#29 – Tony Cappaert: Business Relationships Have Drastically Changed

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Episode Summary

Welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life with Krisstina Wise. Tony Cappaert is the co-founder and COO at Contactually, a fantastic CRM service. Krisstina believes Contactually really hits the nail on the head when it comes down to developing and maintaining client relationships, but why is Contactually so much better, and different, than its competitors? Tony explains why on this week’s episode.

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You can also click on the time stamps below to jump to those specific points in the conversation.

What We Covered

  • [03:00] – Krisstina believes Contactually is the best CRM program she’s ever used.
  • [04:10] – No matter what career or field you’re in, business is always about developing relationships.
  • [04:55] – Good relationships are based off of trust.
  • [07:00] – You need a good system in place to make sure you’re building the correct relationships.
  • [07:45] – Relationship building doesn’t have to be face-to-face, but the interaction, no matter on what platform, should always be meaningful.
  • [10:30] – CRM programs helps you remember who you need to stay in touch with more effectively than your brain does.
  • [13:25] – The more you are able to turn technology into community, the better connection you’ll have with your customers.
  • [13:30] – Krisstina shares her story about Evernote.
  • [15:15] – What are the fundamentals of building a good relationship?
  • [16:00] – What’s your number one business goal this year?
  • [17:30] – How do we turn relationships into business?
  • [20:15] – What is Tony’s definition of value?
  • [24:05] – When is it appropriate to do email marketing?
  • [27:45] – It does take time to build powerful relationships.
  • [28:50] – People have a really fantastic BS radar. You can’t really BS your way into meaningful relationships.
  • [30:15] – Has networking changed at all?
  • [32:15] – Networking can feel slimy.
  • [35:05] – Krisstina never takes business cards with her.
  • [39:25] – The intention should be to meet people, not to sell them your product or services.
  • [40:55] – Why did Tony and the other two co-founders create Contactually?
  • [44:35] – It’s so hard to effectively manage relationships without a CRM.
  • [45:55] – Krisstina explains why she loves Contactually so much.
  • [48:05] – Tony offers a couple of tips on how to build effective relationships with Contactually.
  • [50:25] – What’s a common myth Tony faces in his industry?


[Tweet “Business is relationships.”]
[Tweet “Ultimately in business, we’re working to build trust.”]
[Tweet “Networking is such a loaded word. A lot of people have a negative impression of networking.”]

Links Mentioned

Contactually Website

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You are at the intersection of wealth, health, and happiness. Welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life.

Hi, I’m Krisstina Wise, and welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life, where I interview thought leaders who teach a counter cultural approach to money, health, and happiness, because great riches don’t matter if you’re sick, and good health doesn’t matter if you’re broke.

Today, I tackle money wealth with Tony Cappaert. Tony is a brilliant technologist. He’s great at money and he has quite the savvy business mind. He’s an MIT alumnus. He started out working for Microsoft where he was a leading project manager. He worked then as an investment analyst for a venture capitalist firm, in other words, Tony understands money. He’s the co-founder and COO of Contactually, one of my absolute favorite business tools. In a nut shell it’s a web service that helps business owners maximize their relationships and close more business.

In this interview, we talked about how technology has completely transformed the way we do business both for better and for worse. We discussed the importance of building relationships and how to best do that in the modern age, including fundamentals of business relationships which many of those elements have changed and many have stayed the same. He offers tips and advice on how to truly network, to grow one’s business and brand, and Contactually, in only a handful of years since its birth has raised over $13 million in funding. I asked him how he did this and he shares his secrets on how to make it as an entrepreneur. Enjoy.

Alright Tony, it’s so much fun to be talking to you today. Thank you for being on the podcast.

Yeah of course. Thank you for having me.

So you and I haven’t met in person but I’ve known about you from the sidelines. You’re one of the co-founders of some software called Contactually and it’s the CRM tool that I use. I have to say that I’ve had CRM systems since I first started my career and it’s really been — the reason why I’m so excited to talk to you today, is because how I use the tools like CRM and build relationships and stay in touch is really one of the secret ingredients to my success, and now like how I’ll ever be in business and building my career for over 20 years. I’ve done that by being really good at using CRM software for example. It’s one of those things, I think is really missed, is how to stay in touch and how to use tools to do that. Anyway, all these years I’ve used lots of different software, a lot of different tools to stay in touch, relationship building technology, and Contactually is the best I’ve ever used. Kudos on what you’ve built. I’m a raving fan and I use it daily. I just want to show that. Anyway, I’m really excited to have this conversation.

Thank you. First, I just want to say thank you, that really does mean a lot. We’ve been at it for almost five years, building Contactually and building the software, and it never gets old hearing that, so thank you, I’ll say it means a lot.

Excellent. This conversation is near and dear to my heart because I think it’s so important. I think it’s a conversation that’s missing in our marketplace today, because we’re really in this time of a lot of shiny penny, tools, technology, gadgetry, all these latest and greatest, and what we’re sometimes missing now is really the fundamentals of business which is relationship building. Here at Wealthy Wellthy, what I’m always dissecting really money and health in the intersection of those two. On the money side of the things, relationships or money in business, so business is relationships. Business is not necessarily tools, the tech, the gadgets, the shiny pennies, the devices, the business is always relationships. Then it’s how do we use these different tools, technologies, so on and so forth, to amplify what we can do in business, and the offers we can do to take care of our relationships. Let’s dig into this a little bit today, based on your expertise.


Relationships, really, are trust. I think we would agree on that. Ultimately, in business, we’re working to build trust. We’re working to deepen those relationships, to be known as the expert that we are, to convey that so that we can take care of others. But when people trust us ultimately, that’s when they want to do business with us, I mean, you fundamentally agree with that, right?

