The 14th episode of the Mad Over Videos podcast features Michael Versluis, Chief Commercial Officer at Shleep.
With its corporate programs which include a mobile phone app, personalized assessments, sleep education through tailored workshops, individual and group sleep consultations, Shleep aims to help enhance the efficiency/performance of global companies and leaders through better sleep management.
Michael Versluis is the Chief Commercial Officer with more than 15 years of experience in sales and business development. He loves to scale SaaS companies from 0-5M and beyond, building predictable and scalable revenue systems.
Michael is also a sleep and performance expert, passionate about scaling the power of sleep to organizations all over the world.
In episode 14 of the MOV Podcast, we explored how Shleep uses videos in their marketing initiatives; and the Importance of videos for conversion optimization.
As a sleep and performance expert, Michael also spoke about how sleep is beneficial to our commercial wellbeing.
Here’s Pranav, Co-founder at guch, speaking to Michael.
Pranav Chimulkar: Hey guys, welcome to the MOV podcast by guch. Today is Episode 14. And I really wanted to bring this guest on, for a while I’ve been following his LinkedIn. And I followed his journey with the brand that he is at right now. They’re doing something really unique. And instead of me doing the introductions, and telling you a lot more about the guest and the brand that he represents. I would rather bring him on and then do the introductions after that. So let me add to the stream. Please welcome Michael From shleep.
Michael Versluis: Hey, morning. Hi Pranav, Thanks for having me.
Pranav Chimulkar: Hope you’re having a good day.
Michael Versluis: I am. It was a bit of a bumpy morning. Yeah, I just became a father like five months ago. So we’re still trying to find out the best rhythm for us and our daughter.
Pranav Chimulkar: Congratulations, first of all.
Michael Versluis: Thank you!
Pranav Chimulkar: Parenthood, I hope the baby is healthy and fine at this time.
Michael Versluis: Yeah, she’s doing well.
Pranav Chimulkar: So to start off, I like to know a little bit about you and your role. Before we jump into your role. Tell me a couple of sentences about you. What you’ve done till now. And what are your current roles?
Michael Versluis: Yeah, there you go. So I’m Michael, I’m the Chief Commercial Officer at the company called Shleep. We are a software company located in Amsterdam. And we sell what we refer to as a digital sleep coaching platform. We can dive a bit deeper into that later. But yeah, my journey so far was sales, international sales, I started my career as a financial advisor back in what was it like the early 2000s. And then move to software sales. And I soon found out that that was something that I really wanted to do, to stay active in. And over the last years, I’ve helped companies scale from zero to 2 million in ARR. And basically building out sales teams in a predictable scalable way, training SDRs and EES, and I’d like to be in the trenches myself, making cold calls and doing the heavy lifting. Yeah, what are yours to progress to, to help companies get a foothold in Europe, working for a company in the Bay Area, managing your business in Europe, and now just recently, beginning of the year, I started at Shleep.
Pranav Chimulkar: Nice. So I want to quickly jump on to the role that you represent, as it’s called a Chief Commercial Officer. Not such a widely used title, it’s relatively new for a lot of us. Again, we’ve been used to hearing titles like the chief revenue officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief sales officer for that matter, what exactly are the responsibilities of the Chief Commercial Officer, is a crossover of all these three?
Michael Versluis: Yes, by default, it is normally the Chief Commercial Officer is responsible for sales related activity. So, revenue generation, but also marketing these days. So they deflect themselves together, I mean, especially now sales and marketing should be more and more aligned, and to make it easier, well, we decided to create a role that combines or the responsibilities are merged when it comes to sales and marketing. So those are the two pillars. And then obviously, we have a lot of calls with the product and the other department that is tied into the commercial part of it because we do have a lot of clients who are using our platform. So we do have often sessions to talk about what we can improve there. But the responsible departments are sales and marketing. Right?
Pranav Chimulkar: Walk me through a day in your life like what is it like for a Chief Commercial Officer? What are the responsibilities and what are the activities that you generally undertake in your current role?
Michael Versluis: Well, that’s a good question. Currently, my week starts on Monday with the sales and marketing meeting, where everyone who has partially or full time active in sales and marketing is explaining their goals for that specific week. So we use Trello. And everyone has their own personal board where we create a wall, basically cards that we can follow up ourselves or distribute to co-workers or if we want to work together, we can assign them to each other. That’s where it starts. Obviously, from a revenue perspective, we have a budget goal for the year break down into quarters and into months. So we all split it up because it’s easier we get the sales marketing activities that my team needs to unfold. And then we have marketing activities where we have a superstar in marketing, Venus is explaining with her team, what the actions are on her site, and to get really good potential hiccups or obstacles or tough projects where we might need to huddle together on. But basically, that’s where we start during the week. And then we’re a small team, we’re 10-15 people. So right now, what we’re currently doing is we’re trying to make the best use of everyone’s talents. So normally, we would do way more than that, in terms of activities, but we try to funnel it down towards what everyone is good at. And right now I’m still liking to make cocktails, I enjoy making them. And I’m reasonably okay at it, doing it when it comes to the outcome. So we set it up where I can still make cold calls, and Wednesday, Thursday, Fridays, we have those days assigned, where i and my colleague are working on cold activities. I know Monday, Tuesday, we’re working mainly on the harder tasks. So those are the implementations or the software challenges that we’re facing that we need to deal with, like building sales dashboards or cleaning up Salesforce, working on opportunities and follow-ups. So basically, the first part of the week is the heavy lifting of the tasks that will take most likely longer than 60 minutes. And then during the rest of the remainder of the week. It’s hunting.
