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When you can’t invite a prospective client into the office, how do you hold their attention and show them you’re actively listening? Charisma and eye contact don’t make the same impact over Zoom. Paul and Rich explain an adaptive sales approach that uses digital tools and tactics to demonstrate value. Behold our new Reactive Sales technique.


Rich Ziade Paul, I see the book cover! It’s a tennis player bracing for a return but instead of a racket he has a briefcase [laughs]. 

Paul Ford Oh. You know, usually I love to tell you you’re an idiot but that’s—that’s, frankly just fantastic [music plays alone for 18 seconds, ramps down]. 

RZ So, Paul. 

PF Hey, Rich. 

RZ How is sales going? 

PF Well, I’m glad you asked it’s been really interesting. I don’t know if people know: I run sales at Postlight. It used to be sort of just something we did as a [music fades out] company and you and were doing it but—

RZ You get other help but yeah, you are—

PF No, it’s a sales team. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF Which means that every day we work through our leads and we write proposals and we do all the stuff. So, sales has been really, genuinely interesting in this time, in that—First of all, I think, you know, we all went home and our assumption: your assumption, my assumption was, “That’s it for a while. There’s just not gonna be a lot going on.” 

RZ You know, I’m loving the idea of addressing the listener five years from now. We should name this person. 

PF Oh yeah. 

RZ Like somebody really relaxed who loves to socialize [laughs]. Loves to go to bars. 

PF Carlotta? [Rich laughs

RZ I was thinking Irish pub person. Like, Nate—Nate. 

PF Nate and Carlotta. Right? 

RZ Nate and Carlotta. 

PF They both—One’s a Product Manager, one’s an Engineer, I don’t really care who’s who. 

RZ Yup. And five years from now they picked up this podcast and they love it. So, Nate and Carlotta, we’re back in 2020. We’re all working from home and we’ve spent a lot of time lookin’ at our screens, and that’s the backdrop right now for sales. So, Paul, continue, I interrupted. 


PF So, look, our assumption was, “That’s it! Let’s just keep workin’ with the clients we got and hope for the best.” The reality has been a little bit different. Look: everybody’s reacting. And there were a few leads that just kinda went dry. Like we had one client—potential client who was travel related and now they’re just like, “Yeah, no, that’s not gonna happen, sorry.” 

RZ Yeah, yeah, yeah, certain sectors are definitely more deeply affected than others. 

PF So after about a month went by—we haven’t been—I don’t like to talk about this openly because we have good fortune and I’m literally knocking on wood as I say this, and good fortune can change at any moment but [sure] let’s assume, for the purpose of this conversation, that what we’re seeing is representative of a certain kind of digital firm, right? Like that we are—It feels to me like there’s two economies, frankly. It feels like there’s the one we’re in which is kind of status quo, “Hold on, we’re gonna get things back. We’ll profit from the rally when it shows up but in the meantime we’ll do the best we can.” But then there is the 30 million people have been laid off. It’s incredibly serious and people are hungry, and those two worlds are out there happening right now. And we have the good fortune because we didn’t have travel and hospitality to be on the—the status quo side. And so like a lot of expectations and predictions about the contraction didn’t come true and instead what we’re seeing is like a steady in-bound business. And I’m doing a lot of pitches. Which traditionally would be like, “Hey, come by the office, I’d love to talk to you about your challenges.” And [mm hmm] it would be a lot of eye contact and—Look: I know I’m doing all the talking here, you should jump in because here’s what people think sales is, right? You come in and ask me to build something for you and then I’ll be a traditional sales guy. “Hey, Rich! Good to see you! Come on in! Yeah, so tell us again—” 

RZ “Wow!” 

PF “—about what you’re trying to build.” 

RZ “You guys got a really nice place here.” 

PF [Laughs boisterously] “Yeah, hey, thank you. It’s really cool.” 

RZ “Yeah.” 

PF “Yeah, we’re great. Come on in. Sit down.” 

RZ “Love this area too.” 

PF “To each their own.”

RZ “Ok, alright.” 


PF “Sure, sure, so tell me a little about your budget and your problems.” 

RZ “Here’s where we’re at: we’ve been trying to—” 

PF “Oh, you need Sitecore. Sitecore’s what you need, and we’re gonna get it for ya and it’s gonna cost half a million dollars but no, I’m gonna take about 300,000 dollars off of that to start! And then! I’m gonna lock you into a 36 month contract that you don’t fully know about [Rich chuckles] and that’s what’s gonna solve your problems. Does that sound good to you?” 

