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Know Your Ideal Customer Profile & How to Crush It on LinkedIn – w/ Matt Wolach

“And so what I do is coach this founder to understand, here’s how you can set up your process, such that it’s going to make sure your market knows that this is a problem and they know that your solution is the one that’s going to be the answer to all of their needs.”

That was Matt Wolach, a self-described SaaS enthusiast. Matt Wolach is the founder of Xsellus, a coaching company that helps software founders scale their business with a proven process that wins. Matt has nearly 20 years of corporate experience, including recent executive-level stints at Synlio and WebPT. And he is also the host of The SaaS-Story in the Making Podcast.

Please enjoy this interview with my good friend, Matt Wolach.



Skyler Irvine:

Welcome to The Niche Please Podcast. I am your host, Skyler Irvine. New name to celebrate my new book, Niche, Please, available now on Amazon. Join me as I explore the future of business, media and tech, and interview the ones leading the charge. 

Skyler Irvine:

Joining me on the other line is a good friend of mine and someone who I’m just really excited to kind of reconnect with, Matt Wolach. Please give me a brief introduction with what you’re doing now, if you don’t mind, and I want to jump in and ask some questions about that, and let’s just get going.

Matt Wolach:

Sure. Thanks for having me, Skyler. Yeah. And I’m a coach to B2B software founders. So software companies, they get started usually by technical people, people who built out a great product, they solved a problem. However, they have no idea how to sell it. They have no idea how to take it to market. They have no idea how to get this amazing product into somebody else’s hands. And so they come to me so I can help them go to market, put in a good marketing strategy, understand what you do once you have those people who are interested in your product, how do you convince them that your product is the answer to all their challenges? How do you sell them? And how do you take care of them going forward?

Matt Wolach:

So I help software founders around the world. We work with about 150 founders from, oh, maybe 40 different countries or so around the world. And it’s a ton of fun for me, because having been in software myself, building out my companies for 15 years or so, I was really acutely focused on specific markets, specific verticals building those companies. But now I get to work with a bunch of different people, targeting a bunch of different types of roles, and personalities and different challenges that they face. So for me, it’s a lot of fun being able to have a ton of different irons in the fire, seeing what’s going on around the world.

Skyler Irvine:

So I’ve always been really impressed. You’ve got a very impressive corporate resume. Early hire at WebPT, President at Synlio, just to name a few of the recent ones. What made you want to now branch off and launch your own business? And how would you say some of this previous experience helped you with this move?

Matt Wolach:

Well, when we were building SaaS companies, once we achieve some success, I would have people come to me and say, hey, that was awesome that you did that. Can you come show our team how to do the exact same thing? I’m like, yeah. So as friends, of course. I’d be happy to. Let’s have a conversation. I’d go in and meet with their team and help them get righted. And I realized that was so much fun. Seeing people who were struggling and frustrated, and then sharing with them some of the things that I’ve learned along the way and helping them understand how they can overcome those challenges, to me was amazing.

Matt Wolach:

And so I said, hey, I know that there are other people out here who have these same frustrations, these same struggles. I would love to be able to help them full-time and just basically make sure that they don’t have to go through those struggles. They don’t have to face these challenges not knowing what’s on the other side. And so I decided, hey, why don’t I just become a coach, help them do that, share what I’ve learned over the years and make it really easy for them to achieve all their goals and success.

Skyler Irvine:

You touched on this just a little bit, but how would you kind of describe the exact person or the primary client you’re going after? When you’re lodging a coaching business, are you kind of able to help a lot of people in sales, or is it very hyper-targeted kind of to SaaS founders?

Matt Wolach:

I do. Well, for when people get started with me, I definitely say you really have to understand your ideal customer profile, your ICP. You really have to know your buyer personas and what we call your user personas. And so if I’m going to tell people to do that, I have to make sure mine are outlined really well also. No, it’s not very broad and very tight. It’s very specifically focused on B2B software founders or top leaders, people who are controlling their growth engine, their sales process. And so I don’t work with sales people individually. Sometimes I do have an account executive coming to me asking for guidance or help. And there’s certainly some things I can turn them towards so that they can get help. But really I want to work with the founders, the ones who have created the company, come up with the idea, seen somewhere where there’s struggle that they can help solve, and it’s me to help them get their product in the hands of those people they’re trying to help.

