How to Build Relationships in a Changed Sales Landscape

In our latest content series featuring conversations with B2B leaders, our VP of Marketing, Jonathan Koo, recently had the opportunity to sync with Wrapify’s Jason Hanson to discuss how gratitude can help sales professionals build relationships during different stages of the sales cycle while combating recent changes in the sales landscape. Listen to their conversation here!:

Editor’s Note: The transcript of their interview is below. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Jonathan Koo: Welcome to our new conversation series with B2B leaders. My name is Jonathan Koo, and I am the VP of Marketing at Thnks. Today I’m lucky to have Jason Hanson here, who’s the Director of Sales at Wrapify. 

Jason, thank you for joining us. I know Wrapify are early adopters of Thnks so, thank you for supporting us.

We’d love for you to give a little bit of background on yourself, and tell us what you and the team are up to these days. 

Jason Hanson: Awesome. Well, Jonathan—and I’m not saying this just because you invited me on—we are huge Thnks fans. I actually sent one a little bit ago, so love what you all are doing. 

At Wrapify, we are what I like to coin the largest and smartest gig economy ad platform. So, think of your Uber driver, Lyft driver, Postmates, DoorDash, or your average driver⁠—they download the Wrapify app to get paid to put ads on their cars. All these folks behind me, they give us money because we put their ads where they want them.

So we’re traditional out-of-home—that’s where we fit in the landscape. But with our technology, we’re able to actually measure attribution in the out-of-home space and then retarget the exposed audience. But that’s enough about me. I love what we’re doing here at Wrapify, but mainly it’s because of the awesome clients we get to work with.

One thing we believe in is surprise and delight and not just for the sake of the sale, because people can read through that. But to really just show our gratitude. So that’s why I’m excited that we can chat about this today because it’s something we believe in here at Wrapify. 

Jonathan: That’s amazing. Gratitude is obviously central to the ethos of Thnks. I think one of the challenges that maybe you’re encountering is adapting that sales process to selling virtually and especially utilizing gratitude and empathy in that sales process.

How are you and your team able to adapt to this new selling environment?

Jason: As I alluded to, what I appreciate about our leadership and something that comes from the top to my boss, who’s the CEO and founder of Wrapify, to myself and what we communicate to the team is a real nature of, not just looking for, “What’s in it for us?,” but really looking at, “How are we going to help our end customer bring business results?” 

But that translates to how we communicate to them throughout the sales process. So even before we were all working from home, selling virtually and selling face to face, if you weren’t selling with empathy then, when you were able to meet in-person, you can tell as a human being, if someone’s giving you something or doing something, you can see an ulterior motive. 

What we try to do, you know, pre-pandemic, during pandemic, and post is think of, “What can we do right now to help build that trust?,” because ultimately, business is trading value for hopefully value, and they’re not going to give you dollars unless they trust you. A part of building trust is not just showing up to a meeting on time and actually delivering results, but being human.  

What we’re doing now is considering how to establish that we’re real people beyond a pixel screen.

We used to fly all the time and meet people in person and you can see body language and communicate face-to-face⁠—you can establish that trust faster. So what we’re doing now is increasing the channels of communication. 

Now, you don’t want to bombard people. But what may have taken an email to set up that meeting⁠—then you meet in-person, you talk about your ideas, you follow up with a few emails to push it along⁠—takes even more screen-to-screen communication now. So we’re using a lot of video. Of course, I think we’re all on Zoom all the time, but there’s a lot of different video applications we use. 

Specifically with Thnks, I’m sure you can look in the system, and we were using it well before the pandemic, but our philosophy and how we use it hasn’t really changed much. Meaning, it has to fit the right situation. I’m not going to give someone tickets to a baseball game right now through your system, but I’ve been giving a lot of DoorDash certificates through Thnks because I know, like myself, a lot of people are ordering lunch or dinner⁠—food coming to them opposed to going out. 

So if you take a step back, it’s just being mindful of their situation, whether it was when we were meeting in-person or now, and how you can help them in their situation. Or it could be, “Here’s a free lunch,” or “Here’s a Starbucks latte that you can’t make at home.” Whatever you can do to help build that trust. 

