Episode 147:

Business development does not just happen. For most of us as agency owners, sales is one of those things we wish we didn’t have to do.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, we’re going to really dive into sales. I think the reluctance comes down to a fear of rejection. Because of those fears and insecurities, we don’t prioritize biz dev. We don’t put it on the calendar. We don’t make it a must do.

I think the biggest change we can make, and this is my challenge to you, is to just carve out time to connect with your ideal clients. Maybe it’s one morning a week. But as my guest says, if it’s not on the calendar, you’re not going to do it.

My guest for episode #147 is Michelle Weinstein. Michelle has done it all. She’s been on Shark Tank. She has raised over a million dollars for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell.

At the end of the day, Michelle is a sales strategist. She teaches mission-driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy.

I think we make sales harder than it needs to be. That’s why I wanted to bring Michelle on to have this conversation. She generously shared some incredible ideas and strategies that you can implement right now.

What if you could make a list of your ideal top-tier clients and actually have the confidence and the plan to demonstrate to them that they’re be losing out by not working with you.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of our discussion. This is a must hear episode if you are looking to enjoy biz dev and ultimately the fruits of that labor in increased profits.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why saving those email and text “thank you’s” and testimonials from clients is so important
  • Why service-based businesses like ours are easier to sell than products
  • How to block out time for business development
  • The most useful tasks to tackle during your biz dev time
  • Why “bumping into” your ideal clients at a trade show can be a truly winning strategy-and how to prep for it
  • How to research and strategize for your pitch
  • Creating and managing a list of your top 20 ideal new clients
  • How to offer a gift that is something of value, without giving away the store or your trade secrets

The Golden Nuggets:

“You need to do your research. What if you told prospects that by helping these companies, they made an impact on 1 million people altogether? That’s a powerful impact.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “You can’t take your focus off sales. That’s the lifeblood of your business.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “There are so many things you can do with a six-hour period per week that will totally skyrocket your top line revenues.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “If you're trying to get a new, really important client, you have to deliver something of value complimentary.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “’I think we should meet’ is not a good reason for someone to meet with you.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “Get away from the mindset that you are bothering people. Approach ideal clients with the mindset that you're actually doing them a disservice if you don't put yourself out there to help them. - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “Follow-up is not bothering people. People get distracted just like you do. A follow-up, because they are going to pick someone, and it might as well be you.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “What we do in sales, we're actually just helping people guide to make a decision.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast, presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to their bottom line. Bringing his 25+ years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build A Better Agency. Today, we are going to talk about sales, which I know for a lot of you is sort of a dirty word. I know that for many of you, when I talk to agency owners, and I say, “Tell me about your sales process, your biz dev process,” a lot of you talk about referrals and repeat clients and all of that. But, when it gets down to actually having a system or a process around sales, it’s one of those places where agency owners tend to shy away from it. I think we shy away from it for a lot of reasons.

Number one, I think we are afraid of being rejected. I think we are simply too busy. And so, because it’s not a thing we love to do… I’m a firm believer in if something is important to you, and if it’s something you enjoy, you will find the time to do it. I see that every day in my own personal life certainly, but I see it in the agency owners that I work with. And one of the reasons why I think that sales is really challenging for agency owners is that we don’t carve out the time to do it.

As you’re going to hear, and I’m going to tell you about my guest in just a second, but as you’re going to hear in the conversation that we had, honestly part of sales is making time for sales. And so, I’m a huge proponent of actually carving out some time and not being in the office. So, one of the things I like to recommend to agency owners is that you carve out, even if it’s just half a day, that you carve out at least half a day, and you work somewhere else other than at the office because you all know what happens when you get to the office, the minute you walk in the door, they’re lined up to talk to you.

So, maybe it’s a morning, maybe it’s an afternoon. The iffy part of the afternoon is that you oftentimes get caught up in something and there’s a fire, and you don’t get out. So, I highly recommend mornings, and what I would recommend is that you pick a morning a week. So, let’s call it Tuesday mornings, block it off on your calendar, make it absolutely impossible for people to schedule something with you on that Tuesday morning, and be uber disciplined about you not violating it. Because actually, the one who violates it the most is you. So, carve out that Tuesday morning, put it on your calendar, don’t schedule anything, and that is your biz dev time.

That’s your time to work on the prospect list, that’s the time for you to do the research you need to do, it might be the time that you make phone calls or send emails, whatever it is, that’s biz dev time for you. And as ridiculous as it sounds, if you can carve out three or four hours once a week, down the road we’ll talk about doing more, but for now, just three or four hours, you will be amazed at how much you get done and where you go with sales.

The other thing that I want to put into your brain before we dive into this conversation with our guest today is one of the things that I think is also intimidating about sales for agency owners is this idea that we have to have this huge list of potential prospects that we have to go after. If any of you have heard me speak at a conference about new business or anything else, you know that I am a firm believer that you should have a list of 25 nano levels, so super small, microscopic level, right? 25 companies that you would kill to work with and that you are going to pursue on an ongoing basis until they hire you someday or they get a restraining order, that’s it.

Honestly, here’s part of the criteria, they should be at least 10% of your current AGI. Don’t waste time chasing after minnows, do not waste the time. I want you to chase after big fish, and when you do chase after big fish, the reality is you have to win one or two a year for you to literally double in size every three years. That’s assuming you keep your current clients, you grow your current clients a little bit. But, in general, one or two wins of clients who are 10% of your total AGI, one or two a year will allow you to double in size in three years. And that’s how I want you to focus your time, and that’s how I want you to focus that one half day a week that you are carving out for biz dev.

