The Hardest Thing I’ve Done in Business

Episode 93: The Hardest Thing I’ve Done in Business

Introduction:

This week, Jay Goltz, Liz Picarazzi, and William Vanderbloemen talk about sales, specifically the transition most founders have to make from handling sales themselves to building a sales team. Jay, Liz, and William also discuss the value of going to trade shows, the pros and cons of compensating salespeople based on commission, and the differences between inside sales and outside sales. “The kind of person,” Jay says, “that can go out there and cold call all day long and get the door slammed in their face—it’s very hard to find, very hard to keep, very hard to train, very hard to control. And that’s been my biggest challenge in business without any doubt.”

— Loren Feldman

Guests:

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Jay Goltz is founder and CEO of Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home.

Liz Picarazzi is founder and CEO of Citibin.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Welcome, Jay, Liz, and William. It’s great to have you all here. Liz, last week, you told us something I found intriguing that I’d like to follow up on. You mentioned that after the pandemic hit, you brought your husband into the business as COO and that he’s taken over many of the responsibilities at Citibin that you didn’t think you were good at. One of those areas, you said, was sales. I’d like to talk some more about that. Can you tell us, how were you handling sales before Frank joined the business?

Liz Picarazzi:
So, first, to make a little correction, I actually am very good at sales—but when my business was small. And with both of my businesses, when they were small, I was very involved with sales. So as the business scales, and I delegate to other people, and we have more and more customers, most importantly, it tends to get a little disorderly—despite having a CRM and other sorts of HubSpot tools. But what I’ve found is that, if I’ve set up a sales process, and it’s being followed really well, I don’t need to be that involved with sales.

But I do not manage sales very well, so that’s what I was referring to last week, is that I’ve never been a sales director or sales manager who has 10 people working for me pounding the pavement. I’ve never had that. I know it’s something I’m gonna need to get to, so until we get to that point, Frank, my husband, is the sales manager, and he manages a team of three. He’s doing a really good job at it, but he also has never managed a sales team. So we know we could get some extra help with this. We definitely want to scale. We’ve got a great product. When I’m out there selling, I do a great job. But we just need to scale our sales operation.

Jay Goltz:
You’ve mixed up three things in one, so I just want to clarify. You just mixed up inside salespeople, and you said people pounding the pavement—two completely different things. So managing an inside sales force is nothing like managing an outside sales force from my experience. And number two is—

Loren Feldman:
Wait a second. Make sure we understand what distinction you’re drawing between inside and outside. Is inside people who work in a retail store?

Jay Goltz:
No, a person sitting, answers the phone, “Hello.” And they go, “Hi, I’m looking for…” They can explain the products and services versus someone going out there looking for business. Completely different.

Liz Picarazzi:
Well, it’s like inbound, outbound. So our inbound is very strong with our SEO game, with our email newsletters, with our inbound even on the phone. But the outbound, people going out there to hunt, to go into new markets we’ve never been in, hiring external salespeople, I’ve dabbled with that a little bit. But it really is, to your point, Jay, it’s about the external sales team. Internal we’re doing pretty well.

William Vanderbloemen:
So Liz, what percentage of your sales would you guess are inbound versus outbound?

Liz Picarazzi:
Probably ninety/ten. Ninety inbound.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, same here. Same here. Is it more of a transactional sales process or consultative sales process?

Liz Picarazzi:
Yeah, it is definitely consultative.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, so when you figure out how to do outbound sales in a consultative process, please send me the notes, because we cannot figure that out. And so we just keep pouring more and more effort into marketing toward the top of our funnel, increasing our SQLs, and focus on inbound sales almost exclusively.

Jay Goltz:
Wait, explain that to me. It seems to me, William, you’ve got fish in a barrel. There are so many churches in the United States. You can clearly get the list. Are you sending out actual mailings to them?

William Vanderbloemen:
Nope. Nope. First of all, I don’t think it works. I think the history of direct mail—which, by the way, is history, except for a few of our clients, who still insist on doing it. They market to a little bit of an older database. The history of direct mail is like a 1 percent return, and I would say the same is true for outbound calls. I had a mutual friend of ours who I’ll leave nameless suggest that I hire a few young guns just to make outbound calls. “Make 100 calls a day, maybe you’ll land one.”

It’s not just that it’s cost-ineffective. It dilutes the brand. This is just my opinion, and to remind listeners, I have a religion degree with a philosophy minor, and I’ve said this before, but most people who have those degrees spend their entire career saying, “Do you want fries with that?” So I am learning as I go.

Loren Feldman:
But wait, come on, William. How long have you been running this business?

