John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ZeroBounce, an email validation system that integrates with all the major ESPs to make sure, hey, your mail doesn’t bounce. Check it out at zerobounce.net.
John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Zvi Band. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of the CRM platform, Contactually. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals.
John Jantsch: So, welcome to the show, Zvi.
Zvi Band: John, thanks so much for having me on today.
John Jantsch: So, I’m going to start with a hard question. A lot of times we just do some warm up, but I’m going right after a hard question for you.
Zvi Band: Let’s do it.
John Jantsch: Then you’re free to say the answer is both. But, would it be safe to say that you have learned a ton about networking from, you know, the power users of Contactually? Or would it be safe to say that you wrote this book, because people still don’t get how to network?
Zvi Band: Both.
John Jantsch: I thought it was going to be hard. Anytime a guest hesitates like that, I know I’ve asked a hard question.
Zvi Band: Yeah. I mean, well, I hate to say, I felt like I could pretty easily answer that. I was checking, like wait, is there a got you in there? Yeah, I mean, listen, you know, we wrote the book, you know, for those two reasons, you know? I would say it’s kind of, you know, the reverse in that, so many people, you know, in the seven half years that we’ve been running Contactually, so many people were coming to us saying, “Hey, I get how to use your software, but how do I grow my business with relationships?” Right?
Zvi Band: It’s almost like, you know, I’ve used this before. It’s almost like we’re giving a chef’s knife to someone who didn’t know how to cook. So we realized, and the purpose of the book is to essentially, you know, teach people how to cook, teach people how to grow your business leveraging relationships, how to apply strategy behind it. The content for the book came from, you know, observing how, you know, tens of thousands of professionals who have been able to successfully grow their business, you know, via relationships. So, it went hand in hand together.
John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you did observe some people doing things that you hadn’t thought of that were pretty cool uses.
Zvi Band: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are things that are totally counterintuitive that even came across in the book. Like this notion of the Ben Franklin effect that, you know, in order to build rapport with someone, you know, that you actually asked them for a favor. That’s something I’d never even heard of or thought of. I didn’t realize, and it was only kind of after, again, after years and years of years of doing this, and we spent four years, you know, researching and writing the book.
Zvi Band: But the biggest blocker for people is really consistency, is like they kind of can get what to do, but they’re not able to personally act on it. So it was all of these things, and it was such a gift writing this book, and such a great journey.
John Jantsch: So, maybe for those people that aren’t familiar with Contactually, you know, I use the term generically CRM platform. But maybe you could set the table for how you feel Contactually is different than what many people might think of as a typical CRM platform.
Zvi Band: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, when most people think about CRM’s, they think about it in a sales context, usually a transactional sale, right? I’m trying to get someone from one end of the funnel to the other, to them being a customer or them being totally disqualified, and that’s it. But if you’re in a relationship-driven business, it’s not necessarily thinking about just the transaction, it’s about that overall relationship, right?
Zvi Band: You know, a real estate agent, for example, gets most of their business via people they’ve worked with in their past, or people they already know. You know, you and I as consultants, you know, and we get our most speaking opportunities from people in our sphere of influence, people in our network. So it’s important to nurture those relationships on an ongoing basis, not just kind of, you know, one time push them through a process.
Zvi Band: So, the way that we think about Contactually, is it’s everything’s about the relationship, not about the deal. So some people call us like your contact manager on steroids. Sure, you can think about it. But it’s instead of thinking like, all right, if the most important asset in your business isn’t necessarily the deals in your pipeline, but the relationships in your database, that’s what Contactually has really been focusing on.
John Jantsch: So, one of the things I think that’s been funny over the last few years is … because as you described, kind of this relationship I think, and my father was a bag carrying, you know, sales person that had his accounts. I mean, really had his relationships, because they were happy to see him. They did see him, you know, once a quarter, you know, that kind of thing.
John Jantsch: So I mean, the idea of specialty for salespeople, you know, treasuring those relationships, I think that’s always been a big deal. What I think is kind of interesting is that technology has actually made it, I think, harder in some ways, I should say the way we use technology, has actually made it harder in some ways to have what you call intentional relationships.
Zvi Band: Oh, yeah. No, you’re absolutely spot on. I mean, I think we’re living in this absolutely amazing world where we can work with anyone around the world, but it also means that our customers, you know, and the people that would otherwise be working with us, can work with anyone around the world too. So that knowledge gap is gone, because, you know, the consumers I work with can obviously know more than us. That skills gap is gone, because, you know, we’re no longer that unique person in our industry or in our neighborhood that has that skillset.
