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Process

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Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels in business?

When first joining this forum three years ago,
I was a wannabe freelancer. A big bookshelf and many failed business ventures were the closest things to assets at that time...

Reading MJ’s books clarified that focusing on monogamy in business, on value skews and the process, would eventually reveal golden gum balls. A really helpful point was to simply gain domain experience. This is where you’re paid to learn from market echoes and get your foot in the door.

Taking Steps Into The Real World of Business:
This lead to my first sales job, at a retail store where I got to practice closing customers all day long. @MJ DeMarco ’s advice of reverse engineering the best and adding your own value skew really helped me excel quickly there.

The job was a stepping stone to put it lightly. It was better than fish washing and landscaping, and offered steady money in exchange for headaches. This pain nourished my desire for more...

@Lex DeVille ’s points about digging for their pain was very effective too. This helped with retail sales and building a portfolio of freelance clients. This track record helped take the next step.

Another very helpful poster was @Andy Black. He revealed the process to Google AdWords bidding and asking people questions.

His posts about buying data, relevancy and keeping the costs down, etc.. helped save some close family friends a lot of money. They were bidding for irrelevant keywords, in other cities, with no landing page because they let the big G “automate” their ads.

Combining this with having the highest sales volume at the retail place... helped land a job at a one of the best digital marketing companies in my city.

They cut me off and gushed about their 60 years combined in direct response and their process for AdWords etc. They called my references and offered the job within an hour.

The Skills Gained There:
Working there gave the inside scoop on Facebook ads, local SEO, and AdWords.

The first month was sheer hell. Going from from transactional sales to long sales cycles was a huge learning curve.

The market chewed me up and spit me out every day. The solution was to talk it over with my sales manager. He would laugh and give a different angle to try. He had decades of experience and molded me into a real salesman. In his decades of training people, he said I was the most coachable he’d ever met.

Figuring Things Out:
After 6 months, this resulted in having dozens of loyal clients and a much higher closing rate.

Part of the team barely speaks English, so my ability to delegate and systematize things has improved to the extreme.

Working with a wide range of clients gave an inside look at business models. The company also sells SaaS products.

This gave the chance to see what works and doesn’t work. The Fastlane wisdom about listening to market echoes to create value skews has allowed me to give suggestions that are making the software products to sell much more easily.

They once had to make 500 calls to make a sale. The cancellation rate once was very high. That number is now quite low since I developed a multi-tiered follow-up process.

Framing feedback as a way for my boss to make more sales, made retention much better. The smartest thing was to give above and beyond service to famous local companies, get them great results, and leverage social proof/word of mouth/backend sales.

The Next Step Forward:
This is a good place to work with recurring income with the chance to make some big juicy lump sums at times. That money gets stacked and put into my own SaaS that is eliminating a very different problem that my lead-gen clients always gripe about. Right now... they are offered a dirt cheap, low-risk trial in exchange for being the guinea pigs. Solving the problem will also allow them to invest in more lead generation :cool:.

If you made it this far, thank you. Hopefully there was a few golden nuggets. Happy reverse engineering.
 

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Raja

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Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels in business?

When first joining this forum three years ago,
I was a wannabe freelancer. A big bookshelf and many failed business ventures were the closest things to assets at that time...

Reading MJ’s books clarified that focusing on monogamy in business, on value skews and the process, would eventually reveal golden gum balls. A really helpful point was to simply gain domain experience. This is where you’re paid to learn from market echoes and get your foot in the door.

Taking Steps Into The Real World of Business:
This lead to my first sales job, at a retail store where I got to practice closing customers all day long. @MJ DeMarco ’s advice of reverse engineering the best and adding your own value skew really helped me excel quickly there.

The job was a stepping stone to put it lightly. It was better than fish washing and landscaping, and offered steady money in exchange for headaches. This pain nourished my desire for more...