I totally agree. Yeah.

Relationships then in business have gone hand in hand for centuries, but what has happened lately, I think what I see now is so many times we’re hidden behind our devices and we’re not meeting face to face. Even though you have this tool called Contactually, and we’ll talk a little bit more specifically about it later in the program, but what do you see is sort of the fundamentals of relationship building in business that maybe we’ve lost touch with because we’re so reliant on our devices, and we’re behind our screens versus maybe meeting person to person?

Sure. I think there’s a lot to the topic you’re bringing up. Maybe I would split it in two. I think the one part to talk about is how was it that we as business owners can better leverage our relationships to help grow our business, and why that many people have an icky feeling about networking and leveraging their — even the phrase “levering my relationships to turn into business” feels transactional. It feels like I’m using people in some ways. I think  there’s certainly some pieces to that question and there’s a question as well with technology as it has enable us today, is there a difference in how I can actually do that relationship building face to face versus over whatever digital technology, even the latest stuff like Snapchat.

Let’s tackle the first question. I think a lot of folks that I talk to are in professional services businesses, right? They’re in real estate, they’re in finance, they’re consulting, and when you ask those people, “Where do you get the majority of your business?” Hands down, they all say, “Well, people I know. People I’ve done business within the past or people I know from various groups that I’m a part of.” I always follow up that question with another which is, “What do you do proactively to try to get more business from those people you know?” Do you feel like you have a system that you’re doing that today? Generally, people don’t give me such a clear answer, but it’s generally there. “You know, yes. Sort of, kind of, not really.” It’s so crazy to think that in every other aspect of our respective businesses, we have very clear systems. For accounting we have accounting systems, for marketing we have what you will pay for advertising, we’ll use AdWords, we’ll do all these things. But when it comes to — if you’re gaining the majority of your business and people that you know, you probably should implement some sort of systematic process to generate more business from your network, and most people don’t have anything like that in place. I think there is a hurdle to get over with when I’m talking to something like that that networking or engaging with people you know in order to help them can actually help your career or business. Just because you’re doing that systematically, doesn’t mean that it’s somehow icky or it’s somehow tarnishing that relationship. Anyway, we can talk more about that, but that’s a belief I strongly hold.

As for whether it’s face to face or not, I think the key piece for me is not the medium through which one is communicating, but the message that you’re delivering. For example, you and I are talking virtually right now. We’re not in person, we’re not shaking hands, I don’t think that’ll necessarily lessens the relationship that we can build, assuming like the intention that whatever message I’m bringing to the conversation. If I truly have your interest in mind and I’m trying to get to know you personally, and I’m trying to help you in a personal way, whether I’m doing that over the phone, or over Facebook or over Snapchat or in person, I don’t think it matters as much. Though I do think, typically in person tends to correlate more strongly and with higher value. So those are two concepts.

Yeah. Thank you for both, and I’d like to dig into both those a little bit deeper, is that I do agree with you. It’s what I want to talk about later is how different technology can amplify the fundamentals. I mean, fundamentally, before we had all these digital devices, relationship was face to face because that’s the only way you can really build the relationship, but it worked. We’ve met with people, we sat down, we had coffee, we drank a beer, we just shook hands or waived at each other in our neighborhoods. Back in the day, your butcher was a butcher in the neighborhood, your real estate agent was your real estate agent in your hood, your grocer was a little grocery market down there in the neighborhood. So who you did business with or those who you trusted that you saw all the time and it was natural. Of course, that life was a little bit simpler and everything was organized that way. Clearly, it was different times, but the fundamentals of — it was just natural to do business and build this trusting relationships, of people you know, people in your community, people you kind of feel would have your back, because if not, there are neighbors if they do something unethical, it’s going to get around pretty quickly. It seems as though, at least, we eye onto real estate companies, a mortgage company, and a financial planning company, so all professional services. What I notice with a lot of my real estate agents and different team members is they’re really hiding behind. It’s almost like they don’t want to meet these fundamentals be it online or person to person. They’re really hiding behind — I want to buy leads, I want the money I want to spend and maybe avoid this art of building relationships in getting face to face if it’s virtually or person to person, is almost irrelevant. But it’s like I just want to buy a bunch of business and hopefully it will turn into money in my pocket.

I think, somehow, in this technology world, somehow the mindset or the belief system has gone to that’s where the business is, and I can spend thousands of dollars a month to try to generate that list versus no, just like to your point, here’s a very easy system, systematize your relationships to make it easy to stay in touch and it’s far less expensive many times, not always, but it could be.

Yeah. It’s almost certainly, I think. I think our own business, at Contactually, I think we’re just as guilty of this as every other business owner, but it just feels like a lot more — at the end of the day, we have so many levers on our respective businesses that we can pull to try to grow revenue. I think as a business owner, you’re constantly trying to figure out what are those levers that I can pull to help maximize revenue growth. Advertising or buying leads, is a lever that feels like it’s very — I’m going to pull this lever, I’m going to put a thousand dollars in here and I’m going to get $2,000. It feels a lot more tightly connected to driving results, and that is true. I think in general, if you put X amount of dollars in AdWords or you buy some sort of advertising campaign, typically you can expect a certain amount of results in a very predictable fashion. That’s what’s great about advertising and buying leads.

