Join Alastair Woolcock and Howard Brown this week as they host Brian Moran, the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of e-commerce platform SamCart. Moran shares invaluable insights into navigating the dynamic landscape of B2C commerce amid AI advancements. The session goes deeper into exploring the strategic shift towards authenticity and human connection in sales, backed by Moran’s experience in scaling SamCart without a conventional sales team. Moran also dives into some key strategies behind SamCart’s success: personalized, automated sales processes, optimization techniques, a consultative approach with customers and strategies for fostering trust and driving success in the B2C realm.
Welcome back everybody to the new sales strategy podcast. I’m Alastair Woolcock, CSRO here at Revenue.Io joined by my co host, founder, CEO, genius of all things AI revenue science, Howard Brown. Happy new year, Howard.
Happy new year. Great to be here. And we are excited to have with us today, the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Brian from SamCart, Brian, happy to see you. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Brian, I want to start off with, as we’re heading into this new year, a lot is changing in the world. We’ve seen the influence of AI happen in 2023. That is front and center in the world of B2C commerce, which you’re, you’re front and center in.
And this notion that with all the automation, all the technologies that now exist, there is real clear data, seeing a clear rise in human connection and authenticity. What I mean by that is go to market strategies. Now, we were evolving rapidly beyond templated approaches, which have kind of been the mantra the last few years to prioritization of authenticity, the human connection.
And this really involves understanding your customer challenges. A little less scripting, more, more genuine, authentic connection. Now in the world of B2B, that makes a lot of sense. They’re often big, complex sales. You need that authenticity. You’ve got to dive into that. You have to know situational context.
In B2C, it’s often a lot more, you know, it can be transactional and fast moving, but consumers are expecting more and more of this than ever before. And I’d love to pick your brain today as somebody, when you were building SamCart. It’s this whole idea that you, I believe, didn’t even have a sales team up until post 15 million bucks.
And you figured out how to, how to do this as scale and offer this degree of personalization and diving in. So one, are you seeing it two, what’s your advice to others?
Yeah. I mean, when, when my younger brother, Scott and I started SamCart back in 2014, luckily we had run a couple of online businesses selling digital products like eBooks and courses in a couple of different niches.
So we sort of had that muscle built of like, look, we were selling inexpensive products, whether it’s a 10 eBook or a hundred to 500 dollar course. Hypothetically around the 500 price point, we could have got on the phone, but I had bigger aspirations. I wanted more customers than I knew I’d be able to get on the phone and close on a day to day basis.
So I had to sort of figure out a way to sell them in an automated fashion. To can a sales pitch in the form of a video or a written letter, landing page, email cadence, something digital that could be automated and scaled. Um, and yeah, it was a struggle the first couple of years, but finally, you know, found some folks who I kind of emulate and study and learn from and, you know, figured out how to actually make that work.
And so we just took that skill right over to SamCart and we kind of had the same problem. We wanted thousands of customers as quick as we could get them. You know, I never have been still not an expert on selling over the phone. I’m sure I could handle a call. Well, now I know how to sell, but you know, that just wasn’t in my kind of personality to, you know, get someone on the phone and then sell them.
So yeah, we, it was kind of out of necessity. That was the skill we had to learn. And we’re selling a mass market tool, SamCart. We have customers that get into the 100 million plus revenue mark, but most of our customers are anywhere from zero to 20 million a year. And it’s relatively inexpensive.
Our highest price plan is 500 a month. The lowest price is 79. So it’s not, you know, a lot of the unit economics don’t make sense to build a sales team. Um, and I didn’t know the first thing about doing that. So I figured, look, I already know how to write a good sales script , turn it into a video, automate it in the form of a webinar or a video sales letter, or some kind of sales process that can be automated with a couple of different, you know, mediums.
We just kind of figured out how to make it work. And that’s kind of where the strength that we’ve leaned in on. And I think it just so happens that that’s actually how most of our customers sell that 25,000 customers that we have all over the world selling all kinds of different products. That’s, I actually can’t think of, I think a couple of our top sellers do have sales teams, but most of them, whether they’re B2B or B2C, that’s kind of the style that they use as well.
So we get a lot of insights behind the scenes on what’s working for them. We try to share a lot of information kind of across the entire user base.
Fascinating. See, I’d love to hear a little bit more about SamCart and then tell me, you sound like you have some secret sauce as it relates to videos and messaging.
