EP35: Magic Technology Doesn‘t Mean You Can Execute a Business.
Chris and Corey's guest, Sushee Perumal, CEO of MaxSold tell us to take cautious steps when the tank is full of funding. Some of the highlights in this episode include:
Driving the concept of MaxSold's tagline, "From the sponge under the sink to the Ferrari in the driveway, we sell everything in two weeks." concept is the fact that live auctions were not and are not meeting the market needs. Sushee is the perfect example of Market Dominance, as well as a very likable person to know and work with. Hear this first of a two-part interview about the shortest path to market dominance.
From owning an airline because he wanted to cut his teeth in entrepreneurship, to dominating the market in relocation and downsizing services. Chris noted, "This is the end of the commute economy." This is because the relocation option we have completely turned this upside down in the recent months of COVID-19 - work from home forever.
Sushee explains how he chose to maximize the opportunity by minimizing the risk. Just because you have magic technology, doesn't mean you can execute new business.
Chris asked him, "Does this assessment process take 10 years before you put gas in the tank?" You'll have to listen to the surprising answer. How did he make the transition? He learned that you don't dominate by hiring a bunch of C-Suite staff. He also learned from his failed and struggling competition that you don't throw expensive parties as part of your ROI plan.
Be incremental. Be resourceful. Ask for advice - humbly. It helps that he embodies the value of being humble and likable.
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
Corey Frank (00:37):
Excellent. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys with Chris Beall, and Corey Frank. So today I've put on a jacket, Chris combed his hair, and we actually have a guest that is worthy of the Market Dominance Guys to pretty up. And it's said that the things you own often end up eventually owning you. And I think if that's the case, Chris, then certainly our next guest has found the unlock key, if you will, to setting free your world again.
MaxSold. We have Sushee Perumal from MaxSold, CEO and Founder. MaxSold is one of North America's largest and fastest growing relocation, and downsizing simplification firms, auction houses. And simply put, if you got transferred to Omaha, and Sushee is going to tell us a little bit about this, you get transferred to Omaha, God forbid, and had just inherited a great uncle's estate in Vermont, or you simply want to declutter or to simplify your life, MaxSold is the answer. All you have to do is engage with them and they'll do all the work, and they send you a check. And so the CEO of MaxSold, Sushee Perumal, is with us today and his story, I think what Sushee and I have talked about, his story is up to this point, one that's probably worthy of at least a Joe Rogan roll cast, Joe Rogan podcast, I should say. But since we can't do that, he's going to have to settle for a couple of broken down sales guys like us. So welcome to the Market Dominance Guys, Sushee. It's a pleasure to have you.
Sushee Perumal (02:03):
Great. Thank you, Corey. It's a pleasure to be on the show. And I'm a big, big fan, and probably put in about a hundred miles listening to your podcast, and often I'm hitting replay, I'm doing that 15 minute rewind so that I can re-listen to what you and Chris say, because I just wish I was running with my notepad so that I can take notes.
Corey Frank (02:23):
It would look funny though.
Sushee Perumal (02:25):
The follow up date, the founder is it's a second generation auctioneer and he lives eats breeds auctions, but the live auctions are not meeting the market needs. He came up with this concept as, "Hey, we have the things call the internet. Why don't we leverage that to be a replacement for live auctions?" And so that's when I entered the picture and I transferred the phone number from my airline onto MaxSold and created a website, got the team going. And now we are just under 500 people on the ground to do the cataloging, photography and all of that. And I think Chris gave me this line, "From the sponge under the sink to the Ferrari of the driveway, we sell everything in two weeks." So being able to come in and vaporize everything, it's a huge burden off of their shoulders. For those that we serve. Thank you for inviting me for the show. Happy to be here and looking forward to learning a lot.
