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Putting the Personal in Sales at Scale | Greg Segall from Alyce

It used to be that salespeople were the experts at personal connections. They knew how to understand you, and took the time to relate and engage with you, to reach you on a personal level.

Today, salespeople are often more like data analysts. Their job is not to connect personally, but rather to attract attention and hit a number of outreach touchpoints. It can be effective, but consumers are getting tired of it. And though digital marketing is here to stay, our guest on this edition of UpTech Report is trying to bring back the personal to sales. To establish relationships and delivery experiences that matter and help businesses grow.

Greg Segall is the founder and CEO of Alyce, a company that offers what they call a “Personal Experience (PX) platform.” Greg stops by to explain how he’s changing the blast marketing approach to scaling one-to-one relationships, by focusing on the recipient’s #5to9 interests  – giving the people what they want.

More information: https://www.alyce.com/


A serial entrepreneur, Greg Segall founded his third company, Alyce in December 2015 with the goal to fundamentally change the way people invest in business relationships using corporate gifting, swag and more. The mission is to help everyone create personal bonds with everyone they do business with.

Each “investable” moment create by Alyce is built on the 3 pillars of giving:

– How to create an experience that can authentically bring people closer together

– How to give back to planet

– How to give to those in need

Prior to Alyce, Greg was the former founder and CEO One Pica, a premier global e-commerce agency, where Greg worked some of the largest commerce and supply chain infrastructures in the world, including 3M and Scholastic. 

Greg has also invested, scaled, and aided the acquisition of several retailers, taking them from single-digit operations to hundreds of millions of dollars within a few years. One Pica was acquired in December 2012 by a holding company in San Francisco.

Greg lives in Massachusetts with his wife and threenager. He is a tech geek, fitness freak, podcast junkie, baseball monkey and 6-string shredder.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Greg Segall 0:00
Personal experience is how you’re building these moments and stringing them together to actually build depth of how you’re actually emotionally connected to that person. That’s how you build trust. That’s how you build you know, like just reciprocity. It’s how you build loyalty.

Alexander Ferguson 0:17
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Teraleap.io. Today, I’m very excited to be joined by my guest, Greg Segall, who’s based in Boston, Massachusetts, CEO and founder of Alyce, good to have you on Greg. Thank you for pronounced it. Absolutely. Now, Alyce is an AI powered b2b, gifting platform and your whole focus, it seems to be trying to redefine direct mail swag and gifts with a scalable and hyper personalized approach to account based marketing. So for those out there in sales and marketing, this may be a platform that you’re going to want to check out. Now on your your site gray, it says stop sending start bonding, understand what was the problem that you guys saw at the very beginning and set out to solve?

Greg Segall 1:06
I think one of the key things that you see even more exacerbated in COVID. Now is, everyone is digitally fatigued. And when you start to see all the different ways that people are trying to interact in business, it’s very much like email, LinkedIn messages, voicemail messages, you know, what they call touches, right? Which is the creepiest word that you probably ever see in sales and marketing.

Alexander Ferguson 1:27
To me with another the LinkedIn message No, thank you. Yeah,

Greg Segall 1:29
exactly. So you know, one of the one of the things that you start to notice is that there’s this whole mentality of quantity over quality. And there’s this whole element of Well, how do I just spread my message, you know, as far as possible, rather than understanding that it’s about depth, and that there’s actually a person sitting behind the communications that you’re actually trying to have with somebody else, no matter where you are in the relationship. And then when you fundamentally look past the digital channels of communication, you start to recognize that there’s all these investment points, meaning gifts, swag, events, rewards, incentives, everything that sort of fits into that. And that is the most emotive money and most most emotive type of connection you can have with somebody and again, with with, you know, COVID, you can’t do steak dinners, or, you know, golf outings I wish I would personally go to, but that’s fine. Take me to a Red Sox game, there you go. And what you start to see is, it’s very, very difficult to be able to scale that you can stick an email into a cadence or a sequence. But how do I say, hey, Alex, like, how do I actually invest in you on a one to one basis and do that at a scalable fashion, when I’m trying to actually, you know, carry on hundreds of relationships at a time or 1000s of relationships at a time or some companies, millions of relationships at a time.

