Episode 046 – Connecting, Teaching, & Helping People Get What They Want
Welcome to Episode #046 of The Digital Agency Insiders Podcast – Connecting, Teaching, & Helping People Get What They Want.
Today’s featured guest is Reuben Swartz.
In this episode, Reuben shares how he found himself helping expert consultants who love serving clients — but like himself, hates selling and marketing — get even more clients without being ‘salesy’. And today, we are going to dive in and discuss exactly how that works.
Reuben is the Founder of Mimiran — a CRM++ for consultants who love serving clients but hate ‘selling’. He is also the Chief Nerd of The Sales for Nerds Podcast & Community — a podcast that brings you interviews with sales and marketing experts, including technical people, who have figured out how to hack sales and marketing so that you can avoid the same mistakes.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
We talked about a brief rundown of Reuben’s experiences prior to Mimiran and Sales for Nerds
Reuben started as a software developer in Austin Texas. He would write and develop code that would process billions of dollars for giant companies.
At first, Reuben did not care about why these companies were doing what they did. He simply wanted his code to run faster and smoother.
Over time, Reuben would get strange requests from the people who actually deployed his software to the customers. That piqued his curiosity slowly but surely.
Finally, he realized that the interesting stuff was not actually the code, it was actually the people and the organizations that try to fit all these different components together.
Next, we talked about what made Reuben want to switch from software development to sales and marketing.
Reuben shared, “I was burned out of that whole ‘.com million miles an hour thing.’ It just didn’t sit right with me even though I learned how to play that kind of game. I felt like we weren’t taking care of our customers as well as we should have because we were so focused on our own growth. And in fairness, the customers often weren’t taking very good care of us.
“I felt like everyone was working hard and going after what they wanted, but they couldn’t coordinate with other people that would actually, in a way, make it easier for them to get what they wanted.”
Reuben wanted to deliver similar gains to people by trying to bring everyone together on the same page. The more he did this, the less he became concerned with his coding background. He realized, even more, the importance of gathering people in one room to agree on stuff.
According to Reuben, it took him forever to realize that, actually, being the person who takes care of the client is a sales superpower.
And then, we talked about how the first 6 months of Mimiran looked like. Reuben detailed the hurdles he went through and how he was able to overcome them.
According to Reuben, he did almost everything wrong during the first 6 months of Mimiran. But now, he gives pep talks to people, “Hey, if you start a new business, everyone that you know and care about should know what you’re doing.”
Reuben’s advice does not mean that you go out to pitch them or sell them anything. He is saying, the people around you should just be aware that you started a business that focuses on a specific industry.
This is something he didn’t do when he launched Mimiran.
He went on to add, “It’s amazing how many people will start a business — they’re making maybe the biggest bet of their life! And they don’t tell anybody.”
We also discussed a few other fun topics, including:
- How does Mimiran actually work? We talked about the ins and outs of Reuben’s whole process.
- Although Reuben hates ‘selling’, he discovered that he loves connecting with people.
- We talked about the different tasks involved in business — if it is something that is not fun to do, then you’re probably not doing it right.
- As of this writing, Mimiran has been running for over 19 years. Has Reuben Swartz perfected his process?
- Discover Reuben’s perspective on what a successful entrepreneur is and the biggest challenge he has faced while on that journey.
- Reuben’s three mindset shifts for selling and marketing: Help, don’t sell. Teach, don’t market. Connect, don’t network.
All that and more! But you’ll have to watch or listen to the episode to hear about those!
How To Stay Connected with Reuben Swartz
Want to stay connected with Reuben? Please check out their social profiles below.
Also, Reuben mentioned the following items on the show. You can find them on:
- The Sales for Nerds Podcast by Reuben Swartz
- A Smart Bear by Jason Cohen
- National Geographic
- Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients by David A. Fields
Tabitha Thomas 0:17
Hey everybody, and welcome again to the Digital Agency Insiders Podcast. This is the podcast that gives you a little inside look into how entrepreneurs built and grew their digital marketing agencies. I am Tabitha Thomas, your host, and if this is your first time listening to the podcast, can I just go and encourage you to hit that subscribe button as we release new episodes each and every Tuesday. So let’s jump on into today’s episode. Today I have with me Reuben Swarts. Reuben is the founder of Mimiran, and the chief nerd of The Sales for Nerds Podcast and community.
Now, Reuben helps expert consultants who love serving clients, but hate selling and marketing, get more clients without being ‘salesy’. And we want to know exactly how that works. So Reuben, welcome to the podcast.
