In A World Podcast – Ray Ruecker – Connect 5000

Ray Ruecker is the Founder and Managing Director of Connect 5000, a lead generation, prospecting training, and sales consulting company specializing in inside sales. He speaks, consults, and coaches on new business development and inside sales strategies. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, raised in rural Kansas, and now lives in the Kansas City Metro with his wife and two children.

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Brad Burrow:
Welcome to In A World with Real Media. I’m your host, Brad Burrow. In this podcast, we’ll dive into the lives of the most successful people in business. We’ll learn how they overcame adversity, took advantage of opportunities and learned from their experiences. Learn from our experts, get inspired, then you go live your story. It’s In A World with Real Media.

Brad Burrow:
Hello, and welcome to the In A World with Real Media podcast. I’m here with a good friend, and I’m trying to think, Ray, when we met… I’ll introduce you, Ray Ruecker. Ray owns a company called Connect 5000. Let me just read his LinkedIn profile information here. It says he’s a lead generation and outbound sales strategists, sounds very smart, inside sales and sales management consultant, and author. Wow, that’s awesome. An author, I’m sitting with an author right here. How to Score from First Base! (In Sales). That’s one of my first questions that we got to talk about is the title of the book. I think that’s pretty funny. That ought to get some attention, you think?

Ray Ruecker:
Yes, that was the whole point. Thanks for having me, Brad, and I really appreciate it. I think we met, by the way to answer your original question, I think we met maybe around 2015, 2016 through a mutual friend of ours and through a networking group. And then I think out of that, we became friends and found out that we had some unique connections out there from our past lives, which we won’t talk about on the show.

Brad Burrow:
Unique, to say the least. I’ve had lots of those unique connections in my life. I don’t know about you.

Ray Ruecker:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
It seems like I have run into a lot of characters.

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. But to answer your question about the title, my original idea for having the title was, How to Get to First Base in Sales, and so I thought I wanted something that was a little bit of innuendo just to catch people’s attention.

Brad Burrow:
Wait, that’s innuendo? I didn’t… Oh, nevermind.

Ray Ruecker:
And so what happened was, I sent an email to a San Francisco client of mine and said, “Hey, can I use a quote from you in the book?”

Ray Ruecker:
And he said, “Sure.”

Ray Ruecker:
I said, “Here’s the title.”

Ray Ruecker:
And he was the one who actually said, “I suggest the title… “, the title that it is today of How to Score from First Base, so I thought that was brilliant. But he is a marketing guy, so unfortunately I can’t take that credit for my own.

Brad Burrow:
Well, that’s good of you to give him some credit on that.

Ray Ruecker:
Yes. Thank you, Adam Stein, if you’re listening out there.

Brad Burrow:
Because most people will say, “Well, this was my idea.”

Ray Ruecker:
Yes.

Brad Burrow:
Right?

Ray Ruecker:
Correct.

Brad Burrow:
Isn’t that how that typically would work. We’ll get into the book. I want to talk about the book, obviously, and I guess you can get it on Amazon and places like that. Is that correct? Where would somebody buy the book?

Ray Ruecker:
Yes. If you get on Amazon and type in either my name, Ray Ruecker, R-U-E-C-K-E-R, or just type in How to Score from First Base! (In Sales), it should pop up.

Brad Burrow:
Okay. Awesome. Tell me a little bit about, I’d like to get into your background a little bit, but tell me a little bit, let’s start at Connect 5000. Tell me what you do. Give me the elevator speech with maybe a little bit more depth.

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. I started Connect 5000 in March of 2010. In a nutshell, we are outsourced inside sales, but what we do for software technology and consulting clients is lead generation, sales prospecting, and then inside or outside sales management. There are a ton of sales consulting companies that tell you here’s how to close more deals. Our focus has been here’s how to get in the door, here’s how to get that first meeting, that first connection, because half the battle is getting in the door and the other half is closing the deal.

Brad Burrow:
Why have you focused on the IT sector? Is that been an area that you’ve just had a lot of success or background, or what was the reason for that?

Ray Ruecker:
I would say, first of all, it was background. Previously, in a previous life, I worked for a software company in Lenexa, Kansas. And it was a small little company, probably about $1.5 million in sales, and we sold accounting and management software to contractors nationwide. Again, this is back in 2005, 2006.

