Editor’s Note: AutoGrow is always interested in sharing stories from industry leaders and innovators. This week, we are proud to feature an interview with Justin McGill, the founder of LeadFuze. Justin is sharing his insights on productizing, cold emails, lead generation, and more. Read on or watch the video above!
Matt: Hi, everyone. My name is Matt Ackerson. I’m the founder and CEO of AutoGrow. We are your web marketing partner on demand, and we specialize in sales funnel design. I’m joined here today by Justin McGill. And Justin super pumped to be doing this interview with me today, as we’re just talking before the call. And this is the process of productizing, something I’m going through right now with the business and that I suspect many members of our audience are interested in or going through themselves.
So why don’t you give a quick overview of your background, then we’ll dive deeper…we’ll jump back and we’ll start from the beginning of the story. So I think just establish where you’re at, where you come from. Maybe you want to talk briefly about your agency and then LeadFuze, and where you’re at today in terms of revenue and runrate and all that good stuff.
Joshua: Okay, sure. So essentially I started in 2008, beginning of 2008. And I was just doing web development actually. So that was something I knew a little bit about from my high school days. And by web development I mean Dreamweaver and putting together websites based on tables and everything else. But a couple of clients in, I got requested…I got asked if we did SEO, and I was like, “I don’t think so but let me look at it and see what it entails.”
And honestly just absorbed myself into it, learned everything I could about it. I loved the concept of recurring dollars and not having to recreate sale every time with a new web build. And so quickly transitioned into being an SEO provider. And at the time, it was an up-and-coming thing as far as providing SEO as a service. And so basically from there, it was like, “Okay, well, how do I get customers?” Because a lot of business owners, even in 2008, didn’t know what SEO was, and so it required a lot of education.
But what I decided to do was spend…literally I was spending about six hours a day prospecting and eventually built out like a Craigslist scraper for job ads that entailed SEO-related job descriptions and marketing and what-not. And my whole pitch was, “Why hire someone when you can have us do it for,” and by ‘us’ it was still me, “but you can have us do it for fraction of a cost and save money that way?” So that worked. Got me my first $1700 a month account, which helped me just get to the next stage of the business, and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel at that point.
So again, built out some scrapers just to automate some of the legion efforts. Those are things aren’t as effective these days because so many people do it. Literally for every job post, I’ve heard people say I get 20 emails from people in India. It’s just not as effective now, but fast forward…I don’t know how much detail you want me to go in I guess with the agency, but I’ll fast forward a little bit. We started to build out the team.
We talked about this before we hopped on, where from the very beginning, I had pricing packages. So the service was productized from the beginning even though at the time a productized service wasn’t necessarily what you would call it. Nowadays, it’s all the rage and I see why because for me I was like, “Okay, well, we can’t have custom plans for every single client. It’s not going to scale. It’s going to be a complete disaster trying to manage that especially if I’m bringing on…if I got 20 clients and they’re all doing different things.? It’s like, “Well, what am nightmare.”
So having a productizer, it allowed me also to hire more effectively. I knew exactly the skill sets I needed to have and what I needed to train on. And so that allowed us to start to scale the team. Fast forward, built that into a seven-figure business, and fast forward to couple of years ago when I started to, I guess just lose interest. I was ready for the next challenge. I’ve learned about myself, just self-discovery I guess is I want to be challenged at all times.
So I was ready for the next thing. We had a client that was a property management company at my agency, and that led into the spin-off business where we would basically build community newsletters for the residents and we would sell the local businesses to get coupons in that newsletter. And so those would be exclusive for the residents. And we would design it and all that and built out a whole customs CRM that pulled in all of the businesses around a certain address, and then had a team of people cold-calling those businesses collecting an email address. And then we built a system that automated our outreach from there.
So they could send a follow-up email three days later. They didn’t sign up. They would trigger off another email. We could say, “Hey, we’re going to print soon. You’re going to be the only pizza place in this newsletter, but if you’re ready not go by tomorrow, I need find another one.” And all of that was done automatically. And so the sales reps were like, “Man, this is amazing.” They’re just getting commissions for deals that they didn’t even have to do anything but get an email address.
