How To Grow Your SASS Business with Public Speaking

 
 
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Reuben is the founder of Mimiran, the CRM for people who hate selling, and Chief Nerd at the Sales for Nerds podcast. He used to hate public speaking, because he’s introverted, and because everyone seemed to say that it’s terrifying. So he was really bad at it, which reinforced the vicious cycle. With a few hacks, he started enjoying public speaking, and, more importantly, making it enjoyable for the audience, creating a virtuous cycle.

Get in touch with Reuben Swartz

Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation, what’s happening? Welcome to another episode of public speaking secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene. And as always we’re looking to give you the secrets that have helped others take their business, their lives, their careers, to another level with public speaking. And these are the secrets of a lot of people won’t tell you, uh, or you don’t hear about that has allowed them to go from stuttering and stammering through a talk to confident, charismatic, engaging speakers. And today I have someone who fits all of the above, as name’s Ruben Swartz, and he is the founder of Mimiran, which is a CRM company. And we’ll dive into exactly what that is for, for those of you who don’t know, uh, but we’re going to talk about how he’s been able to develop as public speaking, but also how has been able to benefit him as a business owner, a startup owner. So welcome to the show.

Reuben Swartz: Thanks Victor. Thanks for having me.

Victor Ahipene: That’s my pleasure. Let’s get the big, uh, big white elephant off out of the room, uh, before we get started. A CRM. So for those of us in the audience who don’t know what that is, what exactly is a CRM?

Reuben Swartz: Sure. A CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it means a lot of different things to different people. But the tool that probably most people have heard of is salesforce.com which is great if you’re a big company with a huge sales team. Uh, but if you’re a small services from where people spend most of their time actually working with clients, but they still need to do the sales and marketing as well. Uh, that’s kind of where my tool comes in.

Victor Ahipene: I mean for, for a lot of you at the, you might get a prospect that you want, you might, uh, the reach out to them and then you can have different alerts to manage it, a follow up and leave different notes and things like that. That’s, that’s the kind of the, the basic gist of, of a CRM. Yeah.

Reuben Swartz: That’s exactly right. And I think what happens a lot of the times is they’re designed for a VP of sales. And so they keep track of tasks that your sales team is doing. But if you’re actually trying to sell stuff and do work at the same time, uh, it can be a little bit burdensome. So I took the approach of how much can we automate for you? And so when you’re actually in the tool and doing things, you’re having conversations with people doing things where you’re actually adding value.

Victor Ahipene: Cool. Awesome. And so take us through your kind of journey to get to the, get the company started. Um, and I guess, yeah, we’re public speaking came into the, into the mix for you and, and the, the Startup or the free startup in the growth as a company.