Matt Wolach:

Because it’s so frustrating as a software founder, when you come up with an idea, you know it’s going to take care of a situation that’s very painful, and yet nobody realizes it. They don’t understand what you are trying to do and how your product can help. And in many cases, they may not even understand that they have a problem. And so what I do is coach this founder to understand, here’s how you can set up your process, such that it’s going to make sure your market knows that this is a problem, and they know that your solution is the one that’s going to be the answer to all of their needs.

Skyler Irvine:

You’ve got a very proven track record. You’ve had a lot of success. You essentially spent a good amount of time in retirement before you at least publicly made this announcement that I remember. What made you really want to make that jump and kind of come out of the comfort zone of retirement, so to speak, and launch a coaching business, and put it out in the world, and make that announcement and really kind of push this next phase forward for yourself?

Matt Wolach:

Well, you can only be bored for so long. But I had to do something. And I knew that there were people who needed help and I knew that I had the answers. And for me, it’s very frustrating when I see people struggling who don’t know what to do. I’ve actually thought the same thing. I was educated in hospitality management and restaurants, and every time I go to a restaurant and I see them doing something wrong, I’m like, oh, I got to change that. And so I wish I could just like, hey, come here. Just do this. Change this. Really frustrates my wife like crazy. So at least here I have something that I can share with people. I can help them. I can make sure that they don’t have to go through those struggles. For me, that is so much fun.

Matt Wolach:

I do have a lot of people ask me that question, hey, why are you wanting to help me? They get a little skeptical, like, okay, you’ve had a few exits. You’ve clearly had some decent success. Why are you spending your time to helping guys like me or gals like me? And I say, you know what? It’s really not about the money. I love the fact that when somebody comes to me, and I’ve had people cry on the call because they’re so frustrated, they’ve put so much effort into their companies, just not working, they have so much passion for their community that they’re trying to help serve and so much passion for the product and the company that they’re building, that it’s really frustrating when things are not working out.

Matt Wolach:

And so when I have that situation on a call where they are very upset, and then a few weeks later after they join my program, we talk to them about how they’re going to be able to turn things around, we show them some of the formulas that make it really simple to plug and play, and then we have another conversation where they’re excited. They’re over the moon. And this result has happened, or that result has happened, or they were taking care of this situation for people. And to see the change is everything that I need. And I know we’re on audio, but I’ve got flags on my wall, and you can only see a piece of them here in the shot, but there’s flags on my wall representing where my clients are around the world, because these people to me are more than just clients, they’re family.

Matt Wolach:

When they join, when they work with me, when they put the trust of their entire life’s work into my hands, that tells me that they trust me, and so I want to make sure I reward that by taking as much care of them as I can. And I respect them by putting their flag up on the wall. So I think it’s pretty cool deal.

Skyler Irvine:

So you’ve got a very impressive network. You know a lot of people. You’ve been in this space for over a decade, making the right connections. What social media platforms have allowed for the most success for your new business and your launch. And why do you think that platform specifically is the one?

Matt Wolach:

Well, LinkedIn for us has been the most successful. We get a ton of business from LinkedIn. Maybe 80 to 85% of our business comes from there. I think the biggest thing, and this is something that I teach to my clients, if you’re going to launch a product, if you’re going to launch a solution, you have to make sure that you build your brand. But it took me a long time to realize that you need to build your personal brand. If you think about the difference between a company brand and a personal brand, you look at something like Tesla that has 9 million followers on Twitter, but Elon Musk has 60 million followers. Even Bill Gates. Microsoft has about 9 or 10 million, and Bill Gates has 55 million followers. So people want to connect with people much more than they do with a brand. Took me a long time to realize that.

