In the following interview, Wes Schaeffer the Sales Whisperer, tells us how. Wes is a sales and marketing industry leader whose team educates and trains clients on sales and marketing automation, social media marketing, and much more.
He is a motivational speaker and author, the latest titled “It Takes More than a Big Smile, a Good Idea & a Twitter Account to Build a Business that Lasts.”
He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and Texas A&M but he has never let formal schooling get in the way of his education.
Success Harbor: Hi everyone this is George Meszaros with Success Harbor and I have Wes Schaeffer with me. He is the Sales Whisperer. Wes is a sales and marketing industry leader whose team educates and trains clients on sales and marketing automation, social media marketing and much more. He is a motivational speaker and author. The latest title, it takes more than a big smile a good idea and a Twitter account to build a business that lasts. He is a graduate of the US Air Force academy and Texas A&M but he has never let formal schooling get in the way of his education. Welcome Wes.
Wes Schaeffer: Hey George, thanks for having me.
Success Harbor: Thank you for being here. Let me know how you became the Sales Whisperer. What’s the story behind it? It’s an awesome name by the way. I’m sure you know that. But I wanted to mention that.
Wes Schaeffer: Good, thank you. You know what, I just anointed myself. That’s one of the things I get into in my training with entrepreneurs and sales people. You know, you have to toot your own horn which goes against our upbringing in America. You don’t want to be around a braggart, you know, when you’re hanging out at the family reunion. But in business you have to toot your own horn. And I was literally, it was September 1, 2006 — and I’ll always remember it because I see the registration renew every year with GoDaddy — and I was watching The Dog Whisperer.
I had already been doing sales training for about a year. I saw him, Caeser Milan, and he said he rehabilitates dogs and he trains the owners. And I said you know what, that’s what I do. I rehabilitate sales people who have been mistreated and I train sales managers how to be sales managers because most of them have never really been trained on how to be a good manager. They would just promote it because they were a top performing sales person. But the traits that make a good sales person a good sales person are usually at odds with what makes them be a good manager.
Success Harbor: It’s almost like the best athletes don’t always make the best coaches right?
Wes Schaeffer: Exactly. And quite often you’ll see it was that average athlete that had to work really hard and had to really study the game. My son plays football and I tell him, if you’re big strong and fast, you don’t have to be that smart, ok? But my son is big and strong, he’s not that fast. So I tell him, you have to be smart to overcome your physical limitations, ‘cus there’s some, you know, phenomenal athletes out there. But when you’re smart, you can still succeed. And so you know that’s how I — I literally bought the domain name and ten days later, a guy e-mailed me and asked me if he could buy the name from me. I said, hey I just got it, nope, I’m keeping it and so that was it.
Success Harbor: Yeah, that’s a great story. How many domains do you own? Sometimes I ask that because some people get addicted to buying domain names.
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah I was kind of addicted for a while. I do buy them. I probably buy one– one a month now and I let them expire if I’m not using them. I probably own in the neighborhood of about 60 right now.
Success Harbor: Yeah , I do the same. I don’t buy as many as some. You know, it’s a small investment right? And maybe it’s going to turn into something, maybe nothing, but it’s worth 10 bucks right?
Wes Schaeffer: Oh, absolutely. And I’ll buy them for my podcast. I bought the salespodcast.com and that just forwards you straight to iTunes where you can subscribe, ok? So I own a lot of domains that I use just for ease of mentioning. Primarily verbally or put it on a business card so it’s a concise little URL. Like in FusionSoft, you know, and we’ll talk about that later, but I bought the domain name buycrmnow.com so it’s a lot easier than saleswhisperer.com/buy/dash/fusionsoft/ dash whatever. You know what I mean?
Success Harbor: It’s a cheap marketing tool, it makes perfect sense.
Wes Schaeffer: : And when you buy a bunch of them through GoDaddy you can get domains in the $7 to $8 a year range, so they’ll give you a little discount for bulk. So, it’s you know, be smart about it. Rarely do I buy, like the .net, .org, .us, ‘cus you know, they try to up-sell you. I just buy one name. I buy the .com and I see how it pans out.
Success Harbor: So tell me how you got into sales training? You mentioned that you had been doing sales training even before you started or registered The Sales Whisperer.