RZ “Um, well, let’s talk for a minute.” 

PF “Hold on, I’m gonna lock the door! Does that sound good to you?” 

RZ [Laughs] Pause this scenario and let’s just point out: we have nothing against Sitecore [laughs] or anything Sitecore represents. 

PF No, but it’s a platform. It’s like, “Adobe Experience Manager is what you need!” “Yeah, but I’m building a website that connects puppies to the kids who need puppies.” [In deep tone] “Adobe Experience.” 

RZ [Laughs] “But I wanna be able to have good really good insights as to why certain people come into the site, bail halfway through,” At this point, Paul, you’re supposed to mention Pendo.

PF “No, no, that’s when you need Pendo. And actually, hold on, we have our custom Pendo AEM Modular Expander.” 

RZ Yup. 

PF “That only we have and we’re gonna lock you into for the next [yeah] like seven lifetimes. Like your children will still be paying for this piece of software.” 

RZ Also, it’s not a big deal, we’re not the only ones but we are a Pendo certified partner. Just worth noting. 

PF Oh, are we? 

RZ And there’s plenty of them out there [laughs]. 

PF Don’t even joke about it because there’s somebody out there who’s Pendo certified who’s like, “The hell they are!” [Rich laughs] Listen: that is in no way—like if you do that, you actually can have success with a model like that, like obviously not that ridiculous but you can be like—[stammers] there are a lot of sales people who are just like, “I got a hammer and whatever problem you have, I’m gonna see if it’s a nail.” And on the other side is caveat emptor and they’re like, “Oof, boy, he’s trying to make my—this isn’t a nail but he keeps hittin’ it with that hammer as if it is.” Like, and that’s on you. What we do instead—and this is just the kind of more consulting/strategy side of things, it’s only active listening. I don’t get to tell you about how great Postlight is until you’ve talked to me for probably just usually about a half hour. 


RZ This is actually a flavor of sales. You know, it’s solution driven sales. There’s a well known book called The Challenger Sale where you’re really not talking about products, you’re talking about solutions. By solutions I mean advice! I mean, sometimes it’s just advice. It’s just hearing you out, “I see some pitfalls; I see some challenges; I see opportunity. Here’s what I think you should do,” and usually late, late in the game does Postlight come into the conversation. 

PF Half the time I’m—Increasingly, what I’m doing, I make a little—a tiny, little chart. I’m like, “Here’s the range of solutions.” 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF “Help me understand where your project falls.” And on the far left, it’s often not a good Postlight project. It’s like, “No, you just wanna get—you wanna get some sort of large platform white label—” 

RZ Yeah. 

PF “And sort of build your stuff on top of it with a little custom stuff.” And on the far right, it probably is more like us and there’s a lot of custom—And it’s like, “Now that we’ve had this conversation, help me understand where you are,” and then we can finally figure out if it makes sense for us. That is our sales culture. We’re not—we don’t incentivize people to simply go close a lot of business. 

RZ No. And that conversational approach is atypical. It’s much easier to templatize this stuff, right? Like, “I need Sitecore. I need Salesforce. I’m a sales solution provider.” There’s this sort of triangulation that exists in the world. Like Salesforce when it has its conference, all their partners show up, right? Cuz they have the tool, partners provide services, customer pays both. Pays for both licensing and the services they’re providing. Adobe has a conference where thousands and thousands of partners show up. It’s like a pilgrimage because [yeah] the Adobe platform, it’s sort of this virtuous cycle, right? Adobe is pushing leads out to their preferred partners; the preferred partners are reinforcing Adobe licensing. We don’t do this! We have licensed soft—We have used license software, we don’t wanna build everything from scratch but what we’re doing is, frankly, building a relationship and that may not bear fruit, it’s a different kind of game, it’s very high touch, it’s highly interactive. And here we are now doing this and this is—I wanna let you talk. And tell me, you know, about this transition to doing this on Zoom and Google Meet and whatnot where it’s way easier to just run down the bullet points of Sitecore than it is to have that dialogue. Yeah. 