@Lex DeVille ’s points about digging for their pain was very effective too. This helped with retail sales and building a portfolio of freelance clients. This track record helped take the next step.

Another very helpful poster was @Andy Black. He revealed the process to Google AdWords bidding and asking people questions.

His posts about buying data, relevancy and keeping the costs down, etc.. helped save some close family friends a lot of money. They were bidding for irrelevant keywords, in other cities, with no landing page because they let the big G “automate” their ads.

Combining this with having the highest sales volume at the retail place... helped land a job at a one of the best digital marketing companies in my city.

They cut me off and gushed about their 60 years combined in direct response and their process for AdWords etc. They called my references and offered the job within an hour.

The Skills Gained There:
Working there gave the inside scoop on Facebook ads, local SEO, and AdWords.

The first month was sheer hell. Going from from transactional sales to long sales cycles was a huge learning curve.

The market chewed me up and spit me out every day. The solution was to talk it over with my sales manager. He would laugh and give a different angle to try. He had decades of experience and molded me into a real salesman. In his decades of training people, he said I was the most coachable he’d ever met.

Figuring Things Out:
After 6 months, this resulted in having dozens of loyal clients and a much higher closing rate.

Part of the team barely speaks English, so my ability to delegate and systematize things has improved to the extreme.

Working with a wide range of clients gave an inside look at business models. The company also sells SaaS products.

This gave the chance to see what works and doesn’t work. The Fastlane wisdom about listening to market echoes to create value skews has allowed me to give suggestions that are making the software products to sell much more easily.

They once had to make 500 calls to make a sale. The cancellation rate once was very high. That number is now quite low since I developed a multi-tiered follow-up process.

Framing feedback as a way for my boss to make more sales, made retention much better. The smartest thing was to give above and beyond service to famous local companies, get them great results, and leverage social proof/word of mouth/backend sales.

The Next Step Forward:
This is a good place to work with recurring income with the chance to make some big juicy lump sums at times. That money gets stacked and put into my own SaaS that is eliminating a very different problem that my lead-gen clients always gripe about. Right now... they are offered a dirt cheap, low-risk trial in exchange for being the guinea pigs. Solving the problem will also allow them to invest in more lead generation :cool:.

If you made it this far, thank you. Hopefully there was a few golden nuggets. Happy reverse engineering.
How much time did it took?
 

Kid

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Mar 1, 2016
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Congrats!
and btw even your post is following curious way of writing:
Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels in business?
That sentence has a name in art of writing copy :smile:
 

Process

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 19, 2017
256
554
253
Solving Pain
Excited to hear the next chapter!
Thank you! Maybe I should post an execution thread.


How much time did it took?

1 year of spinning my wheels in darkness, 3 years to get to competency and probably 2-5 more years getting to Unscripted success.

I’m only 24, so that is better than hoping the slowlane pans out.

Congrats!
and btw even your post is following curious way of writing:

That sentence has a name in art of writing copy :smile:

Thanks! Hope you found value in the write up.
 

Process

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 19, 2017
256
554
253
Solving Pain
Update/Deep Detail since I understand more six months later:

Backstory: (in 2018/2019) I was hired to sell software to local businesses. At that point they only had 2 active customers for this new software. Both of these were subsidiaries of theirs. The software worked great, but there was no sales process at all. They were having a tough time to get anyone else to sign up.

Why I Took A Lower Paying Job From A Comfy Sales Job

My first great domain experience job was in retail sales. It was awesome and helped me a lot in my journey.

2 months of reverse engineering the best reps at the store allowed me to be top producer. I was the only one who studied sales books in their free time. It was boring to stand around and wait for people to walk in. It was paying good money but after a year of little effort it was killing me.

So I decided to learn how to find people through even more domain experience (Thanks @MJ DeMarco !)

I was hired to develop use their cold calling script. My prospecting experience was trying random cold calling tricks to sell websites/copywriting. The problem was I sucked at closing. Selling in a retail environment made me pretty good at closing, I mentioned I was the #2 producer and made hundreds of sales a year to get the job.

