In this special “Honeymoon” edition episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Corey grabs some time with Robert Vera, the founding Director of the Canyon Ventures Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Grand Canyon University. Robert is an incredibly well-respected innovation and start-up business expert as well as a member of the faculty of the top-rated Jerry Colangelo School of Business at Grand Canyon University. Robert breaks down his involvement in training and working with the Navy Seals over the years and how sales organizations should look to adopt some of the more “unorthodox” training processes similar to what special forces and their medics implement. Robert also chats about his first-hand experiences with the unique revenue generation practice and talent development mission of the Branch49 team and how businesses should view Top of Funnel and Discovery.
This is the Market Dominance Guys' nearly indispensable podcast and today’s episode is entitled, “Save the Goat!”
About Our Guest
Robert Vera is a bestselling author and the founding director of Canyon Ventures Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
Full episode transcript below:
Welcome to another session with the Market Dominance Guys, a program exploring all the high stake speed bumps and off ramps of driving to the top of your market. With our hosts, Chris Beall from ConnectAndSell, and Corey Frank from Branch 49.
In this special honeymoon edition episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Corey grabbed some time with Robert Vera, the founding director of the Canyon Ventures Center For Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Grand Canyon University. Robert is an incredibly well respected innovation and startup business expert, as well as a member of the faculty of the top rated Jerry Colangelo School of Business at Grand Canyon University. Robert breaks down his involvement, training and working with the Navy Seals over the year, and how sales organizations should look to adopt some of the more unorthodox training processes, similar to what special forces and their medics implement.
Robert also chats about his first hand experiences, on the unique revenue generation practice and talent development mission of the Branch 49 team, and how businesses should view top of funnel and discovery. This is the Market Dominance Guys' nearly indispensable podcast and today's episode is entitled, Save the Goat.
Corey Frank (01:25):
Okay. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. This is the honeymoon edition, since Chris Beall and the fetching Miss Fanucci are now hitched and somewhere on the way to Iceland, or Scotland, or somewhere. So, Chris is away. I have the guest panel in my control now. So one of the first ones lined up, and he's been with us a few prior episodes, is Robert Vera. So Robert, good to have you. Give you a little bit of an intro here since some of the folks know you, had been creeping on your LinkedIn profile. But we're here in Phoenix at Grand Canyon University, where Robert is the founding director of the Canyon Venture Center For Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It's a former CIO and a med tech startup that was acquired. Proud Boston College alumni, former Senate staffer to Edward M. Kennedy back in the day, and New York Times bestselling author.
I'm sure I missed a few things there, but overall, just a great guest here for the Market Dominance Guys, as we continue our discussion in this series, 200 episodes strong, of talking about the pitfalls and the cookbooks that a lot of organizations, especially with these pending doom and gloom recession prognosticators are out there. Talk a little bit about what we can do to get to market dominance in spite of the forces.
So anyway, Robert, that is a mammoth introduction. So, welcome to the Market Dominance Guy, sans the Sage of Sales, sans the Prophet of Profit, Chris Beall, but we'll maybe airbrush him in later. So welcome, Robert.
Robert Vera (02:54):
Thanks for having me. I'm sorry, I'm hopefully, I'm a good pitch hitter for Chris. So thanks for having me, but it's great to back on, and I'm really excited to talk to the audience about some ideas that I have, to help them dominate their market and expose some of the things that you are doing that has really proven that. So, I think that it's no longer theory. We could show you how to do that.
Corey Frank (03:11):
Well, hey, I'm a shameless promoter of my own business. So, I'm happy to have you wax eloquently about our experience of working together here at Branch 49. So, how about for the audience, a little bit about what we do at Grand Canyon, and what this center for innovation and entrepreneurship, what it was in the vision that you and President Mueller set up all those years ago, and how's it going?
Robert Vera (03:33):
Yeah, in 2019, I came here as the founding director of Grand Canyon University's Center For Innovation And Entrepreneurship. The idea is that, hey, we need to transform and innovate higher education. And how are we going to do that? We're not a research organization. I like to think that we're more do tank than think tank. We do, do research, but the idea is we want to create valuable leaders for the marketplace, for the workplace. So we thought about, okay, what would be the most valuable thing we could do? And we thought that, well, if we give our students professional experience, real professional, paid professional experience, and a professional network prior to the graduation, they go into the marketplace as strong leaders, and we give them what I call an unfair advantage. We don't want them to fight fair.
