January 17, 2024

Relationship Building and Human-Led Sales with Rafael Guper and Serkan Ferah

In this episode, Rafael and Serkan talk about relationship-focused and human-led sales strategies, navigating challenges in bearish markets, and personal well-being as a startup founder.

Table of contents

Meet our guests

Rafael Guper, Co-founder of UJJI, AI-powered, gamified bespoke training for fast-paced businesses.

Rafael is a ​​business, brand, and creative strategist with over 12 years of experience in Marketing, Communications, Advertising, Data, and Tech working for businesses in the most diverse of categories in Brazil and in the UK.

Serkan Ferah, Founder of Native, a gamified audience growth and engagement platform.

A branding & pitching expert, Serkan has been involved in over 50 start-up investment and crowdfunding campaigns and advised over 70 companies (mostly technology start-ups in the UK and the US) in pitch production at accelerators.

Key takeaways

  • Prioritize relationship-building over closing deals, starting with authentic connections and organic interactions, especially in the early stages.
  • Embrace human-led sales by incorporating storytelling into pitches, making potential clients an integral part of the narrative to create an immersive experience.
  • Iterate messaging for a crisp and compelling value proposition, clearly communicating the problem solved, the solution, and the impact on ROI.
  • Navigate the challenges of being a founder by acknowledging the fluidity of moods and inject life into your routine by engaging in non-work activities for a fresh perspective.

Prefer audio format? Listen on Spotify.

Background and getting into sales

As Alper welcomes his two guests, Serkan Ferah and Rafael Guper, who are founders and sales leaders, they introduce themselves and share some of the details about their background and childhood. Rafael talks about his upbringing in Brazil and Italy, emphasizing the influence of his late father in shaping his career and the emotional connection driving his passion and perseverance.

Serkan follows by discussing his childhood in Turkey, highlighting his tendency to challenge the status quo and bring about change, a trait that has persisted throughout his life and career. He also talks about the pressure to excel academically and how his childhood experiences contributed to his people-pleasing and relationship-building skills, particularly in sales.

The conversation then shifts to the topic of sales, with Alper asking the guests about their experiences and attitudes towards sales. Rafael discusses his background in business and brand strategy, where he primarily sold ideas internally within corporate settings. However, when he transitioned to being a VC-backed founder, he had to learn the nuances of B2B sales, including cold outreach and social media messaging.

“So I just really had to learn the ins and outs of it, learning how to effectively and efficiently do cold outreach, how to effectively and efficiently use social media messaging such as LinkedIn to build founder-to-founder relationships or even relationships with decision-makers in the businesses of the ICPs that I tap into.”

Serkan shares his perspective on sales, emphasizing the discomfort associated with rejection. He explains that his approach is more relationship-focused, inviting people to learn about his product organically. 

“What I'm doing is just I'm talking about it. But what I talk about is very attractive to whoever I talk to, and then it becomes a sales conversation quite organically because that turns into an inbound. And the reason behind that is because I don't try to sell or I don't start the conversation or the relationship with an objective to sell.”

Embracing the human-led sales strategies

Nex, Alper discusses current trends in sales, emphasizing a shift towards more human-led sales strategies and a focus on helping before selling. 

Speaking about his previous business, Pitch.Space, Serkan shares that storytelling is crucial in sales and notes the significance of making potential clients part of the story, highlighting that people need to buy into the vision and the hero of the story.

“And when you tell your story, it's not just you tell it, it's you need to make them part of that story. It needs to be immersive, otherwise you just alienate them. So they need to buy into the vision, they need to buy into the hero of that story, which you are the hero of that story.”

The conversation then shifts to the challenges faced by early-stage founders in the current market, including the need for clear messaging, creating urgency, and establishing credibility.

Rafael Guper shares his perspective on navigating bearish economic times, emphasizing the importance of iterating messaging for a clear and compelling value proposition. He discusses the challenges of driving urgency for their solution and the need to communicate the problem they solve, how they solve it, and the impact on ROI.