Hope this is helpful to read. I joined the forum in 2017 and have gone a long way. This can't give all the specifics since I'm not the owner.

Cold Calling To Get the First Customer
This was something I've dreamed of doing for years. The base pay was very low, but there was a recurring commission. The sales manager there was a multi-decade veteran in direct response ad sales and web design.

He gave me a suggested script and I would simply dial 100 times a day at first. he was very impressed to see I did that. They hired lots of people who sat around spinning their wheels.

Every day before work I'd listen to audio books. When I got in the parking lot I'd ask why I got into this and yell "F*** !!!!" Getting chewed out and hung up on was a whole new experience. It was very rare to get ignored or chewed out in retail sales. Every day I wondered what hell this was.

After 3 weeks of phone calls I got my first appointment. This was sheer numbers game and getting lucky.

They had just experienced the exact problem the software solved. I had also shortened up the script to weed out people who weren't buyers in the first place. (This was how I increased my dials to 150 a day)

Selling The Dang Thing
My boss even went with me to this appointment. It was a sale for X,XXX figures. It took multiple trips because one time their internet was down so we couldn't demonstrate the product.

Then we had to demonstrate the product. I also brought a detailed implementation plan of action, so they had more faith it would be implemented.

Then they fixed that and we were able to sign. But the catch was our billing software had a bug of course, so we had to email the contract instead.

Onboarding
Onboarding was very clunky at that point. This was the first fresh signup. It took ten minutes just for the software to download on every employee's device and I had to be there in person to troubleshoot it. There were all sorts of crazy bugs depending on the phone a person was using.

Then the central admin page had to manually configure each of these accounts. Of course I had to call my developer in front of the customer for the workaround he had been using the whole time.


  • passwords wouldn't change, had to help several people do this manually with a workaround
  • took forever to download
  • had to clear all tabs in the phones to make the program load
Assessing and Adjusting
Adjustment 1 - Taking Stock Of Value and What's Broken:

It was obvious both the processes were very inefficient. That was "how they had always done it."

During every sales meeting I would mention how customers asked for this and that. Many times it would be ignored.

I would copy the name of everyone who made a remark good or bad. I put it in a spreadsheet and would email it to my bosses too. This spreadsheet showed them in tangible terms that there was valid feedback. Mj's line about if 2-3 people think it, hundreds do too stuck a chord.

Eventually the squeaky wheel got the grease.

The first thing we fixed were the app's signup bugs. We automated most of these steps with simple scripts. After about 3 weeks of testing we made the central admin panel and downloading the app much more streamlined.

Adjustment 2 - Fixing the Sales Process:
Selling an expensive system cold to people was really difficult. We already had lots of existing happy customers for other services. I changed our targeting to existing customers. This alone helped them scale the product much more easily. For some reason we were ignoring existing customers who already bought existing services...!

We took our newsletter and revamped it to hammer this to our existing customers and other leads who had opted in. This resulted in 1-2 signups a month. It was seen as a nice value add since many were looking for this solution, but the competitors were very complicated and hard to get into. They also already knew and trusted us.

(Competitors required a one year commitment, a two hour demo, another 2 hour setup process etc.)


The best part is our existing customers constantly poured in suggestions. I implemented an excel sheet that logged each suggestion and the actual person who made it. This made it easy to convince my boss to make these changes more quickly. The increased revenue allowed him to hire out better people to code it. I got to work with them directly which made this experience priceless.

Within 4 months, it was profitable enough to afford making the signup process easier too.

Adjustment 3 - Learning to Delegate:
Working with the developers was a challenge. They think differently than the average person. Many see using workarounds as fun and making it easy as boring without realizing it.

English was not their strong suit wither. I tried giving them very detailed instructions, but they misinterpreted what I meant. This took weeks for basic changes.

My solution was to scan drawings and send over the pdf. This was better, but it didn't show colors very well.