The trouble is a very expensive channel to go after. Highly predictable,very expensive. Whereas the leveraging relationships, right? If I help someone buy a home last year and they had a great experience with me, that someone who knows me, who likes me, and probably has a lot of people that they know who may also be looking to buy and sell homes. It doesn’t feel maybe, that I can turn that relationship into new business as easily, as if I could spend money like Ad Dollars, but that’s because people don’t have a system. They haven’t taken the time to say, “What would I need to do, step by step, to help, you know, Nancy who I’ve helped buy a home, to equip her to become the best referral source I’ve ever had.” If people just take the time, I think, to ask themselves, “What would that process look like and how can I implement it? Such that I’m building that report Nancy, and I’m consistently adding value in a way that I — a couple of times a year can ask her for something in return, that is a far cheaper way to go about building your business, but it’s not as intuitive and it doesn’t feel as direct. So I think that’s the issue. I think it has less to do with the technology or face to face, and more to do with — it just doesn’t feel as direct.

Yeah. I think it doesn’t feel as direct and there’s something to hiding behind our devices. I don’t know what it is. I think, what we’re losing in the sum of that relationship even though we’re able to be more connected than ever, we’re a little bit disconnected because we’re relying on some, maybe predictability or whatever, but if I throw money at it, it’s going to turn into business somewhere down the funnel versus yeah, we can throw money at it and we’re always looking for different revenue streams and places to grow our revenue, but ultimately even there, we’re looking to move that to a relationship and there this relationship piece is still really important. I mean, the margins are greater if you turn that, maybe one click into a lifetime customer that stays with you and doesn’t just maybe invest in one offer or tool, but maybe several or refer a lot of people because they’ve become raving fans and feel like part of the community.

I think, any, even the best technology, the more you can turn that technology into community where people really rave about it and love it. I know at the time when I followed Evernote, for example, I spend time with Phil Libin, and went to the Evernote conferences and became a raving fan, and then I’m on their commercial, and it had the entire real estate industry following Evernote and using it. I did that because I love the technology but I also felt like part of Evernote, like there was a relationship there. They made it easy to have a relationship with the entire culture of the company. I felt part of something bigger than hey, this is just a really cool note taking tool. But that was a relationship piece, even at a large scale, and that turned into a lot of business for Evernote, just as one person for example, that had somewhat of a following, and but was a raving fan and loved Evernote, and loved everything about it. I still think too, we just want to keep really — I hope bringing to people, reminding them that it’s still always about the relationship. It’s human to human, it’s not the technology. The technology is just the system, the mechanics of these different pieces ultimately, that enable us maybe to leverage and/or increase the amount of people that we can serve.

That’s right.

That one to one is very slow, so there’s an amplification effect. But ultimately, I just keep want to get down like let’s get to know each other, let’s spend time talking, let’s get outside of our devices, just to send off the next email marketing and how about — worry less about did that email marketing piece go out, and what were the open rates and metrics which are important to look at, but maybe ask some questions of who did I build a relationship with today? Like how did that worked? Who did I talked to? Who opened and why did they they opened and maybe I’ll send them a personal email this time to say, “Hey! Thank you.” But that’s where I think I want to keep going. It’s like let’s move this into person to person, to create these relationships, get back to these fundamentals of be trusted in your community, even though it can be the enormous online global community, still be part of that versus hiding sometimes, but I think it’s natural.

Yeah. We call that concept, what you’re describing in relationship marketing, so it’s the idea that you’re leveraging relationships to market your business. I think what’s critical, like we’ve been using the term “relationship” this whole conversation, and I think that feels maybe a little confusing and intimidating to a lot of people because it doesn’t really — what does that really mean? Like who’s your relationship? I think what’s really critical if you’re trying to turn your personal network into business, is to ask yourself, “What is the number one goal for my business this year?” So start there.

Now for example, for a lot realtors I talked to, their number one goal obviously is to grow revenue, but you ask them, “How are you going to grow revenue?” They say, “Well, I’m trying to get a lot more referrals this year.” “Okay great. Who sends you the majority of your referrals? Who are those people?” It’s not just general relationships to certain people. “Okay. Well, it’s my past clients and it’s other realtors in other markets, and it’s other professionals that I worked within my market.” So maybe other title agents or mortgage broker, or folks like that. I said, “Okay. What are you doing to proactively stay in touch with those people such that they’ll remember you, like you, and hopefully send you business?” They see — you can start to implement a plan that will help you do that. I like to take the concept of relationship building, it’s less abstract and really focus on what’s the problem, who the people that can help, and how do you focus on those people.

Yeah. I totally agree. Then how do I develop these relationships deeper, spend time or get in front of them. I guess my question based from your vantage point, how do you then answer that question? For example, you could post this question like, “Who are these relationships?” What would be your coaching? It’s like yes, do you call these people? Granted we’re going to systematize this, but if we’re going to develop to turn these relationships into business through building a trusted relationship with them, they’re not going to use us probably to help them buy or sell a house if they think we’re shysters, or if we’re just trying to market them all the time and send them the next email and not get to know them necessarily.

What’s your advice there, to start developing these relationships, to stay in touch both analogue and digital?

I think there’s a couple of pieces to that, I think there’s the “who, the how often, and what would you say.” Back to the “who”, I will just touch on this briefly, I think it’s just clearly identifying what your goal and who are the people that can help you achieve that goal, so you really focus on a tight audience. I think the trouble with networking in general, is that people — because they don’t focus on the “who”, they’re kind of shocked in that working event, and eventually there’s going to be — what is this? Shaking hands, kissing babies with the people they meet, the people — but they aren’t the right people. I think it’s folks in the “who” first, and it’s the “how often”, I think in general. If you’re trying to follow up too frequently, you’re going to get burned out and it’s going to get overwhelming for you and your network, so I tend to use this in real term every 60 days. This is a really good change with which to follow with people. But the most important thing I think is, what do you say. You made a point earlier, if people view you as someone who’s trying to get value from them, but you’re not really adding value to the relationship, they’re going to feel like they’re being used. So I think a critical point that we coach our customers on is, think of a rule of 3 to 1, you want to add the value three times for every ask you’re making otherwise, should at least three times.