So, when all of a sudden you start thinking about I only have to win one or two, that’s a whole lot less daunting. So, let me tell you a little bit about my guest today and why I’m so excited to have her on the show. Michelle Weinstein is a sales strategist. She teaches mission driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy. She has literally busted through doors and impressed CEOs at billion dollar companies, and she has sold everything from food products to wardrobes to $30000 online education programs to meatballs. She’s done it all. She’s been on Shark Tank, she has raised over $1 million for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell.

So, I think you’re going to learn a ton from her, I know that I am. I’m ready to take copious notes. But, I think part of what I want you to hear from her is that sales doesn’t have to be scary or sleazy or hard. I think sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be, and I think in an hour, you’re going to agree with me. And so, without further ado, I want to get talking to Michelle, and let her start making you smarter and more excited about sales. So, Michelle, welcome to the podcast.

Michelle Weinstein:

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, we are going to get excited about sales.

Drew McLellan:

We are going to get excited. People are going to be cheering by the end of the podcast.

Michelle Weinstein:

You’re going to be doing jumping jacks.

Drew McLellan:

Wow. Okay.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, we’re going to check on that at the end of the hour. So, one of the things that made me know that you had to be a guest on the podcast is the idea that you understand that entrepreneurs as a whole are not really excited about sales. So, as you know, people listening to this podcast own an agency. They’re in the grind day to day with clients, they are the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker inside their agency, and most of them quite honestly, of all the task that they have, the one they enjoy the least is sales, and the one that keeps their business alive is sales.

Michelle Weinstein:

Is sales, it is.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And we all have this thing where we want to work for ourselves and we don’t want to work for anybody else, so that’s why you start an agency. And then, you’re like, “Whoa, well, I actually have to do the selling to get the clients.” We’re going to really love sales at the end of this, because that’s how you get paid the big bucks, right?

Drew McLellan:

Right, and most agencies, the way they start, in the first couple years, they can fill the client coffers with people they know, referrals. So, I think at a certain point in time, an agency hits the brick wall of, I have now exhausted my “Rolodex,” and now I actually have to go out and sell what I do to people who don’t know me, who don’t know our reputation. So, at that point, an agency owner is like, “Oh, crap, I got to do this.”

Michelle Weinstein:

Right.

Drew McLellan:

So, how do they get from there to actually having a system and a process? What separates somebody who at that moment is going to be successful at sales and somebody who is going to really flounder in sales?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah. So, what I like to do is if you hate that word, sale, it’s like the bad four letter word as a lot of people say, what if you think about as serving your client, right? You started an agency for a reason, and I think you really need to go back and remind yourself why did you start it, what are those goals that you wanted to achieve. Maybe the power of not having to work for somebody else outweighs actually serving your clients more. And if you can think about it from a serving aspect, when you’re going out and doing the networking, you actually get to pick your client, you get to pick who you want to work with, you get to pick your hours. You probably started your own agency for freedom and flexibility. I’m going to just guess that those are two very important-

Drew McLellan:

That’s right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Are those important?

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, with all of those being said, I think a lot of times, we need to actually write them down, and you need to remind yourself of these things on a daily basis, because otherwise the sales is just going to be a grind and you’re going to flounder. If we don’t have that mission of why, and the reason as to why we’re doing what we do, and how are you so much different than all the other agencies out there, and why are you so great to work with. When you see that you’re actually able to serve your clients at a greater level and provide unique value propositions and other things that you can offer, it actually… you’re like, “Wow, I’m just actually doing what I love to do.”

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And you’re not even having to sell.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And you can take that pressure off. I think we all just put a lot of pressure on us, so I’m here to just remove the pressure and help you see it from a different point of view.

Drew McLellan:

So, from that though, I still have to put together a list of people that I think we could serve well, and I have to connect with them in some way.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So, is there a, especially for a service industry, because I know that throughout your career, you have sold everything, so that’s…

Michelle Weinstein:

I have.

Drew McLellan:

But, stuff, tangible stuff, and also services-

Michelle Weinstein:

And services. So-

Drew McLellan:

How is it different?

Michelle Weinstein:

For the products versus the services?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, what do we need to know?

Michelle Weinstein:

I mean-

Drew McLellan:

What do we have to do that’s different because we’re selling something intangible?

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, I think the biggest thing, if you’re having a service based business which is what I focus on know, the biggest thing that I try to get are your brag book in place, your testimonials in place, your success stories, your reviews on your service and products. Just think of all of the non product based items that you… It’s not a food product, because they can’t taste and say, “Oh yeah, that tasted good.” You can only rely on maybe what someone else said of your service.

So, I like to call it the brag book, the brag bible, your testimonial book, your emails of how people have actually implemented what you showed them. So, for your agency, maybe you helped a website get from this traffic to this traffic, and then you had social media from here to here. So, whatever the emails are coming in from your client, of your successes, you want that also. Maybe it’s text messages, I get a lot of text messages from people that I’ve been able to help, and I keep them, and then I make an image collage of it, and I share it with other people. So, with a service based business, I actually believe it’s easier. It’s much easier to serve and help people in a service based business than it is in a product.

Drew McLellan:

See that, okay listeners, it’s easier for us to sell-

Michelle Weinstein:

It is.