So, you're no longer entry level. You've worked for two or three years now at Canyon Ventures. By the way, 35 companies reside here. Their only condition for being here is that they one, they grow their company, they'd be successful, and they hire our GCU students. All of them are 1099s. They work their own schedule, but they get this professional experience and professional network. So when they leave here, they're adding real currency, real value into the marketplace. We're starting to see that come back. I have calls all the time for students that leave here, and go into the marketplace. And I get calls from those employers who say, "Hey, can you send more of them?" And I think what them means, is that students that are coachable, or graduates that are coachable, that have professional experience. They can add value day one, when they lead in the area that they go in to be employed.
So, that's what we do. I'd like to think it's a success. We've got over a hundred students working here. We've got more coming in. It's a great recruiting tool. Now, we have students choosing Grand Canyon University because of this center, and the places and the people, the organizations that they can work for here. So it does that, and it answers three questions that I think parents and students have, every family has when their students want to go to college. And, Corey, I know you have a few kids going to college, I've got one heading out. And they ask these three questions. "Will my son or daughter be safe? Can they work on campus? And, does this piece of paper from GCU or ASU, or whatever U have any currency? Will they get a job with that?" And I think that we answer all three of those questions for parents. So, that's why it's been successful, and I think we'll continue to grow that. And Branch 49 is a big part of that.
Corey Frank (05:54):
Well, thank you. We certainly love being here. And, it is a competitive advantage that we see very early on. How many students will they have on campus next semester, roughly?
Robert Vera (06:01):
We have roughly 25,000 on campus right now, soon to be 40,000. We just built several new dorms. Our on campus presence is really growing. So, we'll soon be 40,000. I think we'll cap out about 50,000. Our 400 acres can't support more than that. We have a city within the city here, so we can't support more than about 50,000. But, 80,000 total or close to a hundred thousand students if you combine their online students. But, 25,000 on campus and growing to potentially 40,000 here in the next year. So, it's a pretty big community.
Corey Frank (06:30):
That's something. Yeah, it's a great community here in the west side of Phoenix, too. Certainly untapped. Great people, great labor pool, and really a desperate need for businesses that emanate from this Center For Innovation, the 30 plus, let's say, and a lot of charitable and heart driven work, as well. So these aren't just single-minded capitalists that this university is graduating, correct?
Robert Vera (06:54):
Our endeavor is to put out strong Christian business leaders into the marketplace. Housed with us here, we call it CityServe. We were thinking about poverty and we asked these big questions here. We have these meetings weekly, and we asked these big few questions about how we solve. We took on poverty, and poverty in our state of Arizona. And we decided that, first we got to distill it down, and we asked the question, "Well, what is poverty?" And we decided that it was a logistics problem, versus a resource or a needs problem. So, we created CityServe. CityServe is a part of a national organization. We became the Arizona chapter of CityServe.
It's a hub, really. We bring in discontinued goods from across the state. If Amazon can't resell the goods that can returned to them, Costco, all of them, they can't resell. So we take all their discontinued and returned goods. They're all in perfectly good condition. I was over there. Beautiful leather couches, all this other stuff. I guess people return them because of the wrong color, but they still can't resell them. So, that's our hub. And then we have PODs, points of distribution, which are, they know the needs on the ground, like churches and schools and nonprofits. So they know what their needs are. They have people after school, coming to them, saying, "I need this." Those PODs, signing up to be part of our hub community, and we give them all the goods that come in from those big box stores. We pushed on over $2 million worth of goods to our community.
A resource, I'll give you a great example of one that just happened. So, one day I was over there and there was a refugee group, nonprofit that's they're bringing in African refugees, mostly from Afghanistan. So their housing here in Phoenix, we have quite a number of them. And they got them housing, but they didn't have anything. I mean, literally they left with the shirts in their back. They literally left. I don't know, if you remember the couple, little airport evacuation, these were the people. And just pull up C130s, just stacked on top of each other. They got here with nothing. So, we've been resourcing those community here and our West Phoenix area. Their houses, and then giving couches and the like.