Reuben Swartz 0:59
Great to be here, Tabitha. Thanks for having me.
Tabitha Thomas 1:01
Super excited to have you. So before we dive into Mimiran and Sales For Nerds, let’s back way up to your time with Trilogy Software. You did a little bit of everything in regards to their pricing tech. Can you give us a brief rundown of your time there? And maybe some things you learned before going into business for yourself?
Reuben Swartz 1:20
Sure, gosh, it’s such a long time ago now. But I remember coming down — I never thought I would set foot in Texas if I didn’t fly down for the interview one weekend. And I thought —
Tabitha Thomas 1:30
So where are you originally from?
Reuben Swartz 1:31
I grew up in Massachusetts, I was going to school in New Jersey. And I remember, you know, when you’re in college, the idea of getting on a plane and staying in a hotel for a weekend sounds really amazing. And in fact, it sounds amazing right now, because we’re not allowed to go anywhere.
Tabitha Thomas 1:43
Reuben Swartz 1:44
After a while, I was like, “Why did that seem so appealing?” But at the time, it seemed really appealing. I remember thinking, “I will never visit Texas. I should do it while someone else is paying for it.” And I got here. I was like, “Austin’s pretty cool, this company’s really cool.” I like the people. I have no idea what they do. Something for big businesses that I don’t understand at all. But let me go check it out. And I started as a developer, and I was writing code that would process billions of dollars of transactions for these giant companies. And I didn’t really care about why they were doing it. I just wanted to make the code run faster and do what I’m supposed to do. And I would get these weird requests from the people who actually deployed this to the customers. And I was like, “Oh, you know, that’s kind of interesting. I wonder why they want that.” That sounds really weird. And over time, I realized that the interesting stuff was not actually the code, it was actually the people and the organizations that try to fit all these different components together. And so I was a little bit burned out after four years of this. And I thought, now that I kind of understand a little bit of the business side of things, and the technology, instead of going in — because what would often happen with us is McKinsey or somebody would deliver a report and that would turn into an RFP — and then we would come in and do a Bake Off in three years and two reorders later, we had done some things, but it was kind of like everyone had worked really hard, but it wasn’t lined up very well. And I thought if I can
actually understand the strategy and the business process and the tools, we don’t have to work as hard and spend as much money. We can get better results because everyone will be in alignment. And I was like, Well, I’m gonna travel half the time. And I’m going to work half the time. I have no obligations and nothing’s going on. And it wasn’t that I was some business entrepreneurial genius by any means. It was literally me thinking how I got to Texas. Here I am 20 some years later. Like if I don’t do this now, I’ll never do this. And so I did it. And of course the plan was a complete failure because I was usually either working or trying to find work. And I did get to go to some really awesome places, but I wasn’t traveling half the year. And so that’s kind of how I fell into entrepreneurship completely accidentally.
Tabitha Thomas 3:54
Yeah, so the desire to travel… Do you consider yourself a Texan now that you’ve been there for would you say 27 years now?
Reuben Swartz 4:02
I think it’s 23 years and I think that I am. I have cowboy boots. I don’t have a hat. But I’m pretty sure that I officially qualify.
Tabitha Thomas 4:13
You qualify. I like it and Austin’s a great city to to end up in if you’re going anywhere in Texas. So you went straight from Trilogy to Mimiran — I’m gonna screw that up a billion times. So you correct me every time I do it. Mimiran. You seem to be crushing it there ever sense. So what made you want to switch it up? I mean, was it just the desire to travel? Or was there something else to it?
Reuben Swartz 4:35
Well, I was burned out of that whole.com million miles an hour thing. It just didn’t sit right with me even though I learned how to play that kind of game, I guess. I felt like sometimes we weren’t taking care of our customers as well as we should have. Because we were so focused on our own growth. And in fairness, the customers often weren’t taking very good care of us. I’ve just felt like everyone was working hard and going after what they wanted, but they couldn’t coordinate with other people that would actually, in a way, would make it easier for them to get what they wanted.