And so we really saw the power of that automation and the personalized aspect of those emails going on. And that business ultimately failed because we were getting more and more people, more and more businesses calling us saying people aren’t coming into their restaurant or their shop or whatever to cash in these coupons. And so unfortunately, we validated that properties would want this. We validated that businesses would buy, but what we didn’t validate was that residents would even use the deals.
And unfortunately they weren’t. They had their Groupons and their LivingSocial and they were good with that. And so they just didn’t find enough value in it. And so for me I was like…that was a tough one to swallow because at one point, the projections of the business were just insane. We were getting investment offers. It was going crazy.
So we shut that down. But needless to say, the impact of the automated lead gen from my agency with the emailing of the adverts was the business. Having those deals come in through just email automation. This is a personalized email automation. Big difference there between sending out a newsletter through MailChimp and having that not look personalized. We would not have had the same results.
But in any case, that shut down. So I decided to take this project management slash what we call the marketing campaign management system that we built out of my agency and turned that into a standalone product. And so that was going to be my first SaaS product. We rebuilt it from the ground up. I pumped 60 grand into it and launched after about 10 months of development. And no conversations with prospective customer, so all the mistakes you can make, I made.
And we launched. I did set a goal though within 60 days. I wanted a thousand dollars a month in MRR, monthly recurring revenue. And if it didn’t hit that, I was going to say, “Okay, what’s next?” And so we got about 60 days in, and it was about 400, 500 dollars a month. And so it was short of what I felt it would need to be if it were to be successful.
And so it made me re-evaluate things again. And so I decided to look back at some of the systems I built out previously, one being Bgen. Well, at the time, so I mentioned at the beginning of this, I built out a scraper for Craigslist ads. But that evolved into a system that pulled in businesses based on their location and based on industry and everything else.
And so I had that system, and we partly used that for the model as well. So I had that, and then we had the emailing tool separate. And so I said, “I think there’s something there. And I think I can probably build or productize business around finding the leads and putting together the emails and handling all the email sending, and then just forward those emails over to a customer.” And so that’s how LeadFuze is launched.
I, again, set the SaaS metric for 1K MRR, but I wanted it in 30 days, and had it on my whiteboard, and that was all I was focused on. I launched it a week before Christmas. So that wasn’t the best time. Basically I lost two weeks because no one was going to buy during Christmas, and everyone wanted to talk after the New Year, but luckily got those thousand dollars after the New Year within a two-week stretch there.
And I knew at that point there was something there. So that was the long story, but that’s how LeadFuze started I guess.
Matt: So just to step back a second, did you productize your agency services as well?
Joshua: I did. I guess, it was that way from the very beginning though. Productize services was not a buzzword at the time. That’s not what was talked about. So I didn’t think of it in that way. I just knew we needed some standard processes in order for us to grow the team and ultimately start to scale up the business. We couldn’t do custom proposals and everything else every single time. So from the very beginning, I had it productized.
And then when we built our work to do is the platform for marketing campaign management, and we built that. And so we had templates that we followed. And so all of our packages had this is the template and these are all the tasks that are going to go into it. And then we could customize it here and there for things that we need to do, like special for certain accounts. But those would become the templates that we could load and use as a guide.
Matt: It’s certainly a huge accomplishment though. I don’t want to gloss over that, but…so you built up your agency to seven figures in revenue. Some entrepreneurs might say, “Why not just focus on that? Why not move that from a million dollars or whatever the annual revenue was to five or 10 million dollars and just keep growing from that.” Why move off of that and have a new focus, LeadFuze, for instance?
Joshua: Honestly, I felt like I had learned everything I was going to learn. And so I was no longer interested. In fact, I would even say I was probably burnt out from running the agency. I’d been doing it since 2008. By then it’s like 2013.
And so 2014, the summer of 2014 is when I finally walked away. But I think more than anything was just because I was ready for the next challenge. I was intrigued by going the software route, and I’d wanted to explore that opportunity and do different things, and there’s other things I want to do. It’s not like I’m looking at LeadFuze and saying, “This is what I’m going to retire on.” I want to do a number of different types of businesses and just do different things with my life, I guess. I was just ready to move on to the next phase I think more than anything.