William Vanderbloemen:
In my opinion, if we’re just calling, saying, “Let me tell you how we can solve your problem today. Hey, we’re here when you need us,” I know how to sell like that. I think the brand we’re trying to drive is “thought leader, trusted advisor.” It’d be kinda like what Goldman Sachs used to be in its absolute heyday. They didn’t do cold outbound calls. You came to them, because you knew they were the best. So we’re focusing our efforts on content that drives people toward us as experts, trusted advisors.

For instance, the vast majority of pastors in the country are nearing retirement age. We could be doing cold calls about succession. Instead, we poured our eggs into the basket of, “Let’s write a book on succession,” which is now in every library at every seminary in the country, and is the textbook on the matter—and people come to us. And I wouldn’t say outbound sales is a bad idea. I just think for us, what I’ve found is, we’re a brand new idea with zero trust factor and highly consultative in sales. And that has led me to believe that the best thing I can do is put free content out that builds trust, and then when they call, have incredibly good inside salespeople who are concentrated in their approach.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, again, you’ve mushed three things together that are completely different. You said, “Well, direct mail only gets 1 percent.” That’s a good return. If you bought a 10,000-person list, 1 percent of 10,000 is 100 people. And for what it cost to do a stupid mailing with a beautiful letter addressed to the right people, if you had 100 live leads, that would be a home run. So 1 percent is a great return, number one.

Number two is, you’ve mixed together outbound calls with mailings—two completely separate things. I would think that a beautifully written letter to the head person in a church, saying, “Here’s what we do,” would get some attention. And people always go, “Oh, I throw all my direct mail out.” Do you think these people do that because they lose money? I get direct mail every day. It’s obviously working for some companies, or they would stop doing it.

So I don’t think direct mail is dead by any stretch of the imagination, and I think you could send out a very sophisticated letter to the churches. And until you try that and tell me it doesn’t work, I think your opinion is a guess—versus, “I tried that, and it didn’t work.”

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, you know what, Jay, you’ve actually given me a lot to think about, and you’ve been at this longer than I have. So I’m gonna take that to heart and go back and drop back to my team—particularly, maybe a direct mail towards succession clients, who tend to be older, who actually read mail. Maybe you’re right. What I don’t want to do—and like you say, it’s just a guess—is get 100 leads and then have 9,900 potential clients think, “That’s an ambulance chaser. He’s just trying to do a slick sale. I don’t want to be around him.”

Jay Goltz:
I think you’re overly sensitive. I think a sophisticated mailing with a beautiful letter looking like it was just written to them is not a bad brand thing.

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, you have just made my hour, Jay. You’ve given me—I’m dead serious. You’ve given me something to think about.

Jay Goltz:
Listen, I’ve tried a lot. I had a big idea one year. I sell to people who buy art, and there was the Gold Coast Art Fair. So I had this idea: I’m gonna hire one of those airplanes with a banner, Artists Frame Service, to fly over the 50,000 people who are buying art at the Art Fair.

It was thinking out of the box, and I did that. Now, did it work? No, it was a complete failure because it took me about three seconds when I got downtown to realize: you can’t look up at a banner when you’re in downtown Chicago. That’s for people looking out over the horizon. The point of my story is: It was a complete failure. But that was one failure. I’ve got three other success stories that I kept doing, so you’ve got to try some stuff. That one aggravated me just because they clearly knew the airplane banner wasn’t going to work.

Loren Feldman:
Let’s go back to where we started with Liz. I think what she described is kind of a classic entrepreneurial dilemma. At most companies, the person who starts the business is the one who is the person who sells it best, but you can only grow so much doing all the sales yourself. At a certain point, you have to grow beyond that. Liz, you said you weren’t good at managing a sales team. How do you know? What didn’t work when you were managing a sales team?

Liz Picarazzi:
One: I don’t really enjoy it that much. I don’t know exactly what that means, but having a scorecard and tracking the sales and finding out where it is in the funnel… It’s just not my forte. I’m definitely more of the creative person, the visionary.

Loren Feldman:
But you said you’re good at sales. Arguably, you might be the best person at the company to teach someone else how to do what you were able to do.

Liz Picarazzi:
Yeah, I think that’s a big part of it. And the people who are in the company, I have taught them on the existing segments that we’re working with. And so we primarily work with property managers, developers, affluent residential homeowners. And so they only need to deal with those customers. But I have a couple of segments that we’re starting to get business from without trying that I want more of.

