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March Madness with Jeff Swan

Jeff Swan, founder of RevUp, walks us through RevLeague's version of March Madness. We also learn about marketing and sales automation.

Please check out RevUp, RevLeague, the Fill the Funnel Podcast, or find Jeff on LinkedIn.

Episode Transcript

Andrew Phelps: Today, my guest is Jeff Swan the founder of Rev Up Sales. With over 15 years of experience in high growth tech companies, Jeff knows exactly when and where to automate sales and marketing for scale. He's a rev genius ambassador and the host of the fill the funnel podcast. Jeff, thanks so much for being on the show.

Jeff Swan: Yeah, thanks for having me, Andrew. This is great to be here.

Andrew Phelps: So, Jeff we hear all about automating sales and marketing. You know, I feel like it's one of those buzz words where we're not really sure if it means anything. What's the biggest misconception about, you know, automating sales and marketing?

Jeff Swan: Well, you know, it's funny you asked that I actually did a webinar recently where we covered the five myths of outbound prospecting. And one of those myths was that if you can automate something that you should. So, the idea here is that even though you have this Ferrari in the garage, doesn't mean you have to go 200 miles an hour every time you drive it. Right? So, what I mean by that is that you can actually take a human approach to prospecting and then scale the things that you're doing repetitively. So that means you still want to do your, you know, your first outbound touch, your first email, your first call, you want to do kind of like a personalized touch, but then you want to automate parts of that message so that you're not rewriting your value prop 15,000 times throughout your year. So yeah, I guess my number one lesson is, is that you can automate a lot of things. It doesn't mean you should, but if you're doing monotonous tasks that you're going to be copy and pasting anyway, automate and save your life.

Andrew Phelps: So, with great power comes great responsibility. It makes sense to me.

Jeff Swan: Got it, man.

Andrew Phelps: Cool. So today we got you on the show, cause we're going to talk all about March madness, which is probably the most popular, or at least in the top five popular sports themes for in-office office competitions. Can you tell us a little bit about your March Madness competition this year?

Jeff Swan: For sure. So as part of RevLeague the whole premise of our community is that we basically have a community of sales professionals out there booking meetings every day, celebrating wins, supporting each other and all those fun things. So, to your listeners, if you haven't joined yet join RevLeague ping me on LinkedIn for referral, whatever. But what happens is let's imagine that Andrew and I are on RevLeague and just on a regular day to day, and we both book meetings and we put points on the board, we pop it in our tool, like our leaderboard tool we called ambition. And then Andrew puts a meeting up and a gift flies up that says, Hey, I just booked a meeting. And so, I'm going to give them a high five. We're going to talk about it. How did you do it, Andrew? Okay, awesome. There we go. We have a great virtual Salesforce interaction there, even though you are miles and miles south to me. So, the March Madness competition takes this a whole another level.

We pitted 32 of some of the best sales professionals we have in RevLeague head-to-head in a bracket to a system where over a three-day period per round, you would go head-to-head with one of your competitors and whoever books, the most meetings over those three days actually moves on to the next round. And so, we had your typical 32 members, so, you know, three rounds plus the champion round and the champ round were actually four days. So really making sure that those champions, those who won actually really earned it. And I'll tell you something crazy. So, over a 10-day period, 10 business days, 259 meetings booked in just under 32 people or just about 32 people. So, we did 259 meetings booked in that time. And the winner, the eventual winner of the competition actually ended up doing 37 meetings in 10 days.

Andrew Phelps: Genius, that is awesome.

Jeff Swan: Yeah.

Andrew Phelps: So, you know, I love the idea of RevLeague and going remote has been so hard for teams that were used to working in person and having all that in-person energy, you know, and I know for me personally, being in the office, it's a very easy to kind of sense the mood, know how people are feeling and, you know, and act accordingly. Do you have any tips for, you know, being a good community member in a remote setting like RevLeague?

