[00:17] Brian: Bootstrapped web. We're back after a break. I'm back in the States, and yeah, just trying to get back to normal here. Jordan, how's it going, budy? Good.
[00:26] Jordan: You went very far away.
[00:27] Brian: It's good to have you back. Yeah. My family and I, we were really away for two full weeks. We spent a week in the Philippines in Cebu, hung out with my wife's side of the family over there for a week, and then we jumped over to another island in the Philippines called Barakai, which was really incredible beach destination in the Philippines. Really one of the best beaches I've ever hung out on.
[00:58] Jordan: Saw some pics of that on Twitter, right?
[01:00] Brian: Yeah, I shared more on Facebook, at.
[01:03] Jordan: Least one with the family and stuff.
[01:04] Brian: Yeah.
[01:05] Jordan: You're not exclusively on Threads yet.
[01:08] Brian: I am on threads. That's a whole interesting thing. Yeah. And then after that, we jumped over to Cambodia. We saw Angor Wat, which is a pretty incredible site, and, like, ancient ruins, ancient temples and things like that. We got stuck in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for an unexpected one nighter there. So that was an adventure and dragged the kids the whole way. But really, overall, it was a fantastic trip. Really one of the best vacations that we've done. And it was like multiple segments. Right? It was like family in Cebu, then like a beach thing, then sightseeing, a ton of flights, but the kids were troopers. I know we're going to talk about this, but I did work actually quite a bit throughout the whole trip. But we still had a great vacation, too. I still had a lot of relaxation, a lot of adventure, a lot of family time. But I won't say it was, like, normal. Like, certainly not the same number of hours that I would normally work here at home, but definitely every day. I got some work in every day that I was away. Like, at least one or 2 hours, sporadically. Different hours of the day, different locations. And it was a massive time difference with a lot of jet lag. So that also made for a lot of sleepless nights, which meant, like, three in the morning. Can't sleep. What else am I going to do? I might as well open the laptop. There's a lot of that, too.
[02:47] Jordan: Interesting. We're about to start our travel. We go to the Eastern Long Island tomorrow for a week, then we come home for a week, and then we go to Michigan for two weeks. So similar kind of segments.
[03:04] Brian: I miss Eastern Long Island. Growing up in Long Island, I used to go out there with friends and stuff when I was younger, and now it's just like I don't know how you guys booked it, but it's, like, impossible to book anything out there now unless you do it way in advance.
[03:19] Jordan: Yeah, my younger brother and his wife get a house out there every summer.
[03:23] Brian: Oh, nice.
[03:25] Jordan: So we just kind of hop into their life for a week.
[03:29] Brian: Right.
[03:29] Jordan: So the whole family gets together, my parents, the whole deal. So it's like an annual family get together.
[03:35] Brian: That's great.
[03:35] Jordan: The house is big enough for everyone to just jump into the house and stay there for a week. So all the cousins get together.
[03:42] Brian: Beautiful.
[03:43] Jordan: And then Michigan is a bit more of, like, tourism, hangout less family. So I have been wrestling this week with these swings of motivation. I don't know how anyone else like listening. It's July, it's right in the middle, and I go back and forth between. I don't want to do anything. It's summertime. I want to go take a walk all the way to full days. Super exciting, big sales call pressure, and then back into the other swing. So I'm like a little I feel a little yoyoed out.
[04:20] Brian: Yeah. Do you feel like the motivation on the business still, or is it like summertime? Do you find that summertime like this? Actually, because I know that you and I are both super motivated about our businesses always. Right. And I know that historically and this was true even during the trip just now, I'm just constantly motivated to keep pushing things forward in the business, and I feel uncomfortable when I have a full day go by that I didn't do anything on the business. But does the summer ease that up for you at all? Do you feel more comfortable not working?
[05:00] Jordan: I want to feel like that, but when I think about the context of where the company is, the summer is actually incredibly important, because when we get toward Q Four, our customers are going to check out, right? Yeah. They'll have conversations, but especially now with the focus on much larger merchants, they're just going to be much more risk averse in Q Four. So it's really like, we got to get deals done between now and September, october at the latest, and then it turns into just conversations and then making sure that we get into the budgeting conversations that happen in February.
[05:47] Brian: Right.
[05:48] Jordan: So as much as I want to check out a little bit and ease up, it doesn't make sense to so maybe that's part of the yoyo of my natural tendency. The kids are home. They're not at school every day, so the schedules are different. I'm pulled toward hangout time, family less intense on work, but mentally the analysis is, oh, no, that's not the case at all. Now is the actual time to get things done, get people on the calendar. Our sales cycle is starting to look like it's 60 ish days, and so I just work backwards. And if it's July right now, we're starting to get pretty close to when customers are going to say, all right, this is cool, but we'll have this conversation in Q One.
