Episode 09 Cognified Marketing and Selling Podcast with Jeff Peres – Everseat
Jeff Peres- Everseat is the guest on episode 9 of the Cognified Marketing and Selling Podcast. In today’s interview, we talk about going from being a Wall Street Investment Banker to scratching and entrepreneurial itch and loving every minute of it. Jeff’s a smart entrepreneur with good instincts and what he’s doing to help medical practice’s harvest lost revenue is exciting.
The transcript of the interview is below:
Joel Gaslin: My guest today is Jeff Peres. Jeff is the founder and CEO of
Everseat. I’ve known Jeff for I guess about seven years now. We first
met when he was helping us at Sightpath Medical when he was the CEO of
Eyemaginations and was helping us with a refractive surgery coordinator
program. With that, Jeff, I’m grateful to have you on the program. Tell
us a little bit about your background.
Jeff Peres: Hey Joel. Thank you for having me today and great to be in
touch. I really appreciate it.
My background is not unlike maybe other entrepreneurs. I went to
graduate school, studied finance and accounting, went into a traditional
Wall Street-type job after that. This was in the late ’90s.
A lot of people when I was graduating from business school were doing
one of two things. It was a very, very clear track. You were either
going into investment banking or management consulting. There were some
exceptions and some big companies that would come around, like
Hewlett-Packard or maybe Proctor & Gamble. But it was very rare to see
someone go to a tech startup or an Internet company.
That changed quickly thereafter, but in my era, we went to investment
banking or consulting. I did that for a while, Joel — maybe seven years
or so. While I worked very hard and had some fun and met some great
people, I found myself admiring the people on the other side of the
table — the operators, the people for whom we were providing our
I formed some good bonds. I tried to learn from what they were doing and
what they were focused on and I found that to be a tremendous source of
motivation and I would say self-searching. My background, just to end
that chapter of the story, right around or a couple years into the
The 2000s, maybe 2003 or so, I decided to depart from the finance industry
and get into small companies and entrepreneurship.
That’s been about 15 years. No looking back, no regrets. So much fun and
stimulation along the way.
Joel: How did you pick where you went? Because certainly you were
exposed to many different industries and verticals. How did you decide
where you went?
Jeff: For me, and I can’t speak for others, but I bet this is probably
part of the story for others, this is always these other influencers. At
the time, I was newly married and starting a family. There’s some
guardrails or parameters that are in my case relevant.
If I had the ability to do it over and if I were in a different place,
or without other commitments, I might have picked up and tried more of
an entrepreneurial town or city. It could be San Francisco. It could
have been Boulder, Colorado or Austin, Texas. I look at those places and
I’ve visited them for work and in some places for fun. I could see my
younger self really enjoying and getting enmeshed in the culture there.
Joel: Yeah, I could see that. Yeah.
Jeff: [laughs] It’s great. I would encourage my younger colleagues and
friends to try that, or my kids, for that matter. For me, there were a
couple other factors — just family, proximity to grandparents, cost of
living, what was doable without being completely disruptive. Returned
from New York City, which was a great place to live, and I really
enjoyed being there for that time.
I wouldn’t want to go back to live there, but I certainly love visiting.
Departed New York. This was a little after 9/11, too, Joel, so you have
some other elements, and just really looked at proximity to
grandparents, which is how I landed back in Baltimore, the town I grew
up, just north of the city.
That governed a lot of it, and then it just became a game of networking
and learning what’s out there. It’s a little bit of a smaller pond, as
you know. The options are different and it forces you to really be
thoughtful in what you’re looking into, but that’s some of the processes
Joel: You connected and became the CEO of Eyemaginations, which was a
patient education company, primarily ophthalmology. When you go in
there, how do you get started there? What do you start looking at when
you get there first?
Jeff: It was like drinking from a fire hose. The company was started by
a great family of really hard-charging, smart guys. Really, I think we
looked initially just at the revenue opportunities, and they really were
flowing in like a fire hose. I’d like to hope I helped in some way and I
added some structure, but in the end, they had started by selling what
at the time were CDs or DVDs at trade shows.
This was really in the ’90s. Doing a lot of trade shows. Have a huge
screen and do demos and get people excited about it, and offer a show
special — some sort of attractive offer or special pricing related to
that trade show. It drives a lot of orders.
The other business channel was these unique one-off animations that were
being made for vendors that needed them. It might be a mechanism of
action for a new drug, or it might be a device or some sort of consumer
product, even like a contact lens.
Diving in — yeah, it was really about trying to harness the revenue,
maybe put some discipline into the contracts, maybe document some
things. We built some infrastructure around the process, ultimately explored
a few CRMs along the way and landed on SalesForce. The team that came
after me took that to a more intense level and really optimized it in
ways that I probably couldn’t have.
Just added some process and some documentation and tried to sell as much
as we could to grow the revenue.