Reuben Swartz: Sure. So I’m a very introverted by nature and I’m a software developer by training and sort of by temperament. And I took my first job and in software development and never intended to do any public speaking or anything like that. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Uh, but I ended up sort of accidentally and in those situations because, you know, maybe they need someone to go talk about a certain technical area or whatever. And, uh, I wasn’t particularly good at it, uh, but I wasn’t also as, as terrified of it as some people are. I think there’s a, there’s a huge notion that you have to be afraid of public speaking and therefore everyone’s afraid before they even know what they’re afraid of. And we can talk a little bit about sort of what does cause me anxiety. But, uh, you know, I could go up there and talk. I just wasn’t necessarily good. Um, and it took me a while to kind of let go of trying to be the smartest person in the room. Uh, I think, you know, a lot of us, we get started with quote unquote public speaking in school where your job is just to show that you learned something and you spit out a bunch of information, which is very, very different from actual public speaking in the real world. So it took me a while to kind of get over how that works and learn to tell stories about myself. That would be helpful to my audience. Right? I want it to convey something to people about what I thought they should be doing differently. Like that’s why they’re investing their time. They hear me speak, they’re not there because I’m Jerry Seinfeld or some great entertainer. Uh, you know, I try to keep things humorous but, but that’s really not why people are investing their time or their money to fly wherever it is there they’re going to listen to this. So I needed to convey information and it was kind of, it was kind of odd because when I started I would try to push as much information out as densely as possible and I realized that that actually doesn’t work very well. Uh, you have to be able to tell a good story and get people involved in the story and then they, their minds open and they start listening and they start learning and they start actually being able to do things differently because of what you told.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I love that. Cause I think you’ve touched on two, two really big points is it’s often, no, it’s e three. A lot of us begin our first talks that we ever do our first presentations at School. And then like you say, they’re not real life. And that also usually write out three to five minutes worth of information onto yeah. Cue Cards and, and probably an hour a day and probably lots of PowerPoint slides and copy and paste it now and then just turn it and read it. So it’s just like a shared reading activity, more than actual actually a presentation on something that you’ve got some level of expertise and um, and yeah, there’s a, there’s a big difference in the confidence as well when you’re speaking about something that you, that you know, but I think you touched on something super important when it comes to, uh, or what I call experts in Germany, people who are experts in the industry, whether the, the topics, but it’s where they just know more than the people in the room and they either go down the thing of what I know everyone else knows. And so they’re really reluctant to speak and they get a kind of like built up anxiety because I like what I’m going to teach as and of any benefit which he likely is or the other one that I know lots of stuff. I’m going to be a benefit to this room. I’m just going to get my fire hydrant out and just soak you all with information. And I think both of those things, if you do one or the other, you’re not going to get, be confident in a few things. There’s certain it would be a value or you’re going to overset track them with information and you’re going to get nowhere. So I think a couple of awesome, awesome insights that, that you’ve taken. Um, take it from there. You spoken, you said, you know, could we touch on what kind of gives you anxiety in that, in that regard? What, what does give you anxiety and different things?

Reuben Swartz: Yeah, I think the main thing for me is standing up in front of a room full of people who, like I said, they’ve invested a bunch of time, maybe some money as well. And am I going to actually give them something that’s meaningful? That was the thing that always drove me nuts and caused me a bunch of anxiety and it turns out like, like so many things. I was approaching that all wrong as well and it kind of loops back to what you said earlier. I was thinking, Gosh, I have to tell them a bunch of stuff they’ve never heard before. Tons of information, tons of value. What can I do to kind of blow their minds? And it’s not like you don’t want to give them great information and you don’t want to blow their minds. That’s wonderful. But I kind of had the wrong perspective and I was setting myself up for failure most both as a speaker and also from the very goal that I had from my audience, which was to take something useful away. And it took me a long time, unfortunately to realize this, but as a software guy, it’s like you don’t write a bunch of code and then not even test if it works and then go demo it on stage. Right. That would be absurd. No one would do that. You would make sure that it works for yourself. You would go show it to a bunch of people. You’d get feedback, so when you go show it off at your keynote, everything is flawless and looks good and it took me a while to figure out, I can do the same thing with a talk. It’s in fact, it’s so much easier than writing code. I can just talk to another person and see what their reaction is. I can talk to a small friendly audience and test out the material the same way a comedian would the same way a software person would, and it doesn’t have to be the first time that that these words have ever been uttered on earth. When I go talk in front of the big room, right? I don’t want to test out something brand new when I’m up on stage. I want to know that this is going to resonate with at least a certain percentage of the audience and it gets hard because the audience might be different. There might be different demographics sprinkled in. Some people might be experts, some people might be novices and how do you kind of calibrate that appropriately. But at least you should know before you get up there, Hey, what I’m saying is going to be meaningful to a good slice of this audience and you have control over that. If you test it before you get up there. And that’s the part that took me forever to realize and it’s extra dumb for me cause I’m a software guy. Like I know how this works in my domain. I just didn’t think at first to apply it in speaking.

