the less work you have to do.
And I think there's a fear when you get
really focused with your positioning
that you're gonna get less leads and
you're gonna get fewer referrals.
And I would argue that
the, that that's not true.
It's actually the opposite, but you're
definitely gonna get higher quality
leads and you're much more referable.
I was on a Zoom call the other day
with a bunch of consultants who
were com complaining about lead
gen, and I said, Hey guys, you
all sound like me back in the day.
And I say this with love, but none of
you are referable because you all solve
business problems in some vague way.
I can't be like, oh, you
gotta talk to Kevin right now.
And so let's, let's let our positioning
do as much work for us as possible.
And the way I sort of worked my way
around that scarcity mindset that always
creeps in is like, Hey, even if I get
this really hyper-focused market, I can't
serve the whole thing anyway, right?
I'm not Coca-Cola, but do I want sales
and marketing to be easy or hard?
Because I love those conversations
that don't feel like selling.
They just feel like collaboration
or coying or whatever, and you don't
even realize that, that somebody just
basically asked you for a proposal.
You're like, that was awesome.
I want more of that.
I don't like to convince people
and use objection handling and
all those fancy sales techniques.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: right.
Like, that's not for me.
So let's use our positioning to
make things easy, and then let's
be intentional about nurturing
those referral relationships.
It doesn't have to be sleazy, but there
are people that refer business to you
that you might or might not refer business
back to, but you just enjoy talking to.
How often do you talk to them
in an actual conversation?
And this was the thing
that I just fell down on.
I'm like, well, they're
on my email newsletter.
And there's nothing wrong with
an email newsletter, assuming
it's a decent newsletter, right?
It's better than nothing, but it is not
a replacement for actual conversations.
I was having a conversation yesterday
actually, with somebody who refers
a bunch of people to me and I
pulled up, she's referred me, uh, 18
people in the past two months, some
of whom are now paying customers.
Um, she's an awesome connector.
Um, But if I didn't keep track of that,
it would just kind of fly in and out,
like shooting stars going through the
atmosphere, and then nothing comes of it.
It's not just about do you meet
somebody at a networking event and
then follow up with a one-on-one?
That's all great, but what about the
third, fourth, 10th, 20th conversation?
A year later, you're gonna find
the people that you enjoy talking
to that enjoy talking to you.
And it's not sleazy to just
be organized about, Hey Kevin,
we haven't spoken in months.
What's new in your world?
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
I love, I love that.
Um, it's more funny because I wouldn't
have really realized that referrals
had such a big impact on my business
if I didn't analyze, in retrospect, by
looking back and saying, where do these
people come from and what led to that?
And then in, you know, in your case
it would be what, who specifically
referred me and sometimes I've
forgotten, you know, which is
terrible, you know, in some cases.
But, uh, that's one of the things,
as marketers, as advisors, we, we
track a lot of data and it helps to
be able to then look back because our
assumptions are sometimes generally
right, but they can often astonish you
just at how dramatic and like, there's
always an 80 20 of some in some sort.
You know, 80% of your
leads come from 20% of.
Of all the different channels that
could possibly come, and maybe that's
referrals for, for you or for most people.
Uh, so really fascinating and
using a, a tool like your CRM or
other CRMs to, to track that stuff.
Just super value, valuable.
And I love how you talked about
leaning on your positioning
because when people do refer you,
they're making a bit of a reputa.
There's a bit of a reputational risk.
If, if I, if I know you can do everything,
then I kind of don't know what you're
good at and what you're not good at.
So it makes it very hard for me to
refer you in good conscience to a
client with confidence saying, this is
definitely the person you wanna hire.
It has to be couched with, uh, they
seem to be very good at a lot of things.
I think they can probably
help you potentially.
And that's if I'm willing to make the risk
in general, you know, because you never,
you didn't never really know how good
someone is until you've worked with them.
Uh, so I think even your positioning
saying, I specialize, I help X do y.
