Momentum Podcast: 590
The Answer is NOT Sales and Marketing
by Alex Charfen
On today’s episode, I invited Jeremy Bergeron (the business strategist for our company) to discuss the biggest problem that he hears from the dozens of entrepreneurs he talks to every week. Jeremy points out how almost all entrepreneurs that he has worked with think they have a sales and marketing problem. But in reality, we have found some key components that are NOT sales and marketing, and that, when fixed, has transformed the hundreds of businesses we have helped in our consulting program.
Jeremy has worked at Facebook and Google and has a ridiculous amount of understanding of business. Let's learn with Jeremy why sales and marketing is not your problem. Let us show you the experience we have taken in working with hundreds of entrepreneurs and guide you to the place where you should actually focus your attention.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum Podcast. Hey everyone. I've got a really exciting podcast today. I actually tapped Jeremy Bergeron on my team, who's our business strategist. He talks to dozens of entrepreneurs a week. And I brought him on to ask the questions that are most crucial to the people who are calling it. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds.
Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few, who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
Jeremy B: Hey Alex, I'm super excited to do this. Man, I get so many different types of questions from entrepreneurs. I get a lot of different challenges from entrepreneurs too, but one thing, dude, that always comes up, it's literally almost every call is an entrepreneur says, look, my biggest challenge is sales and marketing and I need help with sales and marketing. And that comes up constantly.
Alex Charfen: Yeah, it's funny. When you and I were talking a few weeks ago about doing this podcast and I said, so Jeremy, what's the number one objection people have? And you laughed. You're like, it's I need sales and marketing. And we both laughed. Everyone thinks it's sales and marketing. In fact, when you look at most businesses, they feel like if they could just get more leads, if they could just get more sales, everything would resolve, but here's what's interesting. And I know you get this too, when you talk to people, Jeremy. Once somebody is at two, three $400,000 a year, it really is not usually sales and marketing. When you're up at that two, three, four... Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's definitely you need more leads, you need better nurture, you need better conversion.
And what happens is at that three, $400,000 place, people go out and try and solve all of that. I just need more leads. That's all I need. Here's the reality. In most businesses that are in the multiple hundreds of thousands, the real need in the business is clear system, process and structure so that the business owner really knows what they're doing next.
Jeremy B: Absolutely. It's interesting when I ask an entrepreneur that says, "Hey, look, sales and marketing is what I need. What my focus is." And then I ask them, "Okay, what are your goals for the next year? Like what's your outcome? What's your top priority around this?" And they don't have any clarity around that. You'd think if they thought sales and marketing, they'd have real clarity around what they want to achieve there. But it seems like a shot in the dark, like sales and marketing will solve everything for me.
Alex Charfen: Jeremy, it's such a good point, because here's what you and I both see in the market today. If you go out and you look at the totality of advertising about business growth. So people who are selling products for business growth, people who are selling tools for business growth, people who are selling strategies for business growth. People that are selling memberships, masterminds, anything for business growth. About 97, 98, maybe 99.9% of it is sales and marketing. It's business growth through sales and marketing. But here's what's interesting about what you just said. I've had the same conversations you have. I'll get on a call with somebody and say, "So tell me the biggest challenge in your business." "It's definitely lead generation and sales, getting more people and selling more people." And I'll say, "Okay, great.
Tell me about your lead generation. What's your plan over the next 90 days? What are you doing in the business to improve that in the next 90 days? What is your plan to change things? And oftentimes you don't get plans. You get projects. They'll say, "I'm doing this one thing," or, "I'm installing this other thing," or, "I'm putting this thing in place." Here's the thing that a lot of entrepreneurs don't shift. When you're getting up to the three, four, 500,000, it is sales and marketing. It's a lot of sales and marketing. Beyond that, it's delivery. And one of the biggest issues is that entrepreneurs don't realize, the more you clarify your delivery, the more you make it easy to deliver. The more you make it so that you don't feel pain in delivery, that's what really will grow your business. And here's how we know this.
We prove it on a weekly basis. We have companies come in three, $400,000 in volume. They think they have a lead generation and sales problem. We help them understand that what they really need is a clear plan, clear communication system, get everybody pointed in the right direction, and without changing their sales and marketing strategies, they blow up.
Jeremy B: Yeah, absolutely. The other thing too, I'll hear in the same sales and marketing tip, is that they feel strong in sales and marketing, but they're afraid to it up because everything else will break. And so they have a problem where it's not sales and marketing, it's coming, but that that part is still impacting the rest of their business. So it's still a hamster wheel, but it's the other side of it, right?