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah. Well, I had always been in sales. When I got out of the Air Force in ‘97 I went right into sales and never looked back. And —
Success Harbor: Why sales? Did it feel natural to you or did you just have to do it? How did you get into sales?
Wes Schaeffer: I don’t know if it’s ever natural. It kind of is, kind of isn’t. I’m a big believer in the nature and the nurture for being a professional salesperson. But honestly I was drawn to the money. I wanted to be paid for my efforts; for the results that I produced. You know in the military it’s very rigid. You’re going to spend a certain number of years at your different ranks and some people they call it getting promoted below the zone which means they get promoted early. You got to serve 2 years as a second lieutenant, two years a first lieutenant, six years as a captain and then you can start to get promoted a little bit early and I just didn’t like it. You know, If I’m a superstar, then pay me accordingly. And that’s what drew me to sales.
Success Harbor: Thank you for your service, by the way.
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, thank you. You’re welcome.
Success Harbor: So that’s interesting. Talk about The Sales Whisperer. You registered the domain in 2006. Is that when you started the sales whisperer? Or you mentioned that you were already doing sales training. Was that your own business or were you doing it for another company?
Wes Schaeffer: I was doing it for myself but I licensed the training material from a guy. So it was his content but I could brand it under myself. So you really didn’t know that it wasn’t mine. And so with that licensing agreement I had access to him. He’s probably old enough to be my dad. He had been in the business for decades so I sort of had that mentorship for several years which helped me just solidify what I was doing, rather than recreate the wheel from the ground up.
Success Harbor: So talk about the challenges starting The Sales Whisperer and building that business.
Wes Schaeffer: Oh, you name it —
Success Harbor: I mean it’s a competitive area but what area is not really competitive? Everything is competitive if there is money, right? Talk about maybe some of the most difficult things that you had to do to get it off the ground.
Wes Schaeffer: You know, there’s always a challenge. Even now as you grow your business, there are still challenges. They’re just bigger challenges but you grow more adept at addressing them. But you know, I had to learn a lot of technology: about hosting, blogging, SEO, copywriting, video marketing, I taught myself about podcasting, I had to learn about publishing as I’ve written two books. I had to learn about getting my merchant account squared away. And then, you know what, I had to learn about personnel. You know, I’ve had turnover, like anybody else. I’ve had people come on board and they were just terrible and I had to let them go. I’ve had people come on board that really just wanted to ride my coat tails for a bit and then go out on their own, essentially stealing business from me. It’s just the nature of the beast. That’s just life in the big city.
But what I’ve learned, looking around at other business owners that I know, that are friends, that are clients, I look at other InfusionSoft certified consultants, some have succeeded, a lot have struggled but in any business, regardless of their size, certainly the small business size, if you keep your expenses low and you focus like a mad man on sales and marketing, everything else will take care of itself.
Success Harbor: So let’s talk about “focusing like a mad man.” How do you focus as a mad man in your business? What does that entail?
Wes Schaeffer: Well, when I say that, as entrepreneurs it’s tough. We chase the shiny objects: I’ve got two monitors on my computer, I’ve got multiple tabs open on each of my browsers, I’ve got text messages going off, yada yada. So in some ways it is hard. I hired a virtual assistant about four and a half, five years ago, she’ still with me. So that took a load off of me. And I was able to hire her for 800 a month.
Success Harbor: And does your VA do for you?
Wes Schaeffer: So Ana has always been my technical VA; so she handles hosting, putting up new landing pages, things like that. She does some graphics work for me but very much on the technical side. So the things that I was not an expert at, I outsourced that. I learned it enough to be conversant so I understood it, but then I did not become an expert at it. And then 2 years ago, I hired a personal assistant here locally. So she would come to my home office- she does fulfillment, she’ll mail books and CDs, she’ll coordinate my calendar, things like that. So taking those little things off your plate, ok? So those things enable me to focus. But when I say focus like a mad man, on the sales and marketing side, I made sure every day I did something to advance my business from a sales and marketing standpoint. So whether that’s writing a blog post –
Success Harbor: So give us a few examples, so one is the writing–
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, making blog posts, making new videos to put up on YouTube, doing a podcast, I do The Weekly Whisper which is my email newsletter. So something like that to get the word out, to put myself out there in the marketplace. You know, I always tell people, if I arrested you with the charge of being a salesperson or a marketer, would there be enough evidence to convict you? All right? So I just ordered new business cards the other day, and I updated the look and feel but I used both sides of it and I changed the call to action. And I have a call to action on my business cards. Yesterday I created brand new bookmarks – I wasn’t doing that [before]. And I use both sides of the bookmark, so when people order a book, they’ll get a bookmark and that bookmark has marketing on both sides ,talking about both of my books, CDs that I sell and sales training courses. So, you know, always doing something to advance the business.
