This week on Track Changes, Paul and Rich sit down with a live studio audience to discuss funnels. Lately, Salesforce and Mailchimp seem to be everywhere, from the buildings around us to the platforms we’re creating for clients. How can we integrate sales funnels without destroying user trust? Can we understand the immense economy underneath each online click? What does this mean for the future of the platforms we create? Spoiler: Paul created an acronym to help us out!
Paul Ford The podcast was born out of a moment of desperation. Like, what was it? It was like, “Wow, we’re not selling enough services.” And Rich went, “What do you think about podcasts?” And I said, “Uh. God. It’s so much work.”
Rich Ziade My goal was to squeeze as much value out of Paul Ford as I possibly could [audience laughter].
PF Yeah [music fades in, plays alone for 18 seconds, ramps down]. Rich! You ever heard of . . . a funnel?
RZ I have heard of a funnel.
PF What’s—what’s a funnel do?
RZ I think of—a funnel makes sure whatever you’re pouring makes it into the thing.
PF That’s right. It—it focuses things.
RZ It does. It focuses things and it moves them along.
PF Like sand, if you’re putting sand on a cake—
RZ It’s just wise.
RZ It’s just smart, right?
PF You should use a funnel. Alway—there is such a thing as a funnel, right? But there’s also the metaphor of the funnel. The thing about a real funnel is that you put stuff in it and all the same stuff comes out, it’s just kinda focused . . . A marketing funnel is about a steady war of attrition between you and everyone who you’re trying to sell your product to, like this one has like awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation, blah, blah, blah until finally they like buy your thing and then—
RZ Looking at this for the first and it’s actually making sense to me.
PF Oh yeah! Yeah, it’s great.
RZ This is how I dealt with relationships in my 20s, by the way. [Audience laughter, Rich joins]
PF That’s right [laughs]. Well, I mean, that’s the thing, right? You have to get—you have to get an unbelievable number of people in [yeah] in order to—
RZ It broke down on repeat for some reason [audience laughter].
PF Yeah! No, I know [Rich laughs] and it’s—
RZ [Laughing] It kept gettin’ jammed up there. I don’t know why.
PF So that’s a marketing flow, right? And you go down these different steps and really what’s happening is you go down the funnel is you’re losing humans along the way but the ones who are sticking around are the ones who you might be able to engage in a beautiful purchasing relationship.
PF Ok, so that’s good. Here’s a sales funnel. This is a big one.
PF You go at the top you’re trying to create awareness and then interest and then get a decision and bring them to action. “Buy that car!”
PF Mm hmm.
PF So at the top of your funnel, you used the word ‘top’. It’s very like top to bottom.
PF At the top of your funnel, if you’re a car salesperson [mm hmm] is like, “I’m gonna run a newspaper ad telling them about all the Toyotas we’ve got here at Jeffrey Toyota—”
RZ Get noticed!
RZ You’re saying get noticed now, right?
RZ Awareness. So I know about—like, I think about the . . . I’m not a truck guy and I don’t even own a car but that Ford F150 ad where the truck finally makes it over the mountain and all you see is the front of the grill and it’s just—that is not just, “We sell a truck,” right? You’re—you’re trying to connect to people [no, yeah—]. So this is sel—like, yeah like this is—
PF Top of the funnel is emotion and brand—
RZ Connecting? Right?
PF It’s big.
RZ You’re trying to get people to connect.
PF That’s where you wanna be. And you don’t—and you wanna just—you get ‘em in there and then you go, “Come on into your Ford dealership.” [Yes] And then they come into the Ford dealership and now they’ve shown interest, right?
RZ It’s worth pausing and noting how we stumbled into this, like we didn’t think . . . “We have to assemble the sales team. We need to think about the funnel,” when we started Postlight.
PF No, that’s true.
RZ It’s worth—it’s worth noting. We just thought, “Let’s get the word out. We’ll write an article or two and then we’ll start talking to people and they’ll wanna—they’ll wanna spend money with us.” The whole notion of it is—is like actually pretty new to us but is huge in the world, right?
PF Well, it’s not just the world, it’s our whole industry is going funnel-wards. That’s what I keep saying.
PF So, you know, here’s another one where people come through traffic or leads in sales. So, you know, for people at home, listening on their headphones, we’re just lookin’ at funnels. Imagine [scattered audience laughter] a funnel.
PF Think about a funnel. Welcome! [Audience laughter] You! All of you!
