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George Leith is a lone wolf this week, ready to share his industry secrets for the 10 best business-to-business prospecting methods. We know how draining prospecting can be, ensuring that new opportunities are constantly added to your funnel. You need to be a hunter, partner with other organizations, and deliver a message that's short and to the point. It's easy to get lost in these numerous communication channels, and operating uniquely in each can be tedious. You have probably heard of the items on our list, but George's use-cases and methodologies will provide you with an entirely new perspective on them. In this episode, George goes in-depth on the following B2B prospecting methods: Face to Face Email Webinars and Virtual Events Networking Referrals Cold Calling Content Advertising Mail Relationships This episode is about taking care of clients. If you run a good business and take care of your clients, they will feed you. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Introduction George: Welcome to this week's episode of the Conquer Local Podcast, a show about billion dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. Every week, they wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rework, rewire, and reimagine your business. This is a special edition to the Conquer Local Podcast. From time to time, we cover the master sales series. And today, we're talking about prospecting. Business to business prospecting is about adding new opportunities to the funnel all the time. You need to have the mindset of a hunter to partner with other organizations, and to ensure that you're delivering a message to your prospect list that is short and to the point that cuts through today's clutter. In today's episode, we're going to explore the top 10 business to business prospecting methods to help you fill that funnel and drive opportunity in the most effective way. Get ready, conquerors, for another edition of the Master Sales Series, the 10 best business prospecting methods is coming up next this week on the Conquer Local Podcast. 1. Face to Face Well, we're gonna kick off this episode with number one and it's good old fashioned face to face, but the difference is we're not face to face, maybe breathing the same air like we used to back when people carried a bag. Meetings and showing up where prospects are hanging out means a lot of virtual interactions. We're doing more and more of this face to face on a Zoom or a Google Meet or a Microsoft Teams or a CrankWheel or whatever system that you're using to facilitate that virtual face to face meeting. Couple of tips for you that we've learned. I'm not a big fan of virtual backgrounds. I've been reading a lot of material that shows that, what are you hiding back there? We're finding that a lot of people have been giving up their green screens and their virtual backgrounds to have an actual background and maybe putting some knickknacks on the shelf like you would have in your actual office that gives you some personality and makes you a human, a little less robotic. The other thing that we've been noticing is that we're often booked back to back. If you look at my calendar, it's a frigging brick on top of a brick on top of another brick, on top of another brick. And that leaves a lot less wiggle room for you to do some critical thinking after the meetings or even follow up on the things that you need to prepare for, entering data in the CRM, sending that Slack message to colleagues with maybe some nuggets that you learned on the call. So we need to ensure that our time is spent in a valuable way. So on these new face to face meetings where we're doing them virtually, I'd like to give you you a couple of tips that I like to use. Number one, there are no 30 and 60-minute meetings in my calendar. There's 20-minute meetings and 50-minute meetings. That's now giving me back about a 10-minute window in between because a lot of times people are gonna be late getting on the call and maybe you need that wiggle room, but it also allows me a couple of minutes to decompress, do some critical thinking, maybe have a quick meeting after the meeting with other colleagues that were on the call, enter data into the CRM, and then take a deep breath, have a glass of water and prep for that next virtual face to face meeting. 2. Email Number two on our 10 best business prospecting methods, well, it's email, and email is still very, very valuable, but we have to do it right. If you are like me, I'm getting hundreds of emails from people trying to get my attention to get me on a call to try and do discovery, and then eventually try and sell me something. It's to the point where I am inundated with these emails and I can see them coming a mile away. What I want you to work on is focusing on subject lines that capture attention. A lot of times, I will make the decision on whether I'm going to click on that email and not archive it based upon a catchy subject line. One of the things that you can try and I like doing this with a closed group is you've got a couple of customers that really trust you and you build a lot of rapport with them. Maybe you could send them a sample email to test the effectiveness of the subject line before it goes out. I always like to preview the email and make sure that it looks good. And then ensure the message is relevant for the audience. One of the things that's working really well to get my attention, and I don't think there's a more scattered, all over the place kind of executive than myself right now, is someone that maybe grasps something out of a press release or a podcast that I've hosted or some piece of content that I've posted on my online newsletter. It shows that they took just that extra step to make that message super relevant for me, the audience that they're trying to reach. So I'm very bullish on email, but I'd like to implore upon you to do email right. And by the way, you're getting bad emails right now, so just don't do what those people are doing. Keep trying to have evolve. Keep trying new things and keep them short. 3. Webinars and Virtual Events Number three, webinars and virtual events. Google Meet, Zoom, Teams, seminars, industry events, authority building, CrankWheel meeting, doesn't matter. There's a lot of things going on and we've gotta decide in our collective organizations what are we gonna do for a virtual event or a webinar. I think it's a glaring hole if you don't have one. I also think that you need to be considering how efficient this is. And I remember in my first days working at Vendasta when we started to build out our go to customer motions, we would do a webinar and I came from the media space and I'm used to talking to a lot of people, or at least I think I always talk to a lot of people, so when five people showed up to a webinar, I was super disappointed. And then I started to realize that I just got four hours back because the flip side to not doing the webinar is you're going to have to reach out to all five of those customers individually and perform the exact same content five times. It really is soul sucking work. And what happens is is that the first presentation is probably pretty good. The second one might be a little bit better. And then as you get tired, the third, fourth, and fifth start to slide off the map. So imagine hosting a great webinar or a great virtual event, getting all pumped up for it, having the team help you get the content together, you dial in some really good data points, you leave them with tangible takeaways and you get 10 people. I don't want you to be let down by that. You just got nine hours of your life back. And if you put together a really great webinar, that thing lives forever. We have put together over 200 episodes of the Conquer Local Podcast over the last five years. And our episodes from season one are as well listened to as some of our episodes from season four. And that's because we now have this corpus of content that lives online. I'm bullish on webinars and virtual events. It's the way that business is done today. So keep in mind that 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. 44% of sales reps give up after one follow up. When you are producing these webinars and virtual events, it's your ability to touch the customer over and over and over again so they can become part of those follow-up calls. It's not you getting them on the phone. It could be you delivering a piece of content and letting them consume it at their own pace. And it's your content, so your brand is growing with its brand equity. I've been to a couple of in-person events. I'm not totally against them. I will tell you that CEOs and CFOs are starting to look at those budgets going, do we really need to spend that money? 'Cause we went through two years of not spending that money and hopefully revenue went up. We went to Locology in Los Angeles. It was a very well-attended event. I found that the meetings were very valuable because we'd had that large gap in in-person events. I also attended the Channel Partners Event in Las Vegas, packed, 6,000 people. It was one of their best held shows. But keep in mind, we were starving. We were starving for face to face. Those are two very high-profile events. The one thing I like about in-person conference events is that if I wanna go see those customers, I'd have to go to multiple cities. I would have to take weeks to be able to fit it into a travel schedule. It would cost tens, if not 20 or if not $100,000 to do all that travel. So by going to a conference, if you plan it out properly, you can plan a number of meetings, even if it's with existing customers. You can get them together. You can feed them a baloney sandwich and have a conversation like a quarterly business review with them. I also like hybrid events, and Cinda, our European friends, Kimberly Lewis, good friend of mine, she held a hybrid event and 60-75% of the participation because really people are still not all that comfortable with overseas travel, and that was my thing. If we go there and we get stuck in Berlin for a couple of weeks in a hotel, that's not really gonna be that efficient use of time. So we're finding that hybrid events are working. Usually, you see about that 60-75% participation. The odd event like Locology or Channel Partners very well attended because people are just starving for that face to face. So I think we need to embrace a hybrid approach, webinars, virtual events, and some in-person. It's not going to be an either/or. It's going to be an And. 4. Networking Let's move on to our next item and that comes to networking. And I think networking looks a little bit different if you think that networking is always in-person. We weren't able to do that for two years. You probably had to build some new social selling skills to figure out how to network on LinkedIn or on YouTube or on Facebook or on Twitter or on Pinterest or on Clubhouse. Does that still exist? Does clubhouse still exist? It was big for a hot minute. That was how we were doing networking during the pandemic when we couldn't do in-person, and it's interesting. I have a hard time getting salespeople to understand how powerful this is. It almost like sometimes it's a paid announcement from LinkedIn. Now keep in mind, KV at LinkedIn has been a sponsor of this podcast, but I use LinkedIn every day to network and it pays enormous dividends, but it's not just people reaching out to me on LinkedIn InMail. It also is when I go in and I like somebody's comment that they've left or share it with my audience and put my two cents on there. When you do those things, it drives top of mind awareness of you and your company's brand. There's a new newsletter feature on LinkedIn. You have to actually apply for it. I've applied for the newsletter feature and for LinkedIn Live, so I'm foreshadowing. You're gonna start to see some LinkedIn Live stuff happening here soon on my profile. But the newsletter I named The Triumphant, this idea of triumphing selling. I'm a big fan of that. I've been using that slogan for a number of years. So The Triumphant launched on my LinkedIn profile and I was able to get 10% subscription of my audience, which is a little over 30,000 followers in 24 hours. 24 hours from the moment I launched the newsletter, 10% of my folks were subscribing, and now that's moved up to 20% subscription. And when I release a blog post, 'cause essentially that's all this thing is, is a newsletter blog on LinkedIn, I'm getting 80% engagement from that audience, which is now almost 5 to 6,000 folks within 24 hours of dropping the newsletter. That's how you do networking in 2022. And the traffic to my LinkedIn page has increased by over 1,000% from the moment I launched the newsletter. Trying new things and figuring out how to use these platforms to get the most eyeballs on your message is really what advertising and marketing is all about. Make your time on the ground valuable. So when we're doing network in location, like a conference, one of the things that we've been using is geo-targeted ads. There's technology that you can get. Local ads is a platform that I really like where you can geo-target all the phones in a building. So imagine at CES, 125,000 people attend that conference, it's the most attended conference in Vegas every year and you run a geo-targeted ad campaign around the entire convention center and maybe select a bunch of hotels that people stay at. And then we geo-target every phone in those buildings. And for the next 90 days after the event, you serve up an ad that is relevant to that audience. You can also check out episode 310 of this podcast where I dive in a bit deeper into some do's and don'ts of attending conferences. I've lost a lot of brain cells over the years going to conferences and we have some hard earned lessons of how to make them more effective. 5. Referrals I also like referrals and we had Mark Hunter on the show here a couple of months back and he talked about referrals, from current and past customers, friends and family, professional colleagues. 6. Cold Calling I also really believe in cold calling. In fact, I love cold calling. It's pretty cool. Let's go cold. When we go to a market on an in-person trip, it's like, why don't we go cold call that person? And the one thing about cold calling, not many people do it anymore, so it's kinda unique. It's like getting a handwritten letter in the mail. You're like, whoa, handwritten letter. This is cool and you run to open it up. Target company contacts. Use your personal database. Sometimes you can purchase a list. I also really like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Use that online intelligence to make your cold calling efforts more effective. 7. Content And content, we need to be building content. Gary Vaynerchuck talks a lot about this. Just listen to any of his content that he puts online, education-based valuable content, white papers, videos, infographics, articles, podcasts. You can never put out enough. Gary's quote that I love: "The biggest thing I can tell you is you have to make as much content as possible." We are our own platform. We use various social media platforms to reach an audience, but we need to become a platform unto ourselves. And all you gotta look is that folks like Vaynerchuck and Grant Cardone, and maybe even the Conquer Local Podcast, it has become a platform over five seasons. And we're continuing to figure out other ways that we can take and repurpose this content. You'll find that our blogs online, a lot of them map to episodes like this. Our social posts map to episodes like this. Our infographics will be capturing these 10 topics. So really think about becoming a content machine and use automation to broadcast your message to your ideal customer profile. 8. Advertising Advertising, well, I'll tell you what, I've been selling it for a long time and I still believe in it. I actually might believe in it more now than I ever have because we can track it. We can start to see some return on that investment. We're starting to be able to build attribution loops so that we know that that message was received by the right audience at the right time and they took the prescribed action. 9. Mail Oh, I talked about it earlier, good old fashion send something to somebody in the mail or by courier. This stuff is working again. It's exciting. You go to the mailbox, you open it up, there's something in there. It's actually addressed to you with like handwriting, so it's very personal. It's a surprise and delight factor that is off the charts. And what I'm hearing from some of the top marketers that I speak to the very best account-based marketing is when you send a box of something or you send a large envelope of something to a very targeted audience, and guess what? They'll now take your cold call. 10. Relationships And then those relationships, that's number 10, and I can't stress how important it is, old school sellers like me that grew up carrying a bag, we believe that this is the be all and end all. Now, I think all of you that listen to the show know that I don't believe that anymore, but what I've also found is very technical sellers and marketers believe that relationships aren't as important, but I'm telling you, we are humans doing business with other humans and relationships are vitally important. So one of the things that I wanna talk about, a way that you can leverage a good relationship is to do a good job. And I know that that sounds so basic or 101, but I've found that people have a tendency not to have a lot of pride, and I don't know why that is. Maybe it's because at an early age, my parents instilled in me that if you're gonna do a job, do it right. I think that we could evolve that a little bit. If you're gonna do a job, do it excellent. Over deliver. That's the way to build a hell of a relationship with a customer. When you have a culture of being customer-obsessed in your organization, those customers will start to give you a referral because they truly believe in the value that you're offering. They truly believe that you deliver on your promises. Or if you miss the mark, you own it. I call it owning your shit and we profess it across the board. So it's not just about doing a great job all the time because sometimes you're gonna miss the mark. That just happens. But sit there, look the customer in the eye and own the mistake that you've made and promise that you'll make it right. I don't know a customer out there that would have a problem with that. In fact, they might even love you more because you didn't try to hide behind it or you didn't try to pivot. You just sat there, looked them in the eye and said that you would make it right. Here's a little trick that I've learned over the years. We all have these mobile devices. We all spend a lot of time scrolling. I don't think I have to teach anybody on this podcast how to scroll. We just do it now. How about scrolling through your contacts? I've found that that's difficult because I've got about 17,000 of them in my phone. So what I'll do is I'll just go to A and B today, scroll through A and B, look at them, who haven't I talked to recently? I wonder if they're even at the same job that they were at when I talked to them four years ago. Then go to LinkedIn, marry it all up, see where they are today and send a LinkedIn InMail message and keep that relationship alive. You could send a text message, but what I've found is sometimes those people have changed their phone numbers. So using some sort of a technology to augment that dataset, to make sure that you have the right contact information, that might be very valuable. Take that contact list in your phone, download it into a CSV, upload it into LinkedIn Sales Navigator and see how it marries up with the data. But my point here is there's gold there. You just have to be looking for it. Scroll through that list of contacts. Now, I'm gonna take you back in time. There used to be this thing called a Rolodex. It was amazing. You had it sitting on your desk and you could turn it and it had paper and you'd write on the paper about people. That's your Rolodex. That's your gold. That's your count list. That's your hard earned contact list. Make sure that you're utilizing it and utilizing those relationships 'cause you never know when they might bear fruit. We're gonna be back in just a moment after this break as we wrap things up on the 10 best business prospecting methods. Conclusion I've got a bonus for you. We didn't talk about timing. And I don't like using 11 'cause it just doesn't sound right to me. I like a 10. I like a 10 list. Top 10 to David Letterman. Timing is everything. You've gotta get the right message in front of the right audience, the right number of times at the right time. So it's frequency of getting that message out there 'cause you need to cut through the clutter. It's gotta be the right message. We talked about that earlier how you craft that right email message. It's gotta be the right audience, the right people that you wanna be talking to, but then timing is everything. Brendan King, CEO of our company, has this great line: "People buy when they're ready." And we've gotta remember that we need a constant cadence to that prospect or that customer list. And we can use robots to deliver the message. Back in the good old days when I was carrying a bag, I'd have to kill a tree, photocopy something. Then I'd have to kill a highlighter and highlight the item that I wanted. Then kill a stapler by stapling my business card to it and then kill the environment by putting fuel in my vehicle and driving across town to drop it on the prospect's desk. We don't have to do that anymore. We can use email. We can send SMS. We could send a physical mail package. We could courier something to them. We could send them LinkedIn InMail. We could respond to something that they posted online, but make sure that you're out there putting heat around that prospect or that customer because timing is everything. If you run a good business and you take care of your customers, they will feed you. That is a common denominator to everything that we talk about here on the Conquer Local Podcast and specifically on the Master Sales Series. Please subscribe and leave us a review. And thanks for joining us this week on the Master Sales Series. We unpacked, yes, there was 11, but the title is the 10 best business prospecting methods for you to exceed your quotas in 2022. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Are you a road warrior? Traveling for business can be a great experience, however, it can also be a chaos ridden, hair-pulling, stress inducing nightmare if you aren't organized and prepared. In this episode of the Master Sales Series, George walks you through his top 14 tips for conquering business travel. — 14 Tips for Conquering Business Travel Welcome back. It's another edition of the Master Sales Series. We're having a lot of fun with these. And just when I think I can't come up with other topics, we come up with more topics. So coming up, one of my favorite things to talk about, and it's been some hard-earned lessons, I'm gonna give you some of my number one travel rituals, how I get through being a road warrior, 220 flights a year, 190 bloody hotel stays a year, lots of miles. It's not all it's cracked up to be. We'll talk about those travel rituals when we come back on the "Conquer Local Podcast." Don't get me wrong, traveling for business can be a lot of fun. You get to meet new people, get to go to crazy places, you get to be on a plane, somebody comes by and brings you a nice Woodford on the rocks. But you got to learn some things to make this thing...because after a while it's like, "Do I really gonna have to go to Wichita, Kansas. It's not all gonna be Paris and Rome, folks, it's gonna be times you're gonna have to go to Modesto, California." So when you're spending a lot of time on the road, it can really get to be a bit of a grind. I remember I was on the road for five weeks. This is about four years ago, five weeks straight, and it was really tough emotionally. I wasn't even in a relationship at that time. It was just George conquering the world by himself, but it was tough. I missed my kids. I missed my mom and dad. I missed my friends. You know, the hotel room start to become the same. Hard to find the bathroom in the middle of the night sometimes, run into walls and stuff. And then it starts to wear on you. Now, there also are some things that can just give you the back sweats. You know, what the back sweats are, is when you're like in turmoil and you've got a lot of stress because you lost your phone, or you can't find your passport, or you slept in, or you can't find your gate, or you check your watch and you realize your plane took off 10 minutes ago. So here's some rituals that I've come up with. And, you know, I've got a lot of people that I'm gonna credit for this that have helped me with this. So one of my really good friends, Lorrie Morgan, her company and I travel quite a bit about five years ago, and she gave me some really good advice. 1. Pick an airline, and stick with it She said, "Okay, number one, pick an airline and stick with it." You can fly other airlines, but when you pick one airline, you're gonna start to get a thing called status. And with status comes some perks. One, you get to get on the plane first. Why is that important? Well, you get overhead bin space. And that is a big deal. Because if you're late getting on the plane and you go to slide into your seat 18F and it's already full, and you've got a carryon bag, now you got to move the carryon bag back in the plane. It's gonna take you forever to get off of the...so that's number one, picking an airline. Here's some other benefits to picking an airline. When you start to get to the platinum and to the diamond tiers, you're gonna start to earn upgrades and you're going to get lounge access. Oh, and you don't have to line up in the security line, you're gonna get priority clearance. So you definitely want to sign up for every airline that has a rewards and a loyalty program, you're gonna wanna sign up for that. I've signed up for them all. I have them all. Everyone, doesn't matter which one. I fly Delta. I like Delta. I've had really good experiences with Delta and I like the people there. They do a pretty good job. Now I'll run across somebody they're like, "Oh, I hate Delta." Anyways, it really comes down to your personal preference, but I really enjoy that brand and they've got a great program. I travel a lot. I was fortunate enough to get to Diamond this year. Don't have to stand in line, lounge access. You get upgrades like crazy unless you're flying between Minneapolis and Atlanta. That's a tough one to get an upgrade on. So that's your first piece. Pick an airline. Stick with it. Get your status in place you can get some loyalty. The other thing that is nice about it is when you start on those loyalty programs, you start to get the miles and then you can utilize those miles for personal trips. And that's one of the perks. Now some companies will say, "No, you got to use those miles for business trips," but a lot of companies will say, "No, it's part of having to live in bloody airports and sleep on those stupid couches sometimes because your flight is delayed. You can keep the miles and use it as a bit of a perk." So it's a nice thing. 2. Don't do different sh*t The second item, and I'm gonna give this credit to our CEO, Mr. Brendan King, don't do different shit. Meaning do the same thing every time. Put your passport in the same pocket of your briefcase. Put your laptop in the same spot every time. Don't leave it in the seat back pocket, put it in your bag. Make sure you double check your seat back pocket every time. Make sure that your cell phone is in a certain spot. So this was one of the key components, don't do different shit means that if you are ever woken in the morning and you slept in by 15 minutes, everything should just work like clockwork because you do the same thing over and over and over again. This has been a really important lesson that I appreciate. Thank you, Brendan. It saved me a ton of anxiety. In fact, the only time I get anxiety is when I do different shit. It's like clockwork that happens. 3. You need 2 pieces of ID So another thing that has happened and, you know, I come by a lot of these lessons from the school of hard knocks, you need two pieces of ID and they should never be in the same place at the same time. So here's what I mean by that. You got your driver's license, you're gonna need it if you're gonna rent a car and you get your passport, you're gonna need that if you do any sort of travel. I always take my passport and two credit cards and I put them into the hotel room safe. And if I'm going out at night, I take my credit card and my driver's license. The reason that I made the choice to put the passport in the safe is if you lose the passport, you are literally screwed. If you lose your driver's license, you just can't rent cars. So screwed. Can't rent cars. Pretty easy, right? And this happened to me. I was in Tyler, Texas and I fell asleep. I did different shit. I gave the flight attendant my jacket. I put my passport in the pocket of my jacket. She brought back my jacket, so I could put it on at the end of the flight. Took the passport out of the pocket and put it into the seat back pocket. I was half asleep, left my passport in the seat back pocket of the plane. But oh, it gets better. I went to Delta and they've got lost and found in the Dallas airport and I said, "Hey, I was on this flight in Tyler, Texas." They said, "Oh, no problem. I'll call Lost and Found." And they did have George's passport. So that was great. I continue to travel around Texas and do business and I go to fly home and I go to Lost and Found and they did not have George's passport. Well, not George Leith, they had Jorge Vicente's passport. So not George Leith's passport. So this isn't gonna help me. So I go to the counter thinking that, "Well, I'll just use my driver's license." And the lady at the counter says, "I can't give you a flight back to Canada without a passport. If you do not have a passport, you cannot even get back." So I said, "Well, what do I do?" So I had to fly to Seattle, rent a car, drive across the border, and at the border crossing, show that I was Canadian with my driver's license and explain that I'd lost my passport. The other thing that you can do, I found out after the fact is you can go to the authorities and report your passport stolen or lost, whatever it is, and they can give you some sort of a document that you can then give to the airline. So there's other ways around it, but literally, you need to have that passport. 4. You need to have at least 2 credit cards So here's the tip, you need a couple of credit cards anyways. So this is another piece. This is why the passport and one credit card go in the safe and your driver's license comes with you. Because if you only have one credit card and it gets frauded, meaning somebody takes the number and you happen to be in Fort Worth, Texas and some dude in Miami is trying to use it at a Whole Foods, the credit card company will shut the thing down and you can't turn it on. Like just, "No, we're shutting it down. It's being frauded." So you're again, screwed if you only have one credit card. You're going to Western Union and getting your dad to wire your money or something like that. Happened to me, by the way. So now you have two credit cards. They have to have high limits, and you put one with your passport in the safe and you have your driver's license and your other credit card and now you're good to go. Even if something bad happens, somebody holds you up, you could still get back to the hotel, they know who you are, let you in, you're good to go. 5. Take a pictures of your hotel room numbers Next, take pictures of your hotel room number. Now this is an interesting thing, when you start going to three different hotels a week, every week, they all start to look the same. And I remember one night having security tap me on the shoulder. I'd had a couple of drinks. It was in Cincinnati. Went to a great restaurant named Jack Ruby's. Okay, two or three bottles of wine, it's really what it was. Anyways, my hotel was the Hyatt, I was actually in the Marriott with my room key trying to get into 621. I knew the room number, I just had forgotten what hotel I was in. Anyways, room numbers great one. I did have a time on Sanibel Island too where I had just checked in and I went up to the room and I went down to the gym and I hadn't even been drinking on this time. So no excuse other than they just all start to run together. I had to go to the front desk and ask them what my room number was. So you just take a picture, have it on your phone and then you know...and way better than carrying that little thing that they put the room card in. So there's a reason why you don't have a room number on your key, is because if somebody steals it, they can get into your room or if somebody holds you up and takes you to the room. So that's one of the reasons. If you have it on your phone, at least it's locked on the phone. 6. Take pictures of your receipts Take pictures of your receipts immediately. So this is another thing. I used to just take all the receipts and put them into a pocket in my briefcase and you lose that crap. You forget where they were from. You forget who you had dinner with. Now you're lying on your expense reports. You know, just bad things are going on. It's pretty easy. You're right there having dinner, you got the two pieces of paper because you need the detailed receipt or the accounting department is not gonna take it because whatever, you know, tax jurisdiction you're in, you need to have detailed receipts. Take a bloody picture of it right there, get yourself Concur, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, whatever it is to record them and make that expense thing way easier. Now, do I get this right? No, it's still a challenge because I'm not really a detail-oriented person. I have a personal assistant that helps me with my expenses. But even for her she really likes it when I take a picture of it immediately and send it to her. So we just have a folder and Slack and it's just between her and I and I just take a picture and I upload it to Slack. Done. I have gotten way better at that piece. Here's the thing, it's gonna save you money. The estimate that I had by crinkling them all up and putting them into a pocket and then remembering to upload them some days, I'm losing 10%, probably 15%. And when you're running $10,000 to $15,000 worth of expenses a month, do the math, it's costing you money. So that's one of the reasons why companies get you to pay for it, by the way, is because they want you to be accountable for that information that's coming through. 7. Get a credit card specialized for travel Speaking of expenses, get yourself a credit card that is specialized for travel. I use RBC Avion and it's fantastic. You're double-dipping then. You're getting points from the airline. You're getting points from the hotel. You're getting points from the car rental company, and you're getting the points on the credit card. So now you've got two different places that you can travel. You can book your airline flights, you can buy a new TV, do whatever you want with the stuff that's on your credit card and then you do the same with the hotel points and you can do the same with the car rental points so you're, you know, using a points credit card that is specialized for travel. Now the other thing that I like about the...I have the RBC Avion Infinite Privilege. It cost me $499 a year. But guess what? I've had times where I call the concierge number and they can get me concert tickets or they can get me into a hockey game that you can't get into. They can get me into a restaurant that you phone the restaurant they're like, "No, we're sold out." You phone that number like, "No, no problem. We can get you in there." Another card that our CEO Brendan King really likes is the American Express Platinum card. It's fantastic for getting into lounges. The Avion card does have the priority pass lounge thing as well. So, you know, two high-end cards, they cost you a little bit of money every year, but the perks far outweigh the $499 a year you get charged. 8. Keep EVERYTHING in the cloud Now when you're gonna be on the road, you're gonna be working. Here's a real simple thing, don't store anything on the hard drive of your bloody computer, phone, iPad, whatever you have. Keep it all in the cloud. Because if your laptop bag gets stolen, you can always go to the Apple store and buy a new one, access the cloud and still make the killer presentation to the client. So here's where I learned this one. I'm in Orlando, Florida. It's early in my career as a road warrior. I'm at American Automobile Association, the AAA. I'm gonna make a big presentation to those folks. Got the rental car. I'm out in the parking lot, pulling on my jacket, and I closed door to the rental car. And I realized that I have locked my briefcase, my keys, my phone, everything in the car, and I have to make a presentation. So thank God it was at AAA because they were able to get my stuff out of the car. They didn't even charge me. But first I was able to make my presentation because all of my presentation materials were in the cloud. So whether it's a backup and you're gonna store some resident on your hard drive or your computer or you're gonna have a hard copy, I don't really care. It's just having the backup on the cloud. You know, USB sticks are so 2010. Let's get that stuff on the cloud because then you can access it from anywhere. Imagine if you had a MacBook and you needed to use a dongle and you didn't have a VGA dongle. If you had a PC and maybe it was connect...so, you know, sometimes you go to these presentation rooms, they'll have their own resident computer connected to the projector. And if you're on the cloud, again, you can just access the cloud and still make the presentation. 9. Pack key equipment Oh, that brings me to dongles. Dongles for days, I call it. I have a little bag full of dongles. Every single freaking dongle that Apple has ever created for every computer and they follow me around everywhere. I also have my own clicker to do presentations, I just find that bring in your own stuff ensures that you're going to have a great presentation. I even went as far as buying one of those mini projectors because I was paranoid at the bulb of the projectors would go out. That didn't work out too well because the thing I bought was piece of crap. But as many things as you can have to make sure that the reason you're on the road is to do sales stuff, which is make great presentations, show off your products and services, and you got to make sure that you are bringing the right things for every occasion. 10. Always have some foreign currency Always have a little bit of currency for the country that you're traveling to. It's pretty easy to do this now. You don't have to go to the bank a week before, and I remember when I was doing some traveling early in my career you gotta get traveler's checks. I got some people right now listening to the podcast going, "What the hell is that?" Y'know, American Express traveler's checks. Don't leave home without them. It was a thing. You went and got these traveler's checks and then if you got held up or they were stolen or lost, you could just shut them off. It was pretty unique. Here's the reason why I like currency. When you get to some of these countries, they may not take credit card. And I find this a lot with cab companies. I'm not picking on cab companies, but I am. I was in South Africa and got into, you know, to the cab company that has the contract with the Johannesburg Airport. So you're thinking it's pretty legit, right? And jump into the cab, get the ride all the way to the place that I was going, and then they say, "No, we don't take credit cards." And I'm like, "Well, all I have is credit card and American cash." "Nope, don't take American cash." They wanted South African Rand. So you go to the hotel desk hoping they have an ATM. No ATM. Now you got to get the cab driver to drive you to some bank, put your credit card in to get the cashout or a debit card. Anyways, it just will save you a bit of grief as soon as you get off the plane you find one of those currency counters. Grab yourself, you know, whatever is equivalent of 100 bucks. It's nice to have some tipping money too. I did find this to be very unique to South Africa. I have, you know, yet to run across this and other jurisdictions. They have security guards in all of their parking lots so when you rent a car, there's a security guard there and they would like to see a couple of coins to make sure that your tires don't get slashed. I don't know if that's a unique to South Africa thing. I've yet to experience it anywhere else. You know, and it is nice to have a little bit of cash just to tip as you're running around. It might help you get some better service. 11. Pack smarter So next up, really simple one, but it does take some discipline, always pack your luggage the night before an early flight. Now I've taken this a step further. If I'm flying out the next day, I pack my luggage the night before. And if I'm going out for a client dinner, I pack my luggage before I even leave for the next day. Just set aside 15...the other thing is, if it's taken you more than 15 minutes to pack, you're packing a bunch of crap you don't need. So you've got to become a little bit of a minimalist when it comes to packing. You don't need eight suits. You don't need eight dresses. You don't need eight pairs of shoes. You need to come up with a wardrobe that's gonna be functional. It's gonna serve for a casual night. It's gonna serve for professional nights. You know, you don't need 20 shirts. I'm about to embark on six weeks on the road nonstop. I'm taking five shirts. I'm gonna dry clean the shit out of them. If it doesn't work out, I'll just go buy three more. The thing about it is you're gonna be on the road, it's pretty easy to go get stuff. There's a Murphy & Johnston in pretty much every airport or a Brooks Brothers. You don't need to be packing the 59-pound bag that you then have to take crap out of it. Oh, weight the bag. Like nothing irritates other travelers more than you rookie travelers that put 59 pounds worth of stuff in a bag. You can only get 50 pounds, it's a known fact. And they're gonna charge you a lot if you got more than that. The other thing that I've started doing, if I am gonna be traveling and I am going to be doing some shopping, I have a really nice leather coach bag that I pack inside the suitcase. It weighs about a pound and a half, pound and three quarters so it's about the size of a pair of jeans. And so I got one last pair of jeans but I have a bag in case we buy some stuff, we can just put it in a carryon bag and now I'm good to go and I don't have to buy another bag. 12. Invest in luggage All right, so next up, let's talk about...oh, I should talk about luggage because there are a number of different luggage brands out there. I just got back from a great trip to Asia. Wow, Rimowa, they own Asia. Everybody's got a Rimowa. Super expensive aluminum luggage. It's pretty cool. Tumi has come out with a really nice luggage bag. But the luggage bag that I'm liking today is Away. And Away is a startup that came up here recently. I bought an aluminum Away bag here just a couple months ago. It's about a third of the price of a Tumi. It's about a fifth of the price of a Rimowa. It's got a nice little USB charger inside it so it's a carry-on. You can't have the lithium battery in it if you put it underneath. And I liked it so much, I bought the large series. So when you are on the road for a longer period of time, you're gonna do the 50-pound bag, I got one of those. So Away, I told all my friends about it. A bunch of them have bought them and they love it. So it's as good as a name brand and it's a new startup that has just be a fantastic brand. 13. Check into hotel shuttles Okay, next up, your hotel might have a shuttle and that shuttle comes to the hotel. A lot of brands have, I'm a Hilton guy. Hilton has got them. Most Hampton Inns, most Hilton Garden Inns come straight to the airport, gives you ride. It doesn't cost you a penny. Maybe you should tip the guy that lifts your bags. They run pretty much on the half hours. So, you know, that's one way to get to the hotel. You know, you might have to wait a little bit but not bad. Uber is great. Lyft is great. The one thing about them though is that they put them in the weirdest places. So in Atlanta, they put the Uber and Lyft station pretty much in Miami. So you've got a walk quite a ways to get to the Uber and Lyft station. I did it right after my hip surgery last year. It was not a pleasant scene. Anyways, the reason for that is the cab companies are all in a deal with the airport. Pay them some sort of a fee to have their station right out front. But we all know about cabs, I'm not picking on them, but it's just not a good user experience. When you look ahead, you find this hotel shuttle. Uber, Lyft, fantastic as well. 14. Become a master of your apps I got one other item that I wanted to touch on and become a master of your apps, I call it. I have a folder on my phone. It's called Travel. It's got all my top travel apps that I use from checking on flight status to checking the weather at the location you're going to be at. I also have on there a great little app for renting cars called Silvercar. It's one of my favorite car rental companies. For about the price of any other car that you're gonna rent, you always get an Audi A4. And now they have the Q5. But better than that, they pick you up and they drop you off at the airport. So no more horrible rental car shuttles and parking 20 miles away and all, even drive right up to the gate and they just come get you. So it's pretty cool. It's called Silvercar by Audi now. In fact, it was a startup and Audi got involved with them and I think they ended up buying them out or something like that recently. Anyways, just a few things that will make your life a little bit better. I had someone request that I would do an addition on travel rituals. I hope that these things help you when you are on the road to become better. We welcome any suggestions that you may have that I can pass on. I'm sure there's some road warriors out there. Brad Petersen, my good buddy from MatchCraft, Kimberli Lewis from SIINDA, Paul Plant, that I have a privilege of working with. Maybe you guys have some things that you'd like to share. Get them in here to me on LinkedIn, and I would love to share them with the rest of our listeners. May the rose ride up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields until we meet again, and may God hold you in the palm of his hand. I'll see you when I see you. I'm George Leith.