Tabitha Thomas 5:12
Reuben Swartz 5:13
And I thought, you know, being young and naive. I thought, well, I’ve got a better way to do this. And in some cases, it worked out. And in some cases, it didn’t. But I really thought that we could deliver similar gains to people, if we could bring everyone together on the same page. Yeah. And the thing that was funny was, the more I did this, the less I became concerned with my coding background and fancy algorithms and AI optimizations and crunching numbers. And the more I realized it was about getting people in the room to agree on stuff. And then the other funny thing was here, I am doing sales and marketing consulting for some of the biggest companies on the planet. And we can’t do sales or marketing to save our own. We can’t sell our way out of a paper bag. And we’re pretty much dependent on referrals. And I tried so many different things. I took training, and I read books, and I implemented CRMs. And we sponsored conferences and trade shows, and we kind of did all the stuff and flailed around. And I would kind of go through the cycles of Oh, maybe this other thing will work. And no, no, it didn’t. Okay, now I’m going to be upset for a while and just say, forget it. It’s all referrals. And then I’m going to go up the roller coaster on the other end and say, No, I got to do something. And it was just just years of painful experiences. And I realized that so much of how we think of sales and marketing is really not set up for small services firms, especially when the person doing the sales and marketing is also the person doing the delivery. And for a long time I felt victimized like, Oh, you know, this isn’t fair. They’ve got full time salespeople, they’ve got full time marketing people, they’ve got big budgets, and whatever. They know way more about sales than me because I’m busy taking care of the client. And it took me forever to realize, no, actually, being the person who takes care of the client is a sales superpower.
Tabitha Thomas 7:09
Reuben Swartz 7:11
It doesn’t have to be a negative, it’s hugely positive. And the stuff that I need to learn about sales —which I’m ignorant of, which is important — is much easier to catch up on than the years of expertise actually delivering value to people.
Tabitha Thomas 7:26
Yeah, cuz you’re having an insight into what your customers really want and what they really need. And that is definitely a superpower. So you talked a little bit about, you know, the rough years. So what did the first six months to a year look like for Mimiran? What hurdles do you wish you had known about going into it that maybe you want to help people avoid now that you’re further along?
Reuben Swartz 7:49
Well, it’s really funny because I did all the stuff wrong. Now I kind of give that pep talk to people, like, “Hey, if you start a new business, everyone that you know, that you care about should know what you’re doing. You don’t have to pitch them or sell them or do anything, they should just be aware that you started a business that kind of functions in this area.” And I didn’t do that. And it’s amazing to me how many people will start a business, they’re making maybe the biggest bet of their life outside of their spouse? And they don’t tell anybody.
Tabitha Thomas 8:23
So why do you feel like you didn’t tell anybody? What was the reasoning? Or you probably didn’t even think at that moment? What was the reason for not telling anyone?
Reuben Swartz 8:31
Well, it wasn’t like it was a secret. I just didn’t want to be salesy or marketing. And I didn’t know how to do that stuff anyway. And I had a hard time. I think the big thing that I realized was that I was good at doing the actual client work, which I think is where a lot of us are. And that’s why we do what we do, because we want to help the clients. And then we shift into sales mode and marketing mode. And at least for me, it was very awkward. It’s like, Oh, I’m being inauthentic. I’m going to impersonate a salesperson, I used to have this rack of sales books on this bookshelf back here. And it was really I realized later was because the people who buy these books and who buy the sales training, they’re the folks with the thousand person sales team. And it is a numbers game for them, right? They’re just going to churn through a bunch of reps, and a third of them are going to be great. And two thirds of them are going to get pushed out in two years. And they just keep repeating and that works at scale. But if you have a solo or a tiny firm, that strategy doesn’t work for you numerically. And it doesn’t work for you psychologically, right? You have to actually care about what you’re doing. And I would go and I would have these great conversations with people and as soon as I shifted to sales mode in my head, it would all go sideways. And I realized after a while, I’m just not going to sell because I suck at selling I don’t like it. And that’s really my own stereotypical view of sort of the Glengarry Glen Ross salesperson because I realized later that all the reason successful salespeople are actually great. They have all the qualities I admire, they may or may not be technically proficient, but they care a lot about the customer success. But in my head, I was like selling is about me getting what I want. It’s not about helping them get what they want. So why don’t I just stop selling and start helping?
Tabitha Thomas 10:18
Reuben Swartz 10:19
If I was talking to a friend, how would I handle this? Right, I wouldn’t push my solution, I would figure out what they really need. And I would actually ask a lot more questions. I’d be a lot noisier than I was being with some of my prospects, because I would care so much that they got to the result that they needed.
Tabitha Thomas 10:38
Reuben Swartz 10:39
And as soon as I did that, I’m not gonna say I became a salesperson overnight, but it completely changed the way I interacted with prospects.
Tabitha Thomas 10:48
Yeah, definitely, definitely. So Mimiran is a CRM that prides itself on helping people market and sell more without being salesy, like we just discussed. So how does that work? Can you walk me through your actual process?