Joel: What was the sales team like? How was that structured? How did you
Jeff: Initially, it was ad hoc and a lot of trade show follow-up. I
think what we did was we brought in some people. We really experimented
and honestly made some mistakes along the way.
Joel: Yeah, sure. We all do.
Jeff: We initially put some people in different territories. We had some
folks in California and New York and Boston and Texas and so forth. If
you think of the traditional proforma model, it’s a lot different and it
enables people to be in offices all the time, knocking on doors, and
dropping off literature.
That’s a more expensive model. In hindsight, we learned it wasn’t the
right mix. When you’re selling a platform product this sort of pre-dates
SaaS, the software-as-a-service, but it morphed quickly into that, again
thanks to a lot of great people that serve or were part of that team.
The morphing, Joel, was one of more of an in-house model driven by
inbound leads, driven by some channel partners and marketing through
still, some trade shows, but not nearly as many and some smart marketing
in the form of articles and blogs and webinars and some good channel
It was a transition from dedicated external marketing-heavy trade shows.
I think there were some years that we went to three or four a month. The
next retina trade show [laughs] and then the refractive trade show. It
was heavy travel and expensive. I think all that’s changed. Again, the
team there, I think, has taken it to another level and probably refined
that even more.
Joel: You may not remember this, and I owe you a debt of gratitude,
because when you and I were working together… If you remember, I came
out and we brought along a couple of doctors and we were working on some
things that we were doing to think about adding new services…
You spent some time showing me your sales model and how you did your
things. I liked the model because I think at Sightpath, we had a
similar challenge in that we don’t apply to everybody in the market, so to
take people and put them out on the street and say, “Hey, go, now here’s
your bag and here’s some stuff and go at it.”
It’s just we had to find a different way to do it. I looked at what you
were doing and then even…
It’s funny you mentioned Sales Force, because as we were going through a
search for a better CRM and the CRM companies and SaaS companies, as you
said, we were going through the sales processes with them, it wasn’t
until the very end that someone actually showed up at our offices.
We did a lot of it over the phone. We did it a lot of webinar things. We
did a lot of work to say, “OK, let’s just go.” The people just came when
they knew it was OK. We were about to close.
We use a lot of that in our business now. Frankly, it’s just driven a
lot of costs out of it for us. I think it’s certainly as efficient and
Jeff: Yeah. Hey, if I may, so I’ll spend one more second on that point
because I fully agree with you. I think as a business person and an
entrepreneur, we often have a fear that there’s some correlation between
the price of the solution we’re selling and the need to be able to shake
hands and be face-to-face.
I know I did. I’m guilty of it. If you were selling some less expensive
widgets it’s easy to do over the phone. Or if you’re selling something
that’s just easily downloadable, of course you’d do it over the phone.
That makes total sense. But the more either customizable or expensive it
is you think, “Oh, well. I have to go there and present. I’ve got to put
on my suit and tie and shake hands.”
I think there’s a place for that, for sure. I’m agreeing with what
you’re saying both in SaaS models in general and sales forces I’ve
Certainly in the way we go to market today in my company, Everseat,
you’re really able to do almost 99 percent of it remotely and via web
and phone. For some of our institutional clients we’ll go on site. Those
are really just the exception.
Joel: I agree with you, Jeff. It’s funny because when we began to
transition our sales model to what I call centralized model, it’s not an
inside sales model. Our people can travel out into the field whenever
they need to.
Frankly, the manufacturers they were sort of snickering at us behind our
backs. I knew it because people were telling me, and that’s fine. I can
live with that.
But we had a different problem to solve than they did, or a different
opportunity to pursue. What we’re doing works for us, and I think
doctors in general. I think the surgical industry in general is becoming
less maybe accepting of reps that just come and stand around in the OR
They aren’t really delivering value on a routine basis. They’re just
there to come and say, “Hey,” to check in as they say. I think people
want value. We, setting with all the tools we have available from a
marketing standpoint and from a data standpoint, and an adding value
standpoint, are what they’re looking for.
Well, enough about that. I want to hear about Everseat. Tell me about
Everseat and what made you start it. Just tell us about that, please.
Jeff: Yeah sure, Joel. I think I was always a tinkerer and sort of a
curious person, a frustrated entrepreneur. I wanted to start something
to really be a creator. I still have that passion in me intensely today.
Everseat was born out of a lot of brainstorming with an old friend and
now a business partner, a doctor here in Maryland named Dr. Kaplan,
Brian Kaplan. He’s ENT, not really in the eye case space.
I got to know him a lot, years ago, both professionally and personally.
I think we had this vision of maybe finding a way to solve a problem.
Lots of problems out there both in healthcare and otherwise.
We brainstormed about probably a couple of dozen different ones. Some of
them were just silly and easily dismissed. Others were maybe a little
bit more tangible and real.
We were thinking a lot about the problem of supply and demand and a lack
of immediate flow of information. If an ophthalmologist in Kansas City
has a LASIK consult open in their counter tomorrow at 9:00 AM who knows
about that? How do you get that word out?
