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529: 10 Elements Of A Successful Sales Pitch | Master Sales Training Series

Are you looking to perfect your sales pitch? Tune in to this week’s Master Sales Series as we delve into “close prospects and open relationships.” Salespeople are not born, they’re made. While getting leads is hard, closing them is more complex. In this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast, George Leith highlights the ten elements of a successful sales pitch, how they all start with a dialogue, and why it is important to spend your first 90-days proving your value to your client.  For review, the 10 elements of a successful sales pitch are:   Research Understand the problem Know your offering inside and out Ask questions Tell a story Use contrast Focus on benefits > features Differentiate  Show a success story Follow up If you've enjoyed this episode of the Master Sales Series, stay up-to-date with weekly episodes by subscribing to the Conquer Local Podcast, and leave 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. 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 your host, George Leith, and today we're talking about closing prospects and opening relationships on another Master Sales Series episode. Salespeople are not born, they're made. The best reps have a formula that's repeatable and scalable and they have a framework for repeatable success. That's how they win new business time and time again. The tip of that spear is perfecting the pitch. The base of the handle though is to build a long-term relationship. When you close a prospect, you're opening a relationship. What we're going through are the 10 elements of a great sales pitch and how to apply those elements post-sale. Generating leads is hard work. At Vendasta, marketing is responsible for driving a large percentage of those inbound leads. Our sales team is responsible for filling in the rest of their funnel. Let's face it, getting leads is hard and closing them is even harder. Sales conversion rates across industries only have an average of 2.46 to 3.26%, which means that more than 95% of conversations are just that, conversations. Getting your pitch right is a huge driving factor in pushing up that conversion number. But the other part, the one that gets left off most blogs on this topic is the customer growth and follow-up. I hate the word close. Much of the work with a customer truly starts when a sale is closed. If you ask me, this is the opening, the beginning. Close kind of makes me think it's the end, but really it's the start. Agency owner, Mike Giamprini, said on the Conquer Local podcast, "We'll spend a good 90 days proving to the customer that we can impact their online presence positively, and we can make them look better, appear relevant, appear more often, appear consistently online, and get them ready to drive eyeballs to their businesses. So 90 days later, we'll create an opportunity to sell some paid search to that customer if it's relevant and that is if it makes sense for them." Now, I like Mike's format. Spend that first 90 days proving your value, then find a way to add more value. This all starts with setting the bar or establishing clear goals. When a salesperson can consult with their clients to establish a framework for success, then both parties have aligned expectations of the sales relationship. A client should be able to review various key performance indicators and see that their money is being put to good use. 90 days is long enough to build solid rapport and it's also a very good time to check-in. I recommend checking in at least at the 30, 60, and 90-day mark when you're immediately post-first sale. The person who made this sale is the person that should prove the value. We've updated our model at Vendasta so the BDR who makes the initial sale stays with that partner for a period of time. And our customers love that new model. We do introduce the account manager, but the person that brought the deal across the line stays in the deal. That's how we can pass that customer into a new motion inside the organization, ensure that the onboarding gets that customer to get to their first value. These components ensure that when you close, which we don't like that word, when you start a new customer, you're ensuring that the expectations that have been set are being met and that that customer is finding value in that first 30, 60, and 90 day mark. Let's get into it. The 10 elements of a successful sales pitch are research, understanding the problem, knowing your offering inside and out, ask questions, tell a story, use contrast, focus on features and benefits, differentiate, show a success story, and follow up. When you go into a meeting with a prospect, the more you know, the more likely you are to have success. To address the concerns of your prospects, thorough research on them is vital. When you're underprepared, it comes across negatively and can leave a bitter taste in the prospect's mouth. Put yourself in a better position to understand their needs from a business and personal standpoint. For instance, if you know they're looking for a CRM, try to understand the kind of customer that they're seeking, then you could fill in the blanks with relatable words, use language and content that they're familiar with. This helps them see you as the expert and you get a better picture of what it looks like if they were using your solution. Your investment in research makes it evident that you genuinely care about the needs of your prospect and it makes it more likely that you'll strike a chord. If you see that LinkedIn post your prospect made, they mentioned about how much time they spend drafting proposals, lead with your new smart proposal builder tool, that's the obvious move. Research After the sale, research and understanding is even more critical. At the 30, 60, and 90 day check-ins that I've recommended, your research will prove that you didn't just enter their life to sell them something, you came in to make a difference. And you truly care that the solution you sold is making that difference. You need to understand the impact your product or service has had and be able to speak to it articulately. Understand the problem Number two, you need to understand the problem and their industry. The sales pitch should talk less about selling