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Telling Your Brand Story to Boost Sales with Raj Nathan aka “The Startup Hypeman” (Part 2 of 2)

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Ready to tell a story that makes your clients stop dead in their tracks and start working with you? Raj Nathan, aka The Startup Hypeman, helps startups and consulting companies tell their story so they become superheroes.

Up next…

Check out the four sales fundamentals every top performer masters, how to use value-based selling to increase your leverage, and how to improve your remote selling skills as the world becomes more virtual. 

This is episode Part 2 of 2. Go back and listen to Part 1 if you haven’t yet!

Mentioned in this episode:

Raj’s Website, Startup Hypeman
Book a Strategy Call with Liston

For more information on remote selling and a complete list of links mentioned in this podcast, visit this remote selling article on our website.


Telling Your Brand Story to Boost Sales with Raj Nathan aka “The Startup Hypeman” (Part 2 of 2):

Full Transcript

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics and sales studies to help you create win-win relationships. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales.

Liston Witherill:
In today’s episode, we’re going into part two of my interview with Raj. Now, Raj left off in part one. If you didn’t listen to that, go back and listen. But where we left off was he was talking about how he uses story to help improve sales and marketing of his clients who are SAS startups, but of course it would apply to you as a consultant. Before I bring Raj back on, I just wanted to let you know, if you need help scaling up your sales of your agency, of your professional services firm, just head over to liston.io/strategy where you can book a call with me.

Liston Witherill:
Well, actually you can apply for a call. So I won’t guarantee that we’ll be on the phone together, but you can apply for a call to go over what’s going on in your business, some things you might be able to do to improve it, and I’ll help you clarify your goals all in less than an hour. So that’s liston.io/strategy. Enough about me, I’m happy to welcome back Raj. Raj, we did a bad thing. We left them in a cliffhanger, and now it’s up to you to fulfill on that cliffhanger. Are you ready, sir?

Raj:
I am ready.

Liston Witherill:
Well, it wasn’t your idea to do the cliffhanger, so I’ll let you off the hook there. But just to catch everybody back up, what you were talking about was your work with Wicked Reports and how you implemented a story-based sales process where their deck started with a problem, it talked about some shifts that were happening in the eCommerce industry, and only then did it go into Wicked Reports talking about themselves. What were the results of that shift that you help them make?

Raj:
Yeah. So here’s what I really like about how we kind of changed their selling process and how they embrace story-based sales. What’s happening now for them is a couple of different things. Number one is, Scott, the founder and CEO of Reports will tell you, their customers are self-selecting themselves either in or out based on that initial story that they tell. So they know, if they can actually get 15 minutes of their time back, if that customer is not bought in after that initial story because they’re probably not the target audience. Maybe they signed up through some lead generation for a demo, but they’re actually not the right customer for them. So they’re getting more of their time back and spending time on only the leads that matter. And then the ones that do matter are converting at a higher percent.

Raj:
Unfortunately, I don’t have them exact metrics behind what was the percent increase, but from what they’ve told me, they’re converting at a higher percentage. As well as what Scott has said, again, their founder and CEO, he’s like, “Hey, we’ve been trying to figure this out for three years, and you just nailed it in three weeks. So this is really cool.” And their head of sales was like, “Holy shit, this deck is fucking amazing.” And they’re able to really, again, take the customers on a journey. And prior to us working together, they did a 1.2 million in sales on their own, which isn’t obviously no small feat. What they’re projecting for 2018 now is around $3 million. I’m not going to say, “Hey, that’s 100% because of me.” Right? Because of telling a good story. But that definitely is an influential part of it. In addition to just operationally running their business well.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah, no, I’m sure. And of course, no one single person can be responsible for the entire increase of anything, right? There’s lots of people that are there to help. So, yeah. I’m certain that you had a hand in that. So I’m curious about you. You mentioned in the last episode that you had an agency background. Tell me about the agency background and kind of how you got to become the Startup Hypeman in the first place.

Raj:
I started working at a marketing technology agency one week after I graduated college. So I really took a long break after graduation. I had a great time the first few years I was there. I actually started out in account management and then after about a year and a half or maybe two years I transitioned over to the sales team. So again, great company out of the gate. Over time there was a management changes I didn’t agree with, so I just kind of, I don’t know, I didn’t really enjoy working there so much anymore, no longer believed in the product. But what happened was when I transitioned to sales, I never really got any formal sales training, so I was actually pretty bad at sales while I worked there. The only reason I got close to my quota was because I just had, by stroke of luck, several things fall into my lap.