Those value adds, I think about in four different categories. The first category is you’re just saying hi. It’s the easiest, most innocuous, but one that I use all the time is where I was just saying, “Hey Krisstina, you know, I really enjoyed our podcast last time we spoke. I know we haven’t spoke in while, but I just want to let you know I was thinking about you, and I hope you’re doing really well.” I’m not really saying a whole lot in this message I’m sending you, but it’s you know that I’m thinking about you,I’m bringing up something we talked about previously and it shows that I care. So that’s kind of the easiest, but the next three require a little more effort is I think, it’s following up and engaging about something that’s personal to someone. If I knew you were interested in — I don’t know, whitewater rafting, maybe I would share something about that. I can share what is relevant to you professionally. So if I know that you’re in a real estate business and I recently met a really good real estate coach, I want might want to send you more information about him or I can make an introduction. So it’s a little personal and professional in the intros and those are probably in increasing order, the ways to really add a lot of value to someone. If you’re doing that consistently, it becomes really natural to ask someone for a favor. That’s the rough path I’d recommend.

When you say value, what is your definition of values, the “Hi”, just “Hi and how are you? Thinking of you,” is that an item of value or is it hey, like you said, “I know you’re into Whitewater rafting, so I want to send you this article,” so people feel like what I’m thinking about it, I’m being thought about, and they’re not trying to sell me something, and at some stage you come back around and saying, “Oh by the way, if you know anybody buying or selling her home, or needing personal planning or whatever, I’m available.”

Yeah. To answer the question, I think, following up with someone in general, as long as you’re saying something that is not negative, is going to be viewed as valuable to some degree. Like even that saying, “Hey! I was just thinking about you,” and saying hi is valuable. It’s just not that valuable. Alright, so let’s take maybe a key point, as this winger that’s key quote that I always say that I think it’s totally applicable here, if you missed 100% of the shots you never take, I think that’s totally true with this relationship building concept because if, let’s say if Nancy someone I guide — I helped buy a home last year. If I don’t remember to follow up with Nancy, like if I don’t communicate with her at all, she’s going to forget about me. Our relationship will deteriorate.

Oftentimes, it’s really intimidating and really hard to figure out what would be a good introduction to make to Nancy, or what would be a good piece of content I could share with her. If you do nothing else, you need to at least follow up and say, “Hey! I’m just thinking about you.” But clearly that’s not going to be good enough and so what we typically coach is do those higher value things. If you know that Nancy is a lawyer, or Nancy probably wants other clients of her own like she wants referrals, so can you refer a potential client to Nancy, that would be part of the most highly value thing you could do for her, and/or again, if you know that Nancy is interested in a certain topic, can you share a really relevant article with her. Share something you recently learned that would be really of interest. There are more valuable ways, but yeah, something is better than nothing.

Yeah, and I think what you’re hitting there that is really important is that what you didn’t say is a piece of email marketing. So that may or may not be valuable, but the way you described it in the relationship side, and I think this is where possibly we can get confuse is that there is automation marketing. We are marketing, we are advertising, we are generating cold traffic and the different things on there. There’s really great tools, for example, to facilitate that and assist that, and some of that can be valuable. I mean there’s value, you’re working to make all of those valuable so it’s not spam, but there’s more than that. I think that’s the part we’ve maybe become too dependent on. The next stage of that, even if you do that part, the next day or even just to start here, if you don’t do some the more traditional automation marketing piece, on the relationship side, is the person to person, “Hey, I’m thinking about you.” “Hey, I have a referral for you.” “Hey, I wanted to introduce you to someone that I think you’d really want to know based on what we talked about last time. You guys should know each other.” It isn’t just this one to many, one sort of high value item that we make, send through an email marketing piece for an ad, it’s the person to person. Even though this is digital over email or whatever, it’s different. So I think the comparison I’m trying to make is that it’s the most powerful as a combination of both, but what we’re missing in this relationship side, I think that’s where a lot of times especially in the different industries I’m in, I see people not converting so much of their money into business because they’re not taking the time to do this piece. A lot of it, to your point, is because they’re not systematic about it. They don’t have the right tools or systems to help facilitate that to make it really easy.

Totally. Yeah, I 100% agree with your point. Email marketing is still helpful. I think it just goes back to the point around who is it that you’re reaching and what’s the goal with the interaction. So just briefly, I guess I’ll speak about two different types of people where I think it’s appropriate to do the email marketing, where I think it’s not appropriate.

First, take a lead. Again, take the example of a realtor, which I know you know this piece well. Let’s say a lead comes in from an open house, and that’s someone that you haven’t really build a lot of rapport with yet, they are cold lead, and I think that’s totally appropriate to put that person on whatever email marketing campaign you have and send it to them. Now the difference is if that person suddenly indicate some sort of interest and says, “Hey! I’m interested in this part of zip code,” or “I’m interested in these sector homes,” or you’ve met with them. You actually met with him, you had coffee, that someone you’ve already invested a little bit of relationship into, if you continue to blast that person which is generic email marketing, it isn’t going to be hurtful but it’s certainly not going to help much. You’re not actually building and investing to that relationship, whereas, there’s someone who’s sort of in the middle of the funnel. They’re not totally cold but they’re not an active client yet. That’s where you can really implement this like of value-ad system that I’m talking about. Follow up and say, “Hey Brenda! I saw that you really enjoyed getting coffee two weeks ago. I remember you mentioned that you’re son Lucas started school at St. John’s in August. Here’s some information that my friend, Nancy, shared to us that St. John’s might be interesting.” That is so relevant, you’re sure to remember. That is the perfect way to add value. So that’s like, maybe a compare and contrast.