Makes you much more, first of all,
people think of you more, uh, you know,
as Jonathan Stark says, the role at X
moment and, uh, and then more likely to
refer you with confidence saying this,
this person does this all day long.
I think they're gonna be
a really good fit for you.
So I love how you're talking about
leaning on your positioning there
and letting that engine drive it.
Reuben Swartz: Well, it's even
exponentially more powerful than
that because even, even assuming
you do get that referral Yes.
When your positioning is weak, well, they
might have referred three other people,
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: and now you're like trying
to convince somebody who's not an ideal
fit that they should work with you.
Meanwhile, that you've got
some competitors, right?
You may not have even wanted that
referral and maybe just be sucking time
and energy out of you versus the people
you know who have the, the pitching
injuries that I know I can fix, and I'm
the best doctor in town to deal with it.
Send me those all day long.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
What about the idea of gifting?
Do you, do you have any thoughts
or beliefs on whether you let
you know, let's say you referred
me 18 customers or clients.
I would wanna reciprocate in
some way, whether that is, you
know, offering some of my time.
I've personally, I've sent
small gifts to people who have
just been completely generous.
Things that are really super focused
on who they are and what would
benefit them, or even like chocolates
or things of that nature card.
What are your thoughts on, do
you have any thoughts on the idea
of gifting or reciprocation for
referrals as a general practice?
Reuben Swartz: Great question, and I
think there's a, a range of answers
that depend on your relationship.
And ironically enough, I just published
a, a episode on my podcast with
Steve Zony, whose whole business is
in helping you like automate gifting
in this way, um, but still keeping
it very personalized and so on.
I think it's nice to show appreciation.
So I actually have.
I'm, I'm a little overdue here
to, I'm supposed to have time this
morning to write some thank you notes.
So you're gonna get a thank you note
for having me on your podcast, cuz
I just appreciate that and I'm gonna
thank a customer and I'm gonna thank the
person who referred me to that customer
and it's just like, it is just, One.
I think it's nice to take a moment
for yourself and just feel some
gratitude and know that, hey, for
all the chaos and stuff out there
that can throw things off track.
There's actually a bunch of like
good forces in the universe that are.
Helping you and returning hopefully some
good karma that you're putting out there.
And then I love the notion, I don't
do a good job with this really, but
like of giving someone just a, you
know, some chocolate or something,
something nice that's all about them.
I think there's a difference between
like, Hey, I'm gonna pay you an X
percent referral fee and here's,
here's a chocolate thing and a nice
card or a wine glass and, and a thank
you note or something like that.
I think for most of us, you know, I don't
mind, for example, if someone's like,
Hey, Ruben, do you have an affiliate
link that you can create for me?
I'm like, sure.
But most people don't want to
jeopardize their relationships
for a little bit of money.
I mean, maybe once they, they know
you and all that, like you can
establish some kind of partnership.
But I, I, I think.
What would you do if you
wandered into this person?
Like if it was like college and, and
they were down the hall from you?
I try to think of, of that, um,
versus, oh my gosh, everything
is virtual, you know, so easy to
just shoot an email to somebody.
So taking the time just to do something.
That recognizes and, and
shows some appreciation.
I'm all, I'm all for it.
And from what I hear from people,
they appreciate that somebody
took the time to do that.
Whether they can read what
I write, I don't know.
My handwriting is terrible, but
I know I love getting a card
from somebody in the mail, right?
And it's just a little personal touch
in this fully quasi automated world
where everyone wants to do things
more efficiently, sometimes you gotta
slow down and just be human to human.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah, I actually prompts
a thought about, there's a book called,
um, uh, I think it's called Alchemy,
by Rory Sutherland, and it may might be
called some, something along those lines.
He's a marketer.
He runs Ogilvy in the uk.
Uh, but he talks about
sometimes the, the very.
Difficulty of the thing is a message.
So the fact that if you take the time to
write a card or whatever and put in an
envelope and get the address and send it,
uh, the very difficulty involved in that,
like you could automate that with a, with
an email or, uh, even maybe an automated
message, uh, that would, that would get
them the same message across, but it.