Now, it’s going to be harder, and that’s just the facts. It’s going to be harder now that we can’t meet in-person. So you just have to do more of what you were doing before and if you weren’t doing it before⁠—meaning, if you weren’t being empathetic and caring before⁠—you really have to do that now and not just do it for the sake of surviving: do it because it makes us better as humanity.

I know, a long answer, but hopefully that communicates what we believe here at Wrapify and what we’re doing.   

Jonathan: I think you hit a lot of fantastic points. Being genuine in that empathy and  really putting some thought behind what you’re doing or what you’re sending, and really understanding each person’s individual situation and personalizing, whether it’s your outreach, or your messaging, or just the way that you’re interacting with that person is a crucial thing as part of the sales process. 

I know when I’m on the other end of it, feeling like that person that I’m talking to and that I’m meeting with understands where I’m coming from and my perspective, is huge for me. And so it’s a fantastic thing that you guys are doing over there at Wrapify. 

What are some ways that you’re utilizing empathy to interact with your team and your internal stakeholders? Obviously working in a remote environment and coaching is different in this type of atmosphere. How are you able to stay in touch and on top of  managing your team and making sure that they’re all on the same page?

Jason: That’s a great question. I mean we haven’t cracked the code there. Actually, in a lot of different circumstances, it’s with video calling. I was able to travel and  meet up with my team a lot more before, but in an odd sense, I almost feel more connected now to a lot of my team members, because we’re all facing this right now in some form or fashion. And the spectrum is different. Some people have been let go⁠—for some people, this has hit them harder.

Some people have family members who’ve gotten sick. It’s knowing that we’re not all experiencing it the same way, which is important. You can’t blanket statement that, “Hey, this hasn’t been that bad for me. I’m used to this,” with, “It shouldn’t be that bad for you.” So I’m not saying that, but what this has done is we’re all coming from the same starting point, if you will.

So everyone on my team has and is facing this pandemic. We’re all having to sell and communicate in a new way. So to say, “Oh, I have all the answers as the leader, because last time I went through a pandemic, here’s⁠—,” I haven’t done this before. It’s being open and transparent and I have conversations, more conversations with my team saying, “Hey, whatever I’m doing this week, I don’t know if it’s because it’s a holiday week and a lot of people checked out. It’s not working. Whatever I’m doing this week for new outreach is not hitting, so what are you doing? What are you doing that’s working this week? What copy are you using? What case studies are you sending?”

So I think this has allowed us to be more transparent and honest then you know, “Oh, I’m Mr. Leader. I have everything figured out, what have you done this week?” It’s, “No, we’re all in this together and we need to figure this out together. We need to walk through this together.” 

That’s one silver lining, but also in the same token, as I said, you can’t blanket statement, “Oh, everyone’s facing this the same way.” Even as you go out, some people aren’t wearing masks, some people are, and so you have to be empathetic with how people are viewing this and then try to connect with them and what they’re doing.

And that could even mean, you need to take an extra day off. Like even though you feel like you’ve always been off for these past two months because you’re home, you just really need to check out and don’t think of work. Don’t think of your goals and quota right now. Just go take a break. Even if it’s somewhere else in your home⁠—go to the living room for the day.  

Those are the things we’re thinking through on how to disconnect and how to use this time where we’re all connected on one problem to be more open and transparent and push each other and help each other. 

Jonathan: I think that’s a fantastic point.

Echoing that communication and transparency within the team has been super helpful for us as well. To build off of that, is there any kind of specific, tangible tactic that you and your team have found to be particularly beneficial in the virtual sales process? 

Jason: I mentioned video.

Video is key. If you’re not using video, and not just for new outreach, but what about video on the second outreach where maybe it was an email exchange and then you’re sending a video just saying, “Hey, this is a face to that email exchange and below this is a latte. I don’t know if you like lattes. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But, here’s one on me. 

I think one thing for us is James is big on just trying new things, and it allows us to be creative in our outreach⁠—things like video, definitely using Thnks in different ways.

I’ve even done it where I’ll pull $25 at DoorDash, or even a latte, pull the code and post it on LinkedIn just to give it away. I know it’s first come first serve on those links. I think just things like that. It’s not being afraid to try new things: that’s what’s helped us the most.

Jonathan: I think that’s a great strategy. The test and learn framework for your sales outreaches is crucial for learning, just as it is for marketing. I think that framework works really well, and like you were saying, a video is super effective because you can put a face to that person and that’s really a trigger to kickstart that relationship.