Another example of a person, let’s say if you want, again, the Nancy example, the past client. You wanted to send her your referrals, put in Nancy on a drip campaign that you’re sending once a month saying, “These are all the homes that I’m selling,” is not going to do it. Like Nancy’s going to say, “What the hell? Why is Krisstina sending me all these listing information? I don’t want this garbage. I just bought a home.” But if instead, you’re doing that personal relationship building, she’s going to think more highly of you and hopefully send you business. So anyway, that’s how I would think about segmenting the “who” and if you have a warm relationship, sending just a regular blanket emails is not good enough. That’s my opinion.

Yeah. I think you did a brilliant job of really describing the difference of — and the importance of both, and I just keep going back to, I think that we kind of lost this relationship building because yeah, we might blast out whatever we do marketing wise and so I do a lot of email marketing. I mean I have a large database of over 50,000 people for me, and lots of different social channels, so several hundred thousand people on different lists. Clearly, it’s a big list and I’m desiring to send value through the different communications, through different target audiences and so on and so forth. So there’s that. That’s that mass scale, and really looking and then monitoring, okay, who’s opening? Who’s not? Who’s unsubscribing? So there’s just all those mechanics of business on the marketing lead generation side of the equation. Then there’s this conversion part, but then it really does move over to building — I mean, so much of my work now, like where I’d — outside of the automation piece and working on just those business metrics, so much is exactly what you said. It’s like noticing and looking and saying, “Hey Tony! I haven’t talk to you in a while. How are you doing?” So I notice, maybe open two or three things, or maybe it equates to opening but — or “Hey! I notice you’ve opened lots of different things. This is Krisstina, I’m not a bud, I’m not marketing, and I just want you to notice you read every single article and I want to say thank you.” That’s hard to do because it is time consuming and with just like that automation piece to work, but I think it can be so much more powerful, what you just said is to take this over here and then what amount of your time and how do you systematize it to take it to that next layer and treat people as a person, a human-being, separate from the one to many where it’s the same communication across the board.

That’s where this starts to build and grow, and you start to really develop, because we’re in this time, I think, where — when’s the last time somebody said, “Really Tony, how are you? I’m thinking about you. How’s your wife doing, like she’s doing eight days?” Like how are you holding up?

Okay. Exactly.

Are you scared to death? What’s going on? But we’re so business and so busy. We’re not getting sort of heart-to-heart, and I think that it’s such an easy place almost, to start — if we just want to make it cold about money, I mean there’s money there because we’re just so desperate for somebody to wonder and ask like truly and mean it like how we’re doing.

And that last point, and mean it, I think is so critical. Everything that we’re talking about, I mean we’re talking about how do we add value, how do we maybe systematize it, people have a great bullshit radar and if they think that you’re doing this with the objective of trying to get something from them, it completely backfires. I think the nice thing in the majority of people that I talked to, they went into professional service, they went into real estate or consulting, or financial services because they truly like working with people, and they truly do want to build those relationships. The point is, you can use technology to leverage your time better, so you can reach more people and add more value to them, but don’t do it in a spammy or an artificial way or it’s going to completely backfire.

Yeah, and we get so dependent on some of these companies to do this work for us, it really does turn spammy, like our heart’s not in it. So I just keep coming back to, let’s get more human to human and then use these technologies and systems to amplify, to be able to really exponentially touch more people, to stay in contact easier, to facilitate this work in a way that’s more systematic so that we can reach more people, we can help more people ultimately.


Alright. So thank you, that was really helpful, I think to help people really move silo a little bit then. I mean, of course they integrate, but to think of one and then how do I approach this marketing side than more of the relationship building side. Then so there’s a relationship building, let’s say more of the one to one, in this case and building relationships with people over time.

Let’s talk about networking a little bit. Has networking, in the most traditional business sense, has that changed at all or is that fundamentally the same? And because even, I think, what I’ve seen too, again, since we’ve gotten so dependent on our devices, we’re using social network and in replace of network in networking, is that a good exchange? Should we completely replace one for the other? Should we do a little bit of both? Has it changed? Is it different or the same?

Yeah. I think networking is such a loaded word that I tend not to even use it. Networking could mean so many different things to different people, and I think a lot of people have — myself included, have a negative impression of networking. Networking feels like, you go to this cocktail hour and there’s a bunch of random people you don’t know, and everyone’s kind of smooshy. Five minutes ago, you mentioned really getting to know someone, no one’s there to do that. Everyone’s there to just, kind of just biased with each other, and it goes again to so many of the best practices we’ve been talking about. It isn’t focusing on what’s the problem that you’re trying to solve, and as a result, focusing on those people. It’s not focus in adding value to those people. As a result, I feel it’s — I wouldn’t say it’s not relevant, but I just think there are a lot of better ways to meet new people, and there’s a lot of better ways to nurture the relationships of people that you already have, so what I like to do a lot of is I’ll tap my own network. When I want to meet new people or I feel like I really want to get to know a certain area a lot better, I’ll ask for referrals to people in that network.

Every time I meet somebody, I always ask, “Who else do you know you think that would be someone I could learn from or someone I’d like to meet.” So I leverage those relationships to meet the right people, and then I consistently try to nurture the people I already know, and build value and continue to hopefully get more value from those people as well, so that’s my approach. I don’t know what your approach looks like or if you disagree, but I’d love your thoughts.

No, and I think that is a word that’s — it’s another one of those icky words because we’ve all been to so many networking events. It can feel slimy, like you know people are there with the agenda to turn it into business and that’s about as deep as it goes. With that said though, that I think — and it’s the same on digitally, I mean digital. There’s the more traditional, like how we did this, and to network to one to many, sort of meet more than one person at a time, get your face out in the public and in certain communities, so we’ve lost some of that, again, because we’re hidden behind our devices. But there’s also — we’ve just moved it to social, let’s say networking, and it’s equally as bad there, if not worse, so many times.