Pranav Chimulkar: That’s the case for a lot of people, right. So this podcast is about videos, we talk, we all go mad over videos. Yeah, that’s basically the reason why we do the podcast. And we’ll talk a lot about the brand and the activities that are linked to videos. But before that, I’d like to take a shot at this question. Because I’m sure things are gonna get serious, take a light one at the start. So I know your LinkedIn says you’re the Chief Commercial Officer at shleep, which is connected to like sleep and performance. So you’re a sleeping performance expert, and you’re a Chief Commercial Officer. I want to ask you, how is our sleep-related to our commercial? Well, right, we all know that sleep is related to our physical well being, and just focus, build up, and things like that. I mean, the more you sleep, get more pumped up for the next day, etc. If you don’t catch up on sleep, that’s what you lose out on. But how is sleep related to our commercial wellbeing?
Michael Versluis: Well, if we look at the definition of commercial well being, for me that is that you’re actually able to provide for your family, and you achieve your goals. From a commercial point of view. And being active in the commercial industry, which we are in SaaS, we can achieve goals right. Now, in order to achieve goals, we need to have realistic goals, those work, we look at historical data, we look at actual data and we make a forecast that we think is reasonable of what we can achieve. Now, once you have that, then it is you and your team or everyone in the company basically working towards those goals. But those goals are tough. It’s tough to achieve goals because they have to be aggressive. It should not be easily attained, but it should be realistic, though. But in order to be at your best, you need to be in balance, you need to be in sync right. And sleep is what we believe the foundation of well-being when we look at well-being. They’re mainly a couple of sections and if you make a breakdown- physical and mental health right, those are the first two pillars. But we believe that sleep, but sleep just the sleep itself is the foundation of well-being. Because if you do not sleep well, you’re less likely to eat well. You’re less likely to work out right and those are critical elements. So what we believe is that sleep is a foundation of your balance and well being in general. So how that relates to each other is that if you do sleep well, you are most likely to perform better, you will be more efficient. You’re basically a better version of yourself. And sleeping in general, like every person has a chronotype, right? We refer to it as a biorhythm or a circadian rhythm. That is basically our Mother Nature playing our part in our body. And we need to make sure that we listen to ourselves. And then when we retire, we should sleep. And well, we know what we should do for my ideal perspective, right. But the only problem is, is that the real world doesn’t.
Pranav Chimulkar: I was about to get to that. I mean we all know that we should be doing a certain things.
Michael Versluis: Yeah, that’s the hardest part. Yeah. So we need to find a balance. And so everyone has a rhythm. So everyone also is a prototype, when it comes to a sleeper, you have morning persons, you have night, person, or evening. And problem is that everyone has the number of hours of sleep that they should have. For me that by default is eight hours, that’s where I perform the best if I get that. Could be nine could be ten, could be six, depends per person. But the problem is, is that if you do not get that number per night, and you build up a sleep depth, so if you need aids, and you get seven for whatever reason, that means that that day, you’ve built up a sleeping death of one hour, which is okay, you can cover but if that is happening every single week of the day, then by the weekend, you’re a minus five. And this is where it becomes tricky. Because if you’re sleep-deprived, then you’re not a good version of yourself, you’re easily agitated, by default, you will eat 140 calories more every single day that you’re sleep-deprived, so it’s not healthy. But you make poor decisions. You’re in a bad state of mind where you shouldn’t want to be. You can easily compare it with being drunk, like someone who is sleep-deprived, works, and acts in the same way as someone who would have had six glasses of alcohol.
Pranav Chimulkar: That’s an interesting fact.
Michael Versluis: Yeah, yeah. And we as, as humans, we make 35,000 decisions a day, where like 200 to 300 are in our conscious level, but the other 34 k are in our subconscious level, those are the actions that we do not think about, right, like driving a car or lifting your hand to pick something up. But those are also the things that we could endanger other human beings or your family. Those are things that we’re wired at, in doing but yeah, for making bad decisions, and that is potentially dangerous for ourselves. But also for companies that were leading to less good decisions. So it is in our best interest to listen as well as we can to ourselves to get the amount of sleep per night that we need.
Pranav Chimulkar: So I think, it is very important and we’ve all been ignoring sleep as a superpower that you’re preaching to most leaders out there and not just leaders for everybody who’s working and it is important and especially because of pandemic we tend to burn out a lot more than our regular work lives and that we were spending times at home. I know, we’re cutting down on a lot of our commute time, etc. but then sometimes we also like don’t draw boundaries, and then we end up working for longer, sitting in one place and getting exhausted, right even without doing a lot of physical work, you’re mentally exhausted. Your brain also needs that kind of rest. And if it doesn’t get it, it’s going to affect you. Your performance in the days to come. Right. So overall, I think we all get the point. And I personally would like to make this meant to my sleep cycle. I think I’ve also been spending a little less time in bed trying to get myself some rest. But then I usually end up making up for that on the weekends. But I like you said it’s not a healthy habit to do. So try and pace it out, thank you for that, Michael.