Brad Burrow:
And you were a sales rep?

Ray Ruecker:
I was a sales rep.

Brad Burrow:
Okay.

Ray Ruecker:
But 99% of sales was done over the phone and over the internet, and so we all know that you have to be successful when you’re in front of a person face-to-face, but you have to be doubly successful over the phone, over the internet, with someone you’ve never met before. And so out of that, I decided to focus on software and tech companies exclusively when I launched my own firm.

Brad Burrow:
And that’s been a pretty good decision. A lot of need in that area, I would think, and competition.

Ray Ruecker:
Yes, and so I feel really grateful and thankful. No, so I lost that job on July 3, 2006. I went to tell my wife, and I had kept in touch with another business colleague. And he had said to me when I found out I lost my job was, “Have you ever considered starting your own firm?”

Ray Ruecker:
And I said, “Absolutely not.”

Ray Ruecker:
And he said, “I have this idea.”

Brad Burrow:
You said absolutely not.

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely not. He and I actually, this other gentleman and I started a company back in 2006. He owned 51%, I own the rest. We worked together for about four years, and then I decided just to launch out on my own in March of 2010. And I do not have any regrets about doing that.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, that was a good decision, huh?

Ray Ruecker:
Yes, and so I enjoy working for myself. You get to decide who you want to work for or who you want to work with. There’s problems working in Corporate America and there’s problems working for yourself, but at least you feel like you have more control of your problems working for yourself.

Brad Burrow:
I’ve always said that I don’t think I could ever work for anybody in Corporate America. I just wouldn’t be able to handle the politics and all the things that come along with that.

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. And I also think that the pandemic has shown is that Corporate America is not as safe as everyone thinks it is because there are so many outside factors beyond anyone’s control. And at the end of the day, the corporation’s going to take care of themselves first to ensure their survival before they think of their employees.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah. A lots changed in the last nine months, hasn’t it?

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. But no, I’m a big fan of entrepreneurship. When I talked to other people who have started their own firms, always affirm , “Hey, it’s a bumpy road, but the rewards and the long run are worth it.”

Brad Burrow:
One of the questions I had for you, Ray, is, sales is hard for most people. Most people have a really, really hard time with sales. Would you agree with that statement?

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely. If it was easy, everyone would do it and they wouldn’t be getting paid as much for doing it.

Brad Burrow:
There are a lot of people that are in sales jobs. And believe me, at Real Media I’ve had a lot of them come through here that think they can sell, but when it comes down to it, they really don’t have the fortitude, I guess, to really do the work that it takes to be a good salesperson. Why do you think that is? Why is it so hard?

Ray Ruecker:
Well, I think that part of it’s sales and marketing is an art and a discipline. It’s also a science. At times you can do everything right and not have anything to show for it, and other times you can do everything wrong and clients come in the door. But I think at the end of the day, one of the biggest challenges that people have is discipline, is that you have to grind it out. You have to make your calls, send out your emails, reach out to folks and cast a wide net, whether you feel like it or not. And I think too many times, because we live in an instant gratification world, if we don’t get something quickly, we all tend to give up. And as humans, myself included, we’d like to take the path of least resistance.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, which doesn’t reap the rewards, does it?

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly.

Brad Burrow:
In sales, for sure. One thing I’ve talked to a lot of people about sales, in our industry, in production, it’s kind of a hard thing to sell because you’re selling an intangible idea and the potential of it, and it’s hard to be able to get somebody excited about the potential of an idea. Where maybe in equipment sales or different things, you’ve got something that you’re actually, “Here’s this widget.” That type of thing. One of the things that I’ve asked a lot and I’ve talked to people about is a lot of people think cold calling is dead. They don’t think cold calling works anymore. What would you say to that?

Ray Ruecker:
I would that I disagree with them respectfully. But what I tell people is unless your phone is ringing off the hook, you don’t have a choice. You either be reactive and wait for people to call you, or you get off your laurels and start reaching out to folks and casting a wide net. And so unless you’re like a large company who can spend thousands or million dollars on advertising, digital marketing, 99% of companies out there are small companies. And yes, we like referrals. And Yes, we like inbound leads. But if those things have dried up, you can’t afford to sit there and wait for people to call you, or you’ll go out of business. And so I hate the term cold calling, personally, but I liked the term reaching out, connecting, proactive calling and business development. Because at the end of the day, you don’t have a choice.