Because out there, it’s like a permanent history of every horribly blatantly business thing that you try to somebody, yeah.
Yeah exactly. It’s just networking all the time and it’s easy, and you don’t even have to drive anywhere to show up. When there’s good intention behind it and there is a more purpose that — I mean networking, let’s say, I don’t like the word either, but I’m very selective, let’s say, the events that I attend, but I’ve always gone with just the intention to meet one person. So that way, publicly, people can ask me questions, my name, roles, sort of travel in different circles or meet different people, but my takeaway is not to get 50 business cards. My takeaway is to meet one person and get to know them and keep kind of mingling until I find the person that is like no, we have something in common or wow, there’s something here.  Then ultimately, that can turn into all sorts of great things. So it’s more like using in certain environments to help facilitate and it’s what I call, somewhat of a full move, meaning you’re publicly there but you’re also using this as an opportunity to build a relationship, you know, one or two. So I always thought if I just come with whom, with one good relationship then it’s worthwhile. Then a lot of times I don’t, I’m like, “Man, that was a waste,” and I just feel like I need to take a shower.

But you know, I really like that perspective. I think what stands up in my mind is it feels very purposeful. You’re purposeful about the events you’re attending, you’re purposeful of what you’re trying to do there and what you’re not trying to do there. I think I don’t see enough of that where people feel like, “I need to go to this networking thing. I know I’m suppose to do this,” and as a result they feel like — you get to extremes, right? Either of people who are there and they just trying to shock in everyone for every business card, or they’re there and they kind of know just to go with their friends and then just hanging out, and that’s not really the purpose. Or probably either, if you want to hangout with your friends, just go hangout with your friends. So I don’t know, I have mixed feelings on it clearly. I know from my own personal experience, I find — I’ve gotten a lot of miles from getting to know people one on one, and to your point, if I can meet maybe a new person that I can work with in big events, great. I’ve typically found that’s not the best vehicle to do it. It’s smaller events in one on one that seems to be more effective for me.

Yeah, and I agree. There’s different types of network to networking as well. Also, just another thing that I do is I never take business cards with me because that, I’m not going to pass them out and do the business card thing. I’m like no, I don’t have business cards, but if people give me theirs, it’s fine. But as part of this moving around, I look for the relationship and then we connect, and then I’ll send either a LinkedIn invitation with a note like, “Hey! I’d like to get to know you better. Can we meet for coffee or talk online?” or whatever with other date. So then that will be the takeaway from that, or the action, but it even removes this tendency to want to give business cards to take them, but that’s point one.

Number two, is that it used to be more local in the beginning of my career and do that, but now it’s more national. So we don’t call it networking because we don’t like the word, but essentially it is, it’s going to conferences and so I’m very selective at the conferences I attend. But again, very purposeful is that let’s say, for example, I’m going in September to a Bulletproof conference and I’m very much into health and wellness, and I follow Asprey and a lot of his teachings, and part of the coaching program in these different pieces on the wellness side of the equation. So it’s a community of people that are other Bulletproof followers.

So number one, there’s an automatic connection there, like we all have these in common. So because of that, there’s a shared interest, the shared conversation that makes it easier to connect because we all have these Bulletproof thing in common, and we can ask “What got you into Bulletproof?” “Well, this got me into Bulletproof,” and you learn, wow, like “I got in Bulletproof because I got really sick in 2013 and I had to really change my diet and my lifestyle and it saved my life.” Then they say, “Oh my god, me too. I had this disease and then I came across Asprey on Bulletproof,” because of X, Y, and Z. So right there, it’s “networking” per se because we’re all there to learn and meet people really, but it’s just you get right down to the human side of it with this shared interest. Then looking and talking to the vendors and be very purposeful, like what inspired you to create this product, this Paleo product that — your startup and you’re starving to death, and you’re giving everything to try to get this out in the world, like what’s the story behind that. So it is all networking but it’s in the context of not like, let me pass out my business card to a hundred people at this Bulletproof conference. How many people can I get to know and develop these relationships and the shared environment that’d be really difficult to maybe have 20 new people. I feel like I know a little bit by just doing my normal things I do in any given day.

Yeah, and it strikes me that, that even just hearing the way you described that, like you have a genuine interest clearly in Bulletproof and you’ve got Dave Asprey. So I think it strikes me that you’re going to that, if you get business and find a new potential of people that can help you grow your business out of it, great, but that doesn’t sound like it’s the primary purpose. I think that’s maybe the key difference is that you’re meeting these people, you have a genuine interest in what’s going on with a given topic, and it shows, right? You legitimately enjoy the conversation that you’re having in this group environment.

Conversely, I don’t know, maybe you disagree but I’ve gone to a lot of different conferences where I’m not particularly interested in the topic per se, but it is a market that I need to sell into. So if I’m encountering a random person, I come to someone we’re grabbing a beer, I may enjoy that conversation but we’re not going to have as much in common, and so in those scenarios, I really do try to take a very prescriptive approach where I’ll say, who are the people at this conference that I want to know? How can I reach out to them in advance? How can I really line up all these meetings and conversations such that I feel like it’s really going to be a good use to everyone’s — their time and my time, and I found it to be really effective too.