Zvi Band: So that reputation becomes all the more important. But the problem is, is that, you know, while we can be so connected with so many people, you know, most social platforms are geared around getting us to have, you know, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers, or things like that. Well, that means we’re going a mile wide and an inch deep, because the human mind can only remember so much information about so many people in there.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I see, I’m not going to point fingers at any generations or anything of that nature, but I see, you know, folks scrolling through their phone, you know, like, like, like, like, like, you know, 300 a day. It’s like, is that engagement? You know, are we really doing anything with that? I mean, so, let me ask you, in this intentional relationship game, I mean, what is the role of social media?
Zvi Band: Yeah, and you’re right. I mean, there’s a part of this book that’s kind of seemingly come out of that, you know, our intent is also just to help people rebuild those social skills, right? I don’t necessarily know my neighbor as well as I do. You know, someone who’s, you know, across the world. So it’s no surprise that Cigna released survey results. They surveyed 20,000 adults age 18 and over in the United States, and most American adults are considered lonely, which is crazy in this world where I’m surrounded by these social objects.
Zvi Band: But I see it, you know, I see it in myself, you know? Open up, you know, Facebook and I’ll flip through, and, you know, I realized like, I don’t know about any of them. It’s kind of that, you know, that test on social media of, you know, pick any random, you know, LinkedIn or Facebook contact, and really ask yourself like, “All right, do I know this person well enough that if they reached out to me and asked for $20, would I lend it to them? Or vice versa, if I were in a position where I needed $20 all of a sudden, would they be willing to give it to me, right?”
Zvi Band: So, yeah, I think the important thing with social media is to use that as a source of information, to then identify what are the relationships, or what’s going on with the people I care about, and then make sure that you’re going deep enough beyond just a like or comment here and there.
John Jantsch: So, there have been a lot of books written on networking, and I think that … well, let me ask you, how would you differentiate relationship building and typical networking?
Zvi Band: Yeah, absolutely. I think they’re definitely very closely related. What networking or what do people think of networking? You know, let’s be honest. They think about, you know, the more the act of going out and building new relationships, right? You know, whether it’s connecting with people on LinkedIn or you know, going into kind of, you know, a poorly lit room or conference CEO ballroom and trading business cards, and trying to create net new relationships.
Zvi Band: What relationship marketing is more focused on as well, how do I grow my business or achieve the goals I’m trying to hit, leveraging the relationships I already have? You know, what we oftentimes miss out on is that, you know, the best relationships and the most valuable ones, are usually the ones that we’re already connected to, you know, relate to networking.
Zvi Band: You know, one issue I had when early on in my career, and I still encounter from time to time, because I’m not perfect too, is, you know, you’ll go to a conference and you’ll do lots of networking, and you’ll exchange business cards with people, and you’re like, “Great, I have all these new connections.” You put those business cards in your back pocket, and the next time you see those business cards is when you’re fishing them out of the laundry machine, because, you know, you didn’t even take them out of your pocket, right?
Zvi Band: So that’s kind of the issue that we face these days. That’s why relationship marketing is that strategy behind leveraging the relationships that you already have in your sphere in some way.
John Jantsch: Well, and it’s interesting, you’ve used the word leverage several times, and I was gonna ask about that specifically, because, I mean, I think everybody knows this. Our existing customers, for example, are probably a greater source of new business, as long as they’re happy, than, you know, that world out there that we want to go seeking. But everybody likes the new chase, or it feels that way anyway.
John Jantsch: I mean, how do we get … because here’s the basis of my question, because it’s hard to maintain those relationships. I mean, it takes work. You can’t just, you know, phone it in. I mean, a strong relationship is built on caring, on checking in, on, you know, having a rhythm. So, how do you get the leverage to put in the work that it takes? Because, you know, it doesn’t necessarily feel like, “Oh, I’m going to get a sale or I’m not going to get a sale.” It’s like, “No, I’m doing this because some point down the road this will be important.”
Zvi Band: Yeah, no, that’s a really great question. I think, and let’s face it, you know, and if anyone were to read the book, and you look at any one particular step, this isn’t rocket science, right? We’re not doing trigonometry here. This is very basic kind of human interaction. The reason why it is so hard, per your point, is that, you know, as human beings, you know, we’re wired, you know, to look for those short term gains, right?
Zvi Band: This goes back to, you know, us as, you know, caveman, right? Where we had to think about how do we put food in our bellies now and find shelter now? Otherwise we’re dead meat, right? These are the big challenges that we face these days, is that well, you know, our needs right now are taking care of, but those longterm benefits, that’s what we’re really like, you know, need to be focusing on.