And then one of the directors, the nonprofit director was standing in CityServe, and he just said to me, "Hey, you don't happen to have any mannequins?" I thought what a weird request, because the day before I saw a stack of mannequins. I'm like, "What are we going to do with those?" And then I asked why, and he said, "Because many of the folks that they serve are seamsters, they do sewing." And we have three organizations here, four now, organizations here that needed seamsters. Noggin Boss, which one in Shark Tank, needs people to sew the logos onto hats. We've got a new scrub company. They make medical scrubs. Another kid who makes t-shirts and sells a special sewing onto it. And then we have another girl who is expert and makes custom bikinis for her monthly subscription program. They all need seamsters.
Well, those refugees are now working here because of the connection with our community. Are working here, getting paid to do seam work for several of our ventures here. So it's been a great community. I think, to lift our community up like that is really powerful, and just a short period of time to be able to do that. So, really proud of the work that everyone's doing here. And that's just one of many stories that sort of come out of this place over the last three years. Just really great to invest in our community.
Corey Frank (09:51):
A lot of my previous organizations, whenever I would go on a hiring spree, I always knew if I got a good Enterprise Rent-A-Car alumni, because they had such a great training program. I mean, if you're washing cars in the 90-degree heat in a suit and you could upsell folks on the rental fees and everything else. So, they were top, top shelf, that program. And, I can tell you, and I can attest to the audience here. Certainly you've heard a lot about it from Chris, who we call it a finishing school for future CEOs, in a lot of the sales training, the goal setting training. But they already come in with a lot of the raw materials already. So, we kind of finished the last few yards of that, but the university does a great job.
And, one other accolade I forgot to mention to the audience here certainly is, Robert, you just won the Career Advisor of the Year here at Grand Canyon University. And, I know that also speaks to not only what you do, but all the faculty here and the deans and even President Mueller himself, of kind of the proper care and feeding of the whole person, the whole student here. When they graduate, that they're prepared for the real world.
Robert Vera (10:58):
Yeah. Thanks for that. It's great to be recognized that, and a few of my other colleagues have been recognized as well. Really, it's student centric, so we want to make sure that we get them employed. And it's a great honor to be able to call a company and say, "I've got a graduate's that's going to be great for you." And they'd call back and say, "You're right."
Corey Frank (11:12):
And IBM, right? I mean, you get calls daily here, it seems from a lot of these folks.
Robert Vera (11:16):
Yeah. I mean, you've pushed people out to Ramsey Solutions and Nashville, and others, Tesla. I mean, we've got kids working all over the place. We've got kids that are graduating here with an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, biology, going on and being brain surgeons. I mean, it's just literally, we've got some great kids that are coming out of GCU.
Corey Frank (11:35):
Let's change gears from the student centric, to now, the business centric and the 30 plus companies that are here. And certainly with your background as a CEO, your background in venture capital, obviously you're uniquely suited to help a lot of these organizations, all of these organizations as almost an unpaid board member. I've seen you, observed you for the last couple of years. That's kind of what you do. Not for the faint of heart, right? You shoot them straight, which I certainly appreciate for my wheel alignments on our business here. But what are some of the things that you've seen that are maybe some old ways of doing thinking? Old ways of thinking, of doing business, of doing market dominance, that when you see the businesses today, that much like you set the students on the right path, that are some of the things that businesses need to be set on the right path, that you've observed here and guided your portfolio companies accordingly?
Robert Vera (12:24):
Yeah. It's a great question. I want to talk about Branch 49 for a minute, because it's really important to me. And I think that when you say, "We're all innovators." By the way, everybody, all entrepreneurs, we're all entrepreneurs. Is when you arrive on this world, you're an entrepreneur. You got to carve your way out. It's you. You're unique. You got to figure out what value you add in this world. And that's what entrepreneurs do. They create companies to add value to the world, to solve problems. That's what you do. But one of the innovations I really love is Branch 49. And people, when you look at it, people say, "Oh, it looks like a call center," or this, I call it a revenue generation consulting firm. And it's perhaps one of the most sophisticated ones I've seen.
The reason why it's an innovation to me, and it's a disruptive innovation is because preparing for this, I've been scrolling LinkedIn. And just looking at profiles of people want to hire SDRs and sales reps saying, they don't want a sales representative. They want a forecaster. They want an economist. They want a marketing expert. They want a writer, an author. They want somebody who is, it sells, right? They want all these things. And here's the problem with that. You need to drive sales now. Now. You've got to drive sales now. So the problem that I have with that idea of, yeah, this is this idea. So this is one, I'll just share with you. This is from a 50 or 70 billion dollar company. And what they're looking for is a B2B salesperson. So you want that, and it says, "Understand competitive environment of the wireless business solution, how to position the product or solution to drive results."
