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Setting a sales goal

November 19, 2020

In this episode of the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, Ty Deemer welcomes Mike Claudio back to the show! Mike is the owner of win rate consulting and spends his days helping contractors win new business. We welcomed Mike back to the show to share more of his sales expertise. Mike dives into how companies can begin building a referral network. He also goes in depth on how companies can begin setting themselves up for sales success in 2020. 

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On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to set yourself up for a successful sales year in 2021.
  • The power of a referral network for your business.
  • Practical ways you can start redefining your sales process.

Links to love:

Full Transcript:

Ty Deemer:
You are listening to The Green Industry Perspectives podcast, presented by SingleOps, a podcast created for green industry professionals looking for best practices, tactics and tips on running their tree care or landscape business.

All right everyone. Welcome back to Green Industry Perspectives. I’m your host, Ty Deemer and today I get the great opportunity to welcome Mike Claudio with WinRate Consulting to the show. Mike, welcome.

Mike Claudio:
What’s up, man? Excited to be back.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely. So, for new listeners, Mike was on the show last season and provided a ton of great insight into really just redefining the sales process in your business and we wanted to have him back on to kind of dive a little deeper into some of those topics he offered and kind of share his insight. Mike, as you know from the last time you were on the show, we always like to provide some immediate value to our audience. No fluff here. Just really want to get into it. So, the first question we ask every guest on our show is what are the top three common threads you see successful businesses in the tree care, the landscape, the contracting space, specifically the ones you work with every day?

Mike Claudio:
I’m going to kind of like give it to both sides, right? So, like what makes a company unsuccessful, what makes them successful if they do it is consistency and discipline in action. I see a lot of businesses get busy with certain tasks and forget other tasks. They fall off primarily in I’d say the content creation, social media space. I see many businesses not prioritizing that and I think it’s a major miss and those same businesses are then spending a ton of money on other lead generation sources like billboards and radio and TV and print advertising and mailers. And those are all great. Like can they work, do they work? At a big picture, yes. Nowhere near as effectively or as cost effective as social media. So, that’s one of the biggest things. If you were being consistent on social media, you are winning right now.

The second thing is having consistent employee and team meetings. I have met so many businesses that do not do this consistently and I think it’s a major miss. It really hinders your ability to get the pulse and understanding of what’s going on within your organization so that you can guide and lead them, keep them accountable, keep them educated. Because one of the biggest things you hear all the time right and I’m sure you hear it is I can’t find good employees or I can’t find better employees. Well, here’s the unfortunate reality of that. You as a leader or you as a manager, it is your job to make your employees more valuable. You want better assets? You got to make the people in front of you better and having consistent team meetings and individual performance reviews and consistent skill development is a great way to do that.

And the third thing I think is documentations of systems and processes. I mean most don’t even have standard operating procedures in general. But I think having them documented in some sort of format whether it’s video or written format so that you have a training tool, a backlog of content internally that new hires can utilize, get ramped up faster and older employees can utilize to like kind of catch up with modern approaches. Because look, we all have those employees that are old school, that don’t want to adjust to modern times. I think a lot of times it’s because it just has not been made and educated and trained in a way they understand. So, I think breaking things down in video format primarily is a great way for someone to get into the content engagement at their own pace and then implement as they progress through the trainings and then they’re blending it with the real life experience.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. I love what you just touched on. The first two points, I feel like we’ve actually had two episodes for this season cover those exact topics.

Mike Claudio:
Oh, yeah?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. Jay Worth of Tomlinson Bomberger broke down their entire—he’s their marketing coordinator and he broke down their entire like marketing strategy and how really a lot of what they’re investing in is in the more simple stuff, having a great website, having a great social media presence. That’s all stuff they can own easily. But then they do a lot of the more simple things like direct mail and kind of all that other stuff that’s a little easier to manage. And then you’re spot on with the people. I mean we always hear in this space like if only I could clone myself. Well, the truth is you’re never going to be able to clone yourself but you do have the opportunity to really instill in your team through regular meetings and a specific company culture on how to kind of have them think at least with somewhat of an ownership mentality. I would love if you could dive a little bit deeper though into your last point about building out an easy way to have your systems and processes in a really public way. How have you seen other businesses do that well? What tools do they use? What’s your example there? What’s a success story there?

Mike Claudio:
So, there’s like three levels. There’s like the cheap free version, there’s the moderate and then there’s the more expensive, right? So, we’ll go kind of through that plethora of options. So, the cheap free version is like pick up your iPhone, every time you do something within your business record it in person. I’ll just use the example of like how should your equipment and tools be put away at the end of the day? Pictures and video. Like you’re doing it anyway, right? Just record what you’re doing. Have somebody on your team record that. Hey, guys, we’re going to put this here. Here’s why. Here’s how gas cans you put away, here’s how weed eaters and blowers need to be stored, here’s how all these things, here’s how mowers need to be cleaned, like here’s what a clean mower looks because like this seems to be a problem. I just cleaned this. This is what it’s supposed to look like. If it doesn’t look like this, you’re not done yet. You can do that with your iPhone. Take those videos and upload them into some sort of a free shared program like Dropbox or Google Drive or iCloud. All of those are very friendly. Most of them are very inexpensive, not free for a certain amount of storage but that’d be like the baseline. Start there. Basically just record what you’re doing already as the business owner so you can utilize that to get other people up to your standards. Kind of the middle ground is a program called Loom. Loom is a screen recording program. I don’t think it’s free but I don’t know the exact cost of it.