Victor Ahipene: and, and like, like you said at the start, a lot of people don’t realize what they’re afraid of when it comes to public speaking. They make up these stories. Right. I think that’s, it’s one of the most, it’s like, well all these people must have some sort of special gifts who are phenomenal public speakers or Yahoo or are these people that are on stage? Therefore I haven’t because I’ve never done anything amazing, uh, in the public speaking space. So I’m not that great at it. And I think, yeah, once you know who your talk is going to before makes everything. Yeah. A hell of a lot easier. Even if it’s like you say, even if it doesn’t resonate to everybody perfectly, it’s better than missing everybody 100% of the time. Yeah. You, the, the standup comedian as a brilliant example of that. Like, you know, they, they try out five minute gags to get our one hour tour, sit at the edge of the Jerry Seinfeld’s of the world. He goes fully into it. Um, with regards to, you know, you’ve obviously used it to help get your business out in front of more people and how we get into the limelight and educate and teach. How did that come about and what were your kind of your, was it accidental that you started getting into the public speaking side of things with regards to your business or slowly, yeah. Okay. And, and how, how to, how did that happen and how have you since leveraged it?

Reuben Swartz: Well, I think, like I said, I’d never set out to be a quote unquote public speaker. That’s the last thing I would have imagined, but it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier. Once you know that the things that you’re talking about are relevant and useful and meaningful for a certain audience, sang it to more people is not hard for me. Right? It’s for me it’s a, as long as I know that what I’m saying is useful, it’s fine. Like if I’m sitting down with you one on one and we’re having a conversation opposite dice, cause I can look at your face and I can pick up on the cues and see whether you’re interested and so on. You can ask me questions and you can orient me in the in the way that’s going to be useful. And that’s kind of where that that testing out of the material comes to make sure that what you’re saying is actually useful. And then once you can get up there and know you’re going to be useful to a room full of people. For me, it’s just about teaching and being helpful and as long as I know, hey, there’s a good chance that this is going to be meaningful and helpful to a good chunk of this room, it’s very easy for me to do that. And I think of it one person at a time, right? They say you’re supposed to speak to one person at a time and a room. That was a mistake I made at the beginning. I was like, I don’t want to look at anyone. I don’t want to single anyone out. Right? And I’m like, I want to make sure that as I’m talking, I’m looking at one person and trying to teach them this sentence that I’m about to go through or this phrase that I’m about to go through. And there’s that connection. And for some people it’s going to be boom, exactly what they need. For some people maybe like they’ve been doing this for 30 years and they already know this, but there’s a different energy in the room when you’re connected with your audience. So even those people are brought in and there might be some people who are brand new and they’re like still trying to catch up, but they pick up on that energy as well and they’re still going to get more out of it because you’re kind of hitting the sweet spot for, for what’s in the room and you’re connecting with people. So I’ve found that by being able to stand up and just teach people about my experiences, right? For me, I was a consultant for a long time. Coming from a technical background, I was a sales and marketing consultant and the irony was I was really bad at my own sales and marketing and so it’s great. I get to stand up and tell me kind of like I’m doing here, right? I was like really bad at public speaking. Here’s what I learned, here’s why I’m better now. I was really bad at sales and marketing. Here’s what I learned, here’s why I’m better now. And for a lot of the people, if I’m speaking to the right audience, they’re going to say, yes, okay, great. I’m in that same boat. Or I learned how to get, get through some of that too. And so it’s about connecting for me, it’s about connecting with the audience and helping, I’m not necessarily trying to impress them with being the world’s greatest public speaker. And the irony is that lets me be relaxed and just focus on the conversation and people come up to Memphis a, hey, that’s great. Can you come talk at our group or whatever.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. Nice. And have you actively reached out to groups and organizations and conferences, um, from when you first started or was it more of the consulting space and going into businesses?