Brad Burrow:
There’s times I can look back on my career. I’ve always been kind of a solopreneur in some instances, but there are times when I was in that exact position. I needed to make calls and I needed to make something happen to survive, and every time I was able to do that. And I always thought, “Well, why can’t I have that mentality all the time?”

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. Well, sometimes it’s also a feast or famine as a solopreneur. Sometimes you work harder in business development, and then you get clients, and then you have to go deliver what you just sold, and it can be a vicious cycle and a roller coaster. But for a lot of firms out there, hopefully they have designated people who can deliver the work. But the thing about marketing is, is you never know when it’s going to pay off and so you have to keep it constant. And I think it goes back to just discipline, perseverance, persistence, and also just resilience because it’s definitely not for the weak and for the faint.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, so talk about resilience. That goes right into my next question is, one of the things, especially in my industry, where people that are in production and video are typically emotional people and that’s something we really tap into to do good work. It’s also a curse when it comes to somebody rejecting an idea or rejecting you personally, which happens in sales nonstop.

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely.

Brad Burrow:
How do you overcome that? How do you overcome that fear and that rejection? I mean if you’re working hard at contacting people, you’re going to get rejected.

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. I think part of it is just having a right mental mindset and coming in not with low expectations of yourself, but the realization that 90% of the people that you reach out to are either not interested or they’re not going to return your call unless you are a big name celebrity and it’s just part of life.

Brad Burrow:
Well, you are now though, you got a book. You’re published.

Ray Ruecker:
I’ll go with a mediocre at this point. I would say part of it is just the mental mindset, but also I think the other part is never taking it personally. And so what I mean by that is, there’s a lot of legitimate reasons why people don’t buy from you, and I would say that most of the time, it’s not personal. There’s just not a need, not a budget, not the right timing or whatever. And so it’s just having that mindset of like, “Hey, I’m going to keep going. It’s a law of numbers. The more people I reach out to, the greater my chances. And I can only control my actions.”

Ray Ruecker:
And so I’m reminded by an old friend of mine, he’s a pastor who said, “Hey, you can’t control the weather. You can’t control the economy. You can’t control timing. The only thing you can control is yourself.” And so all things being equal, either you be proactive and reach out to folks or you sit there and wait for life to happen to you.

Brad Burrow:
And if you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t just sit back and wait for anything to happen, can you?

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. Unless you have the cure to cancer where people are going to be coming to you left and right.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah. Attitude, that’s one thing it’s really easy to get into a situation where you get negative. I’ve had to learn how to be positive. I think we’re wired in some ways to automatically default to being negative about things, especially with all the stuff going on in society and social media and elections and all this stuff. That’s pores right over to having a conversation with a potential new client. How do we make that decision to say, “Okay, I am going to be positive. I’m going to stay on the positive side of things,” because that actually comes across in a call or a meeting?

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. I think that the things we talked about in their intangibles, resilience, persistence, I think part of it, I mean, is a little bit of nature versus nurture. I would consider myself an optimist by choice or by nature, but I think you have to force yourself… Again, it goes back to discipline and self-control to force yourself to push through it, whether you feel like it or not.

Ray Ruecker:
And I also think that sometimes it helps to have written goals out, also maybe some affirmations, but also look at your checkbook and find out how much money do I need to make every month in order to pay my bills and support my family. And so whatever motivation that people use to force themselves to do the hard work of reaching out to folks, whatever it is that works, I think you’ve got to find out that motivation for you and keep it fresh and center.

Brad Burrow:
Have you ever gotten to the point where you actually can tell when your mind is going that direction and say, “Stop. No, I’m going to stay positive.”? I mean, I’ve actually had to do that where I’ve realized, “No, I don’t want to go that direction. I rebuke that and I’m going to stay over here.”

Ray Ruecker:
Oh, I think everyone does it. I know that I’ve had my moments of… I think for me, it’s if I find myself procrastinating, if I’m procrastinating and I have to stop and think, why am I procrastinating? What am I putting off? And then sometimes get back to the heart of the issue. And again, it boils down to discipline.