Zvi Band: So yeah, of course we’re much more interested in the lead that just came in, because that might be business tomorrow, versus a past client that may not transact with us for three or four years, therefore I’m much less likely to be interested in that. That’s why it’s no surprise, and the National Association of Realtors publishes information. They say that 88% of consumers say that they work with their agent again, but when you look at the follow up stats, only 12% of consumers will use the same agent they used before. So what’s happening in that big gap? What’s happening, is that years go by and there’s no follow up.
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John Jantsch: Okay, here’s the … I’m trying to figure out how to word this question without it sounding as bad as it probably will. You know, I’ve got 100 contacts that I need to stay in touch with, but I just don’t have the time to stay in touch with them the way I’d like to. How do I make a decision about who’s worth spending time on? See, I told you it’s going to sound terrible.
Zvi Band: Yeah, yeah. At first, in terms of why it sounds terrible. I think, you know, we oftentimes have this icky factor. Like, oh, you know, all of a sudden if I’m treating these people as assets. Let’s face it, you know, we only have so much time on Earth and we want to make sure that we’re focusing our efforts around the people that, you know, not only can provide value to us, but the people that we can be of service to, that we believe that we can help, the people that give us lots of energy.
Zvi Band: You know, one of the ways that I sometimes categorize people is, I look at people, and if I get off the phone with them and I just can’t stand speaking with them. Well, those are people, I don’t care how important they may be, those are people that I choose not to surround myself with, you know? But, in truth, and this is something that we talk about in the book where, you know, it’s not necessarily going by, you know, whether they’re important or not, but it’s instead like taking a step back and asking ourselves, “Well, you know, what am I goals? You know, what am I really trying to achieve?” Then starting to figure out, “Okay, who are the types of people that can help me with those goals?” Then focusing on those types of people, right?
Zvi Band: For me, for example, as a CEO for Contactually, you know, for a number of years I was very focused on fundraising. So very clearly, a lot of my time was focused on, not only engaging and networking with investors, but also with founders who could give me introductions to other investors.
Zvi Band: All of a sudden, that was a goal that was deprioritized. So I was able to start phasing that out and stop engaging less and less with investors and other founders, and focus much more on my customers, because customer retention was much more important for me. So I think as long as we take a step back and try and figure out what our goals are, then of those 100 or so people, we can better identify which of those people fit into those buckets.
John Jantsch: So, you mentioned at the outset this idea of the Ben Franklin approach or theory, that actually asking for help was a great way to kind of be a bridge to relationship building. Expand on that a little bit, because I think a lot of people feel like, “Oh, if I’m asking somebody for help, you know, they don’t owe me anything. You know, how do I start there?” You’re suggesting that it’s actually the other way around.
Zvi Band: Yeah, it’s actually funny. I mean, so related to actually fundraising, one of the piece of advice that I got very early on was if you want money, ask for advice. If you want money or if you ask for money, you’re going to get advice instead. That’s definitely what I had seen as well. So, the interesting thing, yeah, if you read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, you know, rather than trying to win a political adversary over by being nice, Franklin asked him for a favor just to borrow a rare book. Then after the man invested effort in Franklin by delivering this book, the two end up becoming friends.
Zvi Band: It’s hard to figure out kind of, you know, what the real reason is for, or what the real reason behind. But it’s more thinking about … it’s also called the Ikea effect, in that if you put time and effort into doing something, you’re much more invested in that. Just like if you spend, you know, an hour walking around Ikea, you’re not gonna walk out empty handed, because you’ve done it. So, you know, that’s why asking someone for advice, something happens, right, in that like, okay, we’re showing that we appreciate that person, we appreciate the advice, we solicit their knowledge. That’s a valuable experience to that person.
John Jantsch: Well, we’re also perhaps suggesting that we believe they have that knowledge and that they are smart, and that they have that advice. So I think there are probably a lot of things in there. I can just state, and I don’t know if I’ve ever stated on the show before, I’ve never been into an Ikea, and I’m hoping to keep that streak alive.
John Jantsch: So, I get a lot of, or a number of solicitations. I wouldn’t even call them solicitations, connections, let’s say, on LinkedIn. One of the first things they suggest is, what can I do for you? You know, what can I do to help you? On the surface, that to me, somebody told them that that was a good relationship building tool, but on the surface it comes off very negative to me, because I don’t know that person. They haven’t suggested anything that specific, so I don’t even know what they could help me, you know, with.
John Jantsch: So, do you have a similar experience? I know a lot of people on LinkedIn do, because that just has become sort of a common thing for people to do. It seems like when people make connection requests. So, how could we do that better?