[06:39] Brian: Yeah, for sure. And especially now that I'm home and I'm going to be home for a while. I have no other major trips planned until the fall. Now is the time to push, especially July into August. I keep saying this, but I see this as a turning point because we're going to really finish shipping the roadmap for Clarity Flow and we're always going to have more things to build after. But the list of key big tent pole features, they've already started to drop. I mean, the first one or not the first one, but one of them a big one. Mobile apps for iPhone and Android are out now. They just launched this week. Custom Domains had launched, actually, while I was away. We're also about to launch community spaces. We've got programs and then following on to that, we've got payments coming. So a whole string of shipping features before we get into all that stuff. Yeah, one, I don't know, I guess sort of like realization, deep Thought sort of idea while I was away about the nature of our work. This is like an ongoing conversation that we have and I know that our industry has, about calm work, work lifestyle, businesses, work life balance. I think that there is I'm mostly just speaking for myself here, obviously, but there's this tendency to feel like, guilty about going on vacation and still breaking open the laptop and getting those hours in and doing the time, shifting between hanging out with my kids and then opening the laptop and doing some work. And I do go through periods where I really do. Actually, one of my goals is to fully disconnect, but in this case it was like, again, I still had a lot of time, like downtime, can't sleep in the middle of the night time, I'm on a flight time. Or these are windows where I could do some work, but also just the nature of work itself. It's hard mentally, of course, and it takes a lot of creative energy, but it's not physically demanding work. It's still pretty relaxed and you're sitting.
[09:12] Jordan: In a nice safe environment on the Internet. Yes.
[09:17] Brian: And I guess in my case right now, it's not very phone call driven. That's going to change now that I'm home doing a lot more demo calls and things like that. But for the most part, my work is working on the product, which means I'm in deep work state in code and design. I'm just on the laptop working quietly with my headphones on, and if I'm communicating with my team, it's mostly texting or async messaging using Clarity Flow. But there were times during this trip where I was literally on a recliner chair in our resort area near this beautiful beach with my laptop open, getting work done, and it was like that person at work, it was fucking awesome. It literally felt like I was relaxing and I was being productive at the same time. I know that probably sounds ridiculous to a lot of people listening, but to me. I was like, Man, I feel pretty lucky right now because I love what I'm working on right now. I love the craft of making software. I'm sitting on a beautiful beach. The rest of the day. I'm hanging out with my kids. It doesn't really get better than this. And it's like, man, we are lucky to have this type of work because there are just so many people who the nature of their professional career is physically demanding. Like you're going into an office, you're commuting, or you're on sales calls nonstop, or you're building team calls nonstop, or.
[10:53] Jordan: Carrying things or physically the whole way.
[11:00] Brian: I don't know. It was just sort of it's good.
[11:03] Jordan: To have the perspective shift of going away and exploring these thoughts that you don't normally go into when you're in your regular routine. I will say, as you started talking, the way you described the guilt right. You said, there's something in our community, and it makes me feel guilty for working while I'm on vacation. So, you know, it is a product of your environment, your peer group, the people, and things you compare yourself to, because in my world, it is the exact opposite. So the things around me tells me that I should feel guilty if I'm not working while I'm away. And, you know, I saw someone that I respect and is very experienced and smart in the venture world, say, unfortunately, there's a direct correlation between the number of days your CEO takes off per year and the success of right. And so that's the narrative out there. And so I always feel guilty for not working enough, and I have a relatively healthy balance on, like, I take time off. I ran an errand this morning at 930. I'm not feeling guilty about that. I am feeling lucky that I get to make my own schedule, but there's a lot of pressure. So you're feeling it in one direction, I'm feeling another. It is an external stimulus that makes you feel a certain way, and it is really challenging to figure out your own path and what it means for you.
[12:47] Brian: Yeah, there's also a side of my business and work life right now that is frankly not ideal, and I hope it improves over the next year or so. I am still very much the bottleneck in my business, and I have a small team, and they do amazing work, especially while I was traveling. We still managed to ship, like, two major features, but this is not like it was with audience ops. For me right now, if I take a day off or a week off, a lot of stuff just stalls, literally progress on the features that we're building. My inbox is crazy every single morning with questions from my team. So that's actually the pressure that I feel literally on every morning basis is like, I have a full inbox of four or five different team members each have questions for me. I need to unblock them, and if I don't, they're either going to slow down or they can't complete their task. Right. It's just on me to keep the pipes flowing. Yeah. It feels like it's weird. I feel like that was a strength of mine in my previous businesses and audience ops. I literally touched to that business, like, 2 hours a month, and it ran without.
[14:19] Jordan: Right. Different thing.
[14:20] Brian: This is like I'm way in it, and I don't see a way out anytime soon. I mean, I love working on this business, but I do hope that it's not forever. Yeah. The push on this current roadmap, I feel like 612 months from now should look very different with things calmer, probably different team structure, and I am a little bit more relaxed. But right now, because it's also like a financial thing, it's like I'm paying my team to be productive. That expense depends on me working with them to keep the productivity going.