PF It’d be wonderful right now to be able to just pull up a sort of work through the form and fill it out, and get a deck up. Put Google Slides up and do a Meet or a Zoom and say like, “You know, here’s the 12 things that we do and the processes we use in order to deliver your stuff.” And, you know, frankly, at first I was kinda craving it because when you do a pitch this way, you are staring into space, you can’t make eye contact, you’re talking but it’s hard to read the room, and I’m not a natural—like it’s taken me a long time to learn to read the room and it’s sort of like—it’s much harder now. Like, you’re—it’s like you’re watching Hollywood Squares trying to figure out who’s got budget. It’s a lot. And so—and it wasn’t that we were—We were even doing ok it’s just was a—it’s a ton of friction . . . that talking with people and being sociable is designed to eliminate and suddenly all of this friction is here and the meetings don’t feel real and it’s hard to know what your next steps are. And I think everyone who’s made that transition if they work in a world like ours has felt that. Working on one of these sort of big video platforms to get through their day. 

RZ Mm. This is hard, right? I—I worry about this because we’re still reaping the rewards of relationships that we’ve built over years. Like, over very long periods of time. And I worry about my inability to get out there and really—you know, to really cultivate new ones in this mode that we’re in. 

PF No, because that power of like I’ll come down, we’ll work together for three or four months, and then I’ll come down as the invited expert, and talk you through your platform in front of 25 people from your solutions group. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF That is key to our business, right? To be that person and get in that room and those rooms all just vanished about two months ago. 

RZ I mean, we’ve done it a couple of times. You know, it’s not a direct dotted line but we’ve hosted what you would call, I guess, management off-sites or executive off-sites. I mean, I’m a pig in shit when we get an opportunity to host leadership at Postlight. Like that is—no agenda, they may not call us for six months, but it is massive. 


PF You spend so much time demonstrating your value through blog posts and things you do and so on to get into that room. Right? Now you’re in the room and you can actually demonstrate the value. You can say—you can look someone in the eye and not have to sort of worry about every single possible audience but actually worry about that one, and say, “Ok, I heard you. I did my active listening. [Yeah] And I can save you—you have to give me money, that’s real. That’s why we’re all here. But I could save you five million dollars, lemme show you how I’m gonna do it.” 

RZ Yup. 

PF And this is the trickiest thing to learn, right? Is that senior leadership don’t actually think in terms of how much they’re going to spend; they think in terms of the risk of failure and how much it’s going to cost. And so that’s the real conversation and that’s a hard conversation to market through promoted tweets. 

RZ Yup, that’s right. And—and—the other thing I would add here is that at the tailend of all sorts of collaborative discussions, money is very secondary or once they’re in the mode [yeah] of like, “Alright, we gotta solve this. Like, this is trivial.” Like the money conversation actually almost feels in the way. That’s a glorious place to be because you’re all in sync on what to do. 

PF We cost a lot if you’re settin’ up a blog. We are very normally priced if you’re doing something big and digital over the two months. 

RZ Exactly, exactly. And our people are—and I’m gonna toot Postlight’s horn for a second. We don’t throw [Paul mimics a horn] tens of bodies but we’ve got a lot of 10X people. People who are extremely high performers. What six people at Postlight could do, most other shops with 25 can’t do. That’s just—I’ll say that without it making it sounds like advertising. That is fact

PF [High pitched] No, I’ll settle for two to three X, right? Like it doesn’t have to be—it’s not that we have some magic secret. We just have people who collaborate well and are very smart and get their work done. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF But here’s what’s really changing, right? Is that those initial conversations are now all remote video calls. 

RZ Yeah. 


PF And here’s what I’ve been craving: I’ve been experimenting in a lot of meetings and a lot of presentations. We started iterating like crazy, myself and Tom are the two people on the sales team. And Tom and I, we moved our deck to Google Slide. That was priority one. 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF Like, it needs to be faster to collaborate and share things out. It wasn’t Keynote which had very nice animations but that subtly is now lost. 

RZ Alright, so I wanna number these. We’re venting a little but we’re actually gonna give some constructive advice here. So first is use a collaborative presentation tool. And Google Slides is [that is correct] the most obvious but there are others, but Google Slides is solid. 

PF I’ll also say I fell back on the need to generate lots of slides quickly. This is very nerdy and this is very me but there’s a framework called Reveal.js which is a slide presentation tool in HTML. 

RZ It’s very cool. 