Whether you have a billboard at the side of the road or a TV commercial,
it doesn’t mean people are going to know that the 9:00 AM was open.
Other medical specialties, sometimes the problem is even more tangible.
Dermatology is a great example because very often there is a long wait
time to get in. It could be three weeks. It could be three months for
busy doctors. If you call to get a new consult today, we’re here talking
in May, I know there are some providers you could call and they would
say, “Great. First appoint is September 15th.”
That is frustrating but there are so many appointment changes or
schedule irregularities. We used some of that wording in our initial
marketing literature, scheduling irregularities.
Think of musical chairs. Things change on a dime. We thought, “There’s
got to be a technology that can harness those, or help let appropriate
people know what is becoming newly open without spamming or blasting it
to your whole rolodex or contact log.”
If a practice had 10,000 patients we didn’t want to blast it out to all
10,000 that Dr. Wilson has an opening tomorrow. We want to define a
smarter solution for that. That was our initial premise. That was the
initial problem, Joel, that we were trying to solve.
It went from there. It was a lot of iteration, a lot of learning, a lot
of feedback and mistakes, and learning again. A sort of a circular
process around that.
Joel: How does it work today? What is the final product as it stands
today, or service as it stands today?
Jeff: It’s interesting. We got to market two different ways today.
[laughs] Like anything, it may be different six months from now. The two
ways we go to market today are we sell a SaaS model, a subscription
service. We’re principally going after medium and large size healthcare
For us, that’s a description of how many people work in the practice in
a patient-facing capacity. It’s not that we eliminated or we got rid of
small practices. Think of solo providers like a dentist, a chiropractor,
or even certain ophthalmologists.
It’s that it was hard for us for economically to make it work on the
small end. We’ve aimed for these groups that have 8 or 10 providers or
more. We’ve got a few that go upwards into 800, more like a hospital
system and alike.
Today, that’s the first model. It’s a SaaS solution. We are…
Joel: Is it reasonable that scheduling complexity increases in a
multiplicative fashion on the number of providers? Is that a reasonable
thing that happens?
Jeff: Yeah, it is.
Jeff: It is. It can stay simple if the institution wants to keep it
simple. It’s more likely that it gets way more complex. There are highly
specialized surgeons that only want to do one type of thing. They’re
super trained in what they do, and excellent at it.
There are generalists. There are a lot of key mid levels and
non-physician professionals that provide a tremendous amount of
healthcare and leverage in the system, like PAs and nurse practitioners.
There’s a whole continuum of professionals that this could work for.
Certainly, the larger ones are the more complex.
Joel: Got it.
Jeff: The medium ones have proven to be probably the sweet spot for us.
I’d say that’s somewhere between, like I said, 8 or 10 up to maybe 50.
We do a lot of…
Joel: Why do you think that is?
Jeff: I know why it is. It’s a couple of reasons. One, [clears throat]
it’s a big enough group that they’re a professional organization. They
have some staff. Usually, they have an administrator, a COO, or a
Joel: Got it.
Jeff: That’s number one. They’re not so big that they are a hospital or
a health system, which is mired often in committees or a more rigorous
decision making and budgeting.
That middle tier is big enough to be profitable and attractive. They
need our service. Whether they get it from a different vendor or not is
obviously a scenario.
They need something in the category of what Everseat does. They
generally can move more rapidly, make quick decisions.
Joel: More nimble.
Jeff: Yeah, exactly, definitely more nimble. Good call.
Joel: Great. Anything else you want to say about Everseat?
Jeff: Yeah, we go to market two ways. The second way we’ve gone to
market is something we really discovered, I’d say, within the last 12
months, which is in a white label manner. This is really something
that’s quite fun, and looks like it’s going to be a big part of our
We are able to be the scheduling engine for other platforms that might
be in the clinic today. They might have their own reps selling their own
solution. They don’t have scheduling.
A great example of that, Joel, would be some of the telehealth
companies. Think of, you know maybe Skype types or things like Doctors
on Demand, or TeleDoc.
These are examples. They’re not clients of Everseat, but just examples
of remote consults. It’s a big, big business and I think really
continuing to grow rapidly.
Some of them need a scheduling widget built in. If I’m talking to Dr.
Joel and you’re my doctor, and you decide that you need me to come in or
you need a follow-up, or you need me to go to the lab to give some
blood, you could say, “Hey, tap on the screen below. I’ve had a
five-minute telehealth consult with you, but you need to come in and
have that looked at. Tap on the screen below and you can schedule a
That scheduling widget is Everseat in many cases.
Joel: That’s cool.
Jeff: It’s really cool. It’s a great business. It’s private-labeled.
It’s more deployed in an API format. They’re using our technology, but
in their wrapper or their UI. Again, I think that looks like a very big
growth avenue for us.