Raj:
For example, a deal or a contract that met I think more than 50% of my quarterly quota came to me because someone else was leaving the company and they weren’t going to sign the contract before he left the company. So it just got transferred over to me. Right? I just wasn’t very good at it because I didn’t understand the process of it. I was going in with that deck of, “Here’s our credentials. Here’s our client roster list. Here’s our case studies.” Right? Without ever doing that story-based sales process I talked about in part one of our conversation. All of you can go back and listen to if you have not listened to already. Don’t worry, I’m also well versed in cheap plugs.

Raj:
So I kind of had to start just figuring it out. So a lot of my downtime, I didn’t have much downtime, but the downtime I I did have, I would just like tinker with, how do we tell this story better? And I think the reason why I cared so much about that, kind of going back to what I explained again in part one, was sort of that just innate I guess desire or innate belief around expression and storytelling. One of the examples I like to give, just for how weird my brain works, is when I was growing up and I would play sports video games on PlayStation and stuff, you know how the game has its announcers, like John Madden will be announcing the game?

Liston Witherill:
Yeah, of course.

Raj:
I would have the Chicago Bears announcers playing in my head. So I’d be playing the video game, but in my head my own announcing would be going on. So I was just kind of always looking at communication and always had this really messed up brain that thinks about things in this way. So when I was at an ad agency, that’s sort of what I was spending my free time on was how do I tinker this, make it better. After I left, I ended up starting a personal brand training company with a friend of mine from college, and we did that for a couple of years, and we developed some really strong personal branding strategies.

Raj:
Ultimately, the revenue model we had just wasn’t there. And although our content was really good, the material was good, we were just losing money faster than we were making it, so we knew we had to shut that down. And then by some stroke of serendipitous luck, just as we were having the conversations around shutting it down, I was contacted by a guy named Todd Connor here in Chicago, who is the founder and CEO of a group called Bunker Labs. Because I had built up a pretty decent personal brand myself, I had made a lot of really good contacts in the Chicago entrepreneurial and startup scene. And from that previous company, the thing we were best at was elevator pitches.

Raj:
Todd was like, “Hey, I know you’re really good at this pitch stuff. We have a new cohort coming in through our program.” And just for some context, Bunker Labs is a nonprofit that helps military veterans start and grow businesses. I have no service background myself, but just again through the networking, that’s how I got in touch with them. So he said, “Hey, I know you’re really good at this pitch stuff. Our last cohort kind of shat the bed on their pitch day. Can you come in and work with our startups?” So they brought me on, on a short-term outside consulting contract to work for three months with their cohort. And so I got exposure to like 20 different companies in one fell swoop. And what I found was that a lot of the personal branding strategies directly applied to the business landscape as well. You just kind of got to change like I to we and then modify a few things, right?

Raj:
And then I kind of stepped more into the entertainment side of things too, because I was like, “How can I explain this in a way that makes it as easy as possible to understand and is also something you would look forward to learning about?” So that’s where I developed the superhero strategy, the [KPASA 00:08:46] formula and some other things. The people who are choosing to work with me we’re getting really good results. So for example, the entrepreneur who worked closest with me ended up winning the pitch competition. The entrepreneur who worked the second most with me started that program with a concept and graduated 14 weeks later, having done 118 grand in sales. And literally, I was like, “Hey, man. Do you think anything that we talked about helped?” And his response verbatim was, “Dude, 99% of this is because you told me how to talk about my company and how to put it in front of customers.” And I was like, “Okay. Where’s my royalty check?” No.

Liston Witherill:
Raj is ready to get paid.

Raj:
Raj nation royalty, #Rajnationroyalties. So given that those were some of the results, combined with I found it to be the most fulfilling work I had done to date, I was like, “Okay, I think there’s a business here.” So I spent the next couple of months just like really figuring out how I could make it work. So Startup Hypeman officially started January of 2017. Since then we’ve worked with about 19 or 20 companies and then now we’re sort of expanding the scale a little bit more through the online program, Hypeman Academy, which is focused specifically on early stage startups looking to raise capital and build a foundation for their messaging, marketing and sales.

Raj:
And where the consulting is centered on more now is and emerging SAS companies and service-based companies who essentially have this young and green sales team. What I’ve seen happen is they hire young salespeople for cheap. They can say low-base salary, high commission. But the commission doesn’t get paid out because these salespeople are leaving leads on the table because they don’t no what they’re doing. So I’ll come in and implement this story-based selling methodology, building out this playbook for them to follow from top of funnel marketing to bottom of funnel conversion to set them up for success.