[15:04] Jordan: It's very interesting, the differences, because my pressure feels like it's maybe almost like a heavier weight that goes slower. It's a more slow drive down type of a pressure because it's like, okay, you have two to three years of runway. I don't do anything on the product and engineering side. And relatively speaking, in all the work that gets done in the company, I'm a fraction, a small fraction of the work that gets done. But the financial pressure to make sure things maintain a certain way, we don't need to do layoffs or just all that pressure. It's like a longer time frame. So it's not like, hey, this morning, you got to sprint right now. But it's like this grinding thing that's, like, you have to be patient, but it takes a long time, and there's pressure. So I have tried over the last six months or so to get into a healthy place where I'm making my own analysis of what we need to do and not letting the external pressure because there's no right way to do this. So some people are going toward, how do we just go all out and just get the growth we need so we can raise more money? Other people going toward profitability. It's, like, impossible. You can't just follow someone else's lead on this. We have to do it in a way that works for us. And so figuring that out has been a big challenge. The patience required feels a bit excruciating.
[16:50] Brian: The patience is unbelievable.
[16:53] Jordan: The hardest part to just maintain, you're going to go up and down. You're going to have the pessimistic optimistic roller coaster, but you got to get back up to the optimism and have that be the default and have that be the 80 and the pessimism be the 20, not the other way around.
[17:13] Brian: You know just as well as I that is so hard. It doesn't get easier. We've done this a while. It probably gets harder keeping a level head through the daily gut punches that you get when a churn comes in or when you get one comment from a customer. But then you get a win and it's just like it's sort of insane to deal with. Because I know that you've been going through this shift in strategy to the sales driven mid market approach. I've had this long roadmap, the shift to Clarity Flow coaches, that's not something that you can just sort of experiment with in one month and then call that experiment over within four weeks. This has been a year in the making and I'm deep into it. I can't just shift strategies on a dime here. So it's still a rocky road. While this process is going on, the signs still point to, like, I'm making the right strategic decisions here, but strategic decisions are one thing. It still takes a year to execute this stuff.
[18:26] Jordan: Yeah. And you need feedback. You need these little nuggets that feed the optimism along the way. The stuff on the pessimistic side just happens all the time. Someone leaves to go get a different job, a customer churns.
[18:40] Brian: Right.
[18:41] Jordan: This morning I did that stupid thing where I woke up and grabbed my phone first thing instead of my Kindle, and first email I read is, we're trying to get into this organization that would help us go to market and we got the client. It's like, no, maybe in six months from now. Those things are just everywhere. So the positive nuggets is I felt just as much relief from the self imposed pressure when we closed, like the last big deal, we closed another big one. Awesome. I felt just as good about the fact that the team got motivated by it and saw it as I did or the revenue or anything else because they needed the nugget of optimism too. They needed like, oh, we are on the right track. This shift actually does make sense. It's hard to even think about what everyone else's concerns. That's like, too much. Just trying to maintain my own. So let's go back around. You are in a different game all of a sudden. Have you ever done a native app before?
[19:50] Brian: No, never. This is the first time. Total learning experience. Yeah. So as of now, clarity Flow. You could search Clarity Flow on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Our app is there.
[20:03] Jordan: Overall, was it easier or harder than you expected?
[20:10] Brian: Okay, so before I even pulled the trigger on, like, yes, we're going to do a mobile app, I definitely built it up in my mind like, oh, that's a huge investment. Time, money, complexity. That's why I kept pushing it off for over two years. Yeah, there you go.
[20:29] Jordan: Hold on. My phone in the after.
[20:30] Brian: Yeah, you found it. There you go. I pushed it off for a long time because I built it up to be as big of a project. And then once I pulled the trigger and I scoped it out with my development team and I hired a mobile developer to work full time on this, it ended up being like, start to finish from the time I pulled the trigger to today. They entered the app stores yesterday, I think it's about ten weeks, maybe nine or ten weeks total. So that was one new full time mobile developer on that for about ten weeks and now he's going to ramp down to just sort of a maintenance level hours.
[21:14] Jordan: Plus.
[21:15] Brian: One of my Rails devs worked on the APIs for mobile. So there's basically two of them, plus myself working on the design and working with them on the whole thing. And it was basically two and a half month project. I can get into some of the weeds on how I scoped it out to make sure that we didn't go overboard on the scope because it's easy to do that. But I focused on basically the two key area because the thing is clarity flow worked basically fine in the mobile web browser before this. It still does. It's been mobile responsive since day one, okay? Because we constantly got requests for a native mobile app and those requests started to amplify even more now that we're focused on coaches and clients. So that's why I did pull the trigger and I really wanted to understand why do customers truly want what's the underlying need for a native mobile app when they could just use it on mobile anyway? On the web browser, the key things are number one, the recorder. Obviously recording a message on the mobile web browser definitely was slower to finish and upload. You can run into issues and also we're browser based so we couldn't use all the same browser tech that we're able to do on desktop on mobile. So just the clunkiness and the slowness of recording on mobile kind of sucked on the browser. Number two, literature recording is audio only. Like microphone only. Recordings was even harder to do in the mobile browser. Like you had to record a voice memo and then upload it. It was sort of a mess. Okay?
