How online events have changed after COVID-19

The world of SaaS for sales and marketing automation

Software as a Service (SaaS) is changing at a rapid rate.  How companies prepare their organization to build, test and deploy software has never been easier, and yet so many still resist the digital transformation.

Automating your sales and marketing process will have positive impact on the revenue.  Should you only modernize your current systems or should you leap frog the competition and use tools like AI or machine learning to gain a competitive advantage?

In this episode of The Summit, Michael and Kyle discuss:

  • What’s happening to start-ups
  • How SaaS is changing from 2000 to 2020
  • What AI will do to the digital transformation of companies
  • Where codeless software fits for startups and enterprises.

You don’t want to miss this action-packed episode.



Intro: (00:00)
Welcome to The Summit. A podcast focused on bringing you the knowledge and insights for industry leaders. I’m your host Kyle Hamer, and I’m on a mission to help you exceed your potential. As a sales guy, turned marketer, I am passionate about building sustainable businesses. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years, you won’t find it overnight growth schemes, a shortcut to success or a way to hack yourself. Nope, success is the by-product of hard work, great relationships and deep understanding done over and over. We’re here to help you unlock that success with some secrets from other people, one conversation at a time.

Kyle Hamer: (00:34)
Welcome to The Summit. This is your host, Kyle Hamer I’m here with Michael Devellano. Michael is the author of Automate and Grow a book that you can find on Amazon audible, or, you know what, if you’ve got automate and, you can find the book as well. Michael is a founder who works with brands and helping them automate marketing sales, deliver customer success. He’s been doing it for a while. I think we talked about this maybe 10, 15 years with over 150 companies. So today we’re going to talk about automation, Michael, welcome to the show.

Thanks. I appreciate you having me.

Hey, it’s my, it’s my pleasure now you’re you’re based, not in the Bay area, but in a, in LA, right? Yeah. I’m in Newport beach right now, right on, we’ve moved around a little bit, but so tell me a little bit about the, the startup scene and the, the automation scene what’s going on with technology, marketing sales, et cetera, in the, in the Newport beach LA area.

Michael Devellano: (01:35)
So there’s a couple of very distinct markets probably here in Los Angeles before all craziness broke loose was actually producing some interesting startup stuff. Peter teal had actually moved to Los Angeles and there’s a lot of venture capital happening around what they call Silicon beach. So there was a lot of startup stuff there.

The startup scene in OSI, which is orange County is a little different flavor, but there’s been some interesting stuff coming out the last 24 months, I would say a lot of it is medical device bio-related, but then there’s, there’s this kind of like smaller scene that, you know, I advise one company and they’re a ride share or a scooter share platform, not even share, it’s just a scooter rental platform. So there’ve been kind of interesting. Another friend of mine, she raised a bunch of money for a fem tech startup, which has been doing really well.

Michael Devellano: (02:27)
And so, yeah, there’s some interesting stuff in the startup scene.

Well, and that’s, I mean, in, in many ways, a lot of the love the guests on your show automate and grow their from that scene, right? There are a lot of folks that you’ve met through the, the relationships of startups through SaaS through your years of automation. Talk a little bit about your show and what you’re seeing are common struggles that people are, are running into, whether they’re in a startup or a larger brand, trying to figure out how to talk to people in these crazy times.

Yeah. So I try to experts and entrepreneurs, I kind of veer off sometimes more into the expert area, but we definitely make an effort to talk to SAS and other VC backed founders, people that are funding startups, and then just people that are real smart. As far as specifically around automation, I mean the last 10 years we have seen, obviously what I think is a quiet boom of a bunch of technologies that were transformational.

We’ve seen the exponential growth of mobile networks, particularly around bandwidth. We’re now into the 5g era. We started the decade and kind of the three and a half 4g era. So that’s been really important. The concept of the app has been very important. So now the S the software development cycles changed very much, I think because of mobile people in the first five years of the decade everybody had had an app idea, right?

Michael Devellano: (03:51)
They’re trying to solve problems using tiny bit bits of software, so that that’s, that’s really been transformational. So people I think, have this idea that they can use software to do things that they couldn’t do before, or to automate things that they couldn’t do before. So those are positives. And then I think even just the cloud-based boom applications in the browser, and then, you know, not storing stuff in servers on a premise that boom. So all those things converging, really created phenomenal companies and growth over the last 10 years.

What I think is happening is some companies are still trying to catch up to that. And that’s where you see this trend around digital transformation. And what companies I’ve noticed really struggle with is they don’t have a plan they’re buying technology, or they’re buying a piece of technology to solve a problem, and they want to be able to put money at it and the problem go away.

Michael Devellano: (04:46)
And that usually creates other problems because they don’t really have an idea of, this is what I am as a digital enterprise. And that’s the biggest problem, right? So they buy stuff. It either goes, it’s built out wrong where it doesn’t actually do the thing you wanted, and you go off on these like constant workarounds, or you buy an, it sits there, and then they just pay a lot of money for something.

