Return on Relationship With Sangram Vajre
Lindsay Tjepkema: Podcasts and relationships, they go hand in hand. No, really, think about it. The best podcasts, the ones you really like to listen to, are all about relationships. They're built upon authentic, genuine unscripted conversations. You can feel the energy of the conversation you're listening to. You're listening in on a relationship actively being formed or strengthened. You're being invited to eavesdrop. How cool is that? Also, the most engaging podcasts speak to you, like they know you, because they do. The best podcasts know their audiences and build relationships with you as their listeners because they seek first to serve you, not to talk at you. It's a big difference- maker that you, as the listener, can really hear. Relationships, how can you make them more central to your podcast? I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO, and cofounder of Casted, the podcasting platform for B2B marketers. And this is our podcast. The FlipMyFunnel podcast is one of the most successful B2B podcasts around. Could be because it's a daily podcast, could be because it's brought to us by Terminus, or could be because the host, Terminus cofounder and Chief Evangelist Sangram Vajre, created it with relationships in mind, relationships with the guests, relationships with the listeners, even relationships with experts who help make the show happen. When it comes to podcasting, as Sangram tells us, it takes a village mindset. So with that, I'm so excited to welcome to the show, the host of the FlipMyFunnel podcast... and fun fact, one of our very first customers that we got started with here at Casted... Sangram Vajre.
Sangram Vajre: Sangram here. I am the cofounder and Chief Evangelist here at Terminus, and the founder and host of the FlipMyFunnel podcast.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Let's get started there. How long have you been doing FlipMyFunnel and how did it get started?
Sangram Vajre: So FlipMyFunnel, as a community, was built or started four years ago. Podcasting, we got into... Literally, January 1st, 2018 is when we launched our podcast. And we said," We're going to go daily," for some weird reasons. And we have been going daily, even now. Hard to believe, it's almost getting to a year and a half, two years now. And it was all started with... I felt, I'm having these incredibly amazing conversations with people internally in the office, with customers, with future customers, with influencers, with absolutely so much, so much amazing stuff that I'm like," Why am I not just recording this thing? This is amazing. This is good stuff." And we just kind of started with it. I remember the first, probably the first 50 or 80 episodes was just me interviewing half of my company and putting it on the podcast saying," All right, you just went from SDR to AE. What did that take for you to do? What skills do you need to be that? You just moved from marketing to sales? How's that even possible? Why did you choose that?" And what's interesting about just podcasts in general, is that because you're having a conversation with other person, you're not scripted, you're not trying to be something else. You're just talking, just over a coffee. And if you can be natural enough to ask good questions and make it conversational, you'll be surprised what you get out of it. For me, the curiosity was really... I just was having great conversations and I wanted to find a way to pull it together, that could turn into the way I describe it, a flywheel of content for the company, for branding, for just strategies, in every way possible, shape, and form I have, was the beginning.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love it. So, quite often it's much more structured and scripted than that, but I love... It sounds like yours is really organic and just kind of happened.
Sangram Vajre: Yeah. I mean, it's like I tried to be scripted. I'm personally not a very scripted person. Even any presentations I do, I just have a story in my mind that I want to share, and that's it. So a lot of it was like," Oh, wow, Amanda just became an AE, and she's been crushing quota for the last three years. At the company, how did that happen? How has [inaudible 00:04:51]?" So that's really the big topics. I didn't create more questions for her. I just wanted to have that conversation. And we literally would say,"I'll just talk about this and I'll just hit record," and the questions would flow from the response. And then slowly over a period of time, I started to create this more of like," All right, I need to open up with something that will break the ice for the community and get to know people better." So I would say," What is one fun fact about you?" And that would be something we'll open up now. And then in the end, the feedback I got was," Hey, this is great, good conversation, but I didn't have any takeaways from it." So I would try to summarize two or three big ideas from it, and then ask the one who I'm interviewing to give a challenge to all the listeners so they can have a takeaway and they can do one thing from that episode. So over a bit of time, I think from a structure perspective, those are the only couple of elements that I introduced. But this middle part of it, the meat of it, I wanted it to be as conversational as possible so that it never becomes stale. I never know what I'm going to ask, and the person doesn't know what they're going to respond to. And that leads some really interesting conversation, because it's not scripted.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So it sounds like it came together pretty organically, pretty authentically. What did that look like from a launch perspective? Because there's a lot of really great advice about," Build your audience, build your community, have this big launch plan, have a show flow, have a format." And you did have the FlipMyFunnel community. I'm assuming that was a big part of it, but how did this all come together if it was very organic and authentic? How did that translate into launching and building an audience?