Alexander Ferguson 2:40
And that’s where technology should be helping, right? Like it should allow us to be able to scale our efforts. But I think maybe technology often we start to automate the wrong thing and just becomes more LinkedIn messages.

Greg Segall 2:51
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s, you know, 15 years of work, go back 10 years ago, 15 years ago, like a 30, to 40% 40% response rate on emails was like, amazing, right? And you’re like, cool, you know, only pissing off 60% of the people. And now you’re like, I get a 2% response rate or 3% response rate, you’re like, well, you’re pissing off 97% of the people. So people have to take a fundamentally different approach right now. And when you look at all the different channels of communication, and how you are actually stringing these together, that’s what you have to be personal in all those different elements of that, so that the person feels like you actually care about them. Right? It’s not, it’s an investment of time, which is very easy to, you know, see, like, Greg, I see that you’re CEO of Alyce and blah, blah, blah, do you want to check out my analytics platform? I’m like, I’m not a robot. I’m a human being, you know, treat me like a human being. So you actually show that you care?

Alexander Ferguson 3:39
Yeah. You saw the problem that in a space now, how did you solve it? What’s your approach? And the approach,

Greg Segall 3:47
the approach was this, that when you look at how people have spent and invested into relationships over the last 100 years, it’s always the same. It’s about me, my brand, everything about me, not about you, we start to fundamentally realize is that the approach that these companies are taking is fundamentally flawed, because everything is always about me. But again, going back to what we just talked about, in terms of showing me that you care about myself, like why do you care what that thing is that you’re investing to the person as long as you’re creating this magical we call a personal experience, that personal experience is how you’re building these moments and stringing them together to actually build depth of how you’re actually emotionally connected to that person. That’s how you build trust. That’s how you build you know, like, just reciprocity. It’s how you build loyalty, in terms of your relationships with people. So it’s about it’s about how can you build depth into that relationship over time as you’re going there, instead of just, I’m trying to just get your attention. I’m trying to get your attention. I’m trying to get your attention. I’m trying to get your attention, which is how everybody treats it right now. So that was the fundamentals.

Alexander Ferguson 4:47
I seen, you know, success stories of really, I would say energetic, but focus sales, people who go out of their way and they dig in and they do research on their prospects and they find out what they’re interested in. They’re finding ways to make them happy. But it’s hard to empower your entire team to have that same gung ho attitude to dig. So is that kind of where you have been focusing on using technology to help in that process

Greg Segall 5:14
100%, you want to make it as dead simple to have those investments happen, and then make it all about the other person. That’s the whole entire fundamental Alyce approach, rather than, I’ve got to go figure out all this stuff, and you know, do all this research and blah, blah, blah, it’s like Alyce just takes care all that for you, and then makes it dead easy for you to be able to actually send something to that person. Because again, end of the day, what you care about what that thing is, if I get to choose if you send me like an ember coffee mug, which is a cool, cool mug, but you’re not sending me the thing, you’re sending me the option for the thing, in exchange for a dog bowl, or something for my dog, you just know, you know, that’s like, it’s something now that I care about, and I’m going to utilize versus it being, you know, like, I don’t drink coffee, for example, right? That’s it, or I have a five year old daughter, so I exchanged her Kiwi crate or something that’s like really meaningful to me. And now that that I’m able to share that with my, you know, my family and my friends,

Alexander Ferguson 6:00
Greg, just a quick distinction here. So what your your whole platform does is it sends a link or you’re able to send a link to the to the person and they can see that and choose it or to something else, you’re not actually mailing it or sending it to them right away.