PF It’s very cool and it basically just lets you make a deck but the deck can also be filled with classic HTML assets, iFrames, so if you wanna pop a Google Map up in the middle of your deck and have it be interactive, you can do that. You can present that actual deck that people can experience and they can follow along with you, or you can just present it through a tab as if it was a regular deck but then you’re kind of in—You’re in all the things that you need to do because really what’s happening is that I need the whole web and I need all the digital tools kind of available to me in my deck. So that, again, I have to demonstrate this active listening. I can’t just be like, “Mm, good point.” Cuz no one is really seeing me. I need to show them the sort of mental state. I need to externalize it. 

RZ Ok, so we’ve got Google Slides which is out there and free and very powerful. There’s Reveal.js. 

PF Which allows you to kind of batch—Like let’s say I want 500 slides—or 40 or 50 and I don’t wanna, like, it lets you take a simple ball that would list in, in HTML and turn it into content. That presents well. 

RZ We’re glossing over something here: most salespeople have the deck. There’s the one—Like the first call—I don’t know what you want. I don’t know what you’re gonna talk about, what I’m gonna do is talk to you about myself and I’ve got my 15 slides. You wanna hear a little bit about Postlight? Here are my 15 slides. I just—it sits there on my desktop, it’s very static, I don’t have to update it every time. 

PF Danger zone. 

RZ Ok, why? 


PF Danger zone. Can’t do it. 

RZ Explain that. 

PF Because those communication patterns are falling flat in this new way of communicating. You don’t have the tools of charisma and eye contact and, “I really hear you.” And I’m taking notes. Like—I used to always write—I had an iPad, I have an iPad, I’m using it right now as a second screen and I would sit there and I’d scribble on virtual graph paper with my pencil and look, I mean, I really am taking notes. I’d often go back and type them up or sort of use them to do the prep but I was also very aware that people saw me writing down what they were saying. 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF There’s that! 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF And nobody could tell that you’re listening to them when they hear your keyboard, you could be typing in Slack. So now—and I know that sounds really trivial and reductive but it’s real

RZ Yeah, but—but are you making—

PF Humans are simple. 

RZ —a new deck every time you have a call? 

PF No, I’m not. [Ok] In fact, what I’m really settling on—So, we’re a little bit out of order. Slides is still fine and projecting and tabbing is still fine. Reveal is really good if you have a lot of ideas to convey and communicate as you’re getting further and further down the conversation. But the number one tool on the first call that I’m using is this thing called Whimsical. And there’s others: there’s Miro and there’s Mural and so on but it’s a simple whiteboard thought mapping tool. 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF And what I’m doing is I’m sketching the platform that people want us to build. I am listening to them and I’m saying, “That’s interesting.” So, usually when it comes in you have some concept. They’ve sent you a page or a brief. I wanna bring up a diagram and I wanna show you, “I think this is what you’re talking about. Can we walk it through?” 

RZ Mm hmm. 


PF And also what I have noticed is that if you pop up—something that people don’t recognize, that doesn’t look like a deck, it’s like ten minutes of absolute confusion. You have to actually take a minute and be like, “Hey, you know, since the pandemic started, we’ve been doing a little more visualization and whiteboarding digitally so that we can share some of our thought process. I’d love to bring up a thing so that I can show—” 

RZ Interesting.

PF “—where we’re at.” They actually tend to go like, “Well, before you do that—” Cuz that’s almost a little scary in the room and then I’m like, “Do you mind if I present now?” And they’re like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely!” And then you bring this up and they see your mouse moving and I’m actually taking notes in the whiteboarding thing even before I get to them. Even before we bring it up on screen, I’m like taking notes in there. So what comes up on screen is just a lot of rectangles with words—You know, the boxes might be like ‘CMS’ or ‘front end web’ or, you know, ‘design layer’ or whatever with the actual words from them that they’ve already given me. 

RZ Got it! So, you’re lettin’ ‘em talk. Let’s break this down. 

PF Yup! 

RZ You’re lettin’ ‘em talk. Which is what we do: we like to hear you talk as much as possible in the beginning. It gives us—

PF And let me be clear: this is actually not—this is not like a cynical salesman. I genuinely—I had someone explain their home healthcare business to me. It’s fascinating. 

RZ It’s fascinating. 

PF I love it. 