So, you want a salesperson and an industry strategist? These are the things they want. They want all these things to people to be. The problem is like the last one, you travel to customer events and participate as needed, typically during non-elective, kind of. So you want a salesperson in a roadshow speaker. That's what you want, right? Or, you want to, here's another one. "Be fully responsible for drafting, negotiating a deal sheet. Terms approved by internal expert process." So you want a salesperson and an attorney? This is what you want? So here's the problem that I have with all this. This bogs down the revenue generation process. Now remember, we as a C-level responsibility to our investors, to our shareholders, to our customers, to our employees, to make sure we're driving profitable revenues. Right? So the fact is, you need to have a process that allows a rep to identify opportunities and close those opportunities.
So, all those things that you're looking for, in my opinion, that's wrong. The reason why I love Branch 49 is really twofold. One, they have a structure they've revolutionized. I say, "Innovated the sales process." There's a three part structure. First of all, I believe structure precedes the right outcome. If you have the right structure, typically you get the right outcome. So, Branch 49 has perfected the structure of three part sales structure or revenue generation structure and close. And if it doesn't close, it either goes back to the top of funnel or you take it off the list. It's very efficient, very quick. Now, what I love about what you do, sit with you guys for about an hour a day. And I try to sit with everybody. I learned more from you than I think anybody else.
But we broke down a call. It was Bo, who's a new kid. Now, Bo has never been in this business before. But he has a structure. He has a structure, right? So this flies in the face of the thing you just pulled up. Flies in the face of the greater man theory, or the greatest salesman theory. Branch 49 says, "We have a structure to make you great. We're not looking for the greatest person. We have a structure, that'll make you great." We broke down a call that Bo did. Now, Bo was only on the phone for maybe ... He started out, do you have 27 seconds or 30 seconds for me to tell you? The phone call probably went maybe two minutes. First five or 10 seconds, or 15 seconds, I sat there and wrote in my notes later, it was like a golf swing. We literally went through everything.
That's what I love about this. You've become experts at building trust over the phone with a stranger in seven seconds or less, to get the meeting, to give it to that salesperson. Now, we're hoping that salesperson has the same professional attitude and is willing, has the objective measured in a system to actually break down his process, because that's what professionals do. We break down the process. In every part of it, we try to get better all the time.
Corey Frank (16:51):
The medical profession, Med Tech CEO, SaaS business. And you mentioned something to me a few weeks ago that I really liked, and maybe you can riff on a little bit. Is in the medical profession, if I have a problem with my eye, ears, nose and throat, I go to a specialist, a podiatrist, right? A urologist, a heart doctor, et cetera. Talk a little about that, because I really like that concept and how the sales profession really hasn't adopted what the medical profession, and what you came from here, from a specialty perspective.
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break.
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And, we're back with Corey and Chris.
Robert Vera (18:04):
If you think about it, the sales process, the sales profession, the greatest innovation we've had in the sales innovation was a CRM. We used to use, remember that? Literally, when Salesforce came along, we didn't have anything. We kept it on an Excel, a notebook. We didn't have that. So we went from that. But your sales, all it really is a filing cabinet. But, now we're saying about, what's the next innovation in revenue generation and selling? It's really a structure and expertise within the structure. Physicians, it's so specialized and they understand every nuance of their specialty.
I'm 50, so you have to go in for a colonoscopy, right? That's all they do all day, by the way, you know what I mean? What a job. Right? But that's all they do. And some of them, they're like, "No, no, no. I only treat the first inch of the colon. That's that's not my area. Right? You got to go. You want the whole colon, that's somebody else." But they become experts in that. And what we've seen is that in other professions, they've really divided their organization. Let me go back, because we talked about this a little bit, is that you said something to me, is that in some cases you're better off being seen by a veterinarian if you got a major wound, because they'll probably be able to save your life. Because if you show up at the emergency room and there's a podiatrist there, you're out.