and more about helping. How can you help your prospect solve the problem? Define the problem and clearly outline the solution, concisely articulating what you do, and relating it to the challenge your prospect is facing and that will empower both of you. You'll have clarity on what you're trying to accomplish and the goal to the prospect will be obvious. What do the products or services you offer accomplish? How do they help your prospect? What is that problem that you're solving? So now, when you're following up, you need to address how the problem has been solved. That might mean reviewing data to show the return on investment and getting anecdotal evidence from your customer or even a before or after snapshot. I like to go through an executive report with a customer and highlight what's changed. Also highlight additional opportunities where they can grow. Be transparent, set those realistic expectations. You don't have to solve the entire problem in 30, 60, or even 90 days after the sale, what you do need to do is illustrate your progress. Show where you're making adjustments to the tactics in order to achieve the goal. Show that you can explain the unanticipated blockers that you're coming up against and propose a solution at the same time. Remember, the customer came to you because you are the expert. Know your offering inside and out Our third item is knowing your offering inside and out. This comes with consult of selling. When we talk about the sales process, we're a student of the customer. We're asking lots of questions. We're looking for the nuggets. Then we develop a strategy that matches the needs of the customer. And if you know your offering inside and out, you can make it work for the customer in a specific, measurable, and valuable way. Post-sale, check in regularly to make sure your customer is experiencing the full functionality available to them. Walk them through how to use the product to achieve the results you were selling. In one of the later check-ins, this might be a good time to look at additional products and services depending upon the needs of your customer. Now that they've got a website up and running, let's make sure that they're following a social media strategy. You've proven why listings need to be correct, maybe they're ready for reputation management solutions, and so on and so forth. Ask questions Speaking of fourth, ask questions. A successful sales pitch begins with a dialogue. Rather than starting with an opening line that's all about you, try posing a question or a few. Asking questions makes your pitch more interactive. It engages a different part of your prospect's brain. Use open-ended questions like, "Have you ever noticed?" "Did you see this in your current setup?" "What's the biggest challenge your business is facing right now?" Not only will asking questions ensure that your prospect is more engaged, but it will give you better information. You already know everything about your offering. What can you learn in this meeting? The more they speak, the more customized you can make the conversation, the follow-up proposal, and the solution that you offered. You can really dial into the needs of the client. Don't stop asking questions after the sale. "Is this working the way you expected?" "How can I improve your experience?" Work with your prospect to set goals on timelines and then revisit those goals on a regular cadence. If you've worked with them to set the expectation of improving their digital advertising click-through rate by 1% in the first 90 days, make sure that you're checking back in regularly and reporting on the current progress. Also, I think it's important to report on the things that you're changing in your approach to get them the outcome that you agreed on. Tell a story Tell a story to engage the prospect. Stories are one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal and telling stories helps the prospect remember you. Analogies that explain your product can be helpful as well. Stories are way stickier than facts and figures alone. If you need convincing, here's a few stats, stories are 22 times more memorable than facts and figures alone. Our neural activity increases five times when we're listening to a story. Storytelling lights up the sensory cortex in the brain allowing the listener to feel, hear, taste, and even smell what you're talking about. We wanna connect with customers in an emotional way. We want them to feel our story and we want them to remember our story. People remember stories and not facts. Telling them stories to illustrate what they've accomplished. Good companies, tell stories, and great companies tell their customers stories. If you are seeing success with a customer, ask them if you can use that story as a case study. This story format centers them as the protagonist and the hero and it will clearly illustrate their success. And it's a huge win for you. You can use their story as future marketing collateral. Studies show that 92% of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase. A case study gives your next set of potential customers a story to latch onto and a way to understand what you do. Use contrast Item number six in our top 10 list is use contrast. Now, this is an art. Use from here to there in your narratives. Where are your customers now and where could they be if they used your products or services? Imagine your customer's life before and after using your solution and then tell a story of what happens to them when they make the decision that you want them to make. That's the benefit that you'll include in your pitch. What is the main problem that you solve for your customers? Use the answers to these questions like, "What is your biggest challenge?" And that will allow you to highlight the contrast. Now here's an example. If your prospect's biggest challenge is getting new customers, you can use data, a story, and some imagination to show them the benefit of using your product. Here we go. "Right now, your digital ads are getting a click-through rate of less than 2%. Let's look at this report. You're making about $2,500 a month from your conversions. Now, if we deploy the trusted process that I was explaining to you that we've ran for other organizations like yours, and we talk about creating compelling creative, testing regularly, building directly related