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Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, Pouyan Salehi

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Launch, Grow, and Scale Your Business

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Sales Tips you'll learn today on The Sales Podcast...

  • Lots of ups and downs, with more downs than ups
  • Apple was filled with driven people
  • They worked hard
  • Lots of trips to supply chain
  • Jeff Williams was a great leader who asked great questions to make you think
  • You can fill up the space with key questions, not just flapping your gums
  • Attention to detail is key

SELL MORE OF EVERYTHING IN THIS GROUP

If I'm comfortable, I'm uncomfortable." 

Which CRM Is Right For You?

 

  • Finding a team that works well together is hard to do
  • Most companies die from the inside
  • How do you know what problem is worth solving?
  • Look for the signal
  • Work backward
  • Get some signal in the market first
  • Try to sell your solution before you build it, which is easier to do in the SaaS space
  • Can you articulate your problem and solution ahead of time?
  • It was a tedious process launching Scratchpad
  • CRMs like Salesforce are tools for management
  • Sales reps create their own workspaces
  • It was an exercise in storytelling
  • That informed what part of the product to build and it let us know the talent and skillset we needed to build it
  • He's a fan of direct outbound
  • Have a thesis of who has this problem and reach out to them
  • Experiment on your messaging
  • You don't go for the close on a cold call
  • It's baby steps
  • Don't jump to conclusions
  • Don't make assumptions (Follow the New ABCs of Selling)
  • Speed to market and profitability comes from simplicity
  • Product design is key

Sales Growth Tools Mentioned In The Sales Podcast

Order Wes's second book to think, market, and close like The Sales Whisperer.

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Wes Shaeffer: Pouyan Salehi -- say that, right?

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah, that's right.

Wes Shaeffer: All right. Thank you very much. I have a short attention span. I'm a salesman, all right? Co-founder, CEO of Scratchpad, all the way from Minnesota. Welcome to The Sales Podcast. How the heck are you?

Pouyan Salehi: I'm great, Wes. Thanks for having me.

Wes Shaeffer: I love your background. I love founders. I love people kicking things off. I mean, golly, scrolling through your history, Apple; created a company acquired by PayPal; created a company acquired by Wishpond; now you're Scratchpad and you're hiring. So we're going to be linking to that -- Scratchpad.com/jobs. What the heck, man? How many things you're going to found? Shouldn't you be retired by now? Go fishing or something? Like what the heck? What's driving you? 

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah. I joke and say I'm basically unemployable and that's why I have to keep doing this. 

Wes Shaeffer: Amen. 

Pouyan Salehi: You know, it's something I just enjoy doing so much. And by by it I mean building and creating. It's been a crazy journey, 10 years of lots of ups and downs, more downs and ups along that ride and some pretty steep cliffs we've gone off of and had to climb back up. But I think just the way I'm wired and I'd say my co-founder on our team is wired, is we just really enjoy that process, and it's less about any specific outcome, but more around the way that we spend our time. And I mean, just being challenged and trying to create something that that's meaningful in the world.

Wes Shaeffer: So, I mean, you have a unique background from an entrepreneurial standpoint. We don't always see a mechanical engineer being an entrepreneur. I mean, are you unique in that way, or are there are a lot of creative analytical types out there?

Pouyan Salehi: No, I'd say they are. I'd say what might be even more interesting is a mechanical engineer that's now doing a software startup in the hardware world. I know a lot of folks I know as well that are entrepreneurs, I mean, the variety of backgrounds is is really interesting. And for me, my drive to go study mechanical engineering was more a curiosity of just how things worked. I always loved breaking things apart and taking things apart to understand the mechanics behind them and how they worked. And in that way, I can -- they just help me view the world in a different lens. 

And I kind of knew I didn't really want to be an engineer, but I still was drawn to it and studying it. So, yeah, I think -- and what I learned in my time at Apple was how important hardware is in the world, and I think there's actually a big, big push now on hardware startups and a lot of them getting funding. But I just became really fascinated with the impact that software could have because you didn't have the limitations and slow deployment of hardware. And so that's why I slowly started gravitating towards that.

Wes Shaeffer: So you were at Apple when the iPhone was being released?

Pouyan Salehi: I joined Apple before the iPhone was released. So when I was going through the interview process and I accepted the offer to join, I didn't know that there there would be an iPhone coming. And then shortly after I joined, I started working and working on components for the iPhone.

Wes Shaeffer: Mm-hmm. Because it came out in 2007, right? 