Michael Versluis: Now you got it.
Pranav Chimulkar: So, let me quickly jump on to the topic that I want. So pandemic hit us somewhere towards the start of this year, right. It got serious by March. And the thing that I saw is most people in leadership in charge of spends on marketing on outbound activities immediately happened to go into their shells. They cut all their spending on marketing and commercial activities like any activation, any sort of communication to their consumers. Do you think it was a wise decision to do something like this? For most people?
Michael Versluis: Hmm, yeah, that’s a tough question. I talk often to people who are in that position, we have been in a position. And those decisions that companies and leaders have to take are not always the preferable decision. Like, people don’t want to stop spending money on stuff that they need, right. But it’s not always their decision to make, like, small companies like startups and scaleups have a group of investors backing them. And they have to be very careful with the forecast for the rest of the year. So what happens in the startup scene, at least in Amsterdam the startup scene, it said, a lot of investors, require a second forecast a COVID forecast where it was less likely that the initial numbers would be achieved. What happens then? Right, what happens if the business is not running as fast as planned? And where can we cut? Or can we freeze and we just had to be or everyone had to be more careful investing? Today asking me this question, I would say no, because we see businesses picking up again. However, in the period where COVID just started, I understand why this was happening. You just had to freeze like it was either decide to spend money on events or other budget allocations or allocated to potentially keeping staffed and then obviously, remaining of the employees is more important than other events. But I think it’s a case per case that you need to have a look at it. Because if you are investing a lot of hours in something that has a x payout, and there’s a software tool that you can use to increase your revenues to 3x then it might make sense to invest it because you would end up with more money by the end of the season. So I think it depends on the cases, but yeah, I understand why it has happened. Whether it’s a wise decision, it’s hard to say.
Pranav Chimulkar: It’s easier, easier to look back and say- hey, we could have done these many campaigns or touchpoints when most of our other competitors weren’t really communicating like they were not communicating with their consumers. It was like an open field for me to go out and take that advantage. But as all said, there’s uncertainty in our minds and then we’re not able to make that decision whether or not a business is going to pick up or whether we are going to get the relevant necessary returns on the investment that we’re making. Yeah. That said, I mean, now that we are slowly getting to a stage where the business is picking up and people have started spending again, they are doing a lot more communications. There, people are advertising a lot of commercials coming out on TV and on internet ads, etc. But for traditional sales leaders, it is a lot about trade shows, etc. Where you go and talk to people in person etc. What do you think generally leaders in organizations and yourself I mean, are people successful at trying and finding a replacement for these offline activations at trade shows or the travel in general, where anybody likes to close a sale. You know, that if you’re in front of that person in the same room, you can handshake and I think you can connect better and it becomes a lot easier. In today’s day when that is not possible. We are all distant and working from our own homes. Do you think we’ve found successful replacements for cases like this?
Michael Versluis: Well, we have to because, I mean, I miss it, I miss events, I love events. And like you said I love looking at a person in the eye drinking beer, build trust and talk business but sometimes also not talk about business and just talk about the good parts in life and without even knowing, get to a level where you trust each other and where you can easier pitch your products should it become to that point. So I think events are very valuable for those who know how to work those events. Replacing events, we have to also think about our future in a way where events are not possible anymore. Right? Like, a handshake, I don’t think that will be coming back anytime soon. But more importantly, it might happen that physical events are not going to happen for the next year or two or three, what then right? Because it was still is a very effective way of generating leads, qualified leads, but they came at a price as well, right? Like every proper event, where you would be able to meet up people would cost at least 10k or 15k. Or even more than that. So the cost of opportunity was always high, has always been high. But if you are in a software business where your ARV per month is around 10 k, then it makes sense. Because when the deal would equal a successful event, not that events were only revenue-generating, it’s also branding and being out there. But I think that if you’re a good sales leader, you already have different options. And I think these days, it’s more important to build a brand, to write good copy, being out there, building a foundation of trust in the digital highway, meaning like digital events, content, white papers, case studies, like anything relevant for your brand and company and being out there and share it with this sort of getting the biggest reach is even more effective when it comes to the number of leads you can generate it from. But it’s also a good time to build your brand and make people aware of your company. So I don’t think it’s perfect, a bad thing, even though did I personally miss it. I think it accelerates the company’s flexibility to have another option on the table. And for those companies who were not doing this, they now have to, and the ones that sucked at it, they just stopped with existing and I think it is also like the right of the strongest rights, or some kind of evolution taking place. As a moment. And yeah, I think it’s for the better.