Then I just learned to use microsoft paint to give them rough drafts of how it should look and work. This made the interfaces easier for them to see. Then I made loom videos that narrated and further explained what I wanted with more examples to go along with the instructions.

These two things overcame the language gap. Changes took 80% less time to do.


Adjustment 4 - Making it Easy to Start:
We made the signup process a webpage that was just a few steps. I mapped out the User Interface with basic Microsoft paint drawings. Then our designers made it look pretty since they didn't have to imagine it. It literally walked the customer through step by step. And it made the important things big bright buttons.

This removed our time from getting people to sign up. Some people signed up on their own when they had the time. This was a game changer since most business owners would rather experiment with things at night once their daywork is over.

We no longer had to charge a setup fee like everyone else. We waived it if they were on the fence and needed some urgency. This made people more willing to signup since it lowered their action threshold. We started getting referrals trickling in at this point (about 6 months in).

There was still a problem with the risk factor though.

Adjustment 5 - Making Buying Risk Free:
Everyone always objected, "What if I don't use it?" In the beginning we overcame this objection with old fashioned salesmanship. We also offer free coaching on the product. (The sales reps also get recurring commission for each month, so this incentives keeping people engaged. Sales reps are also trained to sell our other even higher end services as upsells.)

Once we had a good base of customers and removed our time from the signup.... we started offering a week long trial. This killed one of the most deadly sales killing objections we ran into.

This made our closing rate go from 8% to 18% overnight. The crazy thing is it wouldn't have worked if we hadn't laid the rest of the groundwork. In the beginning almost no one even wanted to hear about it.

Adjustment 6 - Making A Kick A** Sales Video:
People would always ask the same questions. This wasted tons of time. We brainstormed to make a simple video that answers all these questions. We put it on our homepage and in our email newsletters.

We also played this at the beginning of every meeting. The video had a good voice narrator who sounds like a nice but regular guy, and the screen is always showing new people, drawings, demonstrations as he explains it. Customers literally say, "Shut the F**K up, that's awesome, guess I'm spending more money (as they laugh to themselves with a smile on their face) Also when I tell them I've developed this process and I want their feedback, their jaws have literally dropped for the first time in my career.

This has pushed our sit down sales meeting closing ratios to 30%. Since the process is so easy and the video makes a huge difference and saves tons of time. Don't tell people, show them.

Adjustment 7 - Buying Customers:

Now we're at the point where we're doing paid traffic. This is requiring me to learn a whole new skill set. A lot of people are opting in before they signup on their own. I'm finding they view a few emails before scheduling a demo. (using calendly for that)

Each day they get a new letter with a different video explaining different things. Then I send them a loom video of myself mentioning a few things I've noticed about their business. This is reliably getting me booked appointments. The average sale and demo time totals less than 30 minutes with existing customers and 49 minutes with cold people who came in through ads.

This is way more powerful than calling 150 people a day. But calling those people was the first domino that helped me reach this point.

Now we are getting referrals from about 20% of our customers. We are getting better at asking, but many do it without us asking. Customer sometimes invite their friends to the demos too. These people often end up signing up too.


Adjustment 8 - The pandemic.turned.everything.upside.down:
People no longer wanted to meet in person. This was a killer at first. No one would buy the first week or two. The company didn't know if every customer was going to cancel everything. Half the company was about to be fired.

The good news is we got out in front of it and called all our customers. We offered extra complimentary support. This actually resulted in them going, oh by the way don't you also sell service X, and they'd end up buying extra stuff since they had time to think. Then certain industries actually rebounded from the pandemic, so we targeted them all over the country.

This gave me the drive to learn how to sell over a screenshare. At first it was really awkward. I was used to being in person or on the phone. My first attempt was using a slide deck and minimizing myself to the corner and then playing the video.

It was clear no one cared about or understood the slide deck I spent my 2 week's of night work making. Then they'd get engaged again once they saw the video!


