448: Rewiring Your Brain: How to navigate opportunity | Cathy Poturny

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Long-time Vendasta Partner and Principal at Creative Canvas Media, Cathy Poturny joins George Leith this week to offer a reimagination and new approach to navigate opportunity. With great admiration, We don’t think we’ve met anyone quite as tenacious, blunt, and having quite the “go for it” attitude that Cathy has. There’s a famous saying, “it can always be worse”. This allows you to find comfort in potential roadblocks. Our guest this week flips the script, transversely saying, “it can always be better”. Listen to Cathy as she discusses the strategy behind her 92% close rate (yes, you read that correctly), how she leverages the Vendasta Community (Conquer Local) in running her digital marketing agency, and the importance of finding your niche and specification.

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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. Each week, we 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 re-imagine your business. I’m George Leith. On this episode, we’re very proud to feature Cathy Poturny, a long time Vendasta partner, the principal of Creative Canvas Media Agency, and a self-professed learner, listener and lover of life. Cathy likes to say, she will discover your business’s voice, so customers can hear you, find you and buy from you. Get ready, Conquers, Cathy Poturny is coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast. Welcome back to the Conquer Local Podcast. Cathy Poturny, one of our long standing Vendasta channel partners, all the way from beautiful, Long Island, welcome to the show, Cathy.

Cathy: Thank you so much for having me, George. I’m looking forward to having this dialogue with you today.

Creative Canvas Media: How it all started

George: I love that accent. Let’s talk about your organization and you’ve been a part of our ecosystem for a while, but I’d love for the listeners to understand a little bit about Creative Canvas Media Agency and maybe a little bit about your background in your words.

Cathy: Oh, absolutely, happy to do that. This is exciting for me because it’s another new step in the long standing set of steps I’ve taken over the years. I had a financial, I have a financial background. I’ve been doing marketing, the financial services sector, whether that’d be real estate for probably 25 plus years. And I guess the bottom line, I was always really good at helping other people make money and grow their businesses and maybe the light went off or something. But I had the opportunity to sort of rethink life a little bit and found that I could really branch out under my own shingle. And I did that in, I guess, 2011, 2010. And due to some other issues that happened in my life, my husband had some very severe health issues. We kind of took a different turn. I went back into the consulting world, working more or less full-time for someone else. And again, that light bulb went off and that light bulb was called COVID. And you all know listening to this, that the digital world really wound up becoming volcanic. It brought to light all of the opportunities that the quote, digital marketers couldn’t seem to get going with the traditional space. So come that 2019 period, Creative Canvas was born again, if you will. And I really haven’t looked back. It’s been an amazing journey for me. And I can’t tell you how exciting it’s been. Every day is a new experience of learning something.

Discovery and Building Trust in the Sales Process

George: It really interests me that you came from that financial space. I believe, if you’re gonna be good in that space, you got to dig deep. You got to do a lot of discovery. You got to build a lot of trust. Is that not the case?

Cathy: That is absolutely the case. You cannot deal with someone’s money when they don’t trust you. And part of that was really being able to dig deep. And I guess that’s the foundation for how I do my business today, is I really learn to listen to what the customer or the client is saying and really what they’re not saying, because I think that always has a bigger bearing on the emotional side of things. And then how I can make it happen.

George: No, that’s, you’re absolutely right. What they’re not saying. What are you not hearing? A lot of times it gives you a lot of learnings. So, one of the things that our team has noted in the show notes here is this. And is this a typo, a 92 to 95% close rate when you’re out talking to prospects, How are you accomplishing that? Like my inner sales leader is like, you’re not making enough calls, that close rate’s too high, but I think it has something to do with your approach. And I’d love to understand that more.