Jeff Swan: Yeah. Well, I mean, there's a theme. If anybody out there is listening and that that's part of RevGenius, there's a theme to the entire community and it's all about the give. It's about giving more than you take giving more than you ask and in truth, this is actually kind of sales 101 in 2021 is that, if you give more than you ask, you tend to get more than those who asked first. So being a good community member as part of Rev League, what you want to do is make sure that when somebody has a, when you celebrate with them, you know, you virtual high five, you show an emoji up there and you know, ask them how they did. If somebody has a question, just be a good community member, you see something that pops up that you can help out with because of your expertise, answer the question, give them a little bit of insight, just something that can help them progress in their day and stop, you know, banging their head against the wall. And then that goes the other way as well though. I mean, if you're having a bad day and you know, you're stuck on something pop onto the community, ask a question because guaranteed for every person that pops question up there there's a hundred or so people that have the same question in mind and are just maybe afraid to ask or just haven't asked yet.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. And that's great advice. So, give more than you get. I think we can use that advice and, you know, across the board, but in terms of building bonds, especially with teams that you have that are remote, it's just making sure that everybody knows you're present because no matter how hard you try, no matter how friendly you are, I think we all get lonely working over the connection of the internet.

Jeff Swan: 100%. Well, and it's funny you say that Andrew I was on a call today with and this type of call happens quite frequently when I coach SDRs and STR leaders. And what they were saying is, is that the person I was talking to was that they're by themselves, they feel like they're working from home. They're not able to be in their office. They feel like an island of one. Right? And they don't even get the support of like, like you said, Andrew they don't hear the lingo, they don't hear the conversations that other people are having. There's no way to get that inspiration from just like, you know, if you're having a bad day, you just lean back on your chair and listen to what's going on around you. You don't have that. So, we created this virtual Salesforce community last year around June. Actually, no, sorry we started in September with Rev League and yeah, ever since we've just kind of given people the option to like, say, Hey, you're not alone. You're not an island come join us, be part of it.

Andrew Phelps: That's really cool. I know for me, just leaving a Zoom call open or hanging out on Discord makes all the difference to feeling like whether, you know, I'm with the team or not. So back to our March Mmadness game. Besides booking 37 meetings, was there a prize assigned to the winner?

Jeff Swan: There sure was actually, so here's, what's really cool is that we Rev League is sponsored by several software vendors that are just amazing in their space. So, for this particular contest, we had Sales Intel, a data provider who gets human-verified data for you for your outbound prospecting. They sponsored. So, they give a thousand contacts to everybody who entered and they gave, I believe don't quote me on this, even though it's recorded. I think it was 5,000 contacts for the winner for the year.

So, and then we also had connected and sell, which is a power dialer. All of our Rev League members have the ability to use up to six hours a week of connect and sell power dialing, just free of charges as a member. But the winner of this, this year's competition actually got an entire year's unlimited license to connect and sell. And they also got yours truly Jeff Swan. I sponsored the prize pool as well and gave away a free outbound for newbies course that I did with my good friend, Jason Bay. Just an e-learning course that I sell on my site. So, each of the winners, the finalists and the winner of our redemption bracket, those are who got bumped out in the second round or the first round they got each of those prizes.

Andrew Phelps: This is really interesting. I think you're our first guest where the prize for the game was something, you know, a bundle of tools that actually make your job easier and make you better at your job. You know, a lot of times we love to see prizes that are off the wall and that build a cultural experience because of there is so wacky, but it's, you know, I also like that this is all about doing your job and doing your job well, and the price just helps you do it better. I think it's really cool.

Jeff Swan: Well, a hundred percent. And like, there's a key thing with salespeople is that no matter how good you're doing, you always want to do better. Right? So as much as like a wacky prize or a weekend away, or things like that are good for you. And I'm not saying those are bad prizes then not at all, but as much as those are good for you something that actually helps you do your job is something that like, all I've seen is complete and utter gratitude from our members, just people that are just like, I can't believe you guys are giving this stuff for free. And it's changing. We've seen people go from like six meetings a month to 20 meetings a month and like all these other things just through being part of our group.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah, with 5,000 contacts, I might actually be able to close the sale.