Drew McLellan:

Than if we had-

Michelle Weinstein:

It is.

Drew McLellan:

Something we were trying to get on the shelves of Costco, so there you have it.

Michelle Weinstein:

It is night and day easier because you can make an instant impact, right? You can make-

Drew McLellan:

In the first 10 minutes, you’ve taken off all the pressure, and you reminded them that it’s easier. They’re crying with joy by now.

Michelle Weinstein:

Right, but it doesn’t become just easier just like with the snap of your fingers.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You actually have to do a little bit of research and work, which is probably right at your fingertips, you just haven’t actually spent like, “Okay, I’m going to block out an hour this week, and here are the five things I’m going to do. I’m going to put my brag bible together, I’m going to go through my emails and actually compile all of the great emails that I’ve gotten from all of the clients that I’ve served, and look and see what results did I actually achieve.” Another thing you guys can do is put a conglomeration of all of your emails of who you helped. So, if you’ve had 10 clients for example, and let’s say all 10 you started from scratch with these companies. I’m making stuff up right now, but just listen along.

What if you said that with helping these companies, they made an impact on one million people altogether. Well, that sounds pretty impactful. So, you need to see… I don’t know what kind of companies you’re working with in your agencies, but think of… I’m sure they’re kind of all niche specific, so maybe it’s meal companies like my last company, and you’ve got five clients. And together, you’ve been able to help change the lives of over one million people by helping them eat healthier, one meal at a time. That’s very impactful, and if I were a prospect, I’d be like, “Wow, how did you do that? I want to know what services that you were able to provide.”

But, you have to set up the time to do it. You have to block out the time in your week to actually compile all of this. Go through your text messages, I’m sure you guys get text messages all the time from happy clients.

Drew McLellan:

Right, so let’s talk about that blocking the time out. So, you and I were talking before we hit the record button that most of the listeners are agency owners, who along with having to sell in the business, they’re serving clients, in many cases, they’re dealing with HR issues or dealing with finance issues or talking to the banker. And you made a comment to me that I want to bring into the recorded part of our conversation about that there’s sort of a way to structure it so that sales is one of the vital priorities for this business owner. So, talk to us a little bit about that.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, the sales is the lifeline of your business, right? And we all started our businesses, our agencies for that freedom, and the time. And now, you’ve got 20 employees, and now you’ve got people requesting time off, you’ve got an HR issue, you’re in labor court with an employee who did something wrong, you hired a horrible 1099. I get it, I’ve been there myself.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

But, you can’t take focus off the sales. I mean, I dealt with a really, really tough patch. Like, my COO was not doing anything right. I understand how you guys are challenged in this area, but I still had to block out time just for sales and just for reaching out. I didn’t just get into Costco, that took calls and emails and more calls and more emails. So, I just structure it. I always say that whatever you put in your calendar will actually get done. If you don’t put it in your schedule for your week, it won’t get done. And then, a whole week is going to-

Drew McLellan:

Right, someone else will fill that calendar, right?

Michelle Weinstein:

Someone else will.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

And even today, I block out… I have a podcast too, and just to even bring on really awesome guests, I need to block out at least one to two hours per week to do my outreach. It’s almost like what you guys are doing to get new clients, it’s the exact same thing. But, if I actually don’t put it in my calendar, it won’t happen. Like last night, for example, I spent one hour, and I send everybody, now through April, an email giving them their go live dates, more information, “Hey, can you leave a review?” That’s a sales opportunity for what I’m doing. Whatever I’m saying to you, I’ve done the same, and I understand what it’s like to have 25 employees and deal with problems.

I mean, with my last company, I like to share that you need to get used to being in the unknown. Every day you’re going to have a problem, and that’s what you signed up for. Not only did you sign up for a 24/7 sales job, but you really signed up for, especially with those of you with five to 20, 30 employees, I get it, it’s a lot of work. Maybe there’s an HR manager you can hire, that’s what I wish I would’ve done when I had that many employees.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, I think you’re right. I think that there are challenges that come with… You get the freedom and flexibility of being a business owner, but there are costs to that, and one of them is that… When you block that kind of thing out on your calendar, do you do that a week at a time, do you do that a month at a time? Do you have certain days that are… I don’t take meetings or calls days? How do you do that?

Michelle Weinstein:

For me, if I block out a whole day, that’s a little too much. I think if I were to own a agency, which in a way, what I do is very similar to what all of you do, I would split it up into two days a week. Maybe it’s Wednesday and Friday, maybe it’s Monday and Wednesday, so there’s a gap, so you can do your regular work. I’m sure a lot of you are in some of the client work still too, so you have to manage that. I mean, you are a professional juggler. Pretend you’re at the circus, and you’ve got all these balls you’re juggling. If you’ve got five major ones, you need to schedule the five even though some of them are going to be the unknown, like the piece of fire. That ball with fire is going to get thrown in your juggling [inaudible 00:18:13], right?

I understand that, I dealt with refrigerators breaking overnight and all of us losing all of our food overnight. I mean, I have dealt with every massive problem, and when I say, that’s why it’s so much easier for a service, because you don’t have any of those problems that product based businesses have on the manufacturing side.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You’re not manufacturing anything, you just have people problems.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You have 50% easier life than any manufacturing company, let me tell you.

Drew McLellan:

See, piece of cake, guys, there you have it.

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, I would break it up into two hour blocks, that’s all I do, and twice a week.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, so four hours. All you have to do is carve out four hours.