Cathy: Oh, absolutely. I will tell you that Janice Christopher’s model really helped me with the foundation. I give her so much credit. That brought me into the right way, even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, the right way to really approach a customer. Why? Because it sets the stage and I used this example the other day, you don’t come to a picnic with a fork and a knife and a plate. You need the food, the food is what energizes it. What’s, it’s what gets people going. So when I look at my model, what I do, it is exactly the same thing every single time. I am monetizing the product management and the relationship management from day one, I set that stage. What does that mean? I utilize that five step analysis, that introductory analysis of, let’s see what you’re doing right and let’s see what you’re doing wrong. And I give that potential client three or four tidbits. How I’m working with them is not even relevant. It’s not even brought up because at the end of that half an hour conversation, I’ve already evaluated them. They know that I know what I’m talking about. I know that I know what I’m talking about. And then at the end of the conversation, it’s, okay, has everything I said to you today resonated? And I do the thing that nobody knows how to do. I shut up.

How to Navigate Opportunity: Is a 92% close rate attainable?

George: Ah, It’s music to my ears. I just love what you’re doing there. So let’s, I want to ask this question. So you’re working with the customer, you’ve got this ridiculous close rate, which is so impressive, 92 to 95%. You set the table, you are building a relationship and there’s a lot of solution-based offerings in here where you are delivering a solution to the customer. How, when you’re talking about the tactics or the products, or what’s going into the recipe, I think I know the answer to this, but I want to interrogate it. How deep do you go into those tactics?

Cathy: I’ll start at the end. At the end of that conversation, if I ask them for the DNA sample, their social security number and their bank account, they would give it to me, because I am going so deep into those conversations. And it’s such a long discovery that the validation is there. That I convinced them in many, many different ways, on many different levels that I know what they need to go forward. Now, I’m not making a decision anymore on what they need is products. I am letting them work together with me to answer and solve the challenges and the problems that they currently have. Not the problems and challenges I think they have, but I brought them around to those solutions that they know right away, oh, well I do need a Google My Business profile. Oh, I guess I need to have better listing data. Wow, so you mean, if I don’t really patronize Google, I’m screwed, in the pretty much English. And I tell everyone this, you have to treat Google like a hormonal 16 year old girl. If you don’t pet her, you’re in trouble.

George: So what I was getting to, is I want our listeners to understand that we are selling technical solutions and products, but the customer is looking for us to put them all together into an outcome. So we don’t need to go really, really deep. Like, I think people believe, well, when I talked to my, you haven’t started yet. You’re like, well, I need to learn more. And I’m like, okay, you just need to get out there and talk to some customers. You need to have a well thought out discovery process, which you covered, with only the way that you can, with your charm and your accent, around that discovery. It’s a really important piece to it. But, and then listening to what they’re telling you and what they’re not telling you. But then I have people say, well, but George, I need to get into the tactics and they need to know what every button does. And I’m like, ah, I don’t know what every button does. It’s more around what are you gonna solve then how it all plays out with the buttons and how it all works, correct?

Cathy: Absolutely, and the reality is, you can’t let what you don’t know stop you from moving forward from achieving that success. You’ll find it with, through network partners, through relationships, through asking lots of questions, but the core, the cores don’t change. The core is, what do they need to grow their business? What do they need to grow subscription or membership? Those are just products. And when you look at how those various products can line up to help that particular client achieve their goals and you do it in a phased in process. If I basically said to you, here, let me just dump all this on you. How do you build a house? How do you do this? You would be so overwhelmed you wouldn’t know what to do. Because it’s just too much to absorb into chew, right? What do they say? How do you eat the elephant? One piece at a time. Well, you do the same thing when you’re working with a client, you start off with the simple things that they can understand, which is, here’s my dashboard. Everything I’m doing, now I have a validator. Everything I’m doing for you is right there. You, it doesn’t matter if we just started yesterday or we go on 15 years from now, it’s right there.

George: In the series of interviews we have done with people like you that are out there doing the work, on a day-to-day basis, dealing with customers, there is a common theme around this idea of a dashboard. I also like to call it a container because you’re gonna want to sell to and have a number of customers. And the only way that you can scale that work is having one common place where they understand that the information lives. And what, it’s interesting to me, that everyone that I’ve spoken to over the last four years that is successful in our ecosystem, starts with that dashboard and that outcome. How long did it take you to figure out that that was the secret sauce?