RZ Yeah, totally. And so while they were talking, you weren’t just typing in a text editor, you were sketching and starting to prep something that you were gonna then present back to them. So you’ve walked up to the whiteboard, essentially. And I’ve done this in person, there’s a lot flying at us so I get up, I take a marker, I’m like, “Ok, let’s start to get these ideas down.” And now you’re trying—essentially, you’ve simulated that move, right? Virtually. And it’s hard to do. 

PF That’s right. 


RZ First off, the tool you use here is key. You can’t just share your text editor. That’s not gonna land well. So there are a lot of tools out there. We’ll share some of them that can be presented in visual style but I think more than anything else, I think what you’re pointing out here is that you’re paranoid. You’re paranoid that you’re competing with their desktop, and with their browser, and with the news, and with their email box—do people still say email box? 

PF It’s fine. 

RZ I meant to say inbox. You’re competing with all of it! You just don’t know—you can always see when that person’s eyes are glancing just slightly off center cuz they’re doin’ shit! 

PF You know what else is happening is—So visiting agencies used to be like something you might do maybe two a day max. Or you would, you know, definitely space it out. Or you’d travel to New York City to talk to four or five different firms. 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF Now, you can tell people are back to back. They’re doing half-hour agency, agency, agency, and if you get—

RZ Oh interesting. 

PF—‘em in the middle or towards the end—

RZ Yeah, they’re fried. 

PF Yeah, cuz they’re like, “Well, this’ll be efficient. We’ll get this all done!” 

RZ Yeah, yeah. 

PF Like it’s not—the great mistakes that clients make, God bless, is that they perceive the vendor as a product instead of a relationship, so they then are like, “Well, you know, let’s look at five different cars when we go to the lot.” You know I’m not just gonna go to the lot and look at one Toyota. 

RZ Sure. 

PF And then go back the next day!


RZ Sure. 

PF And so you can see in their eyes and especially when they’re like, “We all have to cut off in the next five minutes,” and you’re like, “Yeah, I know where you’re going.” 

RZ Yeah, yeah. 

PF And so I’m up against that. I’m up against really nice decks on the other side, and against existing relationships I might already have.

RZ You’re trying to engage! 

PF It’s all stacked. 

RZ You’re trying to engage and you’re tryna make this slightly more interesting, slightly more dynamic, people are just consuming so much media in a passive manner today, it’s actually pretty [mm hmm] staggering, right? It’s hard and what you’re doing is you’re like, “You know what? I can’t sound like another infomercial.” And what  you’re doin’ is you’re kinda keepin’ ‘em on their toes, too, right? Like you’re forcing them to interact with you which—

PF Well and I get really—I get really bored. Right? I need to actually understand their business and their business model and understand where they’re coming from. Like, there’s no point—I don’t need to, at this point in my life, I do not need to deliver another software solution using an existing platform along, you know, the Six Sigma policies. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF I wanna know how the world works. That’s why I’m here. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF I’m actually motivated. Like I do wanna figure out what are you guys thinking but I need better tools to bring them into the conversation. It’s a little more like teaching. Like, I’m just like, “Hey, look at this!” And they’re like—And so what’s happening is we’re doing this more and the feedback I’m getting is, “You know, we’ve talked to a lot of people, you were the first ones who really seemed to take the time to understand our business model.” Now all I really did—I took the same time I would normally take to present a deck or get an agenda together, and I drew a bunch of rectangles on a screen. Like, it’s not—the level of effort is not dramatically different. But that the demonstration of listening is what’s key. 


RZ Just to help people out here: what are the tools that you’ve—I know you did the—you did the product hunt expedition where you looked at all the different tools. 

PF Oh, so many. 

RZ There’s so many. So what stands out? 

PF Unless you have good tech shops, stay away from Reveal. That’s not for you unless you are someone is like, “I need to use the web to solve a problem.” Slides is good and especially now Google Meet in particular allows you to present a tab on Google Chrome and it’s very fast. Like it’s optimized, I think a little bit on the client side. So, you get smoother results presenting from Chrome using Meet. So if possible, do that and present a tab. So that’s key. Just to get the smoothness. The web based tool that I go back to and I’ve tried several and I’ve demoed several in meetings and conversations is called Whimsical, And [mm hmm] I used to roll my eyes at it but it is very simple, it is very limited. 

RZ I mean that’s its power feature. That’s its power feature is its simplicity, right? 