PF Are in a funnel, right now. Close the doors [Rich and Paul laugh]. So, you may not realize it, probably you do because we talk about it a lot and you listen to the podcast, the podcast was a—a little bit of a hail Mary and the goal was like, “You know what? Nobody understands what we do. Not just us, particularly, but the whole freaking industry.” Like everyone’s like, “What? You build websites?” And we’re like, “Well, we build platforms and APIs,” and they’re like, “Ah, uh stop talking moon language.” And it’s just horrible, right? So we’re like, “Let’s explain to people what we do . . . five or six million times.”
PF “And see if they can stand it.” [Audience laughter] [Paul and Rich laugh] But the reality is it’s the—it actually is, especially for bigger engagements, it’s the number one way that people find us because they—they’ve actually—and we didn’t plan this, we’re not smart—but they feel that they’ve had a conversation with us and in a very real way they have.
RZ Yeah, and this speaks to a lot of how people try to connect to potential customers today.
PF Well, I try to think about from the point of view of somebody who’s like, “I gotta go find an agency,” and usually go look for an agency and it’s like, you know, “Here’s our process; and we’d like to call you and download this and how great you are.” And then you listen to us and—And somebody once described us on Twitter as, “I like this podcast. It’s just two jabrons talkin’ about tech.” [Scattered audience laughter] [Paul chuckles]
RZ I think that’s a compliment. I can’t tell.
PF It is and it isn’t. But it’s real, right? So, you’re all in a funnel, whether you’re listening or you’re here, like we brought you in knowing that one or two of you—like, first of all, it’s good to see people. We like—
RZ Thank you for coming. Yes. This is a terrible way to frame this event.
PF No, but this is—this is what’s real. One or two [audience laughter]—one or two of you . . . won’t ever leave. One or two of you [chuckles, audience laughter] will go home and say, “I like the ironic way that they approached sales. I like that it’s not too serious and I could continue talking to them.” So, this is the thing though: it’s not just Poslight. We’re always in funnels.
PF You don’t think about it when you walk down the street. There are sooooo many funnels that you’re in right now, like if you’re buying Avengers: End Game tickets and looking at the internet and part of advertising; you’re donating to charity; voting democrat; subscribing to The New York Times; subscribing the The Baffler; buying real estate; college applications; your Tidal subscription. But every like totally special thing that really captures your personality that you buy or do is—ends up kind of in some funnel somewhere.
PF Yeah, you’re just a cog in that machine, and good for you. Like, it’s all of us. It’s not just the product being—you’re the person being marketed to, but we all exist in this sort of sales dynamic and that’s how we’re being perceived everywhere in the world. And I think that—like that just happened, right? Like that [Rich sighs heavily] just happened, right? Like that’s the rise of automated marketing culture and so on.
RZ Oh! Ok.
PF Well, and this is the last point on that, right? Is that Tinder is actually like a little bit like Salesforce, like you’re kind of triaging all your leads [audience laughter].
RZ Tinder is a very steep, narrow funnel that [yeah] you either make it through or you don’t, right? Very quickly, just marbles shootin’ through that funnel, right?
PF Well, the CRM, which is like the Customer Relationship Manager, you just get rid of customer [yeah] and it’s just Relationship Manager, right? [Chuckles, audience laughter]
RZ Yeah, it is and—and it’s probably the most efficient CRM in existence.
PF It’s—it’s amazing at extreme conversion [audience laughter]. And so [yeah]—but that’s the thing, like, dating apps, [Rich laughing] you’re in a funnel with dating apps. You’re—you’re actually the person in charge.
RZ It’s worth mentioning, also, I mean, this is—we’re talking in the context of technology, this has existed forever in sales [yeah]. It is a thing where you go and build the relationship. There was a day when the salesperson just went to lunches, lunch after lunch after lunch. And, there’s a bit of reaction today, Paul, to this, right? Like that slide before this one where you showed all the different funnels we’re in, people are gettin’ a little—a little kind of freaked out by it, right? Like privacy is a big story now and—and I . . . looked up a—an electric lawnmower. I have about six square feet of grass in Brooklyn, and I looked up an electric lawnmower and—on Amazon—and I looked through a few, read some reviews, left, didn’t make a purchase. Opened up Facebook that night, and between, you know, my aunt’s casserole picture and whatnot, there was a lawnmower inside of Facebook, being advertised to me by Amazon, and I open my closet the next morning, and a box flew out and there was my lawnmower [audience laughter]. Uh but it’s intense! I gotta say it is intense.
