Recapping LendIt: FinTech USA

Hey gang! A couple of us have semi-recently returned from LendIt: Fintech USA in San Francisco (the event was April 8-9). And, since the event was enormous (and, at least for us, successful), I thought a quick recap might be worth the keystrokes. Read on!

Our panel (and, a note of thanks):

So, we didn’t just attend; I was honored to moderate a panel with some incredible executives and entrepreneurs. This was the highlight of the week for me; even more special is how this came to be – a client requested of the show promoters that I moderate his panel. That’s really touching – I’m grateful to Brian Unruh and Dan Stevens, as well as the folks at LendIt for the vote of confidence!

Our discussion focused on the relationship between technology businesses (fintechs!) and mid-sized/regional lenders. More specifically, we looked at how these two very different types of businesses can partner to better compete with large, digital lenders. I love this topic. Having worked with many firms in each cohort (fintech businesses, large banks and regional ones), I knew going in that there are a number of interesting angles to this. And, WorkBook6 is a party to many analogous discussions in other industries (such as insurance and home services).

With a topic such as this one, the moderator’s job is to convey with both breadth and depth a compelling discussion in a short period of time. This can be a little intimidating, but our thoughtful and generous speakers made it simple. With Dan Stevens (from NBKC Bank), Jeff Douglas (Wyndham Capital Mortgage), Adam Pase (Notarize) and Ethan Ewing (Pro-Pair) there to carry the bulk of the load, I was really just there to help channel the discussion and serve up as close to an equal portion of everyone’s perspective. Easy peasy. Beyond my opening joke about pizza (which landed with a thud – more on this later), I thought it was awesome. And, super fun. My hat’s off to the panelists.

Enough about us – onto the show, at large:

LendIt rocks. Every show has its own areas for improvement, but overall, I was really impressed. The content sessions were well-attended and also, at least in my view, well-received. The audience was diverse in a few ways, and predictably not in others. I met with interesting people from all over the world, but as has shown to be true in many of the industries we operate within, there’s still a pretty wide gender gap. I’ll give the show promoters credit, though, as I did see several programming nods to bridging this gap, including the Women in Fintech event. Well done. Again, I really liked the way that this event came off. The folks at LendIt seem to have it really dialed in.

Shout out to the city by the bay:

After spending a lot of time in Las Vegas over the past few years for shows and speaking engagements, it was really nice to be in San Francisco. Nothing against Vegas, but it’s great to be able to walk around the city between sessions, meetings, etc. (as opposed to traversing a casino floor). San Francisco is really worth considering for any show or event looking to mix things up. This city flat-out knows how to host an event.

Uh, what’s fintech?

This might cause some eye rolling, but since a bunch of people have asked me, I thought I’d weigh in with some thoughts on the term ‘fintech,’ and what it might or might not be. (Caveat emptor: I’m no more qualified to answer this than anyone else who works in the category, but I’m gonna do it anyway.)

The term fintech is used to describe the broad and deep topic of technical innovation within the financial services industry. Oft-confused with insuretech (and akin to edtech, regtech, martech, adtech, etcetera), the term really just speaks to the interaction of emerging technology and a financial services industry held back by legacy systems. If it’s confusing to you, you’re not alone. The use of ‘fintech’ can be found in the wild as a noun (she runs a fintech), an adjective (it’s sort of fintech-y), and a verb (maybe we could fintech this sucker?). It’s used to describe a growing industry category, and also deployed to define businesses.

Finally, some quick hits:

Funniest moments (there were a few):

For me, it was my elevator ride to the industry awards gala. I thought I had the elevator to myself, but was soon joined by a very nice guy whose opinion of himself was off the charts bold. “Google me. I’m the godfather of fintech.” (I’ve got $50 for whoever guesses this person’s identity, but please do it privately!)

For Brett, it was when my opening line for our panel discussion was received by the opposite of laughter – or even acknowledgement. I guess fintechers don’t like talking about pizza. (By the way, I’m not punting on this – I’ll revive this one in a blog post, soon enough.)