Success Harbor: How do you promote your content? You mentioned you write blog posts. Writing is one thing and you can create some great content but if nobody sees it, it’s almost wasted time in a way. So what do you do to get hat word out and promote all that content?
Wes Schaeffer: Well in a way it is wasted time but you have to begin, ok? My website now let me see here, I’m logged in and I have over 500 blog posts, over 200 pages. You have to get started because over time if you learn the fundamentals of SEO, search engine optimization, learn the fundamentals and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist about this– but have good titles, use the keywords, name your images, things like that and you do it consistently, you will build up this body of work. So my business, I’ve done some pay-per-click advertising here lately, but for the most part, 99% of my growth over these last eight years has been organic.
Success Harbor: That’s awesome –
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, you got to get started.
Success Harbor: So how many visitors do you get, approximately, to the Sales Whisperer, organic?
Wes Schaeffer: You know, I don’t get a ton. Maybe 5 to 6 thousand a month. You know, I’m not one of these million person kind of websites, but The Sales Whisperer is very niched. Especially now it’s become very niched around Infusionsoft. I’ve done a lot of work for them over the last six years and so that’s a finite community. But that proves the point. You don’t need 10,000 or 100,000 visitors a month to have a $50 or $60,000 a month business. I’ve been providing for a staff of 12 and a family of 9 with 5,000 visitors a month to my website.
Success Harbor: Yeah you’re B-to-B, right? So you don’t need a million visitors to have a successful B-to-B business?
Wes Schaeffer: Well people always say: I need more traffic, I need more traffic. And I always ask them, do you need more traffic or do you need better conversions? Until you have maximized your conversions, you’re just wasting money by focusing too much on marketing. It’s literally like putting gas in your gas tank and you have a hole in the gas tank and you’re leaking gas. Make sure your sites are optimized, make sure there’s a call to action, and make sure there’s an enticing offer. Make sure it’s easy for people to contact you either by phone or drop by your place of business or opt in for a newsletter or coupon or promo codes. Once you are maximizing conversions, then you can turn up the marketing faucet to truly grow your business.
Success Harbor: So how do you measure these different channels from the blog posts to the e-mail? Do you have a system to manage it all? Which one is working for you better?
Wes Schaeffer:: That’s one of the nice things. John Wannamaker said 100 years ago – he had a store, eventually, it became Macy’s, and he said, “I know that half of my marketing dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.”
Success Harbor: Oh yeah, I hear that.
Wes Schaeffer: Right? So nowadays you know, if I run an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook; I know what the conversions are, how many impressions I got, how many click-throughs. I can track how many opt-ins. I can track the sales. So, with Google analytics, which is free, you can see visitors, bounce rates, time on site, number of page views. Everything is measurable now. There really is just no excuse to not have things – to not have tracking.
Success Harbor: So sales training is a super competitive area and some people never get beyond just being a ‘solopreneur’. But you managed to build a pretty successful business. What do you think made the difference in your business that you were able to have more success than most? Was it the systems or what is your secret recipe, so to speak? That’s probably not so secret.
Wes Schaeffer: Over time I built systems, but in the beginning and even now, I was just tenacious. Hey, call it pigheaded determination. I got up early, I stayed up late. I got frustrated at times. Things happened. And things always happen in threes or 33s, right? Your website will go down, your computer will crash and your cell phone will reboot itself. You say ‘oh my gosh’, the world is conspiring against me! So do you tuck your tail and run? Or do you stand and fight? And you know, look, I’ve had some dark days, I’ve had some sleepless nights.
Success Harbor: So what were your dark days in your business?