Harvard University, for just a couple of their dormitories, needed trash enclosures, and they came to us. So we’ve got a great installation up there, we’ve got a great case study. But if I say to the team, “How do we get 10 more Harvards?” we don’t quite know where to go with it. We’re not getting traction with some of the things that we’re trying. So that’s where the idea of, “If I had an external salesforce, and I had someone who was a manufacturer’s rep for a brand that sold to facilities managers at colleges like Harvard, could someone pull out their Rolodex and be able to get us into 100 other universities?” I feel like something like that should exist, but I haven’t been able to get to it.

Jay Goltz:
First of all, when you describe management of your sales force as keeping track—that’s not really management. I question whether you hired the right people in the first place, number one. Don’t know. And number two, did you train them properly? Because if you hire the right people, and you train them properly, you’re not selling brain surgery. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to have an intelligent conversation with a customer who calls in. So I think that could work.

But again, I’m going back to: Why not do a mailing to the facility managers of every university? Or, there are magazines that are targeted just to those people. That’s all they do. There’s other ways of management. The most expensive one that I’ve found is hiring an outside salesperson and managing them. That salary would pay for 10 mailings, and I think you could get some great leads from, and I’ve done it.

Liz Picarazzi:
Right. Ads and trade shows too. I know in that segment, there are definitely trade shows that we’re going to start going to and there are trade publications.

Jay Goltz:
I’ve gone to some of those trade shows because we sell artwork, so we try going to some of those trade shows that are specifically for facility managers, and they’re looking for stuff like what you’re selling. I wouldn’t be so quick to hire an outside salesperson, because that’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in business—trying to hire, train, manage, and get results from people who want to make $80,000 a year. The salesperson you’re going to hire for $30k is not going to do it, in my experience. They can make a hell of a lot more money doing something else.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, what was your transition like, going from being the entrepreneur who does all the selling to hiring a staff and managing people who do it for you?

Jay Goltz:
Well, first of all, to be specific, I’m in a retail business, so I had to just find people who could take care of customers. They didn’t have to go out and find customers. That’s a huge difference—night and day. So I started hiring people with art backgrounds and started learning how to train them. And I have to say, that that was fairly simple compared to the next 20 years I spent trying to find outside salespeople to sell artwork, which it took me too many years to figure out.

Inside salespeople are completely different than outside salespeople. I always use the example of, “It’s the difference between cats and dogs. They both are similar, but cats go out and will kill things on their own and figure out how to bring it back in, but they’re not always your best friend like a dog is. They’re completely different species.” And in what I was doing was, I was hiring nice people because that’s what I did in my retail business. And I found out that just because someone’s nice doesn’t mean they know how to go out and find business. So I hired lots of nice people who couldn’t sell. They couldn’t bring in business.

And like I said, night and day. Inside salespeople are not outside salespeople. Before I would go hire a salesperson and train them and wind them up and send them out on the market, I’d be doing some mailings. I’d be doing some trade shows. I’d be doing some outbound. Well, in your case, people are looking for your product, perhaps. I would be spending time on making sure my website looks good, which your website looks very good. So I would think that that would be a great platform to get customers to.

I do have a question about your website, though. I see that you’re offering 10 percent off for signing up. And my question is, it looks like you’re selling a first-class, great product. Why do you feel compelled to give them 10 percent off?

Liz Picarazzi:
Because by giving me their email address, I can market to them, and that’s worth a lot to me.

Jay Goltz:
And you believe you have to give 10 percent off to get their email address?

Liz Picarazzi:
It’s been very effective, yes. Because if they give me the email address, then they go into my drip marketing campaign, and they’re going to get 10 emails from me over the next couple of months. And we can track who comes in and buys from that.

Jay Goltz:
How long is the 10 percent off good for? Is that forever? Or is it just, buy in the next 30 days?

Liz Picarazzi:
It’s actually forever. It’s for as long as they’re on our email newsletter. So anyone who gets our email newsletter can use that 10-percent off.

Jay Goltz:
So theoretically, you could argue, you built it into your price that pretty much everyone who’s buying is getting 10 off, I would assume. Okay. That might make sense. I think you’ve got a great looking website and a product that—I’m amazed, in Chicago, people are just leaving boxes on the sidewalk. It’s unbelievable. They’re just leaving entire boxes on the sidewalk, and I’m thinking, “How long is that gonna last?” And it seems to me—

Loren Feldman:
You’re talking about delivery boxes?

Jay Goltz:
Deliveries. I would think that I’d be contacting UPS. They have to be losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year in claims for products that were sold. And I would think that they would want to help you sell your product.

Liz Picarazzi:
I would, but they actually have a competitive solution. And that’s that they have lockers at a lot of major retailers, including, I think, Lowe’s, some gas stations, 7-Elevens. Same thing with FedEx has those, and as we know, Amazon lockers are everywhere, including in all Whole Foods.