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, you have to figure out what’s best for you and how big your business is. Maybe you’re at 0 to 500000 in revenue, maybe four, five, six hours is good because that’s a lot of time for outreach.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

If you think about it, that is a lot. If you’re a little bit at the top range, maybe you actually have someone on staff that helps you with sales. Not only are you emailing, you’re actually picking up the phone and calling people. Maybe-

Drew McLellan:

What? Using the phone?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yes, the phone. I don’t know for all of you agency owners, but I highly recommend going old school with thank you card. Even for me on my podcast, every guest gets a handwritten thank you card.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

That blocked out time is to do these sorts of activities, and it’s things that you don’t normally probably do, but for every past client that you’ve worked with, there’s a few referrals in there. But, it’s your job to ask. So, I would even on one hour a week, thank you cards to past clients. Pick up the phone and just call them to say hi. Randomly just call them to say hi, no business. Just, “Hey, what’s going on?” And they’ll be in shock. And if they get to the… Maybe you can ask for a referral if you feel like it’s a good time. There’s a lot of things you can do in a four to six hour period a week that will totally skyrocket your top line revenues.

Drew McLellan:

So, a lot of agency owners I think are pretty good about staying in touch with past clients, but probably they don’t do it in a structured or formal, or keep track way. So, you’re right, having a plan… What I’m hearing you say is that none of this happens by accident. So, most agencies have, they have case studies, they have the brag book part, they’ve got that down, but where they get stuck is when they actually have to start doing the reach out. So, let’s say I have someone on my radar screen that I think would be a good client for my agency, and I’ve got all of social proof that if I ever can get a hold of them or can get in front of them, I can show them that we really could be helpful to them. How do I get that meeting?

Michelle Weinstein:

So, I would first think about where is this prospect client going to be. Are they going to be going to any events this year? Where can you run into them in person?

Drew McLellan:

Okay.

Michelle Weinstein:

I would first think about that, because most people won’t do that. You’re going to think, how do I just get somebody on the phone. I have gotten most of my big opportunities from going to places and “running into people.” It was strategically planned that way.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Every time, it works. Most people won’t do it. So, if you’re trying to get to, let’s just say, Justin’s Peanut Butter, and you really want to be the agency that’s works on that whole brand, well, I can tell you right now, he’s going to be at the Expo West in Anaheim, California. That’s how I met him. I showed up and I went there. Think about where the founders-

Drew McLellan:

But, you didn’t know him in advance, right?

Michelle Weinstein:

I did not. I walked up to him and introduced myself.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So, you walk up and you say, “Hi, I’m Michelle,” and then what?

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, I said, “Hi, I’m Michelle. I know that you’ve had some really great success.” I was in the food business in my past, so that’s why I’m giving this example. “Hi, I’m Michelle. I know that you’ve gotten into Whole Foods, you’ve raised a lot of money in the natural food space. I would be grateful if you could give me a couple of referrals or recommendations because I want to follow in your footsteps. I think you’ve done an amazing job, you created an awesome brand, and I would love five minutes of your time.” And he said, “Oh my God, I would love to help you, no problem.” I got his personal email address.

So, you have to figure out, are you going to get the personal email or the cell phone, pick or choose, can’t have it all. I got his email. He ended up introducing me to about five private equity companies, he ended up donating his products for the last eight years to my nonprofit that I had, and he was now also a guest on my podcast. So now, we’ve had this friendship for the last eight years. It’s more of a business friendship, I don’t know him personally, but he really loves what I’m up to, and I share his products with all my friends that I know, and I talk about it all the time because I love them.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, for the agency owners, you guys, that’s all you have to do.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, but so in that case, you were looking for connections and help. What would that conversation have looked like if you wanted to sell… If you were an agency person and you wanted him as a client, and you walked up and said, “Hi, I’m Michelle.” What would you say next?

Michelle Weinstein:

So, if I were trying to work with Justin’s at that time, so obviously he has transformed the brand [crosstalk 00:24:02] but back then, I’ve worked with a lot of other CPG, which means consumer packaged goods company, if that’s your niche. “I’ve worked with a lot of CPG companies, and I have some really amazing ideas that I’d love to run by you. I’ve got one of them right here, and here’s my idea for actually the booth space for you guys for next year. It will accomplish x, y, z, and this is just a gift from me to you. And I would love it if after this conference, we could just talk for about 15, 20 minutes. I’ll go over all of my other ideas too, and maybe I can get the opportunity and we could work together.”

So, I would give him something. A, I’ve done my research on him and the brand, and what could you do to give him something complimentary to show that, whoa, they did their research.

Drew McLellan:

Right, to demonstrate your thinking and that you are clearly invested in wanting them as a client.

Michelle Weinstein:

Correct. You can’t just say, “Oh, well, I think you should meet with me.” But, why? You need to give somebody a reason why and I think that’s really what it comes down to. If you’re looking for new prospects, then I’m sure these people pay you very well a month on monthly retainers. If you’re trying to get a new really important client, you have to deliver something of value complimentary. I’ve done it a lot, I’ve worked with even my designer that helped me with the Pitch Queen brand. All of her future clients, I showed her ways like, why don’t you give… This is an example of a graphic designer, similar service based business, okay?