PF I—I love when Amazon is like, “Hey, you bought a mattress . . . You know what you might need?”
PF “A mattress.” [Rich and Paul laugh, audience laughter]
RZ This is real.
PF Yeah, you’re just like—
RZ How many—I mean shit.
PF It’s just like you guys couldn’t of like—
RZ I got the lawnmower, man.
PF You couldn’t have put that little filter in there but noooo.
RZ No, it’s coming at you . . . Should we pitch wish.com really quickly?
PF Yeah [chuckles], go—go for it. It’s your baby.
RZ Alright wish.com. Do you guys know what wish.com is? Wish.com is a site where they sell shit, junk, pretty much. You never go to wish.com and say, “I need to go get new batteries.” It’s—it’s just a site that has garbage that it’s selling you really cheap, and they have no inventory, apparently, they make it when you make the purchase. And it’s bizarre and weird and it’s that sort of, you know, “I need to fill the void because no one’s spoken to me in seven hours so I should go buy something for 11 dollars.”
PF Mm hmm [scattered audience laughter].
RZ Uh and—
RZ And then it comes, like, wrapped in that plastic for—and it’s like from, you know, Daewoo Heavy Industries.
RZ It’s real, ok, so onto the next slide which I’m gonna describe to the listeners as a very complicated screen.
PF Well, or like a—a Trello board but really, really boring. This is a picture . . . do you know what application this is, Rich?
RZ I think I do. I’m gonna let you say it, Paul.
PF [In deep, ominous tone] Salesforce. This is it, right? If you’re moving people through a funnel, you’re using Salesforce most likely, in America. Not everybody—or in the world. Not everybody, we—we manage our leads with a product called Pipedrive. It’s a little bit easier and a little bit, like, more appropriate for our size but here’s the reason we’re talking about this: over and over over the last couple years, people have to us and said, “What do you do with Salesforce?” And at first we were like, “I don’t know. Ok. It’s just this thing.”
RZ Out of context is what they’re asking for.
PF And it would be like a large not-for-profit that wanted to manage logins or it would be a um a media company that wanted to [it’s true] track relationships with authors. I—I’ve seen it at colleges. It’s turning out that Salesforce is one of the secret, super systems that runs the entire world.
RZ It is.
PF And we’re seeing it more and more as software creators and so we’re—this is kind of what we’re talking—
RZ There’s almost anxiety. People are like, “I—where’s—”
PF “I gotta use Salesforce.”
RZ “Where’s—- I gotta put Salesforce in this,” and they’re comin’ to us with something that we would never suggest it cuz it didn’t make sense but they’re—there’s . . . nervousness around it.
PF Have you seen the Salesforce building in New York City?
RZ I have not.
PF You’re just walkin’ up, I think, it’s 5th Avenue and, all of a sudden, there’s the word Salesforce on top of a building, it’s like it’s from the future.
RZ Other buildings do that, Paul. Just throwing that out there.
PF No, I know but it was like—
RZ There’s names of companies on other buildings.
PF I still find it really weird when internet things become New York things.
RZ Yeah. It’s true. New York, it’s—it’s a new—new territory.
PF Like you go out to the bay and you’re driving from the airport and you’re like, “Oh! Cyberauction Biz.com!” And it’s got like 84 floors and you’re like, “I don’t even know what that is but that’s cool. But here it’s just—it’s supposed to be banks.
RZ It’s supposed to be Metli—[audience laughter, Paul laughs, Rich laughs]
PF Banks and—
PF Yeah, and like, I don’t know—what el—hospitals. Those are like the two things that New York City is supposed to have.
RZ People have money and they die. That’s New York City.
PF Yeah. [Audience laughter] That’s right, that’s right.
RZ Make some hospitals.
PF And then all of a sudden, one day, [deep tone] Salesforce.
RZ Salesforce is here.
PF Big, looming tower.
PF So and this is a big company. It’s 123 billion dollar company. And that’s good, I think, I think that’s a really good—
RZ It’s doin’ pretty good.
PF Yeah, things are—I actually said this to Rich earlier today. He’s like, “That’s not that big.” . . . I’m like—
RZ I mean I’m thinking in the context of like—I don’t know what context I’m—
PF It’s not Microsoft—or like Microsoft and Google are like 800—
RZ Trillion dollar companies. Yeah.