Cathy: I’d like to say I’m brilliant, but I’m really not. So I’ll say it took me about six months to sit down and figure out that the best way to validate what I was doing was to get my clients onto the dashboard. Now there some that are really not technically savvy and it’s a big fear factor, but a lot of others realize, oh, I can go here to do simple things. I can look at where my listing data is. I can do my own social media posting. I can answer reviews. I can look at reviews. I can see my website. I can even add blog posts. But it’s a process that is only done through constant reinforcement. I use DRIP campaign, send out the DRIPs. Here, look at all this, these new things. Because I think as agencies, we always think, oh, this client is real happy that I’m doing six or seven or eight different things for them. But if a new product or service comes along, you need to be able to get out of your own way and say, hey, by the way, I want you to see this. Whether it’s a calendar management or scheduling management, or clickable links in the file, all these various tools, you can’t make a decision ’cause you don’t know what’s going on in their lives. One of the things I found, is that it’s passion, proof and patterns, right? Passion for what you’re doing to pull away all the layers of that top level to get to the basis. Proof is actions to show results and patterns is really related to the client, finding new opportunities, having frequent dialogues, because those conversations lead to sparked ideas. But if you can’t always get that client on the phone, you’ve got to be able to text them or email them, send a smoke signal, a letter, a handwritten note, something to generate a response. Because again, I’ll tell you the other part. There’s only two ways in the world to excite someone or get a reaction from someone. If you name me another way, I’ll give you a thousand dollars right here. You either excite them or you disturb them. Dude, that’s it. You name me another way, I’ll send you the money. You have to make them have a response. And in that way, elicit a reaction.

George: Cathy, it’s music to my ears, everything that you’re saying, and I want to distill down what I think I heard. The marketing automation component of the platform, you’re utilizing it to maintain in your customer or your prospects eyes that you’re an innovative organization. You’re using that tool, and I’ve talked about it a lot over the last four years on this show. Use the robot to do what we used to do with a vehicle and a photocopier and a highlighter, right? We want to deliver value to the prospect. We’d photocopy something, kill a tree, highlight it, staple our business card, couple concert tickets, drop it off and hope that the receptionist gave it to the business owner.

Cathy: Exactly.

How Often to Engage Your Prospects

George: Get this beautiful thing called marketing automation that will allow you to deliver a message in your voice with your branding, with just the press of a button. And from what I see in the show notes, and you validated with the preamble, you’re doing this every day. What I want to interrogate is how many emails is too many emails to send to that audience?

Cathy: Oh, I think it depends upon the audience. I really do. I think it’s got to be consistent, at least once a month in just a hey, by the way, this is how things are going, message. Then perhaps once a month. And this is a new product. Now, again, it’s not a soft sell or a hard sell. It’s just information. And I think if you go at it that this is consistently positive, strong information that has the messaging that this can help you with your business, should you decide to use it or not. And then there is my strategic reviews every month with my client. So I’m gonna say that a client working with me right now, I touch them, not including an in-person, probably four or five times a month, but it’s different levels of touching.

George: And the platform touches, when they receive a review or like, there’s event based notifications as well in there that you’re taking advantage of. But over and above that, you’re sending one message a week is what I heard that is just around delivering value to that prospect or customer.

Cathy: Yes, absolutely. You have to take those, remember, this is why you do those discoveries because you need to understand what their pain points are. If you can’t answer the question of how to resolve pain points, then you’re never going to land that business. And those pain-

George: Sorry to interrupt, the discovery is important and it’s long lived-

Cathy: Correct.

George: Is what I’m hearing.

Cathy: You’re always going back to it, always going back to it, but you’re also always using it to go to the next opportunity. Clients or prospects, they may say, I want to do Facebook ads. Well, do you have a website? No. Do you have a Facebook page? Well, yeah, but I really don’t use it. All right, well, let me show you what a value oriented strategy is to increase your readership, viewership, subscription rates, so on and so forth. So you need to keep them informed because you can’t keep going back to the well, and saying, oh, by the way, you haven’t heard from me in three months, but I want to sell you another service. You’ve got to consistently bring value and information.