Pranav Chimulkar: As you said, it’s not just the business events that you miss. It’s also those concerts that you would attend like music, concerts, etc. has also cut down because of some you cannot, you cannot go to the movies, you cannot maybe roam around in malls anymore. Things like that have cut down. So I think the physical touch and face to face conversations have been affected. But then I think one significant observation that I’ve made is, with all the other things that you mentioned, the video has come out as one of the important aspects of how things are changing, right? You’re talking about virtual events, you’re talking about virtual meetings, you’re doing a lot more zoom calls, Skype calls, I don’t know what Google meets, and if there are others, and then there are a lot of these podcasts. So Mad Over Videos started as a physical event last year in Bangalore, and this year, we were not able to do this in the offline setting. So we decided to do a podcast right now. And then maybe hopefully, this can evolve into something much bigger, like a global event. So the whole idea is to like connect with more people significantly, it has become easier as well like we are connected to our screens right now. It would have been very difficult for you to you and me to be in the same room. Considering you’re in the Netherlands, I’m in India right now. But I think this is bridging that gap. And I see that a lot more people are producing more content in general, right? Be it for sales, whether be it, product guys, we’ve been in talks with a lot of product teams, customer success teams who’ve been producing video content, because they don’t want to miss out on those touchpoints. And I want to understand, typically pre-pandemic, this is what the expectations from the marketing team would be right? You would have an in-house team that will look at content for all the organization’s needs. Do you think and agree that like content is everybody’s or marketing is everybody’s job in the organization and have many times that certain pieces of content need certain subject matter experts whether if you’re doing something related to sales, we should have people who front sales for the organization or be a part of those videos and the responsibility has to be on them. The onus has to be on that particular team, whether it is sales for this product, and the marketing team could possibly be the philosophy like they could facilitate this process.
Michael Versluis: Ah, yeah, I totally agree. I mean, writing copy and content is now the way and most important way of building your company. Yes, obviously, sales are key. You need to close deals as a company, but a stream of leads is more important because it’s easier to close them when there’s a certain mood already that the companies are ready to invest, right? Like, whenever a startup starts like after five years, they should get 70% to 80% of their leads coming from inbound and outbound, right. So I think writing copy and content is the way to do so. We ourselves are hosting a lot of webinars and workshops, that in this case, our CEO. And we do that free of charge. Marketing is facilitating and helping up with writing the content. And the topics are from a scientific point of view from sleep, obviously, but anything around that is dealt by, by marketing, and even clients’ successes, is helping to facilitate those webinars. We post three, four times a week, as a company, about relevant topics that we believe are important to share, not always about us. But more importantly, also about what is in the market, what do we see as thought leaders are important for people to be aware of and for our followers to know. And while doing that, we’re actually gaining a lot of followers. And we recently had a lot of followers in the month of September, while looking at the content that we posted. It was more about stuff that we’ve seen in the market, right? Not per se about us. So I think it’s very important also for companies to be aware that it’s not posting about yourself, or it is posting about what people would care about and what you believe your ideal customer profile cares about. And you can create as much content as you’d like. But it needs to be good, it needs to be helpful, people need to have something about it, like can do something with like, like maybe one takeaway or learn something from it or make them look at something from a different point of view than they would do before, like something catchy. And I think as long as you’re doing that, like helping people lead with content, and then you’re doing a good job. And while doing so you are making more people aware of your product, not per se that you’re pitching about, but the people are learning about your company brand and your name. And as long as you keep doing that repeatedly, in a positive way. At some moment, it’s okay to pitch. If they have said that they want to learn more about it. But not before that, we should be careful. Like back in the day, we would like to sell at any given moment. I think it’s a good thing that we’re not doing that anymore. Some companies still do, obviously. But we should teach and learn. And as the moment comes people would like to learn more, then they’ll join the sales cycle, but not before that moment.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, so I think you correctly mentioned that a lot of content that you end up producing is possibly even selling self-help, where people find value in that or they get entertained, and then they understand- okay, this is useful for me or this made me laugh, or this made me smile, I learned a thing from this and then they happen to have some soft corner towards the brand that produces as well. Instead of trying to sell them in their face, this is a far better strategy when it comes to influencing your target profiles. Right. That said, I want to understand because you said you did a lot of these funding pieces that you’ve done in the past continue to bring you inbound. Do you think your outbound strategies have changed? Have you seen your initiatives to reach out to people? Has video clipped into outbound stats?
Michael Versluis: Yeah, video is now a critical part of my outbound strategies. For the reason like you mentioned this as well before is that for events you had to wait to build trust pretty fast. And one of the reasons why I personally like it because I could look at the other person, it’s like playing poker as well, right? I prefer live poker over online poker because you just get more information that you can process and use your advantage. Well, back in the day, I’d be sending many emails for years to different companies. And the response rates back in the day were pretty high. Aaron Ross preaches that back in the day referral requests with somewhere between 11%. And that was true, but looking at that, maybe 10 years ago versus now. And it might be different because I’m working in the HR industry, but they go down, they drop. And I’ve seen that with my previous employer as well. The traditional email is not per se that effective anymore as itself unless you hyper personalize that approach. So those masks, spraying pay email strategies. I think it’s good that they’re fading out in the way they were designed. And they’re pushing us to make a better sequence and a more personalized sequence with many steps like maybe 10, 15, maybe up to 20 different steps over a time-lapse of two, three months. And of those steps could be a cold call could be a LinkedIn request a message, an email, yes, still, but more personalized than before. So yes, video is part of my content strategy. Not always the first message, the first step, sometimes it is, but more importantly. It’s later, it’s becoming more valuable. So maybe it’s maybe step three or four. But yes, videos, definitely part of it. And it’s awkward. Sometimes. I gotta be honest, like, the last week, I had to do a video and I took 12 shots of that video, I had to do it 12 times over because I was just not satisfied with what came out of it. And it made me realize I didn’t send the video, then I ended up sending an email. So it was a bad day for me, I gave in too easily and these days exists as well. And normally it’s okay, but looking at it the video was way too long. I did a product demo with a video for over half an hour. And that’s just not cool. So I realized that they should be way shorter than that. And they normally are.