“So always being 100% clear with your messaging to a point in which like your position is crisp and super slick and super understandable and absorbable that you can actually just deliver it in one sentence that actually lands straight away. So they know the problem that you're solving, how you're going to solve it, and ultimately what is the impact of this for them in terms of ROI.”

The challenges of a startup founder

In this section, Alper Yurder shifts the focus to the personal side of being a founder and asks Serkan and Rafael about their experiences and challenges beyond business.

Serkan acknowledges the challenges and highlights the fluid nature of moods throughout the day. He emphasizes that being a founder is a personal reflection and an extension of himself. 

“And also, for me, it is more about creating a legacy that can actually outlive me. That's all about it. That's the ultimate goal. That's why it's very personal. So the ups and downs are much more dramatic than probably someone who is working for a startup.”

Rafael discusses the importance of injecting life into his routine by spending time with his daughter and engaging in his favorite sport. He emphasizes the value of incorporating non-work activities into his schedule for a fresh perspective.

Rapid-fire questions

  1. What are your top tips as a founder who's leading the sales machine for developing sales?
  • Prioritize building relationships over closing deals. Focus on creating genuine connections with others.
  • Avoid immediately pitching your product or service. Instead, concentrate on building authentic connections and showcasing your vision.
  • For early-stage founders, opt for organic and manual methods before considering automation. This approach allows you to understand how to build relationships, learn the language used by your audience, identify their challenges, and comprehend the sales cycle before automating any processes.
  1. What are your top three things about closing a deal (it can be from the start to the end or maybe it can be a specific part of it)?
  • Prioritize relationship building.
  • Be patient and persistent. It's essential to follow up in a way that adds value to the decision-maker.
  • Consistently iterate and refine your messaging. 

Resources

Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: Here we go. Well, welcome to the show. In this episode, I'm super happy to be joined by two fellow founder hustlers who are both founders and sales leaders in their own right. I'm joined by Serkan, who is the founder of Native, and he's a serial entrepreneur actually. This is not his first rodeo. And Rafael is the founder of UJJI. We're all located in London. We all know ourselves quite well, so I'm looking forward to this conversation because it will be quite colloquial, but we'll be sharing some juicy facts about being a founder and a sales leader at the same time and juggling many other things, among which can be fundraising, being a part-time dad or full-time dad and a part-time something else. But welcome to the show, guys. I'm super happy to have you.

Rafael Guper: Thanks so much for having us.

Serkan Ferah: Thank you so much for having us.

Alper Yurder: This is the first time I'm doing that. I'm hosting two people on a show, so it's going to be a learning. Like maybe I should yield the floor to each other. Okay, good. So Serkan, welcome. Do you want to quickly introduce yourself to the audience?

Serkan Ferah: Thank you so much for having us. Yes, of course, this is Serkan. I am the founder of Native. It's a gamified audience engagement platform for communities and businesses so that they can get people to do things that deliver results. And it's a pre-seed startup. We are based in London. And yeah, that's the beginning of our story.

Rafael Guper: Awesome. Yeah, thank you so much for having us, Alper. Yeah, Rafael here, originally from Brazil, have been in the UK now for six years. And I'm the founder of UJJI, essentially the AI-powered learning as a service platform, helping fast-paced work environments to transform their documents in their own internal processes into gamified training experiences for their people.

Alper Yurder: Excellent. And full disclosure here, both myself and Flowla, we kind of engage with your products as well. So that has to be a transparent disclosure in advance because I enjoy not only talking to you as founders, but also I enjoy using your products, learning about your products more and more and glad to be on this journey together with you. Anything you want to share before we start?

Serkan Ferah: Yes, well done, well done for being the product of the month on Product Hunt, of course.

Alper Yurder: Thank you. Yeah, I'll take it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, we just got... No, I mean, we did our... As a first-time founder, it was my first time launching on Product Hunt. It was like a 24-hour effort. We're going to definitely share our learnings on it. But we got product of the day, then we got product of the weekend, finally.