If you are ready or not, the pandemic is a Forcing Function for Digital Transformation that local businesses need to adopt. Marty Fisher, President of Sherpa Marketing, is our guest this week; Marty started Sherpa Marketing in 1996. Since the global pandemic hit local businesses hard he started an initiative called Adopt a Business. He has a passion for local businesses, and when he saw the effects the pandemic would on the economy he knew Sherpa Marketing needed to step in. George and Marty discuss how the pandemic has been a forcing function for a digital transformation, they explain that now more than ever the importance of e-commerce on a website and being able to update their online listings in an instant. Owning and managing Sherpa Marketing since 1996, Marty brings “Big Idea” thinking, marketing intelligence, and business acumen to every customer interaction. Providing solutions that deliver value is not an objective that can be met without a strong commitment from the leadership of a company. By encouraging the team to embrace this philosophy he ensures that all customers receive the full benefit of Sherpa’s capabilities. He tries to prove repeatedly that his breadth of knowledge and expertise affect positive outcomes for his clients. His experience with all types of technology allows him to offer the most current solutions to his client’s challenges. His belief in technology “as the great equalizer” means he is hard-wired to always think of ways to integrate marketing tactics. A commitment to uncovering the most effective and measurable communication strategies is one of Marty’s passions. He is not content to “phone it in”, He challenges himself and the Sherpa team to do more and find incremental value. Clients receive the benefit of this drive - successful projects with tangible and measurable results. Keep the conversation going in the Conquer Local Community, and to learn more take a course in the Conquer Local Academy. Introduction George: Well the global pandemic known as COVID-19, probably giving it more airtime on this podcast than I would like, but I do wanna talk about something that's near and dear to my heart and I'm sure near and dear to our listeners, if you are in the local space, which is what the title of the podcast is all about, conquering local, you know that some of the customers that you've been dealing with, you probably won't be dealing with moving forward and that is the real piece that is just ripping us apart, is that our local economies are gonna look a lot different. And I've been talking a lot about the glass being half full and that there's an opportunity in every challenge, and there are more people that feel that way. And I found a gentleman through various channels, give a lot of credit to a young gentleman named Logan that's on our team, and of course, producer Colleen for doing some work in getting Marty Fisher for the podcast today. Marty is the President of Sherpa Marketing, which is a marketing agency. It’s been in business since 1996, located in a beautiful city in Canada called Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a city of about half a million people. Marty is very committed to the local business community and when he saw this challenge, he saw this impact that COVID-19 and the fallout it was having on local businesses, he put together a program called the Adopt a Business Challenge. We're gonna learn all about this initiative. We're gonna find out what was the impetus for moving into this thing; it's great, we at Vendasta are contributing to it by giving out Local Business Online Toolkits to help Marty and this initiative. I'm not gonna steal the thunder, it's an enormous thing that he is doing for local businesses in his community. We bring him here as a thought leader so that you might be able to take this concept and replicate it into your communities to protect that precious resource of the local businesses that we need to be supporting because that is the lifeblood of our economy. Marty Fisher, the President of Sherpa Marketing is coming up in a moment, right here on the Conquer Local Podcast. George: Marty Fisher joining us, President of Sherpa Marketing, and Marty is in the beautiful city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and Marty I wanna talk about the Adopt a Business Challenge, but first, tell us a little bit about your career and Sherpa Marketing, we'd love to get a little background from you. Marty: Sure, thanks George. Sherpa is a National Agency. We think of ourselves as a group of full-stack marketers and developers. We have clients throughout North America and we really like to think about marketing in a very integrated way, we're very strong at digital, but we also believe that traditional media, like print and radio, and television still has a role to play in marketing. So, that full stack really does paint a pretty good picture of what we're able to do. We're a team of generalists and everybody has their own specialty within those general areas. Adopt a Business Challenge: Helping Local Businesses Amplify Their Online Presence George: So the reason that you and I are meeting here on the Conquer Local Podcast, I was made aware of your organization and an initiative that you've started through one of my colleagues, who's been speaking to you and I was, when speaking to Logan, I'm like, "We need to get Marty on the podcast." Because you share a passion that we have on the Conquer Local Podcast for local business. And unfortunately, due to recent events, our local business community, I don't care where you're listening to the sound of my voice, is under attack and you have come up with an amazing initiative to help those local businesses. Marty: Yeah, we were sitting around trying to figure out what to do with all of our spare time that was, unfortunately, a consequence of all these businesses being forced to stay home and we decided, you know what, we've got some available time, let's try and put some good karma back out into the world. And so Sherpa decided to start something called the Adopt a Business Challenge. And so we staked $50,000 worth of marketing services, and said, to any small businesses, please apply to receive these services. And then I turned around and said to some other agency and marketing group owners that I knew, "Hey, I'm doing this, can I sort of tag you in?" And say, "Hey, Doug Darling at Tripwire, are you in?" And so, we actually had the idea, even before the U.S. started that All In Challenge, we were already soliciting other agency owners to offer their services to small businesses who needed it. And so, it's really got a bit of a life of its own now, we've got over 11 partners and we've raised over $200,000 in free marketing services for small businesses and helping them take some of those, either, first baby steps digitally or helping them become more savvy marketers in social or taking advantage of Google's favoring of hyper-local search results. George: Well, I applaud you in this initiative and that's why we wanted to have you on the podcast was to learn some more about what are you hearing as we take a pulse with local business owners? What are you hearing from local businesses? And was it one particular meeting that you had? Or was it, you don't strike me as the type of person who would have a lot of free time on your hands, but there had to be some sort of impetus that was like, "We need to do this, we need to help." Marty: Yeah, I mean, it really wasn't anything specific in terms of a place that we consumed, so much as many of the local businesses, whether they’re are restaurants or small boutiques that my staff consumes their products and services, and they're like, "Oh my gosh, like this place could go out of business, what can we do? They don't have a good website; they don't have a good social media presence. Is there anything that we can do to kind of help them?" And we're like, "Yeah, let's get on this." And so, we basically created these custom landing pages with applications, then we've had something like 50 businesses now apply for us to assist them, and us and our partners to assist them with marketing. And so, the thing that we kind of… looked at, at Sherpa was, we can't save lives. I mean, we're not in the business of saving lives, but with our skills and know-how we might be able to help save a livelihood, and so that was really where things came from. And as a Canadian and in particular a Western Canadian, we haven't necessarily been affected by the pandemic, as brutally as people in places like Spain, France, Toronto, and New York City. We're just, our geographic isolation, in some ways actually played to our favor, but it didn't change the fact that the economic impact of this is in some ways, at least in our geography, greater than the actual physical pole, so that's part of the motivation for us as well. How Does COVID-19 Impact the Economy and Online Marketing? George: Well, that's the issue, is we have this disease, which is a bad thing, for sure but then we also have this economic impact, which is a bad thing for sure, because it's impacting people's livelihoods. I had somebody say to me one time, a business owner, that's how they feed their kids. And when you look at it that way, that's a whole different way of looking at it. You're like, "It's a business owner, and they're making all this money, and they drive a nice vehicle and live in a nice house." No, they're paying for groceries and they're hoarding toilet paper, and they're doing all the things that they need to do to support their family, and it has a greater impact than just that one door that we're looking at. So I applaud you, and we share the same passion; the initiative that we undertook as an organization was to protect local. So we have this idea of conquering local, helping businesses conquer this marketing thing, which is a beast and we're gonna get into that in a moment, but then how do we protect our local economy? How do we protect the coach of our kids’ soccer team who happens to own the bike shop down the street? That's really who you're looking to help with this initiative and you get immense kudos for me on that. Now, let's talk about marketing. It's always interesting to me to talk to a marketing expert like yourself, someone who's been in the business for a long time. Someone told me the other day that COVID-19 is a forcing function for digital transformation, do you believe that to be true? Marty: Yes, that is 100% aligned with our experience. We started our business in 1996 and always took a digital-first mentality. And so, Sherpa Marketing actually made its first website in cold fusion in 1998. And we did our first AdWords campaign in 2002. And so, we've always been well-positioned and a little bit out in front of the digital world and it feels like if anything, the pandemic has forced people to kind of catch up to where we were, we always kind of felt like we were in the future and so while some of our more traditional services, were not very busy or not busy at all, to call a spade a spade, our digital marketing team and software developing group is really, really busy and this has forced, let's call it for lack of a better term, the digital laggards to really make that investment and take those steps into making sure that they have a decent digital presence. George: So the ability to conduct business online, I'm using that as a catch-all because I think depending upon the type of business that it is, e-commerce is exploding and that again, is this forcing function. I think what's happened is anyone that was able to conduct business online during this event is now being held up as a poster child in the various communities, the word of mouth is spreading, and they're telling stories of, no, we were actually able to keep a revenue line, we had fewer expenses because, whatever it might have been government subsidy or God forbid, but a layoff or furlough of some staff, so they kept the cost down, so they were able to continue business. But it's not always about a shopping cart and having inventory online, there's more than that when it comes to conducting business online. Can we talk about some other verticals, and how those other verticals could adopt digital solutions to continue to be able to operate if they have to lock the door, and put a, we're shut down for a couple of days type sign up there because I think the thing lurking in the background is this could happen again. Marty: Yeah, absolutely, and you made a really good point. It isn't necessarily about the ability to do e-commerce, it might be simply the ability to be agile and edit a page that says your hours of operation, or that you have curbside pickup or how you're responding to the safety protocols for welcoming people back to your store. So there's something that I've really kept close to my chest and something whenever I've done keynotes is a very simple stat, over 90% of purchase intent is informed through an internet search. So, think about it, when was the last time any of us made any sort of a consequential purchase without grabbing our phone or grabbing our tablet, computer, whatever, and getting at a Google search and typing something in? It's not just, what can I buy from you? It's, when are you open? Where are your locations? Like I said, what is your protocol? And the ability to be agile in making those updates is really actually what's probably more important than anything, is just keeping your information up-to-date. George: It seems to me, and I'm sure to some of our listeners to the podcast that have been around for the last three years that we've been having the privilege of speaking every week to this listener base, are like, "But we've been talking about this for a long time." And we have digital marketers that were out in front of the curve have been saying, on Facebook, you should be talking about your products and services, not only buy my stuff, but about what your mission is and your vision and talking about the staff members and their resume, and what they bring to the table. So it is a lot more than just the ability to take a bike and put it into a shopping cart, I'm using a bike analogy because I bought a bike online, but it's more than that, it's around, imagine if your customer base was nervous about getting into a confined space with extra people. You know what, that is a thing that we need to be aware of because consumers are concerned about that. So to your point, I think it's a very good one, having that panel on the website or on the social media profile or wherever the consumer is finding that business, I don't know if a lot of businesses would be thinking about that messaging. And I'm glad that you brought it up because, for our listener base, their kids are being fed by servicing those local businesses and helping them by being the trusted local experts. So it's more than just being able to conduct business online. It's being able to conduct business at your physical location and the first question is, are you even open? And I'm even asking that question for some things I'm thinking about buying later on today. I'm wondering Marty: There you go. George: I've gotta go to this one store; do I drive across the city? Or do I try phoning them to see if they're even open? Conclusion George: I get beat up sometimes because I'm always the glass is half full, but what I see this as, we've been preaching the gospel of online marketing for a number of years, now we have this thing that's happened and the business owner may be ready to buy now, like they buy when they're ready and the need has now met the demand, has now met the solution that can be provided, it's a bit of a perfect storm and are you hearing that as well from your clients and from the people in your circle? Marty: Yeah, it is the perfect storm, that's a great analogy. It's the confluence of all these things happening and everyone needing to respond in kind and while I certainly, my comments seem very focused on website, I would also give equal importance to having an effective social media presence as well. I just saw a stat, not that many months ago from a really reputable source, the GlobalWebIndex and I was absolutely stunned to see that more than 50% of the search for products is now actually done in social channels, I was absolutely blown away. George: Some incredible stats. Marty: Yeah, it is. And so, so now, as a small business you really should be thinking about all the swimming lanes that you need to be in, probably occupy the whole pool, you can't just swim in one swimming lane, you gotta jump in and swim in all of them. George: Well, Marty, I'm sure that you and I could talk marketing for hours and hours. The purpose of having you on the podcast was number one, to applaud your efforts, number two, to talk about the Adopt a Business initiative. If there are organizations that are listening that would like to learn more about this and happen to be in the geographical area, or maybe we have some listeners in other countries that are thinking about, "That's a great idea. Could I get a hold of Marty and learn more about what he's been doing?" How would folks get a hold of you? Marty: Well, there's a couple of ways. Number one, you can just go to Sherpamarketing.ca and in our masthead rotators, there's a link to the Adopt a Business Challenge landing pages, but also feel free to drop me a line either connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at Marty@sherpamarketing.ca. I take great pride in returning phone calls and emails, so if you reach out to me, I guarantee you that I'll get back to you. George: Marty, we really appreciate you, having you on the broadcast today. Congratulations on this amazing initiative. Thank you for doing your part to help protect local during this time, and we appreciate the insights today here on the Conquer Local Podcast. Marty: Thanks so much George. George: We always like having guests that put their money where their mouth is. Marty stepped up to the table, put $50,000 worth of services out there for local businesses to use, to help them survive and thrive on the back-end of what will be, it's called “the new normal,” there's air quotes for you, of COVID-19. Some really interesting feedback there where we're basically looking at protecting that local economy. We came up with the phrase, protect local as something that our partners could use to go out and help those local businesses. Marty is really putting his money where his mouth is and working with those local enterprises, to help them to survive and then to create that path for what business will look like as we come out of this thing — 11 partners putting up over $200,000 in marketing services for SMBs, it's a great initiative. And imagine, if we could take the listeners of this podcast and each one of us were to go out and put that sort of initiative out there to help local businesses in our community, we're not able to save lives, I love this line. He said, "We're not able to save lives, but we might be able to save a livelihood." And it really brings home what we've been doing every single day in the world of conquering local, we're helping local businesses conquer that local marketing and local sales, so that they can help feed their kids. I love having that mission, and love being able to bring a guest like Marty Fisher with that vision that he had, and how he's making it come true to help local businesses. Thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local Podcast, my name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
What does your roadmap to achieving sales success look like? Let’s find out on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast as we chat with Wayne Moloney, an Australian Business Growth Specialist. Wayne has four decades of global experience in a wide range of businesses from regions like Australia, Asia, and Europe and has assisted them in achieving revenue and profit. After leaving his corporate career, Wayne spent over 15 years helping B2B organizations across Asia-pacific to tackle their business growth challenges by adopting sound sales and business strategies in training their Sales teams and applying LEAN principles for sustainable sales success. He is the co-author of the award-winning, best-selling B2B Sales Novel, The Wentworth Prospect, and is the author of his second book titled, Your Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success. Tune in to learn more about Wayne, his experience, and the archetypes he developed. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Then, keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith, and on this episode, we welcome Wayne Moloney. Wayne is an Australian business growth specialist with a global background spanning four decades. He's helped a diverse range of businesses in Australia, Asia, and Europe to achieve their revenue and profit goals. Since leaving his corporate career, Wayne has spent over 15 years helping B2B organizations across the Asia-Pac tackle their business growth challenges through the development and implementation of sound sales and business strategies, developing sales teams, and applying lean principles for sustainable sales success. Wayne is the co-author of an award-winning, bestselling B2B sales novel, "The Wentworth Prospect." Wayne is also the author of a second book entitled, "Your Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success." We'll dig into both of these books and see what Wayne is all about. Coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast. George: Wayne Moloney, joining us all the way from beautiful Sydney, Australia. And Wayne, we always love talking to our friends down under. I know it's the middle of winter there right now, so we won't even get into the whole weather thing. Let's just talk about sales 'cause I know that's one of your favorite subjects. Wayne, in the intro, I talked about your books, "The Wentworth Prospect" and "Your Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success," but let's talk about the book that you co-authored, which everything that we've researched looks like this is where it all started for Wayne Moloney when that global brand started getting built. Wayne: Yeah. Look, I had written a couple of books, but I'd always wanted to write a book on strategic selling. And I'm really looking forward to chatting with you about this, George, because I love the style of your podcast. But when we started looking at strategic selling, I've done a lot of work over the years with a good friend of mine, John Smibert. And John had developed a strategic selling process and methodology called Edvance, and I saw that as being something that would make a great book. And I approached John and said, "Look, let's do this. Let's get something out there on strategy." And he said, "Yeah, but why don't we write it as a novel?" And that sort of took me back a little bit at first because I'd never thought of writing the book as a novel myself. And John and I sat down over, you know, probably numerous cups of coffee, and we brainstormed this. And we thought that if we write it as a novel, we can approach things and teach things a hell of a lot differently to what the traditional textbook, handbook style of sales book or sales manual if you like, as I like to refer to them. So we approached that, and we started out. Very quickly, George realized that we might be damn good sales consultants, but we weren't great novelists. So we had quite a few false starts on that, and it took us a little while to really get going. And yeah, that was where we worked into it. George: Well, Wayne, the minute that I was researching and getting up to speed on you after the team found you out there and brought you onto the radar, I was thinking about that novel approach. And, you know, the first thought came to my mind was Patrick Lencioni's "Five Dysfunctions of a Team." You know, one of the best business management books out there, but it's written as a fable and a novel. And then I started thinking about an episode that we have from about three years ago with Carson Heady from Microsoft, where he wrote the book "Salesman on Fire." And I'm like, this is a brilliant concept because you can do a lot more than if you're in a factual environment to paint out some of those stories and those scenarios. Wayne: Exactly. When you mentioned that, a good friend of ours, Tony Hughes, wrote a book called "The Joshua Principle," approached in a similar manner. But I go back to my engineering days, and I read a book through that period called "The Goal" by a guy called Eli Goldratt. And that was the same. It was about lean manufacturing, but it was written as a story. And of course, you know, you've got the evergreen "E-Myth" by Michael Gerber, which is done the same way. So the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we could do so much more by telling a story around complex B2B sales. And we could by just saying, "Here's the methodology." You know, you go step to step to step. We wanted to put a lot more into it than that, George. George: You know, if you would've told me 25 years ago or 30 years ago, when I started in sales, that I would be talking to former engineers in the sales business, you know, it just wasn't something that was considered back in the day. But you bring rigor to the conversation. You know, engineers are process and line it all up. And, you know, sometimes salespeople are, I don't know if you have this in Australia, but I've been called a cowboy a few times. And I don't ride a lot of horses now. I used to, but not anymore. And it's that idea of, you know, cowboys just figure out a way to stay alive and be cowboys. And engineers in the sales business, though, is really changing the game. Are we aligned on that? Wayne: Yeah, absolutely. Look, I, like probably I'd say 90% of salespeople, I didn't actually enter my career thinking I was going to be a salesperson. I went and studied engineering. I was a trainee engineer. And really through fate, I ended up into or leaving engineering. I had a disagreement as a young, I guess, rather brash and cocky guy in my youth and had a disagreement with the managing director of the owner of the small company I was with. And he suggested it might be better if I found a different career path. And I've been forever thankful for that. And through a good friend of mine, his dad introduced me to sales. And that was it. That was where it started. And I guess, you know, my cockiness went through to being insisting on being called a sales engineer in my early days because back then, I still didn't have the, I guess, the respect for salespeople that I've got now. And I very quickly learned that it's a great career and, you know, if you approach it the right way, I applied my engineering skills and, you know, I've applied that right through. I learned lean process and lean manufacturing. And I very quickly learned that that could be applied into sales, and I've done that right throughout my career. George: Well, I have a question around that, is, you know, we bring folks on like you that have been, you know, had a great career, and you've built a hell of a business, and you've worked with organizations. How did you go through that journey where you moved up, you worked globally in a few continents helping businesses? And how did you really dial in this formula for helping B2B organizations achieve business growth? Wayne: Yeah, that's a good question, George. I mentioned lean. And I actually started applying lean into all areas of business, whether it was in my sales career, or whether it was in my general management managing director career in business. I always had a business development focus. But if you look at lean, there's three basic principles to lean. It's adding value, it's reducing waste, and it's continual improvement. And when I sat back and started to look at how I was approaching selling, I was actually doing exactly that. I was always looking at the outcome for the client. That just because of my background in engineering, I always look for a positive outcome. Reducing waste became fairly obvious. And then that continual improvement, that continual review of how I approach something. And these days it's referred to as win-loss reviews, but I always looked at the end of a sales process or a sales I was going through with a client or a prospect and analyzed that at the end, and then said, "How could I improve that?" And I've applied that to businesses I've run, to sales teams I've run. So I've always taken that approach of process, adding value at each step of the way. And one of the things that used to amuse me, you know, I'd get, even in my positions in management, I would get calls from salespeople saying, "Oh, I'm just checking in." Well, you know, what was the purpose of that call? Where was there any value being added? All they were doing was wasting my time because they didn't have a process, and they didn't have a purpose for that call. So that was my approach right throughout my 40-plus years of sales and business management, is always taking that lean approach. And I've done that to every business I've worked with. And it's really interesting that, when you apply a process, I remember I took over a company in Hong Kong. And when I went in there as the managing director, I inherited a pipeline of 200% of target, which obviously I was quite excited about. Until I sat down with each of the people and said, "Okay, how did you qualify those?" Every person had a different way of qualifying. So I put forward the approach that I take in qualifying, had them all go back out and requalify, and we dropped down to 80% of target. What then happened is we closed 90% of 80%. And we then never missed target again for the rest of the time I was with that organization because we had a uniform, collaborative approach to qualification. That was all about value, and it was all about getting rid of the waste. And the waste in that pipeline was opportunities that weren't real. So we worked through that. It's pretty simple, George, you know? It's a matter of just doing the right thing by the client and getting focus on your approach. George: Well, and, you know, having, I'm sure you had some sort of a rubric that you put in place, and you continued to iterate on it to get it right, and maybe take the guesswork out of building out a pipeline. And I'm sure those were three of the items. One thing I wanted to ask about, and I'm fascinated by these two components: the advocates and the change agents. And you call these archetypes. I'd love to have you educate me on this because I think there's something here that I can learn a lot about. Wayne: Okay. Look, just on writing the book, I failed to mention one guy that was really important, a guy called Jeff Clulow. He's the third author, if you like. Jeff's been a good friend of mine for many years who I've ridden motorcycles with and had a great deal of fun with. And he comes out of an advertising and copywriting background. And he's a very good novelist, so we engaged. When John and I found out that we weren't, we engaged him and we brought him in. And we started, in writing the book, looking at the politics, the personalities, and what happens that you can't directly control. And we realized that you could actually break these down. If you go back to Carl Jung, he broke down 12 archetypes, or defined 12 archetypes, from a psychological perspective. That was too many, so we looked at it and we broke it down to six types of people that we believed you could encounter in a sale. And we put those into two groups. We put them into those that we saw as our change agents, those people that had the power, the politics to be able to influence a change within their organization. And we then looked at advocates. And advocates were people that could be helpful or, in fact, against you in a sale, but all of those people we needed to look at. In the change agents, we had the inquisitor. And that was the person that focused on interrogating your proposal. I think we've all come across them. You know, quite often, they're the financial controller. We looked at the sage. The sage was the person that was powerful in being able to communicate within the organization. And they would communicate ideas. And then we had the champion. And the champion was the person that every salesperson had to go to. They were interested in getting the job done. They had the power, they had the influence, and they were able to bring people together to be able to get decisions made and things happening. On the other hand, the advocates that we spoke about, we had the mercenary. And that was the person that was only interested in things for their own purpose. And we had the accomplice. And the accomplice is someone that might be able to help you, but doesn't have that power. And we had the messenger. And the messenger was the person that probably does most of the gossiping around the water cooler or the coffee machine. And each of those people are important in developing a complex sale. You need to get to your champion, but it's how do you utilize or minimize the influence on the others that are involved in it? And that's why writing a story was so powerful. Because we could actually bring out each of those personalities, and we could bring out how Sue, our champion, our hero, sorry, our hero in the book, was able to work with her team to build the relationships with the change agents and also utilize the messenger and the accomplice, but minimize the impact of the mercenary and those that were against her in the sale. George: You know what, I'm just sitting here because I'm working on a deal right now with some of our team, and every one of those archetypes were in a boardroom yesterday that I was in a meeting with. And, you know, one of the things that we've been working on recently on these complex sales, and then you talk about it as well in the book, is having a map. And mapping those folks out and starting to really understand their org chart on their side. Who's in the team? Who are the people? Because you're right. Like, one of those individuals could scuttle the entire deal if down the road, you know, you're just about to get the proof of concept across the line, now we're gonna ink the deal, and we forget about that mercenary that's been lurking in the background just trying to figure out a way to get rid of this thing 'cause it doesn't serve their purpose. Wayne: Absolutely. You're absolutely spot on. We talk about people mapping and identifying… We've just built a simple quadrant. Along the horizontal, we have relationship. And on the vertical, we have influence. So in the bottom left-hand corner, you've got low relationship, low influence. If you've got people there that have got a low influence, you're not really focused on improving the relationship. But the objective is with the most important people, the champions and the change agents, is to move them into that top right-hand quadrant, where you know they've got high influence, but you then need to build a high, strong relationship. And, you know, it's cliche, but it's that relationship of trust and respect, and you need to move up there. And that person needs to help you build a collaborative environment within the organization. And, you know, collaboration doesn't mean that everyone gets what they want. But, you know, to have a collaborative relationship, it means that everyone can accept the final decision. So, you know, not necessarily everyone getting 100%, but everyone getting a decision that they're comfortable with, they can live with going forward. George: And I find it fascinating that applying lean principles, and I thought lean was what I was aspiring to do when I was losing weight years ago, not, you know, the way that you… You know, being a salesperson, I was never exposed to it. And then I end up at a software company. And we had a lot of people that have that discipline and have studied on it. And so I've been exposed to it, but I find it just fascinating when I speak to sales experts like yourself that came from the engineering space. You know, Mark Roberge, one of the more famous ones, on his sales acceleration formula. And then he's got the HubSpot brand behind him where, you know, everybody knows how well that went. But just by applying some of those components. In fact, we had Mark just recently here at our Conquer Local Connect, and we've had him as an alumni, as a guest on the show. And your book, like, "The Wentworth Project" should be required reading by every salesperson. I'm just telling you right now. Wayne: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that. And by the same token, I believe that things like Michael Gerber's "E-Myth" should be essential reading to anyone going out and starting their own business. You know, Eli Goldratt's "The Goal." It just goes across so many areas of business. And that's one of the things that I've always worked at, is being able to get collaboration between departments and organizations or companies that I've run. And, you know, books like that just help so much. And the other thing is it gets people reading a novel because the novel in itself is enjoyable. You know, it may not be a best seller like, you know, Brown or Falode or any of those guys, but it's an enjoyable read. And that gets people who don't normally sit down and read textbooks or handbooks get involved. George: No, I 100% agree. And the other thing that I like is sometimes, it's not all the time, and I'm sure we're gonna be like-minded on this, but sometimes the audiobook, if the author is actually good at reading and good at articulating the story, those can be very, very fascinating as well. So let's talk about your second book, "The Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success." Wayne: Yeah. George: You wrote that thing back in 2018. If you could rewrite it, is there anything you missed out in the book? I love asking that question of authors. Wayne: Yeah. Look, I wrote that book more for, I had so much information on sales that I just wanted to document it. And as I was doing that, I thought, "Okay, there's a book here." But one of the things that really frustrates me in sales, George, is everyone looking for that silver bullet. You know, if you go onto LinkedIn and, you know, we talk about the snake oil salesman back in, you know, in the '20s and that, and we've got snake oil salesman on LinkedIn now saying, you know, "Do this and you don't have to do anything else. You're gonna close the deal." You know, I'm calling BS on that one. People are forgetting the fundamentals of sales. And I wrote that book to take people back to all of the fundamentals that still work. Yep, take new technology and adopt it and adapt it to how you sell. But that's what I would do different. I would spend a little bit more time in there on talking about how to adopt and adapt the technology without missing the fundamentals. And the other thing that I would really include now, and especially after I've, you know, been involved in writing "The Wentworth Prospect," is I'd include a chapter on storytelling. You know, a once-upon-a-time chapter. Because I look back over my career and, you know, storytelling's the new black in sales. You know, you looked on LinkedIn and everyone's talking about storytelling. But I've been doing, you know, I've been talking about stories and using those anecdotes right throughout my career. And I would have a chapter in there on storytelling, definitely. And even on the technology side, getting salespeople whose companies don't have the technology to make sure they look for technology that will help them as an individual. And that may be even as simple as a free CRM that they could use themselves. So I guess the answer is technology and storytelling are the two areas I'd include now. George: Well, and I agree 100%, but I wanna interrogate something that you said there because I think there's a bigger discussion here. I'm reading a lot, and I'm feeling a lot when I work with organizations that a new skill set if they don't have it today, and that is the ability to adapt and the ability to learn. And if you're dealing with an organization where they've never, they've been doing the same thing forever, they've never had to adapt, they've never had to learn new things, it's like a fricking brick wall. I'm sure you've ran into that. Wayne: Look, I'm working with a client at the moment, and it's more on a general management than sales side of things, and the resistance to change in the organization is killing it at the moment. And in fact, I sat down and I had a serious meeting with the managing director, owner of the business yesterday and said, "Look, unless you are prepared to make some really hard decisions here, which may mean some collateral damage among the people that have been with you for a while, you're not gonna change the business, you know?" Old ways don't open new doors. So you've got to make changes, and you've got to adapt. And, you know, I was only reading yesterday on LinkedIn a friend of mine wrote about seeing a survey where 80% of people responded that they like change. I've never seen that sort of stat before. People do not like change. And that's when I was talking about collaboration. You know, you need to get a consensus as you build collaboration. And that consensus, as I said, is not about 100% agreement, but living with something that you're able to, you know, to accept. George: Well, and the reason that they're answering 80% on adaptability is that they've read that, you know, IQ, yeah, you've gotta have an IQ. EQ, you gotta be a human and understand emotion. But the adaptability quotient is now something that people are measuring for in that scorecard as well. So it's, you know, are you smart enough? Do you understand people enough? Because we're in the people business. And then let's measure you on how good you are at adapting. And now we'll get rid of that fake news on the 80%. Wayne: Yeah. And, you know, like any survey, it all depends. You know, you ask a question and the, you know, the answer is always it all depends because you can't go in and put all of the situation around it. And, you know, I think I actually referred to collaboration when I meant consensus earlier as well, but, you know, that's it. You've gotta get that consensus. And, you know, a good manager understands how to build consensus within an organization. And that's be it a sales manager, be it a project manager on a sales team, the sales leader. You've got to build consensus around that. And that's the only way to do it. And people need to learn to adapt. And it's really difficult, George. It's something that, especially people that have been within an organization for a long time. I look at startups, and I've been involved in a number of them over the years. The people that are there when the company starts, the people you need for that startup, are not going to be the people you need to take it through the seven stages, as I define it, of success of an organization. George: No, 100%. And we appreciate you sharing all of this with us, Wayne. If people wanna learn more about you and your organization and the books, I'm sure there's a portal there that we can get more Wayne Moloney. Wayne: Yeah. Look, there's waynemoloney.com. And that's M-O-L-O-N-E-Y. We've got the books backed by a website, which goes into more in-depth of the process and methodology that we use. And that's Edvance, E-D-V-A-N-C-E, dot sale. And of course, LinkedIn, George. You know, as long as people back it up with a bit of an intro when they ask me to connect with them, I will definitely do that and engage with them. But if I just get one of these random ones, unfortunately, there's so many coming through. Very few of them get a response, mate. George: Come on, Wayne. I love those, where it's like, hey, how are you doing? I wanna connect with you. And the very next thing is buy my shit. Wayne: Yeah, I know. I got one yesterday from some guy saying he heard me on a podcast that I'd never heard of. George: Well, maybe at some point you did a podcast one day with that folk. Maybe it's a deep fake, Wayne. It could be a deep fake. Well, Wayne, I appreciate you joining us. And, you know, there's a lot there in this episode. There's a lot in the books. I'm a big fan, and it's great having you on the show. And appreciate all of the knowledge bombs that you were dropping in the last 20 minutes or so. Thanks for doing that. Wayne: Thanks, George. Been a pleasure, mate. Looking forward to hearing this and more of your great podcast. George: Have a great day. Appreciate your time. Wayne: Thank you. Cheers. Conclusion George: What a great episode from Wayne. I always love learning when it comes to improving the way that we can build sales organizations and better communicate with customers. Here's your takeaway. I think you already know what I'm gonna talk about. The archetypes. I had to frigging Google it to make sure that I was ready for the episode. But here's what we're looking at. Six types of people that you could encounter in sales. And then they've divided them into two groups. And God, it's simple, but I just love it when we get a formula like this that's simple because we can start working immediately with it. We've got the change agents, and you've got the inquisitor, who is the person that asks a lot of questions. Usually has a spreadsheet somewhere around them at any one point in time. Very detail oriented. Then you have this concept of a sage. And the sage, we need to look for the sage. They're the communicator. They're the person that can influence in the organization. And they usually have their fingers in a lot of different pies. Sage, very important. The champion. They're the one that's running around, saying, "We need to do this." Or, they might sometimes be the person that says, "We're not doing it because I'm the champion, and I know what I wanna do." So you need to find that champion and you need to keep them on side. Then the advocates. And they're either with you, or they're the reason you're not getting the commission check. The mercenary. It's all about me. Just ask me. The accomplice. I'm working with the mercenary, so it's all about the mercenary, and I'm helping them. And then the messenger. So all three of these, actually, mercenary, I don't mind them, 'cause if I can get them on side, they're gonna be sneaky, and they're gonna run around and figure out ways to get the deal done. So mercenary can actually be a positive thing, too. The accomplice piece, they're in there building that consensus. Really important piece. And then the messenger, well, they're not just gossiping around the water cooler. They're whispering in all sorts of people's different ears. And they're saying, "I think that's a really good idea if they happen to be in the meeting, or they happen to be involved." These archetypes, you know, when I was listening to Wayne explain them to me and when I've done the previous research in the book, I'm just like, this stuff is brilliant. When you start thinking about that level of influence that they might have and how connected you are to them in the relationship that you have with either the prospect or the customer. That is your key takeaway, although there were a plethora of items that you could take and put to use from this episode. So thanks to Wayne Moloney for joining us. If you liked Wayne's episode discussing achieving success in sales, let's continue the conversation. Check out these two episodes: 231, The Man Who Eats, Lives, and Breathes Sales. I was mentioning it earlier in the podcast. Carson Heady from Microsoft. What a great episode that was. Go back and have a listen to that. Or episode 521 from season five, The Future of Customer Experience with Steven Van Belleghem. Please subscribe and leave us a review. And thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
It's not one size fits all anymore, it's all about thinking like an App. The best package to sell to a business is the one the business needs. On this weeks episode we have Neal Polachek, Analyst and Advisor to the Board Advisors, joining us. Are ROI's BS? Neal thinks there are better ways to measure a businesses success on their investment. Business owners are frustrated with all the different marketing tactics when they want to focus on what they do best, their business. Neal talks about the Baby Boomer generation slowly transitioning into retirement and developing an exit strategy. He explains how a different sales pitch is needed to a business owner close to exiting the business world and to someone who is taking over a business. Engaging the end consumer should be approached in an engaging format, like an App. No need to physically build one but thinking about the customer journey and experience. Introduction George: You know, when I started Vendasta seven years ago and started to build out sales organization, Brendan King, our CEO, came to me and said, ''You gotta go to this convention.'' And I was actually excited to go to a convention. Then as the years went by, convention started to become this love-hate thing that I had. I either loved them because there was some really good content at them or I hated them because there was no leads and the content I'd heard before and there was horrible speakers that they had not vetted or coached. Anyways, I'm getting into the reasons why I don't like conventions or conferences. Then I met this guy named Neal Polachek and Neal has been advising SaaS companies over the years. He was involved in the Kelsey Group and BIA/Kelsey who put on some great, amazing conventions and conferences. And he has started this new thing where he's out speaking to local business people, man after my own heart, and he is telling them that they need to think like an app. Neal Polachek is coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast. Hey Neal, welcome to the Conquer Local podcast. Neal: Thank you, George. George: It's good to have you on the show. I wanna talk a little bit about the work that you're doing with various SaaS companies. You were advising these organizations and you're involved with the, the senior leadership. You know, I wanna jump right into it and put you on the hot seat. What are you hearing from these executives and leaders of these organizations when it comes to sales? The challenges that their sales organizations are having. If you were to just distill it down into one thing that you hear over and over and over again, and I'm looking for the problem, I'm looking for the challenge, what would that challenge be? Neal: I think the challenge is that, you know, even if you roll back the tape, even a decade, these business owners were getting calls from a lot of people trying to sell them media solutions and advertising solutions. And now a decade later, many are still selling media and advertising solutions, but now there's a whole another layer of people trying to sell them SaaS solution. And what I think I hear most often is, and this is really being heard from the merchants more than the owners of the companies, but you know, the business owners, they're frustrated because when people get on the phone and start talking to them, they don't really know much about that business owner's business. And I think that we saw this, you know, when I was helping the folks at BuzzBoard, we were trying to bring some more data to the sales representatives so that they could have a more compelling conversation with the business owner. I think that's still a big challenge out in the marketplace. And I also think that, you know, while you and I could talk about cloud solutions and SaaS and, you know, talk that language, you know, all day long, these business owners are really worried about payroll and finding good help and fulfilling on the promise that they're trying to deliver to their customers. And SaaS and cloud and all that stuff that maybe is kind of interesting to private equity and VCs and folks like us, it's not terribly interesting to these guys. So I think it's the challenge of getting these people who are selling to these business owners to really focus on how they can help them in language that they can help them. Do you hear that often? The Elevator Pitch George: Listen, you're preaching to the choir and I appreciate you bringing this up because I think it is the big challenge. We've got amazing new pieces of technology and with anything that's amazing and new, salespeople and marketers immediately go, we got a feature benefit to them. We've got to say, this is awesome stuff. Let's take them through how awesome it is. And the business owner's sitting back there going, "You know, I care about marketing about as much as I always have cared, which is very little because I'm concerned about making payroll and then my staff is ripping me off" and it has never been more important for a sales...This is my bold statement but I'm looking to see if you agree with me, it's never been more important for the salesperson to have a compelling elevator pitch that's simple and then be able to speak to the objection, because there always is gonna be an objection and you need to be able to speak to that. Once those two pieces are in place, and I'm not saying that that's simple, then you raise the confidence level of the salesperson. And that's really what we need to do at a leadership level. Neal: I agree. But I think the third piece of that is to have some domain knowledge. The person on the phone pitching the business owner has to have some context to understand those objections. Why does the medical provider object differently from the home services provider? If you don't understand the differences in those categories and those industries and can't connect with that business owner because you don't know the particulars, then I think you're really challenged. And I think this comes to sort of the notion of heard a lot, but I haven't seen much of it and verticalization because I think a lot of sales organizations wanna sort of boil the ocean and be vertical at the same time. And as soon as they start to verticalize, they go, oh, well there's an opportunity over there and it's really hard. It takes a lot of discipline. George: Glad you brought that up because a week ago I was with an organization that we work with, speaking of verticalization, here's what's happened, is there are entire organizations that have done this. Their entire revenue motion and business proposition is around solving the dentist’s problem. And that's what makes it so hard for a local seller that may have worked at the newspaper, the radio station, whatever it might be going...or even the local agency going in to see that client is the people that are on the phone that just deal with dentists have great case studies. They have the domain knowledge, they've got the solutions that could solve the problems. And, you know, I think you and I called them in the space, pure play, but we're in there training the salesperson, I believe it was that event that you and I were at in London where I was speaking at Google and we went through the whole thing and one of the CEO's put their hand up and said, ''Hey George, what's the best package that's selling on the street?'' And I was kind of like, ''You didn't hear my presentation for the last 20 minutes.'' It's the package the customer needs to solve their problem. You know, this one size fits all thing is a recipe for disaster because somebody else is gonna come in with a better solution. Neal: Yeah. And I think that's the crux of it, is one size fits all is nice when you lay it out in an Excel spreadsheet and do the modeling of it to get your round of financing. But it just doesn't really work that well in on the street in reality. And that's what's really hard for a lot of companies to adjust to the reality when, oh, the spreadsheet, you know, says we should be doing X number of closes per day across all these various categories. And it's hard. I also think that, you know, I have a view that we're going through a generational shift in the next three to five years, when a whole lot of business owners are having to take the sort of time to say, should I modernize my business today because I have all these opportunities to buy these SaaS things in this the software? Or should I wait until I get ready to sell this thing in three to five years? Because there is a big, large number of baby boomers who will in the next three to seven years sell their businesses, whether it's a dental practice, an auto repair shop, a window covering shop, what have you. These owners are sitting around saying to themselves, "Well, do I really need to put in this new technology and pull my hair out to get it to work and all that stuff, or should I just wait for the next guy to do it?" George: Well, you and I both have ran into this over the last number of years when we're working with media companies. You walk into the room, you get the sales team sitting there and you just point out the three people that are two years away from retirement and say there's no use training in those people because they're just riding the wave. Neal: Well, and that's on the seller side, George, but there's a whole buyer side that's going through that same thing. George: What you're saying, if I can read you correctly and I'm not disagreeing, I actually agree with you 100% is there is a different sales pitch to the customer that is looking to exit in X number of years than there is to the buyer that might be the new business owner or is, you know, under the age of 35 and is tech savvy. Now, you've gotta have a different pitch depending upon the type of prospect because they're...again, their needs are different. Why Modernize? Neal: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. And their willingness to engage in the process of modernizing, so to speak, putting all this technology in place, their willingness to do that is very different I think. And I think the pitch to the owner who's looking to exit or sell their practice or business in three to seven years is you're gonna get a better premium, you're gonna get a better price for your business if it's modernized, you do the modernization, than if you let it languish and the next owner has to do that. You know, my view is these business owners do need to modernize their business now, and in three to seven years it'll fundamentally be a better business and they'll be able to sell it for a better price. Now, that's a piece of research I want to try and do and I've been wanting to try and do for a long time. I believe that that is going to be the case. George: I think you've hit the nail right on the head is that there's a higher valuation if you adopt these new practices. In fact, your exit is going to be hurt if you don't do it. Neal: That's my contention. And I believe that over time we're gonna see that play out in premiums that are paid for small, medium-sized businesses that have modernized because it's, like, if I put copper in my house, in the plumbing and I put insulation in my house, I should be able to get a better return on that, you know, than if I don't. I mean, people say you get money out of the bathroom you remodel. So same thing. George: So, you know, the next question, and I'm not sure if you're a watcher of Tony Robbins, but Tony Robbins went on this whole tangent here the last couple of years around, you know, the exit of your business and you know, it makes sense because the population is aging. You know, we're gonna have this mass exodus of business owners. They're gonna either turn it over to their kids, they're gonna sell the business. We need to be thinking about an exit. And I remember listening to a podcast or reading some material where the first thing that you have to break through with that business owner, they didn't start, they started the business so long ago. And they've been going to business every day to do what they do because that's their life and that they haven't been thinking about an exit strategy. You're gonna walk in and say, "Now you need to transition to the cloud and here's all the things you need to be competing." At the heart of it, it is an exit strategy and evaluation discussion that they've never even had before. What's your advice on how to have that conversation or even start that conversation? Neal: I think that if I were selling to those types of business owners, I'd start to find examples of business owners that have started to do that. I often refer to my friend Dan, the dentist. This is a real life person. He bought a bunch of new technology for his practice. He's about my age. He's gonna retire in three to seven years, you know he's gonna exit. I said, ''Dan, why have you made that investment?'' And he said, ''Because while it may not benefit me directly today, it makes my employees and my staff feel like they're part of a modern business. And if that happens, then they give better patient experience and it all eventually leads to me getting a better return when I sell my practice.'' It's those, it's like, you know, maybe the business owner doesn't wanna modernize it for themselves individually, but they probably should be thinking about their employees who wanna work for a forward-leaning business rather than a stagnant, a following business. So that's one way I would think about how to position it with these sort of business owners that are scratching their head, wondering what to do. Sell the benefits of their employees getting the benefits. And then if the employees are happy, the customer experience is better. If the customer experience is better, they can charge more. If they can charge more, they can make more money. George: I love that tactic. I don't want it to get lost on the thing that you said earlier that I really liked and that was around having some insights to go in because, you know, Dan, the dentist doesn't even know what his problems are. So if you had some sort of way to show some insights in a concise and easy to understand manner and I love tying it to the staff. So now let's dig into think like an app. I wanna learn all about it in eight minutes. What do you got for me? Tell me where this came from. Neal: I was asked by a large media company here in the US, Local iQ to go around and talk about the customer journey. They asked me to think about this late last year. I came up with this notion that what I really should be talking about to business owners is that they don't need to build an app, George, but they need to start to think about how they engage with their customers the way apps engage with us today, because the world is being run by the App world and our experiences are being defined by the App world and our expectations as consumers are being defined by the App world. So what I do is in my presentation, I take these business owners kind of through a journey of how the modern consumer is expecting to engage with them whether it's from being open all the time. I mean, you don't go to an app and the app doesn't go, "Oh sorry, we're not open. You know it's 5:00 after 5:30 sorry, leave a message on the app." Apps work 24/7/365. My United App knows my name, you know, it knows how many miles I've been flying. So these things, these apps that we're getting really comfortable engaging with are really changing the customer experience expectations out there. What I tell these business owners is they need to do the same thing. They need to not necessarily build an app because I think that's probably inappropriate for a lot of businesses. But they need to start to engage the way apps engage with us. Serve up insights. And, you know, one of the big things I talk about is tracking. Our apps do a lot of tracking, whether it's me watching the Uber driver drive to my location or somebody who has the Domino’s app watching the Domino’s pizza get built, apps are tracking stuff. Or it's the Amazon app saying the package left, the package has arrived. We're all having that expectation. So as a business owner, what data can you serve out to your customers, it doesn't have to be through an app that can tell them about the process or progress of their service or their order or what have you. Thinking like an App And so we go through a whole series of stuff and what happens is, is business owners, you know, the eyes get pretty wide and they kind of go, "Oh, so I could just do that and I would have better engagement with my customers, patients, clients." And I said, "Exactly." So I was talking to friend of mine, a pain doctor up in Ashland, Oregon. And he says, ''Well, what the heck is this ‘think like an app’ thing Neal? And I said, ''Look, you have patients, they come in here with a pain level of X over two months. Your job is to move that pain level from X down to Y, right?'' He says, ''Yeah. So what you're telling me, Neal, is that I should be sending out a message saying, 'Hey George, you came in here and your pain was a 350. Your pain is now down to 120. Here's the things we've done to do that.''' He's so he says, ''So that's what I need to do.'' I said, ''That's exactly right because now you're engaging with that patient. You're reaffirming the patient experience that you're delivering to them. You're reaffirming that you've helped them and they've been participating in the lowering of their pain.'' So it can apply to virtually every business out there and it's just a different way of thinking about, you know, how to engage with the customer. And I think it applies to agencies, it applies to virtually everybody out there. George: You're absolutely right. No, it makes a lot of sense. As we've been sitting here, I've received 16 notifications from various apps that are loaded on my iPad and my phone and, you know, I'm dismissing them because I'm paying attention to you. I'm not multitasking. I'm very focused on you, Neal. They're telling me things that are happening and it's adding to the value proposition of what I bought or what, you know, why I signed up to that app in the first place. So we are very much engaged that way as consumers. I'm going to the dentist on Friday. I was looking in the mirror this morning, I might want a bit of a cleaning. So when the dentist phones me to make sure that I show up for my appointment, which I think pretty much every dentist worth their salt does that, the reason why it's very expensive for them if we don't show up for our appointment, right. But imagine if three people had canceled their cleanings. I'm in the market for a cleaning because I'm getting closer to that appointment. They go, ''Oh by the way, we had a last minute cancellation for cleaning. Would you like one?'' I'd be like, "Yeah, I need one. You know, this is not good. These are supposed to be white and they're purple" or whatever it might be. So, you know, my point is, is that you've really hit the nail on the head. We need to look at the apps that are out there. We need to look at that experience because that's what our customers are expecting. They have been spoon-fed this experience since the App Store was created and Google Play and everything else that's out there. And now there's that level of expectation. Now the interesting thing, keep in mind, I come from a media sales background and we would walk in to the customer and say, listen, we've got 42,000 people listen to the radio station. You're looking for females, 18 to 34. I've got 40% of the market based on the last ratings period. And we're dealing with all these massive numbers. And when I dig into it, we're running this ad, we're sending it out to 50,000 people and you might get one customer in the door. Now we're in this space where we have these digital solutions and we've got to make it have some ROI. So just getting a notification isn't really making my till ring. How do you see that we're going to have to work as local business people and helping them with their marketing to really show them that ROI? What's the, you know, if you were to look at ROI and that ROI discussion, how do you think that's coming along? Because I know it's a work in progress, but do you think that we're getting better at showing ROI? Neal: I'm sure there's more data around ROI. I also think that the business owner, you know, wants the right kinds of customers. I mean, ROI is a calculation, right? You spend this, you get this back. The question is, what is this that you get back? Are those good customers? Are those customers who leave satisfied, that say good things about you to their neighbors that write good reviews about you? I mean, ROI, it has to be done. But I think the story is bigger than ROI. It's around, you know, can you deliver, once you get that customer, can you deliver a compelling experience? Because, you know, ads can drive people to businesses. There's no question. They could deliver an ROI, you know, that you can calculate. The question is how do we help these business owners take that and extend it much further, build the lifetime value, build the social proof of that business. Those things are hard to calculate. But I argue that they're almost more important than ROI, because if I just get the person into your shop and they buy something and it's a crappy experience and they don't say anything, that's kind of almost a wasted dollar. But if we can help these business owners figure out how to think like an app, how to leverage technology, how do deliver a better, more satisfying customer experience, then delivering that business owner a customer is super valuable. Conclusion George: Well Neal, always a pleasure speaking to you and learning from you and I think you have hit the nail right on the head with the think like an app message. Thanks for bringing that to the Conquer Local listeners and we look forward to seeing you when we see you out on the conference circuit this coming few months. Neal: I'm looking forward to it, George. Thanks for having me on your show today. I really appreciate it. George: So let's dig into what Neal was saying there. He's a very polite gentleman, so he didn't want to say that ROI is BS. But he does wanna say that. But here's what I think Neal is saying. We run an ad campaign and we can get you clicks and we can get you phone calls and we might even be able to get you people into the business, but it may not be the customers that you want because what business people want, are great, raving fan-type customers that will refer them to their friends and build up that corpus of people that just love the business and are advocates for it online. So you know, think like an app, just think about that for a moment. Think about all the apps that are communicating with you and then imagine the carpet store. Imagine the carpet store where you go in and you order the carpet and then it goes into this black hole and you don't know when it's coming in and when it's gonna get delivered. Or even if they set a delivery date and you get busy and you forget that the delivery date is tomorrow at 10:00 AM. Imagine if they just sent you a notification by email or by text said, "Hey, reminder, this is Joe from a carpet store. We're gonna be by there tomorrow at 10:00 AM. Here's a picture of our delivery driver. He's been with us for 14 years." Just think about that for a moment. When it comes to your business, I don't even care what business you're in. So Neal is onto something with this think like an app content that he is delivering to business people. And here's how you can prove if you're a raving fan. Have you recommended the podcast to one of your friends, neighbors, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles? You should do so. And also if you've got feedback, I want your feedback. Come to my LinkedIn profile, George Leith on LinkedIn. Send me a message and we will connect and I love getting that intel from people that are listening to the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I will see you when I see you.