Success in Leveraging the Conquer Local Community

George: See, this is the mistake that I find a lot of organizations make, is they send out a marketing campaign and we didn’t sell anything. And it’s not the purpose. The other thing is, if all you do is send emails saying, buy my stuff, we as buyers, we disengage from that. That’s not what we’re looking for. Now, if you deliver value, you build trust, and then you say, buy my stuff, much better chance. So thank you for educating us on the success that you’re having with marketing automation and all right, I’m a fan of Grant Cardone’s, and I remember listening to a podcast that he was on, where he was like, hit the list, hit the list. I think that we’re reluctant to send those emails. Now, not buy my stuff, but continue to position your brand and your organization with the prospect of the customer. And I’ve found people are like, well, that’s my client. I don’t need to send marketing automation. It’s almost, they think it’s only top of funnel and you know, new logo acquisition. And I’m like, what’s blocking and tackling from your competitors talking to your customer? Like you should be, you got a paying customer, there’s competitors in there trying to eat your lunch, ’cause they figured out that they’re spending money and budget. You should be running a marketing automation campaign to existing clients as well. It’s called adoption. It’s called building trust. And I know you do that. And you’re, it’s something that you’re professing. Now, the other thing that I wanted to cover, and I know this because I see the attendance logs, you are in our community a lot. And I’m wondering how important that has been to your success that you’ve had. That one dominion learning that you’re able to do in our community.

Cathy: Significant success. I’ve always been someone that’s never afraid to ask a question or voice my opinion. And sitting with other like-minded agency professionals that I could pick up the phone and say, hey, Robert Davis, what do you do for this? Or Steven Arthur, what do you do for this? Or Cathy White, what do you do for this? And to have it be so well-received and reciprocal in nature, because it is a give and take, if you’re going to just be this siloed individual, then lock yourself away and don’t expect anything. But if you can draw on the experience of other people, and remember, we all come into the table with different knowledge and learnings. So, you come with your own value propositions, but you’re also very open to bringing those ideas to other people and being, letting them help you. So sitting around and listening to these dialogues and these excellent speakers and the narrations and hats off to Coleen and Brett from doing a terrific job in wrangling everybody in and getting the story straight. It’s, I think it’s an invaluable opportunity for any agency. And if they don’t take advantage of it, they’re really missing out.

George: The way that I’ve always thought about the community or those weekly mentor sessions is for a solopreneur, that’s out there fighting the good fight, trying to help their customers conquer local, it’s like it’s your own weekly sales meeting, where you can get together with some other people that are doing the exact same thing as you, and learn and bounce ideas off each other and get that collaboration because, correct me if I’m wrong, it’s a little lonely sometimes out there.

Cathy: Oh, it absolutely is. You know sometimes there are days where I don’t leave my desk for literally days on end. But I realized that it’s a conscious effort to reach out to people because we are by nature pack animals. So, to reach out and sort of just say, hey, how are you doing, how’s your day? So, those Friday sessions are something that has really, actually launched other opportunities for me within the network. I’d have my own accountability in the mornings before that session, with another group of partners. So Conquer Local has really given us in the community, has given us as agency owners, this universe that we were not really taking advantage of. I didn’t do this a year ago. I am so glad that it was introduced to me by another partner so that I could jump in and hear the sage counsel from these wonderful speakers.