Ty Deemer:
Loom actually is free.

Mike Claudio:
Oh, is it? Even better. I don’t think it always was. Maybe it is now. But at one point I looked at it and wasn’t.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, I think with Loom, there is a paid model but I mean internally as a company, we use Loom and I don’t pay for it and it’s awesome.

Mike Claudio:
Yeah. So, like that’s a great thing to do for a screen share perspective. So, if you’re doing your books, you’re doing scheduling, you’re using your CRM, you’re using email campaigns, you’re doing invoicing, you’re doing accounts payable, accounts receivable. Like any of those processes have specific steps to make them successful and to make sure that people don’t miss certain steps. A lot of times there’s a do this here, then track it here. Well, that’s really how checks and balances happen if you don’t have that documented. So, using Loom to do screen recording so you can educate and train people just on how you want to see things done is a great way to do that. And then like I guess if there’s a just beneath the most expensive would be to hire a videographer to edit some videos, maybe a higher production. And then top would be like to hire, there’s companies out there that will help you develop systems and processes and handbooks and all that other kind of stuff and that can get kind of pricey. I think that there is a—if you’re let’s say a $5 to $10 million business, it probably makes sense you have a lot of those things, having a really quality employee handbook, onboarding processes, standard operating procedures, like process development. I know it’s a lot of what you guys are into as well, right? So, it can be expensive to have somebody come in and do that for you.

The best way I’ve seen to do it is like hire a videographer for like a day, a month, have him come in with a very specific plan on what he needs to record that day to build out the training program for whatever that thing is you’re trying to document and that might cost you a couple grand a month maybe, maybe a thousand bucks, maybe $1,500 depending on the videographer you find. But that way it’s just a little bit of a higher quality production. You can do more editing with the videos where you can have like pop-ups and different screens that come in to kind of like coincide with what you’re teaching on. It’s a little bit better than the iPhone but the only difference there is it’s more heavily produced than just recorded on your phone. So, those would be the four separate do it yourself, pay someone to help you do it or pay someone to do it for you. Like those are basically the three options.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. All of those options speak to different companies at different parts of their journey. I love the transparency that creates. That’s just a great use case of like leaving no doubt with your team, letting them know like hey, we set this clear and thoughtful expectation and when it isn’t met, like we’ll just go to the Google Drive and be like hey, this is what it’s supposed to look like. It doesn’t look like that. What went wrong?

Mike Claudio:
It’s the simplest stuff. Like how should things be maintained, what is cleaning a piece of equipment look, like how does storing it appropriately look like, what should your trailers look like at the end of every workday, what does a successful and accomplished bed, like mulch bed look like, right? Like what does the edging look like, how do the lines in the grass supposed to look? Like these are all things like as you hire under skilled labor, all sometimes somebody needs to do is just see the right way and now they have it. And you can’t be on site with them every day, right? But you can give them access to videos and documents and pictures that help them meet the expectations pretty effectively.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. I love the use case for it out in the field. But with your point using Loom, I love it on the office side of it as well though because I think one of the things that I’ve heard talking to other people in the industry is lots of times that first operational hire is like the pivotal moment of an owner being able to be like oh, my business can grow and I can take a vacation now. So, if you have an easy way to communicate to that operator, like hey, this is the steps we need to take to achieve success in this area and it’s clearly laid out in a visual way, that just sets your business up for so much success. But yeah, before we kind of go any deeper into any other topics, I’m sure anyone that’s listening has already been able to tell you’ve got some great ideas, you have some good insight. I think it would be helpful for you to provide some background kind of how you got here today. Let people know like what’s your experience, how did you begin working at WinRate Consulting, like what led to this point in your career and kind of what are you doing today?

Mike Claudio:
Sure. So, my working career started in corporate America. I worked for Verizon Wireless for little over nine years, almost 10 years. From there for a number of reasons, transitioned into the remodeling industry. I became vice president of business development for a remodeling company, a kitchen and bathroom guy. Grew him substantially. He went from a few hundred to a few million dollars over a two-year period that I worked there. He kind of capped out from the business size he wanted which was great. It was right for him, right for the clients, not right for me. I’m a business development professional. You’re asking me to stop growing a business, it’s time for me to move on. So, I went to a roofing company for a couple years, grew them from $2 million to, it was $5-ish just what we would have done my last year. I left before the year was over but it was $5 to $6 million what we would accomplish my second year there. So, again saw success there and all that kind of led to me building reputation for knowing how to grow businesses.