Ray Ruecker:
Now, I’m a big believer in having margin in your life, having some free time, having time just to do nothing. But again, entrepreneurship is hard work. Sales is hard work. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been like this my whole entire life, because I can be just as lazy as the best of them out there.

Brad Burrow:
Let’s talk about the book a little bit here. Give me the elevator speech about the book, and then let’s get into some of the things that somebody can learn from reading the book.

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. I’ve always had on my bucket list a dream of writing a book. And so over the past years of being an entrepreneur, I’ve had 120 blog posts, I’ve had 20-some videos. And so I remember looking on Amazon, and there are probably over a million sales books out there. But I looked at business development, lead generation, whatever term that you want to use, and there were only 1100 books or so at the time. And I thought, “Man, much less crowded.”

Ray Ruecker:
I wanted to write a book just to become a thought leader in my field. I want to do more speaking and consulting and coaching. But in talking to a lot of sales reps, both who work for themselves, work for other companies, it seems that they don’t have a system or a plan in place. What I wanted to do was write a book that gives them a framework on how to have a lead generation business development plan that they can tweak and refine on their own, but at least have a starting point and give them some creative and fresh ideas on how to get in front of targeted companies. Because again, I think there’s a lot of wonderful sales reps out there that can close deals, but they’re just not great at prospecting.

Brad Burrow:
Give me some of the high points of what that might look like from a plan standpoint. Because I’m the same way, I’m doing the business development here, but I don’t have a regular routine that I probably should have for contacting people, reaching out, doing all those things. How do you recommend somebody like me or a small company puts together a plan like that?

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. Well, the number one thing is to buy the book because it’ll solve all the answers to your world. Oh, I’m kidding.

Brad Burrow:
I know the guy that wrote it so…

Ray Ruecker:
One thing, part of it is mindset,. is people need to remember that it takes multiple attempts to get ahold of someone. I mean, the conservative numbers, and this is before the pandemic, said that it takes on average 8-12 attempts or touches to get a hold of a business executive. The problem is, is that most people take two attempts and then give up.

Ray Ruecker:
And so what I’ve kind of created in my book is a cadence on, here’s a system to off with. For example, an email and a phone call and then wait a week; or the second week maybe send them a LinkedIn message; or third, send them something through snail mail. What I want to do is create a system that they can work off of and tweak and refine on their own. But at the end of the day, an imperfect system is better than no system at all, where it seems like a lot of reps are just winging it and having no rhyme or reason for their outreach.

Brad Burrow:
And no way to tell if they’re doing well or not doing well, no measurements or anything like that.

Ray Ruecker:
Exactly. And so there’s the old quote, “You manage what you measure,” and I’m a big believer in personal accountability. I’ve talk a little bit in the book on how to track things, how to set goals for yourself. I’m not proposing that people just start making a hundred calls a day, but start even like 10 calls a day and work up to 20 calls a day or whatever that number is. But we talk about messaging, talk about being brief, being concise, realizing that people have very short attention spans, and that most people will take less than three seconds when they see an email of yours and so you have to kind of hit them through the eyes and grab their attention right away. We cover a lot of tangible and intangible factors.

Brad Burrow:
What are you recommending from a CRM standpoint? Because that’s one of the things as a small business, I’ve struggled, and I’ve tried every from Act!, to back in the day to… There’s a whole bunch of different ones. Nimble, right now is the one I’m using, has some good things it does, but it doesn’t do other things great. I mean, what would you recommend from a CRM standpoint?

Ray Ruecker:
Well, I’m not getting paid for this, but I’ve been using Salesforce probably since 2006. And it’s funny because my subscriptions are like $99 bucks per year per license. I don’t think it matters which CRM you use as long as-

Brad Burrow:
I thought it was a lot more expensive than that.

Ray Ruecker:
… It is. It’s like $50 bucks a month now, and I’m getting it for $99 bucks a year. If you need a license, Brad, you let me know, but-

Brad Burrow:
We’ll talk later.

Ray Ruecker:
… I would say is that I use a combination, and believe it or not, of the CRM, but also I use a simple spreadsheet because I don’t want to load it up my CRM full of useless or bad data. But again, the beautiful thing about it is that CRMs, they’re helpful in keeping you on track, but I don’t know that you need all the bells and whistles and the fancy dashboards. A tool is only as good as you’re going to use it. But I would say as a start, there’s a ton of free ones out there. And then as you get more advanced, maybe pay for one.