Best tie:

Todd Nelson’s infamous bow-tie. Or is it an ascot?

LeadsCon 2019 Wrap Up

Well, it’s over. Four days in Las Vegas finds me reflective and proud. And, at least for the first few days upon returning, tired. Like, the kind of tired where you fall asleep at dinner. Or while helping with homework. Super, super tired. Given this, I waited a few days to draft my wrap up post for this event.

I’ve been attending LeadsCon for 10 years, so the Las Vegas event is equal parts reunion, brand-building, and business development for our clients and ourselves. This year, we saw more of that trend, with some adjustments here and there. Read on for a quick recap.

Partnership Marketing Workshop
We were fortunate to be chosen by LeadsCon and AccessIntelligence to lead a Partnership Marketing Workshop on Monday (prior to LeadsCon’s official kickoff). This event, our third in a row, has become an important anchor for our business. We look forward to it every year and commit significant (to us, anyway) resources to making it happen. This year, I was very proud of the effort. Among the high points, I’d include the following:

  1. This was our largest audience, to date. In fact, we filled the room.
  2. In addition to the audience size, we attracted the most diverse group we’ve ever had, with a particularly strong showing from brands and channel sale organizations. (This is very important to me, as without these folks actively engaged, things can get salesy, fast.)
  3. Our speakers did an amazing job keeping the audience engaged, and also staying real. In fact, our first session, led by Damon DeCrescenzo and Jason Kaplan from the Credit Pros, was as contentious and frictional as any I’ve seen. That’s what we aimed for!

There’s plenty more I could say about this event, but the above struck me the most.

Balling on a Budget
As a bootstrapped startup in an industry full of well-funded and established firms, we’ve got to be thoughtful about how we make a splash in Las Vegas. This year, we held a series of cocktail parties at our suites in the hotel. These were super fun, and they didn’t break the bank. For three consecutive nights, we hosted our clients, friends and partners. The venue was perfect, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. And, we got to throw a party….every night!

Meetings off the Floor
While we were each active at the show and in the sessions, we used these same spaces as private meeting rooms, which worked out really well. These folks are always going hard, but I saw sixth gear from the team in Vegas. I think we took Anna to the point of critical illness, but at last check, she’s still among us and returning to normal. As is often the case, I’m blown away by the team’s effort in Vegas.

Innovation Seems to be Slowing
This is the only critical comment I’ll make, and I promise it’s constructive. When I walked the floor of the exhibition hall, it felt as if there are a large contingent of companies fitting into three buckets: networks, call centers, and software. The networks are buying and selling media, typically in a very transactional way. The call centers seemed hard pressed to differentiate. And the software companies appear to be locked in competition with one another on a product level.

None of the above is surprising, but it’s also a little disconcerting. I think there’s a lot of innovation left in this space, but sometimes, you couldn’t get a sense for that. I hope that next year, we see more innovation and disruption. It will keep the space vibrant, ya know?

That’s it from me. What an awesome week in Vegas!

The True Value of Facetime

By: Chris Cox

As we kick off the new year, business travel for conferences and events seem to be in full swing. For me, this is an important time for a couple reasons. First I need to be careful about budgeting my time. My role on this team includes weekly (or in some cases, daily) communication with each of our clients. When I travel for an event, this work doesn’t stop, so I need to be extra careful to make efficient use of my time. More importantly, though, trade shows in particular give me an opportunity to connect on a personal level with many of the people I communicate with every day. Slack, email and phone calls are a great primer, but our business thrives on the strengths of its relationships. I always value the opportunity to connect face-to-face with our clients and partners. It’s something I really look forward too. We live and operate in a world that allows for easier and more efficient digital interaction, but I think in-person communication is still critical. So where does traditional face to face interaction fit in?

The tools available to us today have transformed business. They’ve made it easier than ever to remotely interact and work with others. These tools are democratized – we all have access to products and services that help us work efficiently and maximize the value of our time. But this doesn’t change the value of 1:1 communication. It’s impact on our clients’ success is still very real and measurable. It’s important.