landing pages, and then verifying our work across many platforms, this usually means that my customers have a click-through rate of over 5%. So in your case, with the metrics that we're measuring, it would mean increasing your monthly revenue from your ad campaigns from 2,500 to $6,250 a month." Would that be a good start to getting new customers? You can see that that story along with the data and the information that you've garnered from the prospect during the discovery process is a compelling way to tell your story and to get the buy-in from the prospect. After you've been working with a customer for a while, show them how far they've come. You used to be up late every night, missing some of your children's extracurricular activities, trying to get your digital ads to work. But now look, they're performing better, you have more customers, and you're not doing the work yourself, you have more time for your family now. And what you're doing there is you're highlighting the economic benefit for the business with their personal life, and you're showing them that you care in building their trust. Focus on benefits > features Number seven is focus on the benefits, not the shiny features. When you're describing what your products or services do, you should always lead with benefits rather than the buttons. No one cares if your social marketing tool has the functionality to find keywords within a 25-mile radius. They likely do care that you can proactively find customers by typing in a word like flat tire and connect Twitter users to the right business. It's easy to get caught up in a direct feature-to-feature comparison. Our competitors may be doing that, but we can do this better. This could be compelling, but it's usually a tit-for-tat analysis that leaves your prospect trying to tally up your value rather than truly experiencing your value. Looking at feature matrices and comparing dollar for dollar are signs that your prospect is focusing on features and not benefits. These pieces of the puzzle are worth consideration, but they simply can't be the focus. Now after the sale, this is much more intuitive. Illustrate what your customer has achieved and then you can bend this rule by reminding them how they did it. That doesn't mean a highly technical explanation of what's been achieved. Use a contrasting narrative like I described before to drive home the benefits. Differentiate  Now, number eight, you must differentiate. Now you get to delve into your unique selling proposition or USP if you like acronyms. And I think you know by now that I don't. Why should your audience choose you and not your competitors? Very interesting question. Your brand positioning statement should be unique to you. A competitor just can't swap out your company name and replace it with theirs. It's your unique selling proposition or your brand promise. For example, Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, also used to say he sold hope and not makeup. Some airlines sell friendly service, while others sell on-time service. Neiman Marcus sells luxury, while Walmart sells bargains or price rollbacks. Vendasta delivers incredible online experiences, not simply a platform for agencies and service providers to market, sell, bill, fulfill, and deliver. I'm sure you can see the difference and your prospect will feel it too. Differentiating, especially post-sale, doesn't mean you need to mention all of your competitors, but don't be afraid to mention the competition, but don't focus on them. Focus on what's different and special about you. You don't wanna slag the competitor. Not only do you want customers, but you want brand loyalists, they care about what you do and why you do it. When customers truly buy into your brand promise, that unique selling proposition, they'll support you proudly, opening, and refer more business your way. Show a success story Show a success story. Once you've explained the benefits and clearly defined what you do, leave your prospect with a success story. Show them someone who has done this before and explain the tactics they use to achieve the success. The story will stick and give them a concrete understanding of how all of what you've said translates to the real world. After the sale, you can share other stories of customers in similar situations who created a process for repeatable success. The more relatable the stories are, by company size, niche, and industry, the more likely they are to resonate. When you can highlight the tactics used to achieve success, it's incredibly beneficial. It works to create a playbook for your customer and perhaps this customer could be your next success story. Follow up And finally, drum roll please, number 10, the follow-up. Following up after you've made the sale is even more important than following up to make the sale. Customers who feel sold to and not cared for quickly become resentful. Follow up regularly, see how they're using your products, how they are feeling, what you can do differently. If you do this early on in the post-sale cycle, it's easy to course correct. Think of a plane going just one degree off its flight path. For a short time, not a big deal, the pilot can course correct and still land within a small window of the original arrival time. But that one degree goes unnoticed for a long time, and the consequences are huge. Your plane is running outta gas, you end up thousands of miles away from where you're supposed to be, and you can't really course correct at that point. I can't tell you the number of times I've been on calls with customers that felt that they were neglected. It's really hard to get them back on track. Conclusion And those are our 10 elements of a successful sales pitch to make sure your relationship stays on course. Let me give them to you quickly for review. Research, understand the problem, know your offering inside and out, ask questions, tell stories, use contrast, focus on benefits, not features, differentiate, tell a success story or 10, and always follow up. If you like this Master Sales Series Episode, Discussing the 10 Elements of a Successful Sales Pitch, check out some of our past episodes like 413, The Benefits of Marketing to Existing Customers, and our two-part series, 323 and 324, Converting Leads with Existing Clients. 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.