But the idea is that, if you can break or when you decide that you're going to dominate your market, because remember, we're doing this because we need to drive sales fast. We need to close fast. We cannot have an 18 month sales cycle. We need to have weeks sales cycle. So when you say, "This part of the team, they're the breachers. It's the hardest thing. They're going to go and find." Now, I get it. We're going to send emails, and look, there are not my statistics. So, Rank Corporation says that 80% of cold emails go unanswered. Here's a problem with emails, and I don't want to get too into this, is that I don't like emails and I'll tell you why. When I listen to your students and the professionals calling, I hear what they're getting. They know if it's too expensive. They know if it's not the right fit. They get exhaust from those phone calls, you can't get with an email. So they can adjust fire, or help the client adjust fire. Right? So this is what you get from that.
But the point is that you've got specialties. I've got a top of funnel expert. That guy, what he's become expert in the best ... I said this to your team the other day. They are without question, I've been around. I'm the founder of this thing, got 35 companies here. I talk to startups almost every day. I talk to BCs all the time. By far, without question, your team is the world's best. World's best B2B cold calling team on the planet. There's nobody better. I will put your team up against an internal sales team any day of the week, and they will beat them. It's not because they're the greatest sales people. It's because they've got a structure, they got a process to improve incrementally every day, and it shows. Your growth shows. So it's really exciting for me to see this innovation, and the customers or the clients that you bring on, who say, "You're right. We want to dominate our market, which means we need a new structure to do that, because we don't have it internally. So we need to make sure we're getting opportunities fed to us."
Corey Frank (21:15):
Well, this is not a paid advertisement for Branch 49, although I appreciate those sentiments, Robert, in showing. And I really like those examples about the specialists and that Chris and I have talked many, many episodes about this, about the power of building trust in seven seconds or less. Certainly. And you have a lot of experience in the military community, particularly the Navy Seals. You do a lot of charity work. You're a bestselling author in many of those topics or so. And you mentioned to me this concept of a special forces medic, that I really liked too. So, as the audience knows well between Chris, and Oren Klaff, and Jerry Hill, and Ryan Reisert, and now, Robert, I have no original ideas of my own. I just get all my content from experts like you. But would you mind sharing with the audience, because I really thought that's a great analogy for sales specialists.
Robert Vera (21:58):
Yeah. So Jonny Kim is good friend. Jonny's an 18 Delta. You guys will know Jonny Kim, if you've ever seen some of the memes going on with Facebook and others. He's the Navy Seal, Harvard trained physician and astronaut Jonny Kim. Johnny's a good friend. So Johnny, if you look behind me, you'll see that Warrior's Faith. If you've seen the movie or read the book, American Sniper, you'll know that my friend Ryan Job was the guy who was shot on the roof. He was shot in the face or the round hit the upper receiver, his weapon fragged into his face. Jonny was the medic that came up on the roof.
Me and Jonny talked a lot about sort of what that day and his training. And I remember him telling me, I asked about it, what 18 Delta, what was it like? And one of the things that I learned afterwards is that on 18 Delta, I think they still do it, is that they know a special forces medic is probably going to be in a firefight. So it's probably going to be bullets flying, people dying. And your mission there is to really get an airway, stop the bleeding and get them to hire medical facilities as quickly as possible. To give you training, they shoot a goat. It's in the middle of the night, raining. It's cold. And you got to keep the goat alive. You got to find the wound or wounds. You've got to patch them you got to get airway. You've got to administer. You got to IV.
And it's really an interesting process. Often, I think they euthanize the goat afterwards, but it's real world. And that's how medics train. That's how any 18 Deltas listening will probably, "Yeah, they probably had to save the goat." I think if you don't save the goat, you don't pass. But it's really interesting to see how that situation, the stress of it, how it prepares those medics for real world battle situations, and real world situations, and how calm they are under pressure to do it. But it's that type of training, that specialty, that focus detail, that real life simulation that prepares our war fighters and their medics to be able to operate under very stressful conditions, stop the bleeding, get an airway and get people to higher medical as quickly as possible. So, it's really interesting to see that most of them are going on to be physicians or physicians assistants, and they continue on that process.
Corey Frank (24:01):
So, in our smaller, much, much lower stakes world, you could argue that to save the goat is, can you save that three minute cold call? Can you do what you need to do to keep the trust alive, to move the ball down field and to keep, if you will, the patient or the opportunity alive enough. And that's where that specialty comes in of being immersed into a cold call, an ambush-like conversation, and doing all the skills that we do from sales methodologies, and pitch anything in sampler, and the voice training, and the inflections, and the pregnant pauses. And putting that all into the screenplay, to do what our equivalent is of save the goat.