Jeff Swan: Totally.

Andrew Phelps: They're valuable tools. I mean, I think you don't want to give them something that doesn't really help, but if it is a really valuable tool that will help them improve, you know, that's great. I think the last thing you want to do is give them something boring and unhelpful related to their job because then you kind of have the worst of both worlds, but if it's a valuable tool that actually helps them do their job, it's something that you can learn from or leverage. That's awesome.

Jeff Swan: Totally.

Andrew Phelps: So, you know, the other thing we talked about a lot in this podcast is you should keep in, instead of programs, games, things really simple. So, you guys just have one metric you got to hit, which was the most meetings and the most meetings, when, you know, what helped you guys come up with such a simple metric. You know, did you bring there, others you were considering, or you know, kind of a multifaceted approach? What was the thinking behind just the most meetings? That's simple.

Jeff Swan: Well, it's interesting that you ask because, so there's, there's two parts to this one. Our scoring model actually was more multifaceted, but only because of tiebreakers. So, because we actually had in several rounds where people had the same amount of meetings, so we had to Institute tiebreakers and those were number of connects and number of calls. So, number of calls were actually one in a thousand. So, for every thousand calls, you get one point, for every hundred connects you got one point and for every meeting, you get one point. So, as you can see, it's not likely that you do all the calls, so many calls and you'll beat somebody who's booking more meetings. Like we made it so that that's not possible. It was more around if you booked eight meetings and I booked eight meetings, then whoever did the most connects or calls would make or break it.
So how we decided on those ones was the literally 99% of people out there who run SDR teams, or who are part of an STR team, their number one metric typically is meetings booked or meetings held. And so, because we don't have the time to really go through meetings held and the verification process and the no shows and all that, we settled on meetings booked. That's a really easy stat that we can pull off in three days, instant gratification. If you book a meeting, you book a meeting. Same things with contacts and connects sorry, calls and connects. It's something that you, as literally, as soon as you do it, it's activity tracking. You can do it right away. That said we have since adjusted because of what we saw through March madness, we had people, some people had, you know, smaller deal sizes, really well-known brands going up against people who are enterprise with really, you know, unknown brands. So, you can imagine if I'm an unknown and I'm selling a hundred K deal, and you're a known entity that's selling a 5k deal. Who do you think is going to book more meetings, no matter how good? You would. Right? So, what we did was we actually ended up adjusting our scoring model for Rev League in general this month. And now we're actually going based on percent to target.

Andrew Phelps: So, was that winner with the 37 meetings is that a big brand or a smaller?

Jeff Swan: Actually, a small brand. He had never booked that amount of meetings in his life. He was actually on our podcast. So, the Fill the Funnel podcast shortly after he won. And he said that we made such a big impact, like RevLeague made such a big impact on him that he's literally changed his entire business around because of it.

Andrew Phelps: That is so cool. Those are the stories I love to hear because, you know, I kind of knew that was the answer, but it's almost never the big brands and that we get in our own heads about the size of the company, the size of the brand, and almost all of our misconceptions you know, almost all of our preconceptions are wrong. Almost always the smaller brands the hungrier people are the ones who are going to outperform it when they go head-to-head in a situation like this.

Jeff Swan: 100% man and I want to point something out to you, is that I made a mistake. I mentioned big brands. That is not actually accurate. It's the people who have their... Are you familiar with product-market fit?

Andrew Phelps: Sure.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. So, it's people who have their product-market fit down. It's people who, when you get a cold call, cold email from them and you look at their site, you know exactly what they do, how they can help you and you know, how you can get involved. So those are the people that I find do really well with outbound, where, because everybody, what's the first thing you do. When you get a cold email, you look somebody up, like if you actually care about what they say, if it's not a really bad email, you'll look them up, you'll see what they do. And the people do really well in outbound tend to have also a pretty good inbound funnel as well.