Brad Burrow:
The eight attempts that you’re talking about, right?

Ray Ruecker:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brad Burrow:
Are you tracking that in a spreadsheet? Let’s say Acme Company, I emailed them. I called and left a message. Are you tracking things like that?

Ray Ruecker:
Yes. I will track… You reach out to XYZ Company and you leave yourself a little note, LM/E, left message/email, email number one. But also I think it’s important to have a couple of templates in place so that you’re not trying to recreate brand new emails, but that you have a series of five to seven emails that you can copy and paste, and tweak and edit according to your audience. But yes, tracking that to find out what works, how many calls are you making, how many emails are you sending out, how many live connects does that get, how many people agree to a meeting, how many people who agree to a meeting agree to a proposal, and then how many of those become clients?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. That those eight attempts are really critical, right? I mean, in our marketing world, I think it’s seven impressions before a message is retained. That could be a billboard, a TV spot, social media ad, whatever those things are is the same thing that you’re talking about

Ray Ruecker:
Yes. I would call it maybe an unintentional touch or impression. It’s kind of like Coca-Cola who has billions of dollars, they don’t create an ad and run it once. They run it many, many times to the point where people can memorize it. And so when I say a touch, it could be a phone call, it could be an email, it could be LinkedIn InMail, it could be a Starbucks gift card or a handwritten note. And again, the toughest challenge is how do you stand out during a pandemic, but also make it so that it seems that it’s personal and not just canned?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, so you mentioned LinkedIn, to me, that’s kind of revolutionized how I connect with people and prospect. What do you think about LinkedIn? I mean, there’s probably… Well, I know there is a right way to use it and a wrong way. What are your thoughts on that?

Ray Ruecker:
Oh, LinkedIn is worth its salt, both paid and unpaid. One thing I like about LinkedIn is, again I’ve been a user probably since 2003, is that it’s the grownup version of Facebook where 99% of the people keep their personal lives off of there. But it’s your Rolodex that you can literally take anywhere with you, whether you change jobs or not. But I would say that I find a huge majority of my clients on LinkedIn because you can do so many searches, and look and find out who’s connected to who, because people like to do business with people that they know or similar connections. And so I’m a big believer that if you’re not on LinkedIn, get in, learn how to use it. If you want to use the paid version, it’s $50, 60 bucks a month. But still, over the course of the year, one deal is worth, you’ll get your money back.

Brad Burrow:
One of the things that we’re looking at, because it’s such a strong sales tool, is streaming live content from our studio to LinkedIn. But that process to get approved for that, I mean, it takes months. They’re really slow into saying you can do that. But wow, wouldn’t that be a powerful tool?

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely. And I think that content comes and goes in stages. I think for the longest time it was blogging and content marketing. We’re probably at the stage where video marketing, which is relevant and huge because people don’t like to read stuff. But if everyone and their brother is doing video marketing, how do you create content that forces your stuff to stand out among everyone else’s?

Brad Burrow:
I have the answer for that, by the way.

Ray Ruecker:
Oh.

Brad Burrow:
There’s a really great company called Real Media that does that very well.

Ray Ruecker:
I’ve heard of those folks. I’ve heard of them.

Brad Burrow:
What are your thoughts on Sales Navigator versus a normal LinkedIn paid subscription?

Ray Ruecker:
I think they’re about the same price. One thing I like about LinkedIn in Navigator is that for the most part, most people keep their information up to date. You rarely see outdated information. But I think I pay for LinkedIn Premium $59 bucks a month. Whereas I’m not sure what Navigator is, but they provide essentially the same thing but in different ways. I don’t have a strong opinion either way.

Brad Burrow:
Does navigator give you more access to prospects like searches and different things like that potentially?

Ray Ruecker:
Yes.

Brad Burrow:
Okay.

Ray Ruecker:
But you can find those same searches on the regular Premium as well.

Brad Burrow:
Okay.

Ray Ruecker:
I don’t think it really matters.

Brad Burrow:
Okay. All right, so let’s switch gears a little bit. We’ve talked a lot, unless there’s something that you really just got to tell me about the book. I want everybody to read the book. Especially if you own a business or you’re doing a small company or you’re a salesperson who need, to learn something, this is a great resource for that.