Robert Vera (24:41):
Yeah. And, in the structure, I think all that combined, first of all, there's a structure at Branch 49, for people who can't see it, they sit in the open with each other and they have these ad hoc conversations about improvement. And then they have these process meetings afterwards, where they talk about what they did well, where they didn't do well, where they define it. And everybody gives input. It's a continuous improvement process. And that type of structure is really, really healthy. And that's why Branch 49 is winning in the startup world. It's winning and it's winning for its customers. The innovation, in my opinion is, that three part structure. That top of funnel, you are the top of funnel experts, soon to be. I mean, there's a horizon group. That'll be discovery group. You'll be experts in all three of those, but that's why you're winning.
Companies come to Branch 49, not because they want to grow slowly. It's because they needed a better process to grow fast. Now, one of the things that happened when I got here is that, I know the tendency for founders of startups is that the fatal flaw is, and as an investor, I know this as well. The fatal flaw is that you'll talk to investors and they want to work in the business, which means they want to build. They want to put more features, more colors, more, all these things because they believe. They believe that's going to get someone to buy. The truth is, is that when your customers are referring their friends to your product or service, that's part of it. But the truth is, is that doesn't really work in most cases.
What investors want to see is a company, is a CEO and a team who's selling their product, because we want to make sure that we're investing in something that's viable in the marketplace. So, the tendency for people in our ecosystem here, is that they want to build. And I know that everyone's got to get out here at some point, right? It's an accelerator. We're going to get you out. That I know, that I may be subsidizing your failure, and I know who you are, and I know why I'm subsidizing your failure. I've been through this. So I would refuse to subsidize your failure. So I said, "You'll see me walk people over to Branch 49, because I could tell you how to create a three phase structure of top of funnel, discovery. I could tell you how to do these things, the nuances of the golf swing. I could tell you that, or I could walk you over and I could stand there with you while the bell rings. While you hear, I can show you."
And what I do with all these companies, as I show them, this is what I expect you to do. This is how to be successful. This is what, this is how you will get your product to market. Now, the reason why you want to heed this is because, if you're looking to raise money and justify evaluation, there's nothing better than revenues, or at least some revenues, some product market fit to justify that. What I don't believe a lot of founders understand is that as investors, we have options. A lot of options. The day you pitch to me, I'm going to have four other people asking me for money, right? Guess who I'm going to choose? The one who's got revenues. That's the one I'm going to choose. Why? Because you have said to me, "Robert, I'm going to de-risk your investment. I've got revenues coming in, which means I think I've got product market fit."
Now, if I've got five that come to me that day and I've got one, only one who says to me, "I've got product market fit. I can prove it. I get valuation. I can prove it. I'm working on these things. I've convinced these customers that I can add value to them and they're willing to pay for it." Who do you think I'm going to invest in? The one with revenues. That's it, that's the one. What the founders don't do is, they don't see that. They're myopic. They only see their own business. They only see themselves. They think that, that fit.
So that's why Branch 49 is really important, is because you give startups and other companies the opportunity to prove that they can de-risk an investment. Prove that they're valuable, prove they have found product market fit. So, rather than telling people, I can just show them. It's beautiful. I walk them right over and say, "Here it is. You want to know how to do it. Here's how you be successful. By the way, they're the fastest growing startup we have in this organization. Maybe adopt that. And they don't have a product. They have themselves."
Corey Frank (28:48):
Yeah, we do see that quite often, don't we? Not just the firms, some of the firms here that are still working through it, but are companies from all over the world. And we have hundred million dollar clients, as you know, that we've shared with, that suffer from the same challenges that a $30,000 ARR company here is challenged with. So, that's very, very, very true.
One of the other topics that I wanted to chat with you about since it's so close here, and you're part of the university, is this aspect of mentoring and remote. I think it was the New York Times back in April, I think I have an article on this. That before COVID, 4% of full-time workers worked regularly from home. New workers, veteran workers, doesn't matter. All industries. And, now the number is like a staggering 65%, I think it said.
So, as a new sales rep or as a veteran sales rep, it doesn't matter, again, in our guys and especially trying to start a market-dominant organization, it's a zero-sum game. I succeed when I take market share from my competitors. There's no other way around it. How do you square that circle around, for me growing up, probably like you as an intern at Merrill, or young investment banker coming out of BC, you yearn for the lunches and the impromptu mentoring sessions and such. Is that overrated? Or how do you square that circle about, with a lot of the organizations today trying to have these remote only cultures and come in the office when it's optional, versus kind of a more effective mix?