Eventually I learned to just run the sales video, clarify any other questions, and walk people through the signup process. This transformed us from a regional company to a national company with greater scale than before. We also focused on a few industries instead of everything under the sun.

Also I put the instructions to download the screenshare software in an email. This made it dummy proof since a lot of people didn't know how to do it.

Future Adjustment 1:
We have an in house SEO team that has been doing it 12 years. I'm lobbying my bosses to optimize our site too. We will do this once we find 1-2 more reps.

It will take 4-6 months for us to get these keywords. We are not going to rely solely on SEO. Paid traffic and our word of mouth will be the strongest source and currently are.

Future Adjustment 2 - Creating Affiliate Program:
Right now we have an average retention rate of 11 months. Only 3 out of dozens of people who converted have canceled. Getting an affiliate program will supplement our sales force and lead gen system.

We are calculating our affiliate payouts. Some competitors offer a lump sum. We want to test lump sums versus recurring payouts.

We also are considering a small payout for getting us trial signups, but I know from experience as affiliate myself that these are easy to game. Savvy affiliates will be more attracted by recurring payouts. These will not be as big as a regular rep would get for managing the account.

Most existing customers just want a free month's credit, which we already do for referrals. (This is less than our advertising acquisition cost.)

If we do it, we will be inviting select experienced people to avoid the $5 dollar day blackhat crowd.

Future Adjustment 2.5 - Hiring More Sales Reps:

Sometimes there's more leads than we can handle. The reason we are hesitant to do an affiliate program is they can be very time consuming. They sacrifice control to people who can badly damage your brand.

At least sales reps can record their meetings and have a bigger incentive to be loyal. The trade off is you have to try out a bunch to make sure they will work out. For every 4 you hire one will be decent according to my bosses 20 years of training sales reps.

We are going to hire a batch and have me train as an assistant manager. I volunteered to do this since I want the experience. Training the other people in my previous sales job was very rewarding. These lucky people will benefit from the system I created and be inside reps. These are easier since they can focus on a few things instead of learning everything.

My bosses also want to pay commission to those with existing clients to sell this product too. These they are paying a recruiter to find them.


Summary
Left my cushy sales job where they treated me as a king and could have made an easy $60,000 a year for life. There was no upward mobility since they provided the leads and capped commissions. I was developing apps on the side, but going no where. So I looked to learn from established people.

Got into a lower base sales job to head up a fledgling software. It worked, but had no sales process. Signing up people was a nightmare and everyone thought it was too risky to buy.

I changed up our messaging, targeting and offer. We removed the risk. I also made the barrier to action much lower.

Then we made a video that explains the common objections and reframes the common questions. This positions us as a legitimate company versus some shoe string place.

I automated a lot of the prospecting through paid ads and a email sequence. This helps us nurture targeted people who are looking for this. (all I can say is simpler is better and send videos too) Personalized loom videos for can work really well too.

TLDR Working here has shown me how to develop a product into a great system that grows itself. Getting recurring income is nice, but the experience is priceless since I've experienced every step of the process. Everyone told me I was stupid to leave the cushy retail sales gig for a low base and recurring commission gig that helped me gain massive experience. Domain experience selling software kicks a$$.


(Also I have my own SaaS going on in the background that is a whole different thing but to similar people. I focused on the job's software to have a proven track record for the next phase. This experience had been utterly invaluable in saving me time. This is something I have 100% equity in, so it will take a bit more patience.)
 

MJ DeMarco

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Thanks for the update, congrats on working your way to skills and experience.
 

Process

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 19, 2017
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554
253
Solving Pain
Thanks for the update, congrats on working your way to skills and experience.
Thank you @MJ DeMarco !

What you say works. Hope anyone reading this puts in the work.

A few years ago I bounced job to job and had 8 broken business ventures and a negative net worth.

Then I found this place and learned to focus on the process.
 

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