Rafael Guper: What a legend.

Serkan Ferah: It's quite recent, right?

Rafael Guper: Yeah, tell us more about it. Tell us more about it.

Serkan Ferah: That's awesome.

Alper Yurder: As of today, which is the first of December, when we're recording, we are product of the month. So I'm super proud of our community, everyone supporting us and showing us love. I think it's a great feeling. It's definitely a milestone for a founder. So I wish everyone this joy.

Rafael Guper: Hashtag FlowLove. I love it

Alper Yurder: Thanks guys. All right. So let's dive in. Because this is therapy, I always like to start a little bit with like childhood or like growing up because every therapy starts with that, I guess. So who wants to go first? And don't be shy, jump in. Like maybe I'll yield the floor this time to Rafa. Rafa, where did you grow up? And how was growing up for you? And particularly I'm interested in how… The way people are brought up shapes their careers, shapes the way they approach work. So tell us about that a little.

Rafael Guper: That's a very interesting way to start. But essentially, well, I mentioned I come from Brazil or Italy. So I'm very thankful for having had an awesome childhood very close to my mom, dad, brother. My father, unfortunately, passed away six years ago, just before I moved to the UK. But essentially, I think he in particular had a very important role to play in the way I've shaped my career, essentially. Um, I believe that, uh, in everything I used to do when I was a kid, I wanted to actually make him proud. I wanted to honor him, uh, simply because I just looked up to him so much, you know, like he was this hustler just like we are, you know, like he was always doing his thing. Uh, like always achieving higher, uh, flights and, uh, anything I did actually just felt always so tiny compared to anything he did. But I was just there trying to do my thing and trying to make him proud. And I continued to do that essentially when I started my career, it's always been about achieving milestones to actually show him. Now he's not around anymore for me to be able to actually bounce things off him, but he's always been my mentor and I still can hear his voice inside me. So it just keeps on making me power through. And at the end of the day, I think that's shaped a lot my early childhood and how I actually perceive my career today and how I just go about and doing things with always a lot of passion, always bringing a lot of emotion into everything I do. Even from the smallest of things, putting that into whatever sort of like founder-led sales email from a cold outreach all the way through to building long-term relationships like these that we have been building in the past Year or so in which we just really support each other as founders and so forth

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Absolutely. You absolutely are one of the biggest hustlers that I know. Although I have preached all my sales career, follow-up is very important. You know, one, two, three, four, five, ten times cannot be enough as long as you do it in the right way. But sometimes the way you follow up with us and I know that you do with your other clients too, it's always so cute and nice, but at the same time, your persistence and perseverance, it really shows that you are a hustler. And there's definitely things I can learn from you although supposedly at the height of my sales career. And how about you, Saarkan? What was growing up for you, and how do you think that shaped business life for you?