Podcast

535: From Media Sales To Entrepreneur | Annette Blaylock

Annette Blaylock is the founder and strategist of Insights Media Solutions, a brand consultancy agency, and with over 20 years of experience in Marketing and Sales, she has worked in some of the largest media companies in the US. Annette launched hundreds of successful campaigns, placing millions of dollars in ads for brands like Pfizer, Simon Properties, GM Dealers, and ConAgra Foods. She also consults on personal brand strategies for Corporate Executives and Creative Entrepreneurs. Her work won numerous awards and accolades for sales and marketing excellence. Tune in as we chat with Annette and learn more about her goal to achieve 1 million dollars in revenue by 2023. 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. From Media Sales To Entrepreneur Introduction George: This is the Conquer Local Podcast. The 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 Annette Blaylock. Annette worked in the media business and media sales for almost 20 years at large media organizations like Spectrum and iHeartRadio. She wanted to start her own business. So she launched a digital marketing agency and did that in 2021. We're gonna talk to Annette about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and her very lofty goal of getting to a million dollars in revenue some time in 2023 and how she convinced her husband to come out of retirement to help her with her growing and scaling business. Annette Blaylock is coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast. George: Ron Burgundy's favorite city, San Diego, California, and Annette joins... Did you know that Annette, that you are living in Ron Burgundy's favourite city? Annette: I did not, but I can understand why. George: I was just there a couple of months ago. I actually really enjoy San Diego and I'm happy to have you on the show. We went through your bio in the introduction, but I wondered if you knew this, that you and I are both media sales professionals in our histories. Annette: I did actually, I listened to your podcast, so... George: Oh, there you go, that's great. Everybody listens to the podcast. Well, I was super excited to get this time to ask a bunch of questions, because when I look back, you started your business and had left some great organizations that you worked for previous, but what was the catalyst to just go out on your own? Annette: I've always been an entrepreneurial type. And I think a lot of salespeople are in sales and marketing. So throughout the years, I've had some great experience in corporate, but I saw a big piece of the puzzle missing, especially with clients and getting results. Even though we were able to drive traffic to their website or whatever or create these wonderful campaigns on TV and radio. A lot of times they didn't have a good website or they were missing attribution setups. So they always didn't know where the traffic was coming from or the traffic just didn't convert, because they had a bad website. George: Yeah and it's so interesting because I probably have said this a billion times. I'm sure that producer Colleen has the exact count over the years. But if you could own the customer's website, you control the marketing plan. And where I wanted to go with this is if the organization that you're representing in the case of you and I both coming from previous media organizations, if it's not on the rate card, then you can't offer the website component. Was that your experience in your past? Or how did you come to this point, I really need to be able to give 'em a lot more to help them with the problem. Annette: Right. And I think that came in when the digital marketing space was brand new and we were starting to sell other digital products besides the traditional channels that we were offering before. And so once we learned and got more into the digital marketing space, I was able to see, wow, we can offer so many other things. But that piece of the puzzle, of the website, was a big component that was missing. And also integrating all of those other apps with the website so that it can make everything work and we can have a full 360-degree marketing plan for them. And that's what I'm involved in now. George: And it's great that you brought that up because that 365 view is really important. And I wanted to interrogate this finding that I have. I remember during COVID I had this customer and friend of mine and I got a call. They need sales training. I'm like, oh, okay, I got time. I'll do some sales training. But what I found was, it wasn't actually... They did need sales training, don't get me wrong. But what it actually was, was a new journey for their potential customers. And they weren't considering the entire journey of even discovering them on the website, their social media presence was horrible. They weren't even in interacting with Google My Business, yet people were speaking to them on that virtual doorway. So the 365 component, is a real big piece of that. So of the customers, you have today, the question I wanted to ask, what percentage of them do you control the website? Annette: I would say if I don't... About half. we build half of their sites. But the other half, I do have some control, because I have backend access and I have access to their Google analytics. George: So you got the website piece, we've got the opportunity to offer more products and services. And with these clients, if we were to look at basket size or the number of things that you're helping them solve problems on, is it website, social... Is it five things, is it eight things? What sort of level are you getting to when it comes to how many problems you're solving? Annette: Well, I'm trying to solve as many problems as I can, but usually the strategy is that we have a discovery call and we look at the website and see what pieces are missing, especially when we run the snapshot report. So once we view that we are able to see areas of opportunity. And then