Matt Wolach:

But now that I did, I now have been able to put my own personal brand out there. And basically what I do is I just share value. I want to make sure that people who are struggling can get help, regardless of whether they’re working with me or not. So I’m putting out articles, and tips, and videos and ways that people can overcome struggles. And I share a lot of that on LinkedIn. Because of that, I gain a following. I have people coming to me asking for advice, and eventually they realized that I can help them and they want to work together. And so I think that that is an excellent way to be able to generate a community, to be able to create a community of people who believe in you, who understand what you’re saying. They start to realize that some of the things that you’re saying are going to apply to them in their situation. And once they use that and it works, and then they want to use more from you, they want to use more, and they realize they want to work together.

Matt Wolach:

This works not only for me and what I’m doing in coaching, but a lot of my clients have seen very similar results for their software products, where with their personal brand, they’ve been able to talk about situations within their market that are troublesome, that are problems that they give advice and they help overcome these problems. And when people see that that helps them, they figure out, hey, this person, what are they all about? Oh, they’re a CEO of a software company. What does that software do? Oh, it just happens to solve the same kind of problem that I’m facing. And so we’re seeing a ton of results from building out that personal brand. And LinkedIn is a fantastic way to do it. Twitter, I would say would be probably the second best way. I see a lot of great results on Twitter that my clients are getting. I haven’t focused on Twitter nearly as much as maybe I should. But LinkedIn and Twitter are phenomenal ways to be able to build your personal brand, show the value that you can provide and people will be drawn to you for it.

Skyler Irvine:

What advice specifically would you have for someone to try to build success from scratch on a platform like LinkedIn, if they haven’t already had 15 plus years building relationships?

Matt Wolach:

Yeah. Great question. First of all, LinkedIn works great for me, but it may not work for everybody. What I say is figure out where your market is, going back to our ICP and understanding who the people you’re going after are. Once you understand that clearly, it makes it easier to realize where are they? Where do they congregate? Where do they come together? And it could be LinkedIn. It could be Facebook. A lot of Facebook groups out there. And that’s a great place to start. If you’re a realtor, there’s tons of realtor, real estate Facebook groups that you can go and join and start to figure out the community, and the lingo and how people speak with each other and interact. But for me, it was LinkedIn.

Matt Wolach:

And the ways to do it are first, you have to have an excellent profile, and the profile has to be very non salesy. It has to share about who you are. You have to be able to get across that you’re somebody who has some experience, but that you also are looking for more. You’re looking to learn more, you’re looking to help others. And so for me, I talk about how I am a software founder, an investor, and a coach, and a mentor and enthusiastic with software. I talk about all the different things. My featured articles show all the different things that I’ve posted. And it’s all about software and SaaS. When people come to my profile, if they are somebody who I would want to work with, it looks great to them. Now, if you’re not in software, my profile, you’ll go there and you’ll be like, what is this all about? I don’t even know what these words are. I’m not sure what this is all about. It’s not going to look good to you.

Matt Wolach:

You know what? I don’t care, because it is specifically targeted at a very fine sliver of the entire LinkedIn community. But to that sliver, it looks amazing. We found a niche that absolutely works. And it’s one of those old sayings, you don’t want to look really good to a bunch of people, you want to look amazing to very few people. And that’s kind of the way that we do it. So make sure your profile hits at that ICP at that target. And then you do what I said, post content. Well secondly, sorry, connect within the market. Go out and find people who are the target, connect with them, do so frequently. LinkedIn just changed kind of all the rules. They just changed it from unlimited connections, or maybe it was 4 or 500 a week, to now it’s 100 a week. So they kind of adjusted that, but use all 100. Get 100 connections a week, 100 connection requests that you can send. There are also some other tactics that we teach that have people connecting with you.