PF Yeah. And so like it’s not quite there yet but boy is it everywhere. And it was founded by this guy Marc Benioff who had a very, very close relationship with Larry Ellison at Oracle. He was like the number one salesperson at Oracle by like age 26, he was just this rising star, and then he went in like 1999 and was like, “I’m gonna change the way people sell!” And um—
RZ Well, he put—he put CRM software—
PF Customer Relationship Management.
RZ—in the cloud. That was [that’s right] his angle, right? And he—he got ahead of everyone else.
PF So, look: what’s the world? The world is people use browsers and phones and then you got these sort of platforms that Postlight builds, and then there’s all these APIs, like content API—that could just be WordPress. Login, search, analytics. Like these are the things that you use when you—that we build.
RZ These are the building blocks, right? That make up stuff.
PF And we think we’re kinda—kinda big deal for having those APIs under there and [yeah] tellin’ everybody how it’s gonna all work. But the real world, if you go one level down now, it’s startin’ to look like this; this is what people are coming to us about, they’re saying, “Salesforce! Put it underneath everything. And underneath that, connect it to all these marketing tools and Mailchimp and give us this kind of analytics and so on.” [Yeah] And so it’s really changing the industry in that—what they did that was really smart, I gotta give this to ‘em, they went like—most people are trying to go up and like make good interfaces [yeah] and so on. Salesforce went down. They’re like, “We’re gonna be underneath everything.”
RZ That’s true. That’s true. [Hesitates] The Salesforce interface, when a human interacts with it, is an absolute shit show.
PF It really is [scattered audience laughter].
RZ They’re—they’re not too worried about it. It’s not priority for them, in fact. You can use it, it has all the features, and it does everything. It’s very complicated, very dense, but what they did was they kept thinking about it as a platform, and as this thing that’s gonna power other things and it’s gonna sit in the middle. It’s a middleman! It’s a beautiful place to be, right there in that layer where information needs to travel through.
PF Also, what they did is they said, “Hey, everybody’s runnin’ around doin’ this stuff on the web kinda hopin’ it’ll work or throwing in some advertising [yeah] or send—trying to get referral stuff through Amazon or whatever. Let’s get in there where the revenue is. Let’s get in there and say, ‘Hey, let’s—we’ll capture leads and we’ll move them towards [mm hmm] paying customers.’” An so this giant platform is suddenly finding this context and everyone can point to it and say, “We’re glad to pay the money for it because it is about how we make money.”
PF That’s easy to justify in any budget. And so it’s weird as a open source focused services company that likes to work with lots of platforms, we’re in Salesforce’s universe more and more.
RZ Yeah, I think what they capitalized on is there was a day when, you know, CRM software has been around for many, many years and it was for the person that went out and built those relationships around homeowner’s insurance or bigger sales—
PF Life sciences was big too.
RZ Life sciences, yeah, pharmaceutical sales, and whatnot. And what they found was everything is happening now in a very automated, very sort of transient way, just by breathing on your phone or looking at your Apple Watch. There’s opportunity.
PF The weird thing, right? Is that what—what this points to is the fact that everyone—like you work in digital media and you’re a programer or you’re a writer or whatever, we kind of all are sales now.
RZ Dude, have you ever like filled out like the first four fields of lender.com? . . . Just for shits. Just go do it tonight—
PF That’s what you do, you’re like, “Oh man!”
RZ A mortgage broker will be on your lawn within 12 hours.
PF Oh! [Audience chuckling]
RZ It’s unbelievable.
PF If you—Stack overflow if you do the jobs product.
PF And you’ve—the minute you fill in your phone number [yeah] like someone puts their hand on the landline and waits. And if you don’t like fill out the rest of that form in about a minute, your phone rings. They’re like, “Hi!”
RZ Submission is bullshit. This is worth noting. You don’t have to submit. It’s done. It’s over.
PF “It’s me!”
RZ It’s already in—
PF “It’s me Joel Spolsky!” You know? [Both laugh, audience laughter]
RZ Yeah. You are already, already on autodial. It’s done.
PF Yeah, that’s right.
RZ It’s true.
PF And they’ll pick you up, they’ll call you and they’ll be like, “What do you need in order to complete that transaction?”
RZ “Did you get that job? You still lookin’?”
PF If you [exactly]—“I can’t believe you filled it in the last five seconds.”
PF And so that’s just a subtle change that I think we’re all—I know personally like I’m learning to live with it a little bit cuz I used to think, “Hey, we’ll put the stuff up and people will look at it and use it and then they’ll make decisions based on what we do.” [Mm hmm] And instead there’s this whole another world where it’s like, “No, no, we gotta move ‘em along and we gotta figure out [yeah] where they fit.” And it’s—it’s not just us, it’s like art institutions show up and they’re like, “Hey, uh, we gotta build everything on Salesforce.”