Reuben Swartz: You know what’s funny is I, in, especially because I’ve been listening to, there’s some episodes of your podcast, I’m like, I really should be a little bit more proactive about this. And like I said, it’s been all kind of accidental. Like I never asked to do it. I got out, I would go talk to a company and that’s a, hey this is really interesting. Can you come talk to this group that I run? I think some people there would be interested in so on. And I’ve just kind of let let that happen to me. I have not done a good job about being proactive about it.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I mean I think there’s, there’s proof in the pudding though is um, you know, from, from your side of things, it can also be, yeah. Cool. Hey, do you know any other businesses in the spice that I should be reaching out to? Which is probably the easiest thing because that was already validated. You and I, if you get a testimonial from seed company and it’s aligned with another company, I mean you don’t necessarily have to go out there chasing as much if, if what you’re giving is already quality. I mean a lot of the people, a lot of the people listening there and the not in the space of what they’re giving isn’t quality. It’s that no one’s heard it yet, right? Yeah. No, no one, they haven’t been in front of a company or they haven’t been a keynote speaker at a conference or anything like that. So they haven’t got that awesome talk that they can leverage off. And it’s getting that, that first side of things, um, which has an enemy nets. Yeah. You know, your value proposition, making CRM better for a company equals more sales and make you better, non burnt out salespeople. It makes, you know, things not fall through the cracks. It’s a, it’s a good solution to any company is hey, why don’t we make your sales pipeline more efficient, make you make more sales and uh, yeah, have a bit bottom line and staff that are likely on commission make more money and are happier and whatnot and you keep your staff and, and all the rest of the things that slow on through there. So it’s a, I wouldn’t say it’s an easier step than, but you know, if you’re in the motivational speaker niche, trying to get them to those businesses and going, hey, I’ll come and give you company a bit of a Rara.. Yeah. It’s a lot more, as a lot harder to give them that tangible, uh, you know, a benefit, I guess, at the backend of it. When it comes to what you present, is it fairly similar each company? Like, um, I’m assuming your like multi-industry or different industries within, within different spaces, do, do you have to tailor match or is it more the fundamentals of sales and CRM? Uh, us, uh, you know, similar across different industries.

Reuben Swartz: Sure. Well, I was want people to feel like they’re getting a talk that’s tailored for them. And so I always like to ask, whoever’s asking me to speak, who’s going to be there, what do they want to listen to, what do they need, what are their burning issues? And so on. And usually they’re pretty similar. And at this point, I have so many slides from, from decks that I’ve done, I can usually pull things together fairly quickly and have something that that’s tailored to exactly what the need, right. Sometimes I grabbed some extra things from a different presentation and sometimes I’ll get rid of some stuff that doesn’t apply in this particular case, but I don’t really have to reinvent the wheel each time. But depending on what they’re doing, there may be some new wrinkles. And I want to make sure that that’s addressed because I don’t want people to leave and say, Eh, that was kind of interesting, but it’s still generic. It doesn’t apply to me. The whole point is I want this to resonate with them at a fundamental level. And it doesn’t mean that I have to do everything custom from scratch each time, but I want the, that’s the feeling I want the audience to walk away with.

Victor Ahipene: And I mean, I’m sure you’ve had insights from consulting in the past, like in past lives when it comes to negotiating, um, you know, to talking prices to valuing your time and those sorts of things. Any insights for people there?