You know, as, as Marshal McLuhan
is the medium is the message.
And the difficulty of that is sometimes
telling you that there's a value there.
That it's not just like a quick
sendoff, it's I took the time
to do this and send it to you.
And I think that's a really powerful
message within a message when you do that.
So I wish, I wish I was better at that.
I always, it comes to the holidays
and I'm always scrambling to like,
Figure out whether I can send somebody
some cards, you know, the holidays
and it's, I want to like revert.
I wanna flip that on his head and think
about how do I get more intentional
with all kinds of, you know, um,
thank yous, gifts, holiday greetings,
whatever, and, uh, and be more
intentional with the offline stuff.
I think it'd be super powerful
and I'm terrible at it.
Really Full disclosure.
Reuben Swartz: And I'm
not great at it really.
Uh, and I don't do the holiday stuff,
and I sort of rationalize it by thinking
it's kind of, I feel cheesy and I also
feel like there's a deluge of, you know,
happy holidays from such and such corp.
Um, but I, like I.
Sending a, a note to somebody when there's
a, like, a good reason to, to thank them.
And I literally just have a, a little slot
on my calendar, blocked off every week.
And I actually invited somebody else to
this meeting cuz she was saying, Hey,
she loves sending, Handwritten cards, but
she's not good about actually doing it.
I was like, well, okay, I'm gonna
invite you to my little slot.
We won't talk or anything.
It was just time to, to write your notes.
And of course, this morning I, I was doing
some tech support for my mother-in-law and
that, you know, that killed my, my slot.
But I have my cards right
here, out here on my desk, so
Kevin C. Whelan: Gonna get it done.
Reuben Swartz: it's gonna happen.
Kevin C. Whelan: You know, there is a
lot of good karma to be had for helping
your mother-in-law with tech support.
I'm the defacto tech support for my
extended family, not just my media family.
Um, one interesting thing you're kind
of talking about is this idea of sort
of systemizing some of your sales, you
know, biz dev, maybe even marketing.
Um, do you have a view on how much of
your sales and biz dev work should be
systemized versus kind of made up based
on how you're feeling in the moment?
Like, what is the line between ultra.
Dialed in, systemized, and somewhat
fluid based on your the moment.
Reuben Swartz: Well, I, I
think it varies and one of the
challenges of being a solopreneur.
Is your life is gonna get thrown some
curve balls and you know, having tech
support session with your mother-in-law
is a relatively minor curve ball.
But you know, if my whole day and my whole
mental, uh, sense of peace was dependent
on me following my schedule exactly,
like I would never have a moment's peace.
So I think we have to give
ourselves a little bit of grace.
But I'm a big fan of, let's use
the calendar to do the things
that that we say we're gonna do.
Like I have a Friday afternoon
slot blocked off that I create
with a button in my CRM that
says, catch up on overdue calls.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Reuben Swartz: is it perfect?
And in theory, there
shouldn't be that slot, right?
There should be no overdue calls.
I should be on top of everything,
but of course I'm not.
And so this just gives
me a little bit of slack.
So go in and do that.
Now there's other things for like,
let's talk to partners, let's talk
to prospects, let's talk to clients.
All of those things I
think are so important.
They should be blocked off on
your calendar every week, and
you're gonna hopefully go on
vacation and skip some of those.
Life is gonna happen and you're
not gonna make it every week.
But my argument as a longtime like
perfectionist who didn't wanna
start anything unless I had the
full like optimal diagram drawn out.
Is doing this, you know, let's just
say 80%, 90%, even 50%, and actually
doing it is so much more effective
than diagramming a bunch of crap and
then not actually doing it and getting
lost in sort of the reactive mode of
things coming at you all the time.
I think for most of us, business
development is a really important part
of what we're supposed to be doing, but
it's often relegated to the periphery.
It's like something we try to slot
in, in a few spare moments, usually
because we don't like it and we're
trying to procrastinate around it.
Versus let's set it up in
a way that's actually fun.