Why? If these tools are so great, why is face to face still necessary? A few reasons, I think. First, you can only know someone so well via digital interactions – you complete that picture when you engage 1:1. Second, virtual communication is just that – virtual. Need a real, important answer from someone? Email, slack and phone calls work, but only if there’s a layer of accountability and trust already there. That accountability and trust is still best built in-person. Finally, humans are built to interact. We flourish in one another’s company – tech can’t replace that, entirely. (For fun, check out this Conference Call Parody – I think they nailed it!)

Here’s the deal: there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction. In-person conversation and interaction allows for things that you just won’t get, or might miss, when you interface digitally. Being there , at least occasionally, let’s relationships grow in a way virtual communication never will match. As we continue to head down a path that relies heavily on technology, we can’t forget this.

Strategic Partnership Workshop – Full Speaker and Format Announcement!

Strategic Partnership Workshop – Full Speaker and Format Announcement!

LeadsCon is less than two months away. Let that settle in. I’m guessing most of you still have holiday decorations up, and the biggest event in performance marketing is, like, right around the corner? Excited? Us, too.

We’re thrilled, actually, because we’ll be hosting a Strategic Partnership Workshop for the third consecutive year. This event, in particular, has become the cornerstone of our first quarter – we’re expecting a record turnout.

At this point, it feels timely to share some exciting and important details about the event. Our agenda and speaker roster are both finalized, and I’m confident that this year’s workshop will offer previous attendees and first-timers huge value. Attendees won’t just hear from a talented and diverse group of thought leaders; they will also be treated to an entirely unique format that we believe will help involve the entire audience in the discussion.

Here’s the full agenda:

Session 1: Unit Economic Spotlight: Achieving Better Commercial Outcomes Through Partnership

Our first session is meant to be a live wire. (In other words, we want it to get weird!) This will be a candid discussion about the true value of strategic partnerships in a direct response business. Many have experienced, first hand, the dissent that often exists between the business development and finance/operational leaders. We’re bringing this discussion to center stage, pairing two business partners who’ve grappled with the topic for years. Join Damon Decrescenzo and Jason Kaplan from The Credit Pros for a very real discussion on the commercial justifications of forming strategic partnerships.

Session 2: Forming, Developing and Executing a Partnership Strategy

We have three incredible panelists lined up to address critical phases to any successful partnership platform. But, in this setting, our panelists aren’t the stars – the audience is. The first half of this session will feature targeted breakout sessions, which will be headed up by our panelists. Will Curry from PureTalk Wireless will lead the group focusing on program strategy; Vince Lewis from Quicken’s Core Digital Media will cover prospecting, and Chrissy Ingalls from LightStream (SunTrust Bank’s innovative consumer lending business) will facilitate the discussion around program execution. These folks each boast tremendous backgrounds; merging this expertise with the audience’s perspective will, I think, be really cool.

Session 3: Group Mentality

Over the 10+ years since the first LeadsCon was held, our community has grown ever-more transactional. Publishers, networks and lead sellers all depend on paid media to create valuable inventory, while brands enjoy the convenience of per-lead (or, action) pricing formats. To maximize yield, competitive bidding formats have taken hold – pitting eager advertisers against one another and testing the limits of profitability.

But, what if brands and publishers could access customer populations through less competitive channels? Hundreds of millions of Americans each year join membership groups and associations, or participate in similar, brand-sponsored loyalty programs. In each case, the groups actively represent their members’ interests, often offering specialized products and services to their constituency. To better understand this ecosystem, and the dynamic relationship between affinity organizations and their brand partners, we’ve recruited two tremendously talented leaders from this ecosystem. Join Rita DiPalma from Augeo Affinity Marketing and Jason Nierman, who helped build TrueCar’s partnership program before spearheading Rollick Outdoor’s innovative partnership platform.