Serkan Ferah: So yeah, I was born in Turkey. And I was actually born in a small city in Turkey in the southern, southern Turkey. And I remember my childhood. So I had a, you know, happy childhood, but I distinctly remember that at school, especially, I was always trying to change things because I was always, if there is some status quo, I'm like, okay, can't we just do it this way? Because it's going to be better. It's going to be fun. It's going to be more beautiful. So that hasn't changed. So I still do the same thing. And I think that I carried that through my life into my career before I started to work as a self-employed consultant and then becoming a founder. And there was always a pressure on us to get, you know, good grades, go to some, you know, certain schools. I remember, you know, my family would just say. If you don't go to one of these three universities, it really doesn't count much. So that was a huge pressure. I went into one of those universities. I can't say I really enjoyed it. I hated it, to be honest. But every experience that I have had, of course, during the course of my career helped with everything that I do now. So I always wanted to… I have…I think my childhood made also be me a little bit of a people pleaser as well, which kind of helps with my relationship-building skills at the same time, especially when we talk about sales at the top of the funnel, it really helps to be honest. You just need to find the balance as you move forward and how you develop the relationship.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I love that. Yeah. I mean, a lot of the things you both say resonate a lot. The funny thing is, maybe a little off topic, but now because I'm working so I'm a millennial, and I know you guys are too. But I work a lot with the Gen Z and you know, some of our maybe like new recruits at Flowlight, etc, as well. And it's been a while, to be honest, like I think in my previous roles, I wasn't necessarily working a lot with Gen Z, because there were some other levels and stuff. But the way we approach work and sometimes how we see it as like a make or break thing or how our personality really shows at work and how we associate success with our own cells etc. I think there's a bit of a generational thing. This is going to sound a little controversial but I think Gen Z sometimes maybe better than us have other values that they cherish more and sometimes don't think of work. You know, it's a make or break thing or, you know, they maybe they have a healthy relationship. Anyway, that's a topic for another time. The first question I want to ask you both is actually obviously in your jobs, you both have to sell. So how did you were you always like good salespeople or were you always sympathetic to the world of sales because I know a lot of people dreaded a lot of founders don't really like it. They want to outsource as soon as possible. So what was your relationships with selling? Maybe start with you again, Rafa.

Rafael Guper: Yeah, so it's a very interesting one actually, because I come from the world of business and brand strategy. So I basically led corporate strategy for some of the biggest businesses and brands that we know out there. Anything from like, Wreck-It Bank, E-Serve, Mars, Diageo, Avon, all of these awesome, big house of brands. Uh, and essentially throughout my life, I was always selling, but I was selling ideas, if you know what I mean, I was selling, uh, actual, um, uh, either brand, uh, campaigns or, uh, specific product developments internally, uh, that would actually deliver against a specific problem or opportunity that we had identified. So building pitch decks, for example, is not something that is solely within the world of a founder if you know what I mean, like we are always building pitch decks also in the world of corporates to a point in which this actually took me to develop two corporate ventures in the past. So back in Brazil, I developed the equivalent of the Brazilian Headspace called Atma. It grew to over five million active users. When I was working for Mars Pet Care in the US, I basically developed the world's first AI-based dog tracker to help lost dogs find their way back home. Story for another day, but essentially used AI photography to distinguish one dog's nose from another because they're just as unique as our fingerprints to help lost dogs that end up getting, not finding a way back home to actually truly come back to their owner. So essentially to sell these ideas internally, I actually had to always find a way to inject a lot of emotion into the impact that this could have on the businesses that I would work with. But when I actually came into the world of being a VC-backed founder, I actually had to also learn how to sell software. So B2B sales, wow, okay, where do I start? Essentially I had no idea whatsoever what I had to do. So thankfully, there's loads of awesome businesses out there that are really driving thought leadership in this space my favorite being the Flowla content, essentially. I have to say that has added a lot of value to my day-to-day as a founder, selling the business day in, day out, being that for our customers at the end of the day, but also for investors, also for our team internally in terms of a mission, a vision for the business. But when we're talking about B2B sales in particular, I've never been a salesperson like in that shape or form. So I just really had to learn the ins and outs of it, learning how to effectively and efficiently do cold outreach, how to effectively and efficiently use social media messaging such as LinkedIn to build founder-to-founder relationships or even relationships with decision-makers in the businesses of the ICPs that I tap into and so forth but also even like cold calling my god I never thought that I would cold call.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, that's something we, Serkan and I, we always brainstorm on as well. Yeah, that's something that Saarqan and I, we also brainstorm on that quite often. And you know how he explains his journey of kind of getting more warm or used to selling is quite interesting, I think. And I hear that from a lot of founders. Do you want to share on that a little bit Serkan?