Tune in for an all-new episode of the Conquer Local Podcast to learn about Managed Service Providers with Michelle Ragusa-McBain, a highly-visible thought leader in the global technology channel and serves as Provider Elevate Leader for the Global Partner Organization at Cisco. Michelle's mission is to help MSPs elevate and succeed via a partnership with Cisco solutions and the Provider Elevate community. Entrepreneur Magazine named her as one of the top 4 people to inspire women to pursue a career in Tech, and SMB Magazine recognized her as one of the 150 most influential people in the global IT Business Community. CompTIA named her Advancing Women in Technology Leader 2021, and Channel Futures awarded her the Circle of Excellence for Channel Leadership & Innovation and DE&I 101 award and recipient of the prestigious Cisco Worldwide Innovation and Growth Award. Michelle keynoted at the largest and most influential technology conferences globally including Channel Partners, CRN, CompTIA, IT Nation, and Kaseya. Michelle serves as Chair Emeritus of Advancing Women in Technology for CompTIA, sat on the board of CRN’s Women of the Channel, is Co-Founder of Tech Worlds Half non-profit; a longstanding member of the National Women in Technology Group, and most recently serves as Florida Leader for Alliance of Channel Women. In her free time, she is a passionate advocate for Women, Diversity, and Inclusion in Technology and enjoys traveling the world with her husband Jay McBain and daughters Brooklyn and Cali with 85 countries and 6 continents to date, or spending time with her fur kids- Husky Auggie Doggy and Calico Kitten Luna Meow. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Elevate your Business with Managed Service Providers Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith, and on this episode, we welcome Michelle Ragusa-McBain. Michelle is a highly visible thought leader in the global technology channel. She serves as Provider Elevate Leader for the global partner organization at Cisco. Her mission is to help MSPs elevate and succeed through partnership with Cisco Solutions and the Provider Elevate community. Entrepreneur Magazine named her as one of the top four people to inspire women to pursue a career in technology. And SMB Magazine recognized her as one of the 150 most influential people in the global IT business community. CompTIA named her advancing woman in technology leader in 2021, and Channel Futures awarded her the circle of excellence for channel leadership and innovation, and DE&I 101 award winner. She's also the recipient of the prestigious Cisco Worldwide Innovation and Growth Award. Michelle is a passionate advocate for women, diversity, and inclusion in technology, and is the co-founder of Tech World's Half nonprofit, a longstanding member of the National Women and Technology Group, and most recently she serves as Florida's Leader for Alliance of Channel Women. I'm super excited to have my friend Michelle on the show this week. Get ready, conquerors. Michelle Ragusa-McBain is coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast. George: Finally, I get to welcome Michelle Ragusa-McBain to the show. Hello, Michelle, I'm so glad we were finally able to make this work. Michelle: Hi, George. It is absolutely my pleasure. I'm excited to join you today. George: You know, we've known each other for a number of years and excited to be working with you and your role at Cisco, but I'd love to hear from you. We kind of covered it in the intro, but I'd love to hear from you what is the role that you've taken on with Cisco company? Michelle: Absolutely. So it's sort of a coming home, which is interesting for me. I've been at Cisco now for 14 years as a boomerang, I say. So I was there for 13 years, starting in 2005. I began as an engineer, went into sales, did a lot of different things with global distribution and commercial and enterprise and public sector and telco. Pretty much the gamut that you could do at a company like Cisco. And I left for a few years and I've returned to take on a new role called Provider Elevate Leader globally for the global partner routes to market sales organization. And so what that means in simpler terms, I know everybody has acronym soup in the technology channel, is my goal is to help elevate SMB managed service providers around the world with Cisco, make it easier and simpler to do business with us, and help make them more money, more revenue, more enablement and engagement through selling our various architectures in our better together story. George: So I had the pleasure of working with Michelle 3 years ago when we started to enter into the IT channel at Vendasta and started working with managed service providers. And then we were lucky enough to add Andrew Down to the team and he's really taken it to the next level. But I remember in some of those early conversations that you and I were having, as Vendasta's goal was to bring more technology vendors into our ecosystem because we've got that very large group of channel resellers that are servicing businesses all over the world. We have our focus, our slogan of conquering local, that passion for local businesses and helping them get the technology, whether it be software or hardware, that was one of the big dreams and the services needed to make all of that work. And you know, one of those goals was to bring more technology vendors into that ecosystem. So fast forward to today and in your new role, I love that mission of elevating the managed service providers to work with local businesses. It's a pretty noble mission. Michelle: Well, I had the great fortune in my between period of working at Cisco of being a consultant, as you know. And in that time I spent many hours working with some of the distributors that we know and love and many of the key vendors and their MSPs. And I really fell in love with this group of people. Honestly, they're entrepreneurs, they're gritty, they're passionate, they usually start as technicians and their goal is to really put food on their table, to build a company that can support small to medium businesses where they can be trusted advisors to people who don't need to worry about technology. They can keep them up and running, they can keep them secure and connected and they can really give them peace of mind. And so in this virtual CIO world, especially during life-changing instances like the COVID pandemic, for example, the huge cyber attacks that have been happening, the war in Ukraine, there's many, many things that are happening that impact the global economy and the local economy. And these businesses were forced, many of them to do differently how they conducted business. They had to reimagine their people and their process and their technology. And that's where MSPs came in. And so the goal wasn't just let me onboard manage service providers because obviously Cisco's been a very partner-driven company for 38 years. We have very many loyal partners and quality products and solutions, but how do we enable this tier of partners, which is very different than a traditional large enterprise vendor does in any space. So how do we get to know what's important to them, which is what's important to a large company isn't important to Larry or Loretta in a white van. Like I say that as a joke, but it's true. Their needs are different, their competencies are different, their capabilities are different. Who they support, what verticals, is it manufacturing or retail or healthcare or education or professional services, and the local mom-and-pop shops, they are there for all of those local businesses. And the way that we help enable and onboard and engage and accelerate with them has to be very different than how we've traditionally done business as well. So I sort of feel like it's a usually beneficial endeavor. We help enable them, they help enable their end customer, and together we elevate. George: So what would be some of the key components that you've been bringing forward based on all those learnings? Because you're right, it is a different game. Those managed service providers are usually in smaller markets. They're servicing 10, 15, 20, 25 customers. What are some of the strategies that you've been putting in place to make them successful? Michelle: Absolutely, no, great question. And I will say that small to medium business and managed service provider has seen rapid growth at Cisco. In fact, small to medium business is our fastest growing market at 64% year over year, which is amazing. And it's thanks to leaders like Andrew Sage and Alexandra Zagury, and Oliver Tuszik, we've been able to really facilitate and foster and invest in these partners and their success. So some of the things that we're doing is creating new offers exclusively for small to medium businesses. So looking at our architecture counterparts, how do we get them things, bundles in the Meraki space, in the duo umbrella space, in all of those different architectures which help enable their businesses to be successful. The second piece of that is how do we get them to better and build their business? And a lot of the times we do that through MDF dollars and that's where companies like Vendasta comes in handy for us. And we're so thankful for the partnership because we were seeing a lack of traction in MDF utilization. We were at very, very low numbers in the under 10% category. And part of that we had to evaluate, is there an awareness, is there an education? Is there the right process or opportunity or partners in that space that are helping them with knowledge and expertise and the right things to make their business successful? And so we did a pilot with Vendasta, which got us from 8% to 32% utilization of MDF in the first quarter. And by the second quarter, we were rearing closer to 64% utilization of MDF, largely because of Vendasta solutions, helping them with their website and SEO and how they go to market and things that really are very unique and different for partners of this size. And so, when you look at MDF dollars for bigger vendors or bigger managed service providers like CDW and Presidio, they have huge teams invested into their success. But a small MSP, they don't necessarily have the right or the same resources. And so partnering with key strategic vendors like yourself has really helped us facilitate the gaps in where their businesses are today and where we can help take them together. And that's seen tremendous positive feedback. And so we're excited to continue working with companies such as yours. And in addition to that, we also are working on marketing enablement. A lot of our partners, we know that MSPs in my consultant work were not known for marketing. They're really good technicians, they're really good sales leaders, they're really good strategists. But when it comes to marketing their business, which in a digital normal is very important, it really is contingent on how can they leverage those marketing dollars and our marketing strategies, demand generation campaigns, et cetera, to help enable and empower their success. So those are some of the sneak peeks in what we're doing. George: I think it was pretty cool though because one of the things that when you and I were discussing this space in your consulting role was that the playbooks weren't there. It wasn't easy for those folks to be able to run a demand gen campaign, upgrade their website, and I like to go back in the past because sometimes that teaches us, I remember when I started hitting my targets selling radio back 30 some odd years ago was when I became a co-op dollar expert. So for all of our sales professionals on the call that are in the media space, you know that there are providers that have co-op dollars and I'm gonna use John Deere because I happen to have a meeting with the CEO of a John Deere dealer last week. And you know, if you use the right ad copy, if you run the right ad script, if you run the right billboard, John Deere will give you some of that money back. So when you're talking market development funds, that's co-op dollars on the salesperson's side. But correct me if I'm wrong, I think that one of the reasons there's been that level of success is that it's a do-it-for-me. Like everything is done for the managed service provider because those dollars were always there, they just weren't utilizing them. Michelle: Right, yeah, absolutely. There's two types of ways that partners of all sizes wanna receive it. It's do it with me or do in advance and I'll leverage your package and figure it out on my own or do it for me and really help me enable because I have gaps. And just as those MSPs are the people that are guiding their customers on their journey, why not use a specialist who understands it better than they do that can help them and then they don't have to worry about it and spend time out of their day, which is precious. And you're wearing many hats as you're becoming a managed service provider and running a small to medium business that you just don't need one more thing. If there's somebody that can do it, empower the right people with the right tools at the right time. George: And I also think that CFOs of organizations that are putting millions of dollars into marketing budgets are probably happy to see the money being spent on new innovative digital tactics rather than fidget spinners and another T-shirt and another steak dinner. That is where that money was leaning, right? Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that is, you're spot on. There was this element of people were doing the same things that have always been done. And so I challenged the team and they were very, very wonderful. They came to our advisory council meetings. That's another example. I wanna take a moment to call out any partner and vendor, all the MSPs that have been a part of our advisory council. They volunteer and they give precious time out of their schedule once a month where we meet and we don't just read things at them, but we ask them for their feedback. We don't wanna operate in a vacuum and we say, what's working, what doesn't? How can we help you? What do you need from Cisco to help you improve? And this was one of the things that came out of it was the MDF dollars, the awareness. We need different things because we're different types of partners. And so by result, we were able to put in the right people based upon those conversations. What are their needs? How do they wanna enable their success? And you know, MDF packages are kind of stagnant. It's funny, even in technology we say that the only thing constant is change. And yet people are so hard to change programs that have existed for many, many years, but sometimes, especially when you're building a new route to market, you require new ideas and new companies to partner with. And so we've had tremendous success exploring that option and I look forward to continuing to drive that for many, many partners around the world. George: I'm not sure if you're able to do this, but I have long known Cisco to be one of the most innovative companies on the planet, and I'm a big fan of John Chambers, former CEO, love his book "Connecting the Dots." Roy Pereira, who is now with us through the calendar hero acquisition, worked at Cisco for a number of years. You've been there for 14 years on the Boomerang run. What's the future hold for Cisco? Because you're a very innovative organization and usually a little ahead of the curve. Can you share any of the things that are coming in the future? Michelle: Yeah, I can tell you some of the most important investments we're making from leadership down is very strategically you can see a rise in security in our space. Obviously, that is a huge opportunity for us right now as well. Looking at the landscape, 73% according to CompTIA of managed service providers want to become MSSPs. So managed service security specialists because of the overwhelming opportunity and need that exists, there was a cyber attack every 39 seconds, a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. And so there's this tremendous shift. And so traditionally people think of Cisco as a very large networking company, maybe a collaboration company as well, but they don't always think of us as security. And what's really amazing about that is we're one of the top three security companies in the world. We are ranked very highly according to many of the analysts and research groups, but also we use Talos. And Talos is the center of our threat detection, prevention, intervention, and education. So from governments around the world, down to local, small to medium businesses, all of this technology is embedded and enabled in all of our devices, whether it's Meraki IoT or Networking Gear, or if it's our new secure center, which we've launched through Umbrella and in the future duo, these are very big acquisitions that we've made strategically to get into this space even deeper and help support our partners even more. Another example would be the new secure center, which we launched in November of last year. Very different than a traditional Cisco process. It's almost like a marketplace, credit card only, easy enrollment, rapid speed of deployment, and cancel at any time. So examples like this are ways that we're innovating our software as a service, our subscription consumption model. And really right now, as a $50 billion revenue company, a third of our revenue came through software. So that says a lot about how a 38-year-old company with over 237 acquisitions has kind of blended together this perfect song of different technologies and security and networking and collaboration moving towards subscription consumption, say that three times fast, and enabling growth and acceleration in that space. But I wanna also add that we are double clicking on managed service providers and small to medium business growth. So that is specifically where I sit and I'm very excited. It is our fastest growth area as a company and we're spending a lot of time and investment in that space. George: Michelle, you've been enormously successful in your career. You were named as one of the top four people to inspire women to pursue a career in tech by Entrepreneur Magazine. You also were recognized by a small-medium business magazine as one of the 150 most influential people in the global IT business community. And I know that you are super passionate about women in tech and I've actually watched you speak to a group at one of the conventions. Our audience on this show is global. We've got sales professionals, we've got IT professionals, managed service providers. I'm sure we have lots of women that listen to the show as well. What advice could you give women that are considering moving deeper into a career in tech based upon your longstanding successful career? Michelle: Thank you very much. Yeah, I mean, for me personally, I could not have done it without a support system. My tribe, as I call it, I think women and men supporting each other is very pivotal and relationships are key to this business and the technology channel. And in any business really, I think it's a very important part. So I think there's three things that I would say. One, careers and technology are wonderful opportunities. There's lucrative careers. You have mobility where you can work remotely or telecommute or travel around the world. You have the ability, I mean, we work for a company that sells technology that enables this, right? So I've been working remote long before it was a requirement. And I do think that there's ability, especially as you become, if you become a family or you have work-life balance or integration as I call it, you wanna make sure that you have an employer that supports those things that are important for many women, such as time with your family and philanthropic opportunities or taking care of aging parents. And that's also true for men. It's not just gender specific. So I think everybody needs a culture, especially in what we just went through, the great resignation, the quiet quitting. You wanna make sure that you feel like you're a part of something bigger that helps you succeed. But I do think that mentorship is very pivotal, and I'm gonna call attention to a survey that Sheryl Sandberg did with LeanIn.org, which said, after the me too movement, 73% of men felt uncomfortable mentoring women. And so that is a huge problem because majority of times men are in positions of leadership, venture capital, and angel investment, C-level VPs. And without the right support to grow a diverse bench, you are gonna have a deficit. So I would say mentorship matters, men and women, we need to help enable growth of the next generation. And we need to not only attract women, but we need to retain and support them and help them grow. We still see a gap in pay. So equal pay for equal work, a lot of women tend not to apply for a role because they wanna have 10 out of 10 of the criteria where men will have five of 10 and throw their hat in the ring and get the job. And men tend to require different compensation. They have those hard-hitting conversations. So if you're a mentor, let's have those hard-hitting conversations and enable the success so that we can all rise together. George: You know, the reason why I like to ask a question, and it's a bit of a minefield for an old white guy to ask question like that, but I feel that in our organization when we built Vendasta from the ground up over the last 15 years, where we really started to take off as a company was when there wasn't this massive divide between men and women. And it was tough because software, writing software is a lot of dudes that go into computer science and now we're seeing more and more women in that space. But then we had sales positions and account management positions and onboarding and customer support and marketing. And the minute that those two components where it wasn't so heavy as a boys club, that was when the magic really started to happen because you had that level of diversity. Now I could even go into the global diversity of all the people that we have working here from different countries and you know, but it really builds out an organization that has balance and by the way, our customers are diverse, so if we're going to relate to the customer, we need that level of diversity. So thank you for sharing that. I know it's something that you're very passionate about. Now, you are my favorite McBain and you could tell your husband that because we did have Jay on the show here a while ago. Michelle: I will. George: I do know that you both are a power couple in the IT space and you and I, I don't even know how the hell you do it because you got a family and you guys are very active with your family and you're traveling and you're speaking and you're doing podcasts like this, and how do you guys keep it all on the rails with these two amazing careers that you have, your amazing family, and the giving back that you both do? Like you must be two of the busiest humans on earth. Michelle: Thank you so much. Well, one, we don't sleep much, although Jay sleeps more than I do. But I do think that there's a few things that go into it. One, like any relationship, any partnership, you ebb and flow. There are times where one of us is more busy than the other and you kind of compensate and pick up the slack in challenging times. You have to realize that we have small children, eight and six, and so those children did not ask to be here. So we have requirements to make sure that they're taken care of and fed and they get to school and that we support them and love them and give them everything they need to grow into good humans and adults. So in order to do that, we live by example. We try to always be good people and philanthropic people and take them places when and if we can, another way we do that is to make sure that we do take vacation time because that's something very important to us. So our children will have almost been to all seven continents, which is pretty insane for some people because they're so young. But for us, we want to expose them, because to your point, diversity of thought matters, right? Different people, religion, culture, language, and traditions. We want them to have a sense of how lucky we are, but also how much is important to give back to those in need. And so that's a very big thing that's a kind of the foundation and bedrock of our relationship. And then it's just an ebb and flow. So you sort of tag team and support and cheer each other on. You have to remember that at the end of the day, we're still friends. We may be married and we may be partners, but I think my husband is my best friend and I'm very grateful that he supports me and I can support him in return. George: Well, I always love learning from folks that are doing it right. And it's interesting you bring up the taking the kids on those trips. I was having dinner with a CEO friend of mine in South Africa here a couple of months back and he told me that in his contract negotiations, one of the things that he asked for was the ability to take his family if he was traveling, because he spends a lot of time on the road working with investors and various functions of the business. And it's not something that you think about when you're negotiating a contract is the ability to bring the family. But imagine how that helps the work-life balance. If it's not the one partner is away at a conference and it's not, he said it's not all the time, but the ability to do a little bit of that then makes it easier to have that work-life balance. So it's pretty cool to hear those types of scenarios for folks that may be in the middle of negotiating a new contract or moving to a new position to see that this is starting to become more the norm in progressive organizations. So thank you for sharing that and we really appreciate your time. I know that you guys are super busy and I'm very jealous that you're gonna get to touch Antarctica. Enjoy the trip, be safe. It's a bucket list thing of mine. I'm super jealous. But Michelle, it's taken us a while to get it online here, but I really appreciate finally having you on the show. And we're gonna put all of Michelle's contact information, she produces a ton of great content in the show notes. And Michelle Ragusa-McBain, my favorite McBain finally on the Conquer Local podcast. Thanks for your time. Michelle: Twice! So now it's real. I love it, George, thank you so much. I appreciate you and your time as well and I look forward to continuing the Vendasta-Cisco relationship. Conclusion George: It was a pleasure speaking with Michelle Ragusa-McBain. She is a true powerhouse in the MSP space. As Michelle mentioned, there's a lot of things happening in business today. It's impacting the local and global economy. Managed service providers step in and their goal isn't to onboard customers, but to continue to be partner driven and deliver products and solutions to their clients. Michelle talked about managed service providers partnering with key strategic vendors and that will help them to expand by fulfilling their clients' products and digital solutions needs. If you liked Michelle Ragusa-McBain's episode, discussing thought Leadership in Global Tech, let's continue this conversation. Check out these episodes, 411, The Channel Software Tech Stack with Jay McBain, 436, Your Tech Stack Increases Valuation by 6 to 7x with James Ciuffetelli. Please subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcast. And thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Information shared by an expert at Google provides some SMB Best Practices can use when going back to business. Todd Rowe, Global Marketing Director at Google, is our guest this week on the Conquer Local Podcast. He uses the information collected from SMBs across the globe to understand the best practices they can take when re-opening after the wave of closures from the COVID-19 pandemic. With his knowledge, organizations will be able to help local businesses get back to business with ease. Todd Rowe has extensive experience in High Tech, in Sales, Marketing, and General Management with full P&L responsibility. Currently lead one of Google's fastest-growing business units. Extensive international experience building businesses in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Board of Director experience at privately held companies and Board of Advisors at Venture Capital firm. Todd specializes in building and running high-growth businesses. Background in Sales, Marketing, Product Management in Cloud, SAAS, and Search Engine Marketing Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Keep the conversations going in the Conquer Local Community and expand your knowledge in the Conquer Local Academy. Introduction George: It's the latest edition of the Conquer Local podcast. So we are facing an unprecedented event that is impacting local businesses and impacting our day to day lives. We are very, very fortunate to bring you a guest this week that has a global perspective and outlook on how this is impacting local businesses. Todd Rowe is the global managing director at Google. For the past 10 years he has led Google's SMB practice. And we're going to bring him on the podcast and find out, what's happened? Google has amazing data points, and we're going to ask Todd some tough questions about what are they seeing that small and medium enterprises are doing in the face of COVID-19? And from these trends, we're hoping to give you insight as to how you can help your customers navigate the upcoming weeks as they go back to business. And how they can conduct their business online. Mr. Todd Rowe, the global managing director at Google is coming up next right here on the Conquer Local Podcast. George: Joining us in the Conquer Local Podcast this week. It's the global managing director at Google Mr. Todd Rowe. Todd, thanks for taking some time out to join us. Todd: Thank you. My pleasure. Great to be here with you. George: You know, I'd like to get a bit of a background from you on how did you arrive at this role? You are currently leading one of Google's fastest growing business units, and you've got quite a bit of international experience. Plus you've been a board member and on advisory committees. But how do you land at this role as the global managing director at Google? Todd: Most of my background is in with larger tech companies, enterprise software, ERP, CRM, business intelligence. There are companies like Apple, Adobe and SAP. And I came to Google about 10 years ago. And the goal was to build out an organization that would work with third party companies or partners like Vendasta, who would sell to small midsize businesses themselves. The great opportunity is there is 100 million SMBs out there in the world. The challenges there's a hundred million SMBs out there in the world. And how can we possibly go after that? Google has thousands of employees, not millions. And so literally the way in which we really go to market is to sell to these small midsize businesses will be within through partners. So that's the background. And really as far as how I got to where I am really it's identifying what are the growth industries and that identifying, within those growth industries who are the top two or three companies within those, and then seeing what type of roles I could fill there. And so when I got the call from Google, about 10 years ago, jumped to the chance. George: Well great. And you're long time, friend of Mr. Jeff Folckemer, who's a Conquer Local alumnus has been on the show with us. And I get the pleasure of working with Mr. Folckemer day in and day out now. But back in his time, when he was with the Hearst corporation. They were helping to try and solve this problem of working with those local businesses. And I believe that's where you met him. And by the way, he says to say hi to you. Let's talk a little bit about your tenure at Google and it's interesting in the way you put that; the opportunity is there's a hundred million SMBs. The challenge is there's a hundred million SMBs. When we look at that professional background and how you arrived at Google and the time that you've been there, how are you seeing those SMBs react to what has occurred with COVID-19 as compared to maybe the way it was 90 days ago? Is there a change? How Are Businesses Reacting to COVID-19? Todd: The word that we always hear from all across the board is unprecedented. And it really is. Let's talk about it in terms of, some of the challenges that SMBs have had. But then also, how are they some of the best practices in terms of, how are they reacting to this? And so the challenges, what we have in a global pandemic is primarily a health issue, which has greater implications from an economic impact and economic issues. The challenges with most economic issues, we can look at leading and lagging indicators. So to say well, here's about the timeframe where we're gonna be able to, improve on things. With health issues. It's just so challenging. We really don't know, even though things are improving, it's just, it's very different that way. So I think the first reaction from small midsize businesses, fear and uncertainty of how to proceed, because it really is unprecedented as a result of that. The second thing we see is, some smaller mid sized companies take a more defensive, protective steps to ensure that longer term viability of their company. So it's very natural. The other things that we see though, is some of the more successful small midsize businesses during COVID is the ability to be able to innovate and shift the way in which they reach their customers. So if they can't sell in a brick and mortar fashion, then quickly pivoting and it's to sell online. So we see a number of companies that we partner with, like Shopify, Magento, PrestaShop, Conquer Local for example that helps small mid sized businesses not only get online, but also to sell online. So in that way COVID has created a once in a generation shift in selling behavior. Companies who previously were content to sell and successful in selling in a brick and mortar fashion. Now are required to sell online. And some of them have found that they could become quite successful in doing so. So their retail website effectively has become their storefront. And so we see this both a challenge of COVID, but also a real opportunity, to just shift the way in which small businesses do their business. And for those who've been able to innovate and pivot they've actually been able to, to not only survive, but thrive through this time. George: You know, I remember about eight years ago, I was introduced to one of your colleagues name escapes me at this point. We were speaking in Tampa Bay. At the Tampa Bay times to a group of SMBs. And I remember that the Google presentation that was given, and then our presentation that was given, was all about how local businesses need to transition to a new digital online storefront, or to be able to conduct business online. So I guess my point is we've been preaching this gospel that you need to be transitioning to digital. And now we have this event that has occurred and I'm using language that I've heard from others. This is a forcing function. This is the catalyst now where, you know I was kinda thinking about it, but now I really have to do it. Is that what your data is supporting and what you were seeing? Todd: Very much so, because right now there is no other option. Whether you call it a lockdown, shelter in place. Some thinks that way, if a small midsize business wants to reach, their customers or acquire new customers, their only choice really is, online and digitally. In the past we would advocate for this and it was, nice to have. Now it's an absolute essential must have. And so just like, the question of are you more apt to take an aspirin for a headache or a vitamin? Well, most people are more apt to take an aspirin for that headache here. And right now COVID is a major headache. And so it really forces companies to move online. But the positive part about this is as they do that, begin selling, this will benefit them many years down the stream. Well, past COVID. George: I've met a number of your colleagues over the years at various speaking events and had the privilege to see those presentations. One thing I've admired about your organization, you always bring data to support the message that you're trying to deliver. So I was excited to get you on the podcast because you've got great research and you've got the data. So what is the data showing to be best practices that SMBs are doing today? Best Practices for SMBs Today Todd: Yeah, really good question. So there are four things that as far as what we see as we work with hundreds of thousands of small midsize businesses as far as best practices what they're doing. I'll take you through qualitatively what those are. And then also have a chat about the underlying data itself. So there are four things that we really see them doing; constantly reassess during COVID, their marketing practices, secondly considerations for their creative, for their actual ad campaigns. A third around change priorities during navigating uncertainty. And the last one here is in terms of being current and being transparent. Well, they actually deep dive into to each of these four briefly here. In terms of constantly reassessing, the pandemic happened so quickly literally as you said within 90 day. It has changed completely, literally on a week by week basis. We see it changing here. So, what that business as usual model normally no longer works. And as things continue to change from lockdown or shelter in place to gradually opening up. Todd: We see successful SMBs pivoting, but we see successful SMBs constantly reassessing their marketing strategies. So for example, as you're going from retail or retail and online now to exclusively online website and selling online. And then post COVID, then online website to selling, online to potentially, going back to a retail store. Successful SMBs, ask themselves questions like how has the pandemic change things last week or two? And how have I changed the last week or two to adapt to those changes? So the aspect of constantly reassessing what I mean constantly, literally is on a weekly basis. And if you can ask yourself, answer the question, how have I changed literally the last week or two? Then you probably are adapting as well as you need to. If you're struggling to find answers to that, then perhaps need to do a better job on that. Todd: Second point in terms of considerations for your creative. So the actual ad campaign and what you share with your customers. What we see here is successful SMBs right now, look from tone, visual imagery to the copy and key keywords. And then the context of our media buys needing to be reassessed. So for example in terms of tone, visual imagery and ad copy, we see successful, small business businesses in tone. Things like slapstick humor really doesn't work right now, what works and where we see the click-throughs and where we see what really resonates is, messages of reassurance of support and of safety. In terms of visual imagery, even subtle things like, what we saw with handshakes or hugs really don't work right now in nature social distancing. Social distancing really is top of mind. And so the visual imagery needs to reflect the reality we have right now in COVID. And the last lead ad copy. A text that used to make sense about a software virus check. Virus check takes on a whole new meaning now. So just double check your ad copy, make sure that it makes sense. So the second, best practice we see is about considerations for your creative, around tone visual imagery, and then copy really important. Todd: The third best practice we'll see here is around change the priorities to navigate uncertainty. Most small midsize businesses will have a certain marketing budget that they'll use. And they'll allocate that to certain products in their portfolio. But now we see most successful the ones where they're selling online are those, no surprise were most relevant to their customers in a COVID environment. And so we'll look at the most successful SMBs will be those who will not only be able to help their customers in the time of need, but also have select those products to advertise those specific products that are more relevant to their customers in a time of SMBs during the time of COVID excuse me. Todd: Lastly, I'd say as far as being current and transparent. The only way your customers are finding you now is online. And so your customers are looking for information, and trust your company to deliver. So make sure you're proactively communicating, any business or product availability updates. If your hours of operation have changed for example, a picture of customer facing sites on your business profile, or your Google search or maps. Use a post in your business profile, or adjust your messaging and your ads to share information about any extra precautions that you're taking to help that sense of reassessment and of support. Like extra services to help the community, or if you're experiencing any delays. So be very current and transparent. So those are be the four things that we see as far as best practices and a whole lot of underlying data where as the small business businesses do these four best practices, they're actually reaching their customers. We see more click-through more time spent on the ad and actually more purchases online this way. George: Well I really appreciate that feedback. So we've got the best practices that are coming out of the dataset. And then you've given us the messaging and back to our audience, which are people who are serving SMBs all over the planet. There's some really good takeaways on things that we need to remember. I think that it's important, you know, great information but there was nothing in there that was earth shattering. It's really getting back to the basics. Is that what you're seeing when we talk about, you know, creative has always been an important message, but probably more important now to take a hard look at it than ever. And then in that messaging, just a simple thing of having a handshake and some imagery, it just isn't gonna work as we move forward. So thank you for that. That is some really good feedback for our audience. Let's talk a little bit about how industry leaders are helping. So we hear about the big global tech companies but there's some interesting initiatives that have been undertaken by those global industry leaders. What Are Big Global Tech Companies Doing to Help? Todd: Yeah, it's exciting to be at a company like Google that plays a global role and therefore has a responsibility who as a good corporate citizen to help out, especially during times like this. We see companies whether it's Google, Facebook, Amazon, all doing some really exciting things, to help their customer base. And I think, it's not only good business, but morally, it's the right thing to do to help others in time of need. And really there is no greater time of need than during this global pandemic. You'll see companies whether it's, Google, Facebook and others will be providing investments in small businesses, like ad, grants or some things that way, which I think is helpful. Google is also pivoting it's customer support and pivoting how our sales and our customer support people work with customers, focusing on the areas that are just really most critical right now. Todd: The time horizon is no longer one quarter from now, one year from now, but literally; today, this week, this month. What are the things that are most critical that we'd help you get through this economic and financial storm that's been caused by COVID? But what I'm also excited about is, you could be a bit cynical and say, well, you know, big companies, of course you can provide a financial investment to the SMBs. You can pivot your sales of our products, our marketing support that way. And that's true, I'm actually very excited about some of the things we're doing from a product enhancement standpoint. That'll help small businesses right now. There's a free product that we offer called Google My Business. So you literally go on a search. You search for a company here, and you'll see the search results. And usually on the right hand side, you'll see some details about that business store hours, address, things like that in the protocol Google My Business. And so what we've done is, we've announced that over the next few weeks, we'll be able to do certain things like update store hours, options for delivery or pickup, even selling gift cards to support themselves during this downturn. Another change aims at the, to address the broader way the pandemic is impacting in-person businesses. Todd: So instead of shutting down entirely, many small businesses have chosen to pivot and go virtual. So restaurants, for example, they've turned themselves into virtual kitchens or yoga studios and gyms have begun streaming classes online. And so this type of update information about what they sell is now available in Google My Business. So in the next few weeks, merchants who were verified through Google My Business will be able to alert their customers that they're operating in a new capacity by adding their profile attributes like, online classes or online appointments or online estimates. And they'll also show up in Google search in maps. Lastly we're expanding a function called Reserve with Google. Todd: So it's doing appointment setting, to help merchants offer easy online appointment bookings that customers can book directly from their business profile, which is cool. Lastly, not only Google My Business, but also with Google search where you literally have billions of searches on a daily basis, customers will now be able to donate to their favorite businesses. We partnered with PayPal, Let's go funding to be able to do this. What I like about this is, these products and enhancements will help not like during COVID, they'll help small businesses well after COVID is over. So just excited about how do we pivot an offer product enhancements and things that are really meaningful to help a customer right now? And hopefully we'll continue try be of benefit well after COVID. George: Well, that's great feedback for our listener base that I'm sure is very, you know, well versed of the value of Google My Business. And now the ability, you know, it's a question that I've been thinking about. So thank you for addressing it. If I go to create an online store, but my physical store is closed for whatever reason, you're now going to support that through that functionality. So it's great to know that. Todd: Yeah, the price is free. It's a pretty good price. George: That's great. And then the ability to put delivery and pick up and then to reserve with Google, that's fantastic. Now, the other thing I wanted to talk a little bit about is, the, you touched on it earlier but I think it's important. Not everybody has figured out that you can post on Google My Business. And so when that search happens for people looking for the business, you also could have some, some marketing material or some post material. You brought that out, a little over a year and a half ago. But it's something that I think it's missed sometimes. Posting on Google My Business Todd: Yeah, it's one where it's this great advantage to small businesses where you're able to post things and add the content there that keeps the content fresh, and it keeps customers coming back and looking to see what's new on this. And it's really pretty easy to put on a post new content there and the companies who do this, we actually see the data that will show greater viewership. Greater people coming back and spending time, and then do those stuff things as far as making appointments or going in-store. So it's just low hanging fruit. That's there for the taking. And right now it's especially timely. George: Well, I'm glad that we could get Todd Rowe to say that in a snippet, because we've been professing that businesses should be posting on Google My Business. So thanks for giving us that sound bite. What advice would you have for our listeners? We have salespeople, sales leaders, running, you know, digital agencies or working for large organizations. What advice would you give those listeners as they go out to service their SMB customers? As we move into, you know, some people have dubbed it, the new normal, what would your advice be Todd? How to Serve Your Customers Todd: Yeah, especially for those people first of all, selling and marketing to small businesses, thank you. What you do helps not only these small businesses grow and thrive, but what you do also helps, it affects people's lives and helps them for the better. So you provide a great return on investment for these small companies. So thank you, first of all. Some advice, maybe three or four things here, first of all, take care of yourself, which sounds pretty obvious, but you can't pour water from an empty bottle. So make sure that you are physically and mentally ready. You show up and your business the way in which you sell to them, is also a sound and solid that way. Todd: Then secondly, I will say over communicate. This is to your customers, to your peers or your employees. If you're a sales leader, in times of crisis the natural reaction is to withdraw. Your customers and your employees may be doing just that. So you need to over communicate with them, about your plans, about how you're planning to help them. Normal rules don't apply during a crisis. So double down on the amount of communication that you normally do. The third thing I'd say is embrace disruption. And COVID by definition is complete disruption. But just as with any disruption, there will be winners and losers. Many of your competitors will retrench. Winston Churchill famously said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." So don't make that mistake. There are customers who will be disrupted, who are looking for new businesses to work with, yours could be a great option for them. So don't lean, look much more offensively with respect to this COVID disruption, not defensively. And see how you can take advantage of this. Because of this next 90, 120, whatever a number of days that we'll have with COVID, there are gonna be business opportunities. So look for them and seize the opportunity. Todd: And lastly, I guess probably most importantly, for small businesses and for the sales students, what you do right now, meaning this week, this month matters. So while it's really good to take a long term perspective, and we know that eventually COVID will pass, if you can get through this financial, this storm financially, you'll come out of it much stronger and wiser. But if you come out of this stronger and wiser it really depends upon what you do, today, this week, this month, because things are changing so dynamically and differently. From a seller's perspective, a bit of self-introspection in terms of there's a way in which I'm selling effective. I'm able to reach customers in the new way, which they're only able to be reached. Are the products that I'm offering them most relevant, in a COVID environment here? And how do I create loyalty now by demonstrating my going above and beyond the call of duty? So to speak to help them during COVID, that will win the hearts and minds of these customers long term. Those will just be a few pieces of advice, I give not only to small businesses, but to the sellers who sell to them. George: Well Todd, we really appreciate the insights. We appreciate th, data. It's great to get that information so that our listeners will understand what some best practices that their business community and customers should be following. And I really appreciate the feedback on having that, daily and weekly cadence. Like I think sometimes because we live in a sales environment where I got to hit my monthly number, we forget about the fact that, there's 20 working days or 25 working days in the month and there's weeks in there. And we really are at that point in a fluid situation where things are pretty much changing by the day that we have to be taking a good hard look at our business and our customers and how we can help them, and make those pivots during this time. Some very poignant feedback today, and advice from Todd Rowe, Who is the global managing director of Google. We appreciate taking some of your valuable time to get that feedback for our listeners on the Conquer Local Podcast. Todd: George, pleasure to meet you-thanks for the time. Conclusion George: What a great episode and what a great speaker? When you have someone that has been in the role that Todd has been in for the last 10 years, you can see that he really understands the space. And I found that there were a few things that really jumped out and punched me right in the face, from his speech. Let's go into them. And I'm looking at this as a salesperson. So I'm sitting there and I'm listening to Todd and I'm like, okay, my next client, what am I going to talk about? So the number one thing, constantly be reassessing your approach online. Have a look at what you're doing and modify, adapt, but it's a constant look at that. Like you're a wartime business owner, you're a wartime CEO. George: There's been a lot of talk about wartime CEOs and you are micromanaging every little piece right now. Because you don't know, you've got to find the things that are working. And we don't know if the things that we use six, eight, 10 weeks ago are gonna work now. So I love that he is seeing that in the data. That constant reassessing of your approach is so important. Now, the creative. So my friend and amazing sound engineer Mr. T Bone is sitting across from me. And he has told me this over the years. This is one of the things he's very brilliant about. "You can get the audience, you can put your message in front of the audience, but what is the creative message that you're delivering to that audience? Do they hear it? Do they view it? Do they read it? And does it resonate?" And I think that we have to look at that messaging, because if you're just gonna pull the ad that you ran two months ago and run it now, and Todd dug into some of those items that we haven't really been thinking about. George: Can't be close with all your friends in the yoga class. That's not going to work for you. Because while I wanna go to the yoga class, I don't know if I necessarily wanna be close with 40 people that I don't know where they've been or who they've been in contact with. So I'm just using that as one of the examples, but creative is one of those things that is so important and great marketers pay a lot of attention to it. So let's get that back up into our top of our mind. It's one thing we wanna be looking at the creative message, closer than we ever have, and thinking about the way that it's going to be perceived by various audiences. We wanna be always changing the priorities. That was something that really jumped out at me. Where he kept saying, I think he said four times, look at this every week, every day, every month. Every week, every day, every. And he said that a number of times, because what the data is showing is they're constantly changing their campaigns. George: They're changing the messaging. They're making sure they're putting updates out there on a daily basis. So imagine if we have this phased approach in most jurisdictions, where we have phase one essential services, phase two kind of essential services, phase three. And we may now be in phase four. And that's where your business is. Your audience, your customer base is kinda, can I go to the cycle shop? You need to be updating them on a daily basis. Not yet, six days until we're in phase. That type of messaging is so important. And then be clear and transparent. And what he's really talking about is, think about that audience. And while you may not be the person that washes your hands a bunch, uses the hand sanitizer, make sure that you're at least four meters apart from people, wear your mask. You may not be that person, but it's okay that others are, and you have to have empathy for your client base. George:You gonna have some people who are very concerned about, could I catch COVID-19 from another customer? So what are the things you're doing to protect your clientele? Even your staff, what are the things that you're doing to protect your staff so that I feel comfortable coming into your establishment? Or maybe I don't want to come in. Maybe I wanna conduct business online and get curbside pickup. So I don't know if you can just put out a general message, after COVID-19 we have the best price, best selection, and we're looking out for your best interests. I don't know if that's gonna work. I think we need to be a lot more specific in our messaging and transparent. That was what Todd was saying, if you really look into that best practice that he was articulating. And then I wanna just go to his final comments. And I think this is something that definitely I took from this and I'm doing a bad job of this, but you have to take care of yourself. George: You can't pour water from an empty bottle. And if you've managed to go through this entire event and not contracted COVID-19, it would really suck if now you can start to do business and you caught it. So take care of yourself, over communicate, embrace the disruption. And I love the line, I've heard it a number of times, Winston Churchill, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." And that's that whole idea of there is opportunity. Unfortunately, it's a fact, there's gonna be winners and there's gonna be losers. And I think that one of the reasons that you subscribed to the Conquer Local Podcast is you want to be a winner. George: So keep looking for a way that you can adapt your business or adapt your client's businesses so that they can win at the end of this disruption. And then what you're doing right now matters. And I think that it's pretty cool, actually. We've been talking about how we gonna give you the some best practices, and we gonna introduce you to some great guests and thought leaders that will help you Conquer Local. Help you be that trusted local expert. And one of the reasons that I've always had a lot of pride in being a salesperson is, since I got out of my early years, I was like a toddler salesperson. I would just kinda running around, running into stuff, cracking my head on the little cupboards and things like that. Dropping stuff, spilling things, I wasn't a good, I wasn't a good salesperson. I was just trying to figure it all out. But when I really started to understand that my job was to help my client be successful. And I knew that I could impact that business owners business. George: That's when I really fell in love with what I was doing. And I think that we really can help those business owners now. So thanks to Todd Rowe. I'm sure he's super busy, like I don't think he get to be the global managing director of Google SMB. But he took some time out to speak to you, and we're very fortunate to have him as one of our now Conquer Local Alumni and have his insights here on this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Gordon Borrell built an entire business around a survey, and he's still doing it! It's 10 years running and there isn't a stop in sight. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, has confirmed what we've been hypothesizing for a while now. The customer journey needs to have a relationship built off trust, BUT he throws in a twist. Listen and find out what the secret sauce is. Gordon Borrell is ranked in the top 2% among Gerson Lehrman Group’s 150,000 consultants worldwide and is quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Ad Age, Forbes and other publications. He has appeared on CNN and other TV and radio programs discussing trends and forecasts for local media. Prior to starting Borrell Associates, Gordon was vice president for new media for Landmark Communications, where he worked for 22 years. He started his career as a reporter and editor for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia. Introduction George: It's another edition of the "Conquer Local Podcast." And one of my favorite events to go to in the year is Gordon Borrell's LOAC presentation that he has at the Grand Hyatt, and it's been running now for 10 years. And we have Gordon Borrell all lined up to take us through all of the nuggets from that convention and to also tell us what... You know, Gordon, he reads the tea leaves. And he has a look at the data, and he says, "Here's where the space is going, and here's where you need to pivot your business." And he also has a tendency to attract some of the best keynote speakers to his convention. I always find it to be very informative and very educational when I go to that event every year. So we're gonna hear it from the man himself, Mr. Gordon Borrell, coming up next on the "Conquer Local podcast." Join us for "Conquer Local" 2019 in beautiful sunny San Diego. California's Beach City and the legendary Hotel del Coronado will play host to the most valuable conference of the year for companies selling marketing solutions to local businesses. We have a must-see lineup of industry experts, including our keynote speaker, Kevin O'Leary from ABC's Shark Tank. Our entire slate of accomplished speakers have been hand-picked to address the top six growth problems facing all B2B companies: product, demand, sales, scale, retention, and expansion. You'll get stimulating talks, tactile workshops, and an opportunity to connect with the brightest minds in your industry, all geared toward turning your business into a recurring revenue growth engine. Plus, you can experience an unforgettable adventure on a guided tour of the world-famous San Diego Zoo capped off with an incredible treetop reception. We've secured deep discounts on conference hotel rooms, but they are limited and going fast. Don't miss out. Go to conquerlocal2019.com, and get your tickets and rooms today. George: It's another edition of the "Conquer Local podcast." You know, it just hit me like a lightning bolt. We've obviously been doing this for a little bit over a year because I remember one of our first podcasts had Gordon Borrell on. And Gordon Borrell is back because it is that time of year where you have your massive convention in New York City and you unveil all of that data. And I had the privilege of being there when you did the unveil of all the data around your survey. So, first off, welcome back, Mr. Gordon Borrell. Gordon: How about that. What an honor it is for me to be here. Thank you, George, and you do have a great podcast. It is indeed an honor to be on this. You're doing some great things. I've heard quite a few of them, and you're really helping the industry from an educational standpoint. So, thank you. George: Well, we appreciate those comments. It's great guests like you that help us to do that because you are out there doing the hard work getting the insights. And I found some interesting things as you were rolling through the rollout of the data from your survey. So, can we set the table for the survey, and can you tell us about how long you've been doing it? And just for new listeners who may not be familiar with Gordon Borrell and the great work that your company does, can we kind of get a little bit of a back story, please? Gordon: Sure. We've been around for 18, 19 years or so. We've been doing surveys and research for that period of time looking at local advertising and tracking the trends in advertising and marketing expenditures. The survey that you're referring to is the Local Advertiser Survey that we do annually from April until July, and it's the largest survey in North America of local advertisers. It's about 44 questions, and it's a huge amount of insights and information from the local business industry about what they're doing, what they're planning to do with their advertising and marketing expenditures. The Giant Toy Box of Advertising and Its Treasures George: You know, that is very valuable information for a local seller. Imagine going into the customer and knowing what, you know, furniture stores in markets that size are spending on social media advertising. So can we dig into some of the insights from this survey that you saw when you were speaking to those advertisers because I think it's very valuable for salespeople to know what the poll says of businesses in the markets? Gordon: First off, George, the survey itself is now, what, six, eight months old or so because it ended in July. But we also do a monthly panel of about 2,000 advertisers. So, we kind of filter the results and look at it over time in how things have changed. So, overall, the trend that we see, I guess the two most important things that I can tell you out of that survey are local advertisers are expanding the number of types of media that they're buying. So in a given year, they typically buy five and a half, on average, different types of media. So it might be Yellow Pages, newspaper, radio, social media search, you know, etc. There are 5.5 on average that, pretty consistently, they have bought in a year's time. For some people, it might be direct mail. And others, they'll buy direct mail. They buy radio or this or that. It has now expanded to eight. So they've increased. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it really is. They have expanded to eight different types of media that they buy in a year. Now, this is the really shocking and scary thing that we saw on the most recent surveys. They are cutting the number of companies that they are buying from five to three. So they're cutting out two. And what that tells us is that they are definitely looking into the giant toy box of advertising, you know, marketing technologies that they have and go, "Wow, social media boosting posts? Let's do that. Let's do something on Twitter. Let's shoot a video of ourselves and cut it into a 15-second pre-roll and do some YouTube advertising." So they're certainly adding that type of stuff. But they are cutting out the dumbest punk companies that they have been dealing with that are just saying, "Oh, that social media stuff doesn't work. Radio advertising is bigger than anything else, or newspaper advertising is the best." So they know those people aren't really telling the truth. Those people are just trying to sell advertising. George: So it's interesting. You know, we in the industry, we call it, you know, the reduction of vendor clutter. But what it really means is that the advertiser is looking to a trusted provider, and they're saying, "I can get it from Joe. I don't have to deal with Suzy or Tom over here who I don't even think are telling me the truth. So I'm just gonna go with that trusted local expert." You know, we've been talking about this for quite some time, but the data is starting to support that or continuing to support that. Gordon: It is, George, but it's just a little more complicated than that. And I'm actually just learning this from my Executive Vice President of Research, Corey Elliott, who's the guy who's at the center of all the surveys that we do. And he was just sitting with me this morning telling me that, "You know, you think it would be they're going with the person whom they trust and the trusted brands. But while that is important, that is not the most important thing." And this is kind of shocking because, George, you and I have always felt with lots of other people that, "Well, they're gonna buy advertising based on trust." You could have the most trusted, nicest, kindest, most wonderful person walk in that door. If they didn't have the right products to sell, and they didn't know, and that's the key, and they didn't know about your business and let's say you're a furniture store, and they didn't know, you know, how to sell an ottoman, you know, the best marketing tips for selling an ottoman, and they didn't have the right product, you know, maybe they were selling only Yellow Pages, well, that's not gonna work. So, in the end, it's the combination of things. Yes, it's the trust, and yes, it's the relationship, but, man, you've gotta have the right products, and you also have to have some knowledge about the business. Training to Stay Ahead George: So does that mean that, as a local seller, you can't just be pigeonholed into one thing I think is what you're saying. You need to have access to all the products because even if you have the trust if you have the absence of the products, you're gonna lose the deal. Gordon: I think that the dance is to stay ahead of the advertiser in terms of market knowledge. And the market knowledge right now, they're teaching themselves because they suddenly have these tools available to them. They can build their own graphics, whereas 15, 20 years ago, it was really harder to do that. But now they can, and they can place their own ads, whereas 15 or 20 years ago, it was impossible to do that. You had to go through somebody. So, they have graduated from, we'll say, high school with, you know, some marketing knowledge, and now they're in college. So you damn well better have a college degree and be working on your master's to stay ahead of them. George: You know, that speaks next to something that we have been talking about in lots of episodes, so let's really dig into that. When you're working with your customers who are media organizations and agencies and you're talking to sales leadership in that group, I'm sure that learning and having that culture of constant learning, who are you seeing that are doing a really good job of that in helping to teach their reps? What are some best practices there? Gordon: Well, it's always hard to name names because, you know, whenever I do that, I get calls or emails and people say, "What about me? You didn't mention us." Or, you know, I get smartass sometimes, and I'll mention somebody who's not doing a good job. So, hell, let's just name names anyway. There are a few companies out there that we see doing remarkable jobs in training the reps, and some of them are cable companies. Cable companies are getting cable systems roughly the same amount in digital advertising dollars as, you know, a broadcast TV station does in the market. These guys are actually pretty good at training. They're kind of like radio folks. You know, they're really, really good at selling. So you take a private company like Cox Communications, both on their media side and their cable side, and they do a phenomenal job of training. And then you look at some of the smaller radio groups, not quite the bigger ones, but the smaller ones, and they just get it, and they understand it. And you have to look at, you know, all other groups: newspapers, Yellow Pages, etc. across the board. But I would say that the difference is particularly with those who have multiple outlets, somebody that has a corporate level or company-wide training program that really keeps up with things, keeps up with the certification, maybe the digital certification and the other, you know, certifications like the radio advertising bureaus, you know, radio certification program and local media associations. So it really is the companies that have invested a significant, not a small, but a significant amount of money in training and, importantly, keep those training programs updated every single year because terminology changes and market conditions change and things like that. Stop the Tear Down, Start the Frank Discussion George: We talked about the number of products that people are buying from groups and things like that. Are you seeing anything around, you know, what they don't like? And I remember last year, you launched into the podcast by saying that advertisers were pissed off. And I loved that statement, by the way. If you were to put one statement over what they don't like from what you saw in that survey, do you have any of those nuggets that our reps can take back and say, "Boy, I better stop doing that because clients hate that?" Gordon: Yeah. Stop pissing on other media and try to make yours look better. The advertisers tell us in comments. I've got a deck that has comment after comment after comment just to drive this home. And I was in West Virginia a couple of weeks ago doing it with the West Virginia Broadcasters Association. I said, "Look, don't go in and tell them the myth that radio reaches 98% of the population in any given week." They know that to be a lie. Well, maybe it does but not your station. Don't go in and say, "Newspapers are better than everything else." Don't go in and say, "Digital media sucks." So you don't go in and you tear down the other medium. You really have to come in and say, "Well,..." you know, and exhibit the market knowledge that everything works in unison. Outdoor works. TV works. Radio works. Yellow Pages work, particularly in small markets. So the one thing that the advertisers are really fed up with is this false consultative sales approach where you come in and say, "Hey, I don't wanna sell you anything. I just wanna ask you some questions. Tell me what your needs are. Tell me what your points of pain are. Tell me what you'd like to do." And so let's say you're a radio sales rep, right? George: Yes. Gordon: And then you say, "I'm going to come back, and then I'm gonna give you some recommendations." Well, guess what you're going to come back and recommend as the solution? Radio advertising. They see through that. If you're in the advertising sales business, it's a really good time to be smart. George: How do you feel about that line, "I'm not here to sell you something?" Gordon: I think advertisers see through that. I think there's gotta be...it may be true that you're not on that visit, but I think it's too time-worn now to use. I think you have to take a bit of a different approach. I think you have to say, "I wanna help you with your marketing needs, but really, on this call, what I'm here to do is try to find out a little bit more. I've got some information that might be able to help you. But if I'm really gonna be able to serve you, I need to be able to ask some questions. And I'm earnest in wanting to help you. I really think I can save you some time or money, or I wouldn't be here." You know, drop all those defenses, drop all that attack mode, drop all the false terminology, and just be frank with them. George: No, I appreciate you validating what I was asking there because I find that when a rep walks in and says, "I'm not gonna sell you something," does a bullshit needs analysis, and then comes back to try to sell them something, you've lost all credibility. You know, "Yes, I am an advertising consultant, or a marketing consultant, or a digital media consultant, and what I'm here to do is to see if there would be a fit between our two organizations where I would be able to help you with the products and services that I have. And, yes, those come with a price attached to them," and just be open with the customer because the trust is the most important piece. And when you break it, you can't get it back. Gordon: Yeah. I completely agree. If you can't say, "I'm not here to sell you something ever," then you shouldn't say it. I mean, that's sort of a test. Breaking Through the Noise George: And what are you finding in your surveys around these needs, customer needs analysis, the CNA, the dreaded...you know, I'm gonna come in and ask you a bunch of questions. Is there any comments in there from your advertisers that you've surveyed around those because I'm sure they're being inundated by those bloody things? Gordon: Yeah. There really are. And, again, it does speak to the suspicion that the advertisers have that these folks are coming in on a sort of a consultative approach, but they are gonna come back and sell them something. You know, I don't know how you get around that other than to say...just be honest with them to say, "I think I have a whole set of marketing opportunities, some of which you may not be aware of, that you can take advantage of. But on this call, I'm really just here to find out whether we actually have the tools that can help you, I kind of think we do, but I'm here to ask you questions." So, you're basically saying, "I'm not gonna try to sell something on this call, but I'm probably gonna come back and try to sell you something." That's really important. You've got to know that these advertisers are absolutely besieged. The number of sales calls has doubled for the average advertiser to 24 a month in the past three and a half years. So, they're just being barraged by all of this pressure from all of these media outlets. Here's a fascinating fact for you, George. A lot of people don't really know this. But, you know, we're assuming that the Yellow Pages industry is dying and that newspapers are dying, and, you know, nobody's listening to radio anymore, and nobody's watching TV. And that's all a bunch of crap because, right now, there have been some Yellow Pages books that have gone away and there has been. And we hear a lot about them, but it's just overemphasized. Some daily newspapers that have gone to online only have, you know, folded with two other papers. But still, there are about 1,300 daily newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, and there are phenomenal amounts of other media, 10,000 radio stations, 8,000 weekly newspapers. So when you look at any individual market at province or at DMA, there are more than 100 locally-based media outlets on average. Even a really small market might have 30 or 40. And the advertiser is just shutting down and saying, "That's too much noise." So, it really is incumbent upon a company that wants to survive or, you know, grow again to just have a really, really, really smart sales approach. There's gonna be so much effort based on training that sales staff. George: Yeah. We do the count of media organizations. Then we also have every piece of marketing technology that has been built have their own sales team that is hammering the phones and emails of those SMBs trying to get them to buy their bespoke solution as well. So, again, to be in that top one or two is the most important thing that you need to do when you're dealing with your prospects and that top of mind awareness that, "Yeah. I understand your business, we've built some trust, I'm going to see if I can get the product set that matches your needs," has never been more important than it is today. And it's good to see that your data is supporting the things that we're trying to train as we speak to people on the "Conquer Local Podcast." When you look at the entire survey based upon the previous ones that you've done and the data that you've gathered, is there anything else that's really glaring that jumps out at you from the information? Getting Together and Educating Gordon: Well, a couple of things. I'll go back to what I said, you know, at the very beginning. It's those two things that just keep going round and round in our minds that they're expanding the number of choices but decreasing the number of companies that they deal with, therefore, they're using a little more DIY stuff. Plus, you know, what I said earlier in that is that they just really want a very defined sleek marketing person to help them out, and those are the ones who are going to win. I think, George, the other thing that we are seeing when we look at these surveys is these businesses, they're beginning to learn from the DIY stuff that's put in front of them. And we do it ourselves here at Borrell Associates. We go, "Well, we can just design this ad ourselves. Hey, we just put a post online. And you click this button here, and, you know, you can boost it for 100 bucks." So we're learning rather than having to rely on somebody else to farm it out to. That, I think, is one of the more important things, is to realize that the class or the education of the advertiser themselves continues to increase. However, I wouldn't classify them as extremely educated. They still need that. They still show up in droves. When you say, "We're gonna have a digital marketing expert or some marketing expert come to town and talk to you about SEO and getting seen by the search engines and social media and things like that," they still come out in droves. So their educational needs are still high. But realize that as they come to these meetings that everybody seems to be holding in the markets, and as they do their own stuff, that their education level is getting, you know, greater and greater. So it's getting a little tougher to serve them. George: We really appreciate you taking some time from your schedule to join us on the podcast again this year and give us the insights that were shared with your crowd in New York at the beautiful Grand Hyatt, which has been recently renovated, which was kind of nice to see. But I also wanted to offer our congratulations to you on 10 years of having that event, and I think it's a great event, media executives from all over North America and, in fact, the world. You know, I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit about the journey of your convention. It's a monumental accomplishment that you and your organization have had, and congratulations on that. Gordon: Thank you. We did start in 2009. The first one was in this time of the year, spring of 2010, and we were surprised, George, at the first one that we held. We didn't ever think we'd be in the conference business in any way or wanna hold one. So we said, "Well, there's really a need because the trade associations for radio, for television, for newspapers, for the directory industry, Yellow Pages, will hold their conventions or their conferences, and then will have a little section on digital. And if you go to it and you really know a lot about digital, you go, "Man, this is weak crap. Man, this is not good." We thought, "We'll get everybody under one roof, and we'll just have a local online advertising conference. It's gonna be about local, it's just gonna be about online, it's gonna be about advertising, and it's gonna be all types of media. The very first one that we had was sold out. We were shocked. It just spoke, I think, to the need for everybody to understand this new marketing space, not from a monolithic view. It really is a completely different medium with a completely different set of capabilities. And if you don't understand that, then you're gonna shortchange yourself. Having said that, George, I'll tell you one thing. The hotel was renovated many, many years ago. Now, it's being torn down. So this was our last event at the Grand Hyatt. We're gonna have to find another place to go to 2020. George: Well, I'm sure there's all sorts of hotels that would love to have that chunk of business that you bring to town every March. Of all the people that spoke this year, what was your favorite presentation? Gordon: Well, the favorite presentation is, to me, it's always the presentation by comScore. We've traded off between Nielsen and comScore. We've usually had Gian Fulgoni, who's the Co-founder and Chairman of comScore, this year. He had retired, and he offered Sara Hofstetter. And her presentation is just absolutely stunning. We like research people because they have great insights, and they talk about what's going on irrespective of, you know, what they should be promoting because their company is a certain type of company. No, they're truth-tellers. So, in that presentation, what we saw was a lot of information on OTT and how that is growing or over the top video. It's basically the transition of the internet from a read medium to a viewed-and-listened-to medium. The growth of podcasting and all these audio devices and the growth of video-viewing is turning the internet really into a multimedia event, and a lot of the ad dollars are flowing in that direction. So that phenomenal, you know, sudden uptick in growth, and the vast expansion of TV programming to the digital venue was really remarkable. Conclusion George: Well, I really appreciate you joining us on the podcast. I always feel that, you know, as a gray-haired old sales guy, I always learn things when I listen to Gordon Borrell. So I appreciate you bringing that insight and being a guest again this year. And we wish you all the best in the days to come as we move through 2019, and good luck finding your new location for the convention next year. Gordon: George, thank you very much for having me, and thanks for doing this for the industry. It's a great podcast. Thank you. George: Well, probably one of my favorite public speakers to see him live, Gordon, commands the stage, presents very, very well, and he knows his information inside and out as you can tell. But what I found from that presentation as really interesting is sales and marketing to SMB is harder than it's ever been because we have all of this confusion and all of this noise that's happening with all of these entities that are calling on the prospects. So, it's never been more important for the rep to be more educated. And also, Gordon touched on the fact that those customers are using DIY solutions, and they're becoming more educated. So it's really interesting crossroads that we're at, and it speaks directly to what our core foundation is on the "Conquer Local Podcast." I've said this in past episodes. When I first entered this space seven years ago, and I started working with sales teams, and I remember being on a sales call with a young lady. She was about 55 years old. She'd been selling for a number of years. I was looking kind of in the mirror. I'm like, "Oh, here's somebody, not that young of a salesperson, and they know how to sell their legacy product. But we really need to come up with a way to help them sell the new digital solutions they're going to need so they can stay relevant." There's a lot of young smart people out there that are charging into business with a ton of education. They're very tech savvy. They're not intimidated by digital. And our job here at the "Conquer Local Podcast" is to help all of the salespeople, whether they be brand new salespeople, and they have to learn how to develop relationships, and they learn how to have to actually communicate with people and do active listening. And then we've got old salespeople like myself that need to learn new tricks, but new things that they can deliver to that customer to solve their problems. So I really appreciate Gordon's insight because it's backed up by data. And the data points that everything that we've been talking about on the "Conquer Local Podcast" is more important today than it was a year and three months ago when we started this thing. So, thank you, Gordon, for all of those insights, and we wish you all the best as the months continue here in 2019. We are coming up to summer, is just around the corner. We're trying to plan what we're going to do during the summer. And producer Colleen and I have been brainstorming, and we got saying, "You know, what haven't we covered? What do we wanna look at?" We'd like to get your feedback. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn or on the Conquer Local LinkedIn channel and give us some ideas as to what you might like to see us cover as we move into...well, we're maybe gonna call "The Summer..." we'll come up with a fancy name for it. I'll leave that up to the Colleen to come up with that. But we're going to do a series in the summer months that is all gonna be around teaching. We'll bring some people in that are great sales coaches to those episodes, but we're looking for your feedback first. So please reach out to us on LinkedIn on the "Conquer Local" page or on my page, George Leith. Oh, by the way, my name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
As a business owner, you understand the value of each of your clients. However, not every arrangement turns out to be mutually beneficial, and at some point, you may find it necessary to say no to a client who isn't your Ideal Customer. Janice Christopher, Founder of the Janice Christopher Agency and Executive Coach—also known as The Queen Bee of Marketing—is this week's guest. Janice brings her fiery personality to share with our listeners that it's ok, smart, and necessary to say no to potential customers who don't fit your ideal customer profile. Janice shares her stories about when she had to say no to a potential client and why it was imperative. Janice Christopher is no stranger to marketing, with 30 years of sales and brand management experience. Formerly a Certified Financial Planner, Janice decided to spread her wings and become a marketing consultant for small- to medium-sized businesses. As a business owner herself, she knows how to listen to clients, identify their needs – and then develop a strategy to help them WIN. Janice is competitive, relationship-oriented, and smart – out to sting the competition and get customers swarming to your door. Known as the Queen Bee of Marketing, Janice’s sweet-spot is taking the mystery out of marketing strategy and bringing the buzz to her client’s brands. Coffee talk: Bulletproof is best Pet peeve: Dusty dashboards Never leaves home without: Fashionista accessories Ideal holiday: A tropical island with an umbrella drink Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community, and keep learning in the Conquer Local Academy.
This week, George visits 411.ca headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for the relaunch of their small business solutions to help them better serve their whopping 500-700 new clients every month. Hear him speak with VP of Strategy and Business Operations, Mike Giamprini, to receive some fantastic details on how Mike and his team are motivating salespeople, from new hires to experienced managers, and how they're growing revenue with their high-performing sales & service teams – all focused on helping Canadian local businesses win in their markets. Listen now, and discuss on LinkedIn. Connect with Mike Giamprini on LinkedIn. Subscribe now to automatically get next week's episode: iTunes / Google Play How about a sales organization that makes over 100,000 sales calls a year? They get 20 million visits to their website. We're going to take you inside a high performing sales organization with Mike Giamprini, the vice president of strategy and corporate development at 411.ca. "Conquer Local" podcast special edition on location in Toronto, Ontario, Canada this week. Welcome to this week's episode of the "Conquer Local" podcast, special edition. We're in Toronto, Ontario, Canada this week at 411.ca. My colleague Craig Taylor and myself, are doing a launch of 411.ca sales organization, and Mike Giamprini, the vice president of strategy and corporate development for 411.ca joining me on the Conquer Local podcast. Mike, thanks for being our guest this week. Mike: Thanks for having me. George: Well, I was excited to come spend the week with your sales team. Really my happy place is when I'm working with sales reps and sales managers, and you've got a very engaged organization here. Can we talk a little bit about the sales engine that you have in place? I was impressed this morning you did it right. There was a kickoff. You had the CEO stand at the front door, welcoming all the salespeople, so they understood this was a big deal. Everybody is on board. You've got logos up with all of the new products identified so they know that it's a thing. And if there's one lesson that sales managers and sales organizations can take from what you've done here is, you're releasing a new set of services, a new set of solutions for businesses. But rather than just doing it in an ad hoc way, you've made a big deal of it, so they understand this is a thing. Mike: Absolutely. We've branded all of the products, we have put them into relevant packages that make sense for small businesses, and we've really spent a lot of time and effort getting our sales force, primarily our sales force excited about it. So as you mentioned, you know, when they come off the elevator this morning, they were offered a mimosa and a bit of encouragement from our president. And then when they hit the floor and their desk, they had all the knowledge material that they need and a few kind of branded items to help generate some activity, and some interest. We've got some contests and sales promotions going on all week for them. And we're also doing the same thing with our customer service team. Here in Toronto, we have about 65 salespeople who are on the phone every day prospecting to brand new business for us, which is Canadian small business. And then we have about 30 some odd people in our customer service group, who service our existing customer base. Right now our existing customer base is around 1,500 businesses in Canada. We're generating approximately somewhere between 700 and 900 new ones a month, and we're just growing the business. We think these new products are going to help us grow the business that much faster. George: So 700 to 900 new customers a month, coming on board. That means you're making a ton of calls on a daily basis, and all of it's over the phone. There's no face to face. So what would your, you know, the number of calls that you expect from those reps on a daily basis? Mike: Well, I can tell you on a monthly basis, we generate about 50,000 phone calls out of this office, a week. So that's, you know, just hovering around 200,000 phone calls a month. George: The thing that I think is interesting, and I don't want this to get lost in this entire launch where we had, you know, the mimosas at the front door, and you had the fantastic breakfast sandwiches for everybody, and the staff was super excited about having breakfast, which isn't something you do every day. But then, there's going to be intense training over the next week. Every single member of this organization is going to be sitting in one of these rooms going through training, and you've recognized that that's one of the keys. Mike: Absolutely. As you mentioned, everybody from obviously our sales team and our customer service team, but also our IT folks, our marketing folks, our admin folks, everybody is going through the training. It's in our culture. Pretty much the way we service our customers, you know, and the entire customer journey when someone's doing business with us, there are so many people and so many departments that have to contribute to making that a successful relationship that we thought it was really worth making sure the entire organization was aware and familiar with the new products. So everybody is involved in what we're calling these festivities that are happening all week. George: Well, I noticed you were sitting in them, and I noticed that your president was sitting in those sessions as well. And that's a great way to get buy-in, you know, throughout the organization. You also said something earlier in one of the presentations. You said, you know, we really need to be consultative in the sales approach. It sounds like you're making a change to your sales process. Can you talk a little bit about that? Mike: Absolutely. We're viewing this week as a major pivot for our business in general. As 411.ca, our business model really revolves around selling and advertising product, if you will, on our directory. We get about 20 million visitors to our website a year, so that in and of itself is a way to provide value to an advertiser. But, you know, the directory space is difficult and it continues to be difficult and more and more difficult every day to show value in those products. And so we've decided that we have to also start to sell services that are going to support our customers' businesses if we're going to be part of their growth patterns as well. So this is why we've launched. Today we've pivoted our business into becoming a service provider as well as a media through our directory. We are in a recurring monthly revenue model, our business, and so we try to sell as many of them as possible as early in the year as possible so that they can stick around and we can enjoy the benefit of having their business as long as possible in the year. George: So a high performing sales organization. Now, you may be able to hear the music in the background, and I had the pleasure of meeting some of your managers. Definitely, a high energy group of people that are motivating the teams. But just making that sale is really where the relationship starts, and that's where that customer service part of the business comes in and you're really involved in that on a daily basis. So I'd like you to talk about how do you support that initial sale and how do you help that customer and grow that relationship? Mike: Absolutely. So our whole model is built on every new sale creates an opportunity for another sale. Whether it's a follow up sale in the welcome call that the customer gets, which is usually 24 to 48 hours after the initial sale is made, if it's just an online presence products that's sold, we'll spend a good 90 days proving to the customer that we can impact their online presence positively, and we can sort of make them look better, appear relevant, appear more often, appear consistently online, and get them ready to then drive eyeballs to their businesses. So 90 days later, we'll create an opportunity to sell some paid search to the customer, if it's relevant, if it makes sense for them. But, you know, if it's an online presence tool that we've sold them, then we can upsell them to a review management, or a social posting type of product as well. As long as we are able to provide value, the thing that we are moving into very aggressively is that, as you mentioned, that more consultative selling approach where we commit to provide value and show them value, and very, very high touch, very frequent touch with the customers. And that's where our customer service team kicks in. It is their job to make sure that they're reporting on the performance of the products regularly, that they figure out the right cadence with the customer, they have a total contact strategy that they develop with the customer so that we're talking to them when they want to be spoken to, how they want to be spoken to: it it text SMS? Is it email? Is it phone calls? We're kinda anxious to see how this is all going to work now because as I said, we started this new pivot. George: I thought that the texting thing, let's not let that get lost. What you're saying and I've witnessed this, is your customer service representatives will text the client if that is their preferred means of communication? Mike: Absolutely. We're just in the process of implementing some new technology where our customer service reps will be able to text their customers from their desktop, and the customers will be able to text our customer service reps and they'll receive those text messages. It's a tremendous tool. We did some research and we found, you know, what we were delighting our clients about and what the clients were less than enthused about. And out of that research came the theory, the knowledge that we had to build this contact strategy with each and every customer. And text, I believe is going to play a big part of that strategy. George: Mike, let's talk about the higher performance of this organization. I understand that you have some very high expectations of your top performing reps. Mike: Yeah. Let me share with you how we develop and create really successful reps here. We have, I guess you'd call it somewhat of a farm team approach. We are constantly, constantly, recruiting for new sales reps. Every 6 or 8 weeks, we conduct a week-long classroom training session where we bring in anywhere from 12 to 15, kind of what we call new recruits, or candidates. Then they get put through a pretty intensive week of training in the first couple of days, and then the last two days of that week they actually hit the phones and they start actually doing some work. And then we kind of evaluate who's kinda made the first cut. Those who make the first cut move on to the second week, third week, fourth week, etc. We might enjoy two or three of those candidates sort of six weeks into the burn until we start another group who come in. So we're constantly refreshing our team. And then we have 3 sales managers who manage their own teams of anywhere from 15 to 20 reps per team, and they are just working with those teams every single day. Their jobs, the sales managers' jobs, we tell them their job is to manufacture reps. Is to really just develop really, really good reps. We have an operations team who take care of all the details so that we can unencumber our sales managers to do nothing, but focus on their people every single day. And their job is to drive performance out of those people. We're hoping that our reps, you know, our good reps are kinda doubling their base salary through commissions. Our great reps are sometimes tripling that. And so our really, really great reps are making a great living doing what they do here. But I'd say that we have a pretty low turnover rate too. We tend to keep people around here a long time. George: I met your sales managers earlier today, and I'll tell you, there is a lot of engagement in this room. What do you gotta do to be a sales manager at 411.ca? Mike: You got to come up through the ranks. We try to promote from within whenever possible. Our current team of sales leaders right now have done exactly that, and so they are really effective because, you know, they've been there. They've been on the phone for many, many years, they have made literally hundreds of thousands of calls, and they've made tens of thousands of sales. And so that is really what makes them effective. They've started from scratch and they've earned their way up to their leadership roles. George: I see some millennials rolling around, and I get asked all the time by sales managers. You and I are not millennials. It's pretty obvious to see that. What are you doing to engage those sales reps because they seem to be very engaged? Mike: We work really hard to understand what it is that motivates them. Definitely, there is a big population of millennials in that team. At the end of the day though, they are salespeople, and they are motivated by the success they enjoy through their commission, through their comp plans. Actually, we're launching new comp plans to go along with the new product launches as well, but we really, really focus on a lot of instant gratification. We run a lot of daily contests and promotions. We run an annual sales incentive trip for all our high performers across the company. A bunch of them just got back two weeks ago from a week in Cancun. We took about 35 people down to Cancun for a week. So we're constantly incenting, constantly rewarding them. They thrive on that. You know, they're happy to make a sale, they're happy to delight a customer, but at the end of the day, it's good for them to know that there's something a little extra in there for them. So they have very, very aggressive comp plans here. George: I heard something from you earlier today about everybody's got a Visa card? Mike: Yeah, we do load up. Everybody in the sales teams have a cash card basically, and if they kinda go above and beyond, or if their sales manager wants to reward them or congratulate them, we can just load some cash onto their card. Again, just kind of a way to keep them excited, to keep them interested. George: So for the CFOs that are listening out there, it's a great way to track that because, you know, it used to be we just have 100 bucks in our desk, and when somebody did something you give them a $50 bill or a $20 bill as a reward. But, you know, finance guys hate that because they can't track it. This way, you just put it on the card. There's a tracking to the whole deal, and even if they're on the wheel of winning, which I noticed you have a wheel of winning out here... Mike: We do. George: ...and they win 20 bucks, you just throw that on. I think it's a great way to track it. Mike: You just throw it right on their card. It's a great way to track it. The accounting folks love it. It helps with all of the payroll issues around income taxes and all that kind of stuff. George: Brilliant. Mike: And for the reps, it's a wonderful thing. They get it at the end of the week on a Friday afternoon. They go the weekend knowing that, "Hey, I got an extra 150 bucks on my card this week. I can go and enjoy it." George: Well, we're gonna make sure that we put Mike's LinkedIn profile into the episode recap, and you can reach out to him on LinkedIn. He's got some phenomenal ideas on compensation models and how to reward sales reps. You've been very willing to share that. So I'm sure there'll be some people reach out to you and want to get some more insight. Mike: Absolutely. George: It's a very impressive organization. It's a privilege to work with you folks. We've really enjoyed the months leading up to this, and I'm looking forward to getting to know some of your reps and sales managers better as the week progresses. Thanks for joining us on the Conquer Local podcast. I do have to ask you, because I ask every guest this one question, and you and I have been doing this for a while. Sales is really moving away from that person with a bag showing up and giving the one-sheeter, and saying, "Here's my product. Are you interested in buying?" Tell me how your business has changed from that because I know that that's part of this transition that you're going through as well. But you folks do it over the phone, so you're not showing up with a bag, but you show up over the phone. Tell me how your business has changed. Mike: Well, the one thing that we have really focused on and will continue to focus on is training. Training the reps is critical. Even, you know, as you said, we're not face to face. We're selling over the phone. It's a hard job. It's a super hard job. Personally, I don't think I could do it. But we have a lot of reps here who are incredibly good at it, and they are incredibly successful. They make a very, very good living. And those are the reps who've gone through the training, and continue to better and improve themselves regularly. So really training is the key and it's something that is, I wouldn't say it's new to this organization, but it's become a recent emphasis on what we do with our sales reps and our customer facing customer service team as well. George: Oh, constant learning is really the way that high performing sales organizations are going to win. Mike Giamprini, vice president of strategy and corporate development, thank you very much for being on the Conquer Local podcast. Mike: My pleasure. Thank you. George: I'm George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
The Master Sales Series is back! George Leith gives the dos and don'ts of conferences. The man has attended over 500 conferences in his 30+ years of sales. George divulges over 10 different methods on how to improve yourself and your team when attending conferences. Everything from making yourself memorable, creating goals for conferences, and how to gamify your team. This episode is one you will want to save and share with your sales teams before your next conference. George is responsible for business development with Vendasta’s large channel partners, as well as managing our in-house sales team. As the host of the Conquer Local Podcast, George’s personal mandate is to make local sales better. A digital interpreter, George has preached the gospel of online reputation management directly to the local businesses of hundreds of cities across North America. He translates his knowledge of the digital landscape into accessible information for those still stuck in the rut of traditional media. With nearly three decades of experience in marketing, sales and promotion, George is a highly compelling speaker, always in demand across North America — vital content and emphatic delivery are combined for an enlightening presentation. George’s expertise in sales, training, networking, management and marketing comes from the numerous executive and ownership positions he has held across multiple media and service-related businesses. His track record of success is continued here at Vendasta.