That’s absolutely — that’s another side. So let’s say, on that note for example, anybody who is listening to us in real estate, the Inman conference. So for years, I’ve gone with the Inman conference and it did get — like I wasn’t there to network and give the business card, but it’s like okay, Tony’s going to be there probably with Contactually, so I’m going to see if I can set up a meeting with him, and so and so is going to be there with Wilter.com, so and so is going to be there. So it is going there very intentionally also and meeting some people, but using that environment to have the one to one or face to face opportunity since we’re all going to be on the same spot, so I totally agree.

I think to go back to one thing you said, which I hadn’t thought about this way, but you’re right. i think when the intention is to really meet people and get to know people, I go in with that, like I’m never go in with this mindset of why to try to create business. I’m really going in to really meet people and especially with this common interest and be curious, and ask questions. I don’t care if anybody ask me a question about me. I’m really like, tell me the story behind this. Like I want to know you, there’s something here really exciting, like why are you here in the first place? It costs thousands of dollars to get here. Like what cause you to want to do that? Because I always know it’s going to either turn into nothing, which that’s fine, or some sort of relationship and ultimately probably business. So I’m not even thinking the business because the business is naturally going to happen and maybe not business like I close some sale, but maybe there’s an affiliate opportunity, or there’s show up to a podcast. There’s something there that’s going to come out of it, that’s going to maybe, eventually turn into business somewhere down the road, but I always know that it will, so I’m not worried about it. It’s just getting back to “Hey, I want to get to know Tony and tell me more.”

So anyway, on that note, what was the inspiration behind Contactually? I mean it’s like they are salesforce — there’s lots of CRM’s on the market. It’s a competitive space. I’ve seen a lot of people try to get in it and haven’t succeeded, but you guys got a good seed round, you closed another $8 million of funding last fall. So you’re onto something here, like what sparked the desire to go into this competitive space against the big 800-pound in gorilla like a salesforce for example, and like what was it? What was different? What was missing from the market? What inspired the three of you to say, “Hey! Let’s kill ourselves to try to do this new CRM thing”?

Yeah. It’s actually five years this month that we started working at Contactually. It’s been five years, and it was on October 2011 that we founded the company officially. I think if I roll the clock back five years ago, at the time there were three of us who started the company. My two co-founders were working, doing consulting work for other business building websites and apps for the people, and I was previously doing product work at Microsoft, and I was in a non-profit zone. We were doing these very different things, but the one common theme that we all had an itch to scratch around was the idea that we knew a lot people, we’re fairly at large networks, and we felt we were frankly doing a poor job of actually staying in touch with the people that really mattered.

When you look at CRM customer relationship managers, the CRM. When you look at the CRM’s that out there, like Salesforce.com clearly is the big bohemeth, Salesforce isn’t the business of helping you follow up with and build rapport, people that matter. Salesforce is a tool for sales teams and sales managers to monitor what their sales team is doing and to hopefully grow more revenue as a result. It’s a very specific tool for salespeople. It’s not at all good for people. I was a typical professional who wants to grow his or her network and meet the right people, and it’s not really good for anyone with professional services who is relying heavily on people that they personally know to grow their business. Like the way in which a typical realtor grows his or her business, is through people they know, through referrals, they’re nurturing leads, that type of things. It isn’t through running the really tight sales process where the huge sales force, you got to go through stages X, Y, and Z.

So anyway, long story short, we had a personal need. We wanted something that would help us frankly, truly stay in touch with the right people that we knew, and as we started talking to other people like to some of the folks I’ve mentioned — realtors, consultants and whatnot. It seem like it wasn’t just a personal need, it was a need that a lot of other business owners had as well. As we said, “What if we really focus on building a product that would be very different from your typical CRM, but instead would help you focus on those bright people, that would help you grow your business most effectively and truly build strong rapport and a strong relationship with them.” So that’s the path, we started down as a path, we’ve been around for almost five years and still growing strong. I guess a lot of people like what we’re doing.

Yeah. Well, you’ve done a great job. One of the reasons why I wanted to really spend so much time is kind of drilling in this relationship side, because if you don’t get that, I don’t think you’d get the power of Contactually or a system like yours. What I love about yours, being somebody that has built her career and all of my business on relationships, all of its relationships. I mean, I may fill my rooms now by picking up the phone and calling people personally. So lots of marketing, lots of automation, big list, all of that, but really, what I spend so much of our time with is this sort of thing or picking up the phone and saying, “Hey Tony! I haven’t talk to you in a while. How was it going? Oh by the way, I’m having this event in December. This is what it is. I’d love to see you,” blah, blah, blah. I’ll talk through that, but still picking up the phone, making those phone calls to make sure it’s even the right fit. But the point is that it has to be systematic, like I wouldn’t be able to do that.

So number one, it’s the mindset, if I build my career and my business through relationships, and giving a damn, and caring, and really looking how do I take care and add value blah, blah, blah — those fundamentals, and not just relying on the marketing side even though that’s important. But then it’s okay, how to do that effectively? I’d see so many people in the professional services industry, they don’t have a CRM, they don’t have a tool. Even if it’s a very basic tool, they don’t have all of their information in one place, and there’s a reason to Rolodex, people that when in the relationship business always have their Rolodexes back in the day, and had everybody there, and did this simple roller and it was very analogue and easy. There’s always so much you could with that, but it still works for that time.

But now, it’s the importance of like, if you’re in professional services, you have to have a good CRM tool, a good tool, or a good relationship management tool and communications tool, that’s maybe integrated with, but is different than your automation marketing. So what I love about Contactually, and where I think you guys have nailed it is you’ve made it so easy to do that, and I tried for years to really hack sales force or hack different CRM’s to get it to somewhat work like you guys and two other folks who built it, and it keeps evolving and getting better. But some of the things I love like what you’ve done that I encourage everyone to get on a CRM, and obviously Contactually is my favorite, but I love a few different features of it.