Pranav Chimulkar: I mean, you would have one shot where you do it in person, with the person now. Yeah, but if you could do 12 retakes, right. Yeah, you can still get it right and tell you to not stop. You could have done it till you are satisfied.
Michael Versluis: Yes. Yeah, gives you some advantages as well. I’m not sure if it’s a benefit, I don’t know. Because it does cost less time. But yes, those are the perks I guess, that we have these days in the digital era. But video is critical for the reason that you build trust faster because people can still look at you, even though it’s digital. But I like it. Personally, just so you know, I think it’s good that people and companies are doing it.
Pranav Chimulkar: Awesome. I mean, I just happened to come across this post yesterday on LinkedIn, by one of our previous episode guests, Nick Bennett, who’s Director of Marketing at logz.lo that happened to say that it’s very frustrating when somebody at the company, who’s at a higher level than you, if you want to be trying out something new, says something like, Hey, this is how we’ve been doing things all the while. And it’s very hard to question how things are done in the organization. But that said as you said, there are progressive leaders like yourself, who are taking the effort to make those changes to adapt to these times and willing to change their ways and means to do things in a certain way. That said, I feel like you’ve correctly mentioned that most sales guys and most SDRs have become over-reliant on email, right? It’s overdone. And they typically, at this point in time, I’ve seen a lot of them expect to only do calls where the other person is expecting them to give them a call, right. Ready for them to talk to them. Which leads to something called conversation entropy, a study that says yes to pick up a conversation with someone that you come across, but now, do you think if we were to continue down that road, a lot of our communications skills in our teams would go down and the ability to pick up a conversation with someone new to put yourself out in the open book, would that take a hit?
Michael Versluis: Well, I think it’s our job as sales leaders to prevent that from happening. Yes, there are going to be companies where that will happen. But I hope and all fights for it that they’re not the vast majority of the companies have the right people in the right place that prevent that from happening. I mean, cold calling is far from that, it has been very effective and remains. So for me, I love making cold calls, because I love acting outside of my comfort zone. But looking back on why I like it is because I had a manager back in the day who liked it. And he taught me in a very well, I was trying to find the right word but disarming way that this could be fun. You could be completely yourself, try to make an appointment with whoever you want to make an appointment with. And it’s okay to fail, you most likely fail like 90% of the time, you will get a no and you know what that actually is Okay. It’s part of the job. It is how you deal with No’s and if you just accept that this will happen then it’s fine. What you need to do is you need to learn, it would be wise if you would make cold calls often is to learn from a cold call that is going well. What what did you do? Well, let’s just decipher what happened there. And look at that conversation. Because conversations they didn’t matter like true combos. That brings deals, not meeting sets, like like, you have SDRs where a meeting is a deliverable. And then there’s a no show or a meeting has happened and another person is making the call and then this guy thinks or woman thinks what is this, right? A true compensation is more important than a book meeting because the quality of a true conversation is as good because, it’s honest, it’s happening, you can ask questions that you are asking a dead moment that would be either qualifying that person or not because qualifying is also fine. But there are better outcomes coming from conversations than just meeting status as a deliverable. I think it remains very important to be able to cold call also for the person to know how to deal with no’s, and it’s not always easy, you need to learn what you need to do in such situations. But these situations need to happen, right, you need to make sure that you are in an environment where this is happening often. Because it’s brain training. And it is dealing with objections. Like if you’re in one industry, you’re selling one specific product and you’re selling it to one specific or a couple of personas, then you will face objections, but more often those objections could be similar. Either I already have a vendor or Yes, might be interesting, but why me, Why now? Like, like those questions you can train on it. And yeah, as long as you keep training and learning what worked well, and what didn’t, you become slightly better at it.
Pranav Chimulkar: And you also find I feel you also find different ways, innovative ways to like reach out, right? I mean, the kind of impression that you make the first time, even before you book a meeting before you start having a conversation, the brand that you want to talk to, or the person on the other side has already made up their perception about you. Right. So it’s very important, the kind of impression that we made, I want to play this interesting video for you to have a look. This is one of my LinkedIn connections, named Ryan Scalera has been out. So he wanted to book a meeting with the gong team. And he came up with a rap video to send it to these guys, a personalized rap video. And then he sent that out and at the end of it, everyone on the gong team was like, interacting on this post and they were like, Hey, you should take this meeting. So imagine those many numbers of people now are evangelists for Ryan inside Gong, and wanting the person intended to take that meeting. You see the kind of force that is behind Ryan to get a meeting and I’m pretty sure you would have I would like to play that video for you.