Joel: I think we talked about this when we had a chance to visit in DC a
couple weeks ago, or a month ago, rather. Have you looked at putting
something like that into the SalesForce ecosystem?
Jeff: Yeah, we have. We have. I think we will. We have a couple of
clients that are using SalesForce now in the healthcare environment.
They’re using it as their CRM/EHR that’s on the fringe of being an EHR,
but more of a CRM. I think that’s a definite. We’re not there yet. We
haven’t done it. We’ve been more focused on the core healthcare group,
the Athenas and Epics of the world.
However, I think there’s a big, big opportunity. In fact we just spoke
to an accountant about that earlier this week. We think we should be in
there. A lot of other groups are launching these ecosystems or
marketplaces. It’s something we’re excited about. I think it’s a great
way to gain exposure, so we’re very enthusiastic about it.
Joel: I’m happy for you, because I think you’re at the front end of
what’s going to be a significant trend certainly in ophthalmology, and I
think in other specialties, too, is that the physicians have been so
focused for the past 10 years, roughly, on looking backwards onto my EHR
system, my practice management system — things that are happening, in
the restaurant vernacular, back of the house.
Whereas I think they’re going to need to start looking at front of the
house and how are we handling and building demand? Not in the sense that
they don’t have enough to do. Ophthalmology, let’s face it– we all know
the “10,000 people a day turn 65,” yadda, yadda, yadda. We hear that.
But what’s also true is with that onslaught coming in, they have to
begin to codify that data of what’s coming in and how they interact with
people and make the patient experience better. I think they’re going to
need a company like SalesForce coupled with an Everseat, and
SalesForce’s recent purchase of Mulesoft, which becomes that hub for all
the different software platforms to talk to one another. I think you’re
just really in an exciting place for some things that are happening in
Jeff: Thanks, Joel. We agree too. I think in healthcare, like certain
other categories, people will naturally be a little risk-averse, or a
little bit of a later adopter, or just let these changes settle a little
bit before they jump in and adopt. We’ve seen that. We’ve seen longer
sales cycles. It’s hard when you’re in it. It’s not fun.
Joel: How do you compress it? What steps do you take to try and compress
the sales cycle?
Jeff: Well, if I had that answer… [laughs]
Joel: [laughs] Dang, I was hoping you could tell me.
Jeff: If I had that answer, I think I’d feel [laughs] really good about
Here’s what I would tell you. It’s a combination of a few things. First
of all, I don’t think it’s a price thing. I don’t think saying, “Hey,
great. We’re going to take off 10 percent,” or “We’re going to drop it
by 50 percent” — I categorically do not think it’s a pricing thing.
I think it is around showing value, showing other use cases or case
studies of people that sat just where they did a year earlier and were
on the fence or were uncomfortable.
I think it’s about listening really, really well and understanding pain
points, so rather than just selling features, trying to really
understand pain points. That probably is the best way that we think we
can compress it. If we realize there’s a problem, and the organization
is saying, “We struggle with this,” if our solution can genuinely be
helpful or add value, you have an interested customer. It’s hard.
The other thing that’s important is persistence, having grit and not
giving up when they tell you for 20 times in a row, “We’re not ready
yet.” The 21st time, the very likely they are ready.
It’s sounds very, very mundane and basic. Having some persistence and
putting a system in place, like Salesforce and other tools, to manage
your pipeline is critical. It’s really proven to work for us.
I have some delightful examples of people that we’ve talked to for two
years. Finally, they call us, and they’re like, “OK, we’re ready. Send a
contract.” It’s a really nice feeling when that happens.
Joel: Yeah, you’re right. We have that a lot, too. I can relate to that
it is. It’s satisfying when the rep comes and says, “Hey, it’s one we’ve
been talking about in my pipeline for two years. They just signed.”
That’s fun. You’re right.
Jeff: That’s a good thing. You may also have this, too, because of the
industry you’re in. I have a couple of people that have called us and
said, “You know what? We went with a different solution last year for
whatever reason. One of our VPs knew them really well.”
Or, “They gave us some other incentives. We tried it. We deployed it. We
rolled it out. We’re so sorry to say that we made the wrong decision.
Can we still talk to you now?” That’s pretty cool, too.
Joel: It is. What we have that happens there, Jeff, is we use, what I
would call, transparent and customized pricing. Every single one of our
proposals is truly unique. We get all the supplies that the physicians
I’m talking about a cataract business, right now, to the blade they use,
the different kind of drapes they want. It’s everything customized. Then
when we submit a proposal based on that, some of our competitors,
they’ll submit a bare-bones proposal, and then the people will go with
that because it’s lower price.
It’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison. We try really hard to
convey that message. Then, after the one year is up, they come back and
say, “Well, we’re going to go with you guys because the pricing that
they showed us really wasn’t what it was. They couldn’t deliver on the
same services as you.”
You’re right. That’s fun. We like when that happens, too.
Jeff: Yeah, that’s true. That’s very true.