Ray Ruecker:
Thank you, Brad.

Brad Burrow:
We’ll put that link on the podcast page and stuff, so people can go purchase it. And then I’m going to have to get my picture taken with you because that’s big time.

Ray Ruecker:
Oh, yeah. Well, I’m selling autograph copies for a small, nominal fee.

Brad Burrow:
Okay, okay. Let’s switch gears. You and I have been friends for a long time. One of the things I wanted to tell everybody is that you have kind of gone through some things with me personally on the business when we were struggling in different things, and you were always very upbeat, always supportive, always calling to see how I was doing. I always appreciated that about you. That kind of gives people a little bit of background about our relationship. But being in a networking group together and different things like that, talk about… Business is hard. It’s not easy, and having people, like you’re a people, that you can really be genuine with, really be transparent with, that’s a big deal. And I mean, that’s helped me tremendously. Can you talk about that for your business?

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. Are you referring to having a network of friends of business owners that you can just be a ruthlessly real with?

Brad Burrow:
Well, I think that’s very important, because I don’t feel comfortable sharing a lot of things with anybody that I meet, although I’m probably more like that than most people. But having a group of people that you can really say, “Okay, here’s what I’m struggling with. Here’s-

Ray Ruecker:
A peer group.

Brad Burrow:
A peer group, but maybe even more than that.

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. I agree with you that business is hard. One thing I was going to say on the side is, I suddenly realized after looking back at one point in my life and realizing between high school, college and post-college, I’ve probably been fired seven times in my life. And I suddenly realized I should probably work for myself, but I like the challenge, it keeps me sharp. When I wake up every morning, I jump out of bed because I’m excited about the day, but entrepreneurship and business can get lonely. It can get lonely. And you can’t exactly always tell your employees the harsh things that are going on inside your head because they might decide to give their resignation. And so I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with the other entrepreneurs that you can be authentic with and be real and not have to worry about, are they going to freak out on me or not?

Brad Burrow:
The chances are that they’ve been through something similar to what you’re going through too as well.

Ray Ruecker:
Yes.

Brad Burrow:
That’s very true.

Ray Ruecker:
I would say that with businesses, it’s a squiggly line of success. It’s rarely a straight arrow up north. And so the peer group that we were in, I wanted to meet other business owners, understand that I’m not the only one who’s going through different challenges. And I think out of that, because some of our mutual, odd connections we’ve had in the past kind of bonded us for better or for worse.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Ray Ruecker:
But no, and just hearing… I crave people who are just down to earth and authentic. And that’s, I think, what I liked about you, Brad, because you weren’t pretentious and you were just like, “Hey, this is me. This is who I am.” Versus people who I call it the Pinterest or Facebook life, everything looks perfect and publicly, but inside you’re like, “What in the heck? Everything was going great and now they’re getting divorced or he just entered rehab,” or whatever it happens to be.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about faith a little bit. I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian. I’ve seen God move in our business and really do some amazing things. You and I’ve talked about a lot of those things. Can you talk just a little bit about the importance of that? I mean, I would think from a sales standpoint and from just having faith that you’re doing the right thing, you’re trusting in great results coming, those types of things. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Ray Ruecker:
Sure. My faith is very important to me. I would consider myself a non-denominational Christian. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior at the age of 10. How I think about it today is… The general rule that you hear all the time is don’t talk about religion, don’t talk about politics and don’t talk about sex. Well, fair, unfair, it permeates our society.

Ray Ruecker:
But I would say is, for me personally, is I feel called to be an entrepreneur. I feel called to be a Christian businessman in the marketplace. But I’m also being mindful of when I reach out to folks, it’s about business. And if people want to ask more about that, I have no problems with sharing my faith, but also I don’t want to cram it down people’s throats because also religion and faith is very, very personal to people.

Ray Ruecker:
But my faith keeps me grounded and realizing that, hey, there are going to be, there are and will be tough times ahead. There’s good times, and you don’t get too high and you don’t get too low. But you also, in good times and bad times, you thank God for the results that you have and just be humble and appreciative.