Serkan Ferah: Yeah, of course. Um, so sales is not something that people are comfortable with and including myself, including many other people, because it includes rejection. So you are just putting yourself in a position that thousands of people are going to reject you and say no. And no one likes that. Right. So, um, I think, um, for me personally, the, the most important thing was to actually discover myself as a person and how I built these relationships because I… throughout my career, starting from university, what I have done, taught wasn't sales, but it was sales apparently because everything was inbound. Whenever I talk about something, unless an idea or a project or Native, for instance, native is still in build, so I'm not necessarily directly selling it or monetizing it at the moment. What I'm doing is just I'm talking about it. But what I talk about is very attractive to whoever I talk to, and then it becomes a sales conversation quite organically because that turns into an inbound. And the reason behind that is because I don't try to sell or I don't start the conversation or the relationship with an objective to sell. What I'm doing is really inviting those people to know about Native and then introduce the concept and get their feedback, which makes them feel that they are part of the journey. They take the ownership of that decision. It's not just their decision, but also there is a new concept on the table at the table. And I give them a voice to actually shape that concept or that vision, which makes them for more exciting. So that's, that's how I have actually built my own way of selling. Let's say I still don't like to call it sales because it is, you know, it is different, but I'm a relationship person. So whenever I try to sell, as in I've got this, would you like to buy it? I can't do it. Whenever I try to build that relationship, then it turns into an organic and inbound sales conversation and partnership conversation opens up so many different channels. So that has become my journey and it is less scary than directly trying to sell something.

Alper Yurder: And I think that's great.

Serkan Ferah: And I think other founders, especially the first-time founders should have, should do this as well.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, that trend is really going to be quite... So in, of course, the more experienced salespeople or people who are interested in reading about these things will know the, you know, the predictable revenue model and how it was all about always be closing and, you know, you just have to sell and let's build sales machines and process and et cetera. And these are really hard times where, you know, nobody's looking forward to buying something unless they desperately need it. You know, everybody's very conservative about where they're going to spend the money. So I think that hard sell mode is definitely something of the past. And as we're preparing an Almanac for 2023 from the world of sales, one trend that definitely merges is more human-led sales and, you know, help before you sell. And those things that we're quite accustomed to from being more consultative selling or, you know, being more relationship builders. Um, something that I'm quite interested in, I'll continue very quickly with you, Serkan, though, like your previous, um, business, which is still running, pitched out space, um, that is all about pitching and, you know, Rafael already mentioned that although a lot of people don't realize they're selling, like I used to be a consultant, it was all about building, building decks, you're doing a lot of convincing and influencing it at the end of the day, you're just selling your idea or you're trying to build consensus or, you know, alignment. Um. Have there been interesting cases where you helped other founders or other people with Pitch.Sauce.Pace? Where you were trying to improve the way they pitch or the way they sell? Like, were there curious stories?

Serkan Ferah: Yeah, there have been many different use case studies to be honest. Some of them are really exciting and positive and some of them you just try to say you shouldn't really pitch at this point and actually probably you need to reconsider the business model before you go to the market sales and any relationship is all about storytelling. I know it's a buzzword or if it's a cliche, but it's really about storytelling. And when you tell your story, it's not just you tell it, it's you need to make them part of that story. It needs to be immersive, otherwise you just alienate them. So they need to buy into the vision, they need to buy into the hero of that story, which you are the hero of that story. So you need to build that storyline, whether it is pitching an investment opportunity or sales opportunity or for just maybe an idea, like for instance in Rafael's case in his corporate life, it is all about convincing those people and exciting them actually, depending on your stage of course. So there have been cases sometimes people are so much focused on the technicalities, like too much focus on numbers and technical stuff and they are more interested in how this story actually started, who is building this and why, what's the exciting thing about it. So those are the things that people generally miss and we fix it for them and we help them also create and craft their stories as well for investment.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I think that's why I love psychology and that's why the show is sales therapy because there's like empathy that's you them before you there is like shut up and listen there's all that and those are skills you build over time so you know I'm hoping that people who are like earlier in their careers to listen and learn from leaders like yourselves like how you build those skills over the time and you know sometimes share a bit of vulnerability around it gears and maybe talk about like the current world of selling at the moment. You and I are of course, early stage founders, but it's not our first Rodeo. Um, but it's still difficult to sell, to close deals, to deal with clients, especially in the world of B2B and, and in, you know, it's not the days of to the moon and rockets anymore. Right. So what is your overall perception of the market right now and what are some of your current challenges?