So, over those five or six years, I did those two jobs, I got a lot of people asking me hey, Mike, what would you do about this, hey, Mike, how would you help me with that? And I just like coaching people and helping people. It’s a passion of mine. It always has been. And I realized I was helping people grow their businesses pretty substantially and not charging anything for it. And I said well, could this be a thing? Could this be a career path for me? And so, I went through some trial, I went through some proof of concept stuff and it made sense. And so, the beginning of 2019, technically the end of 2018, I started WinRate Consulting and I’ve been coaching full-time since the beginning of 2019 and here we are at the end of 2020. So, about two years and I’ve coached 50, I think it’s 55 businesses one-on-one. I have another 40 to 50 in my mastermind group. And basically, so at this point I am a business coach primarily on sales, leadership and business development. So, basically how to close deals, how to find deals and how to lead your business to successfully execute those deals. This is where I spend most my time. So, I have clients all over the country right now. I have people in the tree and lawn care industry like we talked about. Ty was very gracious and referred me to one of his clients that I’m working with right now. I have a tree service company in the Texas market that I’m working with right now as well. So, yeah all over the home service industries, the people I coach though.

Ty Deemer:
Awesome. Yeah. I love just having the guests provide their background and experience so they have a frame of reference for the audience.

Mike Claudio:
Why should anybody listen to what I have to say? They don’t know.

Ty Deemer:
Exactly. Providing a little street cred for you. So, those that are listening, Mike’s kind of gone through his background and if you want to kind of hear a little bit more from him, we do have his episode from last season. It’s called “Redefining Your Sales Process” and we kind of stuck to broad level topics there. He talks about qualifying work with transparency, starting out a sales process from scratch, why following up isn’t just like an option, it’s a necessity, the importance of understanding your customers’ needs, all of that stuff. Great content. His first episode’s season one episode three of Green Industry Perspectives. But there’s a reason we asked him back on. He touched on a lot of topics that we want to take a little bit of a deeper dive in that sales process and the first one really is all about using and building a referral network. That’s something Mike preaches on with his groups, with his clients and there’s a lot that goes into a referral network and maybe you’re listening to this and going I don’t even know really what a referral network is. We’re going to spend a good chunk of this show providing some practical ways or knowledge in how to build out a referral network for your tree care or landscape business. So, Mike, I think what’s kind of healthy to start here is let’s go and just go ahead and define what a referral network is or really what all that entails.

Mike Claudio:
I guess I’ve never actually defined it like simply.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
[inaudible 00:14:13] asked me to define it, right? But I think I can. So, a referral network at least in my opinion is a group of people out in your marketplace who are actively or interested in trying to refer the people they know to you for services that you want to provide at a price you want to provide it for. It’s basically a free sales team is the best way I think to talk about it.

Ty Deemer:
Okay. Awesome. Yeah. So, we’ve acknowledged what a referral network is. Next step, what are the first things you have to do to start beginning building a referral network?

Mike Claudio:
So, I want to just put a little bit of a mindset shift on this. I think a lot of businesses and I’ll answer your question but I think there’s a point I want to make a little bit just right before that. So, a really big shift that I’ve seen in the marketplace is that everybody kind of sees the online influencers like put money behind ads and you’ll grow your business. And is there a place for that? Sure. But I was proven correct this year and Nielsen and Google did a report earlier this year that said 92% of people, 92% of people will believe in and find a reference from a friend or family member before any type of marketing or ad options. That’s a giant percentage of potential clients. 92% would ask a friend or fame member and go with that suggestion over some sort of ad or marketing or print advertising option. So, that’s huge. That’s a giant percentage, right? And if that’s accurate which I mean that sounds high to me to be honest but even if it’s 80% of people, those ads and marketing exercises are basically you’re trying to grasp a percentage of the 8% to 20% percent of people that are looking at them which is not that many people. So, if that’s true, if that many people are going to friends or family, well, how do you get to those people when they’re in their right decision making process? Well, it’s that the people that they’re asking are thinking of you is top of mind.

So, marketing and advertising can work for that. But primarily people work with who they know, like and trust and it takes time to build that trust factor. I’ve always used the analogy that everybody has some sort of drinking buddy that they know and like but they would never trust with their money, right? Everybody has that guy who you love hanging out but you’re like man, I need to get this work done in my house. You’d be like yeah, bro, I’m good. I’ll hire somebody else. Like would not trust them on your property, right? Like they’re great people but you’re not giving them power tools. Well, that’s a real scenario though. Like that’s the average business to the unknowing consumer is I might know of you and I might like what you’re doing but if I don’t trust you, you’re not getting my business.

So, with the benefit of having a referral partner network is that that person, that referrer, the person referring the business to you. Like Ty, you did with Bella, right? You are in a trusted advisory role in that person’s life right. That person came to you and said man, I really need help with this and you said you got to call Mike. And I had closed that deal before they even contacted me. They were 99% sure they were moving forward because they trusted you in that process. They weren’t, Brett might have gotten second opinions on it but like I don’t think he did, right? And so, because of the value of the trust he had in you already, it immediately transitioned me into that trust factor. Because hey, if Ty trusts him, I can because I trust Ty, right? And I think not enough people focus on prospecting and building relationships intentionally with referral partners. Let’s use Bella as an example. They’re a mulch and straw company, right?

Ty Deemer:
Yep.