RZ They need donors, they need all kinds of stuff.
PF Ticketing and whether it’s—whether it’s good or bad is, frankly, irrelevant. It is where we’re at.
RZ It is where we’re at. Yeah.
PF Part of me is like, “Well, there’s a beautiful web that is all about humans interacting,” and then—but the people who pay for services are saying, [yeah] “Salesforce, what’s your opinion?” . . . And then there’s also like these companies—this was bought by Mulesoft—is the name of this company—cuz it’s like it works really hard—
RZ Who here has heard of Mulesoft?
PF Mulesoft connects anything to anything. Any API to anything. Salesforce bought it for 6 somethin’ billion dollars. So that’s nice. That’s always good.
RZ A little somethin’.
PF And it’s just this endless, endless list of things that the file connector and the OAuth module and things that connect to everything else and ultimately connect to Salesforce.
PF So, there’s this whole world where you just sort of like click five buttons, fill out some forms, don’t even write a lot of code, and all the various pieces [that’s right] are glued together for you. That is.
RZ It’s somethin’. I mean—
PF And they’re coming for us. Like they’re saying, “You don’t need to hire some services firm.”
RZ That’s right.
PF But you kinda do because all this stuff just falls apart.
PF There’s like five things that work really well and then there’s the like, “Oh no, we tried Mulesoft but it didn’t work.” Cuz we [yeah] get those too. They come in.
PF I don’t think everybody realizes like services business is a lot of regret and sunk costs coming in like [audience laughter] we’re like, “Oh God, we did everything possible to never [yeah] have to talk to you.”
RZ Yeah [audience chuckling]. It’s true.
PF “And it turns out that we’ve completely screwed ourselves up . . . and we need to give you a lot of money, and it hurts, and we hate you for it.”
RZ Yeah [audience chuckling].
PF So what’s our future? . . . I’ve boiled our whole future down to a set of acronyms. SETACETAF, S-E-T-A-C-E-T-A-F, and it’s Stay Employed Today, Always Connect Everything To A Funnel [laughs wheezily, audience laughter].
RZ Why are you excited about that? That’s a very strange thing.
PF You didn’t show up to the meeting where we were gonna do this.
RZ I did [laughter]. I was late to this morning’s meeting.
PF So I’m gonna have some fun.
RZ Yeah, do it.
PF So SETACETAF, I wanna like—when you are in this world, we’re talking about Salesforce and Mulesoft and lots of things connecting but there’s actually, the world of automation software is absolutely ridiculous.
RZ It is.
PF There’s thing called the—the Marketing Technology Landscape, and if you’re at home, I encourage you to download it.
RZ I’d go incognito before [Paul laughs and agrees, audience laughter] typing that in. Do not just type that in.
PF It’s this chart with some logos on it, showing like, “Oh hey! How do I reach influencers? Oh well I could—I could connect to blog—”
RZ This is insanity! This is insanity.
PF Or, “What if I need to get referrals to my contact, you know, in order to get my—”
RZ Bots in livechat.
RZ Oh! That little piece of shit thing in the bottom right that kicks in.
PF That little guy—
RZ “Hey! What are you doin’ here?”
PF There’s like 100 companies that do this.
RZ This is incredible.
PF So there’s like—yeah. So everyone is sighing because there’s like 5,000 companies.
RZ Why would someone—you can’t even—is it a poster? Is that the thing?
PF I—I would totally like that and like a Ferrari as a teenager. Like—
RZ For the listeners—[laughs and audience laughter].
PF It’s just logo after logo after logo for all of the things that you have to know about that live in this world. So it is vast and I couldn’t figure—I—I started lookin’ at these charts, they’re called Landscape Graphics about ad tech and so on and they like—they love to do this. They just bundle up all the logos [yeah] and it’s a way for like advisory firms and VCs to show how connected they are [yeah]. “Ooh! What’s goin’ on in AI?”
RZ It’s really an underground economy, right? Cuz a lot of these are just waypoints. Right? It’s just information hopping from thing to thing and, “I have a better way because as soon as they stare to the right.”
PF They’re takin’ a little penny here.
RZ They’re takin’ a little penny here, right? That’s what this is.