Liston Witherill:
Cool. And so that is the current iteration of your business and people can go there now. I know I’m jumping around a little bit, man, but I think part of the problem is you and I are also friends, so this just feels like a regular conversation. But I do want to go back to in the previous episode, part one again, I asked you, how does someone go about creating their story? And you said always start with the elevator pitch. So how can I communicate the basic idea of the problems I solve and how I help people in a paragraph, let’s say? After they have that elevator pitch, is there kind of a natural next step where they start to formulate different ways of communicating it, or kind of what do you recommend that people do next?

Raj:
Yeah. So the next step I would say is build out your, what I call, your brand origin narrative. So what is this clean end to end story of how you started this, where you are today, where you’re headed. Sort of like the … if anyone’s listening and has a notepad out or maybe get a notepad out now if you don’t, and if you’re in the car, please just keep your hands on the steering wheel. These are the headers you can use to build the outline. It all started when, the aha moment, what we found was, and so we built our company on and then that’s where you’d put your P-A-S of KPASA problem approach solution. From there you go into traction, meaning clients we’ve earned, revenue, et cetera like that. Who are we? So like who are we personally? Who are the founders of this company? What’s our team look like. Followed by in the future, what does our brand look like? What are we striving towards?

Raj:
Now bear in mind, there are some modification here based on the audience you’re speaking to. So when I work with early stage startups, this brand origin narrative is designed to give to an investor who is going to care about your revenue and your projections and your customers gain. A customer who you’re trying to sell to probably doesn’t care about your personal revenue projections. So understand rule number one is know thy audience. So understand who you’re trying to communicate this to and modify appropriately.

Raj:
Now what you also want to do with this brand origin narrative is look at what are areas where you can capture industry insights or trends or let’s say hunches you have and make it your own by branding your knowledge. So to come back to Wicked Reports, who we talked about in part one … if people have not gone back to part one by now, I’m going to be very disappointed. So when we built this for Wicked Reports, we looked at what elements of this can we own and brand. And so as they were kind of doing the brain dump on me of their story, which iteration one is like five pages and then you kind of whittle it down to two pages or less. Scott, the founder and CEO, was telling me like, okay, here’s how I started this and everything, and here is when I was doing research and we got our first couple of customers, here’s what happened.

Raj:
And then I looked at and he’s like, “These three consistencies kept popping up.” And I was like, “Okay, we’re going to capture this.” And just kind of just generically saying like, “Yeah. These are some consistencies we’ve seen in the market,” has now become the three new truths of eCommerce marketing. So in their online marketing now and in their sales efforts, they’re putting forth this notion of the three new truths of eCommerce marketing. Right? And if you think about, if you’re the audience in that case, if you’re the potential customer, and they say to you, “So are you familiar with the three new truths of eCommerce marketing?” You’ll lean in and say, “Wait, wait. What am I missing out on? Tell me more about that.” And then those three truths most likely highlight something that is happening to their business. So you can use this idea of branded knowledge. I guess the term I like to give it is the Stinson method. Have you ever watched How I Met Your Mother?

Liston Witherill:
No.

Raj:
Okay. So for anyone who’s listening who’s seen How I Met Your Mother, then you’ll know Barney Stinson is one of the most, as he says, “Legend, wait for it, dairy, characters out there.” And you’ll notice as you watch the episodes, he’ll always have some term. And to give you background, his character is this debauchery, he’s a womanizer, and his goal every episode is to figure out who he can sleep with. But what makes his character funny and everything is he’ll have these phrases that he uses to describe the situation. So there’s one episode, for example, where him and his friends are at the bar and they see this group of women in the corner sitting in a booth. Everyone’s like, “Oh man, those chicks are so hot.” And I’m literally paraphrasing the show here. Don’t label me a womanizer in the process, please.

Raj:
So they’re all looking and they’re like, “Oh my God, those are the hottest girls I’ve ever seen.” And Barney is like, “Nope, you all have fallen victim to the cheerleader effect.” And they’re like, “What?” He’s like, “The cheerleader effect. When a group of girls gets together, their collective visual appeal increases their overall hotness. But individually, look at them.” And then they look at them and they’re all like sloppy looking people. But cheerleader effect, he’s not just like, “You know what’s going on over here? These girls are all together and making themselves look better.” Right?

Raj:
And he has another one, like the hot crazy matrix where it’s like the hotter you are as a man or a woman, the more crazy you are likely to be. That’s the idea. And again, I’m not trying to promote womanizing by any means. What I’m saying is what he’s doing there is branding knowledge, and anyone who’s a fan of that show, to this day, even though the show has been on in, what, four or five years, will still talk about those terms. So you can get your own customers remembering you and associating you with thought leadership and expertise by branding your knowledge and figuring out, what are the insights we have and how can we create a Stinson method for ourself?