Zvi Band: Yeah. I struggle with this, because you’re right, I have the same visceral reaction when someone says, “Hey, how can I help you?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I could use a refill of my drink maybe, right?” What are you really trying to offer? In fact, you’re making me do more work by trying to think about what I need help on and how that person could help out.
Zvi Band: But I mean, the interesting thing is, it is rooted in good intentions, and that, you know, they are trying to be, you know, meaningful and valuable to us in some way. But you’re right. I mean, that’s where, you know, I think one of the key aspects of relationship marketing is to try and identify and be proactive, in terms of identifying what people really want and what people would benefit from, and then solving that.
Zvi Band: Now of course, you can ask, you know, very pointed questions, you know, as you’re talking with someone for their first time, you could talk about what your business challenges are. I love that [inaudible 00:19:32], you know, throws out the champagne question. You know, if we’re celebrating with a bottle of champagne a year from now, what are we celebrating? That’s kind of a good open-ended question.
Zvi Band: But, a lot of the work, you know, goes into just gaining that intelligence on someone and trying to understand how you can be helpful. For me, for example, you know, with the book coming out, you know, one thing that I’ve seen a few people reach out and do proactively is they’ll write a review online. Because they kind of know that, “Okay, that’s something that Zvi probably would benefit from.” I’ve obviously done the same thing too.
Zvi Band: So, you’re right, it’s the lazy man’s approach to be able to just kind of say, “Hey, how can I help you? And maybe I’ll be able to do something about it.” It’s come a completely different experience to figure out where you can add value, and do it for them proactively.
John Jantsch: Yeah, if I’m feeling particularly snarky, I write, “Well, send me $500.”
Zvi Band: Have you got it yet?
John Jantsch: Well, I delete it. I don’t ever send that, but I’ve attempted. I mean, a lot of what you end up talking about is, you know, staying in touch. I mean, having a, you know, a plan to make sure that you’re not completely, you know, out of mind. But, how do you develop a rhythm that makes sense? I know that that’s a, well, it depends … But, you know, is there a rhythm of staying in touch that, as a general rule you should think about as a minimum?
Zvi Band: Yeah, and you’re right. This is I would say probably the meat of what we talked about, and honestly why I wrote a book, in that there are so many scattered best practices and good ideas. So what we’ve spoken about so far in this conversation, you know, there are probably a lot of people saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.” Nodding your head. But it’s can you assemble that into a cohesive strategy that you can operate on a regular basis?
Zvi Band: That’s the point of the capital strategy, and that every one point, you know, nothing is groundbreaking, but it’s, can you do that consistently? So, for example, it does start off with, all right, you know, are you able to block time in your calendar? Or find some way of doing this on a repetitive basis? You know, whether it’s having reminders or triggers or something that you’re doing on a regular basis.
Zvi Band: But to answer your point around, you know, making sure that we’re staying in touch with people, you know, on a periodic basis, clearly there’s the ability to nowadays, whether it’s using LinkedIn or Google alerts, or something like that, just to kind of keep a prize of them and their business. You know, whether they’re mentioned in the news, something about their company mentioned, or maybe you see, you know, something about sailing and you find which of your contacts are interested in sailing. Of course triggers like that happen.
Zvi Band: But then, you know, one of the root questions is, “Well, how often should I follow up with people?” There’s no right or wrong answer. Going back to our point around, you know, “Hey, if I have 100 people, how often should I stay in touch with them?” Well, you know, naturally as you’re prioritizing relationships, the ones that are higher priority and hopefully fewer number, you’re able to spend more time on. The ones that are lower in priority and hopefully more of, you’re able to stay in touch less often.
Zvi Band: We’d like to say listen, you know, push come to shove, you know, say, “Hey, I want to follow up with, you know, my, you know, high priority contacts at least once a quarter and ones are lower priority once a year.” That seems to be based on, you know, just watching, you know, tens of thousands of people in Contactually, that seems to be a good general baseline, and then you can tweak from there.
John Jantsch: Zvi, it was great catching up with you, and talking about Success Is in Your Sphere. So I appreciate you dropping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Tell people where they can find out more about you and your work, and the book, of course.
Zvi Band: John, it’s always great chatting with you. Yes, you can go online, to any bookstore, or wherever books are sold, and just do a quick search for Success Is in Your Sphere, and you’ll be able to find information. Feel free to buy a copy for yourself or for someone you care about, or maybe don’t care about. All proceeds go to charity. Of course, my name is band Zvi Band, Z-V-I, B-A-N-D. Luckily I’m the only Zvi Band out there, so it’s pretty easy to find me.
John Jantsch: The URL was available too. So, Zvi, appreciate, again, you stopping by, and hopefully we will run into you soon out there on the road.
Zvi Band: Thanks so much, John.