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah.

Wes Shaeffer: And that's right when you started, September, '07.

Pouyan Salehi: Exactly. Exactly.

Wes Shaeffer: So how was that? I mean, do they just dump it in your lap? You know, is it as much of a sweatshop as we've heard or was it cool?

Pouyan Salehi: I thought it was super cool. What I found was a group of folks -- and I was on the operation side -- but it was a group of people that were just incredibly driven and I think that drive, combined with trying to achieve something that really hadn't been done before on a scale that hadn't been done before is what led to folks -- yeah, people were working really, really hard. I was one of them, and not just late hours, but also lots of, especially on the operations or supply chain side, lots of trips, sometimes very last minute to the manufacturing facilities or dealing with fires here and there. But it came from, I think, this drive that a lot of the folks had there, and I think I was just embedded in the culture and the values that they had.

Wes Shaeffer: What did you take from them that you've applied now, you would say it has helped you in your various entrepreneurial ventures? 

Pouyan Salehi: A lot. And I remember -- well, one, I think there was a there's a gentleman there on the leadership team who I really learned a lot from just by being in the meetings and watching how he led the team, and his name is Jeff Williams. I think just his leadership style and the precision of the questions that he would ask that would really step make you step back and think and it was the type -- and I've seen that now across certain investors you worked with as well. The ones that don't feel the need to fill up the space by talking a lot; but when they do and they ask the right questions, they're the ones that really hit you hard in a really good way and make you step back and reframe how you think about certain things. 

So I think that's one thing I certainly took, but also the level of attention to detail that the company puts on. Pretty much everything it does is is pretty spectacular. And I think that's certainly something that we do now at Scratchpad, even though we're in a completely different space. We're building software that helps salespeople do their jobs better. 

But in a certain way, that attention to detail is so important because, as you know, any salesperson that might be listening here, working with the existing tools that are available to you today, it's pretty frustrating because that level of attention to detail just isn't there to help you do your job well. And so that results in having to switch tabs a ton and endless clicks and slow load times. So I think those are the two things that I really took away and try to apply.

Wes Shaeffer: So I love trying to get down to the nitty-gritty on how somebody made the shift to being on their own. So you go from a mega company -- arguably the world's premier company -- to doing your own thing. What was that runway like? Were you doing this on the side at night for a while until you were comfortable? Did you just take a leap? You know, how'd you make that transition into owning your own business?

Pouyan Salehi: Yes. I wasn't working on Scratchpad when I left there, but I -- yeah, it's an interesting story because it kind of feels like I lep and hit a brick wall right after I left. But I knew that I wanted to do something on my own. I wanted to be more -- have a bigger impact on. 

My time at Apple was great, and I actually ended up staying there longer than I thought I would, given all the things I just said. But now I've finally found some folks that I thought was aligned with, was working on something interesting. And I was like, hey, I think I could help. I joined them as an adviser. And then finally got to the point where I was like, I think it makes sense to do this and leave to do this. And it was never -- it wasn't the right time. And I think for a lot of folks, there never is a right time to start something. There's always a reason not to. 

And just for some personal context, at that point I was only a couple of years out of business school, still paying down debt from that. My wife was one year into law school, so continuing to rack up debt on that. It didn't make sense financially to leave at that point and start something. But as I said, there never is a right time. If I don't do it now, then I'll probably just get more comfortable and more comfortable here. And I'm just the type where if I'm comfortable, I'm uncomfortable. So I need to be in that -- to have a little bit of that discomfort. 

But what was crazy was I remember I left Apple on a Friday, was joining my co-founders on that following Monday, so not not taking any time off, but Sunday night at around 8:30 p.m. I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child -- and in law school. And going from having stable paychecks, not a huge one, but a decent one and health insurance to basically getting almost nothing at a startup with uncertainty -- but that was kind of a key moment for me in saying, hey, how committed are you to wanting to go down this path? 

And obviously looking back, I did, and it wasn't easy, but I think that was that was a pretty rough night, thinking about hey, do you go back and say, oops, I made a mistake and excited to come back, or keep going? And I just kept going.

Wes Shaeffer: Nice. Well, we have seven kids and I was on unemployment when two of them were born. We have moved houses and or states and jobs like simultaneously several times.