Matt: How did you get it from zero to a million dollars a year revenue? Was that all just from the Craigslist scraper and from cold emailing yourself while you’re running agency, networking?
Joshua: That was certainly the part of it, especially early on. As we grew and the team started to mature and understand what it is that we did at a deep level, how we helped customers, those things all helped. And it snowballs. You get to a point where you’re struggling, you’re scraping by to get those early customers. But if you focus on those customers and focus on getting the results and just providing a good service, that’s going to open up doors for referrals. There’s things, too, that you need to think about. Referrals are always the best source of customer generation.
So the best time to ask for those referrals is right up front. Worst case, it’s within 30 days because after those first 30 days, that becomes the expectation. So you’ll never be able to be in a better light than you are in that first month no matter what happens. No matter how amazing you are after that first month, you set the expectation wherever direction it goes.
So building a process to ask for those referrals, make sure that you’re working with those, especially upfront. There’s no excuse because upfront, there’s all the work. You’re setting everything up. You’re getting logged in to their site. You’re getting maybe approvals for designs if you’re doing any sort of web design or social media marketing. You probably going to need to create some graphics and whatnot.
So you have so much communication with that customer in that first month. They’re feeling amazing. Now that customer communication naturally is going to dwindle over time because things are set in place. And so you’ve got your process. You know exactly what they’re needing. It’s all set up in your system and your team is just focused on delivering.
And then especially on the SEO side of things, it’s such a behind the scenes thing anyway. Like they don’t care how oftentimes what you’re doing. They want to just know that the results are there. And so again, I think building that referral program upfront is pretty important.
But then we did a lot of things locally in the networking space. We would go to…here locally in Phoenix, we have this networkingphoenix.com website, which is a calendar of all the local networking events that are happening. And then every quarter they would put on a networking event. We always sponsored that, and we were there every year. We were the first paying advertiser for them on their site. So we were able to get in early there.
And then it was a lot of cold email, a lot about reach, reaching out to people, InMails on LinkedIn, just all kinds of things that we did. Yeah, there’s a lot. And still Craigslist and job boards and everything else were part of that. I’m friends with…a buddy that is in my mastermind group for letsworkshop.com that productized the service of reviewing job boards and finding opportunities that way. So that could be another hands-off way to find leads.
My goal is to do it in a hands-off way as much as possible. I want to be the automated lead gen channel is going. Add from there, it’s a matter of once you have those channels, whether it’s a scraper, whether it’s certainly a process you do every single day, I’m going to go. I’m going to spend an hour going through job boards or whatever it is, have it and commit to it. Literally every single day commit to it.
It’s easy to say, “I don’t have time for that. Oh I got to do this. I got to do that. I got to talk to the team. I got to handle client communications and whatever.” Every excuse is there in the book, but consistently every single day, consistently just focus on growing the business and doing those little things that compound.
Matt: And the agency today, is it running and generating leads from cold emails and was it…it sounds like it was then as well because of the scraper, for instance?
Joshua: Yeah, it’s still going. I serve as an adviser. I’m not involved in any of the day-to-day. I spend maybe an hour a month just talking with the team. They’ll maybe send me a question or something just through Skype. With LeadFuze really, we use Slack, but that’s a side conversation. But, yeah, so it still runs, still going strong. They’re on LeadFuze’s platform, so we have cold emails going and that’s a lead gen source for sure.
Matt: Well, can you say how much revenue is generated for the agency, the cold emails?
Joshua: Yeah, so…oh, the cold emails. That I’m not sure to be honest. I’ve got a team in place that forwards the leads over. I can tell you how many leads we’ve been sending. Hold up here.
Matt: Because it would be cool to get a good idea of how much revenue a cold email lead generation system can translate into?