George: No, I, you know, one of the things that we had as a concept that we were trying to follow, is I belong to a group called Pavilion, which is the former Revenue Collective. And it’s grown now to 7,000 software sales leaders and marketing leaders. And what I loved about it in the early days as a founder was being able to ask a question of people that are doing the exact same thing I’m doing. And at the same point in the journey, maybe, or maybe they’re advanced and they’ve already been there and having that, a lot of times it was validation. A lot of times there was nothing new, but it was just the validation to know that if I go out there and do this tactic, I’ve been dreaming up in my head, and I’m crazy, that’s a bag of cats up there, just ask anybody who knows me, that others have validated that that is the right approach. Or you’re like, wow, that’s a hell of an idea. Why didn’t I think of that? And just having that strength in numbers is such an important thing. But I remember when we thought about this, one of the pieces of feedback that we got from the early test groups was, well, I don’t know if I want to share my secret sauce with competitors. And have you ever ran into that? Like, I think that that’s just fake news, where you go to a community and you’re feeding information to your competitors. Like, there’s how many businesses on this planet that need what we’re giving them, digital transformation. I don’t think the direct competition should be your biggest worry.

Cathy: And I will tell you this, George, you’re absolutely right. Because three of the four networkers that I work with on a regular basis on Fridays are not that far from me, maybe a hundred miles, 75 miles from me. And, you know, in the digital world, I could have a client in Australia. It makes it easy. But to your point, there’s enough business to go around. And I think that you learn so much more by opening up your own doors to other people and other agencies than you would by coveting information, because we don’t have the market on good ideas or on perfection.

Finding Your Niche

George: So last week I had the privilege of being on a show with a friend of mine that I’ve met over the years, her name’s Heather Murray, she’s the head of digital transformation for a global behemoth called TD SYNNEX, Tech Data and Synnex merged together. And it was a little weird. Our PR team came forward and they’re like, okay, why do we have the old white guy speaking about diversity on a panel, but okay, no problem. We called it out. But one of the things that Heather wanted to unpack in that session that we did, was how we took our business, which technology usually is male dominant. It’s in the hardware side, the software side where we’re writing code. There’s a lot of men that write code. It’s getting, there’s more diversity there than there was when I started this nine years ago. And then because of that, sales has a tendency sometimes to be male dominant in tech as well. And we’re quite proud of the fact that we pretty much have moved to a 50/50 mix of women and men on our sales teams. And not that we did the thing where you got to go out and hire this many. We’re still gonna hire the very best people. But, you know, I give one of my colleagues, Colleen Claypool, a lot of credit because she came to me one day and she said, you know why there’s only a 10% females in the sales team? And I said, no, I’d love to know. And she said, well, you got a bench press and you’ve got swords. And like, they used to actually bench press when they would get a customer and she’s like, okay, that’s so dude. And I’m like, okay, help me, like help me, help me build an environment. So Colleen and other great female leaders that came into our organization helped to build this environment. What I want to understand is you’re in a male dominated industry as well, too. And you are finding a lot of success with this. I want to understand how you’re dealing with that, that it is quite male dominated because you are going after the cigar industry. That’s where I’m going with this. That’s quite male dominant, I’ve found. So I’d love to understand this a little bit more, this tactic and approach.

Cathy: Get the bleep button going, get the bleep button going. If you have big balls, you can do anything.

George: I didn’t say that! Like, let’s go, rewind it. George did not say that. Cathy said that.

Cathy: You have to be very comfortable in your own shoes. You have to be able to stand up and do the same shouting, you know, the blustering, chest pumping kind of a thing in a feminine way. You use your assets as I was told earlier in the year. Use your assets, whatever those assets are. In many instances, I think being a woman in a male dominated environment, I could say the sexist things, which is true. You do use them to your advantage, but you use the femininity in order to get the attention, to have the conversation. Now, oftentimes, especially in the financial world, that was also the case. I would walk in with a male portfolio manager and they would think I was the secretary and look at me to get coffee. So I know this is a podcast, but in my mind, I was more or less going like this, but I’d be nice and say, you know, we are contemporaries. If you’d like to get coffee, get me one too.

George: And just call it out.