Mike Claudio:
Like they sign contracts with big landscape companies who do let’s say like community and municipality lawn care services but don’t want to handle the mulch and straw. That’s their target audience because one of those companies could have 10 to 15 properties as opposed to him going out and trying to close 10 to 15 individual properties. That one referral partner brings them a bunch and they’re automatically trusted as part of the tree, no pun intended, as part of the service provider group, right? So, but in that case, the referral network is so powerful because they live in a trusted advisory role of some person, right? Their group, their network, their audience, their marketplace, whatever you want to call it. So, getting that one person to trust you can get dozens of people to trust you instantly.

And here’s the second part of this that I’ve focused on wildly. I have focused on referral partners for the entire 10 years, eight years, it’s been eight years since I’ve been in the construction industry. I have never paid a referral fee. Not once. And it’s because of this singular fact. That person has to directly benefit from referring you to their client. Let me use the example of let’s say a real estate agent, right? Let’s say there’s a tree that needs to be trimmed back some. That real estate agent needs that problem solved so they can get to the closing table and getting to the closing table is way more important and way more valuable to them than any referral fee you could give them for that project.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
They just want somebody that’s going to represent them well, take care of their client, get the problem resolved quickly so they can get to the closing table. That person does not care about your referral fee. They care about getting their problem solved so they can get to the actual thing that they want to get to, right? I see a lot of times, hey, am I going to get some on the back, am I going to get cut of this? That’s not a good referral partner for you. That’s a person that’s trying to directly benefit from you, not from you helping their client. So, they’re less likely to be thinking of referring you because they don’t really have a problem that you’re solving other than they want to make more money. That’s not a big—you might think so but money is not a huge motivating factor for most people. Problems, problems motivate people wildly because it’s a pain in their side. They’re dealing with it stopping something else from happening in their ecosystem, right? So, that referral partner, when you’re going out to network for them, it’s okay one, who is my ideal client whether you’re promoting property management companies, commercial GCs, individual homeowners. Who are they? Who are they asking or talking to when it comes to a service provider? And like look, Nextdoor can be a huge opportunity for most people. Mom and different buy/sell groups on Facebook. Mom groups are gold everybody. If you’re not familiar with what a mom group is, there’s like moms of Charlotte and if you get somebody on moms of Charlotte to refer you, you are in, bro. There’s no one else. You are it. You are gold to 50,000 moms in Charlotte.

Ty Deemer:
And Nextdoor is the exact same way. Speaking to my own mother, like that is where she goes for every use case of any service provider she needs. Well, my parents’ house recently flooded in Atlanta a couple storms, two months ago. Basement pretty much completely wiped out. Where did they go to find out who they should reach out to? They moved to Atlanta a few years ago, don’t know that many people. My mom went to Nextdoor. You’re spot on there.

Mike Claudio:
And so, for those referral partners, they’re in that same trusted advisory role. Like those are platforms. But they can be phenomenal referral engines for you, right? So, there’s referral partners and referral systems. But like a Nextdoor app would be a referral system. You would want your clients who are happy with you to go post on their Nextdoor about you. I guarantee 100% it brings you business. Period.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Claudio:
Because you gain the trust factor because what’s the number one question that most people get asked is well, what have you done like this around here, who have you worked with around here, can I see a project you’ve done before? They see you on Nextdoor, the benefit of Nextdoor is it’s geographically structured. So, if you’re listed on somebody’s Nextdoor, you’ve done work within a certain radius of that person’s home guaranteed. Immediately, they trust you because their neighbors are willing to work with you.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it is important to note a lot of what you’re talking about is within the frame of reference of a few understood things. And number one, it’s that you’re making your clients happy all the time. You’re not going to build a referral network unless you’re providing a service or an experience with customers where they finish and go wow, that was awesome. I really enjoyed that. They solved my problems and now I’ll be an advocate for them. And you’ve touched on kind of some of the referral systems that are in place, Nextdoor, mom Facebook groups. Would you consider having customers leave Google reviews as a part of like a referral system or is that really kind of a beast of its own?

Mike Claudio:
I’ve never focused on it mostly because like if they’re Googling me, they didn’t ask somebody already.

Ty Deemer:
Okay.

Mike Claudio:
And it’s a small part of the market. And like here’s a thing I think a lot of people underestimate. I would say most of your audience does less than $5 million dollars a year in revenue. Would you say that’s fair?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, that’d probably be fair.

Mike Claudio:
Fair? Okay. So, if I’m wrong, I’m not insulting anybody. I’m just saying most people under $5 million dollars in revenue need a fraction of market share to double their business, a fraction of it. So, you don’t need 10,000 clients to grow. If you’ve got five to 10 new referral partners, you could double your business year every year. So, I don’t need volume. I don’t need 50 Google reviews because that random person is going and searching me on the internet. The people I want to work with are the people who know people I’ve worked with. So, I put all my effort into like previous clients and referral partners because those are almost guaranteed closes as opposed to somebody Googling you and looking through all your reviews. And if they call you, those are always the nitpicky, annoyed, difficult clients, not always but a very high percentage of those people are the ones that are going to drag you out and then they’re going to hold like hey, if you don’t do this for me, I’m going to leave you a bad review. Those are not people I want to work with. They’re not. So, I’ve never focused on getting reviews on Google because I want to work with the people who are asking their friends and family and networks and I want to be in that circle. I’ve been a proponent of testimonials on the website. So, when somebody refers me, when that person goes to research me, there’s a credit check there basically of saying like hey, this person said they’re good, I’m looking at their website, there’s a lot of good testimonials here. Okay, they check the box. Now I actually do trust them.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
I think that’s important but I’ll be honest, I’ve never focused on Google reviews. There’s plenty that live by them, right? So, their primary focus is Google reviews and I’m not against it. But like to put it in context, over a five-year period, I sold over $10 million in construction projects where my average project size was probably $20,000 to $30,000. That’s a lot of work. I didn’t ask for a single Google review in five years.