Reuben Swartz 11:02
Sure, and the CRM didn’t come until much late. It really wasn’t even supposed to be a CRM. It was just a way for me to automate proposals because I hated not knowing if people would read my proposals.
Tabitha Thomas 11:14
Reuben Swartz 11:15
You call them and leave voicemails like, “Hey, just wondering if you got any questions…”
Tabitha Thomas 11:19
…and then you feel like that annoying salesperson!
Reuben Swartz 11:22
Yes, exactly. And then you don’t know. You know, is this project going to start when they said it was going to start? Do I need to keep that time on my calendar for that project? Do I need to have people ready to be there? Or is it who knows what’s going on? Right? So I realized this is a technical person, if I put this thing in the cloud, I can at least know when people are reading it. And that actually worked great. I still remember the first time I sent a proposal through my system, I wasn’t thinking of it as a tool to sell to somebody else. It was just a way to keep me sane. And I was like, oh, gosh, you know, maybe some other people would like this. Yeah. And then they started asking, Hey, this is great. Now that the end of my sales process is automated. What can we do at the front of the sales funnel to get more leads in and I never thought I would do anything with that. I was just like the techie person talking to a bunch of consultants who maybe weren’t techie. So I was like, “Well, let me go do some research for you.” And I realized that kind of like the sales books, the lead gen tools were really designed for other sets of people, they’re designed for folks who are selling a digital product or something where you can just get an email address, you blast a bunch of emails out, and eventually they click “Add to Cart.” Or they’re designed for a big sales team that’s calling people, you know, 100-200 people a day. And it’s a numbers game. But what if you’re a small services firm? You don’t need that many leads, you can’t even handle that many clients at once. But each one is potentially really valuable. And you need to have a conversation with them to go anywhere. And I was like, Well, wait a second, I have this way to create content to share it online, and to notify you when someone’s reading it. What if instead of just using this for proposals and contracts, and whatever… We could also create lead magnets with this? It’s like, “Oh, that seems pretty good.” And then people say, “Hey, this is great. You know what I can get my leads off my site, never gotten before now that now I actually get leads, I could drop them in my CRM. And when it’s time I can process them and send them a proposal. But Gosh, I hate my CRM. Can you make Mimiran do the CRM stuff?” And I said, “No, the world doesn’t need another CRM, that would be crazy. Why would I do that?” Why would I inflict that on myself on you? And then, you know, I started realizing that, as usual, my customers are right. And a lot of the CRMs are not built for people like us, either. They’re built for people doing a bunch of marketing automation, or they’re built for big sales teams. They are not built for the solo, or the small firm, where the person selling is also doing the delivery where you don’t have all day to make calls. But Gosh, you’d really like to stay connected to your network, you’d really like to get leads and so on, you’d like to be able to track your referrals. And I remember talking to somebody who was using Salesforce, which is an amazing tool for the right, classic company, but it’s like trying to fly the space shuttle, if you’re a tiny firm. And it doesn’t do things like “Hey, let me see who’s referred me to how much business.” Like, you can make it do that if you’ve got someone to program it, but it doesn’t just do that for you. Or who should I call next? Let me call them. Right? Like these are the things that occupied me as somebody who has to do the selling / helping, but also the delivery, right? I’m not there running a 100 person or 1000 person sales team. So I was like, “Okay, you’re right. There’s a better way to do this. For this tribe of people. Let’s make it a CRM for — and I call it a CRM for people who hate selling.” Because that’s me. And that’s my tribe. So that’s probably a little bit more long winded than you want it. But the idea is, let’s make it really simple to keep track of the stuff that we need to do. Like, who do I call now, instead of staring at a list of the 500 people that I know I should be calling. Here’s the one person that you should call. You call them, you enter your notes, you hit save, and it takes you to the next one. And I went from struggling to make a handful of calls a day to making 10 or 20 calls. And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, it’s lunchtime. I completely missed it.” And I’m pretty introverted. And I spent years hating making calls, forcing myself to do it then stopping because I hated it so much. And now it’s like, I never make a cold call. And I just connect with people I want to talk to or people who leave their number when they grab something off my website. I have great conversations. And I don’t feel like I’m ever in sales mode.
Tabitha Thomas 15:55
Reuben Swartz 15:56
Oh, it’s fun! I was like, “Holy crap! I didn’t realize this could be fun!” And one of the things that I think is hard, especially when you’re a service-oriented person, we get this image of, we got to grind it out with the sales and marketing. It’s a necessary evil. And I know I spent a long time in that little mental prison. And my new view of it is, if it’s not fun, you’re probably not doing it right. And I don’t mean that, like every single moment is gonna be super awesome. They’re like the most amazing fun you’d ever have. But generally, it should be fun to do sales and marketing if you’re doing it right.