Cathy: Just call it out and as it is, and I think too, the reality is, and it’s again, the old white guy syndrome, where that’s what you were used to in 30 years ago, 25 years ago, it definitely has changed. The majority of my clients are men. I have two female clients and I love dealing with them because we look at things differently. So perspective wise, the cigar industry is male dominated. Right now, I think it’s a 92 to 8% ratio in terms of what you see both in the market and absolutely demographic wise, but it’s growing. It’s growing in many different ways, not only in your geographies, but in your demographics, you know, women, minority women, alternate lifestyle, that is all completely acceptable. What are you, whether you want to, you know, attribute that to the movements that are going on today, but you use those opportunities to drive the initial conversation. And that’s the part that I think we bring very differently. Do men talk about men stuff on podcasts? Yes. Well, you need to recognize that there are women on those podcasts and those women want to hear the same thing, but maybe with a different slant.

George: Yeah, I think that were where I was going with this, and thank you for taking it there, is you’re utilizing the fact that you’re unique in that environment, in that niche, to get the meeting. And then all of your other skillsets kick in. And I found that when we looked at the organization and said, boy, it’s very male dominant. We were missing all of the great things that female leadership brings to a team. And I talked about that in the episode that I was in, you know, they care more. They’re really good leaders and managers in my experience. And I’ve worked in lots of sales organizations over the years and I found that to be a bit of a deficit. Are you finding that your customers are saying, Cathy, why didn’t I meet you five years ago? Because your inherent skill set just lines up to something that’s been missing in this space.

Cathy: Yes. And absolutely. I think it even goes farther in the cigar industry. Women listen very well. We’re nurturers, it’s the hunters and gatherers. We are by nature, nurturers. And part of it is being able to a bit of a detriment, stepping away and not willing to give away the farm because we want to help our clients, but also being very systematic and professional in getting them to sort of subscribe to the right way of doing business. Which is, again, it’s not my way. It’s a way to help them grow themselves. Whether it’s the cigar industry or financial services.

George: You mentioned earlier, Janice Christopher, who’s a alumni on this show and a good friend of the community. And I also understand you’re working with our new friend, Lee Goff, to help you with some strategy. And you’ve mentioned other things that you’re doing. I think you alluded to a bit of a coaching thing that you have on Friday mornings.

Cathy: Yes.

George: It seems that you’re very open to going to other ecosystems, to bring on talent to your organization, whether it’s on a consulting basis, I’m just reading that into it. Am I right minded in your thinking?

Cathy: 100%, as I said to you earlier, I will open the door and ask the question in order to really make sure that I’m doing the right things by my clients. And the only way you can do that is to extend an olive branch and say, hi, my name is Cathy Poturny, I’d love to meet you. I’d love to talk to you. And you have to do that. You can not be an island. You have to open up the door.

Cathy’s Key Takeaway: “Don’t let what you don’t know, stop you from achieving greatness”

George: So five months from now, five years from now, somebody’s listening to this podcast, what would you say are the three Cathy-isms that they should take away? If they’re looking to be successful in this space?

Cathy: The biggest thing is honestly, don’t let what you don’t know stop you from achieving your own greatness. You have to learn. You have to be willing to stand there naked and get beaten down so that you can learn and move forward. That is the biggest thing that I find, what really, those two things, is your ability to want to embrace other people and other things and other opportunities. I mean, I think the second thing is that you have to always have a mindset to what’s open in other opportunities out there. Don’t think because of what you’re doing today is gonna work tomorrow or five years from now, because to your point, technology is ever evolving. What’s acceptable norms today, is not tomorrow. I.e. Myspace to Facebook, right? Facebook to TikTok, TikTok to whatever the next new thing is coming out. So if you don’t embrace those opportunities, there are people that still have AOL email addresses, okay. Take your dinosaur and come and see me. So you have to be willing.

George: When we were talking earlier about this, I got to go back to the close rate, 92 to 95. I think I understand what’s going on here. And we laid out all of the steps that you’re taking to achieve that. But I think there’s another thing that’s left unsaid, and I wanted to make sure that I interrogated this and maybe unpacked a secret. You seem like the type of individual that would take the deal off the table. Is that part of what’s contributing to this close rate as well, where you’re just like, no, this partnership isn’t going to work out for me, I’m out.

