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Introducing Luiz Cent

Alon: Welcome to the Virtual Selling podcast, where we talk about the new best practices from sales experts. My name is Alon Shkuri, managing partner of theNextSales. And today, we’re talking with Luiz Cent, head of sales at Mailshake: a leading sales automation platform. So, Luiz, can you, first of all, introduce yourself and talk a little bit about your background and of course, how did you get into sales?


Luiz: How did I get that, I was telling my girlfriend the other day, when I moved from Brazil to America, first sales job I had was in- it was in fifth grade and I was selling bookmarks. I hired a designer and we were making bookmarks with glow overnight. We’d wake up in the morning, take every desk that had this little cubby-hole. And from the cubby-hole, we would have a bookmark and we would design it and sell it. And I mean, since then, I’ve had dozens of sales jobs from knocking on doors, selling T-Mobile to selling Christmas Reeves to washing cars. But when I went in college, I took a professional selling course and it led me to go down a path of sales. And my first job out of college, I was cold calling, making 50 to $100 a day, selling advertising for e-commerce companies.


And as soon as I did that, I wanted to get out of sales. And I finally did until founder of Mailshake tricked me and made me fall in love with. We know what sales could be. And there’s always a bad connotation of like, oh, like there’s a sleazy salesman. And you have this used car salesman persona that you have to move away from. And now, we’re bringing transparency to sales and that’s what really excites me. So, for the last three and a half years, I’ve been leading and creating a sales culture, a coaching culture here at Mailshake. So, when I first started, we didn’t have an inbound team. We didn’t even talk to customers. We didn’t have a customer success team. So, it’s been phenomenal being on that journey where I’ve had the opportunity to do every single role and then hire for it and scale it. So, starting with customer success to our inbound sales team, to now our outbound sales team, and now managing a team of six, inbound and outbound, and we’re on a rocket ship of growth.


Alon: That’s a super cool story, Luiz. So, when you started your career with all the hardcore sales jobs, just knocking on doors, cold calling all day long, just to get the numbers in. But I’ve seen that you also have some marketing experience, right?


Luiz: Yes. So, I also run an eCommerce agency called eCommerce Cosmos. And after I was cold calling 50 or 100 e-commerce companies every day, I realized that their main problem with email marketing and they needed a solution for email marketing. So, eCommerce Cosmos helps with that side of email marketing, the opt-in email marketing, and my job at Mailshake gets to cold email. So, I say, look, like I’ve literally sent millions of emails on both ends of the spectrum. And it’s really funny convincing somebody for the first time, like, hey, this is a sales email, and this is a marketing email. They’re very distinct. They’re very different.

Think like a marketeer, act like a seller

Alon: Yeah. I totally agree with you on this one. And I think this one is very interesting because I believe that the sales role is changing, especially since the pandemic started, everything went more virtually, so you have to be comfortable selling virtual only. And nowadays, it’s important to think like a marketeer, but you have to act like a seller because you have to level up your writing skills. If you, for example, reach out via LinkedIn or send an email. And also, you have to think about personal branding. So, it’s not only about opening the LinkedIn account and watching what everybody else is doing. You have to also show that you are also part of the game and be active on LinkedIn. And of course, you have to work very structurized. And I think that’s something where Mailshake can help with, as you work via a process and they can analyze everything based on the data, what works better and what doesn’t work. So, that’s what I like about your background. So, on one side, you’re a salesperson. On the other side, you’re also a marketeer. So, that’s a great combination.


Luiz: Yeah. I like to think I have a unique background too, and I like transferable skills. So, going from a client project and being able to apply that to different clients for working at a company. For instance, I worked at Optimizely to big A/B testing firm and we would have A/B test huge sites, Amazon, Whole Foods, The Honest Company, and we would test variation of their sites. And most of the time, what ended up winning with copy and now being able to apply that to sales emails. It’s incredible to see what resonates and what you can do with different A/B tests. So, for me, I’m a marketer at heart as well. I’ll always be a marketer and like you said, the sales role is evolving. You need to be able to build your own personal brand. You need to be able to market yourself. So, something I love at Mailshake is our VP of marketing in our team, we actually block off 30 minutes a day, every single one of us, including our sales team to be active on LinkedIn, to post on LinkedIn. And now, we’re seeing the results from that. And, it’s been about a month and it’s been incredible to see how we’re being able to grow through marketing ourselves.