Sangram Vajre: So for me, Lindsay, quite honestly, one thing I did realize in the process was, because marketing and everything you do, people try to just have an ROI on everything. And I look at this as an ROR, return on relationship, as opposed to return on investment. And I can go deeper on that in a minute, but that this is really what I want to do. So what I realized just naturally on this, because I've been in marketing, and I know how things work, that this will become somebody's second job. It will never be their first job, unless the company's fully funding it and all that stuff. And too, at some point, whenever there's priorities, I myself would choose to do something else over this, because there is no direct correlation to show for, in many ways. And there are, but it's hard to show for that in the very early days. So from day one, I did not have a single person at our company involved in producing it. I just outsourced it to Sweet Fish Media. James and I became really good friends prior to that, so I literally called him up and said," You do everything." So they would write blog, they will edit it, they will do the audio engineering, they would put the intro, outro, all that stuff. All I did from day one has been really focused on creating incredibly amazing, to your point, authentic conversations with people and really focused on that. And everything else but that, that comes with podcasting, and maybe that's a privilege that I had, I just outsourced it to an agency, just knowing that this would never be a number one priority for a company, even today. If I had to pick," All right, what are the three things I need to do," the truth is we would want to focus on either driving business forward, and a lot of the most immediate- term things that we need to do. And podcast, itself, is a longterm thing. That's why I call it the ROR in many ways. And to give you an example, I just interviewed a few, I think eight months ago or something, Jillian Gartner, who is one of our customers with Thomson Reuters. Now, everybody in the world knows Thompson Reuters, big brand. And I just happened to interview her because her title is ABM, Director of Account Based Marketing. And she said on the podcast, her win rate is 95%. I'm like," What? Your win rate is 95%?" And she said," Yep." I'm like," Great." I went to the CS team and said," CS team, did you know that one of our customers, their win rate for their campaign is 95?" They're like," We had no idea." I'm like," Crazy." So that podcast, once it's live and it's out there... So, there's no approval process of legal. And imagine trying to get a case study like that. Too, we were able to use snippets of that for all kinds of conversations for internal, and even today we use it. I use her content and have her come to the office. And we did an all- hands with her, because that just invigorated everybody in the company like," Wow, fantastic." That led to her story in my latest book, ABM is B2B. One of the stories of the six stories that we have in the book is her story. And then now she's also speaking at all of our conferences. So to me, if I have to look at ROI of this thing, this is off the charts. And that's why I look at it as an ROR, because that happened just because we happened to have a conversation openly, with no script, and talking about how is she doing? How is she driving the revenue? How is she thinking about ABM? And to me, that is just one example of many things that have happened as a result of [inaudible 00:10:19].
Lindsay Tjepkema: Oh my gosh. That is so huge. And I mean, as we talked about all the time at Casted, you... And as Jay Baer put it this way, kind of like an album is made up of a bunch of singles, like if you think of music, a podcast is the same. So one episode really is a whole bunch of snippets, a whole bunch of really great comments and quotes and quips and clips, that you can use in other ways. So as a marketer, to just leave that on its own and say, if you had just had that conversation and told everybody to go listen to your podcast, that would have been great. But instead, yeah, you had that conversation and you used it in myriad ways, across a bunch of different channels, including in person, by bringing her in and having her tell her story. And to your point, if you had asked her," Hey, can we do a case study," first of all, she or her legal team might've said," No," but you had a genuine conversation with her where she was happy to share that information, which went on to just explode in a way that was huge for your brand.