when we put together a program that addresses each of those areas of opportunities in every single stage of the customer journey. So that could mean maybe if they have a bad website let's start with a website redesign. And then social media management, reputation management, active campaigns, or some sort of CRM solution. And then paid advertising, of course, because that's the background I come from. But usually with paid ads, like social ads, Facebook ads, TikTok ads, radio ads, TV ads, and so forth. George: I wanted to ask that question. Thank you for leading me. I have so many notes and there's so many things that I wanted to ask. When you were working for those large media companies previous to starting your own organization, how many times was it, advertising consultant? Like it was... Your title was around just ads? Annette: Well, that's mainly what my title was. So when I was working at corporate, we visited with the client and just basically did a needs analysis. But we're only able to offer a TV or radio package. George: Right, So I guess the point I'm trying to make is very ads heavy. So the client saw you as an advertising consultant, not as a digital marketing consultant. So how did you make that switch? Because you're able to offer everything now in the role that you have today with your own business and you're able to go out and find great solutions. How did you make that switch? Annette: Well, I had a client that came to me and said, Annette, I really like what you do with the radio. But what else can you do? What else can you help me with? And so I had developed really good relationships with our clients. And at some point, I saw the jump and opportunity to jump as a freelancer or as a solopreneur and help that client more in-depth with their marketing. So that's how I started. I left corporate and started on my own in that way. George: Was there a period where you were tired of... You got to a point... 'Cause I know I've heard this from others. It got to a point of it sucked to say, no. They say I've got this problem. Could you help me out with it? Well, I'm not really able to offer that. Did you feel some of that? Annette: Well, yes, absolutely. And sometimes I would refer them if I had someone I was networking with who was a web designer, for instance, I would refer them to that person. So I developed a referral network as well, but that's as far as I could go. George: Right, it's the lead club breakfast. We all like those, right? Annette: Exactly. George: You go to breakfast and somebody was there with, maybe they were a paving company and they could tell you all the new parking lots are being made. And then you run back to the station and put in the book that you want that lead. We all did that I'm sure. How many of your customers that worked with you at the large media organizations came with you when you started your own thing? Annette: Actually, one. I have one car dealership that came in on board with me. And then after that, I just started getting referrals. I started networking and getting new customers that way in various forms, whether it be through a referral partner or just me cold calling on my own. George: And in that cold calling though, it was people you were familiar with, or was it green field? Like we're just in a brand new area where you gonna go find new customers? Annette: Right, so I started... I say cold-calling, but it's sort of a warm call. So I joined the chamber and I joined some networking groups. And then I started connecting with those people that way. Just say, hey, I'm part of the chamber, I would love to talk to you about your marketing and so forth. George: And I'm really excited that you said that because I know I work with lots of folks that are building their own business and they really think that they can go by a lead list. And there's some magical piece of technology that will make money happen in the middle of the night. Have you ever found anything like that? 'Cause I'm sure I could... You and I could both sell a lot of that if it existed. Annette: Yes, no. Cold traffic is really hard to convert. George: So let me ask you about this sale. 'Cause I could see it in the notes that the team put together. I guess you had another sale that you had to make when you started your own business. And that was to convince your husband to come outta retirement because you couldn't handle all the customers that you were getting. Annette: Exactly. So that happened about a year ago. I had a book of business and I found myself really struggling trying to fulfill all of these deliverables for our clients. And I just was working a lot. I'm still working a lot but in a different fashion. George: I wanted to say congratulations on that pitch because I don't think that if I was retired, you could convince me to come outta retirement. But good work on that. Getting Ron to help you out in your business and congratulations on the scale. So the other... I just love this in the notes. You're gonna get to a million dollars sometime in 2023, that's the goal, right? Annette: Absolutely. So the one thing I really learned well when I was at corporate was monthly and quarterly goals and meeting those expectations. And that really... If I had it visualized and planned out, that really drives me to succeed towards those goals. And I took that practice into my own business where we do have a salesperson in-house and we get together and review the monthly and quarterly goals so that we can... How many people do we have on the pipeline to meet that number? And so that's where that came from. George: So the science that you learned in your career, that if you put these goals in place... And I'm glad you're bringing that up, because the successful organizations where we have solopreneurs that have been born outta corporate previous opportunities if they bring some of that rigor with them, they got a hell of a lot better chance of getting to the goal. And a seven-figure company, that's no