So those lockers are not convenient. I mean, my product solves the problem of convenience, because you’re still having your package delivered to your home. If you have to go to Whole Foods and get your package from an Amazon locker, that kind of takes away that convenience, but you get the safety. I would love for them to subsidize my business, but they have their own solution.

Jay Goltz:
Are you getting a good amount of business from people who just saw the bins out in front of someone’s house, and they call in?

Liz Picarazzi:
Yes, so that is probably our best marketing, is the product itself. People—in New York City in particular—you have your lockers, your package locker or your trash enclosures right in front of your house. It’s not like in Chicago where you have alleys and driveways. I would have loved to have gone to the Chicago market, but we haven’t done as much there because people don’t need to keep their trash in front of their homes. They can put it in their alley in the back.

Jay Goltz:
Here’s my thought with that though. You’ve got Citibin in a fairly small logo on the side of the product, and I would think you’d want to put it in the front of the product with .com on it, so people can clearly see, “Oh, I can go right there and find out where these things came from.” And you’ve got a great name, and you got the URL. So I would think your greatest under-used asset is simply the thousands of boxes sitting out on the sidewalk that people would just see. When you buy a Craftsman tool chest, they’ve got a gigantic logo plate on it, and your logo was very small on there. I would think that would be your best form of advertising.

Liz Picarazzi:
Well, it’s funny that you said that, because the logo that we use now is considerably larger than the last logo plate we used. And I’m pretty happy with the size, but I definitely will take that into consideration, Jay.

Jay Goltz:
Don’t you think putting “.com” on it would help?

Liz Picarazzi:
Yeah, definitely. Possibly, if they think they can go right online and buy it.

Jay Goltz:
That’s the whole point. They don’t have to think about it, and they’re walking with their phone in their hand. They could literally, when they’re walking by someone’s house while it’s on their mind, put it right in, and boom. Now they call into your office, and you have your well-trained salesperson close the deal. Boom.

Liz Picarazzi:
Exactly.

Loren Feldman:
William, what was your transition like from being the person driving all of the sales to what was the next step?

William Vanderbloemen:
It was a lesson in humility. A couple things. I had assumed that, like Jay, “Let’s find somebody, who’s doing framing, let’s find somebody who knows art, then they can talk the language, etc., etc., etc.” I figured if I’m selling—at the time it was primarily to churches, now we’re helping schools find headmasters and non-profits find CEOs and values-based businesses find their CEOs even on a for-profit side—but back then it was just churches. And I thought I needed somebody who had worked in a church, who knew the language, who knew all the things. I went to a couple of interesting learning sessions that were sort of closed audience. One, particularly, was led by the lead team of the sales department for Salesforce. So pretty interesting.

They talked about founder-CEOs as either operationally driven or growth-driven, right? So you get somebody who loves running the business or growing the business. And that was their hypothesis. And so obviously, I slot into the growth. I’m paying attention to this, and I did all the sales—I love selling things. And so they said the number one lid to companies at the time was, “How do we get from $1 million to $10 million?” The lid for that threshold is the founder/CEO who really believes no one else can handle the sales like they can, and I’m like, “Guilty as charged.” And then they said, “The number one lid to a founder finding an EVP of sales who’s effective is the founder believing that the person has to come out of the industry they’re in.” And they used the example of a tractor company that felt like they had to find farmers from the Midwest that understood seed and all these things. The bottom line of the workshop was, “Here’s the deal: Salespeople can sell anything. You just have to teach them what they’re selling. So you get good at teaching them the product, they’ll get good at selling.” And that’s exactly what happened with us.

The second lesson in humility was that I am arguably the worst trainer/manager of salespeople in the history of sales. I brought on a wonderful team member, Sarah, who’s been with me a long, long time, and she was selling homes. She was the person, when you drive into a subdivision and go to the model home, sitting there and selling people their first home. So high-anxiety transaction, high-level widget, a lot of the same things that our clients are experiencing on a sales call. Zero industry experience.

So we tried teaching her the business, and she learned it very well. And then I said, “Okay, let me train you in sales,” and I even got a coach to teach me. And I was just terrible at it. Finally, I said, “Sarah, now we’re going to use the book of Ruth as our training manual. There’s a line that says, ‘Whither thou goest I will go. Whither thou stayest, I will stay.’ In other words, Sarah, I don’t know how to teach you, so your desk is now next to mine for the next four months. And you figure me out and figure out how,” and she did. And she needed no industry experience. She was able to figure out the sales without me doing training.