Sangram Vajre: I mean it, ultimately, I feel like it is hard to, again, get into something that you don't know what the results are going to be. Like, I never thought that that's one of the stories I would tell, doing a podcast. But outside of that, I get to interview Seth Godin and Daniel Pink, and I just interviewed Nancy Duarte, who's just an amazing person in communications. And the relationships and the brand value that that created for Terminus... And then Jay Baer has been... The investors that we have got, I mean, it all really just over a period of time, that flywheel, if you really leverage it the right way, is huge. And the funniest thing, I always say this, is that," Hey, if you ask for somebody to do like, get in front of them and have a 15 minute conversation, it's really hard." You say," Hey, I want to do an hour- long podcast with you," they would say," All right." I mean, it's just the weirdest thing. So from a sales perspective and success, I mean, I am seeing lots of companies really do very much focused, targeted interviews with some intention of building a relationship, for sure, and if that's not there, you're going to lose in the long run, but also to just get in front of them in the right way, as quickly as you can.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You mentioned Sweet Fish, the agency that you use to produce the show, and they're a partner of ours and we love them. They're doing great things. And we also partner with other agencies that take a different approach. And I think it's important to get into kind of the different options that are out there to marketers who are interested in doing a show. First of all, you do not have to do it alone, right? You probably shouldn't. And two there's, there's a lot of different options when it comes to agencies and support and partners that can really come in alongside you and help you meet the goals of what you're trying to do, whether it's process or time, or the amount of focus or energy that you can put towards this show, or the kind of show that you're looking for altogether. So tell me about your experience there, and what kind of advice you would share with marketers that are kind of exploring those options.
Sangram Vajre: Well, for me, I think my experience, even two, it's been almost two years now, has just been stellar. And I've felt like I'm so glad that in hindsight, that was the best decision I could have made because this would have been, honestly, snuffed off, by myself. Nobody even ha to tell me that, if this was an internal project, this would have been really hard, and especially trying to think about trying to do it daily. There's just not somebody, without having a full time person doing it. What's interesting about hiring an agency for something like that is just having a very clear set of responsibilities. So for me, I didn't want them to find me speakers. A lot of people use agencies to do that. Almost all the 400 or so interviews I've done, almost every one of these people are... I know them, or I have been introduced to them by someone. And these are conversations I wanted to have. Now, if you're building a podcast for other reasons, it's totally cool, I think. There are agencies who would find people for you that have interesting conversations. I just subscribe to the fact that I want to have great conversation with people I know, so I can dig deep into it, and I want to have very authentic, original conversations with them. So I subscribe to the idea of, I will not use any agency to find people. I'm just going to use my network to find interesting people. And it didn't matter. For me, I subscribe to this really interesting and very important personal connection. And from an agency perspective, I wanted to James and team at Sweet Fish Media to really handle end- to- end logistics. I am not going to post. I don't want to think about audio engineering. I didn't want to create a blog and write. I needed them to do that. And I didn't want to do anything other than having important and really, really great conversations. So I know there are people who are doing some internal, some external. My recommendation would be, if you are going to commit to something, one, figure out the consistency, once a day or once a week or twice, whatever that is, but don't make it based on your availability of doing all the things. Because to me, I honestly, literally have the whole year and almost half of next year already planned, using the podcast. And I'm having trouble figuring out, even though I'm doing it daily, just because of the type of conversation, how the community is involved. I can even share later on if you want, how each day is different, so you get a feel for it, but there are so many ways to do it. But having a partner like Sweet Fish Media or a person that would do it all, I think you're going to need it. And lastly, Lindsay, I felt like I needed someone who really understood this, the back end of it, without me trying to understand it every day. And I see a lot of people I know who started, after seven episodes, dropped off, or 10 weeks, dropped out. That's just because they just got like," Oh my goodness, I have to post on all of these." They spent 80% of their time on figuring things out as opposed to spending 80% of their time finding incredibly amazing conversations. So I just opted it, conversation first, engineering, ops, or whatever... I'll always outsource everything that I'm not good at, and somebody is their life and blood that their job depends on making that good, I think that combination works really well.