I remember it was 2004 coming up on Presidents' Day and I knew my job was at risk. I was in a technology company and had just been four years of hell -- just restructure, restructure, layoff, layoff. And I told my wife, I'm like, this is my job at risk, right? It just was, and she was like -- at the same time she said I might be pregnant and this was going to be our fifth. So she knew. She knew how it went. 

And I got an email from my boss on a holiday. We had President's Day off, for whatever reason. And I'm like, that's not good; my boss wants to talk on a holiday. Then my wife was setting up a little picnic in the front yard. And I took the call and he said, yeah, we have to let you go. It gave me a big severance, so it was it was amicable. I walked outside -- because the joke was, oh, if we move or I get laid off, then you're definitely pregnant. And I walked outside and I said, you're pregnant. You said, you got laid off. [chuckles] We just knew. Oh, well, keep on keeping on, you know? 

Pouyan Salehi: Exactly. And I think that's why it's -- my journey into it was kind of punch to the face and gut right at the same time.

Wes Shaeffer: Yep. That's cool. So you had some folks you were consulting with, like how long -- that was StackMob. So how long had that been around? Was it still pretty new? 

Pouyan Salehi: That was still really new, and there was a whole thesis we had around making -- application development was taking off, mobile app development was taking off. And this was still very early in --

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah, 2010. 

Pouyan Salehi: -- in the mobile days, yeah, exactly. And so the thesis was they'll be more mobile app developers. Not all of them are going to want to set up backend infrastructure. So what if you had a Hirok- style infrastructure as a service for mobile app developers, which I think was a was a really interesting system. The reality was there just weren't many mobile app developers that were making much money. No one had started to pay so it was hard to build a business on it. 

So no one in that space -- and there's a few companies that started around the same time in that space -- no one really made it. There just wasn't much there. And so from that journey, then step back and reflect it a bit, and then partnered up with my current co-founder, who I've been with now for almost a decade and we've been through multiple companies and products and stuff together. But I think that's when I got a lot more clarity around wanting to work on products or problems where design had a big impact on how people work. 

And so that's where we came more towards solving problems around workflow and productivity. It was hard to articulate then, but I think we're able to do it a little bit more now. And it wasn't that we were passionate about building technology for sales or salespeople. It's just that we started building a lot of empathy for it, because no matter what we built, we had to sell, and we had to learn to be salespeople; and then combine that with our experience building product and looking at it through the critical lens of design, then that's when we started saying, hey, what if we started solving some of our own problems? 

And that's what put us down this path of actually building products that solve problems in the revenue space.

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah. How did you know it was time to sell? Do they make you an offer you couldn't refuse?

Pouyan Salehi: No. I mean, listen, like I said, that company -- and I had left before the that actual transaction that had happened -- but it was you kind of know. And it's like the equivalent of I've heard is this usually I think salespeople at any company have a sense before anybody else because you just know like if it's harder to if it's becoming harder and harder to close those deals if or even create the opportunities, if things just aren't moving and it's really hard, something's not right. I mean, listen, building a company and selling is never easy, but you should feel like you have some tailwinds behind you. And if you don't have any, then that's a problem.

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah. So it was more of y'all had kind of stalled versus we're on this huge launch and they picked you up. 

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah. And like I said, I think it was just the whole space. Like, no one in that space was really -- it's not like companies were lining up to solve this problem, and so I think you could look at it more as a as a structural challenge.

Wes Shaeffer: So my oldest is 24, and I remember it was about eight years ago roughly, so he was in high school and he had an iPhone, and I was like frustrated because he wouldn't answer his phone. I was like, why? Why have a phone? Why do you have this fancy thing if you if you don't answer it? He said, for the apps. And he's a smart kid, and it was just like -- it was so just matter of fact and almost like disgust -- "like for the apps." And I was like, oh, hell. Okay, gotcha. I need to look into this. I mean, it was just a light bulb moment, right? I mean, the world was changing like right then and there.

Pouyan Salehi: Exactly.

Wes Shaeffer: So you decided to stick with the entrepreneurial route. I mean, do you get to the point where you just become unemployable? You got to go keep doing your own thing?

Pouyan Salehi: I think so. No, it's there are lots of times on this journey where where I think I saw the the exit signs for maybe go back or get a job. And I actually think that experience is helpful to go to maybe go see things that are at a larger established company or even maybe perhaps another startup that has product market fit, get some ideas, and then come back. 