Number one, I love the buckets. So the whole bucketing system and the tagging system makes it so easy for me to categorize certain types of relationships, since you know my career is really broad and I have different relationships for my different businesses or personalities really, so that makes it so easy. I love the dashboard, like you tell me, I just go and since now I have a lot of relationships above the — like, what is that? A 150 people that they say is the max you can have. I have thousands of people that actually know and could pick up a phone and talk to, but I obviously can’t remember that all the time, but then Contactually will tell me, “Hey! You haven’t talk to Tony for a while.” Like so, let me flag and what I’ll do I’ll send you a quick note that says, “Hi Tony! I’m thinking about you.” So then, I love that, I love the template email. It should make it really easy, right? Just go in and do the hi, how are you template email. I love the introductions, we make it really easy to introduce.

So anyway, you guys, I just wanted to give you a big kudos because you’ve really made it easy through the software, to use the software as a system for staying in touch with your relationships, to nurture them, to deepen them, to easily be reminded to stay in touch. You know, I’ve had a personal practice that I start every morning. Once I turn my computer on, I touch 10 people a day at minimum, even the days I’m really busy, and you’ve made that very easy. So any final, maybe words on the system itself, or some tips for how to use a system, to stay in touch different from you’re just automation email marketing and other advertising?

Sure. Again, I just want to say thank you for those kind words and it’s obviously great to have you as a customer. You’ve been with us for a while. So again, thank you. I would say, at high level things, and I don’t think this is rocket science. What I’m saying it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to people, but I think there are four elements to make relationship marketing work for any business, but I think professional services in particular, I think the first thing is you got to build a database to people that you know, and hopefully you can do that in a way that’s going to keep updating on its own. The way our system works is we connect to your phone and your email. I mean connect to other third party systems to pull all of those context in conversations together and keep them updated. That last piece is really important, because if you just do it once, you’re going to message new people or they’re going to change jobs, and you’re not  going to get any information. That sort of step one. Step two is, as you said, you’ve got tens or hundreds of thousands of people you know, they’re not all — not everyone’s created equal in terms of who’s going to benefit your business, and so you need to segment those people and ask yourself, “Who are the people that are going to help best grow your business?” and that’s where the buckets come in, as you mentioned. Now buckets essentially are ways in which to segment your database, so that’s really important.

Then the third step is once you’ve created the database, you segmented it, it’s actually setting that, turning on those reminders such that if you haven’t talk to anyone of those people in a long time that’s in one of those important buckets, you’re going to get reminded and this is going to show up on an email reminder or on your dashboard. Again, because our system is connecting to your email, it’s connected to your phone. If you say that Nancy is someone who’s really important to you, it’s going to send you out of referrals, or we’re going to know if it’s been two or three, or how many months since you spoke to Nancy, and if it has, we’re going to automatically trigger the reminder.

Then lastly, hopefully, you get some insight into how are you performing over time, and are you actually sending more follow ups. Is that relationship health of your network going up? So we do a lot of tracking with the Relationship Point Average or RPA to see are you getting better or worse at doing this relationship building. So anyway, those I think are the four components that are really important, and those are where we’ve invest a lot of time and energy in making them really really good.

Wow, you’ve done a great job, and I do, being someone that likes to get to A. I like my A’s on my RPA and show me how I’m doing.


But anyway, we’ve reach the — really, the end of our time together today, and a wrap up all of my podcast episode is, is there tends to be a lot of myths in any of our industries, sort of that common belief that’s pretty much flat-out false, and as a result, tends to hold us back or keep us from our optimal potential. So what’s maybe a common myth or something believed to be true in your industry, and would you do a little myth busting for us?

Yeah. I think there’s two right away in my mind. The one that I’ve already touched on a little bit which is the concept of missing the 100% shots you never take. I think so many people — I don’t know, is it due to  their fear or do they feel like it’s not going to work. They just don’t do with the little things that make all the difference, like the fact that, that you can just — you build a habit like you just describe of, touching 10 people everyday. Like you do that, because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to expand your reach, you wouldn’t “increase your luxe service area,” such that you’re generating more of those opportunities that maybe would subdue the cracks. I’m not sure that’s a belief that is lively held, it’s something I truly believe.

The other thing I think — and I’ve written about this on my blog before, the idea that execution beats everything, hands down. Execution is the most important thing. I think a lot of people, at least in we’re starting businesses or in high-growth startups like ours, a lot of talk and a lot of thought is given to a lot of heavy planning and in talking about cool ideas and building things. Usually, startups are sort of sexy. People talk a lot about brilliant startup companies, and the reality is that building a company, as you all know, it’s really hard and it’s not very glamorous a lot of the time, and just getting shoot down is the most important thing. I think not enough people, at least, by talking to their — thinking about starting a company, really recognizes, that’s the point. Building a company is not easy and it’s not very glamorous, and it’s just yeah, getting stuff done is the most important. So that’s what sticks out in my mind.

Thank you. Any final words?

Any final words. Well no, look, I really appreciated the time on this podcast. Of course if folks want to check us out, it’s Contactually.com. Contact U-A-L-L-Y, and if folks are — if they want to chat with me, I’m always willing to meet a new person as you heard me share earlier. I like to meet people one on one. So anyone who wants to reach out, you can contact me in the show notes afterwards as well.

Great. Thank you so much. I know you’re a busy man and you have a lot of people pulling at you for your time. So I really appreciate your time with this. Thank you for sharing and we’ll be in touch. I’ll make sure that I’ll stay in touch with all of my dashboard in.

Yeah, add me to a bucket and you’ll never forget to follow up, right?

I’ll never forget. Exactly. You’ve been awesome. Thank you so much.

Thanks Krisstina. Take care.

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