It still doesn’t solve the problem. And you see a third category of people try to become a software company and build stuff. And a lot of times that just goes up in flames, unfortunately, because it’s very difficult to define the problem. So I think that’s really the state of things. You do have exceptional companies that are looking at the next generation of technology. And I think any of those have the same problem.

One, what is my digital product? So regardless if you are an old school business, you need some sort of a digital product, right? You need some way, whether it’s an app or a software as a service or services, a service that your product can be consumed by people that aren’t necessarily always physically in front of you or that it facilitates people to become physically in front of you. Well, it’s the first thing.

Kyle Hamer: (05:58)
Well, it’s interesting because as you were talking, one of the things that I drew off of there is, is I think we’re in a unique spot because I’m in Houston and digital transformation really hasn’t, I mean, it’s, it’s slowly being interrupted by industry and manufacturing, but it’s, it’s not adopted in the way that it would have been say in the early two-thousands.

Right. And the, and the big reason behind that, I think is this, this concept of, you know, late nineties, early two thousands, I had to hire an entire development team to be the people that built it and they stored it. Right. And so now you’ve, it was like, okay, well, in the eighties, we had our, our Unix servers, right. And we had these mainframes and we built code, and we did everything on the, and then you, you fast forward into the, to the nineties and the early two thousands.

Kyle Hamer: (06:45)
And stuff’s moving into new frameworks where it’s server based. But again, you’ve got to have an entire development team. And then there was this novel concept called SAS and anybody in their uncle could come up with a SAS idea to solve a certain problem. And it’s like, well, is this person going to be around in three years? Are they going to get acquired?

Then I’m going to have to adopt different technologies. So what I’m seeing in, in Houston is, is this reticence of going through the transformation for two reasons, one to your point of, you know, technology is not, is, it is a terrible master. It’s a great servant, right? It’s designed to support good systems, good process to solve problems.

Michael Devellano: (07:27)
Yep. And that goes back to having a plan because most businesses don’t have a plan around my product, my marketing of that product, my sales process, to close stuff, that marketing brings up and then to support people, to keep them. And they think they do. But what they have is a bunch of scotch tape and glue and post-it notes and maybe a spreadsheet or a lot of spreadsheets. Right. And that’s, I observed the same thing. And that’s why I say, you know, it’s kind of why I wrote automate and grow, which it’s a very simple premise for a complex problem.

Right? Here’s your create your digital product plan, create your traffic and conversion plan, create your sales playbook, and then your customer success roadmap, and then buy or build or customized technology. Imagine that,

Kyle Hamer: (08:18)
But the widgets, they show me on the screens are so pretty.

Michael Devellano: (08:21)
Yeah. And I think that comes to overwhelm, right? It’s like, people are just overwhelmed by the problem. And then they’re overwhelmed by technology and they can’t take these two things in the smash.

I think they get exhausted and they just throw money down. And sometimes that works if you pick the right tool, but it’s much easier just to think it through, in, in a little bit more of a confined space of this is your business, right? What, what are you doing?

You’re talking to customers, you’re talking to people that look like customers, and you’re trying to keep customers and you can give in you’re building something customers want. So I think just have those four plans and you’re going to be so much better off, and it’s not that complicated to figure out like you might need some help and guidance, but that’s what everybody’s there for. Is those four segments.

Kyle Hamer: (09:06)
Talk a little bit about, I mean, you talk about those four segments, talk a little bit through some of the questions that are the big gotchas or the aha moments that folks have when they’re going from we’ll call it smiling, dialing or field sales, you know, used to doing stuff at trade shows in relationship to, okay, we need to move to more digital we’ve, we’ve got a different engagement. Are our buyer cycles different? What are some of the gotchas that they haven’t thought through?

Michael Devellano: (09:32)
Nostalgia for sure. Right? It’s like, this is the way we’ve always done it. And this is what we understand. And that, that is not how you deconstruct the actual problem of here’s who my customer is today and in 10 years. And that’s the real problem everybody’s facing is my customer today.

The same person as it will be in 10 years, do they look the same? Cause they probably don’t. And what problems do they have versus 10 years from now? And so what’s the solution to that problem. So you may find, if you ask just those questions that you’re not trying to even sell to the same person that you think you should be or are, and we all follow the money a little bit, but if you don’t ask that question, you don’t really validate it. And sometimes we, you know, wrongly validate an old idea, but I think just starting with that gets you to think of, do I have the right product? Am I delivering it the right way? And can I, can I reach people that look like that the same old way? Or what are the new channels?

Kyle Hamer: (10:33)
Is that one of the, and you know, you talked about people that are highly successful. What are the highly successful people doing when they’re, they’re navigating these, these transformations are these, these segues? I mean, cause it’s that nostalgia is powerful for a lot of folks in, in, in, you know, don’t disrespect to, to boomers, but there is something to okay. Boomer. Like there there’s something to that nostalgia that makes everything separate. No, no, it’s definitely.