So what do you think?
Michael Versluis: Yeah, it’s perfect. It’s well done, very well made.
Pranav Chimulkar: So everybody on the team, I mean, I’ve been seeing that post for a while now. And it’s full of comments. I mean, people from Gong have commented saying that, hey, this is the most innovative outreach that they have seen. I mean, this is just one, there are so many other things that are possible, you can innovate. And he’s used a video to his advantage here. And he got to the person that he wanted to talk to. So what’s better than that? Right?
Michael Versluis: It’s perfect. It’s how business should be. Like, it’s good, too. I mean, everyone is reaching out, like, five days a week from morning 8 am until five, six, and people receive a lot of crap. There’s like the tons of emails that people receive, it’s ridiculous. So a good pattern interrupts in a fun way is even better. That will make people listen. It’s like the gap selling is awesome. And I do believe that there might be something for these guys, if they incorporate that would be even better. Because Gong is pretty cool. I like them. And we spoke about not pitching about your product I wasn’t aware of Gong, like, what was it like two years ago, I didn’t even know him. But over time, I saw content from them. His team are grading great content and like the valuable information of all those conversations that they analyze, and they share with you for free. It’s just great because it’s the best CTA in emails. For four years, I’ve been using something that that I thought was working well. And then I saw something from them. And it was about not demanding time from someone in the first email or wanting to contact but make a step in between about, ask if they would be open to learning more, and that there’s just one small thing and that increased my response rates with 16% with just a minor change coming from them. So ever since that moment, that is awesome. So I kept following their content and their grades. And also he is doing an awesome job with gap selling in those. There are live videos where people can start selling to him. Um, I think that gong should definitely look into options to even keep evolving your products, with new futures. And if there’s someone in a fun way trying to get a meeting, then, by all means, this guy should definitely deserve a meeting, after all the hours and times he might have spent on making a video but yeah, it’s a video. That’s possible these days.
Pranav Chimulkar: Absolutely. Absolutely. I want to understand in detail about shleep using videos to the benefits. What are the regular video initiatives that you generally do? Like, at the company?
Michael Versluis: Right, so um, for me personally, those are videos that I use in the buying process. So we have a customer journey and on that customer journey at given moments, I send a video whether it’s a follow-up or a recap of a meeting or thanking someone for connecting with me. It could be different reasons where that moment think that that video is needed. We use outreach. So right now we have specific email campaigns. And part of that campaign is a video SAP. So that’s for me personally on the sales side. Then as a company, we create a lot of videos with our CEO. She would address certain topics around the topic of sleep. So we have webinars. We also have a content library with over 150 videos made in the past for our existing clients, but also for our new clients who would like to learn more about specific topics around sleep.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah.
Michael Versluis: So that’s where we currently are using it. So we have every two weeks a webinar, a free webinar for everyone to tune into. And that’s also a video, we use zoom. Either sometimes webinars or the old school zoom, where we can be a little bit more interactive because sometimes it helps if there’s a big audience to you do not unmute everyone or mute everyone, it’s a pretty laborious job. Sometimes it gets with a smaller session to have everyone’s mic open to increase the interaction. And then, yeah, that’s where we mostly are using it. And then also, when we’ve had webinars or certain events for companies, we create a female video with lock-in details for the company to review specific material that they think and share internally. Because not everyone might make it in terms of timing or different time zones. So we create videos that they can circulate internally.
Pranav Chimulkar: We do speak a lot about these internal-facing content pieces for our internal stakeholders in the center of that, right. Yeah, I think it’s, I mean, in today’s time, it’s hard to keep your sales force motivated and the drive-in them going right, it’s hard because everybody goes through a lot back at home with their family and things like that. It’s hard to concentrate and have the same kind of drive that you have when you’re surrounded by other people constantly making calls replying to emails, etc. and you’re on top but then when you’re in a room alone in front of your laptop and trying to do this, it’s hard. So, sales teams need this motivation boost every now and then and what better I mean, in today’s time of when you cannot meet them, you could possibly do training and onboarding videos with them trying to ensure that their morale is up or less are sending them short bursts of motivation. They are way right.
Michael Versluis: Yes, definitely. Yeah, I think that that’s critical. So whenever we kick off a pilot with an enterprise or mid-market company then we often try to see if the CEO or someone in the management board could just launch a quick video say one-two minutes to explain the value of a pilot and we see that that increases adoption so it’s just a one or two minute video but it can have such an important impact. So yeah, I mean videos, it’s critical these days.