Tabitha Thomas 16:33
Mm hmm. Yeah. And I’m in the same boat. I hate doing sales, hate doing sales. And you’re right. If it feels like that, then I’m not doing something right.
Reuben Swartz 16:41
And I bet you love helping people.
Tabitha Thomas 16:44
I love talking to people and helping people. So yeah.
Reuben Swartz 16:46
That’s perfect! That’s all you need.
Tabitha Thomas 16:48
Yeah. So very true. So very true. So do you feel that over the last 19 years with Mimiran, that you’ve perfected the process? Or do you feel like you’re still constantly learning new techniques and tips and things kind of shift as the time changes?
Reuben Swartz 17:04
I don’t think — I hope … one of my hopes as a curious person is that learning never ends. I don’t think it’s ever done. I do think that the mindset changes are the biggest thing, right? Switching from selling to helping, from marketing to teaching, from networking to connecting. Then once you see the world in that way, everything gets a lot easier. It’s like I’m not swimming upstream constantly. I’m not ending my day, when I do my business development time was like… the tension. I used to just be tense! I could feel it in my back, right? Like I hated doing this stuff. And now I’m like, this is fun. It’s just part of my day. I actually get energy from it, which is really weird, as an introvert,
Tabitha Thomas 17:52
I have to say that for somebody who does code — in the back end of things. And the fact that you’re doing the front end of things as well is so different. Because you don’t see a lot of people that code things and actually communicate well with people. So let me just commend you on that. Because I’ve, I’ve worked with both ends of things. And they always said that I speak “geek”, because I could speak to the geeks and then translate that to “human” humans. So the fact that you do both is something to be commended, for sure.
Reuben Swartz 18:24
Well, thank you. And it’s nice, because I’m somebody who… Like, not only am I selling this, I’m user number one.
Tabitha Thomas 18:30
Reuben Swartz 18:33
So, a lot of it was built from scratch by my own itch. Or when I’m talking to other people, right? They’ll be saying, “How should the screen work? I’m frustrated that this button is confusing.” or whatever, like, yeah, you’re so right. And so, I can just go fix it.
Tabitha Thomas 18:48
Reuben Swartz 18:49
There’s a really tight loop on what happens and polishing things to try to make it as easy as possible.
Tabitha Thomas 18:58
Reuben Swartz 19:01
I would get bored, I think, if I was sitting behind my desk all day and never talking to people. But then if I was just talking to people, and I could never like actually change anything, that would be frustrating too. I get to do both. So I’m pretty lucky.
Tabitha Thomas 19:15
That’s a good balance for both. So what would you say has been the biggest challenge you faced on your path to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Reuben Swartz 19:23
Well, and you know, successful is a matter of perception, I think. And I think we tend to think of it in terms of, you know, are you Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs, or Jeff Bezos or something like that?
Tabitha Thomas 19:37
Or a dollar sign behind it?
Reuben Swartz 19:38
Yeah. Right. A dollar sign is sort of like some kind of prestige and power and whatever. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that journey. But for most of us who are building smaller services firms, that’s not the path that we’re on.
Tabitha Thomas 19:51
Reuben Swartz 19:51
And I think getting to wake up every day and do something that’s meaningful for people is pretty awesome. My wife’s a doctor, so she does much more meaningful stuff than I do.
Tabitha Thomas 20:02
Especially right now, right?
Reuben Swartz 20:04
Yeah. But I like that I get to go and help people. And some of those things that I struggled with, that I can now kind of unlock people from that little box we put around our own heads. Like, that’s pretty cool. So I think, sorry, I didn’t even answer your question.
Tabitha Thomas 20:23
What was the biggest challenge?
Reuben Swartz 20:25
The challenge is, is there always enough time? Like, is there enough time in the day? And that is the downside to wearing a lot of hats and sort of having your hands and everything … You’ve got to ruthlessly prioritize your time, especially with COVID. And my kids aren’t in school, and we got a Corona Puppy. So I spent like, the first month… I didn’t sleep properly. And then, you know, you’re sort of counting on having your routine to keep everything going. And you know, you don’t necessarily have as much. It’s been a challenge. I won’t kid anybody.
Tabitha Thomas 21:02
Time is always always the — time. Yeah. Time. Definitely time. So let’s talk about the podcast a little bit. What made you want to actually create and start a podcast besides just the love of talking to people?