Joel: You said there were two primary go-to-market strategies you have.
One is the white label. What’s the standard run-of-the-mill Everseat,
“Hey, we’re going to market,” straight up? What’s that one?
Jeff: That’s selling a SaaS solution. The straight-up is what we do all
day, every day. It’s selling a subscription license. It’s generally a
one-year license. We have a couple of accounts that are two years and
three years, but it’s generally one year.
You’re basically plugging into their practice management system and
helping them with scheduling, managing a digital waitlist, dealing with
some appointment reminders, and a comprehensive suite. It’s truly a
It’s done in the cloud. It’s not on-premises. You don’t have to go on
site. It’s a subscription. We are EHR agnostic. We’ll plug into all of
them. Some are easier than others.
We’ll plug into any EHR and practice management solution, and sell your
practice a subscription, Joel, to the Everseat platform. That’s the
core, plain vanilla, go-to-market approach that we have.
Joel: Tell me about the onboarding process. What’s that like?
Jeff: Great. Onboarding process generally involves two things. One is
staff training, and the other is integration with your practice
It’s all done remotely. We’re not coming on site. Again there’s some
footnotes to that, if you’re a larger institution. Even there, it’s
really able to done remotely.
The integration is done today through APIs. These are bidirectional
integration. We’re looking to do read and write back. We can read the
calendar for tomorrow.
Then, if Ms. Wilson books an appointment, we could drop it back into the
calendar. We could check her insurance. We can verify whether she’s a
new or existing patient, and so forth.
That is all done through a series of API integrations that we’ve spent
four years working on. That’s probably the most heavy lifting on the IT
side that we’ve done.
We can integrate with pretty much any system that’s out there. There are
some rare exceptions, but I would say easily 85, 90 percent of them.
The onboarding for the staff is really done, Joel, in a series of
webinars and calls, usually three or four. One is to set up templates.
Another is some training. We do a lot of testing or fictitious patients,
pretend appointments that are not real, to make sure that everyone is
trained and ready.
Jeff: Those calls are not exceptionally long. Maybe each one is 30
minutes. We try not to be disruptive of the staff. Usually we succeed
when we find an internal champion or point person within a practice.
Doesn’t matter whether it’s ophthalmology or derm or women’s health or
cardiology. If you lock in a point person who’s your advocate and who’s
the chaperone, it goes really nicely and we get the screening done, the
kickoff, and we’ve seen some great results and have a lot of great
advocates and champions.
Joel: First year, typically, Jeff, what are people seeing that gives you
a lot of satisfaction to say “Yeah, I’m so happy we did this”? What kind
of results are people seeing?
Jeff: We look at a bunch of different types of data. We look at
appointments that are available. That’s going to depend on your overall
capacity utilization. How busy are you? How many open slots do you have?
How new are you at your profession? If you’re a second-year doctor
versus being in your 25th year, you have different levels of depth and
We look at how many of those appointments have you made available
through an Everseat channel, be it on a website, a mobile app, a text
message, an email? There’s all sorts of ways to get appointments out
there. Then of those that you make available, how many do you fill? It’s
math, it’s a percentage.
Jeff: Then how many of those happen per month relative to what you’re
paying us? We’ll work with you to assign a dollar value to an
appointment. This is just a clinic visit, so this is not surgery. This
is not Lasik or cataracts. It’s a clinic visit, usually. You and I
talked about this two years ago.
It’s impossible to book a cataract surgery on my online platform,
because there’s too many measurements and analyses that have to occur.
But it’s great to book an initial consult or a follow-up visit or a
Botox injection, or things that can occur.
The way we measure it, Joel, is both in terms of how many are being
booked, and then how many are you booking relative to what you’re
spending with us? Most people understand the concept of ROI really,
really well. If they’re spending $1,000 and they’re making $1,001,
that’s not the best ROI — technically a positive endeavor.
But if they’re spending 1,000 and they’re making 15,000, then people…
Joel: That’s pretty good.
Jeff: Yeah, then they’ll think that’s great. We measure it for ’em, we
share it with them, we talk about it. If we’re not seeing good results
we’ll work with them to tweak and modify things. But when you see it
installed properly, it really hums. I’ll give you some examples just
that we were looking at recently, without even naming the practices.
There’s a multi-specialty group. This means all sorts of different types
of providers up in Albany, New York. They put the system in really
recently. They put it in in March, and we are now in sort of the second
week of May. They saw 145 appointments come through last month, and of
that, 35 within the last week. That’s a nice number for us, just given
that they just put it in. That’s…
Joel: That’s 180 slots that wouldn’t have been filled?
Jeff: Well, we’re not saying they wouldn’t have been filled, because
some could have been filled by calling in. We want to be realistic to
know that they could have been filled other ways. What we do take credit
for is driving online booking, availability, and ultimately cutting back
a little bit on the demands of the call center or the front desk.
Even if not all of them wouldn’t have been filled another way, a
percentage of them didn’t have to call. That’s a huge savings or upside.