As you can tell from the above descriptions, we take this event very seriously. It’s critical that our audience walk away with real value from each of our sessions. If you’ve attended one of these events in the past, you’ll hopefully join us again. If you’ve not participated previously, please know how excited we’ll be to welcome you to this one. Here are the event location and time details:

Strategic Partnership Workshop

Monday, March 4
Mirage Hotel and Convention Center
Grand Ballroom D and E
8 AM – 12 PM

Registration Link: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ereg/index.php?eventid=319804&
Discount Code: SPKR100 ($100 off current event pricing)

Why Write? A blog post about blogging.

I love to write. I try to spend a couple hours each week composing something with a goal of sharing my work. While I’m certainly not alone, I’m learning this is becoming an increasingly rare practice.

For example, not everyone on our team enjoys – or feels comfortable – writing. During our Q4 retreat (which happened a couple weeks ago), I asked a few of our folks what holds them back from writing more. “I’m not good at writing” was one reply (incorrect, by the way; this person writes beautifully). Others said they’re too busy. Some pointed to fear of public criticism, and not wanting to be vulnerable to that. The most common response, though, was that folks don’t know what to write about or what to say.

The discussion stuck with me. So, as I often do when a topic provokes extended curiosity, I thought I’d write about it.

I’ll start with why I write

I write, mostly, because I love to write. It makes me happy. I enjoy the process – from the planning and outlining to the refinement. It’s fun. And, admittedly, I get a little rush from the feedback that comes from posting something that people enjoy reading. I also like to try out new phrasing and messaging. I play with cadence and flow. I poke and I prod, so to speak.

For me, it started early – like, 5th or 6th grade. I was a wiry, goofy kid with ADD, but when I would read aloud the things I wrote in class, the other kids laughed with me (as opposed to ‘at’ me). That felt good, so I ran with it. Later, I developed an incredible relationship with Gregg Schwipps, who was my writing professor at DePauw. He taught me the value of authentic language and helped me understand how impactful a well-told story can be. That experience, like much of my time at the school, had a major impact on me. Since leaving college, and certainly since becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve always tried to keep some time in my schedule blocked off for writing.

Why writing is only sort of good for business

These days, I write a lot about our business. I do think it helps, but mostly in vaguely-attributable ways (at best). Others may point to revenue growth which is clearly linked to content, but for us, that’s not the goal. I don’t write to drum up business. It’s not that I don’t want more business – it’s just that I think content that aims to sell isn’t genuine. And, I think salesy writing that’s disguised as something else is obnoxious. I’m not saying that thoughtful content doesn’t sometimes lead to more business; I just don’t write with that as the goal. I’ve heard from several folks that something I’ve written has helped them to move forward. I’ve also been told that a blog post I wrote actually inspired someone not to become a client. Clearly, this wasn’t my goal, either!

Many say writing can be good for search engine optimization, but I’ve actually been told that mine isn’t. It’s well-documented that if you can assemble the right words in the right places in such a way that google likes it, this can be valuable. But, since this violates my first rule (don’t write just to drum up business), I think that kind of writing is annoying, too. Our former head of marketing, who I adore, once told me that my writing wasn’t ‘keyword rich’ enough. I don’t know the word for the sound your mouth makes when you hold your lips together and force air out, but that’s how I responded to him. (For an A/V example, Oklahoma State University’s football coach, Mike Gundy, famously made this noise during a press conference recently – it’s absolutely worth the distraction.)

Really, I think writing is good for business mostly because it helps you develop your business’s voice. It helps put a persona behind the brand. Writing allows you to assert a point of view. It lets your audience get to know your ‘vibe,’ or way of being. And it can help establish, I suppose, some authority on topics that matter to you or your audience. It helps you develop an answer to the question: ‘who are those people?’

Why non-marketing types should write, too

This touches back on my motivation for writing this post. I find it remarkable how few people outside of the marketing discipline publish content. Like, if you don’t have an MBA or the words ‘marketing’ or ‘content’ in your title, you shouldn’t write. I don’t get it.