Joshua: So we sent seven leads over to them last week. So I’d have to check because I’m not involved on that side of it. But the rev, as far as what the revenue is going to lead to, it’s always going to be different because one agency might charge $6000. One might charge $500. So you got to factor that in into the cost, too. You got to understand how much does it cost me to generate a customer?
So it’s definitely a valid question. It’s something you need to have your thumb on the pulse of, but in their particular case, because we’re not measuring the full end-to-end. We’re filling that gap of, okay, we’re going to bring the horse to water, but you got to make them drink. We started the conversation. You’re going to have to take it from here.
And so we use who they’re trying to go after. It’s not like just send me anybody. Okay, we want to go after these types of businesses and talk to chief marketing officers or CEOs of 10 employee. Whatever the criteria is. And so those are the people that we’re contacting , but from there, it’s on them to close the deal.
You can almost say LeadFuze is the cold email version of appointment setting through cold calling. We’re just doing that but through cold email. And so it’s much more scalable. It’s much more convenient for the person receiving the communication that’s not…they’re not being interrupted with a call.
Matt: Was lead generation the most difficult thing that you had to accomplish on a daily or weekly basis for your agency when you were running it?
Joshua: Yeah, that was always…honestly, it was always the top priority, was lead generation. And so I was just never satisfied with where we were. If we got to this, then we can get to this. And so you just got moving that bar higher and higher. And so it was like, “Okay, what are we going to do to get there?”
And then part of that also was retention. We needed to retain the customers that we had. And so I brought hires on, specifically to focus on just customer success now is the buzzword. Really at the time it was like customer support. Just client communication was always something that we tried to focus on to help with…even when results weren’t there. Communicating with them just eased so many concerns that people would have.
And so if the key men expecting results in 60, 90 days, but we’re going into month five, and maybe the results still aren’t where they need to be, as long as we could communicate with them and let them know there’s signs of life here, it just helped tremendously. If we needed to add some extra things here and there to appease them, we would. Maybe it’s more links this month. Or we’ll put together an extra piece of content or whatever it needed to be. But I think to get to that level, too, you have to be focused on not only lead gen but maintaining the customers that you do have.
Matt: And something I think about on a daily basis, too, with AutoGrow, it seems the company’s ability to grow is so tied to the ability to generate leads that it’s…because even if your close rate goes down, the more leads that you get, your company’s going to grow. And that’s the thing I think…
Joshua: Well, your close rate ideally shouldn’t be going down. Now if you’re…
Matt: Let’s say that you go from, I don’t know, 50 leads to a 100, but maybe the traffic or the way that you got that was maybe you were stretching further outside your market. So maybe the quality is down a little bit. Still the close…you’re going to do more volume regardless. Ideally, that doesn’t happen.
Joshua: And so you have to compare that, too, to different lead gen strategies. So if you’re doing paid ads, it’s going to have maybe a different result than organic SEO, which is going to be much higher than cold email because you have trust. When they came to you, there’s inherited trust there versus you’re reaching out to them through a cold email. Naturally it’s going to have a lower success rate or conversion rate. But, yeah, if you’re comparing all these that came through SEO, then your close rate should be steady.
But if you’re adding multiple lead gen strategies to your customer acquisition process, then you’re going to see a different level. But, listen, it’s always going to be, and it should always be the number one focus is generating new customers. At least if you want to scale it. Some people don’t want to necessarily scale their business. They’re good making 100-200,000 and that’s all they want. They don’t want the responsibility of managing the team, needing to go through personnel decisions.
And there’s a lot of headaches. It’s not the fondest of times because I ultimately became a manager or almost felt like a babysitter in a sense. That sounds bad, but my job was just to make sure we’re all doing what we need to do. And if there’s issues, I’m looking into solving those issues. And it was no longer about doing any of the work or not even necessarily my own marketing, which is what I’m more interested in is just, I guess the buzzword now is growth hacking.
But that’s always been the things that have interested me. But I always, finding as the team started to grow, I wasn’t able to really focus on those things anymore. So that might not be for everyone. And so I can understand that, too. But if you’re trying to grow the agency and scale it out, you have to always be focused on lead gen.