So we actually want to do it, and
we actually put it on our calendar
and it's the thing we're gonna do
by default, unless some curve ball
comes, not the thing that only
happens if there's some miracle.
And you know, I'm, I have good
energy and I have a few minutes
and blah, blah, blah, blah.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
That's the, that's how I feel.
And I think you're, you're bang on
by saying, you know, life is messy.
And like, I have two young children,
and therefore, even my perfectly planned
schedule is constantly being adjusted.
And, and so, uh, you can't get down on
yourself if you don't get all of your
system down, but it's nice to have parts
of it that you, you know, for example,
I have manies, like I need to create a.
You know, ideally multiple
pieces of content that I publish
through my newsletter per week.
And as long as I've done that, I
used to be daily, and I've kind of
pulled back on that a little bit.
Um, but I think it's important that
you say, as long as I do that, then
everything else sort of falls into place.
And in on a sales side, it might be,
you know, as long as I schedule this
thing and I send a couple cards, at
least I'm, I know I'm in that mode.
I'll always prioritize the most
important top of mind people or whomever.
And, and I think I like that idea
of, have a, have a plan, but don't.
Don't feel like it, don't
like live by your plan.
It kind of removes the fluidity
of life a little bit that can
make you a little more agile.
Reuben Swartz: Yeah, and
I, I think that notion of.
Let's do what we can and kind of
keep, have enough of a plan that
there's some momentum happening
and some forward progress.
Cause I think what happens if we don't
have that plan, we don't have that time
blocked off on our calendar, is everything
is reactive and then scrambling.
And then maybe we like, oh, I'm
gonna create 18 pieces of content
today cuz I have a few minutes.
But then you don't follow up with
that appropriately and so on.
So I think especially when it's
just you and, you know, having kids,
having a dog, having whatever else
is happening in life, um, it's hard
to keep all these balls in the air.
And so a lot of it is, let's figure
out how to be really intentional
about the, the critical ones.
And again, some of this goes
back to the positioning, right?
If I know exactly who my.
My ideal audience is I can get rid
of 50, 80, 90% of the crap that
I was so worried about because it
doesn't actually, ma, it's not, it
doesn't apply to my ideal audience.
Let me instead create one thing that's
really gonna resonate with them, right?
Let me post that in the one place that I
know they hang out, as opposed to worrying
about the 18 other places that people in
adjacent markets can hang out, et cetera.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Let's, uh, that was
actually my next question.
If you could only focus on one thing
for your business development, let's say
you had one, aside from sort of having
a CRM or something, but one thing that,
one action you took or one category
of things for biz, biz dev and you, we
can call that sales and or marketing.
What would that be?
What would be your one if
all you could do is one thing
Reuben Swartz: And of course this is
going to depend for different markets,
but I think for me, and for a lot of
the folks listening here, the one thing
is to systematically talk to people.
And as an introvert, I spent
years avoiding that, trying to
automate my way out of that.
But you can't solve all these
problems in your own head.
Whether it's creating a great blog
post or lead magnet or figuring out
who you should talk to next, or the,
you know, the LinkedIn group that's
gonna have a whole bunch of prospects
for you, whatever it is, this happens
in conversation with other people.
And so one of the biggest things that
I have, Been able to shift with myself
is go from, let's avoid talking to
people at all costs, or if necessary,
force myself to talk to people.
Oh gosh, this sucks, but I'm gonna
slog through it to let's set up
a way that this is actually fun
and interesting and energizing.
And I can't tell you how different
it is as an introvert to go from.
I'm avoiding talking to people.
I'm kind of frustrated with my sales and
marketing and when I force myself to talk
to people, I get that tension in my neck
cuz it sucks so bad to, I spend most of my
day talking to people and it's super fun.
Like, I'm not gonna say a hundred
percent of the time, but like 90% of
the time it's super fun because I've
got things not perfectly dialed in, but
dialed in enough that, you know, you
and I are having a fun conversation.