Ty Deemer:
Got you.

Mike Claudio:
Talking about the last episode, right? 40% of my sales or that $10 million came because of follow-up.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
So, I put my efforts into different activities. You can’t do nothing and not do Google reviews. Like you have to have like what am I doing instead of. You be doing something. But I’m not a focus on it because if you’re not paying to play on Google just like Facebook, like you’re just not going to get seen.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. No, that’s a great perspective especially when 92% of people are going to a friend or family member before the review. So, on that note, if you’re talking to someone in our audience right now and they’re currently just asking customers for hey, you were happy with us, leave a Google review, we’d really appreciate it, what would it look like for them to shift more towards like asking them to be a referral partner? What does that ask on behalf of the company look like and what have you seen be effective?

Mike Claudio:
In that case, you pivot to Nextdoor instead of Google just because like the way consumers are acting now, their behavior is different, right?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
So, I was like hey, instead of posting that on Google, do you mind, like let me send you a Nextdoor link. I’d love for you to post about us there. I think that brings more value. But so, here’s the trick though is you need to have regular touches of your previous client list. I would say at least once a quarter, you’re doing something to stay in front of that list because here’s the biggest thing people miss. Those happy clients are your best referral partners, right? The ones that you made happy, the ones you delivered for, the ones that you showed up on time for, the ones that you charge fairly, like those people are the ones that are like you change their expectation of contractors or service providers or lawn and care companies. Stay in front of them on a quarterly basis or twice a year basis at a minimum. Monthly would be great. But at a minimum, quarterly or twice a year, do something to put yourself back in front of them. Because they’ll forget about you, right? If you just do like a single service or like you went and trimmed some trees for them, they’re not going to remember your name. It’s your job to stay in front of them. So, I would say if there was an effort, it’s you as the business, you want to create real value? Stay in front of your previous fine list.

Ty Deemer:
Got you. And as opposed to like really focusing on acquiring net new like list of people and prospecting a new—

Mike Claudio:
[inaudible 00:27:25] money into cold lists, right? Or they just they just caught their door knocking. Like door knocking worked when one-call closes were a thing. And if you’re one-call closing successfully right now, congratulations. Start to blend in some other services or some other approaches because one-call close is going away. It’s not how consumers make decisions anymore. It’s just not.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
And I’m not saying turn it off. I’m saying start to blend it with brand building, social media, networking, prospecting, referral partner creation. Those things need to start happening because at some point, let’s say another shutdown happens, guess what you can’t do? Door-to-door sales.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
And some people did. Some people did it successfully and I’m really happy for those people. But not everywhere. Every state was different and you don’t know what’s coming. You need multiple irons in the fire that are driving the pipeline health. It can’t just be lived on one thing like lead sourcing or lead management or purchases and door knocking. Like it’s just not going to work long term.

Ty Deemer:
Got you. So, we’ve covered on creating like a referral partner. Like I couldn’t agree more. Nextdoor, Facebook groups. Are there any other kind of referral systems that you would suggest?

Mike Claudio:
I mean like depending on who your target audience is, I would say associations can be good. Like I was a part of BNI for a few years and that was valuable for me as a home service provider. BNI is great for B2C. It’s not ideal for B2B. So, if you’re looking for property management companies or commercial GCs, depending on who your audience is or municipalities, like those are probably not, like BNI is probably not for you. But there’s a ton of associations out there that can bring value. I would say start with the Nextdoor and the Facebook groups and that kind of thing because those are free, easy-to-manage, not very time consuming options. But if you’ve done that already and you have a couple salespeople, they need to be out there building their own brand and a big part of that is being around the same people consistently. That’s how you build that know, like and trust factor. So, I would say some sort of an association or networking group that you can attend consistently I guess. So, I’ve done BNI, I’ve done [inaudible 00:29:23], I’ve looked at HBA, I looked at some of the apartment associations because I’ve been in different industries, right? There’s different ones, different reasons, different value but I’d say look into something depending on what your target audience is. It’s like if your target audience is X and Y is your ideal referral partner, where are those people meeting people? And I would say look into that.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. Because that’s a really good point. Kind of I feel like the tone of the conversation so far has really been more of the residential side of things. But the commercial world is completely different because at that point, it’s not as good to be probably on Nextdoor or a mom Facebook group. It’s probably better to join like the association where your customers are meeting and if you have somebody that’s happy with you and going to a conference and being like oh, Dave’s really happy with us or like ask Dave. Could you make an introduction to your friend? Like those types of things. Really thinking strategically about how that works. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the green industry, whether you’re in the construction industry or whether you’re in just like white collar America, like everyone talks to people that are in the same shoes as them. If there’s someone that can provide them with a perspective on like hey, what did you do with this, I think at the end of the day, you just need to be the person says oh, I worked with so-and-so or I heard about this guy. That can be huge for growing your business.