Michael Devellano: (10:59)
Yeah. I think that here’s you know, if you understand your business, then you need someone in your business that understands the technology and bridges it. And that’s why, you know, I called the company cloud advisory because it’s not really about just we can build stuff or we can customize stuff. But really I think what people want is they want to trust that someone understands what they’re saying and then gives them a path forward. And I think that’s the most important thing because then the technology gets a lot easier and you don’t get into this spin cycle of never launching, never building, never buying or buying the wrong thing. And so I think that’s where we want to get people to, which is think in terms of this is my business. And then how do I make the technology work for it? You know, it’s not necessarily you have to re-engineer everything or maybe you do.

Michael Devellano: (11:48)
Right. But I think it always starts with the customer. Where’s my customer. And I think what questions are they asking? Where are they asking them? And then how do I give them the answers? How do they find that I’m the guy with the answer. And I think if people think in those terms and the digital marketing part gets a lot easier and then you can pick a tool, then you can pick the tool based upon it does these things. And I can do what I need to with it. And then same with sales platforms. Like, is your define, what is your sales model? Is your sales model digital?

Is it still direct or is it a hybrid? And if you don’t define that and think in those terms you know, you might build something that solves part of the problem. You may not you’ll may miss on opportunities.

Michael Devellano: (12:34)
Like if you were in e-commerce in the last seven, eight months, like you’re probably booming, right? And some people are scrambling to do that. But if you’d address that before in this context, you’d be a lot better. And I think that’s what people do is they don’t look at technology as a God. And they also don’t look at it as a demon. I think they look at it as this is a, this is a tool and a platform. How do I master it? And they come up with a plan and then they execute on it. That’s the, that’s what the successful people do that I see.

Kyle Hamer: (13:07)
And it’s interesting because I think I think to hear you talk about when people don’t, they don’t demonize it or glorify it. They’re just looking at it as a tool. It’s, it’s no different than a skilled craftsman would say, well, I’m not going to build this deck with my kids, my kids rubber hammer that had got them for Christmas, you got to have the right, you got to have the right tools.

I got to understand what I’m trying to build or what we’re trying to head. And so I think there’s, there’s some, some value in that because a lot of the technologies that are in play today are, are they’re what, 3%, 4% different. They put a different piece of lipstick on the CRM or the marketing automation tool. It does essentially the same things. Some of them may have some better scalability than others, but ultimately it’s a,

Michael Devellano: (13:53)
There’s similar functionality and there’s similar capabilities of a lot of them. And I mean, it is good that we have all these platforms now, but you know, if you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed.

Kyle Hamer: (14:07)
Well, yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s a, there’s a group I was working with in, in before COVID COVID hit and they had a we’ll call it a top tier marketing automation tool that they had. They didn’t inherit it from their parent company had just been sold off. There was no automation, there were no templates.

There was no framework. There was no support staff. And they, they came in and they said, Hey, we want to actually start using this. And we want to integrate it into our environment. Okay, great. What do you wanna achieve? And the answer was, we’d like to send an email. And when you, when you think about it, like to me, it’s really depressing to look at a tool like Marquetto or whatever it may be. And you’re good. Did you hear that

Michael Devellano: (15:00)
Now? You bought you, I think you blinked it out.

Kyle Hamer: (15:03)
Perfect. yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really depressing to think of tools like Marquetto or some of these very powerful HubSpot’s you might spend 20, 60, $80,000 a year, and you’re only looking at it as, I just want to send a one-way communication. How do you, how do you, how do you get people or, or entrepreneurs, or, or even well-established businesses to think differently about how they approach their process, how they approach their customer so they can get the most out of the tool versus using it to do one thing.

Michael Devellano: (15:39)
Yeah. It’s a good question. I do believe they need to start simply. So I think what I try to do is say, look, let’s not try to boil the ocean. What’s the one button or one feature that you’re buying this for and does it work the way we need, but understand the roadmap of where we could get to. And I think you’ve got to paint a vision of, Hey, if we do these two things, which is we get the data, right? And we define our actual processes and game plan in a year, you might be able to do these other cool things, but let’s not talk about that until it’s ready, but let’s make sure we buy it something that will get us there. And I think that’s what you have to do, which is you paint the, you know, you’re not selling vapor, you’re not selling overselling.

Michael Devellano: (16:24)
It you’re saying, look, we know it can do the one thing and it could do the other things. Let’s do the one thing really well until we’re comfortable with it. And we have that cadence down. And I think that’s the best approach to it usually. And you know, I think otherwise though, then you get to the story of, you know, if you’re often in shear and you’re building a bridge, ends up being a mile on the other side, right? 100%. I think if you, if you get people on the same page around that, which is like, this is our ultimate goal, is what we want to get to it’s we’re going to fail. If we try to do everything at once, let’s pick that one button in one feature and solve one problem, and then we’ll move onto the next one. And I think that usually gets people there.

Michael Devellano: (17:04)
And I think the idea is to get the data right, and then talk about automation because you say, look, if we can get the data in the right place and the right people working on the right portion of the data, that’s a big win that’s 75%.