Matt: I worked with a company a few years ago, they’re on the Inc 500 list because they’re growing really quickly. They’re doing about $5 million a year. And it was eye-opening to just understand this concept of…and part of the reason we worked there because they had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of leads every week. And it was an agency. And it just that they weren’t really doing anything amazing. They were a great agency. They did good work. But it seemed like that was really the key component to their success. And without that, it would have never really worked out.
But to what you’re saying, I definitely want to grow my company. I know that a lot of people in our audience want to grow their companies as well bigger and stronger and faster. And I think it’s part of the appeal of going more productized route, you might say, systemize where you just…things are simpler. There’s ideally less headaches compared to maybe an agency that is doing five things and then trying to come and do one thing, like what we’re trying to do right now.
So let’s talk about…so LeadFuze, did that grow out of you wanting to almost scratch here an itch? Because did you think of it after you were working on that other SaaS product that didn’t work out? You set the goal to get to a $1000 in 60 days. It didn’t work out. Then did you brainstorm and say, “Well, I remember this problem from when I was running my agency. Let me just..I think I know how to solve that in a productized way.”
Joshua: It’s a great question. It’s actually exactly what led me to starting LeadFuze because I was looking at work, well, what can I do? And so then I was like, “Well, I could go in and look at some of these other systems I’d already put in place and start to do their cold email.” And then I was like, “Wait, this is probably a challenge for a lot of people.” And I think there’s probably more potential in that being initially a productized service, but my end goal was to have that via software platform.
And so I decided to validate things up front. But I launched it in 24 hours. I actually blogged about it on my blog, just live blogged the whole launch. I literally came to that realization on a Saturday. I told my wife on that Sunday I was going to be out of commission, and I was going to focus on this and have it launched within 24 hours on Monday. And so I did. I worked 17 hours that day on that website getting it launched, putting all my ideas together, and just started to talk with people.
And so that’s how that came about. And then I didn’t want to invest in refining our software and just…because I just dumped 60 grand into work to do that that wasn’t working. So I was like, “I’m not going to do that again.” So let me validate some things and make sure that there is a need for this. And so…
Matt: With that route?
Joshua: And then I just started to share it in some different entrepreneur communities that I’m a part of. And joined some Facebook groups with other entrepreneurs there and talked about that there. And that’s how I got my first eight to 10 customers was just through that. I know digital marketing have the agencies. So content was something I started right away, blogging about the journey and just what was transpiring there.
And so that helped get on some people’s radars. And then obviously using our own system to start generating leads that way. And so I got to a point where…I was fortunate because I had this success with my agency. And so I didn’t need to pay myself the money that we were making out of LeadFuze. And I could reinvest that back into the business.
And so brought on a person to help me with the operational aspects of the business. So all the list building and creating email sequences and making sure it’s all set up, all of that was able to bring someone on for. I had a person come to me that was interested in starting up a SaaS business with me. He was a technical person. So I’m not. I am, but ask me to build a SaaS app from the ground up, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
So this person was, and wanted to work with me. And we bounced some ideas, and he’s like, “What about me just helping build the software component of LeadFuze?” I said, “Yeah.” And so that worked out.
And so it’s just been something that we’ve gradually been scaling up. And then actually recently we got to a point where we had too much demand. So this is interesting because in two days we’re actually shutting down our Done For You service through the end of the year.
Joshua: Yeah. It’s taking too long for us to get new campaign started for customers that are coming on. And we’re operationally needing to clean up some of the processes to handle the work load.
So some of the processes that we had in place worked really well for the first 10, 15, 20 customers, but as it started to get just heavier on the workload, it didn’t scale that well. And so I brought on people. And I think I probably tried to remove myself from all of the processes a little too soon. So brought on some people that I don’t think were necessarily ready to take on all of the responsibility. And so that’s kind of compounded.
Matt: What was an example of that?
Joshua: What’s that?
Matt: What was an example of where you removed…
Joshua: So client communications. We were in the process of launching our software over the summer. And so there were some bugs because we started to completely transition away from our old software into using the new software. And so we changed all of our processes to do that. And then we had about two-week stretch where the software was just not working.