So I just -- what ended up happening is I think finding a team that works well together is one of the hardest things to do. And I just ended up in a situation where I had met my my current co-founder and we had a good thing going and it felt like, one, we're able to work together, but to where we're able to complement each other's skill sets and I think it's hard to give that up and say maybe things aren't working great just yet and we haven't found the right problems to solve; but I had seen enough of other other startup founders' relationships just completely fall apart. 

And I think a lot of companies die because of implosion. And usually it's people issues in the founding team or executive team just not getting along. And so we had that, and I think that's really what kept me going at this and saying, you know what? That's really hard to find. Just there are many problems out there in the world; I think we just got to get better at uncovering them and building empathy for them and learning learning about them and figuring out which ones we actually want to tackle. 

And plus, it's just something I enjoy. I like it a lot because it's the way I'm wired in the types of problems that I like to solve. So the hard part is there isn't much in terms of finances, but I think you've got to find a way to make that work. But trade-offs all around.

Wes Shaeffer: So how do you decide, like, what to pursue and how do you know that it's viable? It's like I'm working with my second son in a little side business, and he'll come to me and he's frustrated; something's not working the way it should, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, there's an opportunity. If it was easy, everybody would do it. You know, the reason there's money in what we're doing is that there are inefficiencies in the market. I'm like, try to see how to grow, how to leverage that rather than get frustrated by it. 

But how do you know? I mean, you've started multiple businesses now. I mean, it's hard -- it's hard to design something, it's hard to launch something, it's hard to monetize something. How do you know that a problem is worth solving?

Pouyan Salehi: That's a great question, and I think what you said is is one of the most important things, is it worth solving. because there's lots of problems out there that you could argue should have a solution and some do, but they just don't get out to market because they're just not worth solving. They're not something that there's a market for people are willing to pay for, even though it's a problem that exists. And so it's something that's really hard to do. 

People have wasted many years of their lives pursuing problems that just weren't worth solving, even though they were real problems. We've been guilty of that. And so one thing that we continue to do with each idea we went after, each problem we we we pursued was was get better at looking for that signal. We started almost backwards. With each product that we tried to develop we waited as long as we possibly could until we developed any part of the product. 

What that allowed us to do and it forced us to do is actually try to get some signal on the market first. And so what that means is try to sell it before you even have anything, and especially in the software world.

I feel like even in -- hardware is a little bit different but let's just stick with software. There's so many great tools out there now where you can put a functioning design together to be able to tell a story and have somebody understand what it is you're actually trying to do and what impact it could possibly have. 

And so I would argue if anyone's out there trying to do this now, start with that. You don't need to build the product at first. See if you can generate any demand for it. Can you tell a story that resonates with folks where people are like, yeah, that's interesting. Tell me more or all the way up to possibly even selling an advance before you even have the product. 

I mean, that's the ultimate signal there is if you find that you are able to articulate a problem and a solution behind it that resonates so well that somebody is willing to part ways with their dollars to to get it in advance. You don't actually have to do it. Obviously, you can just say, okay, great, thank you for having that that conviction, that support; we haven't fully developed yet. But that's the idea.

Wes Shaeffer: So I know you went to business school and I got this on my desk right now, "The Personal MBA," and Josh Kaufman is not a fan of MBAs. Are you glad you did it?

Pouyan Salehi: I am. I know there's a lot of --there's a lot of MBA bashing that goes on. And I could see -- I find it entertaining. But for me, it helped it helped me personally a lot because I think I had that sense of curiosity -- for the same reason I studied engineering. It was to understand how things worked. My reason for going and getting an MBA was I didn't feel like I had a great sense of how the business world worked, and so it was really driven by that sense of curiosity. 

I grew up in a in a family business and I felt like I understood business that more at that level. But it certainly helped me connect a bunch of dots together and and learn some really interesting frameworks that that I applied to everything that I'm doing now, even finding the right co-founder to work with. And so, yeah, I was a fan. Now, whether that means you should actually go get your MBA or not, I don't know if I think that's more of a personal decision. A lot of that content is readily available online, and I think one of the other elements of the program is the people you meet; the connections you make going through that experience together. So, yeah, for me was it was a net positive. I'd do it again.

Wes Shaeffer: So how did Scratchpad come about?

Pouyan Salehi: At this point, you can say it wasn't a flash of brilliance or a lot of drinking, one night woke up and like, got it, we got the idea. It was much more of a tedious, laborious process. We had built one company in the sales space already called PersistIQ, and that was to solve our own problem on, call it outbound sales, and starting conversations with folks that don't know you. There weren't really great systems built for that. We built it; great product. We ended up selling it. 