Then we can talk about what triggers and actions happen as a result of that, what changes in data or state or thing signal. It goes from Bobby to Susie, to Timmy, to Erica. And that’s where you want to go. You got to think about it. And I think if you explain it in those terms, it definitely helps. And I think that you have to have that story of where it could go, but that we’re going to get there and baby steps. And it makes people calm down a bit.

Kyle Hamer: (17:50)
But I mean, yes, because taking on a digital transformation when stuff has been, Oh, I, I handle it either via email or it’s captured on a spreadsheet or it’s via a rounded phone call. You try and take those customer interactions, remove the nostalgia, automate that process.

Even in increments, it still can feel very, very daunting if you’re like, well, it’s more in the way until you, you know, like phase one or the first step may absolutely feel unnatural for your origins.

Michael Devellano: (18:20)
We never get there because the goalposts will move constantly. You don’t have any wins and people get discouraged. Okay.

Kyle Hamer: (18:30)
So talk about that. Talk about, talk about how you find wins. If you’re a digital champion or you’re somebody who’s like, Hey, we need this. We need to automate, or we need to deliver this technology process. We need to deploy a CRM. I’m I’m shell. All of a sudden we need a CRM. Well, you’ve been around for 150 years. Never had one. Why you need one now? How did, how do you find wins in environments where it requires so much change?

Michael Devellano: (18:57)
I mean, I think obviously it’s different to in the end, this is a S a modern selling methodology. It’s not about spin and it’s not about solution selling and all that nonsense. It’s actually solving the problem. And so the first thing you gotta do is figure out who are the stakeholders and what is the problem. And they’re going to tell you, if you ask them and what do you like about this and what do you don’t and what are you afraid of? And if, if, if you do that, then at least you can go into it and say, look, here is what the technology does. Here’s what these things mean. And here’s what they are mean to us. And here’s how we should use them properly. And because people don’t even have that conversation projects fail, but then enterprises fail, whether it’s a big or a small company.

Michael Devellano: (19:43)
And the stupidest thing you can do is not have stuff in the right place. You go into all these companies. And the first thing I asked for is show me all your spreadsheets. And you’re like, who’s doing this all. There’s some, there’s someone in finance or there’s someone in operations. And they’re literally making on the move dashboards constantly because the data is not going to a place that makes sense. So I think that the big, the early wins are, show me your spreadsheets. If I could take this off your plate, you’re good with it. Right? And I’m going to show you how I’m going to do it, which is I’m going to make sure that there is an object and fields and they’re in the right place. And if it goes from here to here and I’m going to give you a report, is that good?

Michael Devellano: (20:31)
Yes. And that usually, if you can get rid of all the spreadsheets that will motivate and excite people, I mean, some people get interested in, but at some point nobody wants to be moving data around and interpreting it and putting in box, you know, a number in a box. Like we got to get rid of that. And there’s no reason we should. And it just, you know, you just need someone that has an understanding of what that means.

That spreadsheet is just a report. And there’s somewhere that the data is so all these systems, whether it’s Salesforce or HubSpot or copper, or even Marquetto and Pardot and all those things, they all have their database. And the data is in a certain place at a certain time of the customer life cycle. And if people can understand that, then they can understand how you kill all the spreadsheets,

Kyle Hamer: (21:21)
You know, and it’s, it’s, it’s interesting to me, the very first client I ever had was was an actuary. And if you want to talk to somebody who’s held captive by their spreadsheets and their it’s a spread it’s, it’s honored percent an actuary, and I’ve never, ever, ever felt like my computer was going to die from Excel than when I had to open up one of these, you know, series of series of, of interwoven sheets for your mortality tables and your calculations. I mean, it just, it,

Michael Devellano: (21:50)
And when did the mortuary or the, you know, the person doing that dies

Kyle Hamer: (21:56)
Well and think about all the code and logic that you have behind X, particularly it’s like, Whoa,

Michael Devellano: (22:01)
Well, wait, nobody knows how Timmy’s spreadsheet works.

Kyle Hamer: (22:05)
That’s exactly right now. Fortunately, fortunately for me, I, wasn’t trying to turn that into a dashboard that wasn’t, that wasn’t my thing, but I had to look at that to understand my customer. I thought, Ooh, that’s a, that’s a nasty quagmire.

Sure. What, what they wanted was to be able with confidence to say, Hmm, Michael you’re, you know, you’re this age, you’re this, you live in this area. And we think that you have a 0.003, 8% chance of dying, which means we’re going to assess a risk against it. And a, you want a million-dollar life insurance policy. So we’re going to price it at $42 a month, whatever it is, right? Like the, all of the math went into two outcomes and accurate price with profit. And so when you think about companies today that are going through these, these transformations, a lot of times those reports were built just to be that simple.