Going beyond product peddling by proving performance. This week, George chats with Jed Williams, Chief Innovation Officer of the Local Media Association to discuss how personalized, business-specific data can help you drive sales in 2018. Tune in to hear them discuss how to execute a better customer needs assessment, the post-sale quarterback strategy... and something about a #blowything. If you don't want to miss an episode, subscribe now. Join in the discussion on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter! Guest: Jed Williams Jed Williams is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Local Media Association, where he leads industry wide digital revenue and business transformation initiatives for newspapers, radio and TV broadcasters, digital publishers, and R&D partners. These programs include Innovation Missions, Chief Digital Club executive networking groups, and LMA’s strategic consulting practice. Previously, Williams was a Senior Analyst and Vice President of Strategic Consulting at BIA/Kelsey, where he managed the company’s consulting division. He has led projects for AT&T, Constant Contact, Google, Time-Warner Cable, and Yahoo!. He has also advised local media companies such as GateHouse Media, Advance Digital, CNHI, Raycom, and Valpak. He previously also helped lead business development and strategy for two venture-backed technology companies, Vendasta and Main Street Hub. Williams’ insights have been cited by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Digiday, Bloomberg, FOX Business, and the BBC, among others. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and corporate meetings. He has written extensively on creative destruction and disruptive media and his work has been published and taught by the Columbia Journalism School and the Yale School of Management. > Connect with Jed Williams on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more industry insights. — Coming up on this week's edition of the Conquer Local Podcast, we speak to Jed Williams, the Chief Innovation Officer of the Local Media Association, working with media organizations all over North America. You'll learn why you need to be thinking about a CNA 2.0, and what is it. If you're going to do this job, you've got to get really serious about consultive selling. And Jed will talk about process, structure, and data from his work with hundreds of media organizations. It's all coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast. George: Jed Williams is the Chief Innovation Officer for the Local Media Association. He's joining us today on the Conquer Local Podcast. My friend, thanks for coming on board. Jed: Mighty George Leith, it's a delight and pleasure to be on your podcast and I'm so excited that you guys have launched us. George: Well, it's been a long time in the making, and it's a huge commitment when you say you're gonna do a podcast every week. I'm not regretting it yet because I get to talk to fantastic people like you. And when I was looking at the list of who I'm going to talk to first, Jed Williams was on that list. You and I had the privilege of working together for a period of time and then you went off to your calling at the LMA. Can you fill people in a little bit about what you do on a day-to-day basis? Jed: I'm happy to do it. And actually the time I spent in Vendasta with you is one of the best times in my career. You know, as you know, I'm very passionate about the cause of local media and the challenges of local media and what they need to do to forge sustainable and profitable paths forward, and that's what the Local Media Association is all about. So our mission statement at a high level, and I think it's worth underscoring this, is we work with local media companies of every shape and size, color, and dimension, whether it's radio, TV, newspaper, digital peer play, whatever it might be, to help them discover and develop new and sustainable business models. So it's a very heavy and important charge. And my task there, you know, I like to joke, the Chief Innovation Officer sounds on a business card. It's fancy and pretentious, but what the heck does it mean day-to-day? What it means is I've got to work with these members day-to-day at an executive level and on the ground floor with sales managers, sales teams, product managers, etc., to figure out what are they investing in to transform their businesses? Where are the new digital business models? How do they build more effective sales structures? So my job, my charge, is to design programs, initiatives, strategies for them that help them achieve exactly that. George: I like to think that... I talk to a lot of salespeople and sales managers and chief revenue offices in my travels, but I think that hands down, Jed, you talk to more. So we're looking to get some of those insights back from some of those discussions to us so that we can start to understand what an account executive needs to do when they're dealing with their customers to provide the most value and to make sure that they're that trusted local expert. So, you know, first thing I wanna dig into is some of the things that you're seeing in the last 24 months, and what's that pace of change? What's it like right now out there in the street? Jed: I mean, in a word, it's unbelievable. Maybe another word would be dramatic, would be existential. I mean, I know I'm using big words here, George, but I'm using them on purpose. I mean, that's the culture of change and disruption that we're in in media and particularly in sales. What's happening with advertisers, what's happening with digital advertising, what's happening with digital marketing services, who are the competitors, the flattening of the space. I mean, let me give you a number to put these into context, because we all here this number about the number of phone calls that a local business and SMB gets on a weekly basis or a monthly basis, right? And you and I, you know, we've seen the stat, oh, it's 39 or it's 40, it's something like that, which, by the way, is a ton. So I was talking to "The Dallas Morning News" not that long ago. Pretty successful local media company transforming itself, big digital agency presence. And they were talking to several of their auto partners, and they asked them, "How many phone calls about marketing and advertising do you get in a month?" You know what that answer was George? George: I'm interested to find out. Jed: Eighty nine, 89 phone calls in one month about advertising and marketing. That is... Now, granted this is Dallas, fifth biggest market in the country. I get it. It's not Dubuque, Iowa or Tucson, Arizon, but this is what our sales forces are up against. And I don't mean that as a fear tactic, I just mean that to say, if we're not rethinking every part of the operation, every part of the organization from the talent that we're bringing in, the professional development and the training and education that we're giving them, the support that we're providing them and fulfillment on the backend, the cultural buy-in in an executive level around the important of what they're doing in digital sales, data, and systems to help them have smarter conversations from the very first moment that they touched that client or prospect, and, by the way, sales manager and coach that really gets them and is there to promote them and help their path forward, then you don't have a chance in digital. It takes all of those things, and it now takes all of those things to breakthrough, because of the number of competitors that are out there, whether it's SaaS companies, whether it's vertical providers, whether it's the dominant platforms like Facebook and Google, whether it's Pure Play digital agencies. If you're a media company, you are up against all of that. You need to be reexamining every part of sales infrastructure. George: You know, and I will say to you that there's always been a lot of calls happening on the prospect, especially if you're an auto dealer, you're low hanging fruit for every sales organization out there that's trying to sell even the blowy thing that goes on in the parking lot that attracts people that are driving by or the guy in the gorilla suit. But the difference being today, and I'd like you to really dig into that, is the quality of the sales rep that is on those 89 calls, they're top shelf. Jed: They are, and I think they are for a couple of reasons. One is you're dealing with a different generation and a different sort of quality of salesperson that was raised digitally, that is very fluent digitally. Like this is all they know and all they do. You're not teaching that 25-year-old about digital platforms and digital tools, like this is how they were raised. It's innate to their DNA. So a lot of traditional media companies have that challenge. They're trying to reeducate or educate from scratch a traditional seller versus, you know, that very savvy 25-year-old coming out of the school, whatever the case might be, that really knows digital. I think the other thing is when you look at so many of these organizations, so I'll give you example. And I know we're gonna talk more about this in a little bit. But at LMA we lead these trips called innovation missions, and we'll go see progressive media companies but we'll also go and meet with disruptive technology companies. Those might be platforms, those might be software providers, etc. An example of one that we went to visit last year is HubSpot, up in Boston. You know, a fascinating company. They've had a great story. They had their public IPO. They're incredibly, as you know, George, I mean, incredibly metrics driven. Everything about that organization is fueled by data. I mean, it dictates every single decision that every sales reps and every person in that organization makes in every minute of every day. And so data is fuel. Data is oxygen. Data is power in your sales force, in understanding what the key sales activity should be, who you should be calling on, why, what you should be offering them, where they are in the journey and in the sales process. And I think that is something that media companies are up against more than ever, is not just thinking through your talent, but really thinking through how data-driven and how metrics-driven are you as an organization. And the answer is you better not just be driven, you better be obsessed by that. George: So I've got a great relationship. I'm the rep that's been calling on a client for 20-some odd years of knowing the owner of the business, now I might dealing with the son or daughter that's taken over the business on a day-to-day operations. I've been relying on my relationship. I haven't really been training myself too much on new products and services, although my organization is starting to sell new products and services. These are the sales reps that are really being disrupted by these data-driven organizations that get it, because the client is starting to look really deep into the offering saying, "Am I really getting the value that, you know, Old George has been professing that he's been giving me?" So that's where we're seeing that disruption, isn't it? Jed: That's exactly, yeah. I mean, I think at the end of the day, look, if you're a traditional media rep, you're a tea seller, you're a newspaper seller, you have a relationship with that furniture store, auto dealer, hospital, whatever it might be for 10 years or 15 years. That's nice. Maybe that gets you the first conversation. But if you can't actually solve specific problems for them, I mean, I always come back to, in any part of our business, but particularly in sales, the jobs to be done framework, if you don't really understand their jobs to be done as a business and you can't deliver on those with absolutely clear discernible ROI and attribution on what they're spending and why and what they're getting back in return, in the long term, you're going to lose because you're going up against organizations that understand products and understand solutions that can do that and have data and have trained their sales people to be able to have that conversation. So, you know, that all... just handshake and "I'll be back next month," I mean, none of that stuff works anymore, and so I think that there's such a focus on ROI with the SMB, with the advertiser... Look, they are, as you know, George, like they are as lost as the traditional media salesperson that I'm talking about. So they're looking for an advisor more than ever, and I think they're pretty ruthless and pretty objective about the person that walks through that door and truly understands their jobs to be done, gives them elegant, great customer service, and then delivers on that promise with products and services that deliver clear ROI. They're going to be the winners. And they aren't just the traditional advertising products that we've all known about for 50 years and they aren't even traditional digital advertising products. If you look at the digital advertising market, George, it's growing, but a lot of that growth is gobbled up by Google and Facebook. The digital marketing services opportunity, that is twice the size of digital advertising. According to Burrell, that's a $1 billion market and, you know...or, you know, excuse me, it's a $700 billion market and digital advertising opportunities are $350 billion market. So you've really got to understand all the options that are out there for a business and where the money is moving and be able to move in these directions. George: So then previous episodes of the podcasts we talked about the proof-of-performance layer to the sales process. And you've just touched right there with some really good data that you better be showing ROI. When do you think in the sales process should we be setting the stage for looking at the proof of performance and "Did the things that I sold to the customer start to work or not?" When do you set that stage? Jed: I think you set it pretty early. I don't think you set in the first touch point because I think you're learning in that first touch point. But I also want to talk about that for a second, George, before we get into reporting and managing client expectations, and that is sort of the era of the customer needs analysis. I really believe we're moving from CNA 1.0 to CAN 2.0. CNA 1.0 was "I got my little form and I wanna walk in there and take 30 minutes of your time and ask you a bunch of questions about your business." Well, here is the challenge. Every one of those 39 or 89 or whatever the number is you wanna believe, every one of those people that's making the phone call and asking to come in there wants to do the exact same thing. How much time does the business have to explain themselves and answer the same set of CNA questions for every single person knocking on their door? It is really much more about do you have data and information about them where you can come in from the first touch point and be helpful to them and provide information that they didn't know and help further their business as a result. So that, you know, that old era of "Let me come in and do a capabilities assessment," I think we're moving way beyond that. So I think there's a different kind of CNA required upfront to be a truly effective multi-platform seller. But then I think after you do that, to answer your question directly, pretty early in that process, when you're coming back and you're putting in solutions, and notice I don't say products, I say solutions, when you're putting solutions in front of that business, you need to be framing expectations around that early on. You know, "Here's what happens first and next, and after that, here's how we're gonna tell you about that, here's typically how long it takes for something to take effect and for you to see results, here's what the first results might be, here's the second results. We're gonna come back and calibrate with you on those on a recurring basis." I think you've got to be upfront with people. If not, particularly with products that are new to them and they don't know... Let's take something like SEO, search engine optimization, if you don't set those kind of expectations on strategy, tactics, and what they can expect to see by when, they will draw their own conclusions. And if you allow the business to draw their own conclusions, you are asking for trouble. And so I think it starts very early, but I think it also gets back to this notion of customer success as important as sales is and data in informing sales, customer success and service are a real differentiator for media companies or any successful sales organization. And that means that you're constantly coming back and delivering results. But you're not just showing them a dashboard, you're not sending them a 20-page report, you're doing real analysis, putting it in context, creating prescription on what's happening next or what you encourage next and why, and you're doing that on human touch point. You're not sending them an email with the PowerPoint saying, "Take a look. We'll see you next month." Like that, in this era, none of that is good enough. So I believe, to, you know, kind of tie it together, I believe that that expectation setting happens early, George, but it doesn't happen once. You are constantly calibrating with the customer on that. George: You know, what you're leading me to believe here and you're making very compelling point, it is that an annual sales cadence where I go see the customer once a year just isn't gonna cut it. And even that I'm going to have to see that customer on a regular basis. So we go back to a couple of episodes ago, we were talking about the monthly cadence but not just sending the report in an email, not expecting them to log into your multi-million dollar dashboard that you built, you're going to have to sit down with the customer and relate it back to that original presentation and start to adapt the tactics that you're using because the change is there and I don't know if everybody knows 100% when they set out on a marketing strategy if it's gonna work or not. You've got to see what's happened over the last month and make that adjustment, and that's what the prospect is actually looking for. If, you know, you've got 89 people calling on them, what is going to put you into the top three or the top two that they think about when it comes solving these problems? Jed: Amen. And also, to your point, what's gonna get you there and what's gonna keep you there, right? How are you constantly aligned with them where they know, "Hey, this guy is in communication with me. If something is not working, he's telling me that. If something is working, he or she is telling me that." Like we are always building and refining this strategy. And I think what's interesting about it is, if you think about it, you know, George, in the first part of this podcast we talked a lot about the role that technology can play in economizing and improving the sales process, you know, using data to figure out your key selling activities or learn more about your prospects and build digital audience and snapshots and things like that. And all of that is great. But in some ways, what we're talking about here is as manual as you can get or it's certainly more manual. We're talking about old fashioned...you know, I mean, sweat equity, building and maintain rapport with the customer, getting in front of them, taking the time, walking them through them, this taking the time to build an executive summary for them to give them context to build prescription. You know, these are old-fashioned things. But I think in this competitive flattened environment, they're more important than ever. And I'll give you an anecdote here to make this a little more specific. George: Sure. Jed: There's a company that we work with that's a midsized radio group. And I think, you know, they built their own digital agency,, it's got its own brand, I think it's done really well overall for the market that they're running and who they're up against, and they have a really...they have done a great job of saying, "Okay, we wanna be in front of the client this way in this very..." you know, how do I wanna put it, "...sort of customer touchpoint, you know, in front of them, at least once a month. And for the clients that we do that with and we do it in a sort of standardized form with certain guidelines, our retention on them is X. And if we don't do that, if we go see them every six weeks instead of every four weeks or every eight weeks instead of every four weeks, our retention on them is Y." And I don't know exactly what the difference is, but I can tell you there is a delta. And they have found that four weeks or under, George, is their inflection point. They've got to be in front of the client every four weeks at minimum or less. If they go beyond that, that churn, you'll hear the leaky bucket problem starts picking up for them. George: Jed, I've got an interesting stat for you from 20-some years ago when I actually started hitting budget as a rookie salesperson. It was when I started seeing my customer more than once every eight weeks. You know, it hasn't changed. But there are organizations that think you can just go in once a year and make the sale and then send them a report and you're gonna be fine. Those are the people that we will gobble up, 'we' being the greater 'we' on this call, we'll gobble up because we're going to start to adopt a monthly sales cadence and that's where you're going to talk about what you've delivered to the customer. What I found when you have that monthly cadence is also where you identify all sorts of cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Jed: Absolutely. And I think, you know, one of the bigger points here is when you say 'the collective we'...and I really like that. We as an organization are a company, we're going to do this. It's going to be a standard. If you're gonna be on our sales team and you're gonna win on our sales team, you're gonna do this, you know, by gosh and there are no ifs, ands, or buts, there no exceptions to it. And you know what that comes back to, that means the managers have to be bought in, and that means the executives of that media company have to champion this. And there can't be exceptions or it can't be, "Well, that guy or gal has been in my organization for 10 years and they're really good at selling TV or they've only missed one month." When you start doing that, you start bending rules, you start making exceptions. You gotta have buy-in at manager level on this. You gotta have buy-in and championing of this at the executive level, and then you have to have process around it. And the process means, "Okay, who's doing what here? Is the sales rep doing everything after the sale to go in and look at results and build that report?" Probably not because we want to focus on selling. But we also want them to be the one that has the touch point with the client out in the field. But if they don't have the time to do all of this, then who is? Well, you better have some sort of dedicated role that does this. Maybe it's a digital specialist for each product, maybe it's an account manager, maybe there's some sort of streamlined quarterback roll on the back end in your sales organization that brings all this together and then builds that report and then sits down with the rep to explain to the rep what's happening so that the rep is communicating this the right way, because you know there is a break in the chain there too, George. If you leave the reps to their own devices, you can have some mismanaged expectations and miscommunication. George: Jed, I wanna jump in there, though, let's talk about the crutch, because what we've noticed, and there's a lot of media people at that are listening to the podcast, what we've noticed in these media organizations is if you bring in a digital specialist, that doesn't mean that the legacy sales reps starts to learn digital, it's just, "I'm gonna bring Brent along in the call because he's my digital specialist." Jed: Yeah. Well, I'm with you. I totally agree with that and we can't buy into those crutches because at best, it's incremental improvement. But it's not transformative improvement in sales forces. What I'm really talking about, George, is on the back end. After the sale, who owns the customer after the sale or at least who owns the reporting? Who's building that report? Who's making sure that's put together in a consistent fashion that everybody is meeting their responsibilities? I mean, if you're the social media specialist and you're the SEM specialists, and you're the website specialist, how are we making sure that all that data is brought together in the right way? And then who is sitting down with the sales rep and going, "Okay, you know, you don't gonna get a 'get out of jail free' card. Like you got to go out and talk to your customer about this." You know, you're responsible for their results and that includes their digital results. But we need to make sure that you're telling the story the right way and here's what we found and here's what to focus on. I'm really getting it. What is that dedicated post-sale role that brings all this together and then gets it back in the hands of the sales people with that expectation of they're going to go back out and touch the client? George: Jed, we can go on for days and days and days I'm sure on this and we will get a chance to do that as we head into the convention season and the conference circuit. And you do more of that speaking than anybody I've met and I'm looking forward to spending some time face to face. I'm gonna ask you the question that I ask all of our guests. How do you see in the next 12 months is sales transitioning away from a guy or a gal with a bag? Jed: Well, I mean, we've hit on a little bit of this. I think if you are a product peddler and a product pusher in 2019, a year from now, you're more in danger than ever. So I think, you know, one of the things we talked about, you know, as to how do you get beyond pedaling products and particularly pedaling your own, you know, traditional products or your sales blitz and we're gonna focus on this this month? I think the answer is you gotta be really serious about consultative selling, and I know that gets talked about a lot. But what I mean is... Let's talk about that CNA 2.0 that I mentioned a little while ago, George. Are organizations doing that? Are you training relentlessly to that? Are you holding your reps to account for the fact that that is a standard part of their sales process now the minute that they touched that customer or that prospect? Are you actually tracking? How many of those sort of new age CNAs are being done to make sure that the right questions are being asked and the right inputs are being gleaned to then build the right solutions? I think it starts right there with the redefining the CNA, holding the reps accountable, tracking their every single activity, and then to the other point we made, then being absolutely consistent and present about how you're, you know, maintaining that cadence with that customer, how you're calibrating on their needs, how you're managing their expectations, and then, obviously, how you're adapting the campaign or the solution to continue to drive the best results for them. It's the whole sales continuum. And if you're not doing all of those things, there are people out there that are putting process, and structure, and data, and talent, and leadership in place to do it in your place. So that's the challenge you're up against. George: Jed Williams, Chief Innovation Officer from the LMA, and we're gonna put all of your links for your LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile. Jed produces a ton of content throughout the year, and we'll give you some links if you wanna learn more from the awesomeness that is Jed Williams. I really appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us from Austin, Texas. Look forward to seeing you out on the conference circuits this spring. – I've worked with Jed for about a year or so and he always says some really good insights, and I actually think his insights are getting even better because you can tell that he's spending a lot of time in the field working with sales organizations. But let's just go over what Jed covered here in the last 20 or so minutes. CNA 2.0. You don't just take out a questionnaire and ask the client questions because everybody is doing that. You've got to come up with a better way to do the customer needs analysis. Inside media organizations, you really need to understand what jobs need to be done because after that sale is made, there needs to be somebody that fulfills the sale and then prepares the report to show the client that proof of performance. So who is on the backend of the sale? Who is the person doing the work to make sure that all the things that the account executive talked about come true? And then we've got this 89 number, the 89 people that are calling trying to eat your lunch. It's way bigger than the number I gave you back in the day when we started the podcast on how many, but it just...I don't really care what the number is, it's just there is a lot of people out there that are trying to do the same thing that you're doing and what's going to set you apart. So that's what all this thing is all about. That's what the podcast is all about is to give you the skills and to dig deep into that what that sales process looks like so you can stand apart. I did also mention about a blowy thing that does come out of your marketing budget, by the way. Anything that you do to promote a business comes out of the marketing budget, and I love the blowy thing. I always throw that... Put that in a hashtag, that'll be great. More coming up in the Conquer Local Podcast next week as we continue to make sales great again. I'll see you when I see you.
Join George Leith on an all-new episode of the Conquer Local Podcast. In this Master Sales Series episode, George highlights why you should stop using the recession as an excuse. But instead can use it as fuel to explore other business interests that can generate revenue in an economic slowdown. If you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Master Sales Training Series, stay up-to-date with weekly episodes by subscribing to the Conquer Local Podcast, and leaving us a review. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Then, keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Stop Using the Recession as an Excuse | Master Sales Series Introduction George: Chalking up a bad business strategy to an economic slowdown is a subpar professional's way out of something that they just weren't that passionate about in the first place. With economists out there shouting from the rooftops and warning of an impending recession, trusted local experts will either rise to the occasion and take advantage of this massive opportunity right in front of them, or they'll cower and retreat with their tail between their legs. It's up to you who you're going to decide to be. Historical indicators George: I'm George Leith, and in today's Master Sales Series episode we're exploring the reasons why trusted local experts shouldn't use the so-called recession as an excuse. Instead, we should use this so-called recession as fuel to become more innovative, to grind harder, and to come out on top as winners. What we do know from every economic slowdown, and I've had the fortune or misfortune, I don't know which it is, of being involved in a few of them there's going to be winners, and there's going to be losers. It's up to you to decide where you're going to be on the scorecard. Historically, high inflation and quarter-over-quarter slumps in gross domestic product have many crystal balling a 2023 recession. That may be on the horizon for investment capitalists and the Wall Street elite, but the same just doesn't ring true for local businesses and the experts that serve them. I'm not exactly convinced of an imminent recession. Let's take a look at some of the indicators. The U.S. economy just added almost a half a million jobs again in August. The unemployment rate across various jurisdictions is dropping to record lows, most tied for their lowest levels since 1969 or even earlier than that, and gas prices have finally started to come down from the ridiculous levels they were earlier this year. Not only that, but you have to consider that during your recession, the economy doesn't come to a full stop. Remember that. It doesn't come to a full stop. Consumers and spend George: Consumers are still out there spending money. It's up to us as trusted local experts to capture their attention and support the businesses that we serve in their digital footprint. In a time when many may be cutting their spend on marketing and advertising, we need to help our customers step up and understand the importance of getting their message out in front of their potential customers. It's more important in a potential slowdown than ever to beat out their competitors. There's going to be less dollars in the market and we need to help our clients capture that audience and those dollars, and we can do that by arming them with the right digital solution to attract maybe a new audience or to help them be more competitor if there's less money being spent in the market. But remember, there's going to be winners and losers. There's going to be winners and losers in our profession, and there's going to be winners and losers at the local business level. Buying Power & Cost-Saving George: There's one other nugget. It historically is cheaper for these folks to do this during a potential slowdown. There's less people buying keywords. There's less people that are out there doing marketing. They pull back that spend a little bit. There's more opportunity for customers to stand out from the crowd in a time of a potential pullback. As those competitors in the market are pulling back, it's actually driving down the cost of marketing, and you can actually get more bang for your buck. We're in a completely different world than we were in 2019. The consumer mindset has shifted fundamentally from value driven to purpose-driven. The public is willing to spend more if it means buying something that will better suit their needs, or their lifestyle, or solve the problem that they're trying to get solved. It's up to trusted local experts to prepare their clients to serve this new type of customer. Now, we might have to work a little bit harder to get that customer, but if we can prove that we're solving their problem, there's a really good chance they'll become a repeat customer, and that's what we need to convince our clients of in the economy that we're facing right now. Fields to explore There's more you can do to insulate yourself from any downturn. If your bread and butter is in fine dining, luxury goods, or travel and tourism, you can look at new verticals you can use to bolster your business model now. Let's run for you a few examples you could consider digging into in this time of a potential slowdown. Childcare, especially when stay-at-home parents may be returning to work, giving their household income a boost, so maybe childcare might be a vertical you might want to go after. Home repair, always a good place to look. More people might be looking to fix the problem rather than buying new as the economy starts to slow down a little bit. Auto repair? Well, it's pretty tough to buy a new vehicle right now because you get put on a waiting list so there might be more opportunity in businesses that are repairing older vehicles. Discount retail. If you've ever been to a Dollar store lately, you'll notice that they're busier than ever. Those dollar stores might be a good niche to go after because those customers are looking to capture more market share. Pet care? We always spend money on our pets. Doesn't matter whether we have less money or not, we're going to make dollars available for our pet care. Oh, speaking of something that we care about, how about our kids? Spending money on our kids. We might be a little bit more particular about where we spend money, but we're definitely going to keep spending money in that space. Other verticals like accounting services, food, and beverage, as well as the beauty industry, are also resilient targets to set your sights on in the coming quarters. Conclusion Challenging economic times could spell doom and gloom for some, but it really is just a state of mind. If you're truly passionate about serving businesses with the tools that they need to beat their competition, you should view the possibility of a downturn as an exciting challenge and opportunity. Not only do your clients have the chance to win big. By super-serving them with the right offerings, you're sure to come out on top when we come out of this potential downturn. That's another episode of the Master Sales Series on how we can stop using the recession as an excuse. Please subscribe and leave us a review, and thanks for joining us this week on the Conqueror Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Conquerors, let's continue the conversation with the final part of the two-part series featuring Kwame Christian, who is a best-selling author, business lawyer, and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute (ANI). Following the viral success of his TedxDayton talk, Kwame released his best-seller Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life in 2018. He also recently released his latest book, How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race in September 2022, and is a regular Contributor for Forbes and the host of the number one negotiation podcast in the world, Negotiate Anything - which currently has over 5 million downloads worldwide. Under Kwame’s leadership, ANI has coached and trained several Fortune 500 companies in applying the fundamentals of negotiation to corporate success. Kwame was the recipient of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2020 and the Moritz College of Law Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award in 2021. He is the only person in the history of The Ohio State University to win alumni awards in consecutive years from Law school and the Masters of Public Affairs program. Opportunity to connect: Join George Leith and the team for the latest installment of the Conquer Local Connect on Wednesday, October 12th. Click here to register for free and attend the virtual event! Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Then, keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Finding Confidence in Conflict Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They want to share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith. And on this episode, we welcome Kwame Christian. Kwame is a bestselling author and business lawyer and the CEO of the American Negotiation Institute. After his successful Ted Talk, Kwame released his bestseller, Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life. In 2018, that book hit bookshelves. His second book is out now, How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race. His podcast, Negotiate Anything, is the number one negotiation podcast in the world, and he has a new podcast called Negotiate Real Change that you should check out. He's a regular contributor to Forbes and we invite you to get ready, Conquerors. Kwame Christian coming up next on this week's episode of the Conquer Local podcast. George: So the book, Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life. Love the title because everybody wants to live their best life. Also, I would believe that everybody wants to figure out how to negotiate anything because as you've identified a few times in our conversation, everything is a negotiation. This book has been very, very successful. It's led you to lots of speaking events and things like that. I want to talk specifically about this book now and how did it come to be and what were some of the cool things that came out of the book after you released it? Kwame: Yes. Finding Confidence in conflict. The first one? George: Correct. Kwame: Yes. So this was interesting. I think you'd appreciate the way that I even titled it too because, for me, I am all about negotiation, negotiation, negotiation. Okay, well cool. How come negotiation isn't in the main title? So I actually surveyed the audience and just did a word frequency search. And the two things that came up the most were conflict and confidence. They're afraid of conflict, and they don't have the confidence to have these conversations. And so what I realized is that I needed to pick a different starting point for these books because it doesn't make sense to give recipes to people who are afraid to get in the kitchen. If I'm giving you all of these tools and tactics, but you don't have the confidence to use them, you're not going to use them. And if you do, you're going to use them ineffectively. And for me, it was actually really refreshing because I'm a recovering people pleaser, believe it or not, so I really struggled to stand up for myself and have difficult conversations. I learned how to negotiate in law school by taking those classes and competing in really fun competitions that I had this realization like, "This is a skill, not a talent. I can actually learn. I can improve." And so for me, I wanted to make sure that I approach this in a way that allowed people to have that same life-changing revelation. Because like I said, I believe the best things in life are on the other side of difficult conversations, so I wanted to make sure that I built people up so they had the right foundation of confidence and they could overcome those barriers. The first 70% is just helping people to overcome those barriers. And then the last part of the book is really going deep into the methodology. I didn't want to give people too many tactics or strategies. I forced myself to just focus on that one. George: So we're not going to be successful in negotiating anything and living our best life if we don't first build the skills to have confidence to walk into difficult conversations because I don't think I've ever been in an interview, whether I'm the interviewee or the interviewer going, "So how do you having difficult conversations?" "Oh, I love them. Let me tell you all the reasons." That's not something that you just talk about over a beer. Kwame: Yeah, and that's the thing. It's one of those things where it's so ubiquitous that we can miss it. It's like the graduation speech that went viral where the person said there were two fish swimming and one fish came up to the other one and said, "How's the water?" and the other one said, "What's water?" It's like a question that's almost too obvious to ask. And when it comes down to it, our success and failure in life is to a large extent, it's going to be contingent upon how well or how poorly we have these conversations. Of course, for sales professionals, this is your life. But even for engineers, your calculations might be right, but if you can't talk the other person into believing that you're right, then you're still going to struggle too. George: So if we were to break down the confidence... By the way, I completely agree with everything that you're saying here. What would be your tips to our audience on maybe three or four things that you could hone as a skill you've identified, it's a skill that you can learn, three or four things you could hone as a skill to improve your confidence going into difficult situations? Kwame: Yes. So one is rejection therapy. This is taken from the TED Talk 100 Days of Rejection. George: One second. Before we go there, is this like my entire teenage years of rejection because I got rejected a lot in the early years? You're going back into George's... Kwame: George, that's what makes you such a good salesperson. You've gotten over that at this point. George: I just expect it. Kwame: Oh, good. But yes, there was this great Ted Talk, 100 Days of Rejection, and it was a guy who realized that his fear of rejection was holding him back. So he said, "Listen, every day I'm going to try to get rejected from something. I'm going to ask for something," and then he was really shocked at just how many yeses he got along the way. And so it made him a lot stronger, but also realized just how powerful persuasion can be. So I would challenge people to start asking for more things. Not in a greedy type of sense, but if you start to feel that little fear like, "Mm, I don't want to say something." Nope, now you have to say something. "I don't want to ask for that." Well, now you have to. And it's just really training that, getting that muscle memory down. So that's one thing, actually engaging in intentional attempts to get rejected. The next thing is using some of- George: I'm sorry. Kwame: Oh, go ahead. George: My brain is going a little slower because I was thinking about all the times I've been rejected. But I think that what you're saying there is if you get better at asking, you'll realize that there isn't as many rejections as you expected there to be. Kwame: Bingo. Yeah. And let me give you an example just to put it in context. I remember one time I was getting a coffee, and I was getting a pastry because it was my birthday. They said, "Hey Kwame, happy birthday, you get a free pastry." I said, "Hey, that's fantastic. I'm here mentoring my friend, can he get a free pastry too?" And she said, "Oh, well I don't know, I'd probably have to ask the manager." Then I said, "Well, can you please ask the manager?" She came back and she's like, "Yeah, your friend can have one. No problem." I was like, "I didn't think that was possible." And so what ends up happening is that the asks have to be bigger because you're more persuasive than you realize. And then when you actually start seeking it out, it starts to give you that... It desensitizes you in the best of ways because a lot of times we won't shoot our shot simply because we're afraid of asking. George: To bring it back to our audience in sales, I think this is why role-playing is so important in sales because you have all these preconceived notions about what's going to happen because you haven't articulated and ran through the various scenarios. So it's building up that muscle memory that, oh yeah, nobody die... We had a saying here that, I don't know if it's official in our company, it's like, "If we change, what's the worst that could happen? Nobody's going to die." Kwame: Oh, I love that. I love that. George: I know that that's a very binary thing, like, "Did people die or did they not"? It's not really all that healthy, but part of it is just getting over that internal whatever it is that keeps you from asking the question. Kwame: 100%. And yeah, I am so glad you said this because I'm big on that exercise. And so when I have my clients do role plays, first what I have them do is role play as the person they're going to talk to. And so they have the opportunity to really experience it from their perspective, from the other perspective, and they find themselves coming up with these arguments and points that they never would've thought about. And then we flip it and I try to, I'm on the other side. I have them tell me about their greatest fear in the conversation. And then for me as a coach, I get to become that. And we actually put some of these episodes up as sparring sessions where I have the guests come on and then we do a sparring session where it's an unscripted negotiation because I want the audience to understand just how imperfect these conversations can be with the stutters, ums, pauses, the silences, all of that. No, I want that imperfection so you can actually feel it. And so once you get more of those reps in, role-playing in both of those ways, you feel like you've been in the conversation before. It's one of the best ways to improve your confidence going into these conversations. George: Oh, I love that. I love role-playing. And I remember in the early days when I started to coach and teach, I found that I was really bad at it, by the way. So if you're going to coach and teach something, you better get good at role-playing and thinking on your feet because that's not going to go well for you. In the notes on Amazon when I read about the best seller, there was something that really jumped out at me. I wish I would've had this yesterday, by the way, at home with my wife, how to diffuse potentially explosive conflicts before the conversation breaks down and you got to buy flowers. Kwame: It sounds like you're coming from a place of pain. I have been there before. So let's talk about it. George: In the last 24 hours I might add. Kwame: Yes. And to this point, actually, this might be an aside that's helpful for the listeners too. Whenever I have experts on the podcast, they always say the same thing. They struggle with these conversations with family members and it's because the relationship is closer, the stakes are higher, there's that emotional tie. And usually, when we're having these conversations, it's toward the end of the day and we've given our best to other people and so we don't have the... It's called ego depletion in the psychological world. We've made so many decisions, our brain is tired, we're quick to become emotional, and we lose our form, and that's what happens at home a lot of times. George: You know, Kwame, you just triggered something. Can we talk about the lizard brain? Kwame: Let's do it. George: Because I know if you were to talk to an individual, whether it be in a sales negotiation, a personal negotiation. I love the fact you called out that family is one of the harder negotiations. In your opinion, if the lizard brain is triggered and they're just not hearing anything now, is it better just to walk away and come back to fight another day or how would you coach us on handling that? Kwame: Well, speaking about biases and stereotypes, let me walk right into one right now and give the answer of, "It depends," as a lawyer of course. And so if the level of emotionality is too great, then we recruit the power of sleep. And what people don't realize about sleep is that there is a component of emotional regulation that happens at night during the REM cycle, so usually people are not as triggered the next day, so giving that time to sleep is really powerful. Now, if we realize that the conversation is still in play, "I can manage this, I can bring them back down. How do I do this?" We have to remember this really important point. It doesn't make sense to send a message to a person who is not psychologically ready to receive it. It's like trying to discipline a child who's having a tantrum in the middle of a tantrum. Their brains literally cannot compute. And so a lot of times we have these really beautifully crafted, rational arguments that are data-based objective, grounded in reality, and then we find ourselves in this really tricky situation where we don't know what to do because our facts don't work. What do we do? And so that's why with the Compassionate Curiosity Framework, we put the emotional side first, so we're going to acknowledge and validate the emotion. And the reason we do this is because in psychology, what they say is you have to name it to tame it. So you label the emotion, it takes you out of that lizard brain, amygdala type of limbic response, and then it triggers the frontal lobe, which calms you down. So let's say last night, I'm going to be George and I'll play this role play with your spouse here. And so I'll say, "Honey, it sounds like you're a little bit frustrated with the situation." "Yeah, George, I'm frustrated because of X, Y, Z." Now, the temptation that you might have is to jump in and defend yourself at that point, but I'm still hearing some emotion, so I'm going to validate it. "Honey, that makes a lot of sense. I can completely understand why you feel this way given what happened. Can you tell me a little bit more?" and so I'm going to give her space to decompress. And then as I realize that level of emotionality starts to drop down, that's when I transition into getting curious with compassion, and I'll start to ask open-ended questions. "Okay, so I want to try to be with you as we work together to solve this problem. What do you think we could have done differently to avoid this situation?" Cool. So I'm going to ask questions with a compassionate tone, give them the opportunity to speak and share and I'm empathizing, and then we transition to joint problem solving toward the end, but we have to really focus on the emotional side first. George: Oh, I wish we would've recorded this day before yesterday because I broke all those rules. I just went right to solution. Probably should have listened a little bit more, but no, I'm kind of joking, but I'm not because I think that that's why the role play is so important going into it is to practice how you're going to deal with the various situations. I love the term Compassionate Curiosity Framework because to come to common ground, you have to approach it with empathy and on that curiosity, but the compassionate piece is important. And now we go back to you can't bleed them all out, take everything off the table. If you're truly being compassionate, you're actually trying to get to a win-win. How important is win-win in negotiation? Kwame: It's critical to have that mentality, but we also have to recognize what that is because in order to have a true win-win, there needs to be a mutuality of that goal, so that other person needs to believe that. Because what ends up happening is if we become a little bit too dogmatic and ideological in our win-win mentality when we're confronted with somebody who is clearly win-lose, and those do exist, then they're going to take your lunch and you are going to feel compelled to bear the weight of being reasonable. And so you're going to be offering concessions and not getting those concessions in return. And so for me, we have to be really flexible. Win-win is always my go-to first approach, but then if I start to realize and start to get those senses that, "Hey, you know what, this person might not be playing the same playbook here," then I need to be a little bit more assertive in my approach, but I definitely want to give people that opportunity to prove me wrong. George: Well, I love that you said that because I think that, especially in sales, we can have a tendency to think that if I just get a bunch of yeses, everything's going to work out for me, but the art of being able to say, "No, we don't do that. No, I'm not going to be able to get that done for you," might be a way to keep from not having anything left to give down the road. And I just wanted to validate that with you. Kwame: Absolutely. You're right. And also, when you stand up for yourself, when you set boundaries, it helps people to respect you more, your product, your service, and your company. Because if you just keep on giving and giving, then they say, "This person's a pushover. I'm going to keep on pushing." And so one of the things that I tell people, especially in transactional negotiations, is that we, number one, we want to concede according to plan. I'm not going to make a concession off the fly that I wasn't planning on making. And if somebody makes a good offer, I'm not going to feel compelled to accept on the call. I'm going to think it through because there is still the possibility that that little people pleaser inside of me is still there and I'm responding to that pressure to please rather than making a good decision. So number one is concede according to plan. The next thing is when we think about compromise, the word compromise can't exist by itself. It needs to be either a strategic compromise where I'm making this move in order to advance my strategic objectives and I'm thinking in that way, or it's a reciprocal compromise where it's an if/then proposition. If I give you this, then you give me