I think business development and sales people, in particular, should write all the time. Think about this. You communicate for a living. Your job is to help people understand why they should work with you or buy your product. Unless you’re somehow pulling this off without the help of language, why wouldn’t you want to constantly improve your own use of words? When you go through the process of writing and posting something, you become more expert in concisely communicating your message. When it’s not just right, you can tweak in a way that you can’t do with spoken communication. Later, you can use those refinements in live action. Writing also helps you build your personal brand. It helps you chip away at the due diligence your audience is doing when you’re not in the room or on the phone. It establishes authority and authorship. It makes everything you say hold more meaning, and it helps you be seen as less subjective.

Some will say sales, marketing and business development are all so interconnected that this is last assertion is obvious. OK. We can debate that another time, but for now, let’s look at other disciplines. I love it when technical professionals write – especially when their work helps me make business sense of technical things. (For a brilliant technical view across a range of business concepts, I think HubSpot’s CTO and Co Founder, Dharmesh Shah is hard to beat.) Another example is finance and venture capital. While we’ve never gone the route of approaching investors, Los Angeles-based VC Mark Suster’s blog is some of my absolute favorite reading. And when I want to learn from content that can benefit my personal life, I often still prefer for those insights to make an impact on my business. I think Dr. Brene Brown – a research professor by trade – has absolutely made me better at home and at work.

Let’s land this plane.

I could go on and on. But, you’ll stop reading (if you haven’t, already). My point? You don’t have to be an expert in an area to have an impact within it. Sometimes, as noted above, content that aims to address one topic can help both the writer and the reader develop new thinking in other areas. In other words, don’t overthink it when it comes to putting your thoughts out there. Instead, open up. Write about stuff. Tweak it; play around with it. Then, share it. Even if you’re bashful about the value of your own ideas, you’ll benefit from the process. And, someone out there might just benefit from it, too.

Sharpen your pencil and share your ideas. You’ll be glad you did it.



WorkBook6 to lead 3rd Annual Strategic Partnership Workshop at LeadsCon

Today, we’re thrilled to share that WorkBook6’s has been selected by LeadsCon to lead another Strategic Partnership Workshop as part of their annual Las Vegas event in March. This event, our third in partnership with LeadsCon, is something we’re very excited about. We’re expecting our largest audience to date, and we’ve made what we think are some fairly material improvements to the format to reflect the larger group. In fact, just about every session we’re planning is new territory for this event. We’re actively recruiting a very diverse group of speakers and thought leaders, and the format will be entirely different than any event we’ve ever promoted. We’re excited to involve our speakers and attendees in ways that we haven’t seen done before.

We’ll publish our full agenda, soon, but for now, I wanted to share this exciting news while it’s still fresh. While it seems like it’s a long way off, March will be here before we know it. If you’ve never been to one of our partnership workshops or summits before, I hope you can make it to this one. And if you’ve attended in the past, I hope to see you again! Finally, if you have an interest in participating in one of our sessions, we’d love to hear from you. We can’t make any promises, but we’ll always try to help!

For those who want to register, now, here’s the link. 

Discount Code: SPKR100 ($100 off current event pricing)

Remember, you’ll need the full access pass to attend our workshop – we promise to make it worthwhile!

From M/A to Partnerships: Understanding the important relationship between Mortgage Firms and Insurance Providers

A couple weeks ago, as thousands of professionals from within the mortgage and insurance categories flooded Las Vegas (for InsureTech Connect) and Boston (for LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert), a bombshell fell on the two industries which will surely impact business for years to come in each category. The news, in case you missed it, was the announcement of LendingTree’s (TREE) intention to purchase Seattle-based insurance lead seller QuoteWizard for north of $300 Million. (You can read the full report, here). On the surface, this deal makes a ton of sense. These two firms have independently done incredibly well in their primary markets; their joining forces should lead to even more impressive dominance in performance marketing space, with coverage in two of the most active and important lead generation industries.