Cathy: Yes, 100%. About four months ago, this was the second example, had a potential client, a very, very well-known law group, reach out to me and say, I want you to do digital advertising for me. I want you to do Facebook ads. So I said, okay, let me take a look at what you have. And I did my whole dog and pony show and it came back and I said, John, I can’t do it for you. You just, it’s throwing good money away. So I want to give you $10,000. I said, good, I’m glad. No. He couldn’t understand. I said, you don’t have the platform in place to support this. That’s why it didn’t work the last three times. So he came back to me again and he said, I really want to work with you. And I said, you have a contract with another firm. Call me when the contract is done. And he was blown away by that because I wouldn’t take this money to do these digital ads that I knew were not going to bear fruit. And I did that on two other occasions because the client wouldn’t listen. And I didn’t want to take someone’s money if I felt I wasn’t going to be able to add almost immediate value. And yeah, I haven’t done that. I have done that, that I can count right now, three or four times in this past year.

George: What I love about the learnings that you just gave to our listeners is this is a trap that a rookie or someone that’s behind budget will fall into, and that is taking any deal without thinking about the consequences. Like if you interrogate it and do the discovery, and you can see that this isn’t gonna work out, don’t take the deal because it will impact your reputation. And what you’re actually doing is you’re building more trust with that prospect by saying, no. No one else said no to them. They just took the 10 grand and got the bad results. And I was sitting across from a plumber a couple of months back. I got to finally get out on the road and go call on an actual customer, which I missed so much. And this plumber, after 90 minutes, unveiled that he’s spending $180,000 US. It was a Canadian company. US, with a firm that is not delivering, and he can’t even go to a report to see what the hell’s going on. And just a litany of missed steps in there, but he’s got a contract, but doesn’t like any of it. And we’ll never do business with that firm again and kept mentioning their name over and over and over again. Do you want that to be, that’s the question we gotta ask ourselves. Yeah, I want the 10 grand, but not at all costs. So thank you for sharing that. And you’re seeing success by doing that because you’re bringing on the customers that make sense and that you really can truly win with.

Cathy: Oh, absolutely. And that really does at the end of the day, when you’re sleeping at night, that’s what makes you sleep better, is knowing that you did the right thing, even if it was for reasons that don’t make sense at the time.

George: Cathy, one final piece before we move on, it’s been great episode, but one final piece. Is it you, and do you have a team? Is it just you, what are your thoughts for the size of the organization? And do you have thoughts about adding people if it is just you?

Cathy: No, I actually have two virtual assistants that do social media marketing and one that I’m just hiring now to help with the listing management to make sure that again, what the core basis is of any type of digital exposure. And I have a business development officer in the Midwest and actually in Texas now. And I want to grow up and grow larger. That is my goal I have, which is why I’m working with Lee, to really define those things. So, but I think you can work as a solopreneur if you’re successful utilizing a platform.

Hiring Your First Salesperson

George: So I want to go back to the problem again, because of the questions that I get asked all the time, whether I’m mentoring a tech startup, or I’m talking to one of the channel partners that we deal with. And they’re like, okay, George, when should I hire my first sales hire? I’m the founder, I’m, Cathy’s running the thing and getting it rolling. I totally get that you hired somebody to look at social and to handle listings, but then you have this business development rep. So I’d really like to understand what problem you’re trying to solve when you added that individual.

Cathy: It was always with an eye to growth. I wanted to be able to have duplicatable processes that I could grow in a region and solve problems that I was seeing. And I guess it was twofold, if I have to think about it really hard and you’re making me do this, so that’s kind of interesting is, you write your own policies and procedures and steps that you take, but you’re never really sure. Okay. Am I missing something? So when I brought her on, it was to see that I could duplicate the same track record that I have in another area with another person. And if I walked away tomorrow or wanted to take a step back and now be management only, as if true CEO, that this could go on again and provide duplicatable opportunities and increase my sales through that measure. Does that make sense?