that, so that helps to guarantee that we're not giving up too much ground in the negotiation without getting something in return. George: Now, Kwame, I'll tell you, we could probably talk for hours and I feel a hell of a lot smarter now than I did when we first started communicating because I just am captivated by the methodology that you have around this negotiation structure that you put in place. It's just phenomenal. And we really appreciate you coming on this show and sharing this information with us. I'm pretty sure we're going to be able to put this into two episodes and that happens from time to time over our six years with the show. We get a great thought leader like yourself, and we just want to milk as much information out of you... But I hope I left some juice in the orange. Is there still a little bit left there? Kwame: I like that you came full circle. So yes, man, I appreciate it. George: I can be taught. I can be taught. Kwame: That is great. No, I appreciate this. This was a lot of fun, man. George: Kwame Christian is the founder and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute, two amazing books, Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything, and Live Your Best Life. And I want you to say it because it's now out on bookshelves and on Amazon, the title of your second book. Kwame: Yes, it is titled How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race, and I named it that because I couldn't think of anything cooler. George: Well, it's a pretty cool title. And what about the podcast? Because this podcast, I'll tell you, producer Suliman says we're just going to take Kwame's metrics and we're going to try and do that because that's what good looks like. A million and a half listens. You've got folks listening to you in 50 different countries. Congratulations on that because we all know how hard it is to build a podcast. Kwame: I appreciate it. It's been a grind. It's been a grind, but we're at six years, over 600 episodes, which sounds crazy to say, but we've been moving. So we have three shows now. We have Negotiate Anything, which is five days a week. And then we have Negotiate Real Change where people can take these negotiation and conflict resolution principles and help to create better environments within their workplaces. And then lastly, Negociación desde Cero. That is our Spanish language negotiation podcast as well. George: Ah, just amazing. Well, thank you very much for joining us on the show. We really appreciate all the knowledge bombs that have been dropped here over the past two episodes. Kwame Christian, our guest this week on the Conquer Local podcast. Kwame: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. Conclusion George: What a great episode from Kwame, part of our two-episode series, the Mindset and the Skillset Can be Developed. What we have to do is get ready for the conversation when it comes out. You heard Kwame talk a lot about role-playing and planning, how you're going to have the conversation, and he talks about giving you the skills to have that conversation competently, accept the reality that there's always more to learn and we just have to manage our biases. They're there, there's nothing we could do about it, but becoming knowledgeable that they're there and understanding how to navigate and manage those biases will help us be more effective when it comes to our conflict resolution and negotiation. If you liked Kwame's episode discussing conflict resolution and negotiation, let's continue the conversation. Don't forget about episode 538 from Kwame on finding confidence in conflict, and episode 520, Body Language on Zoom with Mark Bowden, and episode 528 Mastering Your Meetings with Caroline Goyder. Please subscribe and leave us a review, and thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Building a winning sales playbook is no easy endeavor, but we have you covered. This week's guest is an expert at building them. Matt Sunshine is a Managing Partner at the Center for Sales Strategy, a sales performance consulting company that helps sales organizations attract, retain, and develop the highest performing salespeople. Matt's extensive background in the broadcaster space brings a fresh feel to the Conquer Local Podcast. Matt walks us through how to build a winning sales playbook with a three-step process, he shares his tried and tested three key elements for hiring a sales team, and he shares what is happening in the broadcasting space and explains the why they are getting into the digital marketing stack now. Matt’s areas of expertise include growing sales organizations, finding and developing sales superstars, sales process, lead generation, inbound marketing, and digital marketing, and he is a featured writer for one of the top sales blogs in America and a regular contributor to leading business blogs and magazines such as Inc., Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Hacker, and Entrepreneur. In 2012, Matt developed and launched LeadG2, an Inbound Marketing company that helps businesses establish thought leadership and lower lead costs. LeadG2 has earned the premier Hubspot recognition as a platinum Certified Partner and is the largest inbound marketing company serving the media industry in the world today. He is also the author of “Getting Prospects to Raise Their Hand” and Forbes magazine lists Matt as one of the 20 Speakers You Shouldn't Miss The Opportunity To See. Introduction George: It's another edition of the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. We have this week Matt Sunshine, and Matt and I had the privilege of meeting about five years ago. We were on a panel for the Reign Summit. I can't remember the city that we were in, might've been Vegas. And when I met Matt, I realized this is a veteran broadcast sales executive who has been involved in an organization for quite some time, like 20 some odd years, called The Center for Sales Strategy. And Matt actually took it over as the founding partner back in 2015, and we're really privileged to have him on the show. One of the things that I'm sure Matt is going to talk about because I've seen him speak a number of times at conventions, what he talks about is you don't just need a guy in a bag going out and doing cold calls and customers. George: Now you need a more robust sales organization where you might need a team doing lead gen. You definitely still need reps that are out talking to customers. You might need to look at some inside sales or telesales, and you're going to need somebody looking after client retention. It's really interesting to see broadcast moving in that direction. I keep hearing it more and more and more as we travel and we speak to executives in the broadcast space. So you're going to get some radio and some television sales 101, I'm sure, as we speak to Matt Sunshine from The Center for Sales Strategy, coming up next on this week's Conquer Local podcast. George: Super excited to have Matt Sunshine from The Center for Sales Strategy joining me on the Conquer Local podcast this week. Hey, Matt, how you been? Matt: I'm good. How about yourself? George: I'm doing really well. I was thinking back to when you and I first met. I think it might've been around 2015. We were at a Reign conference on a panel together... well, we've seen each other in passing from time to time, so I'm glad that you were able to make it onto the podcast. Matt, working and heading up The Center for Sales Strategy, you want to give people the quick overview of your experience and how you ended up here as the managing partner of The Center for Sales Strategy? Matt: Sure. Yeah. So the Center for Sales Strategy has been around for about 35 years. We're a true sales performance company. We help media companies, radio stations, TV broadcasters. We help them to make sure they hire the most talented people, give them a system, a process to have sales success a repeatable, predictable process. And then we ensure that they have tactics in place to ultimately drive revenue. So we think of that sales performance formula as talent plus training plus tactics. I mean, my experiences prior to ... I've been at the company since 2006. Prior to that, I was the group director of sales for Susquehanna Radio for about 15 years. So I've been in business a long time and love what I do now at The Center for Sales Strategy as one of the managing partners. And we have great relationships with the clients that we work with. George: Well, you know why I asked producer Colleen to reach out to you is I heard your name in passing a couple of weeks back at the Texas Association of Broadcasters. I'm like, "Yeah, I need to get Matt on the podcast," because I'm looking to ... I'd like to learn from you a little bit around your unique perspective because you've worked with broadcasters for a long time. You've been in the broadcast industry a long time. There really, in my sense, seems to be a shift where these broadcasters are really adopting digital sales to local customers. It seems like if you're not doing it, you're really missing the boat in this space. Would you echo that? Is that what you're seeing? Matt: Yeah, absolutely. And it's kind of nice. I mean, the reason why most of us got into this business, at least on the sales side, is not necessarily to sell our product, but really to help businesses grow, right? I mean, that's why. That's the motivation. We all got into it because, fundamentally, we want to work with businesses, figure out what their desired business results are, and then bring them back a solution that'll help them to get the results that they need. And so the more resources that we can bring, the more we can help. And there's lots of research out there. Gordon Burrell has research out recently that talks about people are buying more and more products, right? I mean, they are. They're not just buying TV or buying radio or buying newspaper, they're understanding the customer journey, and they're saying, "You know what, we've got to reach people in lots of places, and we have to reach them with the right message. And if one person can deliver that, well, that's just fantastic." So, yeah, broadcasters are adopting this quickly and many of them are doing a really good job. George: So it isn't something, though, that we saw five years ago. There wasn't that adoption. Do you think that's because radio actually was growing in the traditional revenue lines? Matt: Yeah. Right. I mean, it's like everyone has a good plan. What did Mike Tyson say? “You can have the greatest plan in the world until you get punched in the face.” And I think that's what happens. When business is good, people don't feel like, "Oh, I don't need to add this so quickly. Business is good." But then all of a sudden, when business gets a little wobbly or you're not seeing the growth that you expected, you're seeing dollars starting to go to competitors that are doing some of this, I think you jump on the bandwagon. You say, "We'd better get in this space." So, yeah, there are some early adopters that have a little bit of a first-mover advantage, but I think people are catching up. Building a Winning Sales Playbook George: Well, I've talked to lots of folks in broadcast space over the years, and I echo what you were saying earlier, that the real pain hadn't been there yet. There was that saying that flat was the new black. They're just happy to be flat with revenue when you're looking across the street and the newspaper company had been bleeding. But what I was hoping we could dig into is, you seem to be having an enormous amount of success right now in building out a winning sales playbook for these broadcasters. Is there an easy ABC to what goes into that winning sales playbook? Matt: Boy, I wish it was an easy ABC. The most simple way to put it is this, it's two-part, number one is you have to have the best people, and you have to have a system in place for identifying, what are the jobs that we need, what are the must-have talents, what are the must-have experiences, are they a good culture fit, and identify. If you get the right people, you're off to a good start. The second thing that you have to do is make sure that you're organized correctly to have success. If you look at sales departments these days, salespeople are maybe going on one new business call a week, maybe two. And that's not because they're not working hard. It's because they have a lot of other things that they have to do. So maybe we need to fix the way that we're organized. Matt: Wouldn't it be great if salespeople could go on three new business appointments a week? I mean, if you have 15 salespeople, they're all going on one new business appointment a week, that's 15 new business appointments. Well, what if you had 10 salespeople, but you reorganized yourself and you built the apparatus so that everyone could go on three appointments per week? Now as a station, you've gone from 15 appointments to 30 appointments all because you reorganized. And by the way, if someone's doing three a week, they're probably being better at it. So I think the playbook is: get the right people, organize yourself correctly, and then install a repeatable, predictable sales process that everyone adheres to. The old days of winging it and just being charming and having good relationships, that's very 1900s. George: Well, and you're going to lose the business at the end of the day because the customer is .. let's talk a little bit about your experience around customer expectations. And I'm sure that you've been talking to people in all sorts of different market sizes, but it's not just the large DMAs, it's customers everywhere that are demanding more out of that trusted advisor that they have. Matt: That's exactly right. We need humans. I do think we need humans, and I do think relationships are important. But I think as a business owner, you care if your business is getting the desired business results that it needs. And what I've seen happen recently is relationships be flipped on people so that you hear business owners say to someone, "I've known you for a long time. You understand that I don't need ... I can't buy you on this one. I need to go with these guys because their solution is actually going to get me the results I need. And I know you don't understand because you and I have such a good relationship." Business owners love relationships just like everyone else, but they also have a responsibility to their business, and we got to be in that business. We got to be in the business of helping business grow. George: So for our group that subscribes to the podcast and listen to us every week, we've got salespeople and sales managers and VPs from all over the planet, and I'm very privileged to have this audience. I was hoping that we should get some words of wisdom from you, Matt. What are some of those key tenants that you are teaching sales leadership when they're out there looking for the right talent? Because that first thing you came up with it, I'm glad you did because I really think that that's one of the big hallmarks that we need to address, is we need the best and the right talent. So what are we looking for when it comes to talent in this space? Matt: So I think we need to get better at defining what we're looking for. Most of the time, this is how the conversation goes. I'll get a call from a sales manager or VP of sales, and they'll say, "Hey, Matt, I'm looking for a salesperson. Do you know anyone?" And I say, "Okay, well, tell me what you're looking for." They'll say, "You know, someone like a good sales guy." And I don't know what that means. Let's define what we're looking for. Is this person going to have to be calling on a lot of retail accounts? Are they going to be working with ad agencies? Are they going to be the type of person that's going to be doing more customer service work? What type of operation do you have? Do you have someone who does lead generation, or do they need to do their own lead generation? Matt: So number one, identify what you're looking for. Then we have to say, "Okay, what are the required talents, skills, and experiences that someone will have to have in order to have success?" We have some clients that love taking on people that have no experience because they have a good onboarding system. They have the time to train them. We have other clients that, honestly, they don't have enough time to do that. So they need to hire someone with experience, and that's okay too, but know what you're looking for. So understand what you're looking for. Get a really good job ... we call it job analysis. Do a really good job analysis. And that would be, what does the person have to be able to do around here to be successful in plain English. Then identify the talents, skills, and experiences that you need for that position. We would tell our clients to use a talent assessment. I think those are really important, but then also look at the skills and experience and don't settle. Don't bring someone in. And the other thing is, I'd make sure that they're a good culture fit. Do they fit with your environment? George: Well, I know the risk there, and I am glad that you brought it up because the risk there is you sacrifice your culture to put a warm body in the chair, and if it's not a good fit, and especially if you're trying to up the game in the talent that you do have in the organization. So I agree with every one of those points, and thanks for bringing it up. I think they're very, very valuable. But I run across sales leaders and organizations that are saying, "Well, I've got all these people that have come in. They're probably younger, it seems, and it seems I have to teach them how to build a relationship." Are you seeing any of that, where they may be really good tactical and they understand the space and they're technically savvy, but they just don't have those relationship-building skills? Matt: Yeah. I don't see so much the relationship like you're saying, but here's what I do hear, which is similar, that they don't have the business acumen, and they don't have the, and this is a buzzword but we all know what this means, they don't have the executive presence. And I think that's kind of sums up what you're saying. And you got to practice with them. You got to role-play. And role play... I wrote a blog article once, and I said the worst four-letter words in media sales, role and play, right? Because it freaks everybody out. But it's just practice, and you've got practice with people. Practice Makes Perfect George: Well, it's interesting. When I arrived at a SaaS software company years ago, coming as an old warhorse in the media space, I remember that I was taught very early in my sales career, which is when you think back to 1989, 1990 the training programs weren't that robust in broadcast. You basically just got the yellow pages thrown at you in a one-sheeter and said go get them. But I do remember I had a really great sales leader that kind of took me under my wing and he said, "When you're driving to the sales call, practice the sales call over and over and over again because it is a little intimidating to practice inside with a room of your peers." George: But when you talk about building that culture, wouldn't you rather have a culture of people who, after salesperson X gets off the phone with a prospect, salesperson Y leans over and said, "If you just said it a little bit differently, the customer would understand what you were saying. You kind of got bogged down in the ..." Offer that advice as teammates. So it used to be we'll just build a sales team and just put systems in place and have them slit each other's throats until we get a winner out of it. And having that more collaborative culture, do you see that being something that's really a recipe for success so you can build that environment where they can practice? Matt: Yeah. So here's my advice on how to make practice a reality. And when I introduced this in media companies, radio stations and TV stations, afterwards, everyone always likes it and salespeople actually like doing this. So here's what we do. First of all, you got to remember salespeople, their experience with role-playing has been this, you're not doing your job correctly. So you need to role-play, right? It's almost a punishment. Because you've done it wrong, you must need to role-play. So we need to get rid of that thinking, and we need to make practice part of our culture. Just like your favorite football team or baseball team or soccer team, they practice every day. We need to practice every day. The second thing is that when we practice, what we get feedback on is what we did right. And we get feedback on what we did right. I'm talking a ratio of five to one. Five things you did right, and one thing that you could do better. Matt: And our criticism needs to be specific. Generic feedback is the worst type of feedback. "Hey, Matt, you did a great job with that." That means nothing. Tell me what I did a great job with. Give me specifics. Give me five really good things that I did, and then you say, "And you know what, here's something you could do a little bit better." Well, now I'm listening. But if all you do is tell me all the things I could do better, well, then I feel awful and I don't ever want to do this again. The last thing about role play, it's never a sneak attack. It's never, "Hey, Matt, can you come in my office and sell me this pen?" I mean, we're not doing that. We have to be more professional. We need to say, "Hey, every Tuesday in the sales meeting, we're going to role-play. You're going to ... I'll tell you a day in advance the type of business you're going to be calling on and what part of the sales process we're going to practice." It's got to be more professional and less personal. George: Well, and I also think that salespeople and sales managers that are listening to the podcast need to be understanding that the groups that are eating your lunch are doing professional training and coaching and development pretty much on a daily basis. And what I mean by that are all the inside sales teams, and it's primarily right now coming from the SaaS space, where they're phoning into your auto dealer customer 10 times. They're getting a ton of calls every week from different companies that are trying to sell to them. And it's a very professional process, and they're listening to the calls, and they're coaching. And so we need to get that into the environment. I've found that organizations are very open to it. Matt: We work with a company that has an inside sales team. They do practice twice a day. They do practice in the morning before the day gets started, 8:30 to 8:50, 20 minutes of practice in the morning. And they do it after lunch at one o'clock, from like 1:00 to 1:30. They practice role-playing objections. They practice role-playing how they open a call with someone. They practice role-playing how they finish the call. They practice every day, twice a day, every day. George: How important is it when we develop up this winning sales playbook to be an expert in the products and tactics that these reps are selling? Because you mentioned earlier that our customer base is asking for more products and buying more products, so I'm in. I'm the sales manager or the sales rep, we're in. How well versed do they need to be in the products and tactics and solutions? Matt: Yeah, I think, so part of the sales playbooks that we build for people, that's part of it, right? It's not only what the play is, but what are the products? So they have to be expert in it. I mean, if they're not, then they're going to look foolish. Knowing your product is table stakes. Now, the problem that we get is once people get so focused on their product that they're more focused on pitching their product than they are at solving a solution. I have seen some broadcasters where they have some products that are more complex, more complicated, and they have an expert on staff and that person's available to do an assist, go on a four-legged call. That's a good short-term solution. But truthfully, you're limiting your capacity to do business to the amount of calls that that person can go on. George: Well, we like to call those barnacles. And I just actually had a lobster in New Hampshire this weekend that had a barnacle on the claw, and it reminded me that we coined that phrase, you've got the expert, and then the rep won't learn how to do it for themselves. Matt: Exactly. Right. It doesn't work. It's a short-term bandaid, but actually it causes more problems down the line. Salespeople need to know their products. George: So what you're saying to me sounds a lot like we've got to up our game from a sales management coaching standpoint. Matt: Yeah. And I'm a big believer in the sales playbook, that way everyone is consistent and we know what we're doing. It's not fair if someone goes out and does it wrong, but they were never told the right way, shown the right way to do it. It's not fair. But, yeah, we need to up our game. I mean, managing people is complex. George: Well, and we constantly need to be learning on that, and that's why we have resources like this. And that's why we're great to have guests like you. One of the most successful examples of inside sales has to be the Townsquare Media Group. And at last year's Burrell event in New York, Tim Pirrone, the guy who runs that whole thing and built it from the ground up, spoke that they're getting close to $50 million run rate. I'm sure that you work with lots of organizations that are attempting inside sales. Do you think that inside sales is one of those revenue motions that broadcasters need to look at? Matt: Yeah, and we work with Townsquare, so I'm familiar with that situation. George: Well they've been very, very successful. Matt: Very successful doing it. And we have a few other clients that have inside sales going on too. If you set it up the right way, it's a really good addition to an outside salesforce. I don't think it's an either-or, I think it's an and. George: And what about the salespeople that say, "Well, I just don't know if that client has the kind of budget as far as building out a lead gen team." Is that another area where we take some of that headcount and we move it into some different revenue motions that you're recommending? I'm kind of reading between the lines here, but you mentioned lead gen earlier. Matt: Yeah. So I look at a sales organization. I say, "Okay, we need to have dedicated resources to customer acquisition, and we have to have dedicated resources to customer retention." Right now, we kind of all employ the lone wolf style where every person does everything. But I think that if we thought about it as, are you in the customer acquisition team or the customer retention team, we would be better off. And if we looked at it as a customer acquisition team, then we probably would say, "Okay, we need a lead gen team to supplement the leads coming in it." Matt: Let me say it this way. If we were calling on a business that had a really, really good product and had a really good success rate of helping their customers use their product successfully, and they even had really good salespeople to sell the product, but the only thing that they were struggling with is their salespeople didn't have enough face-to-face interactions with potential customers. We would recommend to them that they do marketing. We would say, "Oh, you know what you need to do? You need to do some marketing, some advertising." Yet, when we look at our business and we say we have really good products, people that use our products get really good results. We have really good salespeople, yet they don't have enough new business appointments. We say, "Oh, you know what you need to do? You need to go and cold call more." It just doesn't make sense. We need something at the front end to help. George: Well, and I used this with a broadcast group here recently. They had a station in Waco, Texas, and I said, "Why don't we go online and look up SEO expert in Waco, Texas, to see if you guys rank?" And they're like, "Oh, you should put in radio station." And I'm like, "No, not if you're going to sell digital products and services. You need to be ranking for SEO expert because that's what the businesses of Waco, Texas are looking for." Matt: Right. Exactly. We just need to eat our own dog food. We just need to do what we would tell our clients to do. And I'm not saying that salespeople should be relieved of finding their own prospects or getting referrals. I think they should do all of that, but we should be able to supplement it with a lead generation program because that's part of customer acquisition. Conclusion George: Well, we always like getting people like you, Matt, that are working with organizations throughout the US and Canada on a daily basis. And I've always been bullish on the broadcaster space, maybe because that's where I came from. But one of the reasons that I've been bullish on it is we always ... in the broadcast space you had to think outside of the box, and you had to be creative, and you had to solution sell, especially in radio. That was the way that it was just done. And I've been waiting for the moment that radio stepped up to the plate and said, "I'm going to start to add other products and services into the mix." And it's good to hear that you're validating what I've been hearing on the street, that that movement has been started. And for some people, they've been at it for, like the Townsquare folks, they've been at it for a number of years, and they're seeing the fruits of their labors. If people want to get a hold of you and learn more about how you might be able to help out their broadcast organization, how would they go about doing that, Matt? Matt: Best way is just to email me directly at email@example.com, and I'm happy to talk to anyone. I'm passionate about this subject and I want to be a resource and be helpful to anyone listening to this podcast. I'd love to do that. George: Well, and if you ever see throughout any of the organizations out there the named Matt Sunshine and The Center for Sales Strategy speaking at one of these conferences, that is a session you don't want to miss because Matt brings real tangible insights from the field and from groups that he's working with on a daily basis. So privilege having you on the show, and we'll let you get back to the beautiful city of Nashville, Tennessee, where you are today as we record this podcast. It's one of my favorite places. So go enjoy that. Get yourself some ribs. Enjoy it. Matt: Thank you very much. George: Well, Matt is great at laying out that strategy on how to build a winning sales playbook. Here it is again. You need the best people in place, and that is figuring out what the best experience is, are they the right culture fit, or what culture fit are you looking for, and then what job do you want them to do? Because there's more than just the job of a sales rep with a bag, going out and seeing a customer inside these organizations. And that brings us to number two, which is organizing the sales teams the right way. There are certain individuals that are better at account management then are at acquiring new customers, so why reinvent the wheel? Why not just build those specific teams and have those people do what they're really good at and what will help your organization, and the individuals in it, win? George: And then look for a repeatable, predictable process. And we're talking about this for broadcast organizations. I'm loving it. It's all the things that we've been pontificating about over the last few years coming true. That in this world that we live in, in 2019 and soon to be 2020, we can build predictable, repeatable sales processes if we just follow a few key tenants. And he really spoke in that episode about key elements for hiring, and we haven't really talked a lot about that on the podcast, but I think it's so true. We define what we're looking for, figure out what the talents are and the skills and the experiences necessary to meet the objective of the position, and then don't ever settle. Don't ever bring in somebody that might be good enough. Make sure that you keep looking until you find that person that is the perfect culture fit. George: Now in a lot of broadcast organizations that aren't big enough to have HR departments, that's going to fall on you as a sales manager, you got to take the bull by the horns and do your recruiting yourself. But if you are working with the HR department, make sure that they very clearly understand what you're looking for and what problem you're trying to solve in the hire that you're making. I find that even in my day to day, if we work very closely with HR and not see them as somebody who's trying to block us, we've developed a relationship there, we might just get a lot better talent in the pipe. So another great episode. There are key takeaways for everyone, regardless of the space. Matt was specifically talking about the broadcast space because that's where The Center for Sales Strategy has been anchored, but they also work with magazines, newspapers and cable co's. Everybody else is talking to local. George: For those of you that are in other industries, I might point out that there's another group of people out there banging on the doors and they're good. There's a good group of salespeople out there that are learning some new tricks. So just keep that in mind, that you need to be constantly improving and upping your game as there's never going to be less competition than there is today, I always like to say. It's just going to be more, so put that expectation of one day there's going to be less competition. We are always looking for great comments on the podcast or even suggestions on how we might be able to improve. I can take it. I got broad shoulders. So keep reaching to us on LinkedIn. We had some great conversations with folks over the last couple of weeks that are discovering the podcast for the first time. We'd love your referrals. George: And when producer Colleen does her thing on a weekly basis where she posts our weekly podcast, we would welcome your shares on social media. If you could share it on LinkedIn or on Facebook or on Twitter so that other people can find the Conquer Local podcast where we're helping salespeople all over the world conquer that local day-to-day sales with SMBs. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Erica Farber, the president and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau joins us for a 2-part webinar series. Erica leads Radio’s advocacy by driving business, growing advertising revenue, and communicating Radio’s digital transition. She joined the organization in January 2012 as the Executive Vice President responsible for membership and driving professional development, and then she was promoted to President & CEO. Erica held nearly every position in Radio Sales & Management by rising through the ranks at the INTEREP Companies and serving as Executive Vice President of Radio Development. In 2000, Ms. Farber received an American Broadcast Pioneer Award from the Broadcasters' Foundation and has consistently been voted one of "The Most Influential Women in Radio" by the readers of Radio Ink Magazine. In 2009 she was awarded the inaugural Trailblazer award by the Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a group she was a founding member of in its inception of 1999. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Are Radio Networks Embracing Digital Quickly Enough? Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast. A show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith and we're very pleased to present a two-part Conquer Local podcast featuring Erica Farber. Erica is the president and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, and she leads radio's advocacy efforts by helping to drive business, grow advertising revenue, and communicate radio's digital transition. She joined the organization in January 2012 as the Executive Vice President responsible for membership and driving professional development. And then she was promoted to President and CEO. She's held nearly every position in radio sales and management, including rising through the ranks at INTEREP Companies and serving as Executive Vice President of radio development. In 2000, Ms. Farber received an American Broadcast Pioneer Award from the Broadcaster's Foundation and has consistently been voted one of the most influential women in radio by the readers of Radio Inc. Magazine. In 2009, she was awarded the inaugural Trailblazer Award by the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a group she was the founding member of in its inception back in 1999. Coming up next, Erica Farber from the Radio Advertising Bureau on this part one of a two-part series of the Conquer Local podcast. George: Well, welcome as you join our webinar today, we're just waiting for folks to get dialed in and we wanna encourage questions. I will tell you that this is the most pre-questions that we've ever received for an event, so we're excited to get rolling here. My colleague, Vish, is going to join here in a few moments and he'll be going through the questions. But we wanna welcome our guest for the webinar this week. Erica Farber, thanks for joining us, and you and I have been talking quite a bit over the last couple of weeks getting ready for the webinar and we're gonna put you on the hot seat and ask some questions. But thanks for joining us and taking the time to be on the webinar. Erica: It's my pleasure, George. Thank you for asking. George: Are radio broadcasters embracing digital quick enough? That was the question that we posed to you, Erica, to get you to join the webinar you wanted to jump right on it and, and get in. So we're gonna start discussing this and we welcome our audience. And I was looking at the guest list ahead of time. We've got folks from all over the world actually that are joining us for this webinar today. And we're going to take this webinar and it's going to become an episode on our award-winning Conquer Local podcast, as well. So no pressure Erica, but you're now going to be a Conquer Local alumni. We've now celebrated over 250 episodes of the podcast that's heard in 50 different countries. So it'll live on wherever you listen to podcasts. So thanks for that as well. So let's get rolling. You know, just a little bit of background for folks that are on the show that maybe don't know my background. I'm the Chief Customer Officer here, at Vendasta, salesman number one. I was the first sales hired of this tech company about 10 years ago, and now we have close to 200 and some odd people that serve customers. But my background is I'm a radio guy and I started at the local radio station out of high school. I was not Ryan Seacrest, so there's no money in on air in a small market like that. So they said, "Hey, why don't you sell some ads on the play-by-play hockey broadcast," that I was doing at the time. So I started selling and then moved into management and that career lasted for quite some time. So when I arrived here at Vendasta as the Chief Customer Officer and originally as the Director of Sales, we were working with media companies, where some of our very first channel partners. Now we have over 70,000 channel partners around the world and over 7 million businesses on our platform. But I still consider myself to be a media salesperson because I've worked with a lot of media sales reps over the last 10 years and I love radio. And I still think there's a place for local radio in our markets. And we're seeing as we come out of COVID that some of the data is showing us that actually local radio advertising revenue is growing again, which is really good to see. So Erica, as we were prepping for this episode, and I wanted to give that backstory cause people be like, "Wow, this guy's talking like he's known radio for 30-some-odd years." And yes, it's actually more than 30 years, but, you know, let's do a status check, Erica, on where do you think radio is in their adoption of digital and new digital lines of revenue? Erica: That's a tough question because radio is in the front of the line and in some cases, radio's in the back of the line. So it really depends on the market, it depends on the company, and it depends on the commitment. I would say that everybody is certainly engaged in looking at it. I feel pretty confident in saying that everyone recognizes that digital is becoming a more important part of what we do as radio broadcasters, but we're all over the place. As I said, some have been leading that charge, there are others that are just jumping in on it now. So probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but we're all over the place. George: No, and it's, you know, it's accurate because we hear that when we talk to folks, you know, I have some friends that I met 10 years ago when I got here and I started talking to radio companies. They jumped in early maybe because I sold them on it, but you know, they knew they needed to do it and then there have been these, is it fair to say these fits and starts in some instances where it's not easy? If you're gonna build out your own teams to deliver these products and services and then you've gotta find tech providers to be able to make it scalable. That seems to be what we're hearing from organizations is, you know, we've been looking at it or we've been doing it, it isn't really getting us what we're looking for. Or there may be the odd outlier that's like, no, it's working great, we've got it figured out. Is that a fair assessment? Erica: Oh, absolutely. You know, we do a study every year in partnership with Borrell. And we take the temperature, if you will, of broadcasters in the United States. And looking at where are they in their digital efforts. And it was interesting because a few years ago, one of the questions we ask is, how do you think you're doing? And so you can say exceptionally well, not so good. And we had a lot of people a few years ago, you know, maybe 20% said we're doing exceptionally well. And then you look at it year to year, people are feeling more confident. I don't think they're saying they're doing exceptionally well, but we're seeing a lot more people putting their arms around it and feeling more comfortable with it. And I think that's the big issue because it's really changed how we position ourselves as sellers and marketers if you will, that work for local radio stations. George: You know, one of the things, Erica, that I wanted to test with you and I've had this thought for quite some time, probably the last four or five years working with media companies, you know, we have done a really good job in trying to get an audience for the format of our stations. But I think where we've really struggled is the ability to market the things that we do to help local businesses. Because if you got the audience, then the salespeople will just go out and sell the value of that audience. But when it comes to we're the trusted local experts, we've been here in the marketplace, and really doing that bragging to set the parameters that you could be the organization that can solve this digital problem, I find that to be one of the biggest challenges for organizations because there isn't a really robust marketing engine for the head of sales to utilize to get that message out there about the products and services. Is that a fair statement? Erica: It is, but you know, there's two issues here. One is, for those who've been doing this longer than an hour and a half, we've been used to positioning our radio stations and our companies a very specific way. When we would call on an advertiser, we would use our call letters as the way to get in that door saying, I represent X radio station and I would like to talk to you about how our station can help grow your business. If you look at the marketplace today, it's changed dramatically because not only do we have local media outlets, but we now have digital companies who are media companies. And I'm talking about the Googles and the Facebooks, and you know, Twitter and all these companies and social media that are now also calling on local businesses and agencies. So the competition to promote an individual's company has changed dramatically. It's not about, I've gotta make sure that I'm listed in the Yellow Pages. And, you know, for those of you that are joining us today or listening to this, some of you didn't grow up with the Yellow Pages where it was literally a big book that was delivered for free to everyone at home. And it listed every business with a phone number and an address. That business has pretty much disappeared because now we have the internet. So the competition for marketing has changed dramatically so that the messaging for sellers, no matter who you work for, has changed. And so again, for those of us who grew up in just representing one or two radio stations, now we have multiple radio stations, plus you talk about the trust, George, that's something that's so important because our audience trusts us and as sellers and marketers, we have to make sure that our advertisers and agency relationships trust us as well. So, you know, I can remember a time, believe it or not, that, you know, as local radio stations, we were order takers in a sense. We always tried to do new business, but it wasn't unusual to pick up a telephone and have someone say, "Hey, I wanna advertise on your radio station." That doesn't happen today or it's very rare when that happens today. So we have to go out and create these relationships and that's a big shift. George: You know, it's interesting that you say that because I was just replaying sales training that I received in the early '90s in my early days of selling radio. And they talked about, at that time, the trainers, and the great Jim Blundell was probably one of the best trainers that I ever had. He said you need to be a consultant. And actually changing that mindset was when I started to exceed my budgets. And then I started to get promoted because I was coming in consulting. And I remember I would go in and I'd come up with a great creative idea. I would get them, you know, sell 'em on the value of our audience and then actually tell 'em how their print should look with that creative idea and maybe they should update the billboard, the marquee out front of their business with that message. But I wasn't getting paid to deliver those other solutions. And now in the world of digital, you've got so much that you could offer, so many problems that you could solve. So with all of that opportunity, though, it's still not easy is what we're finding. Erica: No, but you know, you bring up such a good point because when you were positioning yourself as a consultant to that advertiser and you said you weren't necessarily being paid for that, but you developed a relationship with that person. They trusted you. And because of that trust, you were able to garner information from them about their business that other competitors or consultants if you will, they didn't have access to that data. And now what's happened is we used to go in and we were compensated solely on selling spots. But now our toolkit has changed dramatically. And I think that's where you're seeing the big change. That we're trying to develop relationships with other companies that can help us be that preferred supplier. Literally last week there was a seminar that our friends at Borrell did and it was about what they heard from local ad buyers. And it was both local companies and ad agencies. And it's interesting, I'm just looking at my notes from that. And they were talking about from the local ad buyers use, 53% bought digital products from a local media company, and then from the ad agency side, 74% bought digital advertising from a local media company. So with that, you talk about a change and that really shows you sort of that sweet spot, and what a fantastic opportunity for local radio companies and local radio stations because who better to promote that local message than that local radio station who is tied into the community? George: And I can't punctuate that enough because I will tell you over the last 10 years, I don't know if there's too many people, we were just talking about the amount of travel that we did pre-COVID, but I don’t know if there's too many people that trained as many salespeople as I had the privilege of training over those years and I found that that level of trust that that local media company had walking in, they weren't actually understanding how valuable it was. And the way that I'd always articulate that to them is the competitor, which the competitor of everybody who's on this call is I got a guy or I got a gal that looks after that and we have a tendency to pre-qualify that, and say, "Oh, they've got a digital agency they're working with." No, they actually have somebody that posts on Instagram or they have somebody that updates their website. They don't have marketing strategists that's coming in with a consultant view that is dealing with world-class products and services. They know what works and what doesn't. So, you know, we come back to the power of the brand will get you through the door, but also being able to capture all of the opportunity that's there because you've got these peer plays that are calling in and you know, hammering the phones, dialing for dollars, and they just don't have that brand equity or that trust. Erica: Well, but you know, it's also information and information is power. And again, it used to be when we went into a client, when we would do that CNA or that customer needs analysis, we had to ask a lot of questions before we can even properly put together a radio plan. But now we have access to so much information prior to even making that connection that we can look at that customer's website, we can start to understand a lot about that business to see what some of the weaknesses could be. And so when we are able to physically either connect in person, on the phone, via text, email, we're able to ask very specific questions to understand what is the pain point of that particular potential customer? What is it they need? What is the weakness they're finding? So that then we can put together a proper plan. And many times it will include radio, but the initial connection may not be a radio campaign. But, you know, I think the other thing that's so positive about this and you know this, George, when you were selling local radio, how many times did an advertiser say, "Well we're gonna try radio. We're gonna buy two weeks of radio ads." And sadly we took those orders and we were happy to take those orders. But you know what? Then we heard, well it didn't work. Well, very rarely is a two-week advertising campaign for someone that's never used the medium gonna work anyway, because what we're looking for is developing that relationship, putting together that plan over a year, let's say, or a quarterly basis to determine what's working, what isn't working? What's the messaging? How is it tied into all of the plans of that particular advertiser? So that helps us ensure that whatever we're proposing to that particular client, that we are proposing campaigns that actually can prove an ROI. And that's really important because we need it to work. And when these campaigns work for customers, they're gonna continue to come back and come back. And we learned a lot through COVID, by the way, about relationships. George: Absolutely. Erica: Because there are people who said they had relationships and I can remember early on at the RAB, we would get some calls from some great members and from local sellers saying, "I sent out 50 emails and I didn't hear back from anybody." And you know, we're like, well did you pick up the telephone to call them to see how they're doing? Are their doors still open? What are their needs? But the sellers that had the relationships that got on the phone and connected with those people, they helped keep a lot of retail doors open. And I'm really proud of what radio did because radio really shined as far as how we helped local businesses. And again, as I said, we found out who had relationships and who didn't. George: When I know with the media companies that we're working with the radio CEO was voicing commercials talking about the value of local businesses. They were even going as far as mentioning local businesses that were open and the way that they were serving customers in a new way. So really embracing that local position. So, you know, we probably have said it, Vish is probably counting how many times we've said local. But the theme to this whole thing is the organization is the local conduit to that local business. Now fast forward to a couple of weeks ago we were doing a seminar with one of our broadcast partners and we had a bunch of local businesses in a room 'cause now we can do that. And I had a couple of them when we were inviting them to come because it happened to be in our hometown and I knew some of the business people and they were like, "Oh yeah, I really like sales rep X," cause I don't wanna name any names, "but I just don't know who to trust." And that seems to be a theme that we're hearing from local businesses. So what I wanna get to is relying 100% on the relationship without bringing in the learnings and the information that the businesses are, it's not gonna work out for us, is it? We can't just rely on the fact that I've been calling on that client for 20 years. Erica: No, absolutely not, and you know, I'm gonna also say something. Years ago when you would ask agencies or advertisers about their relationships with local reps, and I'm not just saying radio, television, newspaper, magazines, you name it, sadly radio, in general, was always at the bottom of the list. We weren't perceived as the most professional if you will. And if you ask that same question today, it is thrilling for me to see that radio sellers now, if not number one, they're definitely at the top of the list. And I think there's several reasons for that. First of all, I think we are much better trained than ever. You know, it used to be we would hire a seller and just say, here you go, here's a list, go out and sell. A great seller, that's not easy. But I also think what happened is, in addition to being better trained, we have more tools and information and we're not afraid to not only ask for the order but to say, "How are we going to judge the success of the campaign?" You know, what are the KPIs of this campaign? And I think that says a lot about that relationship as well because you know, it used to be you had a new advertiser on the air and you were afraid to call 'em because you didn't wanna hear that it didn't work. Now you really wanna have that relationship to talk to them. How is it working? Do we need to fine-tune that message? Maybe the commercial isn't right, maybe this isn't right. It's not syncing with their other programs. But again, we have these toolkits now that are so full of not only facts and information but that we provide these services that we couldn't provide before. And it's a fantastic time to be a local marketer that's tied to a local strong media company. This is the greatest time ever for local sellers. George: I 100% believe that. I've been saying it for 10 years maybe telling the truth in advance. Erica: Well, frequency works. George: Exactly. Conclusion George: It was a pleasure speaking with Erica, the president, and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau. There's many learnings in this special two-part podcast series. Stay tuned, Conquerors. We'll bring back part two of this special conversation next week. And please subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen to the podcast. And thanks for joining us this week on the Conqueror Local podcast. My name is George Leith, I'll see you when I see you.