Reuben Swartz 21:14
Well, and I don’t think I even had that love for it when I started the podcast. That was what helped me. The podcast, and then some stuff I built into the CRM, really changed the way I interact with people.
Tabitha Thomas 21:26
Okay, tell me about that.
Reuben Swartz 21:29
Well, I’m an introvert. And so being a technologically minded introvert, it was easy for me to use technology to avoid talking to people, I was like, This is great.
Tabitha Thomas 21:41
Reuben Swartz 21:42
I don’t have to talk to you. I could send him an email or whatever. And I realized later that I actually really liked talking to people. I like having conversations, I just kind of want to have it on my terms. I like one on one conversations, I don’t like going to giant conferences. You know, I like being able to actually learn something and connect with the other person. And a bunch of us small business owners were on our annual business planning summit. And we were just kind of unwinding at the end of the day, we’re having some wine, we’re talking about random business stuff. And somebody — I don’t know if it was me or somebody else. We just sort of bubbled up from the conversation. If we were a bunch of millennials, we would monetize this as a YouTube channel. Right? Like, watch a bunch of jerks drink wine and talk about business. Yeah, it’s too bad. We’re not millennials because we’re not clever enough to do that. And at the same time, I realized I was getting a lot of questions from people like, “Hey, can I take you to coffee and pick your brain about whatever?” And a lot of it was the same stuff over and over again. And it’s like, I want to be helpful. I want to talk to people. But this isn’t necessarily a great use of my time, I should just write a book that kind of answers all these questions and be like, “Here’s the book, go to town.” And I was like, gosh, a book sounds like an awful lot of work. And so, when we were having this conversation about the YouTube thing, I was like, “Oh, you know, what if I combine the ideas here and have a podcast where I bring a bottle of wine to your office, when I interview you, and we drink a bottle of wine, and we have a great time.” And so that was the genesis of the podcast idea. And I thought, you know, instead of just hearing Reuben talk about this stuff, there are other people who have been through similar journeys of going from hating sales and marketing to actually being good at it. Let’s bring everyone’s stories together. And even though — you’ll probably appreciate this — even though I knew I was doing this, it took me six months from the time I formulated this idea to invite my first guest.
Tabitha Thomas 23:36
Like an introvert that makes sense, because it’s like, “Oh, I don’t know that. Yeah, I wanted to… No. Yeah. No. I’m not sure if you want to do this or not.
Reuben Swartz 23:43
Well, it was that perfectionism. Like, I’m not ready yet. I don’t have the right audio recording equipment. I don’t have whatever, right?
Tabitha Thomas 23:51
Reuben Swartz 23:52
Finally, I was like, this is just embarrassing. It’s been six months. Let me just do this. And so I sent this long email to Jason Cohen, the founder of WP Engine here in Austin, who’s got a brilliant blog at A Smart Bear. If you’re interested in sort of consulting blogs, it’s a great one for your listeners. And I’m a customer of WP Engine. And as you know, I’m a customer … I had this concept of I bring a bottle of wine and we talked about “I would love to get your story. Would love hearing you speak big fan of what you’re doing WP Engine…” all this stuff, right? Like —
Tabitha Thomas 24:29
If anybody tells me they’re bringing a bottle of wine. I’m gonna say “Yes.”
Reuben Swartz 24:32
That’s exactly what happened. He wrote back five minutes later, you had me at wine, here’s the link to my calendar and we spent like two hours talking and we only stopped because we ran out of wine. And it was fantastic. And you know, the audio quality is terrible and all that stuff that happens when you get started.
Tabitha Thomas 24:49
Reuben Swartz 24:50
In an amateur way. But it was a great experience. I heard so many positive things for people to listen to it. And it just been kind of a fun thing.
Tabitha Thomas 24:57
And certainly if it wasn’t 10 AM, maybe that’s something I need to incorporate into mine, “Okay, we both need to have a drink to be able to have this conversation.” But you know, alas, it’s not noon yet.
Reuben Swartz 25:07
Well, and I’m not trying to encourage alcoholism. It’s just, I do want to have a serious business conversation. I want it to feel like a couple of friends are sitting down together and discussing things.
Tabitha Thomas 25:18
I love it.
Reuben Swartz 25:19
Instead of, you know, a lot of these business podcasts, you kind of sound like you’re listening to CNN business or something like that. It’s just like, a little bit too…
Tabitha Thomas 25:31
Reuben Swartz 25:32
Tabitha Thomas 25:33
Yeah, too formal. And the way you describe it, you know, having a conversation with friends. That’s exactly how I want this one to be. So I love that you do that. So do you still do it the same way? Do you still go to people with a bottle of wine and have those conversations? Or has it changed, especially now since all this COVID crap?