Greg Segall 6:12
Yeah, we should have started with that. Right, which is exactly that. The model. And the approach is that there’s could be a physical aspect of it, because you’d be sending a box, right. And in terms of the way we do it as like sustainable box or the code and like a handwritten card inside of it, right that they go through the digital experience, which is where the the monetary investment piece is a part of that now, that can either exchange for anything else in the marketplace, because we’ve highly curated things of what people actually really care about, especially with five and a half years of data that’s sitting behind that, or they can donate to a charity of their choice. So what happens is, now it’s all about the other person do they really care. So many people, especially earlier, in COVID, there was such a high percentage of people donating to like Black Lives Matter. And you know, the Red Cross, and like all these, you know, different food banks, all these different places. That’s an amazing, you know, it’s amazing place, because that really means something to that person, which automatically builds reciprocity, because it’s about that review or not about me.

Alexander Ferguson 7:05
It always comes back to if a market team sales team can can build that report saying I want to care what you care about, that helps them build that up. But I find coming back to just the plain logistics of the platform itself. It is nice to get a physical thing so that you still create that experience, but then it leads to an online connection that I get that right, you have the option to either just send a link or send something physical that comes back to the end.

Greg Segall 7:31
Digital 100% 100% i think i think the physical thing has, because of COVID has obviously taken a backseat. And most cases, they’re because they’re Google or the office, not the office, it should be asking ahead for somebody’s home address. Yeah, can I email you something at home? Yeah, your 23 year old BDR. And like, I’m not giving my home address to send me some cupcakes or something, which I don’t eat as well. So thanks again, for again, wasting my time and money on that. So the model for capturing the address happens after they’ve already started inside of the process. And then we extract that from the end customer, because you obviously want to have, like, you know, there’s data privacy issues and stuff like that, especially globally, when you start dealing with that. So yeah, the the, you know, and this is starting to come back right now is like, you know, this is the direct mail portion of this. But there’s a physical aspect, we had these really like beautiful boxes, whether there are boxes by homeless artists, you know, that were created that we’d send to people, whether it’s sustainable, you know, wooden boxes that people can use as like keepsakes, you know, to do whatever it is, right? It couldn’t be just cards, you know, handwritten cards that have the code and on the back of it as well, that you’re writing off. So there’s this whole, you know, we call it the digital world, right? This combination between the physical and the digital world, there’s this element, that’s, that’s going to be coming back, you know, as we as we enter this, but in a world that’s wrought with, you know, digital stuff, it’s like, how do you stand out, it’s, Alyce does the hardware to help make it feel more personal, that’s the key, which ends up driving a lot more, because once a person gets immersed into the experience, they’re automatically, you know, investing their time into that. And that’s, that’s a big driver of behavior.

Alexander Ferguson 9:01
Now, your AI powered part is, that’s where you you affect a vehicle puts the, their contact in there, and you go on to their other social profiles and figure out what they’re interested in. Is that how that works?

Greg Segall 9:14
Yeah. 100%. So the, it’s, you put your information in, right, your email, address your name, that’s all we need, right in terms of that, and then the system is able to find all the social, anything is publicly available, honestly, you know, in terms of that. And we have also behind the scenes, and we’ve done this since the beginning, because we recognize that if any of that information is wrong, there’s a massive problem because like if you say, Oh, yeah, hey, Alex, I saw you like the Red Sox, or like, I don’t like the Red Sox or whatever it is, then there’s a major issue. So we’ve always had human checking behind, you know, invalid called the validation system. There’s always been a human that’s behind a lot of that, because we’re always trying to validate that information. But over time, we built up this like, you know, amazing system in terms of how we can actually go and find that information, extract the information and then you know, be able to validate as we go through. But we’ve also learned that, you know, the, the reality is is like, that works when you’re deeper in the relationship early in the relationship. It’s super creepy, right? So you have to be also, you know, that’s part of the prescriptive nature of how Alyce is used is like you we want to be able to use this as a leverage point to be able to ask good questions, you know, on these things, rather than being like, Oh, well, Yemenis, I’m gonna choose like a, you know, something for your daughter Zoey? Because I know that I’m like, you’re a 23 year old BDR that I’ve never met, How the hell do you know, I have a, you know, a daughter, you know, and, and again, maybe for me, because I’m on a lot of a lot of you knows for podcasts and shows I talk about her a lot. But you know, that’s a that’s, that’s, that’s a line, you have to be very, very careful in terms of how you’re balancing that.