It’s like you have thousands of man-hours that may go into, I need two answers. I really only have two questions that I’m asking for when you’re working with startups or you’re working with companies that are younger, how do you accelerate them to getting to those, that level of what they need to understand in your coaching and your, in your conversations? Or is that just something that comes with maturity of, of a business?

Michael Devellano: (23:25)
I feel like depending on the stage of the startup, that you have to walk the real world before you walk into the digital world, I find startups actually go the wrong way, which is they go all technology initially. And I think that a lot of times you’ll see people building these funnels and building like these crazy products. And they really don’t have validation that someone will give them five bucks for something.

Kyle Hamer: (23:54)
So when you built this great trap, yeah. And I think that’s the,

Michael Devellano: (24:00)
You’re making a digital product, or you’re trying to come up with a pro a sales process. You need to actually know before you build it now, because there’s no excuse where you can’t. You know, I think my approach to startups is this who’s your customer, same as a normal business. But the difference is, okay now prove it because they don’t have money from them.

They’re going on an idea and a problem. But it really, the validation is, is, seems like a trivial thing. But the real validation, if someone gives you money, you show them, you explain to them, you listen to what their problem is, and I get agreement on it. And then before you build the thing, you get money for it. And that’s real validation to me. So now let’s say they’ve built a product and then they can’t sell it. You’ve got to figure out why.

Michael Devellano: (24:56)
And digital can be a barrier to figuring out why. So you need to hand bomb it. And I think they, and until you’ve talked to your first 100 people that look like the person you are claiming is your customer. You don’t know, and you can’t do that by a survey. You got to like have real conversations. So I think for startups, it’s a little bit different problem, right? It’s like, okay, have you built a product?

No. Good. Do you have the UI? Can you mock up a working prototype where it’s not perfect, but it demonstrates the idea. And then you got to go to the first 10 people in the first 48 hours, and then you have six weeks to get to the next hundred. And I, I talked to startups about here’s how you use LinkedIn sales navigator. Here’s how you use something like seamless. Here’s how you find them. Here’s how you get in touch with them.

Here’s how you get conversations with them and then prove it. And you ask them all for money, a nominal amount of money. It’s like, do you have this problem? Yes. Can we talk? And I show you what to have. Yes. All right. If this did this thing that you just said, would you buy it? Yes. Okay. Will you give me a hundred bucks?

Kyle Hamer: (26:05)
That’s like,

Michael Devellano: (26:06)
Give me a hundred bucks. And if they say no, then they weren’t that sick.

Kyle Hamer: (26:11)
I didn’t, they were just, they were like a happy years or they made you the made you feel good about yourself?

Michael Devellano: (26:16)
Well, I meant somebody like, anyway,

Kyle Hamer: (26:20)
I’m not, I’m not separating with my cash. I get it. It makes, makes perfect sense to me. Okay. So then if you

Michael Devellano: (26:27)
Do that, then you understand, here’s how I found them. Here’s where I found them. Here’s how then you can start thinking about how I scale that introduction, how I scale getting the demo, how I scale, closing the demo. So until they do that real-world hundred person thing, it’s just a lie.

You don’t like it. And if you get five out of, or 10 out of a hundred, you have actual metrics, then you can go and say, okay, well, we’re going to automate our LinkedIn outreach. Okay. We’re going to automate our follow-up. What tool can we buy to do that? Okay, we’re going to build a funnel because honestly, you still even know if people buy it off of a page, will they buy it from an e-commerce store?

Now you can set up an e-commerce store and do that. But I think you got to, again, it’s smarter if you do it the other way, right? And then you have the problem of God. This is not scalable. Nope. A direct sales model is horrible. Let’s get rid of it. You know? So I think it’s tough because you see people choose, go straight to digital and they don’t really have enough conversations or information to know what’s going on. Well, I think that’s the thing with startups is you got to get them to be a little bit gritty first and then build the e-commerce store, then build the, the sales funnel, then build the Marquetto or the HubSpot or the other outreach program.

Kyle Hamer: (27:52)
Well, there’s, there’s, there’s a couple of things there that I think, you know, you’re, you’re hitting on the nail. You’re hitting the nail on the head with a few things that I think are interesting. One is a guy had a, I had a person reach out today and they said, Hey, you want to, you want this new AI auto scale, reach out to people via LinkedIn whizzbang thing we built. And I’m like, no,

Michael Devellano: (28:17)
You’re selling me. The you’re selling me the features.

Kyle Hamer: (28:19)
Yeah. The in the, in the, in the person was like, well, why? And I said, well, one it’s AI. So I automatically assume it’s impersonal. Like I know that AI will improve. But at this point I saw what you sent to me.

Michael Devellano: (28:30)
It’s gross. It’s like,

Kyle Hamer: (28:32)
I need to go take a shower. And by the way, you’re one of 37 or 40 people before lunch that did the same thing. So what makes you unique? So I think there’s, there’s, there’s some real value in what you’re talking about and in reaching out as a human and not just you’re praying and praying.