Wes Schaeffer: Oh man, like I’ve said, I’ve had people quit. I’ve had people steal clients. I’ve had people just not deliver.
Success Harbor:: So how do you get over that? How do you say, you know what, this is too hard, I’m going to go get a job, I’m not going to deal with all this. How do you pick yourself up, personally, yourself? Do you have a method or a mantra? Or what do you say?
Wes Schaeffer: You know, after doing this for so long, I just know that it won’t last. Good times don’t last and bad times don’t last. So just enjoy the ride. And you have to realize, we see all the glamour on TV of athletes and celebrities but what we don’t see is the behind the scenes. They’re working their butts off. You go see a concert, you know, they do that concert, whomever, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, George Strait; they practice that thing down to the second. And you see them on stage for 90 minutes and they’ve put in 2,000 hours of practice and they do it the same every time. So having a system, practicing, knowing that it won’ last. Get through it. The show must go on. Having a family, relying on you–we’ve got 7 kids, been married almost 19 years. Two weeks before we got married, my wife quit her day job. So you know, I’ve found a lot of entrepreneurs and I call it “back against the wall marketing”. We’ve got to have a struggle; we have to have something at risk to help us focus. So fear is a good thing, stress is a good thing as long as it’s in moderation, right? I’ve had people depending on me and I say, hey you know, suck it up.
Success Harbor: Let’s talk about sales a little bit. I started out in IT a long time ago and I always had a bad impression of sales people and one of my businesses– we build websites for companies, so I do sales. And I’ve done a lot of sales. And I have a lot of respect for sales people and I have become a fairly good sales guy. But I would watch a Zig Ziglar presentation and I felt a little uncomfortable with that type of selling. It’s almost like twisting peoples’ arms and, nothing against Zig Ziglar, he’s a legend in selling, but there is something about –some people think that selling has to be forceful almost, as opposed as trying to help people and that was hard for me. And I think for a lot of entrepreneurs it’s hard to get over that. There are different ways of selling. What advice do you have on that? To get comfortable with selling?
Wes Schaeffer: There’s a mantra that I live by and a guy, Steve Clark, when I first started selling, he told me this: selling is a calling, serving is a purpose, the questions you ask is a process and a sale may be the solution. So when you know that what you offer is better than anything on the marketplace, that you take better care of your clients, that you offer great value, then you will approach hat prospect knowing that you’re there to help them. You’ll charge what you’re worth. You’ll stand your ground. You’ll deliver. They’ll be thrilled. And everybody wins and you can just do it over and over again. You can’t look at people with dollar signs on their heads. You have to see them as human beings. The best sales people are empathetic. They can walk a mile in the shoes of the prospect. When you see things in their view-point, you can connect with them. It’s the old, “people buy from who they can like and trust” and that’s it. That’s how you do it.
Success Harbor: So when you sell, a lot of times you get a lot of maybes and silences. And I like to get a no fast. And I just can’t stand ‘no’ or ‘maybe’. Can you push a prospect into telling you no or yes? The maybe — it’s hard to deal with maybe.
Wes Schaeffer: It’s that indifference, it’s that unknowing. That uncertainty. That’s the killer. Traditional sales trainer will tell you never ask a close ended question. Never ask a question they can answer with a yes or a no. And I say BS on that. Hearing no early is a victory. It lets me move on. It lets me go focus my time and resources on somebody I can help. It’s all right to ask those kinds of questions. And you can tell people, speaking of domain names — so they visit thesalesagenda.com. They can get a free download of my sales agenda that I follow with prospects up front and I cover how the meeting will be up front. And so once the guidelines and rules of engagement are established and agreed to before the meeting and part of that we say, I’m going to ask for an answer at the end and ‘no’ is okay. So once they know the answer doesn’t have to be yes I’m buying, but the answer can be yes, we can move to the next stage. Okay! Then the uncertainty is removed, we’re going to the next step, maybe they want a demo, maybe they need to do a trial, whatever, but at least we’re clearing moving forward and the uncertainty is gone. And so you know, that’s how you grow, by eliminating doubt.
Success Harbor: Yeah, that’s really good. What are some of the most effective ways for us to use social media for sales in 2014?