[23:03] Jordan: And that's because you just don't have access to the device in the same way.
[23:07] Brian: It's a little bit weird, but when you're on a mobile device, it's sort of easy to record a camera message, but it's not super easy to just record a microphone only message when you're in a browser environment, okay? By going to them. So that was like objective number one was like, if we're going to build a mobile app, we have to build a custom, amazing way, improved recording experience. And that was what we did. So now you can record and we upload in the background while you're recording, so it's much faster. And we're leveraging your on device camera and recording capabilities and we give you a voice recorder too, so you can do voice only messages all built into the mobile app. It really works amazingly well. You could edit your recordings all there in the app text as well. So that was piece number one was like much like it has to be a way better recording experience. And we did that. And the other thing was mobile push notifications. That's the other thing that our new app delivers. Before this, the only notifications that we were sending were email notifications. And in our app we give you a little pull down menu of events. But now with the app you can get SMS. No, you can get push notifications to your mobile device. Like when someone has sent a reply, when someone has watched your message, that goes to mobile push and you can control those settings. So those are like the two areas. Those are the only two things we want to build. Focus a lot on the recorder, add in push notifications, everything else in the app, when you're in it, it looks and feels like our web app. Because we are serving our web app in web views and we have a lot of other features in our app. We've got your message templates library, we've got automation workflows, onboarding clients. All that stuff is functionality in our app that is fully available and usable on mobile, just as it has always been. But we didn't have to build anything special for the mobile app in order for those features to work. You have access to all of our features in the mobile app, except most of them. You're just using our web app inside our mobile app. But when you click the button to start a new message, that's when the new mobile experience takes over. And now you're seeing our better recording.
[25:39] Jordan: And when one of your customers signs up, they're also asking their coaching clients to download the app. Yeah, okay, that's what will be the endpoint.
[25:51] Brian: So our customers and their clients can both use the same app and it gets them in one interesting, what do you call those?
[25:59] Jordan: What's your nomenclature? Is it like user? Customer? We have merchant shopper.
[26:05] Brian: So technically we call them respondent users, but more and more I just call them like clients or guests. Okay. Yeah. And the other type of user would be team members. Right. So if you're a company, or if you have multiple coaches on your team, you invite them as team members and you actually pay for them in our plans. But the clients and the guests, which are the same thing, those are free, unlimited. That's been a really difficult part about this business. For sure. Yes, the language an interesting thing about the mobile apps. Okay, so our apps are free in both app stores. They're going to be free forever. We're not making money in the app store. This is just about checking a big feature box for us. We are not sharing any revenue with Apple or Google and the way that we do that is we disable and hide all references to signing up, to paying, to upgrading, to managing your billing, all that stuff we had to hide. Or just say, like, this view is not available in the mobile app. Go to desktop if you want.
[27:25] Jordan: You don't like the idea of sharing 30% of your revenue?
[27:28] Brian: Not into it.
[27:30] Jordan: The fact that it's actually 30% is so wild.
[27:34] Brian: It's ridiculous.
[27:35] Jordan: It's so wild. I don't know how they've kept up with that.
[27:42] Brian: Again, I'm new to this whole routine, so I wanted to look at other apps to see how they handle it. The one that I kept looking at is Helpscout, because we're basically just a SaaS app, and we want to offer a mobile app client to our SaaS app users, right? So, like, helpscout. I pay for helpscout through their SAS. And then I also have the help. Scout Mobile app. I pay for notion, and I have the Notion mobile app. I don't pay for those through Apple's App store. So we did a lot of observing of what these other companies do, and we can see like, okay, they're just not showing me anything about signing up or upgrading when I'm in the mobile app. It's just a client. That was interesting. It took a little bit of work to work that out on the approval process. So this happened over the past week. We submitted it to Apple and Google. We submitted on Monday of this week. So like five days ago, and we got approved yesterday.
[28:46] Jordan: Okay, so no major bottleneck there.
[28:49] Brian: Apple was the one. Google approved us on the first try. It just took like four or five days to get it approved. Apple did reject us the first time, and the rejection was because we are a messaging or communications app. They look at us almost like a social networking app, and we have user generated content, and that brings a bunch of extra precautions that Apple wants us to go through. And so we actually had to build some. So this was, again, one of those cases where like, okay, they give us the rejection and I get super nervous because sort of the way that they worded the rejection seemed like they wanted us to build a whole lot of new systems in our app. So user generated content, so they're worried about objectionable content spam, but also the ability for users to block other users, the ability for users to hide or report inappropriate content. They didn't see any of those features in our app because frankly, we didn't have them because we've never had that problem. We've never had users. We don't do any moderation of stuff because frankly, the way that our users use our app is like private messaging.