Change in sales & buyer behaviour

Alon: Super, super cool, really like the initiative of everything. Everybody’s would be at least one time a day, or at least one time a week, even it’s a lot for a lot of salespeople active on LinkedIn. So, before we start into the Mailshake solution, I first wanted to ask, like, did you see a change in the behavior of salespeople and of the buyers since pandemic started? Is there like some kind of change since everything went more virtual?


Luiz: Yeah. And that’s a great question. So, with Mailshake, we’ve been remote first. We’ve always been remote. Nothing has changed in the pandemic for us. And if anything, more companies started coming to us because they were looking for a solution to transition their team from being out in the real world, knocking on doors, to transitioning virtually, post pandemic, during the pandemic. Obviously, the things slowed down for about a month or so, but the only thing that we’ve really seen change is that automation is here to stay. Sales is here to stay. And if we can make teams more productive at home, if we can make teams more productive, where they’re able to work from anywhere, and then we’re going to create a sales software that salespeople love to use where they don’t need to be in this office. And next to 20 other people, they can do this, from their house. So, they know what their tasks are for the day.


They know what they need to accomplish to reach their goals and restart quota and make the desired income that they want to achieve. We hire based on ability to work remote. So, that’s like one of our big questions is, I don’t think we’ve hired anybody who hadn’t worked remote before. Obviously, the pandemic has made that easy. Yes, I’ve worked remote before, but even before that, we’re like, have you worked remote before? And that needed to be a clear, hey, you need to be able to self-motivate. So, it’s really no. For me, I’m here, I’m talking to you, like these things energize me. Sometimes, I go to a coffee shop. Sometimes, they go to coworking, but to be able to log into a platform and know, okay, this is what I have to do today to be successful. I didn’t have that when I first started. 2012, now, what is that? A decade ago nearly now.


I’m in salesforce. I’m working at this company for the first time, And they’re like, “Hey, go do sales.” It’s like, what? So, what I would do is I would go on Google. I would search for a keyword, like ‘men’s jewelry’. And I would go to page 10 and I would start on page 10. And I would see all the websites ranking on page 10. Okay, I got to hit them up. I got to hit, but I would go on, like find who owned a website. Fourth, it would take me an hour just to find who to contact from this. And then I would cold call them. And the expectation was to do like 50 at a day. There was no process, no structure, no, ‘Here’s your lead list. Here’s your call.’ It’s like, ‘Do everything and figure it out’-


Alon: Let’s bring it-


Luiz: Yeah.


Alon: No matter what, who’s bringing the money. Whatever you have to do.


Luiz: So, yeah, I think nowadays with all these automation tools, it’s like, wow, like if I had this a decade ago, like things would be so different.


Alon: Yeah, that would be. I also a agree with you on the unstructured business sales used to be like a-and especially now, when you work remotely, it’s so difficult to get the attention of yourself because you can do a little bit of this, a little bit this, go to the fridge, open the fridge, close the fridge. Sometimes, like-


Luiz: I’m heating up right now. It’s a coffee alternative. It smells so good. And if we weren’t on video, I’d run over there.


Alon: Exactly. So, but did you also, if I can ask, so what you said now, you saw some changes in regards to salespeople, but did you also see a change in regards to the buyers? For example, what I’ve seen is that a lot of buyers, they, even after the pandemic, I still think they don’t want to have a lot of face-to-face meetings. And I also think that yeah, getting their attention to book a meeting, even if it’s on zoom is getting more and more difficult, then that’s something also which Mailshake can help with is that it takes more touch points sometimes to get the attention. It’s not just being standing out and being creative is one thing. But touching them multiple times is in my experience, not less important than being creative as standing out is nowadays, it’s hard to get the attention in boxes are overloaded. So, by being there multiple times, you have higher chances of getting a meeting.


Luiz: Yeah. It’s crazy. I agree with you a hundred percent. So, face-to-face meetings, fantastic. But how many can you do with that? Do you really want to commute? You want to put on that suit. For me, the answer has been no for seven years since I sold my car, moved to Thailand and started living as a digital nomad. Like that is a lifestyle that I chose, obviously, never to go down. I don’t want to go and do face-to-face presentations and remote sales. Remote tech sales for me has been incredible because we get to have this face to face conversation in Zoom and pandemic strikes. It’s like, wow, Zoom fatigue. So, I’m used to living on Zoom. This is my home. I’m on Zoom meetings all day, but for people who aren’t used to, it can get a little daunting.