Michael Devellano: (28:50)
So how do you, okay. Let’s do let’s use that example, right? How do you create a scalable conversation then? So company like Intercom do a really good job of giving you a platform, for example, to have scalable conversations where you can create a bot and you can drive people into the, the messenger or whatever that thing is, and it’ll respond for you and you, it gives you volume, but how do you know what the questions are and the answers that satisfied to the next step? So this is so hold on, I think by the way, that’s how you teach AI, right?

Kyle Hamer: (29:23)
Oh my God. Yes. Because AI learns, right? You have to first, you have to tell us

Michael Devellano: (29:29)
Other problems. So you know what NLP is, right? Not neuro natural. Well, there’s two NLPs, but there’s natural language processing, which is how AI works. And it’s neuro-linguistic programming,

Kyle Hamer: (29:42)
Which is how sales worked in repeating. So it’s the same thing. One is the technology version and the other is the, you know, the human brain.

Michael Devellano: (29:49)
Absolutely. So the neuro-linguistic programming is interesting because if you talk to Wyatt, Woodsmall, who’s like one of the great experts in it. He says, all it is is modeling. It’s finding out the real reason something worked or someone learns something or someone’s able to do something better than anybody else. And when you can really figure out that answer, then you can duplicate it. And if you think of AI, it’s really saying it learns by conversation, which are what, what are the questions and answers that happen and go to the next stage. But it’s very similar problem. You know, there’s an analogy between those two NLPs, which is kind of ironic. So how can you have scalable conversations where you got to know the questions and the, and, and I, so I have this idea for an AI startup called a decision support engine. And I, the, the philosophy or the theory is you’re a hundred steps away from any goal.

Michael Devellano: (30:47)
So if I want to be the president of United States, I’m a hundred steps away. It might be over 10 years, whatever the timeframe is. But so then you figure out how someone else did it. And there’s two types of decisions they made. There’s repetitive ones where they can, they had consistency and there’s intervals that are short or long between those types of decisions they’re repetitive. And the other one are milestone-based and you can decode that.

You can teach an AI and it can teach you someone else. So people need to think of that in terms of their business, which are, what are the questions in the answers that my customer needs to go from? Not knowing anything about me, to acknowledging they have a problem to thinking about how they can sell the problem to who can solve the problem, too. I want to solve it with you too. I want to get you to keep solving it. And if you know those questions and the answers that get them from stage to stage, whether you’re a startup or a giant company, that’s your technology framework. And then because you put the data in the right places, then you can talk about automation and then you can talk about AI. And I think nobody explains it in those layers. It’s just like,

Kyle Hamer: (31:56)
Well, and I think this is so the ironic part to me is as in anybody who’s been listening for a while, they know that I will say this frequently, it’s like the power in business, the power in life never actually lies in the answer. The power always lies in the question. And people look at me perplexed and saying, well, why do you say that? It lies in the question, because if I ask the right question, I’ll get the answer. That’s meaningful. If I asked the wrong question, I’ll waste my time. I’ll Zack. It’s like, it’s like going, Hey, I went, I went to the doctor and I said, I’m not feeling very good. I think I’m having a heart attack. And he comes back and he runs, you know, a hundred thousand dollars with a heart attack test. And he says, no, that’s not it at all.

Kyle Hamer: (32:40)
Ex-Lax and he doesn’t have you pooped in a week. You know what I mean? Like it’s like, Oh, there’s a lot of other potential things. I didn’t ask the right question. This sounds like a very personal issue, but no, but the, the, the metaphor of the example here is, is that the power never really lies in the answer. It always lies in the question. And to your point of the framework, right?

If you ask the right questions, you see the sequencing of answers to your point. Some are, are long. Interworld. Some are short. You find that out technology can learn it. It can be automated. And as long as you put the information in the right place, like this is this, this to me is the major issue that companies have. It’s different, but it’s true. I am used to working in a spreadsheet. I’ll just put everything in here. It’s like, no, there’s a structure and a process. And you know, there there’s hygiene that your data needs to have. If your data’s a mess, your automation, your process, and your business is going to be a mess.

Michael Devellano: (33:34)
Nothing else works. If the foundation is the data structure, putting it at the right time and the right data place, understanding then how it goes from each of those States, then you automate it, right? Which is, this is the trigger. And the action. If you get all that, right, your data will grow in a good way. And then AI makes sense because AI can learn that thing. AI can be taught. This is the stuff that Betty’s doing. And it can, then it has enough to chew on because AI runs on data. The data sucks. AI is going to suck.

Kyle Hamer: (34:15)
And what does, what do they say? Quality in quality out.

Michael Devellano: (34:18)
Totally garbage. Eddy garbage in, garbage out.

Kyle Hamer: (34:22)
Yeah. There you go. Yeah. So the transition, we’ll just transition a little bit here. Back to your, back to your podcast, you know, you’ve, you’ve met with what, 50, 60 different people over the last year, year and a half.

Michael Devellano: (34:36)
I started counting it. I think I’m around 90.