Andrew Phelps: Yea and it's really interesting. I don't think there's any better for business growth or closing deals than a good product-market fit. So last thing I want to hit on before we kind of do a recap here is the timeline. You had a 10-day timeline for this March madness contest. What gave you guys that idea? Why not the whole month or why not one week?

Jeff Swan: Well, it's interesting. So, we kind of knew, we ran a similar competition in December. It wasn't a March madness, but it was a similar kind of like head-to-head competition. And what we found was is that, you know, a lot of people, you have a lot of energy for the first little bit, you know, everybody was popping up gifts all over the place. They were putting points on the board cheering for each other, you know, asking people, questions, all that stuff. And there's a lot of energy going for the first, you know, first round for sure, first three days, because you had the most contestants. The second round was still a lot of interest.

A lot of people like going nuts, but by the time you get into the later rounds, people are tired already. You know, they've been given it all they have to win the competition. And, you know, you're kind of burning out like you can burn out if you do too much in too little time. So, we anticipated this in advance. We didn't realize how accelerated this would be, but we anticipated in advance that people would get tired and people didn't want to go like the entire month of the same thing. And so, we said, okay, let's do it on a two-week period, 10 business days see what we can do. And it worked out to be absolutely the perfect time.

Andrew Phelps: That's great. And you do have to balance it, having an awareness of the intensity when you're asking folks to do and realistically, how long can they keep it up? Because you can't go full speed all the time otherwise, we would do that.

Jeff Swan: Exactly well. And it's precisely the reason why we only really host these competitions once every two months it's so that people can take time, take a step back, you know, course correct from the previous month. And then by the time we launched a new competition, they're all ready to go again.

Andrew Phelps: Sounds good. Well, Jeff, I'm going to recap kind of my big takeaways from our conversation and I would love for you to correct me on anything I get wrong.

Jeff Swan: For sure.

Andrew Phelps: So, I think the number one piece I like is when joining a new team or being part of a community, especially online, always give more than you take. It's good karma, but you also get a lot out of it by helping others and probably, you know, asking questions that others are afraid to ask. I love that you mentioned that. Two, have some tiebreakers ready to go. So, I'd love to use the simple metric of just meetings booked, but you had some tiebreakers ready to go for when people have booked the same member meetings and that's something we see overlooked by people planning their first game is that they don't think about these little edge cases that are going to pop up when you know, all of a sudden you know, Joe and Susan have the same number fifth things that need to be tie-broken. And finally with selecting an appropriate timeline for a game. So, you knew how hard these folks were going to be grinding to set these meetings. And you would learn from a past experience that you may be needed to keep the contest going a little bit faster. So, the momentum and energy were kept alive on a short timeline of just 10 days. Did I miss anything?
Jeff Swan: No, you got it, man. A hundred percent.

Andrew Phelps: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. I know people are going to want to learn about, you know, Rev League and connect with you, maybe about some automation stuff. What's the best place to find you online?

Jeff Swan: Yeah. I mean, you can always find me on LinkedIn. That's Jeff Swan 18. You'll find me on literally any social platform with that URL? Also, if you want to look up and see what is behind all the method behind my madness take a look at and you'll be able to actually get your hands on some of the best frameworks in the business for booking 10% prospects to meetings booked. Cool.

Andrew Phelps: And so, you said you do a contest every two months. What's the next contest? You know yet?

Jeff Swan: I do, actually, we just talked about it this morning. So, I have a little bit of a secret, but we're going to be partnering with Gong and we're going to be doing a pitch contest. So STRs will be able to pitch a pretend product that Gong brought out. I'm not going to name the name, but check that out. We're going to be officially launching May the 4th.

Andrew Phelps: Very cool. Well, maybe you can come back on and talk about that one.

Jeff Swan: Yeah, absolutely. Anytime.

Andrew Phelps: Great. Jeff. Well, thanks for being on the show. I hope to speak again soon.

Jeff Swan: Yeah, thanks again. Thanks for having me, Andrew.