Alex Charfen: Yeah. So there is that other side, Jeremy. So if you're an entrepreneur and you're listening to this and your business isn't growing, here's what I want you to consider. If the business isn't growing, why? What is the challenge with the business? And here's what we normally see. It's one of two things. If you're in the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars and you're having challenges growing, what we normally see is that it's not sales and marketing. It's either one, it's that there's not a clear plan, there's not a clear structure, there's not a clear understanding of what to do next. And that is making growth of the business ambiguous. And so the answer feels like sales and marketing. Or two, on the other side, there's too many sales coming in, there's too many leads coming in, and now every sale you make creates pain.
And here's what I know about ethical entrepreneurs. And I want to make sure I say that clearly. Here's what I know about ethical entrepreneurs. They won't sell themselves into pain. And here's what I mean by that. If you are an ethical entrepreneur, and you are selling a product that makes it harder on you, every time you make a deal, if you're selling a product that makes it more frustrating for you, every time you make a deal, you will either consciously or subconsciously stop making deals. And so I want you to just let that sink in. Because if you've been having trouble growing your business, if you've had a hard time figuring out what to do next and move forward, ask yourself a simple question. When I make a sale, does it cause me pain? If the answer is yes, then I want you to let yourself off the hook.
selling more, the reason you're not growing more, the reason you're not developing the business like you should, is because you're an ethical entrepreneur. You know that if it's causing you pain, eventually that pain is going to affect your clients. It's going to affect the deliverables, it's going to affect the product. A lot of times, Jeremy, I know you have this same conversation. I would sit down with an entrepreneur or I'll sit down with an entrepreneur who feels bad about not growing. Who actually you can hear in their voice, they feel guilty that they're not growing. They're ashamed of it. In their expression of what's going on, I feel the shame. And I want to immediately reverse that for them and say, "Hey, hang on a second. I feel like there was a little bit of shame and maybe blame in what you said about yourself there and I want you to understand, I don't want you to answer something for me. Does each sale you make cause pain?" And when they'll think about it and say, "Yeah, it makes things harder. It makes it more frustrating."
And I'll say, "You weren't selling because you're ethical." And every time I had that conversation with somebody and let them off the hook, I can see their demeanor change and shift and then it's like, "You're right. How do I fix that?"
Jeremy B: Exactly. Yeah. That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah. Literally yesterday, that's a conversation I had yesterday, Alex. And it's amazing to hear, because I hear entrepreneurs, we say this a lot internally. The entrepreneurs that we work with, they're going to go achieve great outcomes. I can hear the stories of these people doing great things in their business. It's super inspiring because they're doing it. But it's often to the detriment of a lot of other things in their life, their relationships, their teams. We get a lot of husband wife teams that come and there's that family dynamic. It's so interesting, because this stuff impacts all that as well, as you know. And so it's just a story that I hear a lot and it's inspiring and encouraging, because there seems to be a massive wave out there of people that just need to take a deep breath. And of course, and also like you said, there's no shame.
Literally take a deep breath, celebrate what you've done so far and then think there is a path out. There's actually a way out of this that feels like clarity, where that pressure and noise is a lot lower.
Alex Charfen: Jeremy, you bring up such a good point. In partnerships, especially marriages, we work with a lot of marriages. But what's interesting is we also work with a lot of partnerships where people are not married. And in partnerships, if you have a partnership and you're in the several hundred thousand dollar range, almost 100% of the time, it is not a sales and marketing problem. It is a communication problem. And here's what we've seen with most of the husband and wife teams that we have coming in, is that they feel like they need to sell more. They feel like they need to do more. They're usually pushing each other to do more, but there's not a real plan. And here's where I've seen significant pain in business relationships, really challenging pain, is when there's a husband and wife team or a partnership, and they feel like the problem is sales and marketing or something else.
They don't have a clear plan. They don't have a clear system for communication. And then what happens is, because there's no plan, because they're not communicating clearly, the business doesn't move forward. And then in the worst cases, the husband and wife or the partners blame each other. And we've had people come into our program telling us if this doesn't work, we're probably going to lose the business and get divorced. And whenever I hear that, for me it's like an all hands on deck emergency. How fast can we put our structure in place, because here's what happens when you push aside the notion that this might be a sales and marketing problem and you start looking at the real issue. If you're in a partnership and you can create a strategic plan, here's what happens. When you're aligned around a plan, you now know where you're going.
You can call your shots and get out in front of each other. You can support each other, anticipate what you need next. You answer the questions before they come up, and you're not arguing about what's going to happen next. And that cohesion of a strategic plan especially in a marriage, and even in a normal partnership, will completely change the dynamic between the two of you. And partnerships, marriages, they should be aligned. Here's the question. If you don't have a plan, what are you aligned around? If you don't have a plan, what is your alignment? And that gets scary. So here's what's interesting, Jeremy. There's a partnership in our program. I can't remember their names, but they're so awesome. It's a couple of younger guy entrepreneurs. They