She’s now turned into a fabulous trainer of salespeople and has, for lack of a better idiom, given birth to an entire team. But for me, Loren, it was a lesson. One: Don’t be so arrogant, William. Don’t think people have to be in your industry to sell to your industry. Two: Don’t think you know how to train just because you know how to sell. Entirely different prospects and entirely different profiles of candidates to hire. I think I probably sympathize and empathize with Liz. I don’t like dealing with sales teams. There are too many people involved. I just want to sell, if I’m going to sell. So, a lesson in humility in my inability to train, even though I know how to sell. And my arrogance, in thinking people had to know my industry in order to sell to my industry.

Jay Goltz:
Wait, you’re leaving out the most important part. How did you find her? Where does she come from?

William Vanderbloemen:
Referral of a friend. In fact, she wanted to get out of… she was working in this home-sales thing, and she’s always been very values-driven. She loves her church. We were looking for some people on our research team. Frankly, we’d already filled the job, and we were really small at the time—this was eight years ago—and we’d already hired everybody, but I met her for a drink, along with my COO, and the three of us sat together for a while. And when she left, we’re like, “Okay, we’ve got to figure out where to put her.” So we created a role on the research team with the hope that maybe one day she could learn the whole industry and then become a salesperson.

Jay Goltz:
So she sold you, basically. She has, what I call, “it.”

William Vanderbloemen:
She did. She played me, absolutely.

Jay Goltz:
No, she has “it.” Which gets back to what I always say: It’s about hiring. It’s about hiring. It’s about hiring. And most entrepreneurs I talk to—almost all—they’re managing the wrong people. And whenever I ask them, “Wait, can you explain to me where you found them?” They go, “Oh, it was my neighbor’s brother-in-law’s sister.” And like, they really weren’t qualified. They just put them in the spot because they showed up. In your case, you got a recommendation. You talked to her, you liked her, you hired her. That wasn’t luck. And she’s successful.

That’s what my whole company is filled with. My salespeople, I found that there are people who are better than I am at it, because they’re just schmoozier than I am. And I finally got to where I got better at hiring those people. And I have to tell you, no one ever asks for me. When I say no one, I mean, I can’t think of the last time where someone called me down to the showroom, “Oh, so and so’s here. They want to see you.” The average frame shop? It’s all about the owner. They’ve got to see the owner, and you can’t grow a company like that.

Loren Feldman:
Have any of you tried compensating salespeople on straight salary and not on commission?

Jay Goltz:
I have.

Loren Feldman:
Has it worked?

William Vanderbloomen
Yes.

What I didn’t want was a cowboy culture of, “That’s my lead, not yours.” I wanted a pull-for-the-team mentality, and so we’ve played with a lot of different things. And Sarah really put me at ease, saying, “William, I’ve been selling stuff for seven years now, and I think I’ve had seven different models for compensation. So just treat me fairly, give me a number. I will perform better if there’s a number on my head than not.” So we set a salary plus a bonus, if you hit numbers, so it’s not really commission. It was company-wide numbers, not her personal numbers. Of course, the sales team was Sarah and me.

Now, we’re a little more commission-based, but it’s very low commission. And there are two commissions: One for your individual sales and one for sales of the team. And then Sarah, who leads the team, is only on sales of the team. So we’re trying to make her replicate herself and be just as incentivized to have an amazing team that doesn’t have her doing sales calls.

Jay Goltz:
But just to be clear, it’s inside sales. The leads are coming into her, correct?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yes.

Jay Goltz:
Or is she going out and looking for business? Or are the leads coming in and she’s dealing with the leads?

William Vanderbloemen:
Very, very rare that she goes out looking. Very rare.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, so my point is, that is an inside salesperson. And if you hired her and wound her up and said, “You go out there and find business,” she probably couldn’t do it. Because like I said, cats and dogs are completely different animals. The kind of person who can go out there and cold call all day long and get the door slammed in their face—it’s very hard to find, very hard to keep, very hard to train, very hard to control. And that’s been my biggest challenge in business, without any doubt. I’m a retailer. I’m used to hiring nice people to take care of customers, and hiring an outside sales force is just 180 degrees away from running an inside sales force.

William Vanderbloemen:
I look at what the corporate world—which has been doing search longer than the non-profit world—has done, and you’ve got a spectrum where one is just cowboy culture, and consultants are rewarded based on the sales they produce and the bills they collect. It’s almost like they’re a solopreneur using the house brand. And then the other end of the spectrum is, “We’re all going to get paid based on how the company goes, and your tenure is what weights your bonus.” And that feels more like Europe than the United States.