Joel: It’s a nice experience for the patient too.
Jeff: It’s a nice experience for the patient, and also after hours. If
you’re trying to book something after your kids are asleep and it’s now
9:00 at night, or it’s Sunday and you don’t feel well — you return from
church and you have a discomfort that you’re not used to, it’d be great
to be able to get some peace of mind to know that you have an
appointment the next day.
That alone is very valuable. Here’s a cardiology practice that posted 31
appointments on their website this week. Of the 31, they booked 28 of
Jeff: I can’t ask for better data. That’s amazing and good.
Joel: That’s wonderful.
Jeff: Let’s look at an eye doctor, because I know that’s an area where
you spent a lot of your career.
Joel: [laughs] All of it.
Jeff: This is a great guy. I know you know him well. He’s in Ohio. He’s
posted eight appointments this week and booked eight.
Jeff: So he’s batting 1000. In the last month, he’s posted 69
appointments and booked 65. Again, that’s amazing data. We’re delighted
to see that. We look at both. We look at that over what their monthly
spend is with us, and these are really astonishing returns for them.
What they’re spending on this service, this is part of their budget,
have to take that seriously. If it’s not making them money or at least
helping them drive efficiencies, they’re going to have second thoughts
about it. Those are just some real numbers, from May of 2018, which are
really really positive.
Joel: That’s good. It’ll be fun when you go back and listen to this
three years from now, after you’ve done all sorts of fun things. You
say, “Wow, look, that’s where we were then.” It’s kind of fun that we
have a little record here for you.
Jeff: For sure.
Joel: What books are you reading these days? What skills are you working
to learn and acquire?
Jeff: I love questions like that. Let’s see. Well, I’ll answer them in
reverse. Skills I’m looking to acquire, I’m looking to always continue
to be a better dad.
Jeff: I think you’re never finished there. My boys are in high school
and middle school, respectively, so super important to me and something
I think about every day of the week. I’m trying to figure out whether
I’m a morning or afternoon exerciser.
Jeff: I haven’t done well at that. [laughs] I can tell you I’m not an
evening exerciser. I work with a great guy who’s able to have dinner
with his family that I imagine digests his food and do whatever. He can
work out like nine o’clock at night.
Joel: I couldn’t do that.
Jeff: It’s amazing. I couldn’t do that. So trying to refine that. I’m
trying to read more. I think I’ve really gotten good at that. I sort of,
like you, Joel, I set some goals. I really tried to hold myself
accountable and that’s been good, almost to a point of obsession.
Joel: Yeah, what did you say, you’re doing one book a week or something
Jeff: I try to do one book a week all year long. I’ve been able to do
it. I think I’m going to mess up May and not hit it.
Jeff: [laughs] But I’m going to give myself some slack. Yeah, trying to
do one book a week. Honestly, I sort of go a slightly wide range. I love
business books and I always keep them as part of the mix, but I’ll read
a lot of history and fiction, because I really just want to just stretch
I read a book earlier this year. It’s more of a mainstream one,
“American Kingpin”. Super interesting, about online drug trade and
massive FBI search to track down the participants and bring them to
justice. Just a more exciting story, sort of intense story. I read Phil
Knight’s “Shoe Dog”. It sounded amazingly touching and motivating. Lots
of elements in there I could connect with.
I listened to Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit”. I thought it was great.
Sort of persistence and stick-to-it-ness. Another book that I read that
I liked a lot was Amy Wilkinson’s “Creator’s Code”. She talks a lot
about the OODA loop, I’m not sure I’m pronouncing it correctly, but I
probably am. It’s something that has some reference to war planes and
battle and other things.
Joel: That’s that general.
Jeff: That’s right.
Joel: He never really wrote a really definitive guide to that theory,
right? He just used it and wrote a very simple framework and a paper on
it. That’s all that it’s really been, right?
Jeff: A hundred percent right. It’s sort of gotten this cult following.
It’s one of those Air Force generals.
Joel: It’s like observe, orient, decide, and act, or something like
Jeff: That’s it. That’s right. That’s exactly it. I think that it really
works particularly in startups. It takes great discipline to stick to
it. I don’t think we do it perfectly here for sure. If you do those
steps, it will help you make some decisions and maybe cut what’s not
working. I know we have. We’ve introduced a lot of things here that we
since had to reorient and act.
It’s helpful. It’s satisfying. Those are some of the things I’m reading.
Joel: That’s cool.
Jeff: I dig into a lot of history stuff, too, that’s just sort of goofy
about unknown presidents that I never would have bothered to read about,
like James Polk or some other thing. I have no idea why that captures my
imagination, but occasionally I’ll just read one of those. In case I
ever end up on “Jeopardy!” I’ll be able to answer those questions.
Joel: [laughs] That’s good. I like to do the same thing. I’m a jogger. I
won’t say a runner, because that would be overstating the speed at which
I do the whole deal. I’m a jogger, maybe even borderline plodder.