And so it was a tough two weeks. In fact, one of the people on my…two people on my team actually came to tell me this is the hardest two weeks they’ve ever had in their life. And so that was tough for me to hear as the leader. You never want to have your employees feel that way. And so that was tough, but that set everything back. And so that was when we brought someone new on to help manage.
The first person didn’t work out so I had to quickly make a scramble to find someone else that has a lot of potential, but is coming into just a shit show, if I’m allowed to say that. Things were just all over the place. We’re transitioning so we have two different processes going on. It was pretty nuts.
And so we’re still feeling those ramifications, and we had a bunch of new customers come on, which compounded the issue. And so we’re actually shutting the doors temporarily to just get reconfigured and focused on our current customers more than acquiring new ones. Ultimately for us, this is filling a pretty big need and there’s a lot of demand. So customer acquisition is not necessarily the challenge for us. And we have our own systems in place that can make all of that happen for us anyway.
So right now it’s like okay, let’s just make sure that customers are having a better experience because we don’t want people going out and spreading the word that we don’t respond in a timely fashion and it took too long to get started and it’s just…there’s too many risks there. So we’re going to shut things down for a little bit and just re-focus.
Matt: Wow. Was that a scary decision to make? Or was it just an automatice, just necessary necessary, like listen, we don’t want to have a bad reputation, but let’s hit pause. Let’s catch up, systemize the foundation a little better, get people in place, and then we’ll turn it back on?
Joshua: Massively scary because that’s our number one source of revenue and we’re saying we’re going to shut it down. And so I’ve got a sales person. And so now I’ve got to transition him to the software sales, which ultimately we’re going to do anyway. But now that’s going to happen now. Again, our number one revenue source. So it was definitely a scary moment.
In fact, this all came to be, because of a Mastermind group that I’m in, and I was covering some of the operational challenges I was facing and that was a realization that I needed to make. I slept on it. I was like, “Whoa, we can’t do that. What, are you crazy?” But slept on it and realized there were a lot of advantages to doing that.
One, we would be able to let the customers know that are upset because they’ve been waiting for weeks in some cases to get their campaign going. And so we are going to be able to let them know that we’re going to be focused on you now. So we can hopefully start to repair some of those image issues. Our long-term plan, from a scalability standpoint is to be focused on the software.
Anyway, and so going into quarter one, we wanted to have a sales process in place that worked on the software side. And so what this allows us to do now is really focus on that. So that way going into January we’re going to be really prepared for sales on that side, which entails setting up the CRM and workflows within that, creating a sales playbook. If you don’t have a sales book, play book, I highly, highly recommend it. The playbook basically is something that allows you to just ‘here you go’ to a salesperson and start to scale out a sales team and they’ll have everything they need.
So in this playbook, you have your goals and everything that you want them to accomplish, but then literally walking them through how to get set up in the CRM, how to get set up in our software in our case, what email template, all the emails and follow-ups, all of those are templates that people, that are in the CRM, they can copy and paste that, but having that in there. The sales group that you’re going to use, in our case it’s typically a one-call close, which is really nice, especially coming from a digital marketing background, which it’s rarely ever the case.
So having the sales script and a list of objections and how to overcome them, just frequently asked questions so they’re prepared, what to do inside the CRM. We have a contact made stage where they’ve come inbound or they’ve responded, they’re interested. At that point, we’re going to send an email with a Calendly link. So we used Calendly for people to cut out the back and forth of are you available at this time?” “No.” “What about this?”
So we use Calendly. We just send that when they’ve expressed interest. So we move those prospects into a meeting schedule stage or, I’m sorry, meeting pending. And then once that time gets booked, then they go into a meeting scheduled stage. And then from there, they’re either going into a committed stage or a nurturing stage. And so there’s followups that happen and everything in all between there. And all of these is labeled in the playbook.
Well, now I need to create that playbook for the software sale because it’s completely different. And so literally today, that’s going to be the…after this interview, that’s all I’m working on the rest of the day is getting that ready because, again, Friday, we’re shutting those doors on the service, and we need to have the plan of action in place going into next week for the software sale. So interesting times, man.