Once you know who the person is and you know what they look like it’s easier to, in your mind, build that person and strengthen that relationship similar to why in email signatures, a picture tends to increase reply rates. So it’s a great piece of advice.

Any time I’m speaking to a leader in their field, I love to get advice for people who may be earlier in their careers. Is there one piece of advice that you would give yourself maybe five or ten years ago, just starting off in your career, to help them as they move forward?

Jason: There are so many things I’d tell little Jason, and I’m sure there are so many things Jason, 10 years from now, wants to tell me.

One of the biggest things is, just from my vantage point and where I’ve grown the most, join a startup with a leader who’s hungry to grow. That has been game changing for me. It’s been super challenging and putting me in positions that I’m not qualified for.

For example, my second week at Wrapify, years ago I was sitting in a room with a CMO, and before that I was selling to SMBs. Not to discount that, but it pushes you to skip a few steps ahead in your abilities and what you think you could do. So that would be my biggest advice, is to work harder at joining a startup.

More importantly, look at the leaders that are there as people who are going to push you. I can remember James, the first meeting I was on, he was already critiquing me on ways I could get better. Even though that hurt at first, he wasn’t just saying, “Oh yeah, good job, good job. Here’s a cookie.” He was saying, “No, here are ways that you can pitch and present even better,” which I never really got before. So, look at your leader and join the startup young Jason. 

Jonathan: Those are two fantastic pieces of advice. I think the combination of mentorship and opportunity for growth are huge factors.

They played a role in my career growth. It sounds like for you, those are crucial pieces, so I would definitely echo those sentiments. 

I want to close out by doing something a little bit more fun⁠—some rapid fire questions if that’s okay with you. So maybe one-to-two sentence answers on these, but we’ll fire through them. Does that sound good? 

Jason: Yeah I’ll be brief. If I’m too long, just cut me off. I’ll try. It’s a weakness. 

Jonathan: Alright. What is your new favorite piece of technology? 

Jason: Apple Watch. I got it late in the game. I was hesitant, but I like it. 

Jonathan: I’ve been a hold out, so I’ll try it, given your recommendation. What’s your favorite quarantine series to binge watch?

Jason: The Office. It’s ten years old now, but no matter where I turn it on, like even if it’s in the middle of an episode, it brightens my day.

Jonathan: I think that’s a great one. I’ve rewatched that series way too many times to count. A B2B leader that you think more people should know about?

Jason: Ooh, that’s a tough one. There are so many. I’m going to give a blanket statement for B2B leaders in a smaller company⁠—follow the sales folks and marketing folks at Lead IQ. I’ve stolen a lot of their ideas. Jeremy over there⁠—I’ve been at conferences where he wears a Flamingo suit. What they do⁠—being authentic, real, prioritizing one-on-one communication⁠—and how they sell is amazing. They put all the information out there on LinkedIn. So follow all of the folks at Lead IQ.

Jonathan: That’s a fantastic resource and definitely going to check them out. New York or Chicago style pizza?

Jason: New York. 

Jonathan: That’s the right answer. A brand, B2B or otherwise, that you think deserves more attention? 

Jason: I say this one a lot, and I don’t know if they have them in New York, but one of my favorite brands is Trader Joe’s, and I think it goes back to the employees that work there. They seem to really love what they do, and they’re really knowledgeable about their products.

I think they’re a brand that doesn’t do traditional marketing like most, but their word of mouth is huge. 

Jonathan: That’s fantastic. Last question to wrap things up: is a hot dog a sandwich? 

Jason: It isn’t. When they have a hot dog eating contest, they don’t call it a sandwich eating contest.

That would be a separate contest. Joey Chestnut who grew up in Vallejo, the town  I’m living in, he is the hot dog eating champion, and I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say no, a hot dog is a hot dog. A sandwich is a sandwich. 

Jonathan: Sounds like a definitive answer from you, Jason. 

Jason: I was just thinking about that right before this interview, but yeah, I stand firm on it’s a hot dog.  

Jonathan: You gotta draw the line in the sand. Jason, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and hearing your insights. I’m looking forward to sharing them out with everyone, but thank you for joining us.

Jason: It was awesome. Thank you!

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