Joel: I like to listen to books while I’m doing that, and I hit the
weights for a little bit afterwards. Lately I’ve been sort of obsessed
with books about learning how to write better because I like to write,
and I want to get better at that craft, so I’ve been learning and
Then also I like to pick up and download from Audible that’s the classic
novels that maybe you read in high school English class or college class
but really don’t remember much. Right now, I’m listening to Hemmingway’s
“For Who the Bell Tolls.” It’s interesting to go back and listen to
those and hear the stories. I think you and I are in the same boat
Jeff: That’s way cool. I love that last anecdote. I agree with you
completely, and I am also a big believer in mixing that diet up just
like you’ve done with some of your Audible choices. I completely agree
with you. I don’t know why, and I don’t even care why, I think it makes
one a more well-rounded person. I’m fully in agreement with what you
just said, Joel.
Joel: Good, good. If you could be reincarnated…Let me try that again.
If you, Jeff, could be reincarnated as one business person, whom would
it be and what’s one thing you’d do differently than they did?
Jeff: You know what, I am not positive I’ll come with a good answer to
Joel: There’s no bad answer.
Jeff: It’s an awesome question. I’m not going to do the best job of
answering this, but I’ll give you two or three and i’ll tell you why
quickly, then you can edit out whatever you think is excessive or
useless.I don’t look at Warren Buffett as a businessperson, although of
course he is. I think he’s just sort of a wise person, a great
decision-maker and investor.
I just value that in him — his ability to make smart investment
decisions and stick to it, and so not jump on the Internet train when
everyone else did, or not jump on the bitcoin thing when everyone else
did. I definitively value that and I think having the willingness and
the ability to not follow the herd is an amazing trait.
What would I do differently if I were him? I’d stay away from insurance,
because I think it’s horrendously boring.
Joel: And wildly profitable. [laughs]
Jeff: Right, but he’s Warren Buffett, so I would have been wrong. I
would have been wrong. I will say one or two other quick ones. I’ve read
a few books of — Joel as I know you have. I love the stories about
investors. Howard Schultz from Starbucks, and there’s probably 500
others, like Elon Musk, or like Peter Thiel and others.
People who have had a vision and had something, a concept and a product
and got turned down the first 150 times that they spoke to investors —
I so value the stick-to-it-ness and the willingness to stick to your
vision and not get disheartened or give up. Maybe they did get
disheartened and frustrated, but not give up, because I find that to be
exceptionally motivating and inspirational.
If you have a vision and you have something you’re passionate about and
you just know it’s right, and maybe your timing’s wrong or the market’s
wrong, but so if I came back as them, probably I would not have had that
kind of patience and I would have missed the opportunities.
There’s hundreds of others. I’m just reaching for two or three names
Joel: No. Those are good.
Jeff: Those are some examples. Honestly, if I had done things
differently, again, I probably would have fared way less well than those
Joel: You never know. Just in your mind, what does it mean to you, Jeff,
to sell or market smarter? How do you think about that?
Jeff: On that, I think a lot about, “less is more.” I think a lot about
really doing a lot of thinking and research in advance, so that you form
a point of view, you understand the market, you try as best you can to
understand your clients’ needs before you meet with them. For me,
selling and marketing smarter is about having greater precision in how
you communicate and what you say, and also what you don’t say.
Earlier on and even probably now a little bit, but certainly earlier on,
we would go in and just do these massive feature demos. 45 minutes of
this button and this widget and this setup and this tool and that tool.
It was sort of a disaster. We would still sell something. This is both
at my current company and other companies. It was just featuring them to
death before you knew maybe what their pain points were.
For me, selling and marketing smarter includes listening more. I think
it includes being a thoughtful contributor to conversations without
being an aggressive seller. I see that with just more inbound marketing,
stuff you and I have talked about. I know you have some real expertise
Whether you’re contributing an article or a survey or a podcast or a
LinkedIn posting, I’d rather be a part of the conversation where you’re
establishing yourselves as a participant, as someone with a respected
point of view, and you’re not always “Me, me, me and my product.”
I think if one can do that, they’re likely to garner some respect and
therefore trust. Then the conversation around the need and that sort of
product fit is met with less resistance. People put their guard down and
they see you as perhaps a trusted industry colleague and less as a sales
exec. That for me is selling and marketing smarter.
Joel: I like it. That’s how we’re thinking. We think very similarly.
That’s why I like to talk to people about and promulgate the idea of
having your own platform. This term platform is bandied about
ophthalmology a lot these days, with platform practices and platform
But I think we as a sales and marketing person, you should have your own
platform. Part of that platform is, what are the planks within my
platform that make up what I think about, and how I think about things
that someone could say, “Yeah, I want to align with that guy because I
like how he thinks”?