Robert Vera (30:20):
Yeah. Look, it's, you're missing out experience. Here's an interesting fact. So I think that social networks are both influential and sympathetic, right? So when you, and this is not me saying it, this is the New England Journal of Medicine. So when you put people together, right, they influence each other. You want to rise to a standard that everyone else is at. It's hard to see that from your home, right? It's hard to report and someone's at the top. We have classes. The students want to be together. That's where the magic happens. That's where, in the company, that's where the magic happens. The ideas get shared. They get built on. You can't build on ideas really efficiently in a remote situation.
There's the value. I can't understate this. The value, that together creates, is a multiplier. We build on each other's ideas. And what happens is that people get better when they're together. And, the reason why I brought up the New England Journal of Medicine statistic is that, it proves that you are influenced both positively and negatively from your peer group, from your surroundings. And it had to do with obesity in the year, in the media, as an epidemic. And how could that be true? How do you catch fat?
Corey Frank (31:39):
Yeah, and so turn my camera off since I'm a poster child for that, right?
Robert Vera (31:43):
Corey Frank (31:43):
I'm the before picture, you're the after picture.
Robert Vera (31:46):
The idea though, is that they found that, they did, there was a longitudinal study with the Framingham Heart Study. And they found that folks that were obese, their social network was also obese. They were influenced, because social networks are sympathetic and influential. Now, apply that to the workplace. If you get one superstar in the workplace or a couple of people, or you have a process where people love communicating and love meeting together, they get better. It's hard to do. In the classroom, it's so ... People are disengaged online. They're distracted, they're disengaged, but you bring them into the classroom and you have them engage with each other, teach each other. The value of that, we spend a lot of money on training. We're hoping that some of that rubs off, right? We're hoping. And what we hope is that you will teach somebody else, but you can't really do that remotely. It doesn't, it's not as efficient.
Well, people say, "Well, it's convenient. I've got kids, I've got all this stuff." I agree with all of that. My point is this. If you really want to get better as an organization, you got to have a culture that brings people together, allows them to learn from each other, sets standards. If Corey is always having to set the standard and crack the whip, that sucks. No one wants that. But if the standard is, "Hey, Bo did 13 today or so," now that becomes the new standard. Right? And it's infectious that, because guess what? That network that you've created there is both sympathetic and influential. So, the idea is that to be in that organization, to be there, there's just something about it. You can't replace that online.
Corey Frank (33:26):
Oh, for sure. I think it was Dan Peña. I was watching one of his podcasts the other day, that billionaire and says, "You are the average of the five people that you hang out with the most." And if they're driven in goal setting and collaborative, et cetera, then certainly you will. And, I just find a little old school, and this is where I disagree with Chris. Chris's company ConnectAndSell has been virtual for a long time. And, I met many of them for the first time at the wedding in Seattle last week. And it's great to see Jerry and James, and the team, certainly such a powerful team. And I would say as a new person on that team, certainly I can get a lot from Zoom sessions, but I also get a lot from the impromptu popping by your office, popping by your desk. "Hey, you want to grab a beer after work?"
And I just want to, I think you and I are on the same page. We want to caution folks that are graduating, or been in the workforce for a year or two, or only been in the workforce since COVID. And that, in this job market that is so rich with opportunities, there's still many more opportunities than there are qualified people to fail, especially in our profession, that I wouldn't discount an organization, simply because they want to encourage folks to come in three, four days a week.
Robert Vera (34:38):
Yeah. You don't get the how. You don't get the how. You can't see how someone does things. You just have to observe. I mean, that's a scientific method, right? We have to observe first. And I think sometimes Zoom is, we're hoping that everything gets communicated well in Zoom, and in email and all these other electronic communications. I think Sam Francis said, is that, "I preach the gospel every day, and sometimes actually use words."
Corey Frank (35:03):
That's exactly right.
Robert Vera (35:04):
Because, it's the examples. It's the how, right. People will, they'll see what you do. They'll want to mimic that. Those impromptu conversations of, "I walk around and check in. And I want, whoever comes after me, I want them to walk around and check in because you have to observe. I hear things or I don't hear things. And I know they're the problem. When I don't hear things, it's a problem." So, you can't pick those nuance things up by just, and I know your team pretty well. And, I know when someone's not having a good day. I know because they're different. And so, you can't tell that from Zoom, right. People can shut off their cameras. They can.