small stretch to have built that, especially part of it you're building during a bloody global pandemic that nobody saw coming. But let's talk about, aside from the goal setting, what are some of the other tactics that you are deploying to achieve that $1 million in annual recurring revenue? Annette: So I take that goal basically... Let's just say it's X or a hundred thousand dollars in a quarter or whatever that may be. I'm just putting a simple number out there and we just work backwards. Well, how many people do we need to close to get that? And then I go up the pipeline, well, if I'm closing four deals to get to that a month, then how many people do we need to talk to or pitch and how many people do we need to call or reach out to, to at least schedule those appointments or schedule those discovery calls. So we have a process that we go through and then we just... Every step of the sales pipeline has goals and KPIs. George: I'm always fascinated to talk to entrepreneurs like you that have come from organizations that have this built-in rigor around pipeline, numbers, the culture is all built around that. So now you also have... You've gotta bring your husband Ron in, you've added a sales hire to help you drive even further customer contact. Who is the ideal customer profile? Well, you talked a little bit about automotive earlier, is it just automotive dealers or where are you going to find these clients that like working with your organization? Annette: Right, so even though my husband and I both have automotive background, me pitching to auto motives and he was a former auto dealer. We are really specialized in local businesses. So, we get involved in our community, we join the chamber, we network with others in the local community. So our plethora, or our book of business, mainly deals with just local business, local IT service providers, HVAC companies, service companies, professional services, attorneys, and such. And how we differentiate ourselves is that we really network or try to get customers in awe of where we live and work. There's a lot of companies out there that wanna reach out to somebody in New Jersey, from San Diego. And for me, that doesn't work. George: Well, so the hyperlocal focus that they've gotta be a local business, you're using the chambers. And you obviously have a networking background, because some people you go, yeah, go to this event. You don't know anybody and have a beer and maybe start to meet... It just gives 'em anxiety and they can't do it. So you had that skill. Question I have, when you go to talk to these new local businesses, whether they be referrals or maybe somebody you've met through a networking event, how do you overcome the... Are Annette and Ron gonna be in business in six months? When you're starting something brand new and you're not representing a big national brand, I think there's always a little bit of anxiety in the customer's mind as to, yeah, this sounds great. Annette and her company, they look amazing. Will they be here down the road? How do you overcome that sometimes, unset objection? Annette: Well, it's difficult because our space, our digital marketing space has some bad players kind of like there were some bad plumbers and there's some good plumbers. And so I think that the way we overcome it is our background. We have over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and advertising, we rented an office space. So we're here entrenched in the community. We're not going away in six months. So when we talk to them, we talk to them very casually about their business, and then we offer a free snapshot report. And so after we review that, we invite them to our office. Sometimes we do it virtually, sometimes we do it in-house. George: Well, and I think I know the answer to this, but I'd love to hear it from you. What does that snapshot report do to help build that trust? What are you hearing from customers when you present? And snapshot is a Vendasta product. But really what it is, insight, space selling. You've done a bunch of research with that tool. You found out some things, what's the thing that really tips them by using that tool? Annette: I think a lot of them are... Some people are surprised and some people are not surprised. And they tell me, yeah, I haven't been doing a good job in digital marketing. I have to really get into the 21st century. And so, we just review areas of opportunity and we don't really talk about tactics. We just casually mention how social media can improve this or that or how reputation management can really get them listed, in several directories online and increase your visibility. So, it's just a casual conversation. Then we ask them questions, We ask them what is your biggest challenge? And we do a mini discovery call with them. George: How open do you find these customers to share? I work with a lot of different partners, we do some calls, we ask some questions and I hear some of them saying, yeah, it's really hard to get them to open up. It's really hard to do that needs analysis sometimes. How have you been able to overcome that, to get a customer to open up to you and really share where they are in their journey of digital transformation and taking advantage of the amazing opportunities with digital marketing solutions? Annette: I think that snapshot report does open up an opportunity for the customer to say more about their business. Whereas if you were just doing a straight discovery call, it would be a little bit more difficult, especially if you're asking open-ended questions that opens the space for them to speak about their business. But I think that having that tool in front of you and just going over step by step and listening to what they have to say, builds this immediate trust factor. George: I see in the notes from the team, when we were getting ready to have this conversation, you've been able to achieve 90% retention of your customers. How? That is an unbelievable number and congratulations. How