Matt: How many salespeople do you want to hire in the next few months?
Joshua: So I’m hopeful to hire zero in the next two months. At the beginning of the year, I want to hire four. So quarter, really January, quarter one though, I want to have a team of at least five people. My current sales person, I just have one. We went through three but one has really worked out well. Always so just going base pay plus commission by the way, too. Your commission is not going to be that high of a quality, but in any case…
Matt: Hey, Justin, quick question. You do all the sales yourself to your agency? Or did you actually build out a sales team as well to help you with that?
Joshua: Great question. So initially, I did. And that’s because as a founder you’re always going to be the best salesperson. No matter what. You could have an absolute rockstar, but you’re still going to be the best because you know the service inside and out. You’re able to make decisions on the fly that a sales team can’t do.
So I employed it to read like “The Ultimate Sales Machine” by Chet Holmes. Life-changing book for me. Fantastic book on just sales. So definitely take a look at that even if you don’t consider yourself a sales person, it helps even that much more. But at my agency, the very first hire I made was a salesperson and I would not recommend it. This person was successful and later became a partner and is now running the agency. I got lucky because it’s most likely not going to work that well, and you’re going to struggle because you’re going to rely and there were early struggles. I relied wholeheartedly on him to do all of the sales and me not be involved. That was my ideal situation.
With LeadFuze, I went the completely opposite route. Sales was the last thing I hired. And I hired everybody else first. It allowed me to focus on all the sales and allowed me to know how to put together the sales playbook. So I know everything there is to know. I know all the questions are going to be asked. I know everything we need to do to close the deal.
Like I mentioned, it’s at a point where it’s a typically a one-call close. You’re either going to sign up after that call or you’re not. There isn’t necessarily a whole lot of follow-ups that need to happen, but that helps make it trainable.
Matt: Is it because it’s very simple? Is that why it’s a one-call close? Like, okay, people have some questions. They just want to make sure there’s a human being behind this website. Is that kind of thing?
Joshua: That’s absolutely the primary case. It’s easy to grasp especially when you can say, you know what cold calling is, right? Well, this is the email version of that. Compared to SEO, and I feel for anyone that’s had to sell SEO. I’ve been there. It’s not the easiest thing to sell because you’re asking people to bet on the come. Hopefully in 90 days there’s results. That’s a hard thing for people to bite down on. Websites are so much easier to sell because there’s instant gratification. With this, there’s more instant gratification because we’re able to get emails going and leads generated and everything else by the way.
In our case right now, that’s not happening. Hence we’re shutting things down. It’s taking too long. We should be within five days and not four, five weeks to get a campaign going. And so we’re reevaluating these things. But, yeah, it’s just an easier thing for people to grasp.
Matt: The instant gratification aspects, you feel like that’s really the core difference between what you were selling with the agency and what you’re selling now and why the sales cycle is so much shorter and simpler?
Joshua: The instant gratification in that particular case plays a role. I think it’s easier for people to see how this is going to work. It’s not a black magic of link building and “Oh, I’m going to create all this content and I got to get social media going and I’ve got…” It just seems like there’s a lot of moving parts. And there are. And so with this, it’s like, okay, so this is just hands off. I don’t have to do anything.
Literally it’s completely done for you. Once you signed up, you fill out an onboarding form and you’re done. You just have to take those conversations and close them. So it’s easier for people to just bite down on them and understand quite frankly. There’s things that you can do from the sales side of things for the agency, but it’s moving the needle a little bit. You’re showing examples of content and maybe in giving case studies and showing what this did, and look how many shares I got, how many conversations I’ve started. Look, here’s how many links and people talking about this business now.
You can show them and that helps because they can see how conceptually someone’s going to see that, click through, come to my site, and be interested in what I have to offer. But if you’re selling link building, you’re going to have a tough time because what the hell is that. Now you’ve got to create these metaphors. We compared it to like an election. You need votes, and when someone’s going to link to you with their content or through social, they’re voting for you.