[30:13] Jordan: Among their own clients.
[30:16] Brian: So that got me nervous at first when it came in, I was like, oh shit, they want us to build a whole moderation system. And reporting system cared for, like a.
[30:25] Jordan: Public version of an app.
[30:27] Brian: Yeah, we managed to resolve that within about two business days of work. And the way that we got around it was so they wanted us to make sure that every user is agreeing to our privacy terms and the fact that we will remove objectionable content within 24 hours. So we do have users go through a checkbox, agree to our terms on their way into the mobile app for the first time, we had to tweak the flow that a user sees. So you got to check this box. Okay, that was fine. And then the other thing was, I added a link on every message to report this content, and all that does is it launches our Help Scout contact form. Right.
[31:13] Jordan: But at least there's an avenue for it.
[31:15] Brian: Yeah, there's an avenue, and we have to show the user, like, we will take action on this within 24 hours. And that was the way around, and that was accepted. They saw those updates and they were like, that's good enough. And I was sort of prepared for like, okay, this might not be good enough for them, but let's just see if we can MVP this thing, just link to our contact form, report bad content, and maybe that'll be enough. And sure, it was it was okay.
[31:45] Jordan: So far, so good, but your relationship with Apple and Android has officially begun.
[31:53] Brian: Yeah. Cool. And, I mean, as I record this, they're they're in the App Store, but we haven't announced it publicly. We will on Monday. It'll be out by the time this comes out. So it'll be really interesting to obviously, everything is like, we've done a ton of testing on this stuff, but nothing's really tested until you put it into the hands of customers. So that'll be really interesting next week.
[32:14] Jordan: Okay, cool. All right, well, you got to report back on adoption if that is what you expected, and then marketing worthiness, right? Is it moving the needle when you email people back and say, hey, we have it now?
[32:30] Brian: Yeah. So I worked on yesterday and today I worked on a whole promo video. I recorded, like, a 1 minute video of the thing, and I put some extra work into that. I think it came out pretty good. And next week, I'll be blasting out the emails, social posts. We're going to put it into our new account. Onboarding flows really make it a centerpiece of like, this is because we get the question all the time, like, oh, you guys don't have a mobile app in our space and our competitors, it's table stakes, and we're one of the only ones that doesn't have a mobile app. And we've got it linked on our footer on the site now.
[33:05] Jordan: Right now, you need to make sure everyone else that's right.
[33:07] Brian: Yeah. Okay, cool.
[33:10] Jordan: Life at Rally is dominated by this shift in ideal customer profile and. Sales process. So up and down the whole team from SDR reaching out to people all the way to engineering in QA. It is dominated by this shift. So it means something a little bit different for everyone. Right now, the engineering and the product teams are doing a lot of work to unblock newly signed customers and get them launched. So we recently launched that big contract that I talked about. So we went through the sales process, signed the contract, and then worked to get them live. And that was obviously very kind of high stakes and high stress because we want to impress, we want things to go well. So that was a lot of pressure and felt great to launch. Well, I think it was earlier this week and it was about a week ago, because now this is what I mean by the feedback. Everyone in the company now sees the daily GMV number. It basically doubled overnight from one big merchant.
[34:23] Brian: Nice. What's the feedback on the product? It's working pretty smooth for them.
[34:28] Jordan: The product is working smoothly. And what I'm paying a lot of attention to is a lot of the feedback on how it is to work with the team, because that feels like it's going to be an important element of our success overall.
[34:42] Brian: Your team working with their team.
[34:44] Jordan: Yes. And how that's going? And we're being really attentive right now, myself and Rock and Jess at just watching and trying to learn, because right now we're in the midst of onboarding. But if you took the number of merchants that were onboarding and you increased it, let's just say you doubled it, it would feel out of control. And that's because we don't have all the systems in place to handle this level of service when we onboard. So the whole shift impacts everyone and we're trying to figure out where everyone should live. And now it's becoming obvious that the next gap, the next piece of the puzzle is an enterprise account executive, basically a professional salesperson. I have started to do the first call on sales, so I'm playing that role right now. I'm really enjoying it. It's a lot of fun and I've gotten better at the first call. So the initial call with the discovery and showing the product, an initial conversation, can you recap?
[35:59] Brian: How are those leads getting teed up for you? Where does the lead come from? They were like prospected and they've already responded and now they're ready for a call. Right, and then they come to you.
[36:09] Jordan: Yes. So typical would be our SDR sends an email and a LinkedIn message to a merchant and they respond with some interest. And he shows them a little bit more like, basically, here's your existing checkout. Here's what your checkout would look like using Rally. And here are some key features. Maybe they come back.