Reuben Swartz 25:52
Yeah. So I mean, when I do meet people in person and I actually had to… We had a thing we were supposed to do that got rescheduled because of COVID here in town. And so, we’re like, “Well, let’s just wait and see what happens. It’s not urgent.” But a lot of the interviews were remote anyway. And then you have to BYOB.
Tabitha Thomas 26:14
Gotcha. Gotcha. See, I love it. I love the concept. So you talk about three mindset shifts for selling and marketing to make those things work. So what are those three mindset shifts?
Reuben Swartz 26:29
Well, we talked a little bit about shifting from selling to helping
Tabitha Thomas 26:32
Reuben Swartz 26:33
Which I think is probably the most important one. And I think, really intuitive, right? Like we put up all these obstacles in our own mind, once we start referring to things as selling and thinking we have to act like a salesperson. Yeah, exactly. You get all tensed up, and it gets awkward. And you would never talk to your friends that way, if you were trying to help them solve a problem. So yeah, you have to be professional and you have certain obligations. And money has to change hands at some point. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t help. And my view is I still hate selling. I just want to make it easy for people to buy when they want to buy, right? We all like to buy when we want something. We don’t want to be sold. And then at the same time, how do we make sure that we’re having these conversations where some reasonable amount of them turn into clients, instead of marketing and bragging about how great we are? Let’s teach people about how to solve their problems. Again, it comes from sort of the mindset of I’m serving you, it’s about you, I’m here to help. And selfishly, that’s actually where I get the enjoyment from, right. Like, I don’t get a bunch of enjoyment, saying, Hey, I’m awesome. Look at us, we’re amazing. I get enjoyment from helping people solve their problems anyway. And I think there’s so many of us who are in that service mindset, where you can teach people about how to help solve their problems all day long. But as soon as you call it marketing, they freeze up, their websites are terrible. There’s nothing for them for visitors to do. It looks like everyone else’s crappy website. But if you have that conversation with them, they’re amazing. And you understand why people refer to them business and so on. And then the other one is, so many of these folks in this tribe, their business is based on referrals and networking, as they call it. Network, it was another thing I was like, “Oh my god, I hear I’m supposed to do this, but it’s terrible. I hate it.” And I still hate it. But I love connecting with people.
Tabitha Thomas 28:25
And studying how just one word changed can just completely alter your feelings and your body language and everything about you just just one word changed. It’s almost the same thing, just a change in word.
Reuben Swartz 28:38
Yeah. And especially now that in-person networking is, let’s just say, challenging. Connecting is really important. And one of the things that I realized was, “Oh, I ran into so and so at the store,” this is back when you ran into people at the store, right? “We had a great conversation, I hadn’t seen him in five years, we had a great conversation. “Or, you know, somebody called me out of the blue because they had read something or whatever — we had a great time. I realized that so many of us don’t have enough time in the day. And it’s really hard to maintain those non urgent relationships.
Tabitha Thomas 29:12
Reuben Swartz 29:13
But that’s really where a lot of business comes from. It’s where a lot of sort of great psychological energy comes from. And I think so many of us are running at 100 miles an hour constantly, that we don’t spend the time we don’t feel we have the time to maintain those relationships and strengthen them. And that was kind of the Genesis actually of me saying, “Okay, we need a CRM because those things are important. And we should be using technology, not to avoid conversations but to facilitate them.”
Tabitha Thomas 29:46
So true, so true. So what you talked about a minute ago, just how much you love helping people. So what has been your favorite or most successful story throughout your career so far, as far as helping someone else through their struggles?
Reuben Swartz 30:00
I don’t know. That sounds awfully a lot like tooting my own horn.
Tabitha Thomas 30:05
or trying to choose your favorite child. That’s what it feels like.
Reuben Swartz 30:08
Right. But one thing that I always remember is I have a longtime client. one of the first people to use what’s now the CRM. And she does great work for her clients. She’s built a great team, all the usual stuff. But I felt like — a lot of us — she was undervaluing what she did. And so my background in pricing was like, “Hey, you need to raise your prices.” And went through this whole conversation about how, you know — she told me what she did and what it was. And I was like, “That doesn’t translate into what you’re putting into your proposals, right?” It needs to be higher. And so we had a little pep talk. And she went and immediately raised prices across the board 30% and didn’t lose any clients. Everything was great. She didn’t switch billing on existing projects.