Much of the work our firm does touches these industries – we represent leading players from both the insurance industry and the residential finance (mortgage, home improvement) ecosystem. In fact, we’ve been the driving force in a number of partnership programs between insurance providers and lenders. While we weren’t surprised by the news of the transaction, we do find it both extraordinary and noteworthy. I figured I’d write a little bit about the transaction, and more importantly, the general benefits of a mortgage-insurance partnership strategy.

First, though, some background. I know each of these businesses pretty well. My relationship with LendingTree dates back a number of years – I consider a number of folks on their senior team to be close friends. It’s a business that I respect tremendously. QuoteWizard has been a great partner to a number of the companies I’ve been involved with as well, and while their senior team typically communicates with my partner, Brett (our COO), I’ve come to similarly respect their work. These are good companies, and I’ve got exactly zero doubt that they’ve done something very smart by joining forces.

I’ve also believed for a long time that mortgage lenders and insurers make for very good partners. Dating back to Brett’s and my time at DoublePositive (when we launched the now-mothballed ReadyForMyQuote mobile product), I’ve been thinking about how to profitably align these industries. I’ve seen firsthand the success that USAA has had in helping their Members on both the bank side (which is where their mortgage products live) and the property and casualty business (I’m a Member and I’ve supported that business in the past). Later, at my last ‘real job’ (a national property and casualty insurance agency) we worked hard to partner with residential lenders. In other words, I’m a believer that mortgage customers make good insurance customers, too.

It would seem I’m not alone. This acquisition is certainly big news, but if you read the ‘trades,’ you know that there are a number of businesses out there who are thinking about insuring borrowers. Some are wholly-focused on this; these businesses exist specifically to leverage the relationship that these two industries can and should have. Others see this as a program or a channel – though not a business model. Whether all-in or simply playing at the margins, the list of firms looking to bridge the mortgage application and the insurance policy is growing. (Quick note: We represent some of these businesses, so I face a weird thing, here. I either mention just the ones we work with, share a broader list or just skip naming them, entirely. I’ll go with door number three to avoid any feather ruffling.)

So, why is this happening?
Given the level of activity between the insurance and mortgage industries, one’s mind naturally looks for the motivation behind this. Let’s put the acquisition that inspired this post on the shelf (as the parties involved may have had additional/different motivations than just the synergistic relationship these industries can have). I’ll focus instead on the perspective of a mortgage entity (which could be a direct lender, a broker, or even a loan officer) and the insurance provider (maybe a carrier, an agency or an agent). Specifically, I’ll try to nail down why they’re valuable to one another. To my mind, there are a couple major contributing factors, and then a bunch of secondary benefits. Both are briefly described below:

Major Factors
These industries are either critical or supplemental to one another’s ability to sell. You can’t borrow money for a home that isn’t insured. This means that for a mortgage firm to close a loan – and for a loan officer to get paid – an insurance certificate is required. (Further, RESPA mandates that the lender can’t sell insurance.) For the insurer, the relationship is less necessary than it is beneficial. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work leads who have to buy what you sell?

Secondary Benefits
There are likely dozens of solid justifications for lenders and insurance companies to work together. Some, though, are really simple and important; I’ll stick with these.

Insurance Benefits

Homeowners = better insurance customers.
While insurance carriers rely on dashboards that look like a nuclear submarine control panel, their profitability really comes down to just a few elements: acquisition cost, customer longevity, and products sold per customer frame the basics; loss ratios and claims frequency form the more advanced perspective. Working with homeowners aligns to better than index outcomes in each of these areas: they’re more likely to buy multiple products, less likely to move, and generally display a lesser risk profile than non-owners.

Exclusive leads rock! Cheap, really good ones are even better.
This actually speaks to the above point. Typically, when a mortgage firm refers its customers, it does so to a single, trusted entity. And, often, they do so without charging market rate for a lead. Insurance agents prefer exclusive leads to those they have to share with their competition. And because these leads don’t typically carry the weight of expensive media COGS (costs of goods sold), these programs can mitigate – or even eliminate – upfront acquisition costs.