She created a Facebook cover, a new kind of look and feel to provide to her prospect. “Hey, I just wanted to share this with you. Feel free to use it if you’d like. I just was inspired, I love your brand. I would be honored to work with you, and I’d love 10 minutes of your time.” Here you go, here’s a gift from me to you. So, as an agency owner, maybe you can come up with a list today of five things that you could do that wouldn’t take a lot of your time, because the things that you’re really good at actually don’t take you very much time. Hey, but you don’t want to give away the farm. It’s just something that goes, “Wow, that person would really appreciate this, or that person, that would pique my interest.” Does that make sense?

Drew McLellan:

Yep.

Michelle Weinstein:

Does that help?

Drew McLellan:

It does. I want to take a quick break, and then I want to talk about how we can do that if we can’t bump into them somewhere in person. But first, let’s take a quick break, and then we’ll come back and talk about how to do it from a more arms length strategy.

I get that sometimes you just can’t get on a plane and spend a couple days in a live workshop and so hopefully our online courses are a solution to that. Lots of video, hours and hours of video, a very dense, detailed participants guide, and all kinds of help along the way to make sure that you get the learning that you need and apply it immediately to your agency. Right now, we’ve got two courses that are available. We have the agency new business blueprint, and we have the AE bootcamp. So, feel free to check those out at AgencyManagementInstitute.com/ondemandcourses. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

Okay, we are back, and we are talking about sales. Before the break, we were talking about how you can approach someone if you can figure out where they’re going to physically be, like at a trade show or a conference, and then how you can have an entrée into a bigger conversation.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

So, let’s assume that for whatever reason, I can’t figure out where my prospect is going to be, so I have to do this by email or phone or carrier pigeon or some other way. What would you recommend if I cannot bump into them?

Michelle Weinstein:

I have two ideas.

Drew McLellan:

Okay.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, let’s one example I just thought of was with another friend who, kind of like an agency model, but she does packaging for CPG brands. She could do a mock up of a new brand packaging for, let’s say Justin’s Peanut Butter since we’re on that topic.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Michelle Weinstein:

And send him a new packaging design that she has been thinking about, because she really, really wants to work with him. But again, it wouldn’t give him everything so he could just go to his packaging people and say, “Hey, I really like this, can you just do that for me?” Because that’s what you want to avoid, right? You don’t want someone to steal your brainchild of-

Drew McLellan:

Intellectual property, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, your IP, and then run with it. So, that would be one idea. What could you actually mail to them that maybe can help. Again, it really depends on who you’re working with. Are you working with a product based company, another service based company? Another idea is for example, in my past, I was on Shark Tank, okay?

Drew McLellan:

Yep.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, I have run into Daymond John and I got a couple pictures with him. Well, now, I want him on my podcast. So, I’ve been doing some networking to try to find his personal email address. I have his personal email address, now it’s time for me to actually send him an email but I’m going to include a photo of me and him in the email, and give him a reason why he should join me on my show.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, if there’s some sort of way you can… If you’ve run into them in the past and you have some sort of digital imagine, you want to make it personal. That’s the other thing. Whatever you can think about, it’s going to be very… Especially for your services that you… And this is exactly what I focused on, people that are selling services anywhere from 3000 to 50000 dollar a month type retainer services, you have to be unique. You can’t just send out these cold emails and think people are going to want to work with you. A, you’ve got to do your research, and it’s not like you have to reach out to a ton of people. You guys are looking for quality versus quantity, right? We’re not talking that you need to send out 100 emails. I would pick your top 20 go to lists, and then from there, break it down like A, B, C, D. Who are the As that you want to reach out to first? I wouldn’t reach out to those first, I’d actually go to the Bs and test a few ideas, and then go back to the As after you found one thing on the B list that actually worked for you.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, that’s a really good point. Don’t test out your best prospects, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Don’t test on your best prospects, that’s the takeaway.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

Let’s say you have your 20, okay? So, that’s five, five, five, five, A, B, C, D. Test something on the six through 10 group or the 11 through 15 group. Then, go perform it on the A group, get those five new clients, make sure you get 100%, and then go to the B, C, and then D.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah, that’s great advice.

Michelle Weinstein:

And I would test three different things.

Drew McLellan:

Okay.

Michelle Weinstein:

Again, give me an example of a company that you work with. What do they sell? What are-

Drew McLellan:

So, let’s say I have an agency that specializes in the building material space. So, their clients sell insulation or garage doors, things like that.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay, so garage doors and insulation?

Drew McLellan:

Just stuff to build buildings, right?

Michelle Weinstein:

Build buildings, right. You need to get creative. I don’t know that industry, so that’s going to be a little bit tough, but it’s three unique things, guys. Three unique things that no other agency is going to do for these people, something that’s going to perk their interest like, “Oh my God, they really know the space, they really thought outside the box.”

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You’ve got to think outside the box.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So, one of the things that you talk about is that you can do sales without feeling sleazy. So, I think one of the things that puts a lot of agency owners off from being more assertive in sales and really going at it with the amount of time and energy that it requires is that it just feels like they are sticking their hand in somebody’s pocket, that they’re trying to get… Not that they’re trying to trick someone, but they’re trying to sort of coerce someone on over, even though they know they can help them, and they can be a genuine benefit to their business, it just feels yuckier than the other stuff that they do. So, how do they get over that?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, and I would say that’s probably a consensus among 90% of people, right?