What have you learned from these folks and what are you learning from your current customer?
Yeah. So SamCart in a nutshell is. Essentially, I don’t like comparing it to Shopify because Shopify is totally like they are a catalog store model. Like if you have a huge e-commerce store with 500 t-shirts, you should not use us.
We argue you should take your best performing products if you’re a performance marketing driven business and you do a lot of email campaigns or paid ads. A lot of Shopify top sellers will put their, kind of their flagship products on SamCart, cause it’s just more dialed in, lets you do more things to optimize conversions to really kind of custom tailor that entire checkout and sales process.
We originally built it just for ourselves. We were selling digital products, courses, eBooks, coaching programs back in 2014, and the Shopify’s of the world just don’t really work all that well for that type of product. So we thought, one, we need to solve this problem to grow our own business. And a lot of our customers at the time were those types of entrepreneurs that we thought they probably will like what we build if we build it right.
So it’s essentially a checkout platform that is crazy optimized. It lets you, the business owner, test and tweak every little stage of the checkout flow to boost your conversion rate of prospect to sale and boost the not only day one average order value by offering them kind of a tailor made upsell process, letting them know about other things that you sell and do a lot of cool things on the backend to drive up lifetime value and kind of track the whole process.
So that’s why we built it, in the beginning. It’s not really all that secret sauce. I mean, it’s just, yeah, I understand the fundamentals of sales, which both of you do as well. And probably most of your listeners do it. It’s that blend between science and art, and I think the one thing that I’ve been fortunate enough And for SamCart is that I was the customer that I’m now selling.
So I understand what their fears are, what their frustrations are, what their aspirations are, um, both at the beginning stages. Cause I’ve been there, spending my first 18 months online, making not a single sale and we’ve built a big business. So I know, what we struggle with and what our kind of top sellers struggle with.
So that’s number one. I mean, the foundation of any sales pitch is understanding your customer. And then just being a good communicator, being able to sell without, being overly salesy, put the pressure on a little bit without being too high pressure. How to lead with benefits instead of features, how to, create scarcity or urgency.
All those things are kind of the foundation of every pitch that we, that we put out there. And I think what just kind of really helps is that, we’ve gotten pretty good at communicating and doing things in a way where, you sound trustworthy and you actually are, how to back up claims and all those foundations.
We just can all of that into, either a video that becomes. A video that lives on a landing page or turn it into a webinar. So you kind of create a sales kind of event based environment that by default kind of puts the pressure on, cause it’s a kind of fixed date and time special offer that we’re making.
It would just take all those kinds of foundational elements and work them into whatever other channel we’re using to push leads over the edge, ads, email, SMS, all of that. And so I wouldn’t really call it secret sauce. It’s just kind of. Look, there’s tried and true things that work and we just, I guess the secret sauce is don’t break the mold.
Like don’t try to reinvent how humans think and make buying decisions and, try to use those to your advantage.
Brian, as I hear you say all of this, I, you know, I agree emphatically. It reminds me if I almost like I’m listening to, uh, what I used to work on at Gartner, buying behavior patterns and stuff like that, and then the importance of selling on outcomes, don’t sell on features, right?
Like I, I hear you say. Uh, I, I guess I also want to double click though, when I think of B2C and I think of scaling that, how are you operationalizing like that? Like it’s one thing we all agree. I think every listener would agree with everything you’re saying, but how are you operationalizing that? Is there a certain data that you’re looking at to inspect to make sure that is happening?
Like, how are you making sure that people are actually using an outcome driven approach? Outside of spot checking and trusting they’re doing it. Like at some point when you have 15, 000 customers, there has to be enablement around that in, in the B2C side.
Yeah. I mean, we, we kind of built that into the platform.
So, I mean, obviously we can’t, force or coach 20,000 different businesses and that’s not what we’re built for. We’re a SaaS company. Not a services business, but we try to bake into the product, the ability to see the numbers that suggest you’re doing things the right way or not. The ability to track once you get a customer, what’s the LTV doing over the first, a couple of weeks, months, years.
And if that number is not moving, something’s broken. We show and expose the conversion rate of every single page, whether it’s a checkout page or an upsell page where you’re making another special offer and we, you know, are constantly kind of watching those numbers and reporting back to the marketplace.