Lender Benefits

Incremental Revenue.
Lenders have very few opportunities to engage their customers. If they’re successful in funding a mortgage, it’s likely years before they may be approached about a new loan (either purchase, refi or line of credit). Further, as consumers become more and more rate conscious, there’s no guarantee of that repeat business ever happening. Forming a partnership with an insurance company can mean incremental revenue for the lender.

Increased NPS and Loyalty.
Helping customers with things you don’t necessarily sell isn’t just good for revenue; it’s good for referral activity and loyalty. When a lender partners with an insurance company, and that partner delivers great service, it reflects well on the lender. They can expect an improved Net Promoter Score and a greater degree of customer loyalty.

Let’s wrap this up. LendingTree and QuoteWizard makes sense. So do the many business models and programs looking at the relationship between banks and insurers. To me, the more important message is that these programs aren’t just formed by acquisitions and deployed capital. There’s nothing stopping residential lenders and P/C insurers of all sizes from forming partnership programs that can leverage this value. These kinds of engagements help companies grow, but more importantly, they help customers have a better experience.

I hope you like this content. I’ve loved writing it. I think this stuff is fun to think about, but it’s even more fun to execute. I typically don’t use this blog to promote our business, but here I will:

If you’re a lender looking for an incredible insurance partner, we can help.

If you’re an insurance company looking for great lender partners, we can help.

If you have a technology that makes it easier for mortgage applicants to buy insurance, we can help.

Thanks for reading. Peace!

Join Us At InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas!

Earlier today, we announced that we will be partnering with InsureTech Connect as part of their annual conference in Las Vegas. The four-hour, pre-conference program will be available exclusively to conference attendees, and will feature content contributions from throughout the insurance technology ecosystem and insurance-adjacent industries. For us, this is big news on a couple important fronts. Read on!

First, I’ve known the conference’s founder, Jay Weintraub, since my first month in the performance marketing space. In many ways, his ideas have provided a platform for my career to flourish. Over time, I’ve come to know Jay as a dear friend. Partnering with him – and the entire InsureTech Connect team – is a tremendous honor for us. If you’re reading this, Jay and team, thank you.

Beyond the personal stuff, we’re excited about this because it perfectly aligns with who we are and what we do. We power partnerships for firms across the insurance ecosystem, many of which are highly focused on emerging technologies. Very quickly, InsureTech Connect has become one of the insurance industry’s most innovative and important events, so being chosen to participate is validation of our own momentum.

What Attendees Should Expect:
If you haven’t attended one of our events in the past, it’s important to adjust your expectations, as this is not a typical session. Here’s what you can expect from this workshop:

  1. This will be entirely focused on thought leadership and education – it will absolutely never be about a sales pitch.
  2. All programming and content will come from industry thought leaders – WorkBook6’s job is to recruit great contributors and facilitate fantastic content.
  3. The focus will be entirely on growth-oriented partnerships.
  4. Space is very much limited. We have capacity for roughly 75 attendees (our last event attracted nearly 200). Get there early and be sure to reference the below information in your travel planning.

Where, When and How:
If you’ve already registered for InsureTech Connect, you’re good to go – just be sure to be at the MGM Grand on Monday, October 1 in time for the event. If you haven’t registered, we’ve provided a link with a discount for you, below.

MGM Grand – Rooms 204 & 205
October 1, 2018
1:00pm – 5:00pm

Registration Link: http://www.insuretechconnect.com/workbook6

 

 

Building Consensus | WorkBook6

What to do when the answer is yes

By JT Benton

“I want to do this. But my partner isn’t sold. We’re prepared to move forward, but I wanted you to know that.”

A prospective client said this to Anna Lewis and I recently.

If you sell anything with a big price tag or a long-term commitment attached, you’ve probably heard something like this before. You’ve got a sponsor who is willing to put his or her neck on the line for you, but there’s a short leash and there’s already someone pulling on it.