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

It’s like, you don’t want to be too pushy or you don’t want to be in their face. If you’re that passionate about what you’re helping this building construction company do and get more insulation and more developments and projects, you’re actually doing them a disservice if you don’t put yourself out there to help them. I’ll give you an example. I did get into Costco and I did get into Vitamin Shoppe, and it didn’t happen because I followed up one time. I followed up 10 to 20 times. Most people would think that gosh that is too much and you’re going to annoy these people.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

That’s what most people would think. I said, “Well, if I didn’t do this, they’re just going to pick somebody else. They’re going to do this project, these companies are going to pick an agency you guys.”

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Correct?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

They need the help, so… Okay, now we got that straight, we know they need the help. Well, if you don’t do the follow up or you don’t show why you’re better or how you can service them at a higher level and do it in less time or whatever your selling proposition is, you’re hurting yourself. You’re just saying no to yourself.

Drew McLellan:

Right, and you’re depriving them of getting to work with you.

Michelle Weinstein:

Correct, they’re going to go work with somebody else.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, I know it’s very, very hard to see this, but you guys can go to my website and watch all of my live shows I do, because I talk about this concept so much. But, if you see it from the standpoint that you’re actually doing them a disservice and they’re going to go work with somebody else, you’re going to start to follow up a lot more, because you’re going to say, “Well, I don’t want to lose them, I can help them.” Do you see how we’re not even talking about sales anymore? That word is now out the door. We’re now talking about that they are going to choose somebody. It’s like a car, right? I’m going to get a car. I can go to Mercedes, I can go to BMW, or I can go to Lexus. They’re all right here, right by my house.

If one person follows up with me a little bit more, and tells me, “Well, Michelle, you said you really wanted all the options because you love x, y, and z, and you said you really want to lease the car because you drive so much. We actually have a better lease program than Mercedes and Lexus,” and they’re feeding me some information because they listened, they listened to me. Well, but I’m not thinking the guy is selling anymore, I’m like, “Wow, he’s actually listening to me, and just making me help…” What we do in sales, we’re actually just helping people guide to make a decision.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, your clients are going to make a decision and if we don’t help our client, aka follow up, help equals follow up, if we don’t help them make a decision, then they’re just going to make one on their own, and you might not be that answer.

Drew McLellan:

Or they get stuck and they don’t make a decision, which also hurts their business.

Michelle Weinstein:

Right, which then, why did you start your business.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

That’s where our full circle just ended up, and we didn’t talk about sales the whole time.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

It’s about helping our clients, serving our clients, and then sharing with them what we can do to help them maybe a little bit more than the two other agencies that they’ve been talking to. But, if I really want to help them, I have to really help guide them to help make their decision, which aka, that means I need to call them, I need to maybe set up a meeting, maybe we need to go to lunch and get to know each other. Because being in an agency, you really get to pick and choose who you want to work with.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah, in the ideal situation, absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

Right, yeah, but the ideal situation is that you get to choose all the time, and when you can see it from that point of view, the ones that don’t fit, if you go to lunch and you’re like, “Oh my God, I can’t imagine helping this guy run, like help on the agency side. That would be awful,” you get to say, “You know what, I just don’t think we’re going to be a good fit.” When was the last time you said that to a client or a prospect? You don’t want to work with everybody, you guys, you are definitely in the high value service business, and you get to pick and choose who you work with, and you get to figure out who do you want to help and serve. And then also, you don’t need a lot of people, you need the good one.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, that’s so true. It’s not a numbers game, or it shouldn’t be.

Michelle Weinstein:

You are not in a numbers game.

Drew McLellan:

Right, it shouldn’t be.

Michelle Weinstein:

You’re not. It shouldn’t be, and if it is, you should really take a look and start writing down why it’s a numbers game. Are you so worried about all the other agencies out there? Focus on yourself because you guys get to pick and choose who you work with.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So, back to the come up with an idea and send it to them. One of the things I’m kind of hearing you say is bumping into someone in person, good, picking up the phone, good, dropping them something in the mail, something that they have to open like a package with a design or a jump drive with a design on it or something, good. What about email? Is there a place… If this person doesn’t know me from Adam, so it’s not like we have any relationship, is there a place for email in the early stages of sales?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yes, of course. I like to say that you need to do all of those at once, and kind of put them in a rotation. So, sometimes maybe it’s a phone call, then maybe it’s an email because you might not get a response.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You might not even get a response, guys, after five time. You might need to reach out that many times, and it’s funny because I’m in sales so some of the guest’s podcasts that I’ve been on, some of them have actually said the only reason you’re here is because you actually emailed six times. And that’s just to be a guest, because I really like the show and I know I can really help, and I wanted to… I knew I could be there to help and serve, so I was like, “They’re probably putting me through the test, no problem. I know this test very well.”

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, people are really inundated with a lot of stuff these days, and every year it only gets worse. So, think about yourself, if someone were to follow up with you, the agency owner, are you going to respond on the first try? You might not even see the email. So, what if you came from the place, huh, these people might be like me. That’s the place I come from.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay, well, if they didn’t respond today, well, maybe I need to respond in a week or two weeks, and reach out again I mean, not respond, reach out. Okay, I put a reminder in my calendar, because if it doesn’t go in the calendar, it’s not going to happen. Or if you are using a CRM system like Salesforce, or Infusionsoft or something, you got to schedule it, and then you actually have to open those systems up to get your reminders.

Drew McLellan:

Correct.

Michelle Weinstein:

And then, after maybe two or three emails, then you pick up the phone and call. You’ve got to come up with a plan that works for you and your business, and the types of businesses that you’re trying to reach out. So, it is industry specific, if that makes sense.