Mike Claudio:
Well, here’s the number one tactical thing to do there. Ask your existing, if you’re in the B2B world, ask your existing buyers, whoever your decision makers are, where do they network with people like themselves. Just ask them. Don’t be afraid. Hey, man, I’m looking to do business with more people like you. Where do you hang out with people that do what you do for other businesses? I’d love to be a part of that. I’d love to get introduced to them. I’d love to grow my business. You’ve been a phenomenal client. You’re awesome to work with. I want to find more people like you. Where are they?

Ty Deemer:
And see what they say and then act on it.

Mike Claudio:
Just do the research.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, yeah. Because that’s golden information.

Mike Claudio:
Huge.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, that’s great.

Mike Claudio:
Most of us are afraid to ask. They’re trying to like sales their way in and like be sneaky like hey, what are you up to this weekend. No. Just like bro, where do you network with people like you so I can get into that? Because the B2B world is much more understanding of like hey, you’re trying to grow your business, we’re trying to go our business, we know how that works. I want to help you if you’ve done a good job for me. So, it’s a lot easier in the B2B world to ask for referrals and ask for value because they get what you’re trying to accomplish.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely. That’s great. So, before we move onto the next topic, is there anything else you’d like to touch to kind of wrap up the referrals and how to build out what that looks like for these people?

Mike Claudio:
Just one last piece. Content creation on social media can be blended between content that is meaningful to your referral partner base as well as to your direct-to-consumer base. So, like what you would put out there to try and gain attention of a real estate agent would be different than a homeowner. Different problems, different reasons, different service types, different talk tracks. So, don’t be afraid to blend those two things together into your social media strategy where some of your content is directed on direct-to-your-consumer and some is directed towards your referral partners.

Ty Deemer:
Okay. So, on the back half of the show, what you and I had lined out to talk about was really planning going into next year. 2020, I think we can all acknowledge has kind of been very interesting for a lot of people in the green space. Although it might have been a little bit worrisome at the beginning, a lot of people ended up like having a great 2020 year because people were at home in their backyards. They had their vacation canceled. So, they were calling you up and be like hey, like I’ve got all this money from my canceled vacation, come do this hardscape in my backyard or like I want this work done here. So, there’s a lot of people in the green industry that have looked at 2020 and said you know what? This is a great year. Excited about going into 2021. It’s a common theme we’ve been hearing. But going into each year, we’re in November, you’re thinking about kind of how to plan to have a successful sales year next year. If you’re in the commercial space, you might be bidding out work right now. But if you’re in the residential services space, you might be trying to think of ways to creatively build a referral network right now. So, I really just want to spend the next 10 to 15 minutes to have you talk about if you were sitting down with one of your clients right now at WinRate Consulting and you were talking about 2021 plans, what are some things that you think businesses need to be doing right now to be successful next year?

Mike Claudio:
I think one of the biggest misses I see is that people get these like I want to do a million dollars next year, have no real strategy to get there. Like they don’t even know what it’s going to take. And so, one of the best practices I do is basically reverse engineering the end goal. If you want to do a million dollars next year, what’s your average project size? Let’s say your average project size, I’m going to try and do this kind of off the top of my head. I was not writing this up. I think this is valuable. If you want to a million dollars in revenue, your average project size is let’s say $5,000. Would you say that’s a fair average project size for your people?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. Probably so. Maybe a little bit more but it really just depends.

Mike Claudio:
Let’s just say $5,000 for round numbers.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, it’s easy. Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
That’s 200 projects, right? Well, let’s say your close rate is 50%. That means you need to send out 400 proposals next year. And let’s say you qualify out 50% of your leads. That means you need 800 leads next year. Okay. So, if 800 leads come in, who’s answering the phone, who’s running those, how are we acquiring 800 leads? Are we networking, are we prospecting, are we lead generation, are we paying for ads? What do the ads cost? What is the average lead value? Does that equate to the profit margin? So, I think so many people miss the I want to do a million dollars next year, right? The million dollar mark is a big kind of goal for a lot of people, right? That seven figure mark kind of gets you into that next echelon of people. But some people say I want to do a million dollars and have no idea how they’re going to get there. Sometimes it’s more projects, sometimes it’s higher value projects, sometimes it’s increasing pricing. On average, if you want to do a million dollars on a $5,000 project, you need to do 200 projects for the year. Let’s say the average person who has a decent close rate is around 50%-60%. We’re going to use 50% for round numbers, right? That means they need they need to be in front of 400 people next year. That’s like two people a day, right? if you don’t know that going into let’s say first quarter, how do you know you’re on track? Because I’m really big on managing towards behaviors and activities, not results. So, if you know your close rate’s 50%, your average project size is $5,000, your goal is to be in front of two people a day every Monday through Friday for the entire year. Pretty straightforward, right?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
But if you don’t know that and you’ve been like well, I think we’ve had a good quarter. Hey, John, we had some good leads last quarter, right? Yeah, we’re pretty successful. No. You have no freaking clue what you’re on you’re on pace or not. And all of a sudden, it’s August and you’re like oh man, look like another $700,000 year, man. I don’t even know how to get to a million. It’s because you’ve never actually figured out what it’s going to take to get there.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. I love what you just touched on. I would love for you to repeat it. It was what you referenced about not focusing on the results but focusing on the process.