So I’m trying to find a middle ground, and I don’t know that I’ve got it figured out. I’m wide open to listeners sending me something to find a way to split Solomon’s baby—or you guys on the call. It’s a wild tightrope to try and ride.

Jay Goltz:
I think the fact is, you’re still a business that’s going to be mostly—if you generate leads by doing good marketing—you’re inside salespeople. And I think it’s just a much easier business model than hiring someone to go out there looking for business. And I don’t think it’s broken, at the moment, from what it sounds like. I don’t know that you do have a dilemma. It sounds like you’ve got it figured out. And if you did a little more marketing—meaning mailings, whatever—all of a sudden, you have more leads coming in. Life is grand.

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, my next meeting is with a marketing guy, just because I’ve already texted him during this podcast episode saying, “Okay, Jay says we have to meet.”

Jay Goltz:
Do the math. Send out 10,000 envelopes, and you get, not 1 percent. You get .2 percent. That’s 20 people who responded who say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Call me.” Like, I’ve got to think, how many of those would you have to close to pay for a 10,000-piece mailing? Two? One?

Loren Feldman:
Liz, how about you? Have you had the issue of the salary versus commission?

Liz Picarazzi:
We have, and we do a hybrid right now that I think is working fairly well. So we have a really fantastic employee who came in. He did assembly, and then he moved into the shop. And then he started doing sales. And then he started doing scheduling. So he’s very strong in internal sales, and he’s also good at doing all the scheduling. So he gets a salary for all the operational things that he does in the business, which are pretty significant, and then he also gets commissioned based on the sales.

But in listening to you, one thing I realized is that he’s really good at those two things together in a way that he never could be if I had him trying to pound the pavement, which I’ve been kind of encouraging, and it hasn’t been going very far. So it’s like, looking at him as a person, how does he work best? I think that where he’s at right now is really good—and that there’s some danger in having me try to get him to get 20 more universities. So that’s the sort of thing I would encourage him as a non-external salesperson to try to do, and that’s where I’m not getting the traction. And it’s not like it’s his fault, but I have this idea that he can do inside or outside.

Jay Goltz:
Well, it’s like telling your dog, “Run out there to the tree, run up the tree, and get that bird for me.” It ain’t gonna work, and it’s not their fault. They’re dogs, meaning they’re friendly, they’re happy, but you’ve got to feed the dog. Outside salespeople go out, and they’re like the cat. They go climb fences, they kill birds, they come back with something in their mouths. It’s a different animal. And I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never succeeded in taking an inside salesperson and converting them to an outside salesperson. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.

Loren Feldman:
Have any of you ever hired a sales consultant or thought about hiring a sales consultant?

William Vanderbloemen:
What do you mean?

Loren Feldman:
Somebody whose job it is to look at a company’s sales operation and make suggestions about how better to manage it.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, so at the risk of getting kicked off the podcast and never invited back, I’ll be transparent. I am a Tony Robbins guy. Sorry. Cut me off right now. Sorry, Loren. I had gone to one of his mastermind smaller gatherings and hired one of his top-level coaches who was particular to sales, who had specialized in inside sales, and I signed him to a six-month contract. We met once a week. It was super helpful to me. He gave me homework to do. We had a very directed call, and he was part of the process of moving Sarah into her role. I don’t know that we would have gotten there as quickly without him.

Jay Goltz:
That makes sense. I think he’s a smart guy. He’s super successful. I’m sure there’s something to what he’s doing.

William Vanderbloemen:
Loren hasn’t spoken yet, Jay, so now maybe we’re both kicked off the podcast.

Loren Feldman:
No, no, no.

Jay Goltz:
He has no podcast left then. So I’m not worried about that. [Laughter]

William Vanderbloemen:
He’d have to do outside sales.

Loren Feldman:
Liz, have you thought about hiring a sales consultant?

Liz Picarazzi:
I would definitely consider it. We’ve done Sandler Training, which has been helpful a little bit.

Loren Feldman:
What’s that?

Liz Picarazzi:
So Sandler is a sales training course. I think it’s somewhat of a franchise.

Jay Goltz:
It is a franchise. They’re all over the country.

Liz Picarazzi:
Yeah, and so it’s very specific to sales. And my main salesperson, I sent that to him a few years ago before he had done any sales, and it did a lot of work. But that’s a different thing than saying, as a company, how are you going to set up your sales operation? And how are you going to differentiate how you set it up for inside versus outside? And how do you match that up with your marketing?

I think that there could be a lot done with that. But I also have never had anyone say to me, “Oh, I hired this great sales consultant. You definitely need to call him or her.” And if I did hear that, I would call that person.