Kyle Hamer: (34:39)
Nice. Okay. Yeah. What, what are, what are some of, well, two things, first thing is, is, were any of your interviews or people that you talked with, is there anything you learned surprising to you? You were like, wow, that was something that I really hadn’t considered.

Michael Devellano: (34:53)
I mean, I think the people that interest me are working on unique problems and they’re, or they’re approaching a unique way or both. Some of the interesting, the one that was, you know, my friends now is via Bader, created out of a personal journey of with cancer trial directory. And that was a great example where she, we, it was funny. We had a common background in telecomm and in big data. And she came to this company because she had a personal cancer issue and the answer she was getting backward, really not great. So what she did is she created this concept of listen, you are how, you know, the worst thing as a patient in cancer is you see a doctor for like 60 minutes. And otherwise you’re laying around waiting and doing tests and all these other things, but you don’t have a true advocate that can give you answers.

Michael Devellano: (35:50)
So let’s teach an AI and doctors the way they learn, they’re actually the bottleneck. So what the problem with the doctor is he gives you, he asks you questions, he takes notes, and then you, he, based upon what he’s read from the FDA is giving you the best options. And that’s assuming he remembers it and that he’s read it. And then, and one thing we know about AI is it reads really, really well.

That NLP problem is understanding the doctor’s language, first of all right? So that you can read the journal on XYZ type of cancer and then all of the journals, and then come with the stats of the outcomes. So that’s the doctor side that trajectory does on the human side. You can’t talk to a patient that way. So you can ask the patient questions of higher, you know, what were you diagnosed with?

Michael Devellano: (36:45)
What is your tests say? Are you having these feelings or issues? And then it matches the two up in the middle. And so it was really kind of eyeopening of, Hey, here’s a real world solution using AI, the data exists. There’s lots of patients.

There’s lots of journals and the bottlenecks, the doctor, and this can overcome that. And doctors aren’t using AI, they’re relying on their memory and their ability to read and their capacity for energy. Because if you don’t have the energy to read more, you, you can’t get the next idea. Right. but the AI doesn’t have that problem.

They, I can just read all the journals, become an expert. And now I think it’s an expert in, it was supposed to be like 30 cancers this year. So now if you have a problem, you go to child directory, you answer those questions, like a human to another human. And it says, these are the trials you should be talking to your doctor about, and here’s the treatment.

Kyle Hamer: (37:39)
So I was talking to w what I think is like that that’s actually really super cool in, in two reasons for that one, I have a I had a former coworker who their significant other had a very rare form of some sort of auto-immune disease, not, you know, not AIDS, but it was just, there was some something that was happening in their body that something was tagging it. They couldn’t figure out how to fix it, right.

This person who was always getting the flu couldn’t couldn’t solve it. And it happened to be that they went to a second or third opinion for this particular person. He had read one of these random journals to your point of energy, found something. It was like, well, look, there’s maybe 20 cases of this diagnosed a year. It could be this. He was the, this particular person was the 21st person to get diagnosed. But it was all to your point of is just this. So you think about at scale, what this means for, for learning, for somebody in that type of environment.

The other thing is, is I was talking with Mark Stouse – who’s the CEO of Proof Analytics. Are you familiar with proof?

Michael Devellano: (38:52)
Yeah. Yeah. The little pop-up thing, right? No.

Kyle Hamer: (38:55)
So Proof Analytics is a marketing mix modeling company. So they did, they take what people do for predictive analytics and mixed modeling and they’ve automated it. So what would normally take a large company, 10, $12 million a year. They’ve shrunk it down, but he was talking about what you were sharing with your friend. And that IBM has put Watson to work on reading these journals and making it digestible. So other companies can connect in and say, well, this is the category, or this is it.

Michael Devellano: (39:27)
Staggering, IBM Watson people don’t understand. They have like 36 API APIs that you can build into to solve AI-based problems. It’s AI as a service. And if you look, let’s use Salesforce as an example, right? Einstein, when you see Einstein AI advertised, which is getting to the point where it’ll make recommendations to sales reps of what they should say, what next steps are, all that is, is IBM Watson around the account. So IBM has actually done some pretty phenomenal things. I think they’re going to split off into a couple of companies.

It sounds like, but the AI part of that business, if people look into it, you could build, this is where AI startups need to start looking because you don’t have to start from scratch on building your own AI solution. Necessarily you can look to an existing AI as a service, whether it’s open AI or IBM Watson, and how do I solve my problem with AI? And can this help me? And I think if I’m a startup, I’m looking at that and it might just be a machine learning problem, but then you need a data scientist. Right?

Kyle Hamer: (40:36)
Well, and to that point, right, at the point in which you’re, you’re applying a data scientist to a machine learning problem, you’re immediately into AI. I mean, cause it’s the first time you’re, you’re building your own mechanisms,

Michael Devellano: (40:48)
But I think the same way that anyone 10 years ago figured out they could build an app and have an app idea. You could do the same with AI now. And I think if people understand that just the tools feel less accessible, but if you can read and you can read documentation, go read IBM Watson, and then think about your problem. How do I have something thinking to solve this problem for me every day? And I think that would boom, AI startups, because it would get out of the, there’s a bottleneck in AI startups, in my opinion, which is data scientists.