have you been able to keep 90% of those clients? Annette: Thank you. Well, we stay pretty close to them. So every month we schedule a monthly review where we review all of their campaign performances, how they're improving online, where we can do a better job. So we're in constant communication with them, not every day and sometimes not every week. But at least once a month we have that sit down where we spend maybe 45 minutes to an hour and reviewing their marketing. George: So, thank you. And I love that you're saying that, because so many times I find that organizations that are struggling to hit their revenue goals, it's because there's a leaky bucket there. And it's hard enough to find a customer once much less to get somebody that you can retain. And then to ignore them, means that now you got competitors that are selling to them, you've got maybe budget constraints happening and they're not seeing the value on a regular basis. So, you're doing the hard work and at least once a month, you're talking to the clients. So I'm glad that you're saying that. I've been saying it for a long time, but I'm glad that I'm hearing from you that you're having this success. Now, here's the catch-22. I'm wondering if you're experiencing, because you have to communicate with these customers on a monthly basis and because you have to stay close to them to maintain that 90% retention rate, are you having issues in scaling and coming up with components that can be repeatable? Annette: Sometimes, it depends on exactly what it is. It could be the way we do our proposals or the way we book discovery calls. But yes, it's getting to a point where we might have to hire a second salesperson. We recently hired a project manager to manage some of the scheduling part of it and reporting. George: Besides getting Ron to come out of retirement, your husband, what was the catalyst to make the decision to hire a salesperson? Why was it salesperson first and then project management? I think that's the way that it came together. Annette: It's funny you should say that George because I wanted a project manager first and not a salesperson. And Ron's coming from, managing big auto dealerships, he's like, let's get a salesperson first. And he was absolutely right. So we hired a salesperson and then we were able to backtrack into a project manager after that. George: I don't know, again, I'm sure you will, tell me if I'm wrong on this, but is it because you both reached the agreement that you didn't have the processes dialed in yet and you wanted to do them yourselves? Now we got more time, we got a sales rep and we can now really dig into what we're delivering to the customer and see if we can find a repeatable process. Was that where you were headed with that line of thinking? Annette: We had some repeatable process, but hiring a salesperson really improved upon how our processes work. So because we had that goal in mind, like X amount per month or whatever, the only way to achieve that, because I was tapped out and I had no project manager is to hire a second salesperson. now in the interim, that second salesperson was doing both project management and account services and sales. But now that we hired a project manager, we've been able to move that task over to this person. And so the salesperson can focus more on selling every week. George: Annette, when you started in the media business and not as long ago as me by the way because you're way younger than I am. But you started in the media business. I'm sure the training was unbelievable. Like you just went in, spent like six months, you went to this university, they trained you on everything you got manual. It was unbelievable, is that true? Annette: There was a lot of training, but there was a lot of useless training too. George: So when-- Annette: The corporate minutia exists. George: Well, I'm joking around this, because I don't think any company really has their training dialed in, but the reason I bring it up is, now you hire a sales rep and it's you and your husband that have started this business from scratch. How are you able to train that sales rep, knowing that we all have had bad experiences in our past with less-than-ideal training programs? Annette: Exactly. So I spent a lot of time with this person going through, just different processes, what our ideal processes are. We've went through phone scripts, we practice them, we trained them on our CRM and on our platforms, we watched training videos on how to deliver a snapshot report, and all of this stuff. I mean it took about two weeks' worth of training before I actually sent them out and started making calls and introducing themselves to the community because I wanted to make sure they were confident in what they had to say. And also I trained them in overcoming objections. But I didn't want to burn leads either. George: Well, it's interesting, the Genesis, and then the story of how you got to where you are today with this organization and to get a rep up and running and proficient in a very short period of time, speaks to the skillset that you bring to it, that's for sure. Congratulations on all the success. And for what you're telling me that million dollars is definitely within reach with what you've been building. I would love to give you the last word though and with this question. You've been at this since 2021 when you decided to leave corporate, start your own thing, hang your shingle out there and be an entrepreneur and live the American dream. If you could do it over again though, what's one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs of, I just wouldn't have done that one thing right there. Annette: I'm doing it all myself. I would've really gotten some sort of support whether that looks... And for every business, it looks differently. For some people, it looks like hiring a VA or from others, it might be the support of a spouse or something. It's just that... It gets overwhelming. I get overwhelmed with