Wes Schaeffer: You know, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. People are obviously on it. But people forget that first of all, it’s social. Too many show up and just start blabbing. So social means maybe you’re funny, you’re certainly interesting, you’re engaging. You need to listen more than you talk so in that regard promote others, re-Tweet others, and share valuable resources that are not yours. And then sprinkle in your offerings and your solutions, present something they can buy. It’s ironic, they call it social marketing and most people are neither sociable nor good at marketing and they think because they have a twitter account, they’re going to make money and it’s just not that simple. Social media is just a medium. It can be more; it can be less effective than a billboard. People still make money off of the yellow pages. If you sell to baby boomers and senior citizens, they still look through the yellow pages. They don’t do Twitter. So, you know, look at social media, look at anything as just the medium. The medium is not the message. The message is the message. So make sure you have a powerful message as to why people should do business with you, and then you’ll figure out the right medium to use to get that word out.
Success Harbor: Ok let’s talk about creating systems and sales. Especially for a small business, what kind of systems do you think they need to start with to create an effective sales system for themselves, even if it’s just a company with few employees?
Wes Schaeffer: First of all, focus on selling, right? Even cold calling. People want to say cold calling doesn’t work. You know what, business to business, cold calling does still work. And if you’re not making any money now and you don’t understand web design and you can’t blog ‘cus you think you can’t write, pick up the phone. So first of all, commit to being a professional sales person and then the systems can be as simple as bunching or batching your sales and marketing and prospecting efforts. So what I mean by that is, set a time, maybe it’s the first day , first thing when you come it, 7 am or 8 am when you first come, for an hour or two hours or three hours, I’m make nothing but make outbound calls, ok? And so group your activities. Like do not check your e-mail, do not check mail, do not let someone walk by your cubicle. Batch those calls. And then batch who you call. My last job I was in sound and technology, we sold into manufacturing, financial services, military and healthcare. So rather than calling all of those randomly, I would just call hospitals for a day, so I could even batch that. And what happens is you get into a rhythm, the language is the same but you pick up on little things. Like ‘Hey , may I speak to the boss? No? The boss is out, he’s at the HEMs conference,’ which was a local and a national organization. Then I call the next guy and I get him on the phone and its like, ‘hey how come you aren’t at the HEM conference?’
Success Harbor: Yeah, exactly.
Wes Schaeffer: So I’m using industry lingo, so the guy, now he knows that I know about the organization. So I appear to be more an insider which helps build like and trust, helps him know that I’m not just some random cold calling dude. I have deeper ties to the industry which means I may be able to provide resources to help him grow his business. So by batching your effort that’s a big help but you got to be able to put it on your calendar and commit to doing that and by grouping your efforts, you’re going to see much better results, I guarantee it.
Success Harbor: Plus you might stumble on something on maybe an industry that’s working much better for you. So talk about how you got involved with InfusionSoft?
Wes Schaeffer: You know I was and still am, a fan of Dan Kennedy. I was still in the Glazer-Kennedy Insider Circle, I was getting his material and I was doing sales training but then I was learning how important marketing is for my business. I was applying those tips and tricks and strategies to my own business, InfusionSoft was doing a four city tour back in July of 2008 and they were coming to Anaheim, about an hour away from me. So I said hey, at least I can go meet Dan Kennedy, and maybe I’ll pick up a couple of things. It was free to attend. So I went out and I saw what InfusionSoft does and I bought it. I bought it for myself and I started using it, started seeing results, learned about their partner program so I got certified a few months later. And because I focus on sales and marketing and I’m not a technical, I’m not a technician, but most people were very technical that were partners and they weren’t just doing the behind the scenes stuff but I was out front selling and marketing it. And so I was almost working in a vacuum, I mean very people were doing it so I was just able to build a big presence and the rest is history. And I’ve stayed at it for six years. Now I’ve written a book and done other things to help me stand out from the crowd.
Success Harbor: Yes, so you kind of had an old school mentality about a new school technology that wasn’t really exploited or utilized yet, right? So a lot of people felt great with the technology but not so great making cold calls or you know, doing it the old-fashioned way. And the combination proved to be deadly, so it really worked out for you.
Wes Schaeffer: Yep.
Success Harbor: You know, I have some general entrepreneurial questions, I know we’re at like, 30 minutes, do you have some time for a few more questions?