Hey, whether it’s this niche or kind of internet wide, here’s what we’re seeing here, the numbers you should shoot for, obviously there’s a million factors that come into play, you know, for us to say the average checkout flow on SamCart converts at 11 percent is sort of useful, but price point matters, market matters, there’s a ton of factors.
So we try to break that down as easy as possible, especially because we have a lot of entrepreneurs on SamCart that are under the million dollar a year level and, they don’t have data teams to go, run and crunch all these numbers. So we try to make it easy to digest. And we use those same numbers in our own business.
Yeah, we have metrics that we’re looking for in every promotion or campaign or new offer that we put out that, if we’re above or below, we’re going to give us good kind of key indicators on whether or not that that pitch is dialed in or not.
So I’m going to use an analogy here and you and Howard can tell me if you think this works or not, but if you think of the stock market and one of the basic rules, if you’re going to go buy and sell stock is what, right? If I’m going to go buy certain stock, understanding the neighborhood of stocks, kind of like a house or maybe let’s do a house analogy, actually erase the stock one. If you think of buying a house, what’s the first thing you always do when buying a house to establish a price point?
You’re going to go look at a comparable. Right? Because that’s going to tell you roughly what’s going on in the neighborhood. Stocks are kind of the same way you buy within a neighborhood. Commerce has the same types of things that the data that we need.
You referenced in your lifetime value, you’re looking at the past two rates, conversion rates, all of those things, all of those metrics.
And in SaaS companies and B2C companies and e-commerce companies, we all use them, comparable data and benchmark across the functional piece. That you’re assessing and how am I converting all of that and then publishing that data to others. So they know where to improve is actually how you improve it in total, right? It’s not this hero ship idea that I say something better than somebody else. Often it’s just functional mechanics of knowing if this approach and the landing page is working better for this type of cohort, why wouldn’t you basically emulate that, right? I won’t say copy, but emulate and the same in a checkout process.
If there is a friction point that is tripping you up and everybody else isn’t doing that, why not? Likewise, if you’re doing it better, you actually want to share that with others. Despite it, you make this competitive advantage is that shared ecosystem is what drives up overall consumer engagement, overall consumer trust of this kind of purchasing process.
Do you see it that way? Like, does that make sense?
A hundred percent. I mean, that’s our, our exact approach. I mean, we’re, we’re in a fun position where the business that, one of the businesses we had before SamCart, we made our money by selling those strategies in the form of training courses, you know, white paper, stuff like that.
We’re in a position now where we can and should give all of that away, because, one, it, Proves SamCart as a business knows what it’s talking about and actually does have insights into the data that we claim we have. And two, it helps us convert new customers because people come to know, like, and trust us because of the information that we share, obviously it helps us because the more money our customers make, the more successful they are, the longer they’re going to stay with us and the more money we’re going to make as a business.
So we’ve always enjoyed sharing that content. Not just because in the past we made money from sharing it. But now we actually get to give all of it away for free and share it and, help folks that don’t have access to the kind of information that we have. So that’s really, as a marketing team, that’s kind of our mantra.
That’s how we get most of our customers is by sharing that information on what’s working, what do we see, is even if it’s in a different niche than a lot of our customers are, there’s a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of kind of common denominators that people can pull from. Somebody selling, a fitness supplement that, someone who might be, a life coach could use the same strategy and techniques on their website, in their store and their sales process. So that’s exactly how we approach it.
Brian I loved what you just said here, which is. You’re there helping people. You’re using your data to help your customers and to help your prospects. And early in the conversation, you talked about sales and you said, well, you don’t want to be too salesy. Well, I think the whole idea of being a salesperson today has evolved from pushing things that people don’t want to helping customers make buying decisions or giving them the information they need to make choices.
And so. Your ability to collect benchmarks and best practices and share those things make you and your service that much more valuable. And that is, I think a lot of people have negative connotations around sales because it’s not about delivering that value and what Alastair and I try to emphasize week after week, it’s really about understanding your customers, understanding their pain points and delivering value.
And if you’re doing that well, then you’re doing sales well. And there is no negative connotation to being a helper.
Yeah. In our world of kind of SMB, SaaS, the Mailchimp’s of the world, the Shopify’s of the world. I don’t think those companies share enough. Coming from the entrepreneurial world who had, we had our own products that we were trying to sell and we used, all the most common platforms.