Rafael Guper: Yeah, that's an interesting one, right? Because I think it's no new news that we're going through bearish times, right? And it's super cyclical, right? Like these things happen in the economy and you just have to face it at the end of the day. So I just do not think that this is an excuse for us to basically...get across the reason as to why we're not achieving our KPIs, our milestones, whatever that is. You just have to carry on and do it in the way that you have to do it so that you actually cross the chasm during these more difficult times. So as you mentioned, like, obviously, things are going to be more difficult. No one is happy in buying anything at this moment in time. If they buy it, it's because they actually need it. And so for us in particular, it's a constant iteration around how to drive urgency for the need of our solution. So always being 100% clear with your messaging to a point in which like your position is crisp and super slick and super understandable and absorbable that you can actually just deliver it in one sentence that actually lands straight away. So they know the problem that you're solving, how you're going to solve it, and ultimately what is the impact of this for them in terms of ROI. Because if there is no bank for the buck, they will not go for it at this point in time. So this for us has been obviously, you are always trying to understand how you can actually convey this in a way that is compelling, but you actually need to also bring in the credibility piece. So building case studies, building success stories is fundamental. Being able to say, for example, we have just done this for XYZ company delivering XYZ ROI. Can I share more information, mind if I share more information on how we would be able to do this for XYZ Company. Like this is at the end of the day how I've been able to actually at least give people, give myself the chance to even get my foot through the door with these people if you know what I mean. When they don't even know who I am, they don't even have an idea who's UJJI at the end of the day because we're not yet a workplace brand. We're not Slack. If you know what I mean, like we will be one day hopefully, then in which everyone knows what your brand stands for. But before you actually need to explain, you need to communicate. And that has to land in a way that ultimately is super clear.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Where do you currently have more success with? Like do you have a specific ICP where you see getting traction more easily than others?

Rafael Guper: Yeah, so I think this is something that is very particular of each of it and every business, right? It really depends on your solution. It depends on your business model. In our case, our sweet spot is scale-ups and SMEs. So essentially, businesses that are in a very much of a fast-paced work environment to a point in which they don't have the budgets, they don't have the resources, they don't have the time to actually think about training their teams. Usually Coca-Cola's of the world out there, they have millions and millions to spend in building an LND team that will spend time and effort in crafting a course or a training experience on an LMS, for example. In our case, we focus on companies between 50 to 250, usually that actually don't have the, can't afford basically stopping to think about how they're going to be training their people on their very specific processes. So that's where AI basically fills in a gap, essentially. So this is where we usually see this landing more effectively. But we work with companies as small as five employees all the way up to 500 today. So essentially, even though we have a very specific ICP. Usually you do see some things falling out of it and that doesn't mean you wouldn't cater to these businesses as well. Oh, I like your mug by the way. Nice one.

Alper Yurder: If anyone's watching, I have a full amount, yeah. Sorry, if anyone's listening. Let me shift gears a little bit to a little bit more the juicy sides of, yeah, I mean, of course, we're trying to crack things, but at the same time, it's not so easy. What are...product replacement. How is life going in general for you both? And I'm gonna cap this section to like a few questions back to back, and I'm gonna ask for like short answers, okay? So here we go. How is life going these days apart from business, Serkan? How are you, are you loving being a founder and being in this hectic situation of trying to make things or what's going on?

Serkan Ferah: Sometimes yes, sometimes it is challenging. But I think the important thing to say that when you are a founder, you cannot separate being a founder from your life. There is no such thing like business life and private life. It's always part of your life. It's always in your own mind. So you just need to accept that, which makes life a little bit easier to balance because otherwise you try to draw those lines, which never stays there. So I am working hard.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, do you go into the peaks and lows? Do you go into the peaks and lows mode sometime, or is it quite stable?