Wes Schaeffer: Sure.
Success Harbor: So most businesses fail, at least about 50-percent of them fail in the first few years of business, four years, according to some stats. Why do you think so many of them fail? Is it sales?
Wes Schaeffer: Well, you know, I’ve always said, there’s no problem a business has that can’t be fixed with a 100 percent increase in revenue. I see too many people who really ignore, abhor, hate, sales and marketing. So what they’ll do is go out and spend all this time and money creating a new widget, they’ll trademark it, they’ll patent it, before they’ll ever know if it will sell. I will put up a landing page and send an email out to my list, buy a little bit of traffic, literally, a little, $50 to $300 of traffic to see if there’s an interest in a book or a webinar or a three-part or ten part sales training series and if there’s an interest – and I did this for my book, I pre sold my book with a four-month lead time, ok? So I said you can buy it now, it’ll come out in four months. But at pre-ordering you can get it at a discount and here are all these bonuses, so then I knew what the interest was, then I was motivated to complete it because I didn’t want to refund everybody’s money. And this goes back to what I said at the beginning, if you can keep your expenses down, you cans stay in business a long time. And sometimes just being to live, to fight another day and outlast your competitors is the key to success. But people will go out, they’ll get a new car, they’ll wrap it, they’ll get a ten page full color brochure that nobody every reads, they’ll overpay for a website, they’ll buy fancy phones for everybody and there’s no revenue.
Success Harbor: That makes sense. What do you think is the biggest time waster for entrepreneurs?
Wes Schaeffer: Oh, man. Multi-tasking is a myth. Multi-tasking is doing multiple things half as they good as they can be done. So what’s where batching comes in. When I’m really busy – and I’m guilty of multitasking too, so I’m not saying I’m perfect in this area but when I’m really busy, like this week, I’ve been busy. I get up at 4 am and I write. That’s when I knock out my podcast, that’s when I write my Weekly Whisper, that’s when I update my website with a new blog post or tweak some of the pages that I want to better optimize. Like the old Army [saying], “we do more before 8 am than most people do all day.” And as an entrepreneur you have to do that, so, my assistant has been on vacation so that’s one of the things slowing me down. I got to juggle a few extra things. My dad has been out visiting so I didn’t want to work as much during the day, so I could hang out with him a bit, so I just get up early. Focus on what’s absolutely important and the rest I just kind of monitor. Make sure you get the important stuff done, no matter what.
Success Harbor: What is the best advice you have ever received? It could be personal, it could be business.
Wes Schaeffer: From a business side, I think it goes back to Dan Kennedy. When he talks about the number one most important thing a business owner should do is market their business and whoever has the biggest list, wins. And closely related to that is relevance. Relevant communication is the key to building a business. Making sales. And so, it’s the key to Google as well. They deliver relevant ads at the moment of relevance. Focus on marketing, focus on building your list. Do that by delivering relevant content and the rest will take care of itself.
Success Harbor: And my last question, if you could train someone to be a successful entrepreneur or just teach one thing to a person who hasn’t had a business yet, what would that first thing be that you would teach them?
Wes Schaeffer: Well, I think it’s what I just covered. The importance of marketing; the importance of listening. You can deliver the relevant content when you know what interests the person. So understanding how to be empathetic, how to put yourself in their shoes. How to ask for their business card, rather than hand yours out. That’s how you build a list. I’ll keep my business cards tucked away because I want to get theirs. ‘Cus I’ll get back in touch with them. Everything you can see kind of loops back on itself. Focus on building a list. Focus on marketing, focus on listening which means you can ask good questions. Seek to serve so people, people will then like and trust you and you’ll grow a business
Success Harbor: Well Wes, thank you very much for coming on the Success Harbor to share your story and your wisdom. How can people find out more about you or the sales whisperer?
Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, they can visit the saleswhiperer.com or find me on twitter @SalesWhisperer, or LinkedIn. I’m everywhere, but you know, visit the website, I’ve got a ton of free resources there and my phone number is there, so just let me know how I can help.
Success Harbor: Thank you very much everyone out there check out the saleswhisperer.com wish you much luck for your business and thank you for your time today.
Wes Schaeffer: Hey thanks for having me.