PF Like everytime that guy pops up on the website and says, “How can I help you?” [Right, yeah] But what I’m startin’ to figure out is that the money, and the—the way that things are going is people thinking funnel. They’re thinking like, “Oh I gotta move people through and how can I get more of them [yeah] step A to step B?”
RZ That’s right.
PF And that—you know, I just didn’t see tech that way. I saw it like, “Oh I got platform and my API and I’m gonna do my transactions and make a little money and everybody’s gonna think, ‘What a good boy am I’.”
PF Right? And it turns out that there’s this whole world called the economy that’s underneath everything.
RZ It really is what—I mean step A to step B—one of the most radical step A to step B moves I’ve seen is they’ll reach out to you, and they’ll say, “We’re hosting a webinar.” They still use the word webinar today. “And we’d like you to join.” And you ignore it and then ten days later, and the webinar is in 20 days, they reach back out to you, and they offer an Amazon gift card. No joke. A ten or 20 dollar Amazon gift card if you’re willing to . . . they call it “sign up for the survey and join us for the webinar,” just so they can get the information. I mean it’s—the math works. Look: if you told me you can get me a qualified lead for 1,000 dollars. That makes sense. The math works, Paul. I mean it’s crazy. But it works.
PF It’s great. If any of you have any qualified leads, just put them here on the table [audience chuckling].
RZ The thing is—the problem is—
PF I will go get you 1,000 dollars.
RZ The problem is you don’t wanna be gross and we say this to ourselves sometimes is like, “Ok, we can do this and do that and buy email lists but we don’t wanna be gross.”
PF Yeah but the world wants you to be gross. This is what’s tricky.
RZ Is that true?!
PF Well, I mean look at this thing that we’re looking at with 5,000 log—they’re just like—do you think they care about anything at all? That this is like the most vacuous hellscape that you could ever imagine [audience laughing] right? Like [laughs] and we have to participate. We have to. We have to look at Salesforce and go, [defeated] “Ok.”
RZ You try to stay kinda highbrow about it but it is the game.
PF But also we spend so much money and time on it as a firm when we’re not necessarily building platforms and doin’ the things we love to do, and it’s fine. I’ve accepted that into my heart. Like that is just part of leading a services firm.
RZ Ok, lemme ask you this. Can I ask you a question?
RZ Like when I see staring dead-eyed into your phone, as a consumer, on the consumer end [sure], does it bother you?
PF When you see me? I don’t care what happen—
RZ Not me staring at you. That you are on the other end of this, that you are just sort of this blip gettin’ passed around and sold.
PF Ah! You know, maybe cuz my background’s in media, like, the audience has been like very abstract and a lot of [uh huh] little blips.
PF So I’ve never found that part too complicated, I—I don’t like cheating and tracking and sneaking. I hate [mm hmm] sneaking, like my—my—my—when my son sneaks candy I get upset [ok]. Like I don’t—I don’t wanna be that.
PF Um but I think someone going to a services company’s website knows that our goal is to get them to buy services. Like I think that’s ok. And the content’s there and the—
RZ Well we shouldn’t be following them home.
PF Well, but the thing is is that you can’t help but follow them home. That’s what Google—or someone else is following them home for you, we’ve all hired private investigators.
RZ Yeah, yeah.
PF Millions of them. Millions of PIs.
RZ I love—I love watching with mom, use her—her phone. It’s actually fascinating to see. And she has an Android phone. So there’s a little—you know, the rules are looser. You can put more stuff on it. You can kinda tap on something and the next thing you know something else got installed. And every so often I will open her phone and there will be like a little dancing on the bottom right corner. And I’m like, “Mom, this shouldn’t be on your phone. You shouldn’t have this happening to your phone.” And she has said to me, “It’s really great.”
PF Yeah [audience chuckling].
RZ “I really like it. It’s—every so often—if I shake it it dances a little and uh—”
PF “Look! It transfers money from my bank account. It’s [Rich laughs, audience laughter] really great.”
RZ And, d’you know, it says something cuz she said—“I gotta clean up your phone, mom.” And—and she says, “You can clean up my phone but leave this little guy over in the bottom right corner cuz I think he’s great.” And so I think this isn’t a very obvious example but I think there’s a lot of that. I think there’s a lot of people feeling good and happy for little things that happen—
PF I think they are also like, “Well, this is what it is.”
RZ There’s a bit of that. Yeah. I mean and—and—Ok. So. On that note, ending it with—with—with a little aside about my mother, let’s open it up to questions. Let’s open up the funnel, Paul.
PF Let’s do it.
RZ Let people ask questions.
PF Yeah, welcome.