So we had a lot of empathy for folks in sales for sales organizations, and we were looking for new problems to solve. And we had built a couple of other products that started to get some traction with leadership, but the sales reps weren't using the product. So we wanted to diagnose it and figure out why, and we had the opportunity to go shadow a bunch of different teams and a bunch of different account executives, and it was through that experience where we started to observe a bunch of small problems. And you could think of each one of them as just a dot on a board.

Individually, they seemed insignificant. But once you started putting them on the board and you started connecting some of the dots together, a picture slowly started to emerge. And for us, that was even in this crazy crowded space of sales, technology and tools, most organizations have a CRM like Salesforce. They'll have some sort of email tool or call tool for their reps. But if you actually look at how the reps work, it's not in the CRM. That's a tool for managers and for leadership to report on most reps that we ended up talking to have that, but they create what we call their own workspace You take notes in EverNote, Mac Notes or OneNote or a paper notebook. You manage your pipeline in accounts in a spreadsheet. Your tasks are all over the place. And that collectively we saw or we saw it -- we call the workspace now -- but we saw that at every organization. 

And we just stepped back and say, gosh, like, why doesn't something specific to a salesperson exist? Why as a salesperson do you have to duct tape all the stuff together and then spend four to five hours a week doing extra work to show the work that you did, just so your manager can forecast up and they can see where your deals are at? And even then, most managers always complaining that the data in Salesforce is not great -- update your next steps, update your meta pic fields and what have you. 

We knew it was a problem, but then to your point earlier, we had no idea, is there a business around this? Is even worth solving? Many companies have tried. Why have they not succeeded? If it were easy, like you said, a bunch of folks would have done it. And that's where we learned kind of what our unique angle on the problem would be, and that would be creating something, creating a product that it's not just about the functionality, but that it is so easy to use and it is so intuitive that you could put it in front of any salesperson and within one minute they're up and running. And so the effort to actually start using the product is low and we figured that is the key to success or even having a shot at success in the space, because most companies have failed because of that. They built the tech, but no one was using it.

Wes Shaeffer: Interesting. So as you start cobbling something together, do you do it yourself? Do you throw it out on UpWork and just get somebody overseas to build a framework real quick? I mean, how does that even look?

Pouyan Salehi: So we are fortunate enough to have an existing team. It was me and my co-founder and a few folks that were working with us at PersistIQ, and we had a great thing going and we all decided to to run it again, and we're together again. But even then -- even then -- we waited on building any product for a while, because we had gone through that exercise before and then wasted months of our lives building something that just didn't get traction and didn't get used. 

And so the first thing we actually did is I started doing outbound -- I started doing sales to try to figure out does can I get people to care about this? And if so, can I get them to commit to taking any sort of action? And so it actually was an exercise in storytelling. It was an exercise in understanding the problem and communicating that problem in a way that resonates and then crafting a solution that also resonated with somebody. 

And once we had that, then that actually informed what parts of the product we build, and that been informed of what type of folks we might need to help build that product. And we fortunately we had that already, but to answer your question, like if we didn't have that, that's what I would have done, because then that could have helped me say, okay, now I know exactly what direction to go in and what what to build. 

Now, is it a front end engineer? Do you need something more done on back end? Is it some UI/UX work that you need done? Because otherwise you just end up spinning your wheels.

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah. So do you call some friends? Do you cold call some businesses? Do you have Salesforce? You want to hear an idea we haven't built yet? 

Pouyan Salehi: All of the above. 

Wes Shaeffer: Do a focus group?

Pouyan Salehi: I mean, I'm a fan of direct outbound and you find -- have a thesis on who has this problem and just go direct, whether that's cold calling, whether that's emailing, LinkedIn, using your network or whatever it is. Find a way to do it and communicate the problem in a way -- and this is what I think is a really important signal is actually experiment on your messaging, because that right there gives you signal to responding. 

If you start getting ten -- if you reach out to 10 people and all 10 respond, like, hey, tell me more, you're on to something, right? You haven't even talked about the product yet, but it tells you that, hey, you're you're kind of fishing in a pond or you're you're you're going somewhere where people have this problem is is big enough for them where they're willing to respond to you and tell you that they want to learn a little bit more. That right there in this crazy crowded space -- I mean, not just sales in tech. I mean, there are so many more software solutions to pretty much any problem now. Just the fact that you can capture somebody's attention is a pretty big deal. 