So, right now, I’m not looking at myself, I hate self-view and that helps me a ton to like little things like that. Engaging eye contact, looking into camera. So, like I think people don’t like Zoom meetings because some Zoom meetings suck and they’re boring and it’s like, wow, like I’m stuck here for 30 minutes even though- So, if you make things fun and you make them exciting, it’s very different. And I don’t like when people ask me for time. If you’re asking me for a time and I don’t have interest, why like gauge interest first and then ask for time? Do you have any interest in doing this? Okay, yes. Okay. Does it make sense for us to set up some time? Yeah, that does make sense.


So, I think in the past, I’ve been guilty off and it worked, so I don’t even know if I’m guilty of it and it work that would say, hey, Tuesday or Thursday work for us to chat. Now, if somebody sends me that email, I tell them to screw off because I know, none of those times work. I don’t even know. I know why you’re reaching out to me and I’m a hundred percent on what you want that you need more touches. And when I see more touches to me, like if I get a LinkedIn message and then I get an email that’s relevant to that LinkedIn message. And then I get a phone call, I’m not going to answer, but it goes straight to voicemail. And then they text me and say, “Hey, I called you.” This person has done enough research to find me in three different channels and pitch me something. I’m going to at least going to look at the offer and engage with it. So, it takes research shows nine to 11 touch points.

The essence of sales automation

Alon: So yeah, I totally agree with you that you also said that in the past, you could just say to somebody, “Let’s have a quick chat.” They would say, “Okay, let’s do it.” But nowadays, especially the pandemic accelerated the whole thing that you think like, why should I sit with you? And buyers want to do their own research before they sit with you. And only then, and also, they have to be in a good mood. Maybe they support a nice deal and only then, they want to talk what you. So, that’s really what I believe has changed since the pandemic. So, let’s talk now about Mailshake. So, what problem are you guys solving for salespeople? Of course, sales automation is a big thing, but can you, for the guys that don’t use automation, can you explain what Mailshake and sales automation in general solving for salespeople?


Luiz: Yes. So, before sales automation, you had CRM. And you live in this CRM and it takes you eight hours to accomplish a hundred calls. You’re not organized in terms of that I contact this person on LinkedIn. When was my last message sent? You have to document all these things manually. And as a salesperson, I wouldn’t do that. And I was like, I’m trying to accomplish all these things. Nobody’s really checking my work. And if they, it’s a month after, and they’re like, why didn’t you do this? So, Mailshake eliminates that problem. And we do it in a fun way where you’re going to be more successful using our platform. You’re going to be able to go through. We are power dialer. We call it dialshake. With dialshake, you’re able to do a hundred calls in an hour or two, where it would take you four or five before. You’re able to automate LinkedIn in a way it doesn’t violate LinkedIn’s guidelines. So, we create tasks. And with those tasks, we have templates that are mail merge. So, I’d say, “Hey Alon, thanks for starting the next sales podcasts, super excited.” And all of this would be personalized.


In mail merge, you don’t have to write it all out. And once you click ‘Complete this Task’, the next part of the sequence goes, so you’ve already built these nine to 11 touchpoints sequence. You have your list of 100 people you’re targeting, and then you’re going through your day and completing it row by row, and you’re not making any judgements. And I used to do this as well as a salesperson. So, as a salesperson, what I would do is I would go through this list and I’d pick one thing here. Okay, I’m going to call this person because they answered my call last time. I’m going to do this task. But now, you have this process and you follow this process and you’re more successful because you’re not lollygagging around and going through, okay, I’m going to do three calls here, and now I’m going to go on LinkedIn. It’s like, you have your set space. And what Mailshake is doing is we’re making sales engagement fun. We’re making it easy for you to follow this process and easy for you to A/B test, so you can continue to increase your results.


Alon: I love what you said about being in the process because I know a lot of salespeople, let’s say you have 100 leads. Everybody knows these are the five best leads and the other 95 kind of suck. So, they do a lot with the five leads, but with all the other 95, they do just what you said, what should I do now? A little bit of this, a little bit and only the thinking of what to do take like half a day. And what I like about being in a process is that you don’t have to think about what you should do next because you do the process once and then you just follow the process.