[36:29] Brian: And that SDR is doing it all over email right now.
[36:33] Jordan: It's email, it's phone and it's LinkedIn. It is multi touch multi.
[36:38] Brian: So the SDR is doing a bit of a first call before they get to you.
[36:44] Jordan: It can be a call, it can be text messages. It's like, however this person likes to communicate, you move around to get to that right spot. So you might email someone and then connect with them on LinkedIn. And turns out they don't reply to email, but they will reply to your LinkedIn message. And that's the right channel.
[37:02] Brian: I don't understand those people, but I know that they exist.
[37:06] Jordan: I saw a tweet today basically hating on this process, like, hey, I wanted to use your software. Cool, let's get on a call. I just want to know how much it is. Okay, let's do a call at the end of the first call. Okay? Now, you can hate on it all.
[37:19] Brian: You want, but this is how you.
[37:20] Jordan: Can hate on it all you want, right? The reason it exists is not just because the software company wants to charge more money. It's also it's probably more than anything, that's just the way people buy. This is how people buy. It is multi step. It is not their money. Their job and reputation is at stake. They might have made a recommendation last quarter that didn't work out. They are careful with this. This is their livelihood. It's not their business, it's their livelihood.
[37:52] Brian: Right? It's really been interesting to see the shift in clarity flow because I'm seeing a lot of that too, where it's like definitely I wouldn't say every customer, but there's definitely a significant segment of our users who hit our marketing site who just want to call or they want to send multiple long emails. And they're serious. They're sussing out all the features and exactly how they're going to implement it. And I get this wording a lot where they'll be like, I have a bunch of questions before I dive deeper into this because I could see from the outset this is going to be a big investment for me in terms of time and taking over running a key part of my business. And that was by design for me to move to clarity flow, that's a big difference from what it was with Zip message, was like, people just want to try this messaging app and then try it or love it or leave it. And clarity flow, it's a much slower thing and bigger decision and it's more.
[38:58] Jordan: Critical to the business, the whole deal. So we are experiencing the same thing. So that work. That yes, I am actually interested in a better checkout experience, but can you work with this and can I process with Ad Yen and will you integrate with this? And maybe I've had a bad experience with your competitor. Can you avoid X, Y and Z? Can you work with gift cards? Can you do buy online pickup in store?
[39:22] Brian: Right?
[39:23] Jordan: So that first level of qualification happens at the SDR level, and then it gets scheduled because things are looking good and they want to know more. And then there's the big first call on, all right, let's introduce our side of the team. It's usually myself and two other people. So it's three people from our side and one or two people from the Merchant side.
[39:46] Brian: When does pricing come into play? Is the SDR doing any qualification on like, okay, if you're going to get into this, it's going to start at X thousand.
[39:56] Jordan: No.
[40:01] Brian: They just have a feel like, all right, they're big enough, they're serious enough that they're not going to run away once they hear a dollar sign.
[40:08] Jordan: Yes, that's right. So we have information on who we're reaching out to.
[40:11] Brian: Right?
[40:11] Jordan: There are, like, public estimates, and they're rarely accurate, but they're directionally accurate. So if we have info from our databases that the merchant makes $40 million a year, it might be 20, it might be 60. It's not 300, and it's not zero. So it's like, okay, it's in the right ballpark. So price doesn't come up until usually, like, the third conversation. So it's the first conversation is, does this make any sense? We're going to talk for 30 minutes and then I'm going to understand whether or not I should bring this up to the stakeholders and the people involved. Then the second call is, this sounds great, but is this technically feasible with how we do things? And that's when Rock jumps on the call and their technical people jump on the call. And then it is a technical sales discovery call. And then after that, you get the business track going. Like, the ideal path is actually for both tracks to happen at the same time. So that on the technical call, if everything sounds good, we try to move forward. On the technical front, we say, let's set up a slack channel. Let's get you the Magento extension so you can install it on your testing environment store and start answering these questions for real instead of just over a call. And the deeper that can go, the better more confident we are on the business front.
[41:37] Brian: Sometimes it's almost like you're working in their test store and everything. Even during the sales process, it's like you're even starting the onboarding process.
[41:46] Jordan: Yes, you're moving forward. That's right. You're moving forward and you're gaining confidence, and you're exposing them to how our company works. And we have an advantage in that. We're good at that. So that's one of our strengths, and we want to expose that as much as possible because people are generally used to working with vendors that they don't like and they find annoying, and maybe they're out for themselves.
[42:09] Brian: That's just what happens. I'm getting pumped just like hearing you talk about this, because this is right around the corner, totally different types of sales and industry. But I'm getting into sales demos now, and I have them inbound coming, but I have not figured out the sequence and the optimal way to sell and onboard yet. It's still been like winging it and it's just exciting to hear you dial it in because I could see ways where I could. I know that our listeners probably feel the same way. Like there are nuggets and everything that you're talking about here that I know I'm going to be applying in my sales process.