Pranav Chimulkar: And I think a part of your expertise also lies in conversion optimization, right. I’ve seen that on your profile that you’ve worked on that front as well. How important it is to use the right medium there? Video, I feel is the right medium there for two different purposes. One is when you land on a page, the person might land there from seeing an ad, might have done a Google search and come there, or possibly would have typed the address because he’s seen it somewhere else or he’s heard it from someone. Now the expectations are different when you land on a page on your website, and if at all, he or she is not able to understand what the offering is or doesn’t get what he or she is looking for in the first few seconds, you are about to lose him. Right? How important do you think videos play a role there in order to improve that experience, that landing page experience? That is my first part of the question. And the second part is once they visit and they go back you could retarget them through I don’t know display ads or on social networks you follow them through the pixels that you track. Is it worthy enough to send, I’m not talking about small ticket sizes like small lifetime value products but then I’m talking about times when a personalized video could make sense if the deal sizes higher. So these are my two questions the landing page experience and the personalized retargeting experience. What do you think? What kind of role do videos play there?
Michael Versluis: A picture says more than 1000 words is something that sticks still with me. And I think we need to be careful with understanding what users we are dealing with. What type of user is it during the day is during the evenings, like during evenings, videos go down effectiveness because sometimes people are with families and, or in locations where they cannot press them in play, but during office hours, people are behind your desk, it’s easier to play a video. So if it would be a desktop visitor, I then safely can or most likely can assume that this might happen. For the vast majority during the day, I would use video as an explainer video but short and crisp, like less, maybe even less than one minute about the value prop like why should they care, like, like addressing the pain that they most likely have and capitalize on that. So yes, I would definitely use video as an explainer. But at the same time, you should also have a short written piece of content to explain because when it comes to mobile are not always able to play a video and then you have lost their visits, basically, because they count play, and they don’t scroll further. And that’s a pity. So with my previous employer, we were all about testing, like AI testing and ABN testing to see what works and I fully believe in, if you have to traffic in split testing, or more different versions of your webpage to learn what your user thinks is valuable. But that can only be done if you have decent traffic. So if you’re a startup or scale-up and you don’t have that traffic, then I think you should just test, you can nga or whatever analytics tool you use, you can measure the number of people coming on your page, look at the length that they saved your page, and look at what sections they interact with and try to find steps that you can then later optimize. So you need to box to it on your web page and see what is working well what is not. There are these tools like hotjar, or other heat mapping tools where you can find the interaction that people have with mouse clicks or hovering over certain hamburger menus and you’re able to track it back are pretty reasonable. So once you do that, you can find out what is working well and what is not. And I would always test and learn like, Who are we to tell, what’s working well, and what isn’t? It’s our clients that that make that decision for us. See if it works well, if it doesn’t, take it out and try it again with something else. But just keep thinking about them and not like thinking about their problems and think about why they should interact with you. So yeah, I think it’s very important to use video but at the right time.
Pranav Chimulkar: Okay, that said, I’m just going through the properties on YouTube and on LinkedIn, etc. Where shleep puts out its content. I happened to see the YouTube channel, the kind of videos that you did have a bunch of them with the CEO, talking about shleep, and sleep in general. One place where I feel, as an outsider that shleep does more content is around their customers, right? When they’re putting their stories out. I think that’s where I mean, you could do a lot more and then generally because sleep is such a thing that every single person, whether being a leader in an organization or not, relates to. I mean, you show me one person in this world doesn’t have to sleep and he still goes to survive. So this is such a relatable topic that I see so much user-generated content that is possible, right? Which can be done. So I was looking at if shleep had done something like this, and I came across an interesting video, or rather a series of videos that I’d like to play for you. This is for everybody else who’s watching. This is not put out by shleep. And I’d still like to show you, the video and Michael I’d also want you to look at this short 30-second clip that I picked up for the podcast. This is a Tik Tok challenge that has been doing rounds for a while called #sleepchallenge and has nothing to do with the brand. What do you think of that?
Michael Versluis: I love Tik Tok videos and those challenges are fun to watch. Ah, it’s pretty serious though for some people who actually have that disease. It can be dangerous. But I get it. It’s pretty fun to watch it.
Pranav Chimulkar: Absolutely. So this came out when I was five, trying to look for videos around sleep. And this doesn’t like to have any connection with the brand. It is actually a misheard lyric. The actual lyric is a snake. And not Shleep. It’s snake, the title of the song is Snake. It’s by an artist called Lil Keed. Lil Keed is the name of the artist and it’s viral, it’s out there for you to go and check out I mean, such an opportunity for a brand like shleep to also participate in something like this, and then engage with audiences on a larger scale. I guess if that makes sense.
Michael Versluis: Yes, we’re actually right now working on creating a song list with songs related to sleep that people could use. So we’re starting a Spotify account here.
Pranav Chimulkar: So I actually have Michael, I went to sleep to one one of your playlist on Spotify. I think it was a really well-done playlist, I think, put me to sleep in 20 minutes or so. I mean, that’s great. Yeah. Yeah, just maybe four tracks. And I find the difference, right. So brilliant, going on Spotify, creating a playlist, such a brilliant move. Yeah, it was an awesome idea. Who was the end of this campaign? Tell me more about this.