Mike Claudio:
I’m incredibly focused on managing to behaviors and activities, not results. Because and here’s why, you have no control over the results. You have no control over who signs contracts, on who pays when they’re supposed to. You only have control over your activity and behavior. What are you doing every day to drive the mission? How many calls are you making? How many appointments are you running? How many meetings are you having? How many posts are you making/ How many referrals are you asking for? Like you can control those things. So, you know if it’s going to take 800 leads next year, you’re going to qualify half of them out, there’s going to be 400 leads left. Of that, you’re going to close 200. You just got to a million dollars. So, how do you get to 800 leads?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, that’s great.

Mike Claudio:
That’s the only goal. So, I’m tracking that every week. How many leads did we get this week, right? So, we look at that on let’s say a 50-week year because a couple weeks of vacation. That’s 16 leads a week. How many leads did you get this week? Oh, you only got 14. That’s not going to cut it. We got to pick up. Hey, guys, hey, sales guy, that’s three weeks in a row with only 10 leads coming in. We got to get that up if we’re going to hit our goals this year.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. And it just brings like what you’re putting in front of them down to their level and down to something that’s way more attainable that they can think through rather than like thinking about these bigger KPIs and money goals. Because of course, they’re not going to, like we’ve talked about this in previous episodes that like you’re just not going to get your employees to think about the numbers the same way you do. But what you can get them to think of is like the numbers that relate to their success. Like if it’s a sales guy, he knows that his income is based off of commission. You can base those goals off of the leads that it takes for you to reach your company’s monetary goal. I love, love that example.

Mike Claudio:
Yeah, I mean it just comes down to you cannot control what your audience, marketplace, clients do. You can’t control who signs, who doesn’t sign, who pays, doesn’t pay. But you can control the activity you do every day to make sure that you’re driving the activity necessary to reach the requirements of the business on a daily basis.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely. So, you have kind of setting a goal and then understanding what it takes to get there. How do you encourage your clients or if someone’s listening and they’re like going well, I don’t even really know what my goal should be, how do you coach your clients on how to set—I don’t want to say realistic—but like proper goals for their business?

Mike Claudio:
Well, I mean anything is proper if you have the right mindset about like what it’s going to take to get there, right? Let’s say you’re trying to 10X your business. Well, you better be ready to 10X your overhead and 10X your employee account and 10X your problems. And like if you’re prepared for that and ready to work through that and have a strategy in place, like by all means, shoot for 10X in your business. It’s not realistic. There’s a lot that goes wrong and you’re trying to scale that quickly every year. I’m not sure there’s a good answer to that. I’m not sure there is like a proper formula for like what your next year goal should be. I say like set the goals, then quarterly you have to like analyze and adjust. Did we over project, did we under project, what do we need to hire, who we need to bring in? We’re scaling faster than we thought. Because scaling faster than you thought could be a bigger problem than scaling slower than you thought, right?

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
So, you can’t just show up and like oh my God, we have way more work than we were expecting this year. Well, like you should have known that like three months ago. It shouldn’t be June/July when you figure that out. I think it just takes regular check-ins to say like okay, hey, we originally thought this. Here’s the reality situation. So, this is how we need to analyze and adjust to like get on track with what’s actually happening. Because no matter what you project, people that say I want to do a three or five year plan, you’re full of it. You can’t tell me what’s going to happen a quarter from now, no less three years from now. You have a vision of like I want to get to being the top business in my marketplace, cool. But hey, I want to be a $10 million business in five years, there’s absolutely no way you can properly strategize for that. There’s too many unknowns, there’s too many variables. You just don’t know what you don’t know. But like you can say like hey, next year we want to do this and that’s going to take this activity for first quarter. Let’s manage this one 90-day strategy at a time.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s why I originally asked the question is because lots of times I think people just throw out like hey, this is my goal. Mainly, it’s because it’s what they want as a business owner but you do have to think about what it’s going to take to get you there and if the thought doesn’t go into it, you can create more nightmares for yourself than growing too slowly.

Mike Claudio:
So many people don’t ever like go back to the plan. Just like New Year’s resolutions, right? You talk about it at the end of December, beginning of January and you don’t think about it again until next year it’s time to redo the strategy. Like don’t let that be you this year. If last year, you made a strategy and you’re sitting here right now the end of November and you haven’t done a damn thing about it, you haven’t looked at it or analyzed it if it was successful or not because you just succumbed to the 2020 year. You’re in control of your environment. You’re in control of your business whether you want to be or not. Choosing to or choosing not to is still a choice. So, I might as well choose to focus on it and analyze and adjust as you go.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah, absolutely. So, just to wrap up the conversation about 2021 planning, what’s the one piece of advice or the one non-negotiable that you think going into next year every green industry business should have in place to kind of set themselves up for a successful sales year?