George: No, it totally does. And I love that that was part of it. And thank you for that interrogation. So number one, we want to grow, or we wouldn’t be looking to add head count because head count’s grief. Usually, you know, it’s awesome, if it works. Most times it’s grief. So you kind of get that anxiety. I’m gonna start adding people. Now I got payroll, blah, blah, blah. Then number two, are they gonna do what I do? And is what I’m doing repeatable? And I think that’s where a lot of people fail is they don’t truly have repeatable process. And so then what they do is they add headcount and start doing things that are not repeatable. And now they’ve got a mess six, eight months down the road that they got to solve. So I love that one of the things you were doing was testing to see if your process procedures are indeed repeatable.

Cathy: Correct, and that’s exactly what occurred because once I created the process to do whatever it was, we then use the Google Drive, sent all that over to her. I said, okay, follow these steps to open up a client’s account, to go onto the dashboard, to do a Google My Business, to fit all of these things. And what we found was, what you take for granted. She was sort of fleshing out all of those little nuances that were preventing from going to the next step, which now again, becomes that duplicatable process that I can hire other people and say, good, go for it, get it done. You don’t need me on your shoulder.

George: I just love the vision that you have to grow your organization. Congratulations on the success that you’ve had to this point, you definitely are a very unique individual. And I’m sure that that’s been part of the success that you’ve had, because I’m not gonna forget Cathy Poturny. Like it just, you have that personality and memorable streak with you, but also, I think you’ve got a hell of a business plan there where you want to make sure that it works and that it’s repeatable before you keep pouring gas on the fire. So congratulations. Took me a heck of a long time to learn that, I think I’ve poured gas in the fire a few too many times, too early in my career. And I’m glad that you’re sharing that learning with us. So Cathy, thanks for joining us all the way from beautiful Long Island. We appreciate you as a partner. Congratulations on all your success and especially, thanks for sharing with us today.

Cathy: Thank you.

George: It’s great having you come forward and sharing the learnings that you’ve had through that hard earned trial and error that I know you’ve been going through and thanks for your participation in our communities and working with our other channel partners. We very much appreciate it.

Cathy: And thank you, George. I look forward to many, many, many, many, more years of this.


George: We cannot thank Cathy Poturny enough for sharing her stories this week. Here are our team’s top three takeaways from this episode. Leverage community. There’s enough business to go around, in Cathy’s words, open your doors to other people in agencies so they can help. Whether you’re just needing reassurance that what you’re doing is on the right path, or you need some guidance from others who have tremendous experience surrounding your situation. Be vulnerable, find a community and leverage it. Not taking the deal. I love this takeaway from Cathy. Rookies and operators that are under budget fall for this trap. Know when to step away from a deal. If you know you can’t provide the value or the partnership isn’t compatible. It’s okay to say no. Passion, proof and patterns is takeaway number three. Make sure that you’re always delivering value. Use the technology at your avail to build trust. Then, after you’ve delivered that value, ask for the deal. Continue to position your brand and keep in mind that you sometimes need to block and tackle from competitors with your existing clients as well. If you like Cathy’s episode, be sure to listen to the next time you’re waiting for coffee, sitting in the car or walking the dog. Episode 365, ideal customers and saying no, with Janice Christopher. As a business owner, you understand the value of each of your clients. However, not every engagement turns out to be mutually beneficial. And at some point, you might find it necessary to say no to a client who isn’t your ideal customer. Don’t miss episode 426, educating your clients with Jenny White. By educating your clients, you make them feel that you want to improve their experience and encourage them to make better and more informed decisions. Or you might want to check out episode 432, sales integrity, and same side selling with Ian Altman. Sales integrity means aligning needs, not enforcing yours. Ian highlights that the most widely used metaphors in sales are almost always related to sports, battle or games. The challenge with this mindset is that it requires one person to win and the other person to lose. Those are just three of over 200 episodes that have been produced in the last four years to help you conquer local. If you found value in this episode, please leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts. This feedback helps us grow and better adapt to what you want to hear in future episodes. Be sure to subscribe to the Finney award-winning, Conquer Local Podcast. As we continue to welcome extraordinary sales leaders, marketers and entrepreneurs. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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