Reuben Swartz: Sure. Uh, I was just talking about this earlier today, but there’s basically a, uh, uh, you know, a price floor, which is your marginal cost and then there’s a price ceiling, which is the perceived differential value that the audience receives or whoever’s buying, I shouldn’t say the audience, right? Whoever’s writing the check, what perceived differential value do they perceive in what you’re doing? And I think this kind of goes into what model do you have as a speaker. If you’re only making money as a speaker, then how you price your speaking is extremely, extremely important. If speaking is more of a door opener to other opportunities, which I think it is for a lot of people and sort of more where I’m at, how you price speaking itself is less important than are you opening the right doors. And so you don’t necessarily want to underprice and undervalue what you do, but you’re not trying to make every last buck as a speaker. It’s more important that you get in front of the right audience.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I think that it’s super important and it’s interesting because I’ve got a friend and he, he does a lot of writing but that ends up getting him invited to different companies and now he generally goes in and take seminars, um, you know, fortune 500 companies around the world. And he said, if he, since the proposal when they’re going back and forth and it’s sad, it’s a half day, four hour thing and it’s anything less than whatever does that to be, say $5,000 an hour, $20,000 for a morning presentation, they wouldn’t even look at it because they’re perceived value on the minimum that they want their top level executives thing. It’s like, well, if you only charge yourself out of $1,000 an hour, then you’re probably not good for our company. Then obviously you try that at your local small business and they’re going to go, yeah, cool. Let’s our next three months worth of worth of revenue or profit or something. So yeah. Good luck on that one. So I mean, I think a lot of it is, yeah, it’s just understanding who you’re speaking to and uh, yeah, like, like you say, getting on stage should be your, the, the first step, not the last step in this year. Yeah. It doesn’t really matter. I kind of, I really struggle to think of too many, too many speakers who don’t have a software or coaching or uh, yeah, other services off the back of it that they can then offer to the audience. But no, I think that’s a, I think it’s an awesome, and so I just want to get your kind of your thoughts, how, how has speaking benefited your business? Like with, without it, if you weren’t getting into these audiences, how it would’ve affected the growth and the, in the startup side of things?

Reuben Swartz: Well, obviously it would restrict the growth, right? There’s customers that I get from talking and that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t spoken. And I think the other thing is that even in this age of, you know, we’re here looking at each other halfway across the world, which is totally awesome. Uh, and phone calls and email and automation and websites and all that. There’s something about being in a room with somebody that is different and gives you an extra level of interaction and trust building and sort of sizing each other up that you don’t get any other way. And so, especially when you say something like CRM, there’s probably hundreds or thousands of different CRM systems. How are you going to pick one? Right? If you can listen to somebody talk and say, okay, not only does this guy seemed like he knows what he’s talking about and he seems like he’s got the basics down, but I kind of get his philosophy, his way of looking at the world. That’s kind of the way I look at the world. That’s much more powerful than anything that you can convey easily online and it doesn’t to be a CRM or a software package, but whatever it is you’re selling, right? Especially if you’re selling some kind of consulting or services like that where the trust factor is even more important. Just being able to be physically in the same room with somebody is a huge deal.

Victor Ahipene: I think if you, like you said, there might be thousands of different options out there, but I feel the only option because you’re the one in front of them speaking. Yeah, right. Yeah. The cream of the cream that syncs to the sinks, to the floats to the top. Awesome. Well, I appreciate the insights. I know there’s a lot of business owners who would have definitely taken, or there’s a lot of people who would have taken a lot out of that because it seems you’ve gone, you’ve gone the the full spectrum of like, oh my God, I don’t want to speak at all to, okay, yeah, I can speak to, hey, look, I’ve developed storytelling and have developed, uh, uh, a whole offering off the back of it and how you now craft and develop your speech. So thank you so much for that. If people want to check out your CRM, if they want to find out more about you, if they want to get you into their business, uh, we can they go, what can they do?

Reuben Swartz: Sure. Uh, well thanks for the opportunity to pitch myself a bit. Uh, you can find Mimiran at mimiran.com M I M I R A N.com. You can also find my [email protected] and kind of like you’re out there busting the myth that public speaking is some awful thing that people shouldn’t do. Sort of my goal is to bust the myth that nerdy people can’t do sales and marketing and to help those people start and grow their businesses. So if you want to check that out, go to those sites. Or you can also hit me up at Reuben at mimiran dot com and I assume you can put a link in the show notes.

Victor Ahipene: I can see you can get all of [email protected] I definitely recommend checking it out if you want to. Yeah, we all want to improve us that we’re all selling every day, whether it was just the image URL and knowledge, or potentially out our business or the company that we worked for. So go and check out sales for nerds podcast, but you will link all of [email protected] but we’re going to spend an absolute pleasure. Uh, yeah, like you say, different sides of the world, but I think there’s been a awesome transfer of energy.

Reuben Swartz: Thanks so much, Victor. Thanks for having me.