You’ve got two choices

  1. Take the deal. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you don’t believe in your own product enough to prove the doubters wrong, what good are you anyway, right?
  2. Work to perfect the deal. Win the doubter(s) over. Sell past the yes, and risk losing it all. Do this, and you have to be crazy enough to accept the consequences.

So, what should you do?

We asked this exact question on Twitter, in the form of a poll. The majority of respondents – 67% in fact – said they’d take option 1.

Building Consensus, and Getting to Yes | WorkBook6

Listen, there’s no ‘right’ response here – context is important and every scenario is different. If you sign it, as is, you do so with an immediate adversary on the other side – and a chip on your shoulder to do great work. Maybe that’s just what you need. If you hold off and work to perfect the deal, you’re risking the loss of good revenue. You might also be avoiding a potential problem, later on.

How you think about this might ultimately be colored by your own role in your company. For example, if you’re a salesperson, and you don’t involve yourself with client service after the ink dries, you might not worry about the mess that might follow. But if you’re responsible for both sales and service, you might think twice about it. And if you run customer success for your company, you’d likely want to take a more conservative approach.

Here’s what we did

We’ve seen this a few times, and we’ve navigated things differently each time. Our decision, this time, might surprise you. We paused – and then we ultimately walked away from a big, long-term agreement.

Here’s why.

WorkBook6 serves as an extension of our clients’ business development, marketing and senior management teams. These folks keep the lights on around here, so we go to the mat for them. But when it comes to inking our own engagements, we’re not as hard-charging as you might think.

When I learn that we don’t have near-unanimous support, I typically pause to work on that. Often, even if I have the support I need to move the deal forward, I still want to feel like there’s a consensus ‘yes.’ I know…not very sales badger of me, right?

Here’s my logic: we already have more opportunity in front of us than we need in order to be successful. If I stretch to add a relationship that’s not fully supported on the client side, it has the potential to set off a chain reaction that can impact the entire company.

Here’s how this could play out:

  1. Because the deal could be on life support from day one, we could slip into survival mode (which in my experience is, like, the worst way to run a business).
  2. There’s the potential to overcompensate, or ‘grip the stick too hard’ as Rob often says.
  3. No matter what, you’ll always wonder about if/when the nasty is going to come out.
  4. Finally, it might just make us all feel crummy.

We’re not into all that, so in this case, we thought it better to work from a consensus ‘yes’ – and better to pass when that’s not the case.

Here we grow again

Here We Grow Again

By JT Benton of the Tempe Bentons

Today, I’m just thrilled to welcome Chris Cox to the WorkBook6 team. As our brand-new Director, Partner Success, Chris has been tapped to fill an absolutely critical role for our business and more importantly, our clients.

Chris joining the WorkBook6 team means so many things to our organization – we’re adding good people, our growth continues to outpace our expectations (because of our good people), and we are committed to service as the driving force of the company.

But some of you will remember that I have always believed in this path – as context, I’ll refer you to the annual letter I wrote in January of this year.

In that letter, I shared six of WorkBook6’s commitments for the year ahead. The second commitment stands out today, speaking directly to the importance of Chris joining our team:

“We will operationalize rapid growth. We will continue to make improvements to the way that we onboard new clients, engage their new partners and track the progress. This operational vector will include the work of a newly-formed client success team, which will grow significantly in the coming year. It will also involve the deployment of new products and platforms from our technology team.”

This is just so important, folks. My view on our company is that if we just do one thing really, really well, we’ll all find the success we’re hoping for here. That one thing? Serve our clients.

Naming the person who will lead that effort isn’t something we take lightly. I’ve known Chris for a very long time. He served alongside Anna Lewis (our VP, Partnership Development) at Invoca, where they each supported the growth of our business to over $1MM/month in revenue, and I’ve closely followed and cheered for his most recent employer, Fin and Field.

In that time, I’ve come to know him as an incredible relationship steward and partner, and we think Chris’s background uniquely qualifies him to build a world class service standard. He’s solid. He’s well-rounded. And most importantly, he’s good people.

Let’s Connect!