Get ready for part 1 of a 2-part series as we welcome Kwame Christian, who is a best-selling author, business lawyer, and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute (ANI). Following the viral success of his TedxDayton talk, Kwame released his best-seller Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life in 2018. He also recently released his latest book, How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race in September 2022, and is a regular Contributor for Forbes and the host of the number one negotiation podcast in the world, Negotiate Anything - which currently has over 5 million downloads worldwide. Under Kwame’s leadership, ANI has coached and trained several Fortune 500 companies in applying the fundamentals of negotiation to corporate success. Kwame was the recipient of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2020 and the Moritz College of Law Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award in 2021. He is the only person in the history of The Ohio State University to win alumni awards in consecutive years from Law school and the Masters of Public Affairs program. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Then, keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Conflict-Resolution and Negotiation Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith and on this episode, we welcome Kwame Christian. Kwame is a bestselling author and business lawyer, and the CEO of the American Negotiation Institute. After his successful TedTalk, Kwame released his bestseller, Finding Confidence in Conflict, How to Negotiate Anything and Live your Best Life. In 2018, that book hit bookshelves. His second book is out now, How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race. His podcast, Negotiate Anything, is the number one negotiation podcast in the world, and he has a new podcast called Negotiate Real Change that you should check out. He's a regular contributor to Forbes and we invite you to get ready Conquerors. Kwame Christian coming up next on this week's episode of the Conquer Local podcast. George: Kwame Christian joining us on the Conquer Local Podcast. Kwame, thanks for jumping on board. Where is your home? Kwame: I'm in Columbus, Ohio. George: I actually like Columbus and not for the hockey team. Sorry, I'm a Leaf's fan. Kwame: Yeah, listen, I accept that. As long as you're not a Buckeye hater, I'm okay with that. George: Oh no, I do like the Buckeyes. Well, I'm really excited to have you on this show. Our producer, Suliman has done a great job of getting everything prepped and I love the TedTalk, it was a while ago. I'd love to hear from you in your words, how your career got started. Kwame: Yeah, great question. So I started off doing civil rights work straight out of law school. So I have a master of public policy and a law degree. I did some civil rights work for a bit and to be completely honest, I got really burnt out, really burnt out, and just emotionally from that, it's heavy work. And so that's when I transitioned into practicing business law, getting into contract negotiation, becoming a mediator. And I really grew my passion for difficult conversations. And I thought about how my life has been shaped through difficult conversations. And so for me, I thought that was gonna be the best way for me to contribute to the world. So I started the American Negotiation Institute, grew the audience, and then the rest is history. George: Well, I love hearing that from your voice as to how you arrived here, and thanks for being vulnerable and explaining on the burnout side. But when I look at that history, you're built to be a great negotiator. So our audience, just so I'm sure you know this, is sales professionals all over the world and sales is one of those businesses that you have to negotiate. And if you're good at it, it could mean the difference between a nice commission check or a successful business. So we're hoping to learn a lot from you today about negotiation, but you have that first book, Finding Confidence in Conflict, How to Negotiate Anything and Live your Best Life, but we also are celebrating as this goes to air your second book. So we're gonna do it a little bit different. I'd like to talk about the second book first and then we'll get into the negotiating piece in a minute. Kwame: Absolutely and George, I think you'll like this too because this book was one that I was not anticipating writing and nor did I really want to write if I'm being completely honest. So after I left the world of civil rights, I was gone, gone. I was gone. And then in 2020, we recognized that America was going through another racial reckoning. And let me tell you how gone I was George. So when I left the civil rights world, I said, I'm not listening to any news. And if anybody on social media post anything about news or race or injustice, I'm gonna unfollow them, I'm gonna block them and that includes my wife, Whitney. And so then when 2020 rolled around, Whitney, she's been listening to my podcast a little bit too much because now she's a good negotiator. And so she said, well Kwame, listen, you always tell people that they have to have these conversations. That you always talk about the best things in life wrong, the other side of difficult conversations, but you are being hypocritical because you are avoiding our nation's most difficult conversation. And that hit home. And I realized, okay, I need to get off the sideline because even though I was feeling good about not being involved and using the ostrich technique for avoiding the world's problems, I wasn't contributing and given my background, given my civil rights background, my knowledge of negotiation and conflict resolution, I was uniquely qualified for this conversation. So I stepped back into this world but approaching it through the lens of negotiation. And so it's a skills-based approach. So I'm not telling people how they should think about race, I'm teaching them how they can and should talk about it from a skills-based methodology and that's been really rewarding to see how much it's helped people. George: Well, I'm excited to learn about this and I'm gonna give you a little bit of background, I'm old as you can tell. I grew up in a small little town in the middle of the prairies of Canada, where most of us are Scottish-Ukrainian heritage, and I didn't travel a lot in my early career. And then I arrived at the tech company that I'm fortunate enough to work with today and in the last 10 years have traveled to almost 40 different countries and have met people and count of my friends, some great folks in South Africa and in Europe and various other areas so I'm excited to learn from you about, and I love the title, how to have difficult conversations about race, because you talked about ostriches earlier, as a privileged white farm boy from Canada, I would probably just avoid the conversation. And so I'm excited to learn from you as to how to have those difficult conversations or when are they needed. Kwame: Definitely and that's the thing that's really surprising is that they're needed more frequently than we think about it, than we realize. And so here's an example. So if we're in the business world, one of the things that comes up a lot not surprisingly is money. And so that's gonna be an issue that's gonna be germane in a lot of times. There are gonna be sometimes where one person says you know what? I think this pushes our budget a little bit too far, and somebody else doesn't think that. They don't think it's a money issue at all, but now they have to have a conversation about money, about finances. Now let's take this to the conversation about race. There are gonna be times where you in the conversation as a leader, you might not think race is germane at all to the conversation, but then you might have a person of colour who's on the team and they say based on their lived experience and their perspective, actually no, this does touch on my racial identity in ways that you can't see. And so now this becomes a conversation about race and you didn't expect it. And I think that's one of the things that we have to realize as leaders in the business world and thinking about it as negotiators too, on the more transactional side, sometimes race is going to come up at times where we don't expect it. And if we're not skillful enough and confident enough in those skills to have those conversations, we're going to fail and struggle to advance in our careers. George: So when your wife was the catalyst and said, don't be a hypocrite, which I think my wife's told me that too, and then said let's get this book out, I know you're excited about it. What mark are you hoping that it'll leave on the planet when this book is out there and people are consuming the wisdom that you put forward? Kwame: I think it's two things. It comes down to mindset and skillset. So I want people to read this book and then be able to have that belief in their skills and say, you know what, when the conversation comes up, I'm going to be ready. I have a specific framework and methodology and set of tools that I can actually use in a tangible realistic type of way. It's not about political correctness. It's not about rules or making people feel bad or anything like that. It's just about giving you the skills to have the conversation competently and confidently. And then with the mindset, we have to make sure that you have the confidence, yes, but you also are approaching it with a people-centric approach. We have to be humble. We have to be empathetic. We have to be willing to learn and recognize that everybody is an expert in their own lived experience. I can't tell you about your life. You can't tell me about my life. And so we can learn together. And I think when we're having these conversations, these conversations if we want them to be transformative for others, we have to be open to transforming ourselves. That takes a lot of humility and vulnerability to open ourselves up to change because that's what it will take to actually create the change we wanna see too. George: So when I hear you talk about that, the first thing that comes to my mind is just being a student again and trying to seek to understand where the other person is coming from. But I think there's more here that I'm reading into what you're saying is that if I just went down my road from where I came from and what I was exposed to, and maybe I didn't travel and meet people from other races and other walks of life if I didn't seek to understand, I didn't ask those questions, I'm not gonna be open to this. I'm not gonna be open to that kind of a conversation. Is that your experience? Kwame: Yeah, that's a big part of it and I think that's where the humility comes from too. We have to be open to learning. And the only way we can be open to learning is if we take the time to accept the reality that there is more to learn from other people in these conversations. And George, to be honest, I was really surprised at how much I learned in my process of writing the book. It is a nice little fantasy that we live in sometimes where we think we know it all, but the more I learned it, the more I realize there is still to learn. And so a lot of times when we think about the conversations, it can be overwhelming. And one of the major emotions that holds us back from even having the conversation is fear and the fear will masquerade in different ways and a lot of times it'll masquerade in the form of convincing yourself that you need to learn more before having the conversation. And now this isn't to make a statement in praise of ignorance or anything like that. I think we do all need to self-educate, but there is a level of education that we pretend like we need to know in order to have these conversations and that's really a lie that we tell ourselves to prevent us from having the conversations. George: So in your work with the American Negotiation Institute and the training that you've done with several Fortune 500 companies, this is applying the things that you've written about in both of your books, but we're specifically talking right now around how to have difficult conversations about race. Are you finding that more companies are wanting to incorporate this learning into their curriculum for their teams? Like, are you finding that it's a proactive approach? We need to do this. Kwame: Yeah 100% and one of the things that's most rewarding is that when I'm thinking about negotiation and conflict resolution, I'm defining those things very broadly and people are starting to appreciate that. So for me, people might look at me and say, Kwame, have you become a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert? I say, no, I'm a negotiation expert who has lent his skills to this space, right? So I'll give an example. I was in San Diego doing a sales training to some sales leaders. And as I was talking, they started to realize that there were some instances where they would go into different areas in the country, and then there would be a cultural difference, a racial difference and it was difficult for the sales leaders to break through in that regard. How do I connect with this person? And so this book provides people with an opportunity to actually get an understanding of the psychological barriers that are being faced by both people in the interaction, and then create a negotiation or communication conversation to circumvent those biases cause we all have biases. I mean, that's just the natural way the brain works. There's one way to get rid of biases though that's foolproof. Have you heard of this? George: No, but I would love for you to help me with that. Kwame: The only way to get rid of your biases is by turning off your brain, otherwise known as death. I feel like that is a little bit extreme. George: I didn't know where you were gonna go, but I was anticipating there might only be one way to solve this problem. So is it accepting and then learning how to deal with it? Kwame: Absolutely, and so this is what we have to do. We can't get rid of our biases, but we can manage them. And that's the thing. If we try to say I am unbiased, that's just a psychological impossibility. And so when it comes to these difficult conversations, I have a framework called the compassionate curiosity framework and it's designed for not only the external negotiation and difficult conversation, but also for the internal. And so for you as a sales expert, you'll see this as a tool for overcoming objections as well. So step one is acknowledging and validating emotions because a lot of times there's an emotional challenge so we wanna work through that. Step two is getting curious with compassion, asking open-ended questions with a compassionate tone to gather information and empathize. And step three is joint problem solving where we're working together collaboratively to figure out what happens next in this specific situation or with the relationship as a whole, but then flipped internally, we're acknowledging and validating our beliefs, our feelings, and our perspective. What do I feel? How do I think about this? What's the conclusion I'm instantly coming to, I need to acknowledge what that is. And then the next step is getting curious with compassion, questioning that, challenging those assumptions, and digging deeper within ourselves. And then when it comes to joint problem solving, we're reconciling the differences between our hearts and our minds. What will actually make me feel good emotionally going forward, but then also what solves the problem? What should I actually do? What decision needs to be made? And so you start to practice going through this, it helps you to address your biases and regulate your emotions as well. George: Kwame, three steps, and thank you for those simple three steps, but when I look at each one of them, there's a ton to unpack in there. It could go in 30 million different directions on each one. Kwame: Yes, I know and I tell you for me as a podcaster, professor, and lawyer, being succinct is a challenge. And so if you point me in the direction, I'll go deeper. George: No, but I just think that going through those three steps and I love the fact you put a sales spin on this because just ask anybody that knows me, they're like, oh, you're so manipulative. No, I just am a glass-half-full kind of person. I think that there's an opportunity in any issue, but what you've identified here is acknowledging and then validating. And I find that some people can like acknowledge and brush you off without follow on questions to validate. That's just one... The first thing came to my very simple brain - I'm not a professor, I'm a podcaster, but not a professor and author like you. And then next is get curious with compassion and that's what I was kind of referring to earlier is that seek to understand, be a student, ask questions, try to really understand where the other person is coming from, and then finally let's get on the same page and figure out if we can find common ground. So that's the way my simple brain works, but as I mentioned, there are different nuances to each one of those three steps. Kwame: Definitely and your brain is spot on with the way that you're interpreting this too. And you're right in focusing in on the acknowledging and validating portion, because that is the most challenging part of the process, not because it is difficult to understand what to do, it's difficult because you won't want to do it in the moment because most likely you're a little bit triggered too. You're feeling pressure. You're afraid as well. And so that's why I worked really hard to simplify this process because, under the heat of the moment, you're probably not going to remember 17 steps. We have to make it as simple as possible so you could actually put it into action. George: And I relate back to feel, felt, found. There are a number of processes there, but I like the way that you've broken this down. And when I first saw the topic of this episode and started to do the research into you, I'm like, oh, this could be great. I'm gonna learn how to manipulate people and negotiate better. But I love the fact that there's a very human element to your content and the things that you're speaking about and I can tell you're a great negotiator because I just feel calm right now just talking to you like, oh, relax Leith, calm down. We're gonna walk through these steps so I really appreciate that. If you could go back and write the new book that just hit bookstores in the last little while and do it differently, what would you do a little bit differently? Kwame: I would outsource the whole process cause writing is a bear. What would I do differently? I'm really proud of the way that it turned out. I will say that. When I look back on this book, there are no regrets in terms of the content that was put in and the approach. One thing that I would have done differently though, is I would've done a better job on the podcast side, creating kind of like a companion piece, almost like a brief audio course to go along with it. Because I think especially with the book, I wanted to keep it as practical as possible. And so I put in actual sample conversations that I've actually had with people going back and forth. And I think the readers would benefit from actually hearing my tone a little bit. And so I would've created a companion piece to go along with it. But as far as like, what's actually in the book, this is the first time I've really actually said that or appreciated it. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. George: Well, it's a phenomenal piece of work and we appreciate getting the early copy so that we could go through it before the episode and congratulations on that. We're gonna put all of the contact information into the show notes so that people can get their hands on it. So Kwame, now I wanna go back to the art and science of negotiation, and you have a podcast that we mentioned in the intro and I never get enough learning about negotiations. In fact, I gotta tell you, if you look up sales in the dictionary, pretty good chance there's a picture of me. And I've spent a lot of time with chief financial officers because I find that if you can negotiate with the CFO as a salesperson, you're gonna be much more effective at getting deals done and coming up with win-win relationships. But I wanna really dig in with your history and your background because it comes from the legal side, which is a little bit different than negotiating with a finance person unless I'm wrong in that assessment. Kwame: Yeah, it's really interesting and this podcast has been helpful to me in a lot of ways because I was always wondering who that handsome guy was when I looked up sales in the dictionary. And now I know, so I appreciate it. The other thing is for me getting into the negotiation space, it's been really cool for me because it's almost like mixed martial arts in a sense. Not in the combative sense, but different people enter mixed martial arts with different backgrounds. So somebody might be a wrestler. Somebody might be in jiu-jitsu, somebody might be a boxer and then you see that in the way that they communicate. For me as a negotiator that comes from a mediation background and as a lawyer negotiating contracts, the conflicts come to me. I don't need to find them. And so I just find myself in conflict. It's really easy. But on the sales side, there's a negotiation that has to happen beforehand for the conversation even happen. And so what's interesting to me in my experience, interviewing people with these different backgrounds is being able to create a unique methodology that respects the different strengths of different people. Salespeople have a different methodology that's really strong. Hostage negotiators have a different methodology that's really strong. Relationship therapists and police interrogators, they ask the best questions. And then learning from each of those people and then putting it into a unique methodology for negotiation and communication has been really rewarding over the last couple of years. George: One thing that I witnessed here in the last couple of months, and I've talked about it a lot, cause I like talking. I said I've done some pretty complex negotiations, but building our new fence was one of the toughest negotiations I've ever had to facilitate. And you got five neighbours, none of them want the same thing. Then you've got partners and spouses in the middle of it. Then you get somebody who's gonna build the bloody thing. Then you got the municipal forces that come in and tell you what you can and you can't build. And I was exhausted. It took months. It was super hard. But to your point, negotiation is everywhere in life. Kwame: Absolutely, I say negotiation is shaped like water. It will fit wherever there's space. And for me, when I define negotiation, I say any conversation where somebody in the conversation wants something is a negotiation because what I've recognized is that a lot of professionals are negotiating all the time, but they have a low negotiation awareness. So they don't recognize when they're negotiating. So think about a salesperson. When they're talking to a prospect, they can easily identify that as a negotiation. But when they're talking about people on their team, their CFO, their CEO, the people on the back end and operations, all of those, those are negotiations too. And if we increase our awareness, we can actually bring those skill sets to the table at the right time. And I think a lot of times we're just missing out on those opportunities to make better deals with the people around us. George: So Kwame, a question I have on negotiations, is there always a winner and a loser in a negotiation? Kwame: There's always a winner, whether or not there's a loser, depends on the circumstances. And so for me, this is my mindset in these negotiations. I believe I can win every single negotiation, as long as I do two things. Number one, this is always my primary goal and that is to get better. In every conversation that I have, I can improve my skills and I wanna treat myself like a really great coach so I'm gonna perform and then I'm gonna replay the tape in my head. What did I do well, I want to do more of that. Let me replicate that. But if I did something poorly, my goal is to not make the same mistake twice, that's it. That is something that's completely within my control and I can win on that point. Number two, I always wanna put myself in the best position for success. I can't control what the other person says and does, but I can control my behavior and I can approach this conversation in the strategic way that puts me in the best position to succeed. Whether or not I succeed and accomplish my goal in a tangible substance of sense, that's not completely in my control, but I want to make sure that I'm putting myself in the best position to succeed. And so when I'm focusing on controlling the controllables, just like one of those ancient stoics, I know I can win all the time because as long as I'm getting better, I know I'm going to keep on putting myself in the position to win. George: I'm sure you've heard this saying, you negotiated so strongly, there's nothing left on the other side. Have you ran across that in your career where like I always like to maybe leave a little bit of juice in the orange on the other side, because you might want to go back and continue to work with that side, but I've been in some situation, I've been ground on the other side of it where I got nothing left. There is nothing left to give. Do you see where I'm going with that? Kwame: Absolutely, yes, I will step up on my soap box briefly. So first of all, we can't even know if there's nothing left on the other side. How do we know? Did we acquire their company and look at their books? It's just not possible to know. And even if I could take everything from somebody, I wouldn't want to. I think back to the negotiation wisdom of I believe his name was Bob Wolf, he was the agent for Larry Bird. And he said I would intentionally try to leave 10% of the value I know I could have claimed on the table because I know there's more value in the relationship as a whole when people want to work with me. But if I'm eviscerating people all the time, then people don't wanna work with me. It's very short-minded. And I remember one time I was doing a procurement negotiation training and they were talking about a supplier that squeezed them and they were saying listen, please just don't do this. They resorted to begging and the supplier squeezed him. Then two years later, the situation changed and he picked up the phone with glee and started the conversation with, do you remember two years ago? It's a poor strategy to try to wreck people all the time. So I think we need to make sure that we're approaching these conversations with the relationship in mind because the thing about power and leverage is that those power dynamics, they shift with time. And it's really nice when you have it, but you have to remember once you don't, you're gonna have to rely on the relationship and if that's gone, you're gonna be in a bad spot. George: Well, I wanna say this, I wish I would've met you 30 years ago. Maybe even my early sales managers would say, I wish George would've met Kwame 35 years ago when I started in the sales business because out of all of those years of even trial and error and any of the learnings that I could get my hands on, I find that you have a framework here that could help a young entrepreneur, a young seller stave off a whole bunch of heartache by learning some of these skills. So where would we go aside from the TedTalk, the podcast, the books, but where would we go to get more Kwame to help us with this very important skill in being an entrepreneur or a sales professional? Kwame: I appreciate that. And you can check out the website, Americannegotiationinstitute.com if you're interested in learning more about our trainings, workshop, consulting, that type of work. And we also have a lot of goodies there in terms of free guides. So if you go to our website, Americannegotiationinstitute.com/guide, you can get access to all of our free negotiation guides from salary negotiation, conflict resolution, how to negotiate your salary, all of those types of things. And so, yeah, make sure you check that one out. Conclusion George: Well, we are going to get two episodes out of our conversation with Kwame Christian, what a great episode, Finding Confidence in Conflict and How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life is the title of the book. And we have those three steps that I was gushing over because they were so simple, but it really is good for us to remember: Acknowledge and validate the emotions, use the compassionate curiosity framework to seek to understand, and then engage in problem-solving, but joint problem-solving. We're on the same side. We're gonna figure out together, we're gonna come up with a win-win, but be very careful that you don't give in too much because you might get taken advantage of. Some amazing nuggets on the art of negotiations from Kwame. And if you like this episode discussing conflict resolution and negotiation, let's continue the conversation. Check out episode 520, body language on Zoom with mark Bowden, and episode 528, Mastering your Meetings with Caroline Goyder. Please subscribe and leave us a review and thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
Explore the world of targeted TV ads and Digital Billboards with our guest, Gabriel Smith, Founder, and CEO of AdCritter, the small business advertising platform. As a nine-time small business owner himself, he deeply understands the challenges small businesses face, particularly with advertising. Gabriel is a leading advocate for the democratization of advertising ecosystems and the removal of ad tech access barriers. He has helped over three thousand small businesses advertise successfully, making it his life mission to see them win. In our conversation, Gabriel highlights the Performance Marketing and Campaign duration traps and three core principles in how digital agencies should set their expectations to generate an engaging campaign with a favourable reach over the long run. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. An Expert's Guide To Digital Billboards Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local Podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They want to share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith. On this episode, we welcome Gabriel Smith. Gabriel is the founder and CEO of AdCritter, a small business advertising platform. As a nine times small business owner himself, he deeply understands the challenges small businesses face, particularly with online advertising. He's a leading advocate for the democratization of advertising ecosystems and the removal of ad tech access barriers. He's helped over 3000 small businesses advertise successfully. Making it his life's mission to see them win. Get ready conquerors for Gabriel Smith. Coming up next on this week's episode of the Conquer Local podcast. George: Gabriel Smith, CEO of AdCritter. Gabriel, welcome to the podcast. Can you hold up the mug? It's got the logo on there. I love that. Gabriel: Yes. George: There it is. Gabriel: Coffee Addict. I mean, maybe it's coffee, right? You don't know. AdCritter’s Formation and History George: We don't know! Gabriel is joining us from Nashville, Tennessee, where that is the headquarters of AdCritter. We got to meet each other a couple of months back when AdCritter entered into the Vendasta marketplace. And you know, in the intro, Gabriel, I said a lot of nice stuff about you and talked about your background, but I'd like to hear from our guests too. How did you arrive here and how long has AdCritter been in business? Gabriel: Well, we've had an unusual journey. I'm a serial entrepreneur, right? So I was a nine times small business owner before I got into technology at all. So when we started AdCritter we were in a very different space. We initially were doing some ad tech in the defense and healthcare industries, right? Serving very, very large enterprise clients. But what became clear as we went is, you know, small business owners are our heartbeat. And everyone on our team had that kind of in their background. And the more we built these great tools for ad tech the more we were shaking our heads thinking it's insane that small businesses can't really advertise this technology. All of our competitors require these very large ad spends. It's just cumbersome to get into if you're a small business owner. And so, we rebranded as AdCritter, rebuilt all of our tech and our UI to make it incredibly easy for small business owners, and just kept adding more and more features targeted toward that unique audience. People who need to be able to run very small campaigns, very, very effectively. Challenges for Local Businesses George: It's really interesting, Gabriel, that you talk about the challenges that a local business has, especially those small local businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities. And you know, we're hearing across the Conquer Local Podcast universe that I think everybody pays a lot more attention to local businesses after what we've been through with Covid. We realize now, I think we kind of took 'em for granted, actually, when it comes down to it. But that's the first place we turn to get a donation for the sports team. Or, you know, get them to put some money into a charity, or our kids' first job is with a local business owner. So, specifically when we talk about that challenge is, you know, I've sold ads to local businesses my entire career and I've been a local business owner for about 10 years of my career. So I know what I hate when I have a salesperson on the other side of the desk. But let's talk about specifically what did you identify were some of those challenges that led you to that epiphany that this is crazy? Gabriel: Well, the first, it's just the minimums that were required, right? If you're doing something outside of social media marketing, anything in programmatic advertising which is where we started at very high minimums. Connected TV is the same way, digital billboards. But that was kind of the easy part. Really, we found two things. First, it needs to be very, very simple. A marketing professional can spend some time really learning how a software platform works, right? A small business owner, it just needs to make sense right out of the gate. And that's where we started and we were getting some initial traction, but right before the pandemic hit, we kind of had an epiphany. The behaviour we were seeing from small business owners over and over in the platform. Cause they would go in, they'd set up all their targeting for who they wanted to reach, and then they would get to the last step which was upload your ad and they would go away. Right? Because they don't have marketing departments. They don't have ads. And so we're like, all right, we need to solve that problem. So, and the pandemic was kicking in, so we just like, we'll pause all of our own sales and marketing efforts, and focus on that problem. And what we did is we built technology that allowed us to make ads extremely efficient, and pre-designed ads in commercials for over a thousand different business types. So we now have over 15 million pre-designed commercials, ads, and billboards, for just about any kind of business you can think of. I'm talking dog walking service, petting zoo, right? Of course, more common things, real estate agents, plumbers, that sort of thing. You can go running the platform, see the ads they need, and just start running it. And so we relaunched then with that feature set and that's really where our growth story took off. And then George, the thing that was really interesting to us wasn't part of the plan, but perhaps should have been, is a lot of agencies started using the platform, particularly agencies that serve small businesses because they have some of the same challenges. It needs to be very quick and easy to get a campaign going. And you need small budgets, small budget campaigns that are effective. And that's been really fun to watch. And part of the reason, you know, we're excited to partner with Vendasta. A Library of Digital Billboards George: Well, we are the connective tissue and we're very excited to get to that point. It's so funny when I talk to entrepreneurs like you, and I'm actually, I'm thinking, as we record this episode we're seeing the former CEO of Slack leave salesforce yesterday. And I remember listening to Jason Lemkin podcast where he talked about what Slack became was not what they started out to be. And Vendasta has that story in our 15-year history as well, when Brendan and the founders had this concept, started out as that didn't quite end up like that when it moved forward. So, congratulations in following in the footsteps of amazing successful tech companies because, you know, that iterative growth, and really figuring out what the problem is from your first goal that usually is what good looks like. So I just wanted to look at the notes here for a moment. You said something that was really interesting and you know, my background is in radio and publishing, and I've sold against a lot of out-of-home organizations, the billboard folks and, you know, billboard companies have actually saw a lot of growth coming out of Covid and even pre-Covid, digital out of home. DOOH is the acronym. I can actually go into AdCritter and pull up creative, and buy a billboard, that's true, isn't it? Gabriel: That's right, that's right. Very easily. George: So that, the big problem that you've solved, which is a problem that has existed since the dawn of advertising sales is, you know, we got the inventory, we have where the ad is going to run, that's one big problem. But also, what message am I going to articulate? And for a local business person that's the biggest challenge. You know, what is the creative going to look like? And you've solved that. Gabriel: That's right. And a small business owner really needs it to all be in the same place, right? I can find the creative, one thing small business owners are great at doing is choosing, right? If you give them a blank sheet of paper and say, "Hey, what should your ad look like?" They have no idea. But if you show them a hundred or a thousand different billboards, or commercials in their category and let them pick one, they do that very well. They know their brand messaging and their brand positioning, even if they can't articulate it well, when they see it, they know it, they grab it, and then they can just run it. Performance Marketing Trap & Campaign Duration Trap George: No, and I love the problem that you've solved because that is one of the best ways to sell a website. Because when I sit down with a local business owner and say, "Okay, what color would you like? What photos would you like? What do you want the navigation to look like?" And you can see their eyes roll back in their head because they kind of know where they wanna go based upon other sites that they've saw. But the minute you start asking those specific questions it's like paralysis. But if you can show them a template, or to your point show them 50 templates, and walk them through some different scenarios, they're gonna start to pick the things that match with that vision that they have somewhere in the back of their cortex where they can now start to see what it's going to look like. And I saw an interesting data point about nine months ago that 70% of humans on this planet are visual learners. And I hear a lot of people trying to articulate with words, you know, even this podcast used to not be video. Now we have the opportunity to show some images. I'm really excited about that. Because I think the message that we're trying to get across will land a lot more times with that. So it's great that you've solved that problem. Now, there are a couple of other things that I wanted to get your feedback on, because I know that you've been in the advertising business for a long time. You've worked with local customers, you're also now finding that there are these trusted local providers, agencies, digital agencies, ad agencies, that sit in the middle there that solve those problems. But we have these two traps. The performance marketing trap, I love the way that you've articulated that. And then we also have the campaign duration traps. So Gabriel, please give us, how do we not fall into these two traps? They sound dangerous. Gabriel: Yes. Well, the first one, the performance marketing trap. Unfortunately as an industry we've created that trap for ourselves, right? 'Cause over the last few decades, we've had great performance marketing tools, Google, Facebook, various social media platforms have made it very easy in ways that were never possible before, to do performance marketing, I'm gonna spend a thousand dollars and I need to get $1,200, or $2,000 back within, you know, a few days. That is not going to work for most local businesses, it's great for e-commerce, but a restaurant, a local restaurant is not going to see those kinds of results. And so what we have to do when we're selling to small businesses is immediately back them up when they start talking about ROI, and explain how advertising works. But what's interesting, George, is when we do that, when we explain why performance marketing isn't the way to go, although we wouldn't use that language with them, right? They might not be familiar with that language. They already know how advertising works, they just haven't really thought about it, right? Typically, what we'll say, if we are talking to a small business owner who's starting to say something like, "Alright, yeah, so I'll do this for a month and we'll see how it goes." Or they even, you know, hint at the word test, we just stopped them, I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, if you're looking at running Connected TV, billboards, anything in that category for a month it's not gonna work for you, right? Because, listen, when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for anything and immediately called up that company and did business with them?" And I'll often make them answer, right? I'll wait for 'em to give a hard answer to that, and they never can, right? And so what I always tell some business owners is, "Look, business owners want people to buy from them when they advertise to them." It seems reasonable. I'm advertising to you, you should buy from me. But people want to buy things when they need them from companies they've known about for a while, right? As marketers, we know this. And what's interesting is when I say that to a small business owner, they also know it, they just haven't really been thinking about it in the context of their own business. And very quickly they're like, "Yes, that makes sense. But boy, I don't know if I can do it that long. How long of a campaign do we need to do?" And that's kinda where we get into this campaign duration trap, right? Where well, yeah, let's run a 30 day campaign or a 60 day campaign. And it's the same thing. We always tell small business owners, "Look, we need to pick a budget that you know you can comfortably stick with for at least a year and do that. And then you will see results, right?" Don't plan on seeing a lot of results the first quarter you're running your advertising. Three Core Principles George: So, I like where you're going with this because it almost takes me back to my early days in sales when we were supposedly trained, where somebody taught me the takeaway close. But I find that local businesses, might actually be a trap, where they say, and the trap is "I need results in 30 days." And the sales rep goes, "Yeah, I can get that for you." And they're like, "Okay, wait a minute. I've talked to five other people who said it could take 90, it could take six months, it could take a year. You have to have consistency. We might have to adjust the message. You might have to..." So if you jump too quickly to say, "Yes I can solve the problem," you might be falling into the advertiser trap where they're like testing you to see where you're at. But more likely than not the sales rep just wants to say yes. Rather than challenging the buyer to say, "In my experience this could take six months. We might have to adapt the audience. I want you to think about what the value of that customer is." So it's interesting that you articulate it as the performance marketing trap, the campaign duration trap, both things that we can fall into, but also it might be a test I've found in my experience from the local business owner. So now let's get to a couple of items. You have three principles that you believe in. And I love the learnings for our audience around selling to local businesses, advertising, which they all need. They probably need it more now than they ever have. But what are these three principles that you live by? Gabriel: Yeah. So, I think for most of your audience all of these principles will seem perhaps obvious, but what they are not obvious to the small business owner oftentimes, and what's important about these principles when you're selling to a small business owner is the language of the principle, right? These are things that as marketers and advertisers we already know, but we need to learn how to articulate it in ways that small businesses understand. The first one is the repetition principle. And this is the one we've already kind of touched on, right? We always tell them, almost no one calls a company the first time they see an ad. They need to see your ad enough times that they remember you when they need you and then they call you, right? The next one is the saturation principle. Because we are an advertising platform, we run into this a lot, where small businesses will set up a campaign and maybe run it nationwide, and within a month, 30,000 people have seen their ad once, right? Which is not the right way to set up their campaigns or spend their marketing dollars. So what we always, we teach them, what we call the saturation principle, that is better for a smaller group of people to see your ad several times over a long period of time, than for a large group of people to see your ad once or twice. And people generally understand that. You just have to tell them. The last one is the budgeting principle. And again, we've kind of talked about this already. If we tell them, "Look, for small campaigns, it takes six to 12 months to even begin to start seeing results, and 12 to 18 months to start seeing really significant profitable results. So, whatever you were thinking about spending, let's maybe spend less, but set a budget that you know you can stick with for a year." What To Expect in the Next Two Years George: Right. So, the right message, in front of the right audience, the right number of times with that level of consistency, those items, that's long-lived advertising principles, but you've brought them forward in these three components that our audience can really understand. It's the repetition of the message, it's the saturation, and then it's the budget that will let it run for long enough to reach the audience they're looking for. Now, I would add on to that, that we need advertising, we need to have a website that's optimized, we need to have some social profiles that are built out. You know, it's that whole owned, earned and bought media concept. With all of that together, now you're going to have have some success. So, I love the way you've articulated that. We've got our traps from Gabriel, we've got our three principles. And one thing I always like to ask our guests, Gabriel, especially folks like you, that are on the cutting edge of technology, and you're always building new tech. What do you think is gonna happen here in the next 24 months? That we've got a lot of innovation happening in this space. What, if you were to look in your crystal ball, what do you see happening as we move into the next 24 months in this space? Gabriel: Well, we're excited about Connected TV. At AdCritter we call it targeted TV because we think that's more understandable language for a small business owner. But George, so much is moving to Connected TV, but what we're excited about is that honestly, most small business owners don't know that that's available to them yet. George: Right. Gabriel: The early adopters are doing it, large companies are doing it, but your typical local business doesn't know that Connected TV is available to them. And it is so powerful. We have seen over and over again just incredible results for local businesses that utilize it. George: You know, I was at a recent convention in Florence, Italy, and you know, there's a lot of European organizations there and the thing that they were focused on was the concept in North America that we call Connected TV and OTT over the top. And what they're finding is, yes, local businesses have not figured out how powerful this technology is yet, and there is massive demand from those, you know, and it makes sense, those advertisers always wanted to be on TV, they just couldn't afford it. And now it's very affordable. I can target the audience that makes sense for, you know, I don't have to blast it out there. Like when you talk about the performance marketing trap, I probably am the person that is the one of the offenders of that, in my early days in the radio business we would talk about 60,000 people could hear our signal, and that's what we sold, was the potential of the 60,000. No, 60,000 people weren't listening to the signal, but they could, and we kind of conditioned the advertiser that the more vanity numbers, the bigger the number, the better. But with this idea of targeted messaging, it's about getting to that ideal customer profile that the business is looking for, and then hammering them with a consistent message over, and over, and over again, to your point, because people buy when they're ready. And you have to have that consistency to reach them. So thank you for those learnings. It's great having you on the show. We appreciate AdCritter being in the platform. You folks have come up with some great solutions to some long-lived problems and we wish you a lot of success moving forward with our partnership, Gabriel. Gabriel: Great. Hey, thank you George. It's been a pleasure being on. Conclusion George: Gabriel provided us with valuable insights and there are a few takeaways we learned today. Initially, they were looking to solve marketing and advertising problems with their software platform, but were surprised to learn that agencies started using the platform as well, and that those agencies had the same challenges. They felt supported, as it was quick and easy to get a campaign going with AdCritter. Having that extensive library that they've built over the term of the business allows local businesses and ad agencies to pick the right creative. Gabriel mentioned that they could show small businesses 100 or 1000 different billboards, or online advertising programs, that helps that business start to frame what the creative might look like. Gabriel also highlighted key elements in the performance marketing trap, and the campaign duration trap, that we wanna help businesses steer away from those traps. And three core principles that agencies should teach small business owners before taking them as clients, repetition, saturation and the budgeting principle. If you like Gabriel's episode discussing Digital Billboards and Online Advertising, let's continue the conversation. Check out episode 338, "Small Businesses, Best Practices for Going Back to Business" with Google's Todd Rowe. Or episode 217, "The Evolution of Search Marketing" with Sandy Lohr. Please subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcast. And thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.