Alexander Ferguson 10:41
We’re in an interesting world where all this information is there and can be used, but it’s almost as as marketing sales team, you have to knowing the new etiquette, okay, what At what point in relationship? Are you? Does it make sense for you to be able to use that data, and it’s accessible and platforms now can be able to pull it. But your approaches is you have like different options, so that you can say, hey, you can like if someone’s not yet that relationship, how would they do it? Would they just send a link and say, here’s,

Greg Segall 11:06
here’s how I’d like to send you something or you just so so you have to think about this in terms of this is where the, the beauty of the Alyce model works. Because I might say, Hey, you know, I need to pick me up. Again, I don’t drink coffee. But imagine using this for like, I need to pick me up, here’s an ember coffee mug, because I thought you might be like, you might like something like this so that it sets you up on that stuff. But the person could choose something else, or like I would choose, I would choose that. So you start to relate it to yourself. And that that’s another way to actually generate a personal connection with somebody. So over time, you know this, and it’s not it’s not difficult, you know, and it could be the same thing like that. But it still feels personal, because it’s coming from you, hey, when I was traveling, or Hey, when travel comes back, you know, here’s this nice custom map that I was used to remember my favorite place, like knowing that he can’t travel right now, wouldn’t it be nice for me to do that you don’t mean like, there’s, there’s ways to drive that, it feels natural, to me, it makes it natural to them, because there’s some sort of a connection that might be there, shows that you actually care. And it’s, and it’s a way for you to be able to scale that authenticity, and use that as a leverage point to actually be able to give somebody something that they actually want. So it’s not coming across as fake, you know, just the worst thing is you’re like, I’m just gonna go blast off 8000, Amazon gift cards, you know, to the specific people, it’s like, cool, make it relevant to me make it relatable to me. And that’s, and that’s the fundamental differentiation in terms of how you think about that, and how you can scale that. know, what’s

Alexander Ferguson 12:20
your business model? Like? What are SAS business, so, okay, so it’s just a, people can sign up, and they just have their flat fee. And then even though they have access to this platform,

Greg Segall 12:32
yep. And then there’s the they pay for the gifts, you know, they pay for the swag, they pay for the things that are that are sitting behind it, you know, as well, that’s there. But as a suit, it’s a super simple model, right, we have the benefits of some transactional revenue that comes out of that, as well as SAS revenue. But that’s, that’s dependent on the relationships and the merchants and stuff that we have on the back end, you know, that’s there. But we try and make that as fair as possible for our customers. And it also simplifies the way that that they’re tracking and doing a lot of the reporting and governance and stuff around that to

Alexander Ferguson 12:57
over time, what you’ve done is you’ve built an ecosystem of partners, effectively they have all these swag you Is it only just like, the smaller items? Or is there like the regular items? Like how, what balances

Greg Segall 13:08
it’s everything? Yeah, it’s not like it’s we have local vendors, but majority that stuff, if you look at the popular things are like Yeti mugs, you know, or it’s, you know, you know, doordash gift cards or gift, you know, grubhub gift cards, or whatever it might be, you know, that’s there, or, you know, the the, you know, experiences some experience, things that we have on there in terms of like virtual experience stuff that we have on the platform as well, like, there’s some really nice, you know, combinations of things. And but we built those, those relationships five, starting five years ago. So we’ve we’ve, we’ve built these tight connections with these merchants that have the plethora of all these different things across all different categories, you know, from some from sort of day one, and it’s constantly evolving every day when we were curating new things daily, in terms of how that how that catalog continues to change. Because you might have like, allbirds wasn’t on there two years ago, now they’re on there, you know, like, there’s what, what’s what’s popular? And what are people looking for and asking for? And that’s a big, that’s a big play there.