Drew McLellan:

Yep.

Michelle Weinstein:

If I’m trying to reach out to the big food guys versus the construction companies, it’s going to be more follow up required. The bigger the company, the more following up and reaching out you’re going to have to do. It’s going to be harder to get ahold of these people.

Drew McLellan:

Right, which gets back to your original tactic, which is why it may be easier to figure out when they’re going to be at a conference or a show, and [crosstalk 00:40:26] bump into them, right? Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

You guys, if you remember anything from today, that top 20 list that you want to find this year, those 20 clients, your dream clients, write them out, A, B, C, D, put them in groups, find out where those people are going every year. I have never met one company that doesn’t go somewhere every year.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right. There’s going to be an industry trade show or something that they need to attend.

Michelle Weinstein:

There is.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

And guess what, you’re going to find 10 other clients. If you go to an industry trade show, I would make… What I used to do is I would print the pictures of the people I wanted to meet so I had some facial recognition going on. And I’d sit there on the plane and I’d study it similar to the NFL, they’re getting ready for the big game on Sunday or Saturday now, or the Super Bowl, and they’re reviewing plays. You guys have to do the same thing. You can’t just show up, you got to know how you’re going to look for. Where’s that ball going to get passed to me, and you’re going to see them at these industry trade shows. But, if there’s one person you want to see there, there’s 20 other opportunity of clients, because you guys are probably working with a specific niche.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, if it’s construction and insulation companies, there’s probably 20 other ones that would be a great fit at that industry trade show.

Drew McLellan:

You’re absolutely right. I know we’re getting close to the end of our time together, but I know one of the things you talk a lot about is differentiation and how to demonstrate to a prospect that you are not like all of their other choices. Can you talk a little more about that?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yes. It depends on the industry, but I’m going to give you an example of retail stores, because we all go shopping, right?

Drew McLellan:

Yep, yep.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, we all shop, that’s good to know. So, I like to shop at Nordstrom’s. Do you know what Nordstrom’s is? For those in the United States of America, there is this place called Nordstrom, and that’s actually where I learned a lot of my customer service, because I worked in their flagship store in Seattle when I was just out of college, and I was really good. But, what I liked is everything was organized, it had order, it had different departments. Not a ton of stuff on sale, they had a few things that were marked down, but then… Have you ever been to, if you’re in the United States of America, you go to this place called JC Penny, and you walk in, and it’s total clutter and chaos, and everything is sale, everything’s on sale, everywhere you go.

So, as an agency owner, do you want to be JC Penny, where you’re wheeling and dealing and just dealing with price… There’s no value given. It’s like you come in, and their value proposition is let me give you the cheapest quality for the cheapest price. Nordstrom, hey, you know what, we even have a personal shopper option. You don’t like to shop, right? You like your outfits picked out for you? Yeah, let’s try this. Okay, right? It’s similar to an online brand that started called Stitch Fix. They’re an online tech company that picks out outfits for people like me who don’t want to pick them out.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay, no problem. That’s a value proposition that they added. That’s a unique factor, right? I get a personal shopper in the price of the clothes. What can they get from you that’s in the price of your services that they’re going to invest with you? So again, Nordstrom, not a bunch of things on sale, clean… You know, is your office clean? I mean, is your brand-

Drew McLellan:

How do you want to be seen, right? How do you want to be seen? Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

Exactly. Again, they add personal shopping. You can return stuff any time. Okay, awesome. They came up with their value proposition, selling proposition, serving propositions for you guys. Maybe there’s a huge launch and you throw in an extra bonus that your team is going to help them at their big launch event. I’m like really making stuff up. If we were to use Justin’s as the example, maybe if you’re helping CPG brands, your team actually comes to their biggest trade show of the year, that’s just part of what you do, because you know why? When you go to their events every year, you can then better serve them because you actually get to hear what the consumers are saying about the brand and the product.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay, it helps you do your job better, it helps you set yourself apart from probably every other agency owner because who’s going to go to an event-

Drew McLellan:

And create relationship with the client. So, here’s [crosstalk 00:45:06]-

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, I mean, I just came out of that with, from blue sky, but that’s just one, and you guys can all steal that one because that’s a good one, that’s a really good one.

Drew McLellan:

When I’m distilling down what you’re saying in my own head, what I’m really hearing you say is the fact that you’re good at what you do isn’t differentiating, the fact that you have even a niche of expertise, not differentiating. It really ends up being how do you offer a service or a product to your clients as a value add. So, Nordstrom’s sells clothes, JC Penny sells clothes, but the experience of how you buy those clothes is very different. And so, what you’re saying is we have to figure out in our own agencies how we can elevate or escalate or modify something that we do so it feels like a huge value add to our clients, that we can talk about during the sales process, like, at my agency, we have every client pick out the most important trade show that they go to, and our entire team is onsite at no cost to the agency so that we can spend three or four days hearing what your customers are saying, helping you just have more bodies at the booth, spending more time with you, checking out your competitors, we’ll do some secret shopping while we’re there, and that’s [crosstalk 00:46:19]-

Michelle Weinstein:

Oh, that’s awesome. The secret shopping is… There’s another idea. Okay, you guys now have two good ones. You tell me what agency actually does this, does anyone ever do… Have you heard of any agency do these two ideas?