Kyle Hamer: (41:21)
I, you and I are in agreement on that. I think that there’s the, I think AI, or just at the precipice, like really very early, early, early stages of AI and we out how to connect it. Things get very, very interesting for what it means for jobs and the economy. I mean, just the, the exponential growth of once a computer can teach itself to learn, understands the language and can program. Like there just, it gets really interesting, really fast

Michael Devellano: (41:51)
When people worry about jobs, jobs, you know, labor is the least valuable asset you have now. And if you’re fighting for 12 or 15 or $20 an hour, or you’re counting time against your mortality and someone else has come taking an idea and putting it into a digital form that is, has no issue with energy, no issue is sleep.

You know, I would rather own the digital representation of your labor or your idea. And I encourage people that anybody can think of a pro a solution to an AI problem. And if we start, if we encourage people to think in those terms and tell them there are tools and platforms that will operationalize this the way the iPhone and the app store did, cause those exists, you know, Elon Musk has one called open AI, right? So if, if just read, just read, read, read, think of your problem in the simplest terms. But then I would love to see a boom in AI startups that way. And there is a boom, but they’re very centered around education, right?

Kyle Hamer: (42:57)

Michael Devellano: (42:59)
Well, there’s healthcare right now. Those are the two problems. Cause they’re both big data problems. And if you look, if you talk to VCs, those are the startups that are pitching AI right now. But I think to your point, we’re just at the tip and what we need is more thinkers and entrepreneurs, not necessarily data scientists. Yeah. I agree with data science part is actually kind of handled by AI as a service. Amazon, Amazon has AI as a service. So as well, yeah. Google has it as well, right? Like, you know, so these, if I think if you are out there, you were someone that was excited about apps 10 years ago, get excited about AI and think of your problem in an AI format and go look at those platforms because what AWS did for storage and scalable computing, it is also doing for AI, same thing with Google cloud, same thing with IBM Watson, there’s a law or an opening eyes. Another one, all they are is tools.

Kyle Hamer: (43:54)
That’s great. Well, you know, and look, Michael, I could, we could sit here and we can talk for it. Probably another two, three hours, a couple of, you know, half, half marketing nerds, half sales nerds, and guys who love tech. But it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you.

Thanks for letting me ramble on, Oh man, I’d love to have you back and actually push out a bit more on some of the AI stuff, as well as you have some very fascinating guests. And so just things that you’ve learned and, and things that you’re seeing people do. And again, part inspiration part, you know, pragmatism. And the other part is, is just like, Hey, like you said, we are, we’re in an interesting economy where people are still trying to trade labor, calmer time. Right.

They’re trying to take time for money. And, and we’re in an environment where big ideas and the digital imprint of that is we’re just at the front end. Right? You think about it, the, the infrastructure, like it’d be like getting in the ground floor of building highways way back in the day. I don’t know.

Michael Devellano: (44:56)
So I think, I think that the thing I’ll leave as a final note on that topic is we just are, you know, going through intentional shutdown of the economy. If I take away your labor, what do you got? So that’s what you have to answer for yourself. And that’s the number one question everyone should look at, not as a threat, but as an opportunity. And there will be protectionism where people are trying to get company and that’s already happening. You’re seeing this in New York where government, which is slow and monolithic and doesn’t understand anything except slow and old. And the [inaudible], don’t be nostalgic, look to the future and imagine something for yourself. If it’s a small thing or a big thing, and know the tools and the platforms are out there to help you do it, it might be Etsy. It might be making an app. It might be an AI startup. And I don’t care if you’re a waitress. I don’t care if you’re a dentist. I don’t care if you’re a kid and people say you’re too young. I don’t care if you’re a senior citizen. People say you’re too old, think differently, and that’s going to get you farther. Cause I have bad news for you. We are no longer in a labor economy. We are in a digital economy and it’s moving to an automated digital account

Kyle Hamer: (46:04)
Very, very quickly. Well, thanks again, Michael, for being on the show, it’s been, it’s been great to have you, for those of you. Who’ve tuned in, it’s been Michael Devalano Devalano automate and grow dot biz, check out his book. I, and make sure you like subscribe and come back and check us out next week. We’ll have another fun guest on talking about all things, really sales, marketing business. And you know, what this, what this new adventure in new world looks like anyways. Thanks again, Michael, for being here. Thanks for tuning in until next week. This has been Kyle Hemer your host. Thank you.

Michael Devellano
Michael DevellanoAuthor, Investor, Automator
Michael works with founder lead brands to automate marketing, sales and customer success. He is an expert on marketing automation, crm and custom digital product development and strategy. He is the author of Automate and Grow and host of the Automate & Grow podcast. He has lead the strategy, design and development of over 150 mobile, Salesforce and digital or marketing automation projects.