Alexander Ferguson 13:58
You’re spending that energy of curating and knowing what what are the right gifts that people would want to and again, the idea is that when someone gets on there, it’s a curated curated experience for the end person who actually can choose the gifts, what they’re just after, so your target market? Is it a certain size, b2b organization that best kind of fits for you guys?

Greg Segall 14:18
Yeah, we’re an enterprise organization. So like we say, it’s like, sort of the mid market to enterprise is really the big the big place for us, you know, in terms of that. So like, you know, a 20 person company is just we’re not, we’re just, it’s too expensive, you know, for them in terms of in terms of that costs, you know, that’s there. So we focus much more heavily on how to, again, it’s, it’s scaling authenticity. How do you do that in these large organizations where it’s a bigger problem than, you know, a smaller organization who’s they’re just getting off the ground or whatnot. You know, and it’s not because we’re not empathetic to that. But you have to be focused as a business in order like, Where are you targeting and where are you actually going after, what type of companies you’re going after? And what problems are you solving for them and we just know that that efficiency and problems as you go to scale as you get to 1000 2000 10,000 100,000 people is very different than when you’re 10 or 20 or 50, people, you know, type of type of organizations,

Alexander Ferguson 15:11
you’re gonna make those 10 and 20 people sad, because I bet if they’re listening to us right now, they’d be like, Oh, yes, this sounds great. But it’s knowing where, where, where it fits. And for the larger enterprise, it’s difficult to scale because you can’t hire the type of people that can just do this on themselves, you need a platform that can help scale the entire effort for what can you share as far as your roadmap of where you’re headed and features that are coming in that, that you’re excited about? And if you can,

Greg Segall 15:40
yeah, I think the club, we have a lot, a lot of things that are on the horizon for this year. So I’ll keep some of it, some of it behind the scenes, you know, in terms of where we going, but I think just the overall offering, and the overall experience is going to continue to evolve, you know, as, as you can probably imagine, you know, especially as COVID is hitting so we’re working a lot on how do we actually continue to improve and center proving it’s just like evolving the experience based on the times, you know, and understanding like the 5050 work from home work from the office and making sure that that experience is really is really tight, that’s there as well. And, you know, a lot more on the actual, you know, the the marketplace and the experience and this stuff that we’re doing in terms of the the, you know, the spend categories and stuff that we’re really targeting as well, to be able to help broaden those those moments that you’re creating with people as they’re going on that journey, you know, as it as it as it plays into it. Not trying to be like amorphous here, but like that’s, that should give you an idea as to like there’s there’s a, there’s a clear place, you know, in terms of where you think about you investing into relationships, and you can imagine, you know, where we’re heading in terms of some of those some of those places, you know, that are there as well. And then obviously, we invested very heavily into the data science side of things. And you know, how we use that as a way to actually help scale and build, you know, a lot of efficiency gains and intelligence, you know, as things continue to grow to

Alexander Ferguson 16:56
imagine there’s a duality here that you’re having to pay attention to. One is, is the current events and trends when it comes to experiences and gifts and what people want at the same side, the technology side, the tax tech stack, that when people are experiencing it, it truly is customized, and it has that intentionality behind it. So it’s kind of closing here, words of advice or tips to those the marketers or sales folks out there that that are in this world, and they’re trying to scale their efforts or want to use technology, but what would you just want to share with them?