Matt Wolach:

There’s some advanced stuff that definitely helps. But use those connections. Get more and more people from your market to be part of your LinkedIn community as you go. And eventually the stuff that you’re putting out there, they’re going to see, they’re going to love. Because you should be putting out value. I say this a lot. A lot of times people start out their LinkedIn strategy and they’re posting about how great their product is. And this is a product that does this and our product will do that. And our product does this and it’s amazing. Don’t post about your product. Don’t focus on the product, focus on the problem. What is the main problem? What is the challenge that your market is facing? Now talk about that. Bring up the challenge. Make sure they understand it. Make sure they identify it. Then you can talk about how to overcome that challenge.

Matt Wolach:

How can you face that challenge head on and how can you beat it? And when you start talking about the problem and the solution, then people are going to be drawn to you and realize you know what you’re talking about. You speak from a point of wisdom and I want to hear more. And once you get that, then they either want to continue following you or they want to talk to you and figure out how should we work together?

Skyler Irvine:

That’s really great. So being a coach online in this world today is a very, very crowded space with a lot of inexperienced coaches, let’s just say. What would you say is a common myth about this field and how would you correct it? Another way to put that is, what would be something that most people misunderstand about you and your business until they get to know you a little bit better?

Matt Wolach:

That’s a good question. I think that there’s a lot of people who think that the coaches are just going to charge them a bunch of money and not really give them anything. You’re not really doing anything. You’re not a done for you service, like an agency. How are you actually going to help me? And then there are, you’re right. There’s a lot of quote unquote coaches out there who are just kind of hoping that people pay them money, and they give them a little bit information, they go away. That’s not how we run. I want to make sure that I provide as much value as possible, that whatever I know I can share, that you’ve got everything out of my brain from the 15 years I was building SaaS companies.

Matt Wolach:

And so, once people get in, and we do see this, that people are a little skeptical before they join, but once they join our program and they realize that one, I’m dedicated to making sure that their experience is amazing and that they get to their goals, two, we have a community of people, a community of founders, and these founders are very tight knit, very close. We just had a call this morning where we had a guest speaker, and 55 founders from around the world showed up for this guest speaker and they found it to be incredible. And these calls are energetic. Our guest speaker said, “holy cow, your community’s amazing. It was just so awesome to see their energy.” That’s what does it for me, to see these people who have gone from struggle to now they’re providing so much energy on these calls with these guest speakers, that the guest speaker who does this all the time is like, wow, what a fantastic community. So when you join us, you get me, you get the community and you get all of the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Matt Wolach:

It’s something that people have found to be very warming and very helpful in helping them get to their goals. How do I differentiate? I think the proof is in the pudding. So what I do, and I highly recommend that others do this as well, is we simply just put up the results. We have pages of reviews where we share all of the different people talking about our community, talking about our program, talking about me. And it’s videos. Just video upon video of my clients sharing their results, sharing what’s happened, sharing what they think about working with me. And it tends to get a lot of people excited to want the same. I have people coming on the call that say, I want to be your next video. So teach me how to do all these things so I can go out and close a bunch of deals and I can get amazing results. And I can be interviewed by you on your next video. So how do we differentiate? We just show the results, essentially.

Skyler Irvine:

What’s something that’s occurred into launching your business that you didn’t expect? And maybe it’s going from working as part of a company to starting your own, whether good or bad or surprising. Does anything jump out to you as far as something that came up during the process of making that transition that you completely did not expect to happen?

Matt Wolach:

Yeah. Well, I’ve started or been part of the startup team for five different companies. The thing that’s amazing to me is how much I keep learning at each stop. After two or three, you’re like, okay, I have this whole startup thing down, right? No. I mean, this coaching venture is a little bit different than everything else. Even though it’s within SaaS, it’s kind of got a different makeup, different type of way of approaching things. And I’m learning things now that I had no idea that kind of makes me a little sad to think, hey, man, if I would’ve had this at this stop or this stop, if I would’ve known this, we would have gotten this much further along. We would have had this much more, whatever.