Brad Burrow:
One of the things that I think about too is, we’ve been in business 23 years at Real Media and my wife has been very supportive throughout that whole process, in times when we weren’t doing very well, and it’s like there was an uncertainty there. I really appreciate the fact that she’s believed in me and kind of given me, I guess, the positive go-ahead to say, “Keep fighting, keep battling on this thing.” And that’s really helped me. Can you talk about that?

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely. My wife and I have been married for 15 years. I met Kate at church. And so back when I lost my job, we’d been married for a year and I lost my job. And we were debt free except the house. We had no kids. And when I approached her about starting my own company, because I think it was deep-seated in my heart, but it just never really came to fruition. And she said, “Well, if you’re going to do it, do it now.” The interesting thing is, is that my wife has a very black and white person. I operate in the gray, and somehow we still are married. But she said to me, “Hey, if you’re going to do it, now’s the time to do it.” And so I appreciate her being supportive of me.

Ray Ruecker:
And again, like with you, there’s been times, it was time it was lean. I remember back in 2014, business slowed down and I got a little nervous. I think at the time, I had a very small pipeline because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was flying to Torrance, California to see a client. I was their acting director of sales and they ended their contract on December 31st, and I was staring at a small pipeline.

Ray Ruecker:
And I remember at the time Uber had just come to Kansas City, and this is back when ride sharing took off. And I remember nights and weekends doing Uber just to like… I don’t know if staying afloat is the right word, but just with slowdown in business of like, “Hey, here’s some creative ways to make money.” And so I appreciate my wife who has just let me be who I am, versus insisting that I go work in Corporate America and be miserable somewhere else.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. You got to have that, right? I mean, you got to have that support, and people kind of overlook that, I think, a little bit. And I mean, it’s like we’ve got to have the foundation beneath us to be able to push forward on some risky endeavors, a lot of risk involved.

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely. But I feel fortunate and thankful that I’m always going to be able to make a living. I don’t know that I’ve ever gone more than a month without not having a paycheck. But as you’ve said, business and entrepreneurship is stressful and challenging enough as is. But if you don’t have your family and home supporting you, it could get really, really, really stressful.

Brad Burrow:
Okay. I want to go ahead and wrap up here pretty quick, but I wanted to ask you a couple of things, okay?

Ray Ruecker:
Sure.

Brad Burrow:
I’m a small business owner, and I’m just saying a scenario here. I’m struggling with sales, I’m struggling with business development, and I need a plan. Tell me what I need to do.

Ray Ruecker:
I would say is-

Brad Burrow:
Buy the book first, right?

Ray Ruecker:
… Buy the book, absolutely. And remind me to send you some royalties this month. I would say, my short answer is be ruthlessly clear on who your target audience is and who your target decision-makers are, but also what problems are you really solving? Get that defined. And then from there, I’m oversimplifying it, os start reaching out to folks who could potentially have these problems. Or look at your past clients and find some commonalities on, who are they, why did they buy, and then go after like-minded companies.

Brad Burrow:
I think that maybe you and I need to put together a program, a video program to help people do this. I can just vision, I can just see it right now. I mean, seriously, I’m being very serious. What if somebody could actually see step-by-step what they need to do?

Ray Ruecker:
Absolutely.

Brad Burrow:
We need that. I mean, entrepreneurs are typically very visionary, but the execution and the follow-through is not always that great-

Ray Ruecker:
Right.

Brad Burrow:
… So having a plan is so critical.

Ray Ruecker:
I’d be interested. one of the gals who works for me, she has had experience teaching overseas in China, English courses. And I talked to her about the idea of doing sales courses in China, and she’s interested. But absolutely yes, is how do we create video programs for people to walk it through where maybe the book isn’t enough kind of thing.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, that’s great. In closing, so the book is How to Score from First Base! (In Sales). We can find it on Amazon, and I’ll have a link in the notes for the podcast so people can go that. But in closing, I really appreciate you, Ray. I appreciate you coming on and I’m appreciative of what you’ve done to support Real Media, and me personally. And man, I just wish you all the success with this.

Ray Ruecker:
I appreciate it, Brad. Thanks for having me. And I love you, man.

Brad Burrow:
Love you too. We’ll see you later.

Brad Burrow:
This has been In a World with Real Media. Thanks for joining us and be sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow Real Media on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so you never miss an episode.

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