[42:51] Jordan: Coming up here, we went through the sales process and lost a deal on an amazing merchant, which we would have killed for. And looking back, I am so mad that we didn't know then what we know now because it's so much better now and it's not surprising at all that we lost the deal because we didn't do the stuff the right way. So we've hired a go to market consultant and she has been the X factor in all of this. So that we're not learning all of it by a million mistakes because we don't have the time for that. We're learning it because of her experience. That is the truth. So all of these individual steps, all these different individual pieces on what to expect and what happens when, and then the dynamic nature of the process. So this week we had an amazing call. Phenomenal prospect can be an even bigger deal than our biggest so far. But when we got to that technical discovery call, they put a halt on the technical track and said, no slack channel, no install, no beta. We talk business first. So it's a slightly less ideal version of the process, but completely understandable. I basically don't want my team to go spend time on this and get excited about this if you're going to come at me with a price that we don't want to deal with. So I need a ballpark from you. I understand you can't give me a perfect proposal because you don't yet know all of the work that you need to do to accommodate our situation technically. And the other additional stuff that we will ask you to do that will make sense for us to pay above and beyond because we need a specific integration. You literally cannot give me the right price, but I need a ballpark before we go any further on that track. And that's almost like an experienced buyer, maybe with some scar tissue on previous experiences.
[44:53] Brian: Interesting. Yeah.
[44:56] Jordan: And then it's proposal and order form.
[44:58] Brian: And then you've got playbooks for each, right? Yes. I remember we had similar things in Audience Ops. We had a very standard process overall, but there were probably two or three different avatars of types of clients and the way that they buy and we handled them a little bit differently each time.
[45:22] Jordan: Now what we're doing is we are shifting all the way to the ground level. Right. So today, before this podcast, I did a call on HubSpot on the way. Our pipeline is set up because our HubSpot pipeline is set up for what made sense two months ago, which was we have these 30 to 40 opportunities. How do we make sure we know where each one stands? And now it's a fraction of that, but they're much bigger and go through a different process. So we have to change that and the data that goes along with each one. And now it feels like we're ready to hire a professional seller to come into the process.
[46:07] Brian: Yeah.
[46:10] Jordan: Like you said on your strategy shift, it is not a few weeks, it is months and months and months. But it's got to be done.
[46:20] Brian: Yeah, man, it's a long game. It really is exciting to hear these pieces come together, though. I thought I'd give an update on something I talked about probably a month or two ago. On the marketing side, we've started to overhaul how we do content, content marketing, SEO driven. And there's a much bigger open question about what is SEO in the AI world. Is Google Search even going to be a factor in the future? That's a legitimate question, but I still think that Google search is still our top channel for us, and we are going to continue pushing on that. We still get leads, clearly searching for Google and finding us. So we're going to keep doing that. But as I talked about a few weeks ago, I feel like it's a little ridiculous to just use the old way of doing things, which is like hire writers, 100% human writers, to write articles of several thousand words each. We're still producing the same output, but we're now over a month into this and we're on the Chat GPT train on this.
[47:42] Jordan: Okay. Are you actually using Chat GBT for the writing itself?
[47:47] Brian: A lot of it, yeah. We have published, as of today, I think we published seven new articles just in the month of June, which is way more than what we were only publishing, maybe three before that per month, if we're hiring a writer. Plus it's costing us several thousand dollars to do three. Now we have my one marketing assistant. She is driving. Like, I did some upfront keyword research in Ahrefs. We have a long list of keywords in a queue. She then has a whole process that just creates the brief, which that's not necessarily new. Like typically you would create a brief that you would hand to a writer. So the creation of that brief uses a lot of AI. There's a lot of steps in that. And then we continue the process from there. Still using AI to take the brief and develop out an article. I want to keep repeating this because it's not just like, press a button, have the AI write us a whole article. Each article is still taking her. It's still several hours of work for her to drive the AI to drive. Taking this topic, this outline these references going piece by piece. All right, write us a headline now. Write us an intro. Now write us the next section. Now. Let's edit that now. Let's put a human touch. Let's make sure that we're connecting this back to a key feature in Clarity Flow. Let's interlink these articles. That's still the human element. But the legwork of churning out 2000 3000 word articles is Chat GPT. And we ran the experiment where we hired a writer to write the same article that we also had the AI do and brutal. But it was abundantly clear that the AI one was actually better in terms of quality. Like the final result, after a few hours of working with the AI to get it to where we wanted to, it was just better. There was more useful information put together, better references, because we have our in house marketing person connecting the dots with our product and the use case and the problems. Whereas you hire like an external writer. They might have the