Matt Wolach:

It’s kind of funny to think about all the things that I’ve learned in this most recent gig that I didn’t know, but it also makes me realize there’s probably plenty more. If I think now that I have it, well, I thought that before, and I thought that on the one before and the one before. And so there’s plenty other opportunities for me to continue learning, to continue to get better. Just allows me to make sure that I’m always working on improving myself, bettering myself so that I can learn more about what I’m doing and I can provide that much more insight to my clients as well.

Skyler Irvine:

It’s really cool to just hear someone who’s had so much success in doing a lot of these things to answer that question with how much I keep learning. It’s so spot on, and it’s so accurate and so true. You bring everything you’ve learned with you to the next thing, but there’s always so much to learn. And a lot of times you just think that other businesses look so much easier, and then you get behind the scenes and you learn all those new problems. It’s really refreshing to hear an honest answer like that. Let’s get into some things that are a little bit specific to you and might provide some additional value as someone who, I mean, you’re a father, you’re running a business, you’re a busy person. What’s your favorite productivity hack that you’ve recently discovered and how did you discover it?

Matt Wolach:

Favorite productivity? You know what my favorite productivity hack is? Is chilling out and not doing anything for like 20 minutes. Middle of the day. I will take a little break.

Skyler Irvine:

I’m going to interrupt, I’m sorry. Do you schedule these out? Or do they just, hey, I’ve got 15 minutes, I’m going to not do anything for these 15 minutes?

Matt Wolach:

No I don’t. And I know that there are people who are a little more strict with their schedule and do that, but because of the way my structure and my schedule works, is sometimes I have a client meeting here, sometimes I have a sales call here, sometimes I have a vendor meeting here, it’s all over the place so I don’t really have that. But as soon as I start to feel my enthusiasm dip even slightly, I’m like, I don’t want this to happen. I need to keep high passion. I need to keep high energy. I’m going to go take a chill pill, go lay on my little chair there and just kind of decompress.

Matt Wolach:

And sometimes I sit there. Sometimes I kind of browse Twitter. Sometimes I play a little game. Just get away from whatever I was thinking of. And after 15, 20 minutes, I go back and I feel re-energized. And I get so much more productivity out of that then really trying to push through and trying to say, oh, it’s dipping. I just got to just keep doing it. That’s usually when my worst work happens. So I love just taking a little break, taking a little siesta, get some rest. Some people nap, I know that. I don’t. But just kind of reset and get back at it.

Skyler Irvine:

That’s a great answer. I mean, it’s the reason why most people come up with their best ideas in the shower or while doing something else. And creating more moments for yourself is an insane productivity hack if you really break it down. That’s a great answer. What’s an underrated tool that you would say is indispensable to your job or your daily routine?

Matt Wolach:

Yeah. You know what? I do have all kinds of tools. And they’re scheduling tools for social and all that, which work really well. But for me really, I mean, Slack. Slack is great for us. I have a team of people. I’m very fortunate to be at a point where now we have marketing people who are taking care of a bunch of things. And really I manage them through Slack. They’re around the world. I have people in three countries and I need to make sure that they’re doing what they want. I have my sales person up in Michigan. I have other people overseas. And it’s just a matter of making sure that I’m there to support them. That when they need help, when they need guidance, when they need some insight or even an approval, I’m available.

Matt Wolach:

And that’s one that I always appreciated when I was thinking about people who I was working for, is that they were supporting me, and they were available for me and they came through when they said they were going to do something. So that’s one thing that I want to make sure I do. Slack is the tool that I’m on all the time. And my team is sending me images about some new social thing, or they’re sending me copy about this, or they’re asking a question about how they can do this. It’s indispensable to us, especially since we have people across so many times zones.

Skyler Irvine:

I’ve got a love, hate relationship with Slack. There’s times where it doesn’t work for me, which is really frustrating. But I’ve also found that if you can really customize it and create specific channels for, even if it’s just for you, I use it as a way to send myself Twitter articles when I come across them, where I’m looking at Twitter on my phone and think, oh, this is a long read I’m going to save for the weekend, and go into Slack and just pop them up. And instead of looking for good stuff to read, just pop up the iPad and I’ve got a lot of stuff saved there. And that’s a really weird use of Slack, but of all of the other tools I’ve tried to save articles for myself, Slack has been the best one for me.