Michael Versluis: Ah, that was Venus, I think and I don’t know who else was involved but might have been else as well. But now Venus, our marketing manager, she’s a superstar unless she gathered from everyone in our company. So there was a challenge on slack to provide as many songs as possible. And it’s actually still ongoing. So I’ll use this song as a fun way to add it to that list. Now that people might fall asleep faster, but this is definitely something that we would have to look into. Because if something is is happening, then it might be handy to make use of it. Yeah.
Pranav Chimulkar: I want to know, this question. Again, I ask most of my guests. We all look at our team members, we are looking at the content that we put out. But then there are always people outside your organization that you feel do so well at content at LinkedIn that they produce. Who are the marketing and revenue professionals or leaders that you see in your field that you think is crushing it on LinkedIn, with the video?
Michael Versluis: With video?
Pranav Chimulkar: In general, I mean, people who put out great content, who inspire you to do better content for yourselves?
Michael Versluis: Yeah, well, that’s two ways. I guess I always look at companies who are producing content and obviously, like the companies like Outreach and Gong are the top tier of the pyramid, which is something to aspire for, but not very likely to be at, next month, or next year even. But from my personal point of view, I love to learn about sales. I like sales, I am in many sales, revenue groups like revenue collective and rep genius and other groups like that. So I like to learn from other professionals who are in the same job as I am. And what I personally like at the moment is watching folks from connecting sell, make live cold calls on Twitch and on YouTube. So just recently, I was watching it down creating videos and it’s not like an edited video. It’s just a raw image of them making cold calls while everyone is watching. And that I think is, you need to have a good heart to make those calls because it can imagine it must be awkward. It’s time sometimes to just do that out in front of open for everyone. So I respect that and yeah, actually thinking about doing that making those calls myself. We have a larger audience online for people to tune into. So yeah, for me, the guys that connect and so on just recently, I was watching Ryan Reiser do that, with Twitch circle, I think it’s called the students of sales, I really appreciate that people, putting them out there and making a difference. I think that that’s an important takeaway for many people like me.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, yeah. My last question to you, before we wrap this conversation. It has been such a restrictive conversation, lots to look back and reflect on is, what kind of goals you have set for yourself and for the company? For the remainder of the year and the next year? With things changing every other day, I would say, How are you adapting? How are you planning to build a roadmap for yourself, for the company, and is video gonna be again, again, I’m being selfish here and I want to know if the video is going to be a big part of your plans for the company and for the for yourself by putting your own end out there?
Michael Versluis: Well, we have a revenue target for the remainder of the year that we’d like to achieve. And we had one previously in the year as well, we’re most likely not going to achieve the initial goal sense, we adjusted and made a new goal based upon the existing situation. And it’s going to be tough to achieve it. But we’re getting close, we just need some more pilots to you continue with an actual annual contract. And that would help us get to our goals when it comes to a revenue target for this year. But we haven’t looked at 2021 just yet. We’re just doing everything we can to make this year as best as possible, given the recent circumstances. So we work with three months plannings. So we’re currently working on our last three months’ planning for the remainder of the year. And then by the end of the year, we’ll look at Q1 and the entire year in general. But yes, video is going to be an important step for the company to continue pushing outbound when it comes to sales. So as part of our sales journey, yes, but also, from a marketing point of view, creating videos around certain topics and content will just continue to do so. It has been important and will remain important, if not become more important. Because last year and this year, actually, we thought that we could do events, well, that’s not going to happen. So there’s a new list of responsibilities that we have when we are planning for the new year. And it will be more content, clearly, that has to happen because the other sources of marketing events are not happening. So we’re pushing even more to think on the video in the next year. So we’re hybrid, we try to adapt towards the situation if something is a problem, then we need to acknowledge that there is a problem and see how we can deal with it in the best way we can. And it’s tough sometimes it’s not easy to make a decision but if we keep thinking logically and think about our clients, what they want and how we can facilitate them and I think if we keep doing that and approaching challenges from that point of view, then we would make decisions that are in our favor and sometimes it’s tough, but we’ll find a way to overcome it and think we’re doing a good job now even though, a second wave is most likely in coming here and in Western Europe. Everyone is a bit covid fatigued. But we do understand that we have to well work from home and the situation, but we’re behind our computers. So videos are a very good means to an end. So for me personally, yes, this will continue. And in terms of adapting just one step at a time. I think we just need to keep thinking logically and hope for the best.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, absolutely. With that I would like to, first of all, wish Shleep the best. And you as well. Congratulations again on becoming a father to a girl and I hope she’s blessed with an abundance of health and and and you’re blessed with an abundance of health and wealth as well. Thank you so much for taking time out, coming, and joining me on the podcast on Mad Over Videos.
Michael Versluis: You got an idea. I’m happy that I could join and I think you guys are creating awesome content. Keep doing what you’re doing because I really enjoyed it and I think many others will do as well.
Pranav Chimulkar: Awesome. I hope we can collaborate sometime in the future with the brand as well. And I wish you all the best and for the rest of the people who are watching. This has been an amazing episode personally for me, I’ve been wanting to bring Michael on the podcast for a while and we find it made it right. Hope to bring in a new guest every other day at least or if not every day. And signing off for now, but we’ll be back with another guest in another episode. Stay tuned till then. Awesome. Bye
Michael Versluis: Bye