So these are the things, but it's important. I think that, I think it's super important to have people together, to learn from each other, to set a standard. It's really important to do that. A lot of organizations say, "Whoa, we've done better without it." Maybe, but you'll never know, because if you brought them together a little bit more, would they do better? I still think, you still have to have a structure. You still have to have all those things. You still have to have people adhere to it, but there's these impromptu, nuanced gains you can make, and relationships you can build, and problems that you can avoid by just observing and being there with people.
Corey Frank (36:16):
Absolutely. Without a doubt. Well, and you certainly set the standard on that, Robert, juggling the 35 companies that are in this Innovation Center, plus all the other board positions and investments that you manage outside of this. Oh, and also being a university professor. So, we certainly appreciate you as our landlord. The rent's a little steep. No, actually being here, the rent is, everything's covered. So, we have a competitive advantage certainly, here at Branch 49, from a cost perspective because of the opportunities that you and President Mueller have afforded us to be here. So we thank you for that.
So this was long overdue, to have a detailed conversation, certainly about the university, the type of students that you graduate here. We certainly appreciate the kind words and all the support from Branch 49. Thank you for the time today. I know looking back at some of the words I said, I probably hit a little too close to home when I said, "Shoot the goat or save the goat." You're a Boston guy. You're a Pat's fan. You probably immediately go to, "Save Brady." So I'll apologize if that was a little bit more emotional than need be for you, so.
Robert Vera (37:12):
Not at all, but thanks for all you guys do. I hope that people understand that innovation that you've created, that three part structure of sales and why it's been so effective for you and your clients. And, why I believe that one day, very slowly it'll happen. And the proof that it's not happening now is all the LinkedIn sales positions I see. Look for one that just said, "Top of funnel expert." There's not many.
And so, but I do think that your organization, I do think at one point it will become precision. It'll become structured, not this mishmash, but a very organized structure that drives value, drives growth on a daily basis. So, get your product in front of the right people, either close it and add value and move on, and do that for as many customers as you can. I believe that three part structure of top of funnel, discovery, and then close or back to top of funnel, out the door. I believe that, that will be a structure that I think more and more companies, especially now, if we hit a downturn in the economy, they're going to have to figure that out that they need. They don't need a new person. And this is the problem. They hire. They want to hire a new sales person. They need a new structure.
Corey Frank (38:15):
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. You certainly struck a nerve there, Robert, about the fact that being top of funnel does not necessarily mean and correlate that it's your newest, most inexperienced folks, either. We have folks on our team as you well know, you interact with them every day, that in my previous life have closed two, three, $4 million a year in business. And they are on the top of funnel for some of our clients.
Robert Vera (38:39):
You want the most experienced people at the top of funnel, in my opinion. That's the hardest conversation to have. They have to be the most skilled to do it. They have to have that tenacity to keep calling, to get hung up on. Basically what your folks do, is they hand a warm prospect to a salesperson. At that point, "Hey, just don't screw this up. Come on, we've got somebody here that's willing to listen to you. They have a need. We've done that." So at that point, what I'd love to see is at some point that, I listen to a lot of pitch decks. And I hope people don't take this the wrong way. If you can't communicate the value of your organization to me in five minutes or less, you don't know what you're doing. You don't. You don't. If you can't do that, Corey's value, five minutes or less. It is a three part structure that helps drive revenues for your company. Would you like to learn more? Great. How about five minutes, and I'll show you a page deck or something like that.
So, but thanks for having me. I mean, I really love what you're doing. I hope this innovation catches on. I hope it helps to add value to companies. And so, their families can send their kids to colleges, and things like that.
Corey Frank (39:47):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, tell you what, you keep spewing out the fire and the heat on some of the nuggets you have. I got two pages of notes here. Put Chris, run for money. Chris, I think I'm going to go to the Market Dominance Guys, part two, here with Robert. And now, well we got to have Chris on you and on here, with some of our other guests. So, I really appreciate all the time, Robert, and thanks for the support.
Robert Vera (40:05):
Corey Frank (40:05):
So, this is Corey Frank, sitting in for the Prophet of Profit, the Sage of Sales, Chris Beall, who is somewhere over the Atlantic, until next time.
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