Tabitha Thomas 31:01
Reuben Swartz 31:02
Everything that went out from that port forward was higher. And then she called me a couple months later and said, “Hey, I want to thank you for my new deck.” Like, that’s cool, right? Like, there’s something that she’d been looking forward to doing. And she hadn’t felt quite comfortable enough to do it. And then, you know, she started asking for closer to what she was worth, and she got a new deck out of it. That’s pretty nice.
Tabitha Thomas 31:26
And it’s something tangible, you can look at. I did this because of that.
Reuben Swartz 31:30
Right? And I think a lot of it is, even when I was doing the stuff for the fortune 500 people, I’d go in, and everyone would say, “Oh, we’re the most messed up organization you’ve ever seen. It’s a disaster. Oh, my goodness.” It’s like, I just tell you to lay down on my couch. First thing you need to know is you’re not alone. Right? Like, everyone has these problems. There are reasons we have them. And of course, I couldn’t see that for myself, right? I thought I was just an idiot, because I couldn’t do sales and marketing. And it turns out that there are reasons for why I struggled. And there’s a lot of folks who are in that bucket. So step one is just “Hey, you’re not alone. And it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, because you’re not a sales rockstar or whatever. It just means you need a different mindset, a different way to think about these things.
Tabitha Thomas 32:16
So very true. So very true. So do you have any other projects that you’re working on at the moment, or anything that you’re looking forward to in the coming year?
Reuben Swartz 32:24
Well, it all kind of ties around my main mission of how do I prevent people from having to learn stuff the hard way like I did, right? There’s a much easier way to do this. And so from the CRM, to the podcast. It’s all about how to make it easy for other folks. And what I’ve been doing recently with COVID is doing virtual boot camps — sales and marketing boot camps for people. And that’s been a lot of fun. It’s kind of like, “Hey, we should all go to the gym. We all know we should do business development, but we kind of hate it. And especially when you’re locked in your house, it’s really hard to work out or do the business development stuff where we know where we’re supposed to do. But if I can bring people together as a group, suddenly you got a workout buddy. And we’re kind of doing stuff together. And it’s it’s, it’s been fun and helpful for people. So I’m pretty jazzed about that.
Tabitha Thomas 33:18
Awesome. So one of the things that I love asking people. Is there anything that you’re currently reading or listening to that’s helping you grow as an entrepreneur, I see a whole bookshelf behind you. So surely there’s one back there that you would highly recommend for our audience.
Reuben Swartz 33:33
Well, it’s funny. I’ve got my National Geographics going along there. So that’s the one thing that I keep up with more or less regularly.
Tabitha Thomas 33:43
I love that. My grandmother collected those. And so when she passed away, they were like, what do you want from grandma? I was like the National Geographics. That’s what I want. They are timeless, you can never get rid of them.
Reuben Swartz 33:53
That’s awesome. Yeah. So there’s that which, of course, is completely different than, you know, direct entrepreneurial stuff. But I think at the same time, it’s helpful to step out of that entrepreneurial mindset for a second and understand that there’s this broader world with all kinds of interesting stuff going on. I do think it’s one of those books that I wish I’d had when I was starting my practice. It’s the Irresistible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients by David A Fields, who was a guest on Sales For Nerds. It’s a fantastic book, highly recommend that.
Tabitha Thomas 34:29
Got it. Good. Great. So if you could sum — and I hate asking these questions sometimes — if you can sum up everything you’ve learned about sales and marketing, and one thought, what would it be?
Reuben Swartz 34:40
I think if you can help other people get what they want, everything gets a lot easier. So help, don’t sell. Teach, don’t market. Connect, don’t network.
Tabitha Thomas 34:50
Great. It’s wonderful. So where can our viewers learn more about you and Mimiran?
Reuben Swartz 34:56
Well, you can go to Mimiran.com and as we talked about earlier, it’s a really tough name to spell and pronounce but M I M I R A N .com. And if you’re interested in the CRM, you can use The Digital Agency Insiders code DAI10 to save 10%. And if you’re interested in a podcast, check it out at SalesForNerds.io or wherever you listen to find podcasts.
Tabitha Thomas 35:19
All right, well Reubin, thanks so much for being on the show. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your story and learning that you’re now an official Texan.
Reuben Swartz 35:30
Some people in Texas might say I live in Austin, and therefore I’m not an official Texan. So, it depends on who you ask.
Tabitha Thomas 35:36
I mean what part of Texas … Because it is its own country itself down there. So yes, well, again, thank you so much for being on the podcast. And guys, we’ll see you next Tuesday.
Reuben Swartz 35:46
Thanks for having me, Tabitha.
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