Mike Claudio:
I would say content creation strategy.

Ty Deemer:
Okay.

Mike Claudio:
[inaudible 00:41:59] start investing and increasing the value of your content because it increases the image of your brand which increases the perceived value of your brand which allows you to charge more. Plan for once a month, have a videographer involved, a photographer involved. Start a YouTube channel, start a podcast. Super inexpensive but start leveling up your brand with a specific content strategy for next year.

Ty Deemer:
Okay. Awesome. that’s great stuff.

Mike Claudio:
Do not undervalue it. It’s massive.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. I love that because a lot of the things we see in this industry is that companies just don’t feel like investing in even the simplest forms of content. That can be your website. Having a clean crisp website that when people go to it, they can be like oh, I’m confident in this company. They’ve got their stuff together. That’s just how people interact with companies nowadays.

Mike Claudio:
Well, it’s not even that. I think people assume everybody has a good website because that’s just like how they engage with the average business at this point. And when you don’t, they’re like uh. You don’t need to be the best but it’s got to be good.

Ty Deemer:
It’s got to be serviceable.

Mike Claudio:
And here’s the biggest thing I would say. If you look at your website, does it match the quality of the work you do? If it doesn’t, it’s destroying your business.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah.

Mike Claudio:
That’s it. It’s got to match your brand. I mean if you’re the one man show and it’s just you and a truck and the help every once in a while, you don’t need a high-end website because you’re not a high-end business. No offense but that’s just the reality of the situation. Don’t misconceive the audience.

Ty Deemer:
No, I don’t think that’s hyperbolic language at all though. Because what you just spoke to is true. It’s actually damaging to your business it does not match the services you offer.

Mike Claudio:
It’s true. Be consistent. That’s it.

Ty Deemer:
For sure. So, we’re right out about the 45 minute mark. Before I give you the chance to kind of share with the audience how they can get connected with you and how to start really focusing on their win rate and join you with WinRate Consulting if they want, I love asking this question to every guest at the end of the show and it’s pretty simple. Basically, it asks what comes next for you and what are you most excited about going forward just to kind of see where your mindset is, whether it’s the end of this year, going into next year? What are you most excited about with your business and the companies you’re helping right now?

Mike Claudio:
So, working on the hardest right now is I have like two services. I have a mastermind and one-on-one coaching right now. I’m starting a group in the middle, like a middle service. It’s called the champion circle. My goal is to get 10 business owners in there committed to the whole year working together kind of like a think locker room environment, right? Like team oriented. It’s us against them. It’s very, I don’t think intimate, but it’s a vulnerable environment where you can feel safe. So, I’ll be kicking that off at the end of the year. But then something that I didn’t have last time was on your show is I actually started a grading and demo company about [inaudible 00:44:52]. So, I’m actively scaling that business. We’ll do a few hundred thousand dollars this year in our first four months and then getting that ramped up and scaled. We’re buying some equipment, buying some vehicles. I’m kind of investing in that and I’m super excited to see where that can take us because I think there’s a huge need for professionalism and just general execution on the equipment operator side. I think everybody here would agree it’s hard to find a company that can operate equipment effectively. So, we tear down single family homes and grade lots and take trees out, that kind of stuff. We’re probably at the four-month mark right now. I think our first client started in August. So, we’re in the three to four month mark. We got some traction and we’re starting to invest to get to the next level. And so, that’s super exciting going into 2021.

Ty Deemer:
That’s awesome. Congratulations on that. Excited to see where that goes.

Mike Claudio:
Yeah. Thank you.

Ty Deemer:
Yeah. So, just to round out, Mike, if someone was listening today and is interested, recognize hey, maybe I need a coach, maybe I need someone that I can sit down with and talk to or maybe I need to join a group of professionals like me to understand what they’re thinking through, how can someone get connected with WinRate and get connected with you?

Mike Claudio:
The easiest route is probably Instagram, @WinRateConsulting. Like that’s probably my primary content platform from an engagement perspective. But if you just want to hear more about like what I know and what I teach about, Big Stud Sales is my podcast and just Mike Claudio on YouTube. I put out weekly content on both those platforms. So, there’s just regular content there for people to engage in. So, if you love podcasts and so on, jump over, check out Big Stud Sales. You can’t miss it. It’s a pretty obvious logo. But then yeah, Mike Claudio on YouTube. I put a lot of effort the last four or five months into YouTube and it’s starting to take off pretty quickly where I put out two YouTube videos a week. So, a lot of great content there as well.

Ty Deemer:
Great. Well, Mike, we’ve had a great conversation. We’ve talked about creating a referral network, talking about different referral systems that businesses can start using to really get those leads. We talked about how to plan for next year and then we also kind of just heard what you get to experience every day with working a lot of customers. So, can’t thank you enough for the time and we’ll be linking in the show notes to WinRate Consulting, your YouTube channel, your podcast and your first episode with us. So, thanks again and really enjoyed it.

Mike Claudio:
Appreciate it. Thanks, Ty.

Conclusion:
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