Jay Goltz:
No, I think in your business model, I don’t think you’re an outside sales force kind of company. I think you’ve got this hot, great product that so many people need. I think that doing the right marketing to get leads to your inside killer crew of knowledgeable, good people is the business model. I don’t see your business model being one where you hire six sales reps to go out and call on buildings. I don’t think that’s gonna work out.

Liz Picarazzi:
I’ll tell you why I don’t think that way. We’re about 60 percent B2B and 40 percent B2C, and our B2C game with email marketing, and some of the advertising, and we do direct mail, and we do some ads. That works really well. For the B2B, we’re talking about property managers, architects, facilities, managers. They’re these bodies, these groups, that tend to purchase in a certain way, and I feel like I don’t have enough connection.

So for example, we’ve got a big job with AT&T within their retail stores in the Southeast. And I think we’re in 20 or 30 stores with our package delivery locker, because they have some very expensive gear that they need to transfer between stores. So our package lockers are being used as kind of an intermediary.

And I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s one type of commercial entity with a retail space. Who has a brain who can go out there and say, ‘I’m going to find 30 more AT&Ts?’” I feel like someone could do that, someone who has sold into those types of industries, someone who has sold to universities before. But it’s not so easy, because I’ve gone on LinkedIn, and I’ve tried to mine it for, “Who has sold trash cans to universities?” That’s not very easy to find. But if I could find that person who sold supplies to facilities, then I would think they would be really good at doing what I want them to do.

Jay Goltz:
There are independent sales reps who call on those kinds of companies, and they have six lines, and they sell all those different things. So I would be looking for an independent sales rep who’s already into those places and says, “Oh, wow, this is a great addition to my selection.” I don’t think it’s a full-time employee.

Liz Picarazzi:
So it’d be like a manufacturer’s rep?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah. I’ve talked before about this: I deal with somebody who’s selling into the autism space. We’re selling exercise and we’re selling an app, and we found out that there are companies out there that do nothing but sell into the school systems and to governments. And we’re finding those companies to sell our app to and to sell our certification to, because reinventing the wheel, trying to call all those places, would be impossible. And there are reps that do that. So I think if you spent a little time just looking for reps who call on institutions, you’ll find out there’s a bunch of them. And if you find one rep group, they’ve got 20 reps that work for them. They cover the entire country.

Loren Feldman:
Liz, you sell package bins and you sell trash enclosures. They’re largely targeting the same customer, I assume. Are there any differences in the way you sell them?

Liz Picarazzi:
Yes, the need is very different. So when we’re talking about trash enclosures, we talk a lot about trash hygiene, managing recycling, keeping rats out, and the pain of all those things. The pain of having a package stolen is very different. They do work modularly together, so we often get people that will buy a trash enclosure for trash, recycling, and then a package locker. So they’re getting three modules that all work together, and that’s a really cool thing to market because we’re selling it as a combination unit. Everything about the space utilization and the design, I’m really excited about selling that. It’s been selling okay. I wish it would sell more, but the modularity of it has been a big part.

Jay Goltz:
Have you ever done a trade show for facility managers?

Liz Picarazzi:
We have done them for property managers, which are kind of similar. Facilities managers, in the straight way, we haven’t, but I did get my assistant to pull together a list of all the trade shows that were with potential target groups, including exterminators. Exterminators can sell our trash enclosures through to their clients who are dealing with rat problems. We’re the only trash enclosure that they can confidently recommend.

Jay Goltz:
See, I don’t know that they want to, though, because if they solve the problem, they just lost a customer. I don’t know if they have any incentive to sell a thing. “Oh, if you do this, you won’t have any more rat problems.” There goes their customer. I don’t know that that would be the most motivated group to be selling through. So my question is: When you did the trade show for property managers, did it work?

Liz Picarazzi:
It did. It’s been the best trade show we’ve ever done.

Jay Goltz:
There you go. I think that’s your future. Do six trade shows a year, and the business will just roll in.

Liz Picarazzi:
Yeah, the ROI on that trade show, a couple that are related to property management, has always been there. And every time I’ve tried to go to a trade show for something that’s like architecture, design, or even waste-related, landscape-architecture related—none of those were worthwhile. And it was disappointing, because I personally enjoy those other shows more than property management. But that is really where our main buyers are, because for them, if you’re a property manager, and you’re dealing with a building that has a rat problem, your phone is ringing all the time with people who are complaining about rats. So you’re not going to be very price sensitive about it, because you just want the best solution s your phone will be ringing less with rat complaints.