I was in groups myself where folks are paying 50, 100 grand a year to just be in a room with other top notch sellers, because all I wanted to know was what are they doing? Because no one else would tell me. And so it’s fun to, like, Again, I think that comes back to being, having grown up in this market and knowing what these people want.
I think it’s what’s given us an advantage that I can sit down with our sales or marketing team and remind them, look, every new feature we come out with, like those are great, people want to know we’re improving the software. They love new tech. They love new features, you know. Whether it’s just a shiny object or it truly does move the needle, they want to know we’re always improving the platform.
What they really want to know is what have, what are our top sellers doing? Like in our case, they know that, we have some big names that use the platform. And yeah, we can’t go share everything about all of our customers, but there’s a way to do it, without giving too much away to share with them.
Like, look, if you want to emulate the best, we can share a lot of things that they’re doing. And in many cases, that’s what moves the needle sales wise more than us launching some new feature that took two years to build.
And, that’s the commonality between B2B and B2C and anything else. It’s people want help.
People want to know how to do things, what works and what doesn’t. And at some point, most products become somewhat commoditized, but your expertise, your knowledge, your experience, how you communicate with your customers. That will differentiate you from everybody else. Yeah, a hundred percent. We are nearing time here, Howard, and, and, uh, Brian. And Brian, I would love to just kind of pose a final question to you. If you could invite your industry cohorts to give away one piece of data that they currently aren’t, what would it be?
Man, that’s a great question. It’d be a different example for depending on what the company is, but yeah, a buddy of mine runs, a great SMS marketing platform and I probably actually texted him this before, what I would ask him to share is different than what I would say, the folks over at MailChimp should share.
Like I want to know, whoever’s sending the most text messages, which probably hints that their SMS marketing sales strategy is working if they’re sending a whole lot of messages, what is the most common text that goes out from that account? In any context around that, time of day, frequency, how many texts are they sending out, per lead that’s in the account, all those things that I know I can kind of read between the lines and get to kind of the underlying strategy that they’re using, for SMS, like that to me, to our business, he could probably call me today and say, I’ll tell her the answer for 50 grand.
And I’d probably pay it because I know what, like what that would just have one shortcut, I know how much that would be worth. So that’s probably one example.
It’s great. I love it. And I’ll break my own rule of cutting us off here, but Howard, I just got to piggyback off of Brian said there was Brian and for our audience listening, that’s an awesome, I agree in B2C insight and already today in B2B as an example, right, of data tracking.
We know that in, late stage deals, the volume of texting between buyers and sellers and B2B sales. It’s fundamentally critical as a metric. So it’s amazing to me, for a while there, they often seem different based on velocity. At the end of the day, a human buying a product is a human buying a product.
And, this, the, your texting RSA industry for B2C, I agree with. And B2B, you know, I think that’s one of the key things that Howard and team pioneered for years is, is we can understand that behavior and action. It goes with that. Yup. All right. I got one final thing, Brian, we got to take you through the trivia piece and then we’ll wrap up and get this, get this show on the road here.
But we always like to wrap up with a little bit of levity, a little bit of fun right at the end. And I would just say, we want to ask you a basic question. And this one’s a bit of a layup, we’ll maybe go harder on you next time, but what percentage of consumers are likely to trust peer social recommendations over traditional marketing, advertising type pushes in B2C.
Is it A) 30 percent B) 50 C) 70 D) 90
Yeah, I would assume, I would guess it’s got to be either 70 or 90. It’s got to be the lion’s share. I guess that’s cheating I picked two. We’ll take it. I’ll give it to you. It is actually 90 percent and I just taking this all the way back through. When I think of SamCart, I think of what you built and the organization, you started with this idea of trust and trust is built through sharing.
Trust is built through knowledge. Trust is built through helping others. Yes, you get better recommendations through that, but the first critical step is actually sharing it and being empathetic with them upfront. So, love that you’re doing that in the industry. Keep at it. Yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s where we need to go. Thank you, Brian.
No, thank you. For everybody else, please remember to like and subscribe and, uh, send your questions into Howard and I, and we will do our best to get to them on a future episode. Brian, we look forward to having you back. I may be diving into a little bit of what are the near term trends and what has been the influence of AI in your space over the last 12 months as well. Awesome. Thanks for having me. Thanks, Brian. Thanks everyone.