PF You’re on a grid and you only have essentially one font and the font can have different sizes and you can drop ipsum dolor in and it’s—or, you know, just it’s like—all the things you need to get an idea across are roughly there. Which at this level of resolution and this kind of interaction style, is pretty good because you actually don’t want the ability to do any detail work. You wanna be—there’s a lot of whiteboard emulators where you can move things around all over the place and zoom in and out infinitely. This is more like spiritually closer to the whiteboard in that I’m gonna have low fidelity ideas jammed onto a space. 

RZ Yeah, it’s Duplo Blocks. It’s kind of—it’s almost corny looking. Yeah. 

PF That’s right and people—All I’m trying to do is get that nod: “You get it.” Right? I need to either hear, “Actually, you missed this. Let me explain it to you.” From the client. Or I need to hear, “Yes, that is—you have given us back what we told you and you understand it.” 

RZ Mm hmm. 

PF Cuz without that understanding you can’t—that’s not a real sales conversation. You actually need to move forward with the understanding. Now there is a third level here. Right? So level one is use the existing tools, present them well, cross your fingers. Level two is: show active listening by demonstrating using visual tools. And then level three to me is starting to feel more and more—and this is—we’re a software company and so we had this option—Like, tools that let you fill in the platform, show how the budget works, explore the schedule, understand the deliverables and see things that aren’t just like deck but actually like, “Hey, my leave-behind here is something interactive that helps you understand your own product and your own project.” 

RZ Yeah. 


PF That’s gonna be a minute. I’ve started to prototype some stuff and sort of share some stuff on the screen and we’re workin’ on it and I think there’s actually a lot of power there. It’s just gonna take a minute. But the real goal here is to take something—and this is very different than any kind of sales that currently exist. It’s to take something and put it in their hands and give up control. 

RZ Yeah. I wanna give this a name! I think we can—I think we can name this before someone else does. You ready? 

PF God! Let’s do it. That is our job as thought leaders. 

RZ It really is. And then we’ll name a conference after it where 6,000 people show up . . . five years from now. [Paul laughs] I’m gonna give it a name. I’m gonna call it Responsive Presenting. Or Reactive Presenting. Cuz everything—

PF Reactive Pre—Yeah. 

RZ Reactive Presenting might be the better—

PF No, no, just go in there: Reactive Sales. 

RZ Reactive Sales. Oof! That’s a book. That’s already at the airport bookstore. Next to the—

PF It’s Reactive Sales, it’s like, you know—

RZ Yeah. 

PF And really all it is I’m gonna create the best model of your project that I can, maybe even including little sliders. So you can be like, “What if I only did half as much design?” And you can see where the time and the resources are gonna go. 

RZ Yeah. 


PF I don’t know if I wanna hand somebody a budget [no, no—]  that they can wrestle with. That might be dangerous. 

RZ What you’re doing here is—You’re—you’re—There’s—watching cartoo—I tell my wife all the time: you know, I’d rather play video games than watch cartoons . . . because at least, and again, it obviously depends on the video game but they’re interacting. Right? Versus passively sitting there and—

PF Yeah. 

RZ Like, the drool is startin’ to collect on the corner of their mouths, right? 

PF No, that’s right, I mean obviously like you can’t go out and hike in the woods, right? Like it’s not—So—you have to—There’s a range of interaction. 

RZ Yeah, Reactive Sales is incredibly powerful especially if it’s a consultative sell, especially if it’s a sell where you’re trying to build engagement, and you’re competing—I say it again and again: you’re competing with that damned desktop. Notifications are poppin’ up. 

PF Oh yeah. 

RZ They keep checkin’ the news. There’s no way around it. You can’t tell people, “Close your laptop,” cuz you are the laptop. Here we are. 

PF No, that’s entirely correct and really what I think give people ways to expl—So what is going to demonstrate active listening the best? Because that is the goal for consultative sell which is, “They heard me the best and have the best strategy to execute on what I truly need.” 

RZ Hugely valuable. Hugely valuable. 

PF That is—that is always the goal. The closer I can get to that, the better. And, you know, like, we’re talking to people around finance or around climate change or—There’s a lot to learn. And I have to profess my ignorance. We do! We say like, “I don’t understand that. I understand what I understand and you’re going to have to educate me but I’m willing to learn.” What I wanna do is create models and tools that I can hand to people. And this is not—we’re not building Microsoft Word. I’m thinking simple websites with a few sliders and it lets you sort of click and look at things. Which show our mental model and let people explore it and understand the parameters that we use to build. And I feel that if I do that and it’s sort of like this is also phased. Like you can’t just drop that on somebody and walk away, it’s gotta be like, “He saw me—” Give the five slide deck and then you saw me drop the boxes and sort of into the conversation and show you your platform. Now I’m gonna show you how we really would get this built. What we see the parameters are. 