Serkan Ferah: I can't say that it's stable, even during the day your mood changes like something happens, you get so excited and then another thing happens, you feel so depressed. In the morning you are thinking it's going to be amazing, we are just going to conquer the world. In the afternoon you are saying, okay, this is just… why did we still… like this is not gonna work. And then the next day you wake up again, so excited, this is going to be amazing. This is just how it is. I think we all need therapy.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I mean, it's for us. We all need therapy. And I think like that's, you think that's the case for like early stage startups like us, but I speak to like CROs or established businesses, like, you know, like a post IPO and all that. And it's kind of the same for everybody. Everyone's going through a bit of a, you know, cycle in there, even during the day, but we try to keep saying, and you have something to add.

Serkan Ferah: Yes, but when you're a founder, it's a little bit of a different story because depending, you know, how you build business, because there are people who run like a couple of different businesses and they run them for two years and sell it and create another one. It's a different type of foundership. But in our case, it's more of a kind of an extension of us. It is a reflection of our journey. And it is in my case, it… Native really reflects me and the way I build my relationships. I didn't know that while creating it. And only after having the interviews and getting the feedback I noticed that. And also, for me, it is more about creating a legacy that can actually outlive me. That's all about it. That's the ultimate goal. That's why it's very personal. So the ups and downs are much more dramatic than probably someone who is working for a startup. It is hard anyways.

Alper Yurder: I will ask the question in a different way to Rafa and say, like, what are you doing to keep yourself sane these days, Rafa, in the middle of being a founder, being a, you know, very new dad?

Rafael Guper: Yeah, so I think this year has been a very sort of like unusual one because I've become a father and so I have a five-month-old baby daughter now. Essentially, it does really change it all and at the end of the day it can sound like a cliche but it really does and the way I've been just going about in juggling founder life and family life has just been really about trying to always fit in anything that goes beyond work to a point in which it injects life into my life, if that is even a thing, if that makes any sense even. So for example, sometimes you can spend 12 to 14 hours straight sitting in your office and staring at your laptop. But just get up, go to your daughter's room and have a play with her for like 10-15 minutes. That is actually adding so much value to my days. Another thing that I usually do is just practice my favorite sport at the end of the day. Even if it's 4pm or 5pm, it's not yet the end of the day. I'll try to make sure that I fit that in because it may be that later in the day it's going to be raining, but it's not raining right now. So maybe I can now go and play some tennis and hit some balls and that will like really get me to go back to work with a fresh mind and a fresh pair of eyes that will potentially just help me get things out of the way in a way in which I wouldn't potentially.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. I think I'm going to need to… I think living in the UK, we all have that urge the moment that whether it's a little bit okay, we all want to just go outside because we don't know when it will be fine again. That's excellent. Now guys, this has been a great chat, but like as any good therapist, I'm going to have to cut us on time. So I'm going to shift to the final section of the chat, which is I will ask you each one question to which I want to get an answer in under one minute. Okay. And it's going to be quite a practical one.

Rafael Guper: That's right.

Alper Yurder: So you can take a moment to think about it. We can edit that out, but the answer has to be in one minute. All right. So I think I'm gonna go with Serkan first because I really like how he explains the relationship between relationship building, sales development and closing. So my question to you Serkan is, what are your top tips as a founder who's leading the sales machine for developing sales?

Serkan Ferah: Okay. Okay, cool. Three tips, right?

Alper Yurder: Yeah, as you like, however many you want to give, go.