RZ If you have any. Zero pressure . . .
PF Lemme—lemme just say the question which is [yeah] the client and the frontend experience of Salesforce is really rough and kind of shitty but is the backend experience with—as a developer pretty good? It’s pretty good!
PF Devs are used to some garbage too like it’s not—as programmers I think it’s just sort of like, “Eh. This is about as bad as many things are.”
RZ Yeah [audience chuckling]. That’s sad but yes.
PF It’s real like it’s not beautiful but—
RZ It’s not beautiful but it’s fine. It’s—I would say better than the UX. I would think, yeah.
PF Oh yeah.
RZ Other questions?
PF So sort of people who build on top of Salesforce that you—when you—
RZ Let’s repeat the question, Paul.
PF Yeah when you’re doing, um, a Salesforce implementation there’s always that partner who’s like, “Oh, I’m your Salesforce implementation specialist.”
PF And so—and—and, you know, is that a multi-level marketing scheme? Let’s—
RZ I—I think—
PF No, no, I have—I mean let’s engage with that, like is it a multi-level marketing scheme when you have the big Salesforce associate conference in Reno and everybody goes and you become a gold partner? You know which they do. They actually—they knight you with an installation of Salesforce. And um—
RZ I think—I think there’s a crossing point. I think there’s a crossing point for certain brands and it’s—it’s really a very glorious place on the other side where you can just go say, “We’re gonna implement Salesforce,” and that decision is the right one. There was a day when you—you implemented Peoplesoft and you implemented other technologies—
RZ S-A-P and the like and they’re just, not only are they safe but they’re understood to be necessary. I think Salesforce has reached that sort of wonderful, euphoric place.
PF I mean it’s at that level in the platform.
RZ It’s at that level.
PF So they can only—They can’t service people directly. And so a consulting layer has built up over the last ten, 15 years and what happens is then there’s the people who are really good at not-for-profit Salesforce, and there’s the people—like, they focus on their vertical markets, you’re just seeing a very mature space where people are—are doing their selling.
RZ From an agency perspective, there are enti—there are agencies that just piggy back the momentum of that sell, of that—of just the safety around it and the—just the support around it. Like, you see that for a lot of different products but Salesforce is there at this point.
PF What has changed is that it’s coming into like this world. It didn’t used to come—like you would go hire your partner, and they would set it up for you, and you’d spend a certain amount of money. The fact that they come to us, and they say, “Hey, we need the content platform but we also need to like funnel certain people into Salesforce [yeah] and can you set that up?” That—the fact that it’s just kind of like, “Cool, nice to have—let’s add that in.” Is a real difference.
RZ I was at—in San Francisco, just coincidentally, when Dreamforce was happening. Dreamforce is like the big Salesforce conference. And, essentially, it was like 12,000 salespeople just sweating in hotel lobbies all over San Francisco [distant laughter] and the number of marriages that were ruined [oh yeah] over those three days.
PF The one—is James Hetfield—I think James Hetfield stood up and was like, “Metallica . . . uses Salesforce to manage relationships with our super fans!”
RZ This is real. This is real. Yeah.
PF And so like that—he was the featured Dreamforce speaker to let you know like just how far down the freakin’ rabbit hole.
RZ This is a thing now. Yeah, [laughing] exactly. Other questions? . . .
PF So what is Postlight’s funnel? How does it work? And where does the funnel leak? Where does your funnel leak?
RZ I gotta say: this is—the reason this is interesting to us and we’re talking about it is this really new to us. We weren’t thinking this way. We weren’t think—even though we were living it. Uh because you’re trying to move along a phone call or a conversation to a second conversation to a third.
PF You know what really happened is we just felt like we—So . . . the podcast and the, you know, the brand and events and conversations were bringing people in but we kept growing, and as you keep growing you have to feed more coal into the fire. Like you just have to keep shoveling coal, and we realized we—we couldn’t scale up where we were at like I couldn’t sell more short-term engagements. You couldn’t, you know, land enough big things in order to really keep that going. And so what—what do you turn to? And you say, “What—what levers do I have? What controls do I have? Well, we could promote the podcast more. Or we could—”
RZ Spend money on ads.