Wes Shaeffer: Got you. Yeah, I'm just thinking. One of my clients, the CEO or VP of sales $30 million company, 15 sales reps; I'm just trying to think through, like, what he take a call and say, yeah, I'll I'll prepay for this tool, if it's available within six months or it'll be like, yeah, whatever, dude, call me when it's ready.

Pouyan Salehi: You wouldn't do that on the cold call because you don't go for a close on a cold call. Sure. And this is why it's important to know what signal you're looking for. All I'd be looking for there is, can I send a message that talks of a problem where he or she would do even respond? Then can I articulate in a way where he or she would give me 15 minutes of their time? Then can I actually describe it in a way where they'd want to lean in even more? 

And in that case, it could be, hey, Mr. or Mrs. Sales leader? You have 15 reps on your team. They're probably spending -- and studies have shown, they're probably spending 35 percent of their time selling; the rest of it is dry. What would the impact of your business be if we could change that from 35 percent to 45 percent to 50 percent? They're just getting more time in market. Would that be interesting? Or if you're hiring new reps where we could cut the ramp time down from three months down to two months, what would that have -- what impact will that have on your business? 

And ultimately it all flows down to the bottom line -- or top line, like they're getting more revenue out of what they have and they can see that. But I think that's enough to say, okay, you've got my interest, now tell me more, and then you can go from there.

Wes Shaeffer: Listen, I can't have you be a mechanical engineer and a marketer and a salesperson. Let me do the sales and marketing thing, okay? You can't -- making me feel bad. Good grief. And I got to go get an engineer -- 

Pouyan Salehi: I wouldn't say I'm good at any of them I do --

Wes Shaeffer: [chuckles] It's a good pitch, man. It's a good process. And that's what I'm banging into the heads of my clients. And it's amazing how hard it is. But like I tell my son, I got to take my own advice. If they were good at it, there wouldn't be a need for me, because I think they usually do go too fast. They try to say too much. They don't understand the baby steps to move through this. 

You know, I do this swim every year. We swim across Tampa Bay for the Navy SEAL Foundation and to raise money. And I remember my buddy that he crossed commission from the Air Force to the Navy, became a SEAL. And their motto is slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You know, have a good stroke. You know, be consistent with it and be smooth, and that speed will come from being smooth. And salespeople like trying to get them to understand that, they just want to go, go, go, close, close, close; like, oh --

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah. And I'd say it's not just salespeople, but I think a lot of founders in some way are the first salesperson in whatever they're doing. But I think not jumping to conclusions, being critical and challenging any assumptions, not making too many assumptions and really listening -- but, yeah, I do think in the early days it's really important to trust -- you know, come up with that process and trust it. Move through that process as fast as you can, but that sometimes that means going slow on product until you know what you're even doing and why and why it matters, and how it's going to be different than stuff that's already out there.

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah. Yeah, it can be tough. I mean, like, your price point is very attractive, but I imagine you probably have tougher meetings on what to leave out than what to include.

Pouyan Salehi: Our biggest challenge is -- I mean, it's one of the values at our company is simplicity. And back to what I mentioned earlier for our audience, which are high-performing top sales reps, the biggest thing is speed. To us, that comes through simplicity, because I don't know many salespeople that are out there excited to try new tools of wanting to spend their time exploring new tools. It's more around, hey, how can I be better at just getting to my quota and exceeding that quota faster because that's how I make money. And if it's going to help me do that, great. But I don't want to spend an entire day poking around a tool and trying to figure that thing out. 

And so in what we do, one of the hardest parts is product design, and how do you distill something down and make it so simple and so fast and so intuitive that you can hand it to somebody and they get it. They don't need to be an expert in it, but they get it and they can start using it.

Now, that becomes even harder when you have a team of, let's say, 20 salespeople. Everyone works differently. Some people are very detailed note takers. Other people just take random bullet point notes that no one else would ever understand if they looked at those notes. Other people are very meticulous task takers and others never write a task down. They keep everything here, but they manage certain things in their pipeline. And so it becomes an even harder problem. 

And then you have to solve for many different working styles and personas and and people that process information in different ways. Like, this is the type of problem that that I love to solve, and me and my co-founder, our team, we gravitate towards this stuff. But there are multiple layers of complexity that we have to address so that the users that use our product in a way they they don't ever see it. To them it just feels simple to them. It just feels like it works. But that means that we've done our job well.