Jay Goltz:
So it simply gets to, you need to go to people who have a problem, and those other things? Architects don’t have the problem. They’re not getting the calls from the tenants. You need to continue going to trade shows where they need to solve their rat problem. And exterminators and architects? Not their problem. They’re not the ones that are on the frontline. I think there’s a reason why some trade shows are working great, and some don’t.

Loren Feldman:
Have any of you changed your approach to sales because of COVID? Are you doing anything differently today than you were before 2020?

William Vanderbloemen:
We’ve discussed this some on other podcast episodes, Loren, but I think what we’ve discovered during the pandemic is what we’re calling “the very top of the funnel.” And that is giving away free assistance during the mess that we’re in and not making any money on it, but building a lot of friendships that we think will outlast the pandemic. And so far, that’s paid off pretty well. You know, ask me in 10 years. But so far, that’s a pretty, pretty, pretty big focus for us. And it’s good to help people. There’s always the benefit of doing a good thing, but I think it’s also gonna end up being a smart business move.

Jay Goltz:
We sent out an email like we always do, once in a while about, “Here’s a $25 gift certificate,” and I sent out a personal email to everyone saying, “The pandemic hasn’t been easy. Thank you for supporting us.” And it was a really heartfelt, nice message. I got back literally, like, 100 emails, love letters about how much they appreciated the email.

Loren Feldman:
Did that prompt you to build on that? Are you sending an email newsletter out?

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, I got back two paragraphs from some people, about how they love the store and blah, blah, blah. And it was like, wow, I don’t think that would have happened if I just sent out an email three years ago and just said, “Hey, here’s a $25 gift certificate. Thanks for your business.” I don’t think I would have gotten that response. And I’m not smart enough to have predicted that. It was kind of a weird accident.

William Vanderbloemen:
I’ve got good and bad in me. The good in me is like, “Look, if our business goes down during this, I want to go down doing something good.” The more Machiavellian part of me is like, “If we come out on the other side, we’re gonna have a lot more friends. We’re gonna have a very top of the funnel that’s going to be profitable.” And hopefully those two things can coexist.

I will say, we did not bank on this lasting longer than a year and a half. I’d said 18 months, and I was wrong, and maybe we’re almost done with it. Maybe we’re not. I mean, China just locked everything down, and Britain just said, “We’re not doing anything anymore.” So who knows? I saw the other day, a friend of mine sent me a text saying, “You know, back in 2020, when we were in episode one of the pandemic, we all thought this was an eight-episode documentary. Now, we’re realizing it’s more like Grey’s Anatomy, and there are just endless seasons upon seasons.” So who knows whether our strategy will pay long-term, but for now, it feels right.

Loren Feldman:
I was going to ask you about that. We’re just about out of time, but I’m curious. This has gone on longer than I think anyone expected. How are each of you coping with the current situation?

Jay Goltz:
Every two days, I get another email. Someone’s got it. But no one’s gotten really sick, and we’re wearing masks and doing what we can, but everybody’s pretty much numb to it, and business is okay. I’ve got nothing to complain about. I have to remind people once in a while that my parents’ generation lived through World War II, four years of wondering whether my father was gonna come back alive. So I’m sorry if you’re upset that you can’t go to brunch. I remind myself of that, because it’s bad, but it ain’t that bad. Am I wrong?

Hello? Tell me, living through World War II—was that worse than this?

Liz Picarazzi:
Definitely.

Jay Goltz:
William, I haven’t heard from you. Am I wrong?

William Vanderbloemen:
I didn’t live during World War II. I am not very popular on this, Jay. I actually am dead aligned with you. I’m endlessly optimistic. I feel like we live in… I mean, what if this had happened 10 years earlier when there was not nearly the internet connectivity that we have? What if it had happened, you know, fill in the blank, when we weren’t able to communicate as the immunologists have, to come up with vaccines? I just—

Jay Goltz:
What if we didn’t get PPP money?

William Vanderbloemen:
I completely agree with you, Jay. We’re going down a road of a podcast episode where I’m gonna end up losing followers, but I just think there is a quiet victimhood out there that’s really, really not helpful to the situation.

Loren Feldman:
Why? Why would that cost you followers?

William Vanderbloemen:
Because there’s a culture of victimhood, and I just minimized everybody’s suffering and pain by saying, “Suck it up and deal with it.”

Jay Goltz:
So let’s just keep track. You lost some people because of Anthony Robbins, perhaps, and now you lost… Boy, I hope you’re holding okay.

Loren Feldman:
All right, my thanks to Jay Goltz, Liz Picarazzi, and William Vanderbloemen. Thanks for sharing, guys.

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