Matt Wolach:

It’s too bad that it’s not working for you. I can see frustration there. But hopefully it starts to get a little bit better. It works great for us, that’s for sure. But I love the idea of saving stuff for yourself. It’s just so useful.

Skyler Irvine:

Okay. Let’s finish up with some rapid fire questions. What’s an occupation that you would like to try other than what you’re currently doing?

Matt Wolach:

Football coach.

Skyler Irvine:

Any level?

Matt Wolach:

Yeah, I think any level. I mean, I do coach my daughter’s football team. It’s an all girl’s flag football team. She’s 13. And I absolutely love it. So maybe at a higher level than that, it would be pretty interesting to see how it would go. I’m always yelling at the TV saying, why didn’t they do this? Why didn’t they do that? So we’ll see if I can actually hack it.

Skyler Irvine:

So you’re At restaurants saying, why didn’t you do it this way? Why are you doing it that way? You’re on TV, why are you doing it this way? Why are you doing it that way? I can imagine why your wife might get a little annoyed of that at times.

Matt Wolach:

No doubt.

Skyler Irvine:

What time of day do you get your best work done?

Matt Wolach:

Early morning, I’m up at 5:00 and a usually on the phone by 6:00 AM. I was on the phone at 6:00 AM with South Africa this morning. And I’m usually ready to rock. So I love early morning stuff.

Skyler Irvine:

Has it always been early morning for you?

Matt Wolach:

Not always. But in the last several years, it has been.

Skyler Irvine:

What are two to three books you’d recommend to my audience and why those books?

Matt Wolach:

I am a huge believer of The Challenger Sale. The Challenger Sale is phenomenal. It’s such a good book. And it’s something that I give to all of my clients when they join. It completely changes the game in terms of how you approach a selling relationship. And most people think that the customer is always right, that you just kind of follow what they say. And that was me, because as I mentioned, I was educated in hospitality management and that’s exactly what you learn. And I’ve been in customer service roles that you have to just kind of do what they say. In sales it’s not the case. You have to challenge them. If they say something wrong, you have to come back and educate them on how to do it the right way.

Matt Wolach:

And then a funny thing happens, they actually trust you more, and they think of you as an expert and somebody they can turn to. So somebody who just kind of kowtows to them, and bends over and does whatever they say is not going to get the deal nearly as much as somebody who actually challenges them, and educates them and shows them the right way to do things. And it works phenomenally well. Since I did that, our company took off. It’s what I educate my team on, it’s what I educate my clients on. Challenger Sale is the way to roll.

Skyler Irvine:

That was a great recommendation. I haven’t come across that one so I’m excited to dive into it. What’s one question you wish that I had asked you and how would you have answered it?

Matt Wolach:

Wow. One question you wish I would have asked? That’s a good one. What do I like doing in my spare time? I would say travel. I love traveling the globe. We’ve been to several places this summer. We have several more trips. I’m always looking forward to that next trip, whether it’s going to be with friends, with my family, with just my wife. Always something that I’m focused on and looking forward to.

Skyler Irvine:

That’s a great answer. Great question and answer for yourself. All right, Matty, where’s the best place for people who haven’t come across you yet to connect with you and learn more about you?

Matt Wolach:

Sure. So one of the easiest places is LinkedIn. You can find me at Matt Wolach, W-O-L-A-C-H. I post a bunch of stuff about sales tips in general. So even if you’re not a software person, you’ll still see a bunch of sales help. And then if you are a software person, you’ll see also very specific things around software. You can also get me on my website at mattwolach.com

Skyler Irvine:

Awesome. Thank you so much, Matty. I really appreciate it. It was great to connect with you again and look forward to doing this again soon.

Matt Wolach:

Absolutely, Skyler. Thanks for having me.