Liston Witherill:
This really reminds me of, I’m sure you saw the medium article going around last year about Drift and their story as a startup?

Raj:
I don’t think I saw this one.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. It was the best sales deck I’ve ever seen, some sort of superlative-

Raj:
I think that was for Zuora.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. Well, in any case, an article that I’m referencing was about the company drift.com, which really is just like a chat bot for your website that captures leads. But their story was … and originally it was just real time chat but they added the bot piece later. But their story was forms are dead. And the irony, of course, is they stole that campaign from Salesforce when they said software is dead and they had these software with the red circle and an X through it, billboards all over San Francisco and I’m sure other major metropolitan areas. But they basically named the foundational idea and shift that naturally led into their story, and I think that’s a really effective way to do it.

Raj:
Yeah. Again, you establish yourself as a thought leader. You establish yourself as someone or as a company with expertise if you brand what’s out there. I don’t love to use this example because it’s not someone I personally support, but if you look at the 2016 election-

Liston Witherill:
I see where this is going.

Raj:
What was Donald Trump so good at doing right? Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted, Little Marco. Right?

Liston Witherill:
Right.

Raj:
And that’s just what his audience cling to.

Liston Witherill:
No, I agree. There was a simplicity about it, and it was memorable. Yeah, that worked for him. Okay. So I feel like when I look at examples like Drift or Salesforce, I think some consultants and agencies will go, “Well, we’re not a product company, so that doesn’t apply to us,” or maybe, “We’re not embracing or riding the wave of some gigantic shift.” And my personal feedback on that is Drift wasn’t especially aware of the market. It’s not like they were 10 years ahead of everybody else. They said something that other people were already addressing. They just did it in a little bit different way and maybe they were a little louder about it. So my feeling is, you don’t need to be 100% original or so different. I don’t even believe that exists. What’s your thought, if someone has the objection like, “Well, we’re not unique enough,” or, “I’m not that creative,” how do you help someone get past that?

Raj:
A couple things. Number one, I agree. I think anyone could make the argument that they’re not unique enough or they’re not creative enough, right? There’s always going to be someone who’s better at it than you. There’s just a lot of people on this earth, so chances are there is someone who’s better at it than you are. But you have to understand, relative to your customer base, assuming you are not full of crap, you know more than your customer base about this specific thing you provide and the problem that they have, right? All they know is that they have a problem. Whether they know it or not, they are looking for a solution. So all you’re trying to do is just be incrementally more intelligent, helpful, whatever that word is, than your customer base, then you’re in a good position.

Liston Witherill:
Totally agree. Okay. Cool. It’s funny because I think a lot of people will let that prevent them from moving forward, and I think it’s too bad. So you heard it here first, straight from the mouth of the Startup Hypeman, you do have permission to make bold statements and tell your story. So, Raj, you have been a good sport. We’ve bounced back and forth between part one and part two here in this episode. You’ve given a ton of value. I’m sure some people want to connect with you. What’s the best way they can do that?

Raj:
Yep. Find me at startuphypeman.com. Over there you can get a download of the free 10-minutes SasS masterclass, which again, also applies to agencies and consultants, but short 10-minute video series on how to essentially take you through the process of top of funnel marketing down to conversion at bottom of funnel. My podcast is called Discover Your Inner Awesome where we talked to entrepreneurs, artists and musicians and kind of uncover the strategies, processes and mindsets to build impactful and successful companies.

Raj:
And then, if you are on socials, @startuphypeman is the company handles and then me personally is @rajnation, R-A-J nation. And if any of this stuff sounded interesting to you, hit me up, rajiv, R-A-J-I-V, @startuphypeman.com. Let me give one other offer too. For anyone listening, if you slide into my DMs on LinkedIn and request this, I will fulfill your request. I will do a freestyle rap about your LinkedIn profile, and I’ll make a video and I’ll put it on LinkedIn to promote you. So a freestyle rap about your company or about you and your LinkedIn profile.

Liston Witherill:
Does that offer extend to podcast hosts?

Raj:
For you? Of course.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. Okay. I might take you up on that.

Raj:
Maybe you could be the one who’s beatboxing it, by the way.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah, maybe I could. I’ll compose the beat for you and send it to you before you do your freestyle. How about that?

Raj:
Will it be similar to … Well, welcome to Liston [inaudible 00:22:33]?

Liston Witherill:
No, it’ll be different. We got to keep them on their toes, my friend. Well, thank you so much for being here, Raj. I really appreciate it.

Raj:
Thank you. I had a ton of fun. It’s always good to catch up with you. But then also, I’m kind of a nerd about this stuff, so I love getting into the thick of it.

Liston Witherill:
Great. Cheers, man. Bye.

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