Wes Shaeffer: So when will there be a Scratchpad rocket to go into space? Because that's what all the cool founders are doing.

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah, good question. I can pretty confidently say I don't think any time in the near future. We know are our lane and we're staying in that right now. I think once we start seeing sales people in space, which, hey, that may happen sooner rather than later, then then we'll be right there with them. There are millions of people around the world that have this profession. They're building -- whether it's their career or whether it's an entry point into what will be a career that goes on in something else, but I think sales is a really important profession in the world. I don't think it's going away, even with all this, people are claiming AI's coming in and it's going to change -- I think is there is a human to human connection aspect to it that I think is important and is here for a while. And I just don't think there's great technology that's been built for the people on the front lines. And I think that that's what we're all about.

Wes Shaeffer: Yeah, very cool. So I'm linking to your site, Scratchpad.com and then they can go to /jobs if they're interested. But this is for Salesforce.com users, right, today?

Pouyan Salehi: That's right. So if you're using Salesforce.com. And you have any complaints about it being slow to load or requiring too many clicks or not absolutely loving and using it, then that's an imperfect reason to to give Scratchpad to try.

Wes Shaeffer: Okay. And I mean, despite the rumors, you will let it work on Android, right? You won't, like, just kill it because your old Apple days.

Pouyan Salehi: Actually, yes. We don't even have a native mobile application just yet. That's certainly on the on the road map at some point. It's primarily Web-based so you could actually access it from an Android or iOS browser. It's not optimized for that experience. Again, this came from observations where most sales reps today, at least the ones that we're solving for aren't in the field. Now, COVID has actually impacted that as well, but it's primarily for folks that are in front of a computer, although we do have quite a few users using it on an iPad and on a mobile phone as well.

Wes Shaeffer: You think we're going to get back to pre-COVID levels of face-to-face selling or just remote video stuff here to stay?

Pouyan Salehi: I think both can exist, and what I mean by that is a lot of organizations that maybe were on the fence about inside sales basically had to find a way to make it work through COVID. And I think some were probably surprised and saying, hey, we can actually make this work, and others that had it figured out a way to optimize it even more; and maybe recognize that you don't actually have to go for every single deal and be out in the field. 

But I do think in some ways, certain pockets or for certain types of deals, yeah, it may actually accelerate; may be face-to-face becomes even more important. Now, whether it becomes more or less on the face-to-face side, I don't know, because I think maybe new things will pop up around that, like the types of meetings that might be required. But I, I do think I don't think it's going away in terms of getting -- actually people getting together face-to-face. And I guess even face-to-face, you could argue, does that mean big enterprise sales, or that could even just be smaller, localized pockets because organizations now have smaller sales offices located around the country. 

Wes Shaeffer: Right. Yeah, it's interesting, I'm doing my first keynote in a long time, speaking in Orlando in a couple of months, and those guys, they said they're they're excited about getting together, about 175 salespeople. Saw that National Speakers Association, they're meeting in person. And I've got clients out, actually traveling in California doing get-togethers and people are excited to meet. 

I've always said we're social beings, so people crave that interaction to some degree, even if it means having to meet with a greedy salesperson, huh?

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah. I think that perception is changing. We could probably spend hours just talking about that. But I do agree. I think certain in-person meetings and get togethers will come roaring back. Some already have. But I think once things open up more and more -- and this is more confidently in our rearview mirror, then yeah.. 



Wes Shaeffer: Yeah. Very cool. All right. Well, thank you, sir. Did I skip anything you think I should have asked?

Pouyan Salehi: Boy, we covered a lot of ground.

Wes Shaeffer: [chuckles] It's what I do. [chuckles]

Pouyan Salehi: No, this is great. I appreciate you having me. Really enjoyed the conversation.

Wes Shaeffer: Well, thanks for coming on. Congrats on the on the move back to the Midwest. We're flying to Texas this weekend, actually. We've lived out here 17 years. My wife's from here, but we moved from Texas. So we shall see. It's a hectic time. Everything's been scooped up. Well you almost have to, like, just buy something sight unseen and I'm not willing to do that. So we shall see.

Pouyan Salehi: Yeah. Wishing you the best of luck on that and safe travels. But, yeah, thanks again for having me. Really, really enjoyed this.

Wes Shaeffer: All righty. Thank you, sir. Pouyan Salehi, all the way from Minnesota, founder of Scratchpad.com. Have a great day.

Pouyan Salehi: Thanks so much.