RZ Yeah. 


PF I’m gonna expose that part of the process that normally would be hidden in a spreadsheet in a lot of conversation. And I’m gonna let you play with it and think about it and then you come back and ask questions, is sort of the next phase of active listening. So I feel like we’re gonna get those first two phases pretty well locked down and then the third one is growth for the firm. So that is—that is our sales process going forward. 

RZ Yeah. Reactive Sales. Little ‘t’, little ‘m’. Trademarked. That’s the name of this podcast. 

PF Hmm!

RZ But I think—Look: it’s hugely important. I think a) we’re trying to keep our attention high; and b) we’re tryna stay engaged with—I mean, I was on a call yesterday with 15 people. There’s no way [oh yeah]—I mean collectively there was probably the attention of two people. It’s just slivers of attention that you’re stealing from each person, right? 

PF People should be mindful, too, cuz it’s very easy to do a vendor’s assembly in this new world because it’s just—you just send the invite and they’re all gonna show up. A one on one conversation, “Hi,” “Hi,”—

RZ Yeah. 

PF Right? You and I, we’re doing this podcast, high bandwidth. Like it just—I don’t get to go look at Slack while I’m talking to you. 

RZ No, it breaks. Right. 

PF But 15, what you basically are saying is that there’s really only—Like, it probably adds up to like one unit of attention. Everyone’s like five percent. 

RZ Mm hmm, mm hmm. 

PF In terms of how much attention. 

RZ Unless, again, now you’re in a conversation and it’s forcing that a bit here. 

PF Well if I share that software out with 15 people and they move the sliders around and they’re all having their own individual experience and asking us questions, now I got a meeting! 


RZ You know, Paul, from day one, we’ve always kind of said that Postlight isn’t a fill-in-the-blank shop. Like we’re not a Sitecore shop; we’re not a WordPress shop; we’re not a—We use these tools and we value them and we’re pragmatic but we never wanted to be that. We’ve always wanted to be conversational, to build deeper relationships and, you know, I think everything you’re highlighting just reinforces that. It’s how we’re adapting to this new way of engaging and, you know, sort of planting deep roots and that’s something that, I think, makes us different in a lot of ways. What is Postlight, Paul? We keep saying ‘Postlight’. 

PF Well, Rich, as the cofounder of Postlight, I’m glad you asked. Postlight is, at its heart, we are a group of builders. We make digital things. We make software but the reality is people call us in to do strategy. They call us in to think through how their digital platforms and the products that they create are going to affect their long term growth. And this could be big non-for-profits, and it could be giant investment banks, and it could be government agencies, and media firms but they come to us knowing that we can get them their thing but also saying, “Don’t get started. Let’s get a plan first.” And so what happens is that we’re your partner. We are your product partner. We sit there with you and we do the strategy because that is—You have to [music fades in] figure out what you’re building before you build it, don’t start until you know what you’re doing. And then we do the design and then we make it beautiful and we make it real and we get buy in. And then we do the build on the front end and the back end, whether it’s web or mobile, and then on the back end it’s usually very, very powerful APIs that can scale up. And so product strategy, product design, product build. 

RZ Strategy driven—

PF Long term. 

RZ Strategy driven design and development. 

PF Oooh! That is correct. 

RZ I like it. 

PF That’s right. 

RZ Reach out to us. 

PF Yeah! I mean, you— you will be directly in contact with the head of sales. 

RZ Not just that, I gotta say: we give a lot of information away, a lot of really valuable information, without, you know—and a lot of times they don’t lead to engagements and we like to talk and engage. It is a conversation more than anything else. So, reach out. I think we’ve given what’s the catch phra—Reactive Sales. Oh! It’s expensive. The book is expensive. I can already see the book! 

PF Nate and Carlotta, stay safe out there and we’ll see you in five years. 

RZ Yeah, take care, Nate. Bye. 

PF Ok, bye. 

RZ Have a good week, everyone [music ramps up, plays alone for three seconds, fades out to end].