An Interview With Scott Brown: How to Make Selling More Human

By: Teresa Weirich

November 12, 2018

Scott Brown, Managing Director, UpRamp

For Scott Brown, starting and selling two companies in the early ‘90’s was just the beginning of a fast-paced, human-oriented sales career.

“After selling my first two companies, I was a bit adrift and couldn’t really find something to hold my interest,” he said. “I was lucky enough to meet a mentor that took me under his wing. He was full of stories and had a real knack for understanding people. This is where I finally realized the importance of combining the ability to actually speak to people with the tactical craft of sales.”

Today, Scott is the VP of Ventures & Outreach at CableLabs, which brings together 61 of the largest cable/mobile/broadband and connectivity operators in the world. He is also the Executive Director of UpRamp, which works directly with startups in the connectivity space to connect them with the CableLabs network. As an 8-time startup founder, Scott has seen his fair share of industry growth and change, especially since he’s been starting companies since the pre-internet days.

“Sales is very different now in the post-internet era,” he explained. “But the core skills are the same: connecting with people and speaking with them in the way they will understand.”

In the following conversation, Scott discusses the meaning behind ‘doing deals not demos,’ highlights the importance of being human in today’s sales industry, and introduces his (C)lean Messaging framework. We hope you enjoy the conversation with Scott!

What does ‘Doing Deals, not Demos’ really mean?

At UpRamp, we believe that if you’re going to run a startup today, you need to focus on the actual deals at hand. There is a ton of ‘corporate innovation theatre’ going on today, which is all about the pomp and circumstance and not about the actual deals, or even about the problems at the heart of the deals.

The connectivity industry as a whole is looking to embrace the startup culture and the innovation that it promises, but these companies were historically terrible at the actual buying process. At UpRamp, the ‘Deals not Demos’ mentality is about focusing on meaningful business relationships, not venture capital economics.

In the connectivity industry, the typical sales cycle can be long – around 24-36 months long. UpRamp finds amazing global startups that want to sell into this industry and helps them shrink the typical sales cycle. Because we have a 30-year-old, trusted relationship with this network of 61 global operators, we can shrink the sales cycle down to around three months. Most of the time, a sales rep spends too much time evangelizing and overcoming roadblocks. Because we have insight into the goals of the C-Suite of these companies, it’s easier to overcome objections and move deals faster.

How can sales reps embrace the goal of ‘being more human’ in conversations?

Because of today’s massive democratization of technology, remaining human-focused in sales conversations is more important than it’s ever been. Just think – 148,000 tech startups are created every month around the world, and about 90% of them fail.

Although many founders chalk this up to market fit, it’s really more of a market framing. Founders spend too much time talking about themselves and their accomplishments in sales pitches and not enough time talking to their customers about their needs. Humanizing these conversations means moving beyond the features. How will life be better after using the product?

This brings us to some of the most essential qualities in modern sales reps: empathy and curiosity. No one remembers numbers and stats that are quoted, but they remember the way these numbers made them feel. Look for ways to extoll the value of your features and metrics with a human-focused metaphor that will remain with your prospects.

The London School of Business did a study a few years ago that showed when people were presented with statistics, they only remembered about 5% of the content. But when those same people were presented with statistics in the form of a human-centered story, the long-term memory of that information soared to a remarkable 65%. Numbers are important, but it is more important to frame your numbers in a way that people will remember.

Can you give us a brief introduction to your (C)lean Messaging framework?

The (C)lean Messaging framework was developed to help startup founders and sales leaders talk to humans about the technology they have built. It’s specifically designed to help startup founders and sales professionals find the core human thing about the audience (aka the potential customer) plus one simple thing that’s important about themselves, and then combine this into an easy to digest elevator pitch. The goal is to create a single, clear message that is simple, audience-focused, bite-sized, and repeatable.

The (C)lean Messaging mentality can be translated to the entire sales processes with a few key pieces:

1) A human story that showcases what happens to a user after they’ve used your product. Where are they now? What happened to them?

2) Number analogies that take key stats (revenue, savings, etc.) and display them in an easy-to-remember, emotional way.

3) Sound bites that are repeatable, in the way a headline writer or blogger would want to use one.

A (C)lean message is important at the beginning of a sales process, but it is equally as important once the deal is closed. Buyers invest in products to solve problems and to boost their internal brand. A to-the-point (C)lean message makes it easy for your customers to tell the story of the deal that was just completed. Finding a fun, simple “earworm” can take your newest customer and transform them into your best marketing tool.

As a successful venture capitalist, what are some characteristics you look for in a viable company?

Outside of the normal quantitative business metrics, I get really excited when I meet a founding team that knows something about people that nobody else does. It’s truly inspiring to see a team that understands how people learn and how technology helps people become better humans.

What resources and advice can you offer sales leaders?

My first piece of advice is to adopt a (C)lean Messaging approach in your business efforts. You can learn more about that at

Next, I would have to say to always keep asking ‘why’. It’s easy to say that there is a human need to increase revenue or to save money, but this isn’t the actual need. Dig deep to get to the actual core of what is driving buyers to make their decisions. Then, you can use numbers and stats as a way to back up your ability to solve this human need. Never lose sight of the human element.

This is why I always recommend the book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. It digs into how the brain has evolved over time and how we balance emotional decision making with rational reasoning. As sales professionals, we must always speak to the emotional core of a human while still providing the rational part with enough details to cover any objections.

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    Teresa Weirich

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