Luiz: Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head there. We have this preconceived notion, the foot’s going to work and what doesn’t, but at the end of the day, if we follow a process, we even surprise ourselves and we’re more productive with it. And from an SDR standpoint, like I can’t imagine doing sales without sales automation. So, even before I started at Mailshake, I was a Mailshake customer and I used this. I was traveling the world with a partner of mine and we were living in Bali. We emailed resorts with Mailshake and we got free accommodation in exchange for doing drone video and marketing content for them on Instagram. And that was a huge case for Mailshake. And then when I was starting a hammock brand, I emailed all these hammock Kickstarter brands and use Mailshake for that and got. So, for me, I can’t imagine ever sending like doing cold outreach without a sales engagement software.


And there are a ton of tools in the space. We’re not the only one, but what we aim to do is we make, we want to make this software, a software that salespeople love using, and we want to make it easy. We want to make it fun and exciting to be in where, I don’t want to name names, but some software, you log into and it’s like, I hate software. I don’t like being in it. And what a miserable way to spend your career. It’s like a software that you hate. So, that’s something I really admire about the product team here at Mailshake is always going back to the end user and great, like I’m in Mailshake both ways as a manager and as a- I love experimenting and testing and I want to keep learning. So, I’m doing the SDR role as well and sending campaigns and engaging on LinkedIn. So, but from the manager point, like I get to log in and I get to see productivity. I get to see stats. I get to see, wow, my team did a thousand calls today. That call rate was 9%. We got most of our leads from calls or vice versa. Okay. Now, in this industry, mostly they’re coming from LinkedIn. Let’s add another LinkedIn touch point and remove a phone call touch point and focus on social selling for tech because they’re more active on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn or email first?

Alon: Wow. That’s very interesting that you say that because I would love to know some of your best practices because everything is, of course, you have all the data because you have so many engagements, so many things you’ve done with automation. So, I would also love to know like what is the best cadence, for example? Should you start first with connecting on LinkedIn, or should you start first with sending a cold email? Like, how do you decide what to do first? Because if you send the LinkedIn first, then it’s like, he doesn’t know yet, he might accept you, then you’re in his network. But if you’re sending an email first, then he might say, okay, this is a sales guy. Then you connect them on LinkedIn. And he says, yeah, I just saw his email and nobody wants. I don’t want to connect with them. So, what is your opinion on this cadence? What is the order of the cadence?


Luiz: So, on a Tuesday morning, if the sun is shining on- No, but seriously, it’s such an experimental thing where it’s going to vary from industry to industry. It’s going to vary from person to person. And that’s why I’m just a big fan of a process and following up with a process engaging interest, rather than assuming that we’re for everybody. So, I’m a big fan of Josh Braun, Morgan Ingram, JBarrows, Sandler Training. And what all they have in common is for me, they’re these new age sales trainers where, they’re not pushy, pushy. Like, hey, we have a tool for you. It’s going to work. We’re going to increase your ROI a hundred percent. It’s look, like I’m looking at your company now. We might potentially have some software that’s going to help automate your processes and helping your team succeed. So, let’s figure out how we can reach these people. Where do they live? Do they live on LinkedIn? Do they live in a phone and experiment with it?


Just the other day, I got somebody, they were connected with me on LinkedIn. We’re having a great chat and I forgot my email automation were going out and out of my email automation, they’re going out. They’re like, “I can’t believe you’re emailing me trying to sell me. Oh my God.” I’m just like, all right, well, it pissed you off, that’s okay. Well, I’ll move on from this with another 200 people in my sequence and I’ve made a mistake. I should have paused him on that email campaign because they were engaged on LinkedIn and we were building this relationship. And that’s something that you live in you and you learn. I don’t think there’s this exact formula that you can follow. But what I like to do is, I get my leads from Seamless, Seamless.AI. I export those leads. I get a LinkedIn profile. So, I go in and I’ll look quickly, click through, look at a hundred LinkedIn profiles. Don’t do anything I’ll just look. Partly, I’m just making sure to that list is actually good. Those people are part of my persona, but now, I’m also triggering that notification alert, ‘Luiz saw your profile.’ And then I’m adding them into the campaign. And I’ll A/B test, LinkedIn versus email first.


I haven’t had any statistical data yet to prove which one works better. I think it’s so varied and so ambiguous that I don’t know if I ever will, but I continue to do this. It’s like, okay, should I do it again? Should I do email first? And I’ll test it by no statistical data on that yet. I personally like, viewed a LinkedIn profile, send the email, create a LinkedIn task. Now, that LinkedIn task says, hey, I sent you an email to this email and I’ll mail merge that. And sometimes, they’ll tell me, “Oh, that’s not the best email, email me here.” And I love that part and then a phone call. And if you’re doing this, within 30 days, they’re going to see your face. They’re going to hear your voice. They’re going to see your email. And if you did it in a way that’s engaging and you have a well-researched list, you’re going to succeed.