Serkan Ferah: No, no, three is fine. So my first thing is definitely become relationship-focused rather than closing the deal. That's very important. And start your relationships in an authentic place. That's going to be my second tip. Authenticity is very important. And especially today in two different channels, email, LinkedIn, wherever you are, we are inundated with lots of sales pitches. And in many cases, we ignore those messages. It is very difficult to actually get the attention of people. But when you don't pitch anything at the beginning of that relationship, you simply focus on building that relationship, which shows that actually you're also focusing on your vision. It is definitely going to make it easier for you alongside authenticity. And especially for the early-stage founders, I recommend them to do in an organic and manual way rather than automated way because first you really need to understand how you build those relationships, how they talk, what language they use, what questions they ask, what are the challenges and also understand how that cycle and the funnel works actually before automating or you know doing any mass messaging or anything like that. So authenticity, organic and relationship focus, those are the three things that I would definitely recommend.

Alper Yurder: Excellent. I'm just going to do a little shout-out there. The second point about, you know, not pitching and sharing something, being generous in advance. There is a guy that I really like is a bit of an influencer in the sales world, more Asulin, and I maybe will share on this podcast, but the way he approaches sales and relationship building is something that I share with my STR team as well. Um, it's very empathetic. Like you are a founder generally, you know, people in your stage are going through these things does what I say, resonate with you and then warm you up to the conversation. And afterwards, like hit you with something which is very relevant. For example, are you trying to improve this or that KPI? Here's an example of it. Um, so he's, he's really a pro on that. I really like, um, what he shares on that topic. So I'll do a little, um, you know, a nod to him. Excellent. Thanks, Serkan. And Rafa, I have something on the other end of the spectrum for you, which is going to be about closing deals. So because you're already at the stage where I already know the confidential information about your business, that I know you're closing deals with like some really interesting businesses. So I would say what are your top three things about closing a deal from it can be from the start to the end or maybe it can be a specific part of it. But you as Rafael closing deals, building a sales team to do what you are doing. What are your top tips to somebody who has to scale your success?

Rafael Guper: That's a very interesting one. And I have to say that I didn't always know this, especially because we just went to market a year ago, right? So I've been doing founder-led sales for just a bit over a year now. But essentially my first one has a lot to do with what Serkan just mentioned, which is relationship building. So I have at least five different customers who… I started building a relationship even before UJJI was out in the market. Uh, I actually just took them on a journey to understand like our value proposition, the problem that we could be solving for them. Uh, and throughout this journey in which I took them several times, I got pissed off because I was like, mate, why can't you just close the deal, potentially jump in right now and it just doesn't work like that. So you have to be patient. You have to be patient and persistent. So that is my second point. It's not going to be the way you want it to be. But if you actually build that relationship, you follow up in a way that adds value. So not just following up in a way that feeds your requirements, your necessities, but actually adds value to the decision maker, being in actually showing how your platform has evolved to meet a specific need that you couldn't deliver against first, or whatever that is. That is essentially the second thing. And the third thing really has to be about following processes and just nailing your messaging essentially. So always continue to iterate that so that you can continue to be more laser-focused and sharp with your deliverables when it comes to your outreach.

Alper Yurder: Excellent. Thank you for those tips. I agree with all of those, but I think I have to learn as a podcast host now, a new one, how to cut people off at one minute, which is something that I'm always being ruled by marketing teams. Always like, can you make sure that people give it under a minute?

Rafael Guper: I think that was over a minute, right? Apologies for that. And I totally forgot that there was the one-minute limit. I'm so sorry about that.

Alper Yurder: That's perfect. We'll get there one day. Okay, guys, this has been an amazing chat. Thank you very much for being my fellow hustlers and for joining me today on Sales Therapy. I think a lot of people will enjoy this conversation. And that's a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to us on your favorite channels, on your favorite podcast platforms. And if people want to find out more about yourselves, should they just go on LinkedIn? What should they do, guys?

Serkan Ferah: Yes, I am all over LinkedIn, they can fight me quite easily.

Alper Yurder: Excellent. And Rafa as well.

Rafael Guper: Same here, same here. I think we're always nudging against each other's posts, always commenting on each other. So you're very likely to find us just by seeing this, this session being posted on LinkedIn too. Ha ha.

Alper Yurder: All right, excellent. I'm your host, Alpo Yurde. Thank you for listening to Sales Therapy. Bye.

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