Lindsay Tjepkema: 100%. And I can, I can say the exact same thing. I mean, you need to, I'm interested if you agree, that one of the first things you need to do when you're saying," Okay, let's do a branded podcast," is understand, one, what that means to you and understand what you want to get out of the show, and two, take an inventory of what you're willing to do, what you're not willing to do, what kind of time you have, what you don't, what expertise you have, what you want to learn, what you don't. And then find that partner, which is going to be different for everyone, depending on the kind of show you want and the kind of expertise and time you bring to the table, and also investment, what kind of budget you have. But I couldn't agree more. And focus on what you're good at, and don't put it all on your own plate, because it's a lot to take on. And those partners, like you said, they live and breathe it. And they can really be the difference between your show being okay and being amazing. All right. So tell me a little bit about... You mentioned how every day is different. I want to dig into that. So what does that look like, and how are you changing things up?
Sangram Vajre: So, I totally feel like I got lucked out with that. So, the daily show doesn't mean I'm doing it daily. And maybe I'm taking a different approach around it, but the daily show means that there is something... People commute daily. A lot of people work out daily. I wish I was one of them. I tried to do it like three times, but a lot of people work out on a regular basis, but inaudible the commute, and people are listening every day. So my thought, initially, the reason I wanted it daily was like," Hey, look, this needs to be part of every, lot of people's... Could be, if it's good quality, could be part of people's daily routine. And there's nothing better than being in the head and ear in the morning or the evening when they are, if that's what they're looking for. Otherwise, I mean, I know my own podcasting habit, I would hop around because I just don't drive one day. I go to work every day. So that's one of the reasons why I wanted to do it daily and get in the flow. But every day's a different day. And the reason I say I got lucked out is because I'm not doing it daily. What I have is, I think, literally do it once a week. And I rely a lot on... So, I will stack a whole bunch of things, but every day's a different day. So Monday are typically the days where I personally am interviewing somebody. For example, this week I interviewed Nancy Duarte, who has 2.2 million views on TED Talks, she's the number one communicator, one of the top communicators in the world. She just launched a new book. And I met her at an event, Praxis, a few months ago. So I interviewed her for Monday. And I typically at least do it two weeks prior, so that the Sweet Fish Media team has enough time to create graphics and blog and all that stuff to launch on the same day. Then Tuesday, I think you know this, on my podcast I say this one statement every time, which is," Without a community, you're simply a commodity." I truly believe that. That's why FlipMyFunnel exists. That's really boosted the growth of Terminus in the early days, because we built and invested in the community. So Tuesday I literally offer, I give the mic to somebody in the community. So Katie Bullard, who's the president of DiscoverOrg. She essentially ran a four week series on every Tuesday. She interviewed four different people on how you transition from a CMO to CEO. Or John Rougeux, he just interviewed four different CEOs to talk about category leadership. Or Ethan, who's the VP of marketing at BombBomb. He interviewed Guy Kawasaki on the podcast talking about evangelism. So I literally opened up the community, saying that without you, this doesn't exist. This is not a Sangram show. This is really important for all of us to be part of. So Tuesday I literally have, that's where I said up to the next year, people lined up for each month to go ahead and do the interview. And then I, once they do the interview, I literally give everything just like I do, to Sweet Fish Media and they create all the stuff. So it's a win- win situation from their perspective. They don't have to worry about platform and doing it. And I don't have to worry about content every day. And I've been amazed with the type of, and the quality of, information and the interviews they do. So that's Tuesday. Wednesdays, I do LinkedIn Live. So we just play the recording of LinkedIn Live every week. On Thursday, we have done FlipMyFunnel conference for last, about 10 conferences. So we have over a thousand or so recordings of sessions from the event, that we have done. So we literally replay, with their permission of the speaker, which is in very high quality audio of their session on Thursdays. And then Friday, I literally do a five minute, one big idea, what is top of mind for me. Something that I'm really trying to improve on is how to work on words I'm using, or what's happening in the business, something that's really personal to me, but really five to seven minutes, which I can literally do anytime of the day. So personally, I'm only investing maybe an hour a week for the daily podcast to happen. And the community, the conference, and the LinkedIn Live, all these things are just now parts of the pieces that make this wheel run the way it's running right now.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's so fantastic. I mean, and it's so true, because you don't... Again, like we were talking about production, but also in content creation, you don't have to do it all yourself. And maybe that doesn't work for everyone, but it's something to consider. Like, how can you bring other people into this and really make it a community effort?
Sangram Vajre: I have been privileged to have a platform like that, to do this thing. And I look at this and say," Oh my goodness, if we can allow other people to get a taste of it, and I can be a reason for them to feel," and some of this has happened. Like for example, Steve Watt, he just did a full one, I think two month series on account based marketing principles and interviewed a whole bunch of people. He felt so good doing this, he just now launched his own podcast based out of Toronto called For Marketing or something like that. And I couldn't be more excited for him. So we would swap episodes in the future, as he builds his podcast. But, he put it on LinkedIn, and this is how he felt comfortable. He probably wouldn't have started it if he didn't have a taste in it. So I feel very privileged to be part of that process.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I mean, there's so much space here for everybody. Right? And all the more reason to just be authentic and be genuine and have great conversations that people will be compelled to listen in on. You've done a ton of shows. How many at this point? What number- ish are you on?
Sangram Vajre: I don't know exactly-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Hundreds, hundreds.
Sangram Vajre: ...but I think, yeah, it's about... It is definitely over 420 or 430 right now.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Awesome. So how has that impacted you? How has that impacted... I mean, obviously it's had an impact on your brand personally, professionally, on the business. What has that looked like for you?
Sangram Vajre: Yeah. That's a great question, Lindsay, because... I mean, I know that a lot of the speaking that I get lately, they know, and they have been following the FlipMyFunnel podcast, because the content that we create on the podcast, I've put it on LinkedIn. I post something every day. That's something I've also started doing since 2018. Every day, I'm posting something either about the podcast or about something. So it has just created consistency of me being out there, and has created so much interesting content that there's ideas popping in my head to share with the world as I go along. So all of that has led to tons of speaking engagement. One of them, I mean, this year I'm speaking about 30 different events, but one big one that came in for May of 2020 is Leadercast. And I don't know if you know about Leadercast, but... Are you familiar with Leadercast?
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes.
Sangram Vajre: Okay. So as you know, they are like the world's largest one- day leadership conference. And they only have six speakers that they typically have to come speak. And they have been following my journey for the last two years, which I had no idea about until-
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's so cool.
Sangram Vajre: ...they reached out and said," Hey, look, you're connected to great people. You have all this great content and ideas." And 90% of the time, they're not my ideas. So it's like, I give credit to people wherever it got inspired from. And then they're like," We would love for you to come be one of the speakers." And that is like 120,000 people or so watch it live for that one day, across seven continents. So things like that, again, I think the ROR on that one is just spectacular.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's huge because, how would that have ever happened otherwise?
Sangram Vajre: Yeah, no way. I mean, you can't pay money to be there. Right? I mean, that's the only way into the thing. It's like, I couldn't have put any amount of... And all of this is almost organic. Right? I don't know. We're not paying to have a conversation with Seth Godin or Daniel Pink or Kim Scott or Nancy or anybody, but now we have a relationship with them. So I'm able to use them to help me give a quote on the book. So personally, a lot of the speakers that we have on the podcast, I had them essentially read the book before we launched ABM is B2B early in September. And they give a quote. And that led to all these different conversations that we had. So the amount of things, it's 100% up to you, ultimately, how you leverage that. But if you believe in ROR, then you would look at this and saying," This is greater than any amount of ROI that you can create from any marketing or company campaign."
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, that's fantastic. So I guess in summary, the podcast has been good for you, would you say? It was a good decision.
Sangram Vajre: Yeah, it absolutely has been a reason why I think I became a better evangelist, a better speaker. I would also say that it, just the rhythm and the sets, the reps that you put in, you just become a better person at having conversations on your feet. So I think from all of those angles, I think it has just helped me be a better overall leader in the company and outside.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's it for today's show. Thank you so much to today's guest. And to learn more about them, and see Casted in action with clips of today's show and related content, visit Casted. us. Thanks so much for listening.
Sangram Vajre is the founder and host of the Flip My Funnel podcast, a daily show that he started in January 2018. While the podcast itself has only been around for about 2 years, the flip my funnel community started way back in 2015. Sangram serves as the chief evangelist and co-founder of Terminus. Listen in to hear him talk about the importance of relationships in business and in podcasting.