I like talking to you,
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah, it's
Like as long as you're sort of, you're
plotting your way, I'll, albeit maybe
not in a straight line, but you have a
system that gets you in that direction.
Generally, that's all you need, you know.
Reuben Swartz: Yeah, I was talking to
somebody yesterday who's having trouble
with business development and she said she
did market research, and I was like, okay,
well how many people did you talk to?
And she said, two or three.
I'm like, okay, you, I guarantee you
that you know hundreds of people.
Most of whom are not in your target
market, but almost all of whom know
people in your target market, and you
haven't spoken to any of them about this.
That's why you're struggling.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
Yeah, it's amazing.
It's, if you think of yourself, if
you think of people as your path to
opportunity, one of the things I teach
is about a golden goose method, which
is things like getting on someone's
podcast or getting teaching, what you
know, teaching that idea and serving
to an audience that already exists.
By aligning yourself with
the person who aggregated it.
Uh, but basically using that as leverage
so you can get in, get in basically open
up doors with more of your target market.
Um, but just generally this idea of
if you think of people as the conduit
to more clients, then you start
to think, well, how would people,
who would I need to connect with
and how would I need to add value?
In order to develop relationships that
would potentially lead to business long
term, cuz in absent of relationships,
I don't think I'd have a business.
Just like going back to that point
about a large majority, majority of my
leads came through referrals, probably
because those people were exposed
to my marketing and maybe some of
them had worked with me in the past.
Um, so it's just an interesting
model that if you focus on people.
In your biz dev, in your marketing, but
specifically and then connecting and
talking to people, whether they're your
peers or or non-competitive service
providers who do a similar thing.
Like if you work with graphic designers
and you are a strategist, talking to those
graphic designers, seeing what's working,
that can lead to a whole bunch of things.
Cause a lot of times
people just don't know.
They don't know you exist.
They don't know what you do.
And then if you just spoke with
'em, they'd have that moment.
Cause all I know someone
you should speak to.
And then I think naturally most
self-employed people are connectors.
In general, we have to be, so I
love that kind of framing there.
Is there one book that has changed
the trajectory of your business or has
impacted you and led you to where you are?
Is there one main book and it
can, you can may say a couple if
you want, but anything come to
Reuben Swartz: question and
I, I love reading books.
Um, and, and so I should probably have
a better answer for this, but one thing
that really helped me at the beginning
when I was starting to consult was
Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss.
So, Who was good enough to come on sales
for nerds, and we had a great chat over
wine and I was like, holy crap, I can't
believe I'm having wine with Alan Weiss
and you know, guy who I, for all the
struggles I had, they would've been
exponentially worse without that book.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
For me it was, uh, value-based
fees, and that's what.
That was the tipping point I was, as I
was branching into consulting and out of
running an agency, I'm like, I was reading
that book, which made to me more practical
sense for that pivot and transition.
And then I understood, oh, I'm solving
for a business problem based on the
value of that business problem with
the mechanics that I decide are best.
Anyway, I'm totally with you.
Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss
is a, is a classic Last question for you.
Um, you do have the podcast
Sales for Nerds and, uh, and,
and it's a great, great show.
Uh, you have a little thing that you
like to do at the beginning of every
show, and that is, and you alluded to
it with your conversation with Alan
Weiss, is you ask, what's in your glass?
Where did that come from?
And, and yeah.
How did that come about?
Because it, it is something that
I, when we spoke originally, I'd
remembered seeing a video of you
talking to Alan Weiss on YouTube.
Probably down at Allen Way's Rabbit
Hole, and I remembered that as a trigger.
A hook, if you will, which made
you familiar to me very quickly.
How did that little hook come to be?
Reuben Swartz: Well, I'd
love to say it was some grand
strategic plan, but it wasn't.
I used to go pre covid.
I would go on an annual
sort of summit retreat.
Every year with some other
small business owners.
And we would ski during the day and
then we would talk business at night
and in between there was usually some
drinking involved and somebody said
something, I don't know if it was me
or one of the other people or we were
just sort of in conversation about
how, you know, if we were millennials,
we would just film this and put it on
YouTube and figure out how to monetize
it, make a whole bunch of money.