gist of what Clarity Flow does, but they're not in here every day. They don't know exactly who we are serving and why. She's dialed it in now. So she's done like, seven or eight of these articles, gets a little bit more efficient each time we've got a really dialed in process for it. From a cost perspective and an efficiency perspective, we're able to publish at least twice as much from what we were able to do before at a fraction of the cost. And it's just an internal engine that we have up and running now. And if you look at our you can look at our blog, it's at Clarityflow.com Articles. I'll put this challenge out there. Like, roughly half the articles that you see on the home page of that page are from before, written by professional, high end writers, and roughly half of them are AI. And I challenge you, I don't think you'll be able to notice which ones are AI, which ones are human, because they're all pretty good, in my opinion. In terms of our marketing stack, I feel like that's been like the baseline. We should just have SEO driven content going at all times. That's our process for it. Now it's all documented. We can even hire more VAS to help with this. But it's going now I turn to, all right, what's next in the stack? In marketing, we're doing stuff with influencers and webinars and affiliates, but that whole thing is still just like cover keywords. We know their search volume for that is good for us. We should have pages for those. Let's keep churning those pages out. That's taken care of. But I think that this is more important, and that's brand content and audience, and I think that's becoming way more important now going forward in this AI world. Because, frankly, I think even the SEO stuff is becoming a little bit more of a short term play because I don't know that this type of traffic is still going to work the way it does now, a year from now, or two years from now. So I feel like us and most other SaaS companies should be investing more heavily now in brand content. So what I want to get into, I haven't had the bandwidth to do it, but I need to slot it in soon. We're going to start a new podcast where I am interviewing coaches, getting these conversations going. I'm in conversation with coaches anyway, just in customer research and stuff. But now we need to start to record high quality interviews with coaches, case studies with coaches, stories from how coaches run and grow their businesses, get those published as podcasts, as YouTube content, social media content, cross link, cross reference, cross quote these things, mix it in with our SEO content. That has to be a whole layer of high quality, just story driven brand content.
[53:36] Jordan: And that's what you mean by brand as compared to SEO keyword search driven content?
[53:43] Brian: Yeah. The SEO articles, I don't even care what hour or what day they come out, just get them up on the site. We just need to have them indexed. This is more like we just need to have interesting coaches. And I think that this goes for most SaaS businesses. Your customers are interested in hearing stories from other customers who are just like them. I mean, think about us. Like, we listen to podcasts of other entrepreneurs to hear their entrepreneurial story because that's interesting to us. We identify with them, they're like us. We want to hear that's relevant. Exactly the same thing with our customers. Coaches want to hear about other coaches. Probably ecommerce owners want to hear about ecommerce stories, right?
[54:33] Jordan: Yeah. So it never made sense to me to talk too much about ourselves. The only thing really talk about yourself is, okay, here's a feature and here's what it can do for you.
[54:42] Brian: Right.
[54:44] Jordan: And yeah, maybe now that we feel much more comfortable on the niche that we're targeting, we can then identify the content that that niche in particular wants to hear about. And that's just very different from general content on ecommerce best practices. There's too much of that out there.
[55:03] Brian: Yeah. Because I do think that we're growing our traffic. By the way, we're also literally seeing an increase in Google search traffic since we've been publishing this higher volume of articles. So it's still early, but I am starting to see that uptick in Google search, people have questions about whether you can publish SEO articles using AI and is it going to impact in our case, in our niche, we are seeing it. It's starting to work. It's early though. But I think long term to really grow the top of funnel and generally the whole reach of the brand, I think YouTube is going to play a huge part in that too. You can take an hour long interview with a coach, release it as a podcast, and then release it as like four different ten minute YouTube segments. You look at any popular podcast, right? Like Conan or like Joe Rogan or.
[56:10] Jordan: Any of these broken up into dozens pieces of content.
[56:14] Brian: That's how I consume those guys. I actually don't even subscribe to their podcasts. And if you look at the YouTube content, it'll be like Conan talking to Paul McCartney about this one interesting topic that gets me to click. And I'm going to watch that for twelve minutes on YouTube. Right, right.
[56:34] Jordan: And that was already he told about John Lennon's glasses.
[56:38] Brian: Yeah. That's so interesting. I got to hear what he has to say about his glasses. Right. One fourth of the hour long conversation that they had. Right. Like and so that's sort of the model that I'm thinking about going forward. Cool.
[56:52] Jordan: Well, you know what time it is for me. It's time to go do a sales call.
[56:57] Brian: There you go, buddy. Get it.
[56:58] Jordan: That's the right way to finish up Friday. Next week I'm out. I'll be at the beach.
[57:04] Brian: Hell yeah.
[57:04] Jordan: No podcast for me.
[57:06] Brian: Nice. All right.
[57:08] Jordan: Good stuff, man. Let's call it a day. Thanks everyone, for listening. Talk to you soon.
[57:13] Brian: Later, folks. Seen it.