Best practice: hyper personalization

Alon: I agree. I agree. It’s just making the numbers if you have the process right. What you said, there’s no real, this is better than this, but of course, it’s nice to test it and to see, but you never know. It’s also a thing of every person. Somebody likes LinkedIn first, another one likes email first, another one doesn’t like anybody, any style at all. So, it’s difficult to say. So, next question is of course, a lot of salespeople, in fact, if I may say this, some of them are a bit lazy and I think they can misuse the sales automation too. Because they think, “Okay, I have a tool and I’m going to just automate everything. I can lay back and everything will work for me.” So, we call it, ‘Fool with a tool is still a fool.’ So, I think that if you have an automation, that doesn’t mean that you should do everything on automated pilot. So, you still have to, in my opinion, one works for me very good is to still hyper-personalized some of the stuff, but automate all the rest that you just automate anyway. For example, ‘Hi [first name]’ or all the other stuff. So, how do you think about it?


Luiz: A hundred percent. And if we ask anybody now, it’s like, quantity or quality? What are people going to say?


Alon: I think a lot of salespeople would say quantity.


Luiz: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And it takes more time, right? It takes more time in the frontend to go in and personalize something. And so, we’re in the phase where we’re experimenting a lot. We’re trying to figure out which industries are going to work best for us outbound. And we’re not personalizing everything to the way that I would want. But as soon as we get traction in a certain industry, it’s going to be okay, we’re zoning down in this industry. Now, we have time, resources and justification to be able to personalize more. So, something I love doing in Mailshake is even before Mailshake, you have your CSV, you have your first name, email, LinkedIn profile, phone number, everything, you add in a new column and you add in a first, a custom line.


Alon: Yeah.


Luiz: And that custom line can be custom for everybody. And then you can mail merge that within Mailshake. And if you forget to do that, you don’t do that in a CSV, you can do that in a personalization section of Mailshake. So, if you have 400 emails lined up, ready to go, I can search for Alon and say, okay, Alon, and just talk to him in the next sales podcast. I’m going to make his custom first-line for him just in the first email where I can follow up in the subsequent emails as well and customize those. But something that I really love is as your campaign starts, and as you’re going on LinkedIn profiles, you can go back to the messages that are going to get sent. And from those messages, you personalize it. So, if somebody says they’re out of office, they went to Hawaii. You customize that message and say, “Hey Alon, so you went to Hawaii. I hope you enjoyed it.” And now they’re like, “How does the Luiz know that?” Like, because you’re out of office reply or I went on your LinkedIn and it’s all something, now I customized it. So, those, they’re going to get you much better reply rates.


Alon: Super cool, super cool. So, you still automate 90% of it, but at 10%, it’s still like magic that you can put in by yourself.


Luiz: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, if a robot can do your job, your job isn’t going to exist. So, I like to think of ways where, like how can we add value? How can we continue to outperform AI? And there’s something they AIs can’t do.


Alon: Exactly. I agree with you. Great. It’s a great point you made here. But I also did it, by the way, I have like a- we automate things, but we also hyper-personalized, exactly the same thing what you said with a custom field. And it can also be like, for example, we use a lot of, if I see somebody’s hobby, for example, is a Manchester United fan, I can always use it in a lot of cases. So, I can use it in the PS, ‘Did you see the match of Manchester yesterday?’ It’s just like small things that he knows. This can be automated. You know what I mean?


Luiz: Yes. I love it.


Alon: So, that’s what we do here. And we’re almost out of time. Luiz, do you have something else to add for our listeners about, I don’t know, Mailshake and how automation is something in general that you want to say?


Luiz: Yeah. If you want to talk sales, find me on LinkedIn. I’m Luiz Cent on LinkedIn. You can send me an email, If you’re sending me a cold email, better be good. And yeah, LinkedIn is definitely the best way to reach me. And yeah, anytime you run an A/B test experiment and talk through it, I’m all ears and excited to chat things out. Thanks for having me out here, Alon.


Alon: Cool, Luiz. Yeah. Thank you as well for your time and for your energy and thanks to everybody for listening. So, if you want to know more about virtual selling and just check out our website,, and you can also subscribe to our podcast channel, I’ll put a link in the comment below. So, that’s it for now. Thanks again, and enjoy the rest of your day.

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The essence of sales automation with Luiz Cent