Cuz you know, we're, we're sort
of a little happy and, and tipsy
and talking about business and
this, that and the other thing.
And I, at the same time I was like, I
kind of should write a book because I
keep getting asked the same questions
all over again and it would be a good
exercise for me and hopefully valuable to
other people if I could consolidate all
this stuff that I've learned into a book.
And then I thought, oh,
that's a lot of work.
What if I had a podcast and
invite some other people to come
talk and share their expertise?
And then what if I did it around?
I'm gonna show up with a
bottle of wine and we'll drink
the wine and do the podcast.
And I thought, that's kind of crazy.
I don't know if I can do that.
And I was like, well, it's my business.
It's my podcast.
Why can't I do that?
And so, of course, as an over
perfectionist, I wait six months
and sit on this idea until finally
it was literally six months later.
I'm like, I'm so embarrassed.
Like I'm doing it again.
I'm overthinking it.
Like I'm gonna send an email out tonight.
And so, Uh, I dunno if you know Jason
Cohen, he's the founder of WP Engine,
where I host my website and, uh, he's done
a lot of entrepreneurial things and he
has a great email@example.com and just,
you know, generally cool guy to talk to.
Lots of good thoughts.
So I sent him an email like, oh, you
know, always been big fan of a SmartBear.
Um, Customer of WP Engine have this
idea where, you know, I bring a
bottle of wine and we talk about
this, you know, would you mind this
the other thing, blah, blah, blah.
And he writes back like three
minutes later, you had me at wine.
Here's a link to my calendar.
And I was like, oh, you
know, that's interesting.
Like there's no way I could get an hour
of Jason Cohen's time if I hadn't said,
here's some wine show up at his office.
We record two episodes, the sound
quality's terrible and all that.
Cause I didn't know what I was doing.
And, but the only reason we stopped
talking was cuz we ran outta wine.
Uh, it was just such a great conversation
and it's, it's just such a nice
icebreaker and I kind of feel it.
Part of what was happening at the time.
Also, I felt like I was
in a little bit of a rut.
I was like, why can't business be fun?
Let's have things be fun.
And I think that resonates with
a lot of people and not everyone
drinks, which is fine, but most
people kind of enjoy the concept.
And what I hear from listeners is
they seem to enjoy the concept too.
Kevin C. Whelan: Wow.
I love that story is, is that
audio recording with you and Jason?
Still online anywhere,
Reuben Swartz: Yeah, I
split into two episodes.
Episodes one and two of sales
for Nerds are Jason and I talking
business and, uh, you know, badly
in need of a sound editor probably,
and better microphones and all that.
But I mean, he's got some great wisdom
that you should totally check out.
Kevin C. Whelan: I will
definitely do that.
Uh, yeah, Jason runs WP Engine as he
alluded to, is now billion dollar multi,
I don't know how big it is, uh, exceeding
a billion dollars, uh, in or valuation
anyway, and doing extraordinarily well,
and I'm a customer of theirs as well,
so, and he's a great strategic thinker.
I'll definitely go back and look at that.
One thing I, I'm gonna close on with
you is that you mentioned on kind of you
were over, you know, over this pattern of
overthinking and being perfectionist, and
I think a lot of us get held back by that.
There's a quote I heard
today by Daniel Priestley.
He wrote a book called, uh,
key Person of Influence.
And so he says, prolific Beats Perfect.
And I just like this idea of
optimizing for just getting a thing
out, and it's gonna be, and one
of the things that I firm belief
is things start small and crappy.
Specifically crappy, uh, not scrap,
uh, and then get better over time.
And you have to be willing to just
sort of put out and churn out the.
Turn out your thinking or your
effort and then eventually polish
it and refine it over time.
And, uh, I just kinda like that idea
of like permission to have bad audio
with a really important guest that
first time and build it from there.
And you've done so
successfully since then.