all that I had to do and I would've gotten help a lot sooner. George: But I'd love to interrogate that a little bit more if it's okay. Is it the loneliness of being an entrepreneur where you're out there fighting the battle by yourself and not having people that you can... Especially coming from a corporate world, you were on a team and you had resources that you could reach out to, is it that loneliness, or what are you referring to that it would've been nice to have? Is it the workload? What's the item? Annette: It's for me... I mean, I'm sort of an introvert or extrovert. So that collaboration was a big missing piece in what I was doing and trying to fulfill client deliverables. So the collaboration, the assigning of mundane... Not mundane, but just tasks that other people can do, so I can focus on the bigger picture, that would've been a lot more helpful. George: No and thank you for that. I see the trepidation of saying the word mundane, but at the same time what I've found is, there's a whole bunch of people out there that want that work and value that work and bring a lot of value to the organization. So I agree with you. And a VA is not that expensive. To get somebody to just take these eight things off your plate so you could focus on the customer. That's great advice. And thank you for being so open and sharing in your journey, because that's what we try to do here is to provide content and provide great guests like you for our audience that maybe can give them ideas or give them concepts they haven't thought about or maybe be the catalyst for them to start their own thing and be their own boss. And it's a very inspiring story that you've told us about the success that you have had along with your husband in building Insights Media Solutions from back in April of 2021. And we wish you all the best on your way to that goal, that wildly important goal of $1 million in revenue, sometime in 2023. I'd ask this, Annette, will you just send us a quick note so that we can announce to the audience that Annette hit her million dollars. I would love to be able to do that at some point and congratulate you. Annette: Absolutely George. George: Thanks for joining us on the show today and have a great day. Annette: Thank you. Conclusion George: Annette had me at a million dollars. No, she had me at 90% client retention. That's one of the measurements that you want to have on how successful your business is. And when you have 90% client retention, it's time to pour gas on that fire and maybe hire some more people and take the processes that you've built and start to scale them. And then you've got a hope of getting to the million dollars annual recurring revenue. And keep in mind, Annette and her husband did this in 24 months. And I'm telling the truth in advance because she hasn't quite hit that milestone, but I'm sure we'll hear soon from Annette and Ron that they got to that number. So here's a couple of takeaways as to how this power duo has been so successful in building this business. The first thing, website. If you control the website, you control the client. We've said that a million times on this show, we've had numerous guests that have told us that to be true. And now we're hearing it once again. That's the first item. You can't just buy a list of leads, put them out there in the ether, and hope that you'll make money in the middle of the night. It's not a thing. It can be something that can help you find new customers, but it's not the only thing. And Annette and her team have went back to the old, tried and true. Let's go network, let's meet some people. Let's go to the Chamber of Commerce. We're focused on hyper-local anyways in the San Diego market. So where can we find a bunch of business people that are hanging out? The Chamber of Commerce is a great place to do that. And I love that she's using that approach. Then she's using some technology that shall go nameless, to show some insights to the customer and build that trust and rapport that they know what's going on. And they have some insights that can help that customer improve whatever state that they are in today. And then they layer in the products, services, and tactics, but, and a big but, they always make sure that they follow up with the client. They're very close to their customer. I can't tell you the number of times I've talked to people in this space and I'm like, so what's your retention rate? Nowhere near what Annette's is. And I ask another question, How often do you talk to your clients? Once every six months. Yeah, it's no wonder your retention rate is so low. And it's also no wonder that usually the answer that these clients give me is, yeah and I don't get a lot of referrals. The reason that you don't get referrals is because you're not doing a great job for your current customers. So why would they refer you to a friend? And when you're at networking events, you don't get that network effect, because when people ask your clients that are in the network event, how great of a job you're doing, they say, ah well, I never really hear from that company. So I love the fact that Annette leaned in on that and said at the very least, we talk to our customers at least once a month. That is the bare frigging minimum if you are going to be successful and build your own startup to a million dollars in recurring revenue in 24 months. You just don't have a hope if you don't follow through on that client service... Customer service. Yeah, really it's that basic. But a lot of people don't do it. Thanks to Annette Blaylock for joining us on this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast. And if you liked Annette's episode discussing scalability, let's continue the conversation and check out episode 527, scaling your business with Jason Herman, or episode 448, rewiring your brain and how to navigate opportunity with Cathy Poturny. 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.
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