PF Rebuild our website so it’s more attractive. So it’s—it’s sort of all really obvious stuff: website; can we do some Google ads? Some Facebook advertising. What’s our LinkedIn strategy? All those things are actually really new, they’re barely—
RZ One of the things we’ve tried to do, though, is not be gross. And actually—99.9 percent of people listen to the podcast get some value out of it without ever having any desire to call us or talk to us or anything, and we hope that there’s a, sort of, an effect out of that that someone will say, “Hey! You should go check these guys out, and—”
PF What’s tricky is that some of the platforms—like pasting something I wrote for the blog into LinkedIn just feels inherently gross. Like it doesn’t—
RZ It does! And you see like if you use The Washington Post app, the ads that are articles in The Washington Post app, it’s very subtle which one is an ad—
PF Native content and stuff like that, yeah.
RZ It’s like the font’s a little weird and it’s kinda off.
RZ And you—you [stammers]—you get it and you feel like they’re trying to trick you but sometimes if you go into the ad, it’s just a normal article—
PF Yeah. Created by their brand studio.
RZ Their brand studio. I mean that’s the Vice model and—and whatnot. One more question.
PF Well, lemme just restate so—
RZ Restate it, yeah.
PF Sort of given our . . . slightly joking tone about privacy, yours, in particular [audience laughter, Rich scoffs]. How do we feel about the privacy of people who are more prone to exploitation and abuse and protecting that? Obvi—we’re for it! I mean, you know, we’re joking around but obviously—
RZ We’re not for exploitation and abuse. Just to be clear [audience laughter].
PF Yeah. No, thank you. Thank you. We should talk about—and the—the rest of the question was um . . .
RZ It doesn’t work . . .
PF Yeah, why does this actually—
RZ A comment. Does it actually work? If I wanna go to Tahiti, as the person asking just said, I’ll just go book a ticket. I don’t see it 150 times. I don’t know. I think—I think—I think there’s a carpet bombing approach here that if you just keep bangin’ away and you just kind of keep sort of hammering away, eventually you’ll pull the trigger. I think that’s the thinking. I don’t think it’s viewed sort of immediately transactional, as in like you’ll do the thing—“I’ll show you the thing and then you’ll do the thing . . . but if I keep whispering in your ear for four months. We’ll get you there. Right?” And I think that’s the point of—back to the funnel, it isn’t a switch that you’re flipping. It takes time to get you to move down that path, right? It’s kinda creepy. I’m with you.
PF Look this is anecdotal but also a statistics fact. I have a friend who is one of the best banner ad designers in the world. He’s been doing it for 20 years. And everyone’s laughing a little bit but it’s like—like it’s real. It’s been his career. And he’s really, really good at. And he’s actually—he specializes now in political campaigns. And, they measure everything in terms of how many donations come in and he’s excellent. Like he gets more and more work as the campaign goes forward because he is able to convert more and more people to donors. And, he does that by, literally like, “Oh! Let’s make it red,” or, “The button needs to move around a little bit.” Like it’s not . . . pure science. There’s a lot of instinct that’s built up but it absolutely works and it absolutely drives millions and millions of dollars and more and more work to him. And so—and it’s measured constantly. And so things like that—I think buying the sofa is a little tricky because they’re gonna follow you around until you buy the sofa, and they’re like, “Yeah we told a billion people about the sofa and we sold two sofas.” It’s a weird artifact of humans being really cheap to buy an aggregate on the internet but the more measured, larger ticket stuff like, “We’re gonna buy a takeover of The New York Times in order to get people to give more money to, you know, a Democratic campaign?”
RZ A vote.
PF A vote.
RZ Is very expensive.
PF Or donation—They track that assiduously and—and it does tend to work.
RZ [Stammers] Where do you stand on that? Is that—is that cool? . . .
PF I mean this is the world, right? Like, I mean that—that is . . . none of this is cool. I’m not cool; no one’s cool, but like we’re doing a podcast about Salesforce. It’s not [audience laughter, laughs boisterously, music fades in]—
RZ Let’s end this with an apology.
PF Yeah [audience laughter] the cool meetup is somewhere else tonight [audience laughter].
RZ Yes, ok. On that note, Paul . . .
PF Thank you everybody for coming.
RZ Thanks so much for coming, everyone. Hang out, have a drink! [Applause]
PF Well, look, if anybody here has any questions, they can either come right up and ask them [scattered laughter, Paul chuckles] or they can email! What’s a good email address to reach Postlight?
RZ [Sounds disappointed] [email protected]
PF Goes right to you and me and I can’t wait to see what people wanna know about . . . Alright! Let’s get outta here! But not actually, we’re gonna have a couple of drinks and hang out.
RZ Have a good week.
PF Bye! [Applause, music continues for six seconds, fades out to end]