This week an A-List transformational leader joins us, James Ciuffetelli. Our host George Leith and James discuss the importance of adopting new technology and investing in your tech stack backed by real-world examples of great success and undisputed numbers, how the baby boomer generation is approaching an exit in 2021 with their long-established businesses, and how prepping your business for exit is strikingly similar to prepping your house for sale. Establishing show notes for this week's guest was a pick-and-choose from a long list of incredibly large numbers and tremendous accomplishments. James Ciuffetelli is a transformational leader with 30+ years of experience. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Whiteark, a consulting firm based in Melbourne, Australia. James was a digital transformation lead for a $1Billion Telco/Marketing Services business, a member of the carve-out of an $800Million turnover business from an ASX Top 50 to Private Equity, and has led teams of 1000+. James also generated >$1.8Billion of cumulative free cash flow for a global shareholder post-acquisition of an SMB Marketing Services business which resulted in value creation of >$1.2b to investors, has 2 Bachelor's Degrees (Industrial Design & International Business) and a Master's in Marketing. The list goes on. James Ciuffetelli's education and accomplishments are quickly prevalent as you tune in to another fantastic conversation on the Conquer Local Podcast. If you want to hear more from James, check out The Chiefs podcast where he and his Co-Founder of Whiteark, Jo hands discuss what makes leaders tick. Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community and keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Introduction George: This week, the "Conquer Local" podcast travels to Melbourne, Australia, the home of James Ciuffetelli, Co-Founder and hands-on Director of Whiteark. And James has a long-standing career working with private equity companies in enterprise business. When I met him, he was the CEO of Sensis and running an organization of over a thousand employees, Sensis was the Yellow Page business owned by the telecommunications company, Telstra in Australia. And then it was bought by private equity and James started to learn the private equity space even deeper. So we are very privileged to have James on the show. I was on his podcast here a couple of months back. We're gonna get James on the show today to talk about how adding technology to your business's valuation is one of the things that we need to be thinking about as sales professionals, and talking about that value proposition to our clients. I think you're really gonna enjoy this episode. James Ciuffetelli, coming up next here on the "Conquer Local" podcast. Joining us this week on the "Conquer Local" podcast, as promised, all the way from Melbourne Australia, James Ciuffetelli. James, welcome to the show. James: Thanks for having me on George. It's always a pleasure talking to you. George: It was a real privilege to speak to you a couple of months back. I enjoyed being on your podcast called "The Chiefs." You co-host that with Jo Hands and you've continued to release, see, you got me because I subscribed, but I see that you're releasing other episodes. So congratulations on bringing that podcast to light. James: Well, we're really pleased to A, get you, and I'm gonna tell you, I think you're ranked in the top three of our... We've had 40 plus podcasts. You're in the top three. So, you're famous down under, George. George: Well, I really enjoy your country, that's for sure. We had some great trips down there and appreciate getting some of your time. And you know, James, you and I met a number of years back when you were at the Sensis organization, and I'd love for you to give our listeners just a big of your background. I gave them a bit in the intro, but I'd love to hear it from you, a little bit of your background, and what you've been involved in over the years in your career. James: Sure, so George, I've got about 30 years experience across, predominantly sales, I'll say that's my sweet spot, my area of forte, but running businesses, taking businesses to market, running product teams, right across the gamut, across a variety of industries from manufacturing, automotive, telecommunications, retail, and education. But my real passion has been, as you mentioned, I spent 20 plus years working with small to medium-sized businesses, SMBs, I absolutely love and still to this day love. Spent 20 plus years working with them in the Sensis business. And spent really, I've spent my entire life in small business. My father and mother had their own small business. Italian immigrants to Australia, so I feel like I've been immersed in that SMB space forever. And I still find myself today in my consulting or in our advisory business, really working with those mid-tier small businesses who are trying to get to a private equity sale or what have you. So, I've got an interesting story. But I think a lot of it revolves around small business. Creation Of Whiteark: Helping SMBs Work Digital Transformation Plans To Get To A Private Equity Sale George: And you had a connection with private equity because that was the ownership group of Sensis. Recently, Sensis has been acquired. And you know, with your departure from that organization, explain to us what you're doing now with the consulting work that you're doing. It's very interesting to me. James: Yeah, so George in 2014, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Platinum Equity, bought 70% stake in, then, the telecommunications-owned Sensis business in Australia. So, you know, they came in and I had the good fortune of being on the executive leadership team, and I was actually running what was formerly Yellow Pages business in Australia at that point. And I worked then for six years for the private equity owner and loved every minute of that period. The industry had certainly moved on from Yellow Pages being the champion product of the day, you know, with new digital players coming in. But the private equity firm really brought forward an opportunity for me, I had to work under a different sort of guiding principle. They really got us to focus on optimizing the core, simplifying the business, and really centering in around the customer value. And then when Platinum Equity sold that business, I moved on and Jo and I, as you described earlier, had started the Whiteark Advisory or consulting business. And the truth is, you know, we try and sort of work in a transformational sense, helping a lot of small to medium size businesses work digital transformation plans to get to a private equity sale. So, a lot of small businesses don't have the fortune of having lots of consultants, and what have you. We come in and help them with efficiencies and strategies and what have you. So really, Whiteark was born as a result of me working in private equity and having that good fortune for six years and being surrounded by small business for so long that I thought there was an opportunity to really provide a level of transformational consulting to them to help them get to their next level of growth. George: Well, it's interesting. And I'd love to understand that a little bit more because when I hear that, I know that, you know, we have an entire generation that is looking to get the equity out of their business or some sort of a transfer, you know? Am I going to sell? Am I going to pass it onto my kids? Am I going to, and is this what we're referring to where you're seeing an opportunity to work with those businesses and help them move to an eventual event? James: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as you and I have had many a discussion, but I'm really proud. I'm an Italian immigrant son, you know, my father migrated to Australia 40 plus years ago and started his own business. And you know, 35, 40 years on, he got to retirement. He didn't have a son who wanted to take over his business, but he had a business that was doing tens of millions of dollars and really had no idea how to get to a sale or how to really move that to the next generation. He managed to figure that out. But that problem is called, that opportunity, problem, however you wanna define it, it's common right around the world, it's certainly common in Australia, so now we see an opportunity here, especially post-COVID or as you sort of move to the other side of COVID, you've got a lot of amazing mid-tier or mid-market businesses that are really looking for the opportunity to hand the bat to the next generation, because they haven't all necessarily got a transition plan or transformation plan. And all of them have got opportunities 'cause they're great businesses that are really leveraging off the founders still, but they just need the opportunity to actually work on that handover plan. And that's where we see the weak spot, that's where we've been focusing. And we've been really proud of the support that we've been given by that community, and the private equity markets really dialed up its interest in that mid-market type business. So that's what we're trying to apply. The Tech Stack's Role In The "New Normal" George: Well, and there definitely is that generational issue of we've got all these businesses that were long-lived. They were built coming out of the baby boom, and well, you know, what do we do? There are people sitting around kitchen tables going, we have this 20, 30-year business, well, what's next? And without an internal plan or without a plan at all, I'd seen an enormous opportunity for you there. One of the things I love about having guests like you from other jurisdictions on the show is we talk about the business climate, and I'd love to get your, I know you're very plugged into the business market. I'd love to get your view of what's happening in the Australian small and medium business market as we look at the "new normal", if I, you know, I use air quotes for a reason because everybody's talking about that term, but what do you see in that space? James: It's really interesting, George, because you've got two tails, you've got small businesses that are thriving through the pandemic as we move out the other side to this new normal as you correctly describe it. And then you've got other businesses that have, maybe haven't thrived because they were in a sector that was significantly impacted. Restaurants were impacted heavily in Australia, travel and tourism were heavily impacted as they would have been around the world. But a lot of other businesses, what we're saying is actually a resilience to pivot and actually obviously try and create new revenue opportunities or new markets. And on the whole, I've got to tell you that business is buoyed, but you know what's interesting is that they're all struggling with the same things that they were actually struggling pre the pandemic, now there's the spotlight on them. So, you know, many of them, obviously cash flow and management, has been something that's been a challenge. There's been some government stimulus here in Australia to help them for a period of time. And now they've come out of that. They've all had to pivot around their sales and service approach. And some, as I described earlier, have created new proprietary products for themselves, so there's been a pivot at that level. You've had technology, I won't say issues, but technology acceleration or need for acceleration for almost all of them, so whilst yeah, many large corporates and what have you were running digital transformation programs through the 2000s and into current day, a lot of small businesses have really been pulling it together pretty well. They didn't have the digital foundations that they may or may not have needed. So we've seen a lot of them on the fly, really trying to digitize and really established processes or reengineer processes for their business that helped them protect the core and grow. So it's pretty positive, I've gotta be honest with you, a year on, if you woulda ask me a year ago, I might not have thought it would have been this positive for that sector, but they're certainly buoyant. George: We hear that from numerous jurisdictions that, you know, there are these core groups of businesses that were really impacted and you touched on them, hospitality, restaurants, but then we have these other businesses that have either been able to accelerate plans that they had to digitize their business, or actually benefited from the change in spending patterns or, and I'm specifically talking about home services. Did you see in the Australian market, this massive uptick of renovations and upgrades to your homes and that type of thing? James: Absolutely, it's actually been quite amazing to observe from a third-party perspective. If you wanted to renovate your home here in Australia, you got a year waiting list, right? Like it's kind of amazing, I've got two brothers-in-law who're both builders, one's larger scale than the other, but both of them are taking bookings 12 to 18 months out, and pre the pandemic, they might've been working three months out. Yeah, both with good businesses, so yeah, now their challenge is they're having to think about because they can't get materials unless they sort of, you know, work their backward planning and what have you. So they both upgraded technology and what have you, but it's quite amazing. George: And on that idea of transformation, and I chuckle a little bit because you and I have been talking about transformation since we met. And you had teams of people that were going into Australian businesses saying, okay, here are the things that you need to do to create a digitized customer experience. And then we have COVID, which, you know, we've called on this broadcast a number of times a forcing function. And I'm hearing from you that that acceleration is across your markets as well, where it's just, yeah, we're all in now, let's go. Big Business vs. Small Business: Data Is Important Regardless James: Yeah, no, absolutely right. It's no longer this chasm between big business, small business. You've got small businesses now talking about data because data is important to them understanding their personas of their customers and what have you. You've got small businesses talking about ERP systems. They may not be using that language, but they're using the language in terms of how can I integrate process and what have you, and you've got small business that are trying to integrate every level of their organization with their supply chain. They're seeking out technology partners that have got SMB experience. So, you know, that's why, and I'm on your podcast, George, that's why I always loved the Vendasta platform and what you guys were doing 'cause you really were championing the cause of small business. And today I actually think it's never been more relevant. I'm glad you're there to support them. George: Well, we appreciate those kind words. You know, the thing that I love is talking to an SMB that, you know, maybe a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, wanted to move to have an e-commerce website and sell things online. And then they did it 'cause they had to do it and then hear them say, well, this is the best thing that I ever did. And we're hearing that across numerous categories where first it was, "You could book your appointments online." "Well, why the hell would I wanna do that? People just phone me to book." And then they had to do it. And now they're finding that it actually is a competitive advantage. Are you seeing that as well as that, you know, they adopt it because they had to, but now they're doubling down on that competitive advantage. James: Absolutely, I mean, it's interesting, when we decided we were gonna start Whiteark, we were selling the Sensis business, and Jo and I were in the background, she had already started the company, and we were doing just some research and what have you. And we had a fairly decent sample size. Jo came back and said that there was a stat around 41, 42% of small businesses in that mid-tier market that we were talking to in Australia were looking at doing some sort of digital transformation, and what was amazing, we did a similar type survey in December last year. And you had more 80 businesses that were actually, in that same sector, that were actually doing, implementing some sort of digital technology or transformation. So it's fascinating to see how quickly it can pivot and how quickly people can embrace. George: In the work that I do on a daily basis, we think about valuation a lot in the software business. And it's a narrative that I've started taking into our channel partner training programs in the Conquer Local Academy. And what we're trying to do here is something that I learned a number of years ago. I like to say that I probably could sell anything to anybody once. You and I both know that that's not actually the win, the win is being able to continue to sell and solve their problems. But having that conversation around, you're going to work every day to build a valuable company, to build something that will live longer and have something to it when you're done. And we found that people love that, and they love learning about that and understanding that. What I would like to know from you, James, and the work that you and Joe have been doing in helping these businesses that are trying to figure out what the next step is. Do you believe that there's an incremental increase in valuation if they were adopting a digital plan, if they had some sort of digital customer experience, or you mentioned ERP or inventory assist, do you find that you can get a higher multiple for that exit if they do have that digital adoption? James: That's a great question and it's actually probably something that's really misunderstood in that SMB community in particular. And I think if they sort of took a step back and understood how important that investment in technology is in the context of the private equity or the buyer or the VC, wherever it is that they're looking to sell to, how important that is on as part of their playbook and looking at that business as a prospect. So one of the multiple factors that equity firms look at when they're buying businesses is the type of investments in technology, in applying that technology investment into processes, to the type of topic connection that that technology and the process actually gives them in terms of access to their customers and their consumers, and understanding that the personas, and there's, you know, there are a whole host of caveats that they look at, but that investment in technology is right up there at the top of the list. So really investing in that from a small business owner's perspective or from the entrepreneur's perspective is so critical because it actually will set them up for multiple which is so much greater than what they, still might achieve, but what they could achieve. George: Well, and I wanna make sure that people, you do it so much better because your accent is way better than mine, but I wanna make sure that people understand what we're saying here. We're finding this in various markets, when a business adopts a technology stack, and they may get it from a number of different providers and then it leads to an outcome, either an efficiency outcome, a revenue growth multiple, or maybe it's an investment that a buyer won't have to make. They're like, I don't have to spend money on that. They already have that solution in place. That's where you're seeing those higher multiples, or the flip side, because there's always a flip side, you might not be able to get the dollars that you expect out of your organization by not having that investment. James: No, absolutely. So I mean, what we're seeing is, the buyer always, you know, it's like any industry, if I'm buying a house, I'm looking for one that I can buy at a valuation that suits me, and then I might want to put the paint on and do the renovation and what have you, and I'll add value to it. My advice would be that, you know, if you invest as a small business owner, you can invest in the right technology stack and it doesn't need to be complex, right? Like you can think about what proprietary product in the business, how can I actually simplify serving that proprietary product by having the right website, the right platforms to talk to my ratings and reviews, the right social media connections, all locked in together. If you've got that right and you've got a closer connection through that technology to actually be able to get to your customers, you're actually going to get a greater multiple. And sometimes it can be four, five, six times greater in the multiple just by the way you've actually stacked and aligned your technology, and it doesn't need to cost you heaven and earth. George: Well, and those are big numbers. So five, six, seven times greater multiple for your business by adopting digital technology stacks that are needed to make you competitive in the space. I also, James, I'm sure there've been cases where you're working with clients and they didn't have that propensity to make the investment, or it wasn't on their roadmap. And you just weren't able to get them the number that they expected, like not even close. James: Yeah, look, it's really hard, right? I mean, I take great pride when we go into customers, we recently helped an organization that was get to a sale, and this organization had been in existence, the founder had started the business, I think 43, 44 years ago, you know, they were a 25 to $26 million dollar a year, top of the line company with a 30% EBITDA margin, strong recurring revenue and a hundred plus employees. This was a good organization, like really, really good organization. The only challenge I had was the founder was now 83. He was looking for an opportunity to sort of move, you know, moving to the next phase of his life. And he'd built something that he had hoped he could leave for his family, his three daughters were working the business, but they weren't necessarily that passionate about the business. So he called us in to help them build a transformational plan of sorts. Now we sold that business, but the truth is all that business, that great business was missing. You know, it had great revenues. It had great work five years out. It was really the technology layer that we couldn't get in in time. So the compromise there was, you know, he accepted a sale, but that doesn't matter. I mean, it was still life-changing for the next generation. He achieved what he wanted to achieve, but I can tell you that that the person who's gonna get the multiple in that business, probably in that particular instance, three times more, will be the organization, the firm that bought it. And when I flip it in three or four years, they will have just invested in a very clear technology roadmap which we are helping them with right now, they're simplifying the business, just working on some styles and services approaches to the industry and taking that business national 'cause it was just based in Victoria. But it's not complex, but it's something that I think this particular business would have thought about earlier had it been available for them to think about earlier. George: It sounds like you're having a lot of fun working on these projects because you get to touch all parts of the business James: Look, I love it. You get to work as you described, George, across the entire value stream, but like you, the thing, I mean, I consider myself, I love selling when the sale that you make actually adds great value to the people that you serve. And the thing I love about working with small business, they haven't had the good fortune of say, you and I, we've spent careers in organizations that we've been able to get the advice and the support of some of the big ticket consulting firms. These guys haven't had that consultant support. So when I was in antitrust, when I was at Telstra, we could fund and engage a consulting firm on a dime, do a transformational project and spend tens of millions of dollars and not even blink an eyelid, right? Small businesses don't get that opportunity to produce a roadmap and to drive transformations and going into that situation and being able to see the impact it can have by driving that roadmap for them, by building a really simple plan that's pivot on a couple of things, by helping them simplify, it's really, really rewarding. Like you, you guys get great reward out of seeing businesses succeed. You know, I'm now taking a different vantage point on that, but we too are getting the same sort of satisfaction. James' Advice To Young Entrepreneurs George: I appreciate that. I really wanna ask this question because, you know, you were a part of the Telstra and Sensis organization for a long time. You led global teams of over a thousand people, and I'm sure there were a lot of lessons there, won't ask you to tell us about all of them, but I'd love to understand what's one of the top two things that you learned over those years, James, that you might share with a young entrepreneur or share with somebody that that is in business that you think would be really valuable for them? James: Yeah look, it's a great question. I started in the Telstra business as a product designer 'cause vocationally, I did industrial design at university. So I always wanted to be the next Leonardo DaVinci. And I remember in my first couple of weeks in the job at Telstra, someone came and said to me, "Oh, you know, we're gonna start an internet division." 'Cause it wasn't even digital then, George, it was an internet division. I remember going, "Wow, internet, what's this thing?" All I knew was that I was coming in to help them with the Yellow Pages product design, right? Like ad sizes and things like that. And I remember in my early days, you know, the whole movement, we had a CEO who joined the business through Telstra, he said, "Ah, Google Schmoogle, Don't worry about this internet thing." And I remember early on in my career, you know, I was quite passionate about the work we were doing in the products that we had. We had a really profitable business. It was late 90s, thinking yeah, it might come one day, but I bought into this whole domain around, no one's ever gonna get out and look for a car online or no one's ever going to go and look for a home online. You'll always need to be physical, and products like ours will always exist, so my first lesson is, you know, I've got my kids today talking to me about Bitcoin and what have you. So I'm scrambling to get as much information. So my first lesson to people coming up is, different equals different, but always be open to learning. So I wish I would have been embraced in those early days the real reality of this digital world that we live in, 'cause we might've made some choices back then that might've been different for that organization anyway in the long-term. The second learning I would give, as I sort of moved deeper into my career and led teams of thousands, you know, I was really humbled, if you like, so the first learning was that we probably didn't pivot the way that we could have to digital. And then sort of 20 years on when I was leading these things, here we were with massive scale in market, we had, you know, I felt a little bit of like a leader of the Roman Empire and the empire was no longer, but what my learning there was, it's amazing, the power of people. So even though our products were no longer getting us the deals that we needed and wanted because the digital wave was truly coming, we were on a different point of that wave, it's amazing, the people serving those small businesses, the power they had to help educate them and focus on them. So really staying closely connected with people. You can still make a difference. If you haven't got the best tools and what have you, you've still got to believe that you can make a difference and add value. So those were probably the two key learnings for two different reasons. George: Well, and having met a number of people on your teams over the years, they definitely had a leadership that was talking about customer first, focus on the client. And I found that across the entire organization. So congratulations on having that as some of the core guiding principles for the teams that you were leading. I appreciate you making some time, James as always, I sometimes prefer when you and I are sitting in London and we're gonna go to a nice restaurant afterwards, but maybe we can virtually do a delivery and do it on a FaceTime or something like that. But one day we will get to break bread face to face again. But in the meantime, we appreciate having you here through the power of technology. It sounds like you're quite busy because I heard a lot of emails and notifications coming in. So we're gonna let you go so that you can do what you do, but thanks for joining us on the show. It's been long overdue, and we appreciate you bringing those learnings to our listeners here on the "Conquer Local" podcast. James: George, it's been my absolute pleasure, and you give my sincerest regards to that great crew that you've got over there. You're doing a great job and really appreciate the support you're giving to small businesses as well, so thank you. Conclusion George: Well, thanks to James for joining us, and what I was trying to get for you when you're calling on a client and you're talking to them about why they need to adopt technology, is you heard him say that six to seven times greater valuation from organizations that have buttoned up their tech stack. So when you're in talking to a client and they're trying to understand why they need to do email marketing, or they're trying to understand why they need a dashboard to show how their marketing is performing, those are components of their tech stack. And when they eventually go to some sort of an exit or they're trying to sell the business or they're trying to get the value that they have in their company, what we're finding is companies that have a tech stack and are utilizing technology get a much higher valuation. And we have an entire generation that's trying to figure out what their next steps are going to be with their business. And that is the baby boomer generation. They're looking for some sort of an exit. Do they pass the business onto their families? Do they sell it to their neighbor? Do they sell it to their competitor? Then what are we gonna get for our lifetime of work and sweat and tears with this business? So it's something that we can be thinking about. And I kind of started to notice it about three years ago, when we were talking to customers, they really understand that having this technology in place, knowing that it delivers an ROI, it's going to lead to a higher valuation for their businesses, which is something that, you know, there's an entire group of people that are figuring out what their next steps are gonna be. Maybe not tomorrow, but maybe in the coming years. And you're hearing from James in the work that he's doing with firms that are looking to acquire businesses or grow their footprint, they are in there having these conversations, and companies that are digitally enabled and have that tech stack figured out are getting between six to eight times higher multiples when they move to that exit. So some really valuable components when you're delivering those value propositions to your clients, that part of what we're giving you here is that tech stack that people are looking for, and it's going to help you have a higher valuation to your organization. Thanks to James for joining us on the show this week, all the way from Melbourne Australia. And we appreciate having his insights in this space. My name is George Leith. Thanks for joining me this week on the "Conquer Local" podcast. I'll see you when I see you.
In our latest episode, we welcome Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert based in the UK. Paul is the founder of Paul Green's MSP Marketing, where he assists over 700 MSPs to succeed in today's business landscape. Paul helps MSPs improve their marketing and generate more leads with his MSP Marketing Edge program. He is a former journalist and radio presenter and has worked with MSPs since 2016. And Paul is also the host of the world’s most popular podcast on MSP marketing – search for “Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast” in your favourite podcast platform. Tune in to learn more about Paul Green's strategy as we explore steps and gain valuable insights to unlock success for your local business. Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals. Are you an entrepreneur, salesperson, or marketer? Keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy. Strategies for MSPs to Win Clients and Generate Profits Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, A show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is, with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I'm George Leith. On this episode, we welcome Paul Green. Paul is a managed service provider marketing expert. Based in the UK, he's worked with over 700 managed service providers all over the world. He helps MSPs improve their marketing and generate more leads with his Managed Service Provider Marketing Edge Program. Paul's a former journalist and radio presenter and has been working with MSPs since 2016. He's also the host of the world's most popular podcast on MSP marketing. Search for "Paul Green's MSP Marketing" podcast on your preferred podcast platform. Get ready, conquerors. Paul Green is coming up next on this week's episode of the Conquer Local podcast. George: Paul Green joining us from England. Hello, Paul, how are you? Paul: Good evening. Thank you very much for having me on the show. I'm good, how are you doing today? George: I'm doing quite well. We're excited to learn from you today. You are in the managed service provider business and your business is Managed Service Providers' Marketing Edge and you've got it right there on the wind sock. I should also note, Paul is a former radio broadcaster, like myself. Paul: So, what stations did you work on, George? George: Well, you wouldn't know them because it was in small-market Canada radio. But how about you? Paul: You wouldn't know them 'cause it was in small-market England radio. The Evolution of MSP Marketing Edge George: Well, there you go. See, we're lined up, we're lined up. High expectations on this show. We got two former radio broadcasters. We're big fans of the managed service provider space. I began to get educated on that space four or five years back. But you know, when you look at it, since technology started to invade our lives, we've needed a professional to help us. It didn't quite work out very well for individuals or businesses in putting all this together. And the one thing we know about managed service providers, they're great at what they do and marketing might not be the main component of what they do. So, you're there to help them, is what I'm reading into the name of your business. Tell us a little bit about how MSP Marketing Edge started. And we have your background, you were in the media business. But give us the evolution of your company. Paul: Yeah, sure, thank you. I did my 10 years as a radio presenter, which, as you'll remember, George, is great fun while you're in it, but it gets tiring eventually, doesn't it? And you look for something else. So, in 2005, I had an entrepreneurial seizure. And if you've ever read, oh, what's the book? Michael Gerber's book, "The E-Myth Revisited", he talks about the entrepreneurial seizure where once you've got this idea in your head and your heart that you should be your own boss, you have to act on that. So, I did in 2005, and I started a public relations company, which was terrible. And then we were a general marketing company, which was awful. And then I discovered the power of niching and I discovered that if you focus all of your efforts on a very, very, very thin vertical, then what happens is your own marketing gets multiplied. You can reach more people with less effort and you can charge more money. And you may have heard the phrase that the riches are in the niches, and they absolutely are. So, I built a business based in the UK. We were a marketing agency. We were working with optometrists, veterinarians, and dentists and we were doing around about a million pounds a year. Which is not massive, but for something that I'd started in my bedroom, I was quite happy with. And then I sold that in 2016. Now, I got bored really quickly, so my plan was to take a year off. But within about three months, I started this business, and I was prevented by my contract from working with the veterinarians and the opticians for five years. So, I thought back to my general marketing days, and I was like, "Well, I wonder who's the good vertical that I could work with?" And I remembered that I used to enjoy working with IT people, 'cause as you said, they're great technicians. They love their technology, they're genuinely, genuinely nice people to work with, and I thought that would be a great niche. And in the years in between me working with them, they'd evolved from just being IT people to being this thing called managed service providers. Now, let me tell you, managed service providers have the best business model in the world because all, everything they do is about monthly recurring revenue. And as any business owner knows, the more recurring revenue you can get into your business, the safer the business is, the easier it is to run, and ultimately, the more profitable it is. So, managed service providers, it's all about monthly recurring revenue. They also have insane retention because ordinary people like you and me, George, we don't understand technology. The MSPs benefit from something called inertia loyalty, where it's easier to stay with a supplier than it is to move over to a new supplier. Add in the final thing that makes their business model great, which is technology is changing all the time. Just look at the last two to three years at what's happened with COVID, work from home, hybrid working, cybersecurity, all these huge things. This is a constant in their world, is that things change, and that's what makes them a great bunch of people to work with. And yeah, we help them with their marketing. Problem-Solving for MSPs George: We've told this story a number of times on this show as we've started to learn more about managed service providers. And that is when I was a radio sales rep, we were in very competitive markets selling against other formats. So, you got the country station, you got the rock station, you got the top 40 station, and you would sell that audience. So, there were multiple people in there selling an advertising solution. But there's only one IT provider, and actually, that IT provider probably had the business's passwords. And I just don't think you get more trust than that, if you have somebody that you actually give your passwords and usernames to, especially in today's day and age. And that's what we're seeing in the managed service provider space is that level of trust is so high. Are you seeing in the UK what we're seeing in North America where MSPs are starting to not just put in the routers and set up the networks, but they're also starting to enable e-commerce and connect inventory systems and stepping a little bit outside of that comfort zone of the pipes and roads and the hardware and starting to get into more of the software components and really trying to solve more problems? Paul: Yeah, great question. I actually work with managed service providers all over the world. In fact, I have more clients in the US than I do anywhere else, and they're all going through exactly this transition. You see, what some of them have started to spot over the years is that all the hardware things they used to do, if you think about 10 years ago, 20 years ago, you went to your IT guys and they sold you the laptops. And when the laptop broke, they took it apart and they fixed it and they were soldering in circuits. All of that's gone. And a lot of the stuff from over the last few years is going as well, because our devices are getting easier, they're getting cheaper, everything's faster, and everything's more connected. It's all in the cloud now, so we don't need to have servers, which are those massive, expensive computers set in our offices. And what's happening is that the core IT stuff is becoming commoditized. And no one wants to be in an industry where something is commoditized, 'cause the second you commoditize it, someone will go somewhere else and buy something cheaper just because they can get it cheaper elsewhere. So, you are absolutely right. The switched-on managed service providers realize that they've got this immense trust relationship with their clients. 'Cause yeah, if someone trusts you not just with all the passwords, but all the data, and they trust you with stopping the cybercriminals from getting in and stealing that data, then they also trust them with other things, like other computer things. And I put computer things in speech marks there, but things like their website, things like other sides of their marketing, and all the switched-on managed service providers I'm working with, they're constantly adding new services and looking for great providers who can provide marketing services, who can provide other services that they can sell on to their clients. Changes in the IT Landscape George: If I know one thing about technical folks, though, they've gotta make sure that it works. They're not going to adopt something new, put it in front of their best customers if it doesn't work. And I have a really good friend from the radio engineering days that I'm still friends with and I'll phone him for advice, and he'll be like, "Oh, I've been using this thing for 18 months. "I've tested it, it works, "that's the one that I'm gonna recommend." How's that working out for managed service providers in a space that changes so dramatically as digital marketing? That's an adjacency that we all see. Managed service providers are trying to jump in, there. But I've found that they really have to have a high level of trust to be able to offer a new solution to a customer. Do you see the same thing? Paul: Completely. And of course, their world is full of change. There's more change happening in technology than there is in digital marketing. So, I think their mindset towards change is quite different to normal business owners because they're used to things changing and moving on and accelerating and a better solution coming around. But you're absolutely right. What most managed service providers will do is throw themselves into a solution, literally get hands-on with it, and try it out themselves before they're comfortable with it, before they're ready to recommend it. The managed service providers are really like all other business owners. They are technicians first and business owners second. And when I say technicians, I don't mean technicians in the sense of using screwdrivers to fix things. If I think about the veterinarians that I used to work with, they were technicians first. They would do their technical work, which in their case was fixing animals before they were business owners. It was exactly the same with the dentists. I've worked with dozens and dozens of different sectors and most business owners get into it and start their business or buy their business because they love doing the work that they're doing and they want to do more of it but also have more control over it. I think the managed service providers are exactly the same. They're happy to get in and jump in. The problem they have when they're, let's say if they were to resell digital marketing services to their clients. It's a relatively easy sell for them. The problem they have is understanding, is this good marketing? One of the reasons my business exists and we work with 700 managed service providers around the world is because most managed service providers don't understand marketing. They don't do a lot of marketing, and therefore, it's very hard for them to judge, is this good marketing or is this not? A 3-step Strategy for MSPs to Win Clients and Generate Profits. George: So, when you're working with these managed service providers, I remember when I was getting introduced to the space, we went to some conferences, we met some people that, like, "Oh, managed service providers are horrible at marketing!" And I'm like, "Yeah, everybody's horrible at marketing." I've been in this business for 35 years. It's not like there's one industry that's really good at, maybe auto dealers are probably on the cutting edge of marketing of all businesses. So, when you're working with managed service providers, you teach a three-step program. Could you walk through those three steps that you've determined through, you're working with 700 of them all around the world. You are a leading expert. I'd love to get those three steps in your methodology. Paul: Yeah, sure. And the exciting thing is these three steps are perfectly valid to most B2B service businesses. You wouldn't use these for e-commerce, you certainly wouldn't use it for B2C, business to consumer, but any B2B service business can use this strategy. Now, you mentioned cutting-edge there, George. This is not cutting-edge. This is good, solid, basic marketing, 'cause my experience is for businesses that don't really do any marketing other than a bit of networking and a few referrals now and again, they need to get the basics right first. Let me tell you what the three steps are, and then I'll just dive into some detail. The first step is you build yourself multiple audiences of people to listen to you. The second step is you then build a relationship with those audiences. And the third step is you commercialize that relationship. So, let's go back up to the top, build multiple audiences. This is about, well, when you and I were in radio, and I'm looking at you now, George and I'm thinking you must be, what, the mid-40s, something like that, so- George: Oh, you are amazing. You're my favourite guest ever, thank you. Paul: Maybe I've got some smear on the screen or something, I don't know. I'll check that later. But when you and I were in the radio back in the day, one of the reasons that radio station owners got so rich and all those groups built up and there was so much money, and it was the same with newspapers and directories, was because they controlled access to the audiences. And that was the case up 'til around about the turn of the century, when this little thing called Google came along and suddenly opened up access for everyone. And these days, a business owner takes its standard that you have complete access to your audiences, but most business owners don't really know how to go and get those audiences. So, we recommend you build up audiences of people to listen to you. That might be, for example, on social media. For managed service providers, it's LinkedIn. In fact, for all B2B, it's LinkedIn. You might use Facebook because Facebook is the everything or is the everyone app. I say everyone until you get to about 30, obviously. The under-30s are not using Facebook so much. You might use Instagram if you were targeting people who use Instagram for their own marketing. So, restaurant owners, retailers, they're using Instagram to reach consumers. You might use, I mean, a podcast is a great example of an audience. A YouTube channel is a great example. Email marketing, having an email database, that's a great example. There are dozens of different audiences that you can build up. For most businesses, if they're just putting in their early basic marketing building blocks, just go for one or two. And that would certainly be your email database, 'cause you have control over that, complete control. And then maybe you do LinkedIn or maybe Facebook or the social media network where most of your prospects are hanging out. That's that first step, build multiple audiences. The second step is to build a relationship with them and that's just done through great content. You take content that's both educational and entertaining. We put these two together and we call it edutainment. We don't try and sell to people, we just teach them. We teach them about our specialist subjects. That's what I'm doing here. I'm edutaining, or I'm attempting to edutain the wonderful audience of this podcast about marketing, and that's my way of starting to build a relationship. Now, it's a tiny, tiny, tiny relationship. This isn't the kind of relationship where people are gonna be clapping you in the street and going, "Woo, woo, woo, you're the man!" But what happens is, at the point they're ready to buy or they're nearly ready to buy, they are slightly more aware of you than all of your competitors. If someone, for example, has followed you on LinkedIn, commented on one of your posts, perhaps had a message from you on LinkedIn, perhaps they've seen your LinkedIn newsletter, maybe they've watched your podcast, or they've seen a couple of your YouTube videos, they've opened two or three emails from you, maybe even you sent them a printed newsletter in the post. We call these multiple touchpoints. And if someone has been touchpointed by you a number of different times across a number of different platforms, at the point they're ready to buy, you are pretty much guaranteed a place at the table. You're not guaranteed a sale, but you are pretty much guaranteed a place at that table. And that leads me on to the final step, which is to commercialize your audiences. That is about making sure you get the timing right. Now, this is key to remember. People only buy when they're ready to buy. Doesn't matter what you sell. You cannot make someone buy when they are not ready to buy. Now, for managed service providers, that's a window of about two weeks every five to seven years, 'cause people stick with their managed service provider for years and years and years. But in other industries, it'll be a much shorter window. For example, when I worked with veterinarians, there were so many more opportunities to grab new pet owners. For example, anyone that's getting a kitten or a puppy in the next three, or four months, that's a great window to go and grab that person. And again, you'd keep them for five to seven years. But there were more of those opportunities than the managed service providers would have. The difference is, the managed service providers will take six figures of lifetime revenue from one customer, whereas a veterinarian may only take four figures of lifetime revenue. So, it's swings and roundabouts. But you cannot get someone to buy until they're ready to buy, so what you've gotta do is commercialize your audiences. For the managed service providers, and this would work for lots of B2B businesses, I say you have to have someone in your business picking up the phone and making outbound phone calls. Now, let's not call this cold calling, 'cause it's not. It's slightly warm calling 'cause they're calling the people who you're connected to on LinkedIn, they are calling your email database, they're calling people in your audiences. This is a great job, by the way, for a back-to-work mom. This is not really a sales job at all. This is a relationship-building job. So, back-to-work mom, her kids have gone to school, she's looking for something two to three hours a day, two to three days a week, This is the perfect job for her. Work from home, use your VoIP system and just call your audiences. And the goal for this back-to-work mom is not to sell, it's not to do anything. It's just to find out, is this the right time? And she does that by asking open questions. In fact, she asks the people she's calling about their favourite subject. George, what's everyone's favourite subject? George: Of course, Paul, it's themselves! Paul: It is, it is themselves. We are all inherently more interested in ourselves and our own businesses than anything else. So, if you ask someone open questions about something like that, they will engage with you. You can start to move that relationship forward and find out, "Hey, yeah, actually, "in April, my contract is up. "Why don't you guys give me a buzz back then?" And then the back-to-work mom, her job is to book two to three quality appointments for you every week. As the business owner, this is great. You're generating appointments of people who know you a little bit, who've got a slight relationship with you, and the chances of you winning the business from them is a lot higher. The Importance of Marketing George: Well, I love the way that you articulated those three steps because I find a lot of organizations, they're focused on the bottom line or the top line revenue and they say, "We need sales training." And I'm like, "Okay, you might need some sales training, but actually, you need to build a funnel." You need to build a pipeline, you need to really look at your customer journey. And you identified that top-of-funnel component, building out the audience, multiple touchpoints, meet the audience where they are, educate, not sell. But then, I love that idea of the back-to-work mom. There is an opportunity there to book an appointment and when you introduce that to an organization, how hard is it to sell that concept to them? Because it seems, I don't see a lot of that when we're out talking to businesses where they've figured that one out. Paul: No, it is a hard sell. But to be fair, everything I talk about with my clients is a hard sell because they're not doing marketing. If they were good at marketing, they wouldn't need someone like me, or indeed, any of the other great marketing providers out there. The thing that I've seen, and I've been a business owner for 17 years across a couple of different businesses. The thing I've seen again and again and again is the business, whatever the sector, wherever you are in the world, the business that gets good at marketing first will dominate that marketplace. Let me say that again because it's so important. The business that gets good at marketing first will dominate that marketplace. And it doesn't matter if you've got bigger, richer competitors. It doesn't matter if you're in Los Angeles or whether you're in small-town Nebraska. None of that matters. It's exactly the same wherever you are. You've got to get good at marketing before someone else. When I say getting good at marketing, I don't mean all the super clever digital cutting-edge stuff. You've just got to get the basics right. Don't get me wrong, the cutting-edge digital stuff and all the good services that you can buy, those things make your life a lot easier. But it's about getting those fundamentals right. I see this with managed service providers. There was a veterinarian I once worked with in a tiny market town near Oxford in England, and this was a few years back. And he literally, it was a two-veterinarian practice, so there were two of them that worked there. And they dominated, literally dominated their area just by getting good at marketing. And there was one particular tactic they used. I don't know if it would work anymore because it's about five, or seven years on, but he got good at Facebook Groups. He set up a Facebook group, which was Ask a Banbury Vet. The town was called Banbury, Ask a Banbury Vet. And he had something like 5,000 pet owners in his area, many of whom weren't his clients. And they joined that group and they could ask the vet a question. Now, in the UK, there are laws, actual laws that stop veterinarians from doing certain things. But he found a way to operate within the laws and what he did was he built an immense amount of trust with these thousands and thousands of pet owners. And then what he did, and this was the smartest thing, this was the commercializing the audience thing. Every two months, he would announce that his practice, his veterinary practice was now open for new clients and they only had 20 places for new clients. Guess how many new clients they signed up in a month? George: They sold out every time. Paul: Every time, and it wasn't 20. They would take on two, three, 400 every single time. So, there was literally a waiting list, there was a queue. Then he went a step even further and he said, "You cannot join our practice unless you do these five things." I forget what they were, but one of them was joining their monthly recurring revenue scheme. Another one was you had to have insurance. And it was essentially, he was getting rid of the bottom 20% of the market that he didn't want to be a client. He put the prices up, he insisted that they spend this much money, and they had to operate to his rules and not their rules. And it has a happy ending because he then sold his business and went on to work for the company that bought that business, helping them to do that in other places around the UK. Now, there was nothing, John was the name of the veterinarian that did this. Nothing special about John. He's a great veterinarian, he's a great business owner. But what he did was he got good at marketing before all of his competitors did and he literally wiped the floor with them. And you're right, George, you don't see that a lot. And that's the opportunity. George: That's the opportunity. Paul: For every single business owner listening to this right now, this is the opportunity. Get good at marketing before someone else does. Building Engagement George: Paul, you have a wealth of knowledge. What advice would you give to someone that is looking to pursue a career in marketing or sales? Paul: That's really, I don't think anyone's ever asked me that question before. I'm completely self-taught. My background is obviously in radio. I was running the radio stations as well as being on air and we had zero, we had, like, $3 a year budget for marketing. So, I learnt through experiments and the hard way back in the '90s and the '00s how to do marketing, how to reach people, and how to get things done. And then I skipped the formal training and just experimented. I think if you, the reason I say that is that's given me a good, a very good grounding in practical marketing. In fact, just today as I speak to you today, I'm in the middle of a massive launch sequence for a new product in our company and we made a major mistake last week which has affected us this week. I won't go into the details of it because it doesn't matter, but I'm still making mistakes and learning and trying new things, and I actually find that more exciting than anything else. So, I guess my advice to, it's the same as my advice if you said to me, "How do I get into radio?" My advice would be to start a YouTube channel, start a radio show. If someone wants to be a writer, it's like, write. There are no barriers to writing anymore. You can publish everywhere. There are platforms everywhere to publish. So, if you wanna get into marketing, market. If I was gonna hire a marketer tomorrow and I was looking at a 21-year-old's resume, I'd look at it and say, "Well, what marketing have you done?" My daughter, my daughter is 12 and listens to me bang on about marketing all the time. And three months ago, she started her own shop on Etsy. And doesn't matter what she sells, but the point is, we now sit and have, we sit and talk about doing split testing experiments on Etsy. We sit and talk about changing headlines and changing pictures and we talk about upsells and bumps and all these marketing concepts that I've learned by reading a thousand marketing books, and I'm talking to a 12-year-old about them. How exciting is that? Now, I don't know if she's gonna get into marketing or whether she'll go off and do musical theatre, which is what she wants to do, but could you imagine her going for a marketing job in eight years' time and saying, "Here's my resume. "I ran my own shop. "I increased my orders 167% by doing this, this, and this." Instantly, she is a practical marketer and that takes a value into a job. So, I think my advice is, just do it. Get going. There's a thousand books to read on it. There's a thousand great blogs and resources out there. The only thing that's holding you back would be yourself. George: Yeah, it's never been easier to educate ourselves. Paul, it's absolute pleasure having you on the show. You were a wealth of knowledge. Congratulations on all the success. If someone listening is saying, "I want Paul, I want MSP Marketing Edge," how do they reach out to you? Paul: Yeah, sure, thank you. I have a website, which is paulgreens, so that's with an S on the end, paulgreensmspmarketing.com. And you can also find me on LinkedIn if you just go and look for Paul Green MSP Marketing. George: Absolute pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for your time today, Paul, and all the best. Paul: Thank you, thanks for having me on, George. Conclusion George: As you can tell, Paul Green has a wealth of knowledge and experience and he highlighted that three-step strategy for helping managed service provider owners win clients and generate profits. Step number one, build multiple audiences. Step number two, build a relation with the audience. Step number three, commercialize that relationship. And I love this line, "People buy when they're ready." If you liked Paul Green's episode discussing strategies to win clients, let's continue the conversation. Check out these episodes. 360, "MSP Marketing Troubles" with Ayan Adam, or episode 415, "Analyzing the IT Channel", with our very own Andrew Down. Please subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen to the podcast. And thanks for joining us this week on the "Conquer Local" podcast. My name is George Leith. I'll see you when I see you.