Drew McLellan:

Well, they do them, but they charge for them. So, what they don’t do is what you’re talking about which is how do you differentiate yourself by doing something that goes above and beyond what other agencies will do.

Michelle Weinstein:

What if you just raise your rate so they’re really high compared to everybody else, and then you throw in those ideas plus another two, where you’re actually getting paid for them-

Drew McLellan:

Right, but you’ve baked it in.

Michelle Weinstein:

But, you’ve baked it in.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

You think you get free shipping from Amazon? Do you think you free shipping from Nordstrom.com? That is not free, you guys, I am so sorry. There’s nothing free in-

Drew McLellan:

You just bursted their bubble. You’re absolutely right.

Michelle Weinstein:

I had a company where we shipped food. We were talking about this concept, free shipping, should we charge for it? You know what, I pay $100 to Amazon a year, I’m sure that whatever I pay versus how much I order equals $100 a year. But you know what, it sounds like a good deal so I just did it, it was easy. We’re going to do what’s easiest. If you just were to increase your prices, what, let’s just say 20%, maybe 30, well your agency is a little bit pricier than the others, “Yes, we are. And do you want to know why?” Nordstrom is more expensive than JC Penny, correct?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, well, they show me why every time I walk in there. That’s okay, people will pay a premium for value.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

All day long.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely. All right, I would love to keep talking but we have to wrap this up. So, tell the listeners, I want them to leave knowing they can do this, knowing it’s not as hard as they make it in their own head and heart. Help them leave this conversation fired up and ready to go sell something.

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, I think you should already be fired up [crosstalk 00:48:23]-

Drew McLellan:

I hope so.

Michelle Weinstein:

I’m fired up. I’m fired up and I’m always fired up. But, I would say you actually need to put one thing into action from what we talked about today, otherwise the firing up of… You can get inspired all day long from listening to this, but you actually… maybe actually three things. We talked a lot of some really good ideas today. Maybe it’s go research the industry trade shows that your niche is in, and put them on your calendar today, and block out that time and then figure out how you’re going to get there later. Put into action maybe looking at your pricing and increasing it, and then what are three things that you can bake in that no other agency in your industry is doing, that makes you unique and increases that value. Then, the whole sales stuff, that’s just going to go out the door because you’re not going to feel like you’re selling anymore. You’re going to go meet your prospects and show them how you can help them.

Drew McLellan:

I like it.

Michelle Weinstein:

It’s selling without selling.

Drew McLellan:

I like it. I like it. That’s what we’re all hungry for, right?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

And that’s what it’s about, this word, sales, you know?

Drew McLellan:

It’s intimidating.

Michelle Weinstein:

It is, and it’s only because of the people in the mall, those little kiosks in the mall-

Drew McLellan:

Right, try this, try this, try this. Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

It’s annoying.

Drew McLellan:

Can I rub this on your arm? No, you cannot.

Michelle Weinstein:

No, I wasn’t looking to get rubbed on my arm today, but thank you very much.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right. So, if folks want to learn more about you, you mentioned that you have a bunch of live content on your website. How can people track you down and learn more about the services that you offer and the help that you might give them?

Michelle Weinstein:

So, the best way, and for all of you agency owners, I speak your language all day long. So, just go to thepitchqueen.com, www.thepitchqueen.com, and sign up for the emails. I’ve got an ebook on there talking about the 10 secrets that I wish I would’ve known over the last 10 years. And for all of you, it will help you. It’s all about employees, structure setup, how you can save a couple million on mistakes that I’ve already made. So, hopefully it will save you a couple hundred thousand at least, maybe a million.

And then, also on my podcast called, Success Unfiltered, where we’re talking about no’s and rejections because the fear of selling is actually the fear of being told no or being rejected from these prospects. That’s where it actually stems from. So, you can get inspired there. It’s on my website or on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and everywhere else.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. So, in the show notes guys, we will include links to Michelle’s website, to the page where you can download the ebook, to her podcast. So, feel free to go right there now while you’re listening. But, if you’re looking for it, you can’t remember, just know it’ll be in the show notes. All right? Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your expertise-

Michelle Weinstein:

This was awesome.

Drew McLellan:

And your enthusiasm for sales-

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, no…

Drew McLellan:

I would get up and do a jumping jack, but it would muck up the headgear this here, so I’m mentally doing jumping jacks about sales.

Michelle Weinstein:

I’ll do some.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, thank you.

Michelle Weinstein:

I’ll do some right now.

Drew McLellan:

Thank you so much. That wraps another episode of Build A Better Agency. Hopefully you found it incredibly helpful and inspiring, and that you are ready to go out and do some great things. I also want to talk to you about another tool that we’ve built that I would love to offer you. So, as you’ve probably heard me preach, I believe a lot of agencies chase after the wrong new business prospects, and I think we do that because we have not taken the time to clearly define who our sweet spot clients should be. The way you do that is by looking at your current clients, and then developing out who your prospects should be based on your best current clients. So, we’ve put together a sweet spot client filter, say that five times fast, and I would love for you to take advantage of, and for you to use inside your shop to figure out exactly who you should be targeting for new business. To get access to that free tool, all you need to do is text AMI, for Agency Management Institute as you might imagine, AMI, text that to 38470. Again, text AMI to 38470, and we will get the sweet spot client filter out to you right away.

Thanks again for listening. If I can be helpful, you can find me as always at [email protected] Otherwise, I will touch base with you next week with another great episode. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build A Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit AgencManagementInstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you always dreamed of owning.