Greg Segall 17:26
The key, the key fundamentals, again, having you know, so many friends in marketing and sales, you know, now and obviously, you know, large number of customers, it’s, there’s a spectrum that folks go on, when you’re in marketing and sales, it’s the easy way out, like the attention grabbing side of things, which unfortunately, is where most marketing and sales right now still balanced on that. And that’s not their fault. It’s just like behavior habits and systems and better in place that don’t allow them to scale the quality over the quantity that’s there. But you don’t have to go do it overnight, you just have to be thinking about how do you start injecting some of those quality moments into the quantity, you know, cycles that you’re actually building in terms of these individual relationships. And the other side of it too, which is like you starting to see a lot of this, this, and this has been something we’ve been preaching for almost five years, but like, it’s finally starting to come up in LinkedIn a lot more where you’re starting to see, treat people like human beings, it’s about quality, stop, you know, blasting, you know, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, and you’re starting to see a lot of these, the more progressive marketers, you know, and a lot of more of our progressive customers, thinking about how to inject this in and starting to use this as an approach, you know, across the board, because what ends up happening is, you might be optimizing on percentages of points, you know, or points of percentages, you know, what I mean, if you really think about it, like, I’m gonna go from 1.5 to 1.7, it’s gonna make this massive difference. But the reality is, is you’re still cannibalizing a lot of efforts that are happening downstream in order to get short term gains, when you start thinking about injecting some of the quality moments and quality investments you can make in terms of how you change some of that approach, which is where we have playbooks and we talked with our customers, and we sort of, you know, a very consultative with how we think about that, you can get, you know, exponentially more, you know, improvement in terms of that, where it’s not just about short term gains, it’s actually building towards a longer term approach and gain. Here again, it’s also our difference between like, just run a very short term campaign that’s just like, you know, quick, quick, you know, hit to hopefully make it we’re not, you’re thinking quarterly and you’re like, that’s it versus thinking about a program that’s constantly evolving, and you’re constantly optimizing as it goes, which has a lot more creativeness down the road, it might not have as much short term gains, which in a lot of cases, it does, actually for our customers. But we still always talk about the long term gains, which again, is why it’s a SaaS platform, you’re investing in something that is a creative over time. It is building an approach in a in a method, you know, that these folks are using because they believe that it is quality over quantity at the end of the game there.

Alexander Ferguson 19:44
You’re saying going from from fractional changes to double digit changes. 100%

Greg Segall 19:49
Yeah, you start to see you start to see what happens with our customers. I mean, it’s it’s mind blowing, because it just didn’t like the small injections and then the customers that really buy into it and then start to inject it off. Throughout all the different portions of their relationships that they’re building, I mean, it’s just it’s massive gains, you go from, you know, one to two 3% to like 10 2030 40%, you know, in terms of like the the responses and the nd changes and behaviors, you know, that they’re actually trying to trying to get at, because it’s just, it’s just, it’s common sense in terms of where the market is heading. The problem, again, is, it’s very hard to get your mentality around that and also to scale. That is everything that we’re working towards with our customers is like learning how are we scaling that authenticity? How are we scaling those moments, you know, with those folks, because that’s the, that’s the wave of the future, everything else is going to be automated out, you’re gonna, you’re gonna know, you don’t even have to think about who like think about what like six cents and Terminus and demand base are doing right now. They’re like telling you who you should actually target. Well, cool. They did the hard part in terms of figuring those things out. But how are you engaging, which is where the real trust in you know, and the buyers journey comes into play, especially as humans become less and less a part of the buying process? Right. So that’s a really important thing to understand is like, that’s only gonna get heightened as time goes on.

Alexander Ferguson 20:58
Scaling, authenticity. That that is that’s a powerful focus and a future which, in some, some ways, seems counterintuitive, but it is what where it is possible. And that’s where you guys are focused on. I’m excited about the future that you paint. I think everyone’s feeling it. And so it’s going to be intriguing to learn more. For those that want to hear more, though, about Greg’s story of how Alyce began, stick around for part two of our discussion on our founders journey series. And for those mid market enterprise organizations that want to dig into this, you can go over to Alyce.com ALYCE and request a demo and learn more. They can go over do that right, Greg?

Greg Segall 21:38
Oh, yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah, get a gift. So it’ll be fun. You know, you can see the earnings yourself. And I didn’t go Oh, no, I bet you my team. my team’s gonna be super happy about that one. But yes, that’s the way we work. I mean, it’s like you want to you want to experience it. We want to live and breathe and embody the way that we want to want people to be treated like that’s the entire ethos of what we need to be able to do. That’s scaling authenticity. Right.

Alexander Ferguson 21:56
I love it. I love it. Thank you so much, Greg. And everyone stick around for part two of our discussion, and we’ll see on the next episode of UpTech Report. That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.

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