Whereas if you don’t put any of that information out there, and put it
in some meaningful fashion where people can see it, how will they ever
do it or how will they ever see it? All they’ll see is what someone else
says about you or what your company says about you.
You have to be loyal to your company and all that good stuff. I’m not
suggesting that. I think we as commercial professionals, we need to have
our own platforms out there so people can look at them and say, “What
does Jeff Peres think and what does Joel Gaslin think? How does he make
decisions?” I think we’re thinking along the same lines there.
Jeff: Yeah, I think we are, Joel. You know what I’ll add, and I
mentioned this to you once before, I think. I think that it’s
exceptionally hard and takes a great amount of commitment and discipline
to stay consistent, to stay true to that mission. I think those that do
will undoubtedly benefit more, will gather that greater community
respect, and have that platform, have that brand.
I think it’s exciting. I think what you’re doing is extremely exciting.
I just footnote that it doesn’t happen on auto-pilot and it doesn’t
happen by accident. It is a true discipline, just like going for that
run or anything else that you make a habit.
That’s another book I read, that Charles Duhigg book on habit. I’m just
flagging that I have tremendous for that because it’s not easy to be
Joel: You’re right, and this is kind of an old one. One of the first
management or motivational books I read was the old Ken Blanchard
“One-Minute Manager.” I think it was in that one. It was Ken Blanchard
who made the quote and I think it was in that book.
But he talked about the difference between an interested runner and a
committed runner is the interested runner gets up in the morning. He
looks out the window and it’s raining, and he says, “Aw, it’s raining,
so I’m not going to run today, because it’s raining.” The committed
runner gets up in the morning, looks out the window, and says, “Oh, it’s
raining. Yet it’s time for my run, so I better put my rain gear on and
go for my run.” [laughs]
I think about that often — that it’s easy to get waylaid and make
excuses for not doing it.
I don’t come at this from a position of judgment that “Hey, it’s easy,”
because I fall down on it all the time. Just look at the history of my
regular cadence of putting these episodes and links together. I have
room for improvement too, so that’s where I am on that.
Jeff: It’s motivating. It’s always fun to aspire and to have goals. We
all have room for improvement. But what you’re doing is a) I think
working and b) just again noting that it’s not easy. It takes tremendous
discipline. When those rainy days are out there, yeah, I can tell you —
I don’t feel like going for a run. I am certain of it, so I get it
Joel: What haven’t I asked you about that I should have and perhaps
you’d like to talk about before we close up?
Jeff: Let’s see. This has really been fun and comprehensive. I’ll say
one or two other things and if there is a place for them in your end
product that’s great and if not that’s OK too. I think one thing that
I’ve realized in doing this initiative with Everseed and branching out
and trying to bring a solution to market from scratch — I would tell
people, ask for more help. Ask for help from even the sources that you
don’t think are as relevant. People generally want to help you and
people generally will root for you.
I’ve seen that, and again, these aren’t even doctors or nurses or
orthodontists or optometrists. These are random people that work in call
centers that’ll give me feedback about how the call center works. Or
they’re patients that have had to deal with chronic conditions, and so
they’re in and out of the doctor’s offices hundreds of times a year.
It’s been remarkable just to ask people for feedback and help, not so
much as a paid project but just to give some guidance or give some point
of view. Sometimes maybe you’re either reticent or afraid or
uncomfortable to ask for help. But asking for help has proven to be
really wonderful and has helped me make some great friends.
Joel: That’s a great tip.
Jeff: Yeah, and the inverse is also true, which is pay it forward. I
have had plenty of people that I’ve tried to do favors for with no
expectation in return.
Some of it’s just networking. Some people needed to use a piece of my
product for a big presentation. We didn’t bother charging them. They
needed a favor, they were in a jam, and we could help them and make them
look good. I believe in karma. Pay it forward is the other thing that I
would add to the conversation.
Joel: That’s great. Anything else?
Jeff: I don’t think so. I’m hoping that the springtime has arrived in
Joel: It has, finally. [laughs]
Jeff: This was super-fun.
Joel: It was fun. I’m grateful that you took the time. I know we had a
little scheduling headaches on my end, so I’m grateful for your
flexibility and the time you spent talking. It’s been a lot of fun.
Jeff: Oh, gosh. No, it’s nice to catch up. I’m really, like I said,
impressed with what you’re doing. I’d like to be helpful in any way that
I can. I want to stay in touch and keep you up to date on some of the
other projects that I’m working on, and hopefully see you soon.
Depending on where your travels take you and what other opportunities we
have, I really enjoy catching up.
Joel: Yeah, it’s always fun, Jeff. Thanks for the time.
Jeff: Yeah, thanks for today. I’m sure I’ll talk to you over the next
few days or weeks, and debrief, Joel, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks
for the great conversation.
Joel: Thanks Jeff. Have a good night.
Jeff: Take care.
The post Episode 09 Cognified Marketing and Selling Podcast with Jeff Peres – Everseat appeared first on Joel Gaslin's Blog.