Reuben Swartz: Yeah, I think and such
a great point to close on because
I think so many of us think that.
You cannot make a mistake in anything.
And obviously, you know, if you're doing
heart surgery, don't make a mistake.
Um, but for all the sales and
marketing stuff we're doing,
you're gonna make mistakes.
It's just inevitable.
And sort of to, to just circle back to
that example you talked about, there's
something that I remember in my head
where an art professor gave students
a chance to be graded on one project.
So, Or on a whole quantity of projects.
It was a pottery class.
And so a lot of people said, oh great.
I only have to do one thing that's,
I'm gonna save myself so much work,
I'm just gonna make one awesome thing.
Well, who ended up with much
better pottery at the end of the
semester, it was the people who
were cranking out pots every day.
And then the people who tried to
make the perfect pot at the end,
they were kind of crappy cuz the
first effort's always kind of crappy.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yes.
And I think is, this is
especially difficult for.
I assume you, because you're a software
developer and you're therefore, in my
mind, quite intelligent and probably
were successful in school, like, don't
let me, you know, over assume here.
Reuben Swartz: talking.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah, yeah.
You know, super successful
in all areas of life.
No, but it's particularly difficult
for people who are natural achievers
and who are good in, say, for
example, academics to make that
bridge and put out a blog post that.
Might not be perfect and might be
overly rigid or boring or what have
you, you know, for, for folks like me,
I was, as long as I got 70 and above in
school, my parents didn't get mad at me.
So once I realized that I was, you
know, seventies, eighties student and
I was just coasting, uh, but what that
taught me though was being okay with
putting something up that's less than
perfect and then going back and making
things better and then just improving
over time and really dialing in and,
uh, sounds like you've kind of been.
Forcing yourself to do that.
Having a system, but being okay with it,
being imperfect, getting it directionally
accurate, and starting with crappy audio.
And then here you are today,
how many podcast episodes later.
Reuben Swartz: I think, uh, 85 or so,
and, and I've got one in the queue
for you that hasn't published yet.
Kevin C. Whelan: Yeah.
So that's the way, right?
It's being okay with less than Perfect
and then making it better over time.
So this has been a really
great conversation, Ruben.
I really appreciate you sharing
your wisdom, and I can tell there's
just so much more expertise under
the cover, uh, that we haven't
uncovered in our conversation.
Tell us where we can learn more about the
CRM and, and follow you in particular.
Uh, if someone wanted to explore
your ecosystem a little further,
Reuben Swartz: Sure, thanks.
Uh, you can find more
That's m i m.
My r n.com.
And in addition to the crm,
there's a bunch of lead magnets.
There's a proposal template.
There's pro the proposal
template that I use.
Uh, there's ideas for lead magnets
for your site and some other freebies
that might be helpful for you.
Uh, you can also catch the
firstname.lastname@example.org or just
search for sales for Nerds podcast
wherever you listen to podcasts.
And you can find me on LinkedIn.
I don't know if I'm the only Ruben
Swartz, but if there's not really
that many of us, I don't think so.
It should be pretty easy to find me.
Kevin C. Whelan: Perfect.
Ruben, this has been a
Thank you so much for your
time, and I look forward to
seeing you on the internet.
Reuben Swartz: Thanks so much, Kevin.
Thanks for having me.
So that's it.
My friends, I hope you
enjoyed that podcast.
Ruben is such a wealth of knowledge
and definitely go check out
his CRM or the fun anti CRM at
Mimiran.com that's M I M I R A N.com.
And yeah, there'll be notes additional
to this in the, in the show notes.
If you have any other followup
questions, let me know.
You can always reach me on
Twitter slash X at, at Kevin C.
Whelan or reply to any of my emails, if
you're on my mailing list and you can
get direct contact to me, if you have
any questions or follow up to this.
As always, please share with a friend
if you got some value out of this.
And, uh, I really appreciate it.
Head over to how to sell
advice.com/membership to either get on
the mailing list or join the membership.
And I will hopefully see you inside.
That's all for now my friends take care