Corey Frank (03:24):
Well, that's great, I think-
Chris Beall (03:25):
Fantastic. It's great to have you here. You're the only guest we've ever had? We don't have very many guests, but you're the only one who's ever been able to say, "I transferred the phone number from my airline." I take it that doesn't mean the phone number you were using to call Air Canada, but that you actually had an airline. Is that true?
Sushee Perumal (03:42):
Correct. Yeah. So I decided to cut my teeth in entrepreneurship by starting an airline.
Chris Beall (03:48):
Sushee Perumal (03:49):
Said, "Why not? Let's give this a shot." And the reason is I was trying to combine my passion for flying and the accessibility it gave me saying, "Hey, more people should have access to this." And I said, well, that was a time when the very light jets were coming out. Companies like Eclipse and Cessna was getting into this, Embraer was getting into this. So they've been creating planes that cost a fraction of your Gulf stream jets at a far better accessibility in terms of operating costs. So figured why not start a charter service with this? Charter airline service with this? This was my attempt at failing big and I succeeded at it.
Chris Beall (04:30):
That's a beautiful thing. Well, now you have a service that I think is suddenly even more important than it was before. Obviously crucially important for life changes, right? When somebody is retiring, when they're downsizing, when somebody passed away, when somebody has been transferred, all of those things were your bread and butter before, but now we have this sudden thing that's happened. And I don't think everybody's recognized it. I published something on LinkedIn the other day that said, "This is the end of the commute economy and between the savings on commuting and the productivity increase already being measured from work from home 47% productivity increase for people who are knowledge workers. We should see instantly actually already flowing about seven and a half trillion dollars a year into the US economy." Which is significantly bigger than the federal budget. It's almost as big as the entire debt of all us companies, right?
It's enough in one year to wipe out all the debt for US companies. Here we have this phenomenon that is occurring. And one of the side effects that I've noticed and I'm actually participating in is relocation to where it's desirable to live before retirement. Think of this as acting retired from a place perspective, 10, 20, 30 years before you retired, because you can now work from home and work from home forever. So suddenly the Ferrari in the driveway you thought was so important for your commute might be replaced with the four-wheel drive that is a great thing to have when you move to the mountains. Or in my case, my fiance and I are moving to Port Townsend, two plus hours away from her office. My office has always been an in house, but she works for Microsoft. They've worked from office company. Suddenly it's all choice, choice forever.
So people are suddenly moving and you just took down, my understanding is some funding ignoring my advice, of course, because If a guy spends a lot of time with me, learns to ignore my advice. It's actually its a skill that they acquire. Oh, not in going back 15 minutes to listen again and say, "What the hell was that guy saying?" So those are two really important skills you've picked up, but you've ignored my advice, you've taken money, but now you're suddenly armed with some cash going into what I call a high beta situation, where there was a lot of volatility. I'm not talking about market volatility in the financial markets, I'm talking about energy in the system. Think of it as lots of entropy. It takes a lot of information to describe what's going on now, which creates entrepreneurial opportunities because the big companies can't move were moving is required to be fast and small. And so you can do anything you want now. So now you can do anything you want better than an airline. So what are you going to do with that money to dominate?
Sushee Perumal (07:18):
Right. I spent a lot of time thinking about it while listening to you and Corey, Chris, as well as while reading books and other things. It's simply like, how do we maximize the opportunity at the same time minimizing the risk because there's few States are entering into the second wave, with the lockdowns are being lifted. And luckily we have a 10-year foundation of bootstrapping the business, finding out how we can create elasticity in the operations and the execution. So we can go from zero to a 100 or from a 100 back to 20, depending on this evolving situation we are in. So we want to make sure that continues. We all of a sudden don't want to blow millions of dollars on a TV and radio campaign, because if we are not able to execute on it, then we would have blown a bunch of money-
Sushee Perumal (09:11):
... oh as I was saying, what's the best way to maximize the opportunity to minimize the risk? By taking really cautious steps, but the tank now being full and having the luxury of having that.
Chris Beall (09:21):
Interesting. So let's talk about risk first. People who raise money in Silicon Valley, they don't really talk about risk. The risk to the business is the risk you can't raise more money. And that has to do with making what's called progress, which is kind of a euphemism for doing whatever the VCs at that moment think is pretty cool. Nowadays, it's gotten different, everybody's talking capital efficiency and unit economics. So that's how we control risk generally as by being efficient with our capital and managing the unit economics. But it sounds like you intend to do all of that while taking advantage of a market opportunity and dominating and doing it with the dominance, not being I'll call it, store bought. That is you're not going to buy the revenue, you're going to go earn the revenue somehow, but you're going to judiciously use this money in order to lubricate that process somehow, is that kind of how to look at it?
Sushee Perumal (10:12):
It is. Oh yeah, absolutely, Chris. Like I would say looking at the shortest path to market dominance, we want to... I like how you said it earlier in other podcasts about looking at your market as lists. We are constructing a playbook with all these lists that we can execute on and seeing how do we maximize the opportunity and minimize the risk? Because if we start executing on the lists, if we can't deliver on the product, then we would have blown a bunch of money. So we are trying to figure out how to manage that cautiously.
Chris Beall (10:42):
Interesting. What does this spring to mind for you, Corey? Do you think that the amount of time that Sushee and company have spent really figuring this thing out 10 years, is that necessary? Or can you figure out one of these things in 10 hours? I mean, it's taken us more than 10 years. We've been at this 14 years, I figure tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to figure out ConnectAndSell. That's my fantasy, because on Saturday, every once in a while, I think, "Oh I got it." Right? But it seems to be a much more incremental and iterative process than that often with what can only be described as a little backsliding here and there, where your brilliant idea becomes something that was so... Our example is we started a thing called Outbound on Demand and it was just going to do outsourced appointment setting. And it was so easy to sell if we didn't recognize that just because you have magic technology doesn't mean you can execute a new business, right?
So we were very poor execution player in a crowded market that was oddly easy to sell because everybody will try a new outsourced appointment center. It's the nature of that business. It's a chocolate chip cookie business. If you come out with some cookies, everybody's going to try a cookie. And the question is, are they going to buy a hundred million cookies? And the answer turned out to be, I don't know, we didn't stay around to find out. We retreated. We back slid, so to speak into our core. So Corey, you've seen tons of this. And Sushee, you must have done some of this. So let's start with you, Corey. Do you really think it takes 10 years to figure out or some amount of time to grind it up and figure out the execution side before you should put gas in the tank and hit the accelerator?
Corey Frank (12:14):
It's funny, Chris. Ryan Reser and I had a conversation about this just the other day, about how seemingly sophisticated organizations that at its surface, you would think have all the math of sales already instituted. They must have the math of sales because they're excise and they've raised Y amount of dollars and they have Z amount of team members and reach. And then in talking with this particular prospect, who's thinking about coming on Uncommon Pro, you realize that a lot of it has just been, I don't want to say luck, but it's certainly hard work and grit, but they didn't understand the why of what got them there. And because you don't understand the why or the metrics of what got you there. I think you're kind of just a ship without a rudder, just drifting from port to port, hoping the certain winds will take into a porter prosperity.
And when that happens, just because of riding the trade winds, I think once or twice, I think a lot of us, and I've certainly been there. You start to believe that you're actually better than you are, but you're not able to define the process or the science of it. Certainly what I'm curious from you, Sushee is when you looked at this business that was 10 years old and took, took it over and you infuse it with capital and culture. As we talked about the other day, what science, what process did you use as you have all the risk pieces on the board, so to speak, and you say, we going to deploy X amount of armies here into this market and X amount of armies to do this market. Chris and I threw a little bit of that thought process of how do you start? Because there's tons of auction houses out there and you guys have seem to really find a niche.
Sushee Perumal (13:53):
Absolutely. And there are other auction houses that entered the space tens and millions of dollars of VC cash. And so studying them, we figured out what not to do, which is hire a bunch of CMOs, CROs, VP of sales, going to every market with five or six sales reps that are from high-end auction houses and high-end real estate companies. We also figured out from studying the competition, not to throw $30,000 parties with the hopes of getting a return on investment. It's very much been an incremental and iterative process to figure out the science and the mechanics of things. So we, as an example, with buyer acquisition, we figured out what the cost per acquisition is, how long it takes to get to an ROI, what channels do they come from? And also the scale up limits, but several channels. So it's the same sort of path we are on in this next phase is to figure out whether we can increase those limits, whether that math scales.
So if its acquisition through search engine marketing, there's only so many people searching to try to figure out how are they going to solve the problem of having a house full of things to sell. So once you're maxed out on search engine marketing, then what do you do, right? Then let's go to channel two and figure out here are the scale-up limits. And here's what the payback period looks like. And then we go to channel three, which is outbound. And that's how I bumped into Chris. When the problem that we are trying to solve is, "Gosh, it takes so much time to call real estate agents. We have 20,000 real estate agents in a city calling them is going to take years or decades. So how do we short circuit figuring out whether or not this channel is going to work and the science of that particular acquisition channel?"
So that's what led me to ConnectAndSell, so that we can get the math of sales figured out in really short order. And we figured it out. We figured it out within a week, whether or not this particular channel was going to be a factor or not, which is real estate, realtor outreach.
Chris Beall (13:53):
Within a week.
Corey Frank (16:09):
Within a week?
Chris Beall (16:09):
And we figured out. Oh, I'm a hundred percent. Like I was floored that we could figure out this, something that would take us months, if not years, we were able to compress that timeline. So the channels that are working, that we have the math and science behind it, but there are scale-up limits to those. So we need to tackle other channels and we can't run out of gas or we can't organically fund tackling other channels, which is why we took on this raise. We did this fundraise so that we can go at market dominance faster, so that doesn't take us another 10 years to figure out. So that we can first two things. One, scale up the things that are working and second tackle other channels so that we can scale those up as well. So instead of only being able to afford 10 or 20 grand on radio advertising, I can all of a sudden afford more. And if it works, I can put fuel to that fire.
Rich Kagan will be a happy guy if that works out, huh? I'm going to be watching this carefully because I've been talking to Rich and we're in a similar situation without the raise. We're actually doing a little raise right now. Maybe by the time this goes to air, we will have raised, maybe not. Who knows? I think our story is always a little bit tricky because we're so unusual, but this is another thing that I think is fascinating is that it's just sharing information with other entrepreneurs around what's worked. Like you and I spoke about something the other day that it just turns out I have a weird part of my past involving a floor finishing company that I created. It's kind of like an airline. If you think about it right? And a national skill floor finishing company, trying to fix all the floors in every hospital in America.
So it's a little more prosaic. I think jets are cooler when you think about it, but yeah, floors they're all right. But we had a little kind of a legal structure and a financing structure that is very, very unusual. And I don't know if you're going to use it or not, but it's something we could share just by talking. And I think something that folks should keep in mind when they're going aftermarket dominance is while this might be your first rodeo in a particular channel or a particular market dominance challenge, it's probably not everybody's, but without conversations, we can't really discover, like there's no catalog, there's no ontology of market dominance stuff, right?
I mean, we have a trick, "talk to lots of people." And we know how to apply that trick, like magic acid to dissolve a raft of problems, but not all problems. And so I think one of the things I think you do exceptionally well, maybe better than anybody I've ever met is you are very humble and open about reaching out to other people and getting advice. You just make it abundantly clear to all of us that it's a good idea for us to help you. And I think that's a remarkable skill. Where did you learn that? That's really uncommon among entrepreneurs. They tend to lone wolf that a little bit.
Sushee Perumal (19:00):
That's a great question. Well, I think maybe being a business analyst as my first job out of engineering. So I went into this Telekom, The Bell and I was asked to tackle as people assumed I was more intelligent than I am. Right? So they gave me all these responsibilities. I'm like, "Holy cow, how am I supposed to get this done?" So I just ended up picking people's brain. Now I'm like, "Can you help me with this? Can you teach me how this works? Can we figure this out? Can you show me the lay of the land?" And I remember my leader telling me that the one time I thought everybody does this. And apparently they're surprised they're doing this, which is, I reached out to a vendor they'd given a system to test, but there was no support at all.
So long story short, I reached out through this really weird way of great to the engineering team that had built that product. And even Dave was surprised like, "How did you get my number? Like how did he get my contact info?" So I'm like, "Well, this is what I'm trying to achieve. So can you help me with this?" So I think it's just being resourceful, being frugal, trying to figure things out. And I thought everybody had the same skill set, but I'm just starting to figure out not everybody does. Not everybody goes to people for advice and tries to get this whole thing figured out.
Chris Beall (20:16):
Remarkable. Corey has it also. You guys are both just super exceptional at being humble. And every once in a while, I've worked with Corey where he thought he knew. And it seems to have been disabused of that notion over time. But you both have this incredible ability I think, to actually just humbly ask somebody for advice and not just do it, kind of like a, "what do you think?" Like they do it in a way that challenges them and makes them want to go deep with you and see what you're really asking. And I think is an under understood, under-taught part of the market dominance equation. We've never really talked about it, Corey, that we've kind of talked about it, like go ask the market through tons of conversations. Right?
Corey Frank (20:58):
Chris Beall (20:59):
But that's one thing to do, but you could actually use the same conversation first approach to go ask for advice. And I think that you guys are really masters of that.
Sushee Perumal (21:09):
Yeah. And one of the podcasts, you talk about salespeople having this confirmation bias that's overwhelming. And the only reason you would be curious is about the timeline and the budget. They don't go into a discovery call genuinely wanting to understand and learn. So, that resonated with me. And I think that's the approach I'm taking is, "Let's figure this out. How can you help me with this?" And that's from your... You talk about knocking on doors as a full of brush salesman. And that's what you were asking. Right? You were doing discovery calls.
Chris Beall (21:41):
Yeah. It's an interesting question. I mean, I told salespeople all the time in sales and I think sales as semi-interesting market dominance is very interesting and sales has a role and market dominance. But I tell them all the time that you need to believe, but you must not sell. And what you need to believe is that what you have is of potential value and that you don't know how that might work out for this individual. If you believe those two things, then you open up a path to have conversation about what their situation might be. And you can discover for real, whether you should continue to engage, which is the only thing worth discovering is whether you should continue to engage. Because the only currency we run out of all the time is time. And we get reminded of that all the time when something happens that reminds us, all we have is time, right?
I mean, we've all had events like that in our lives. And so I just think it's fascinating that we often think it's about money, it's about data, it's about analysis. But when you come right down to it, it's usually about being humble, believing in what you offer as potential that you are an expert at something, you know, you have some value and then having conversations to find out where the fit is. I call it tapping the bells. I think that we've said this before, but I'll say it again. If somebody presented you with the problem, "I have a thousand bells, but only 10 of them are bells. 990 of them just look like bells. And we're going to put a bell up in the bell tower and it's going to have to ring once an hour on the first hour or twice on the second hour.
And by the time we get up to noon, it's got to ring 12 times." And if it's made of clay, it's going to fall apart. Your job Sushee, without being able to do anything other than interact with the bells is to figure out which ones are made of brass and which ones are made of clay. All you can do is tap the bells, right? That's the conversation. All you can do is have the conversation and see if it resonates. And if it resonates, then it's worth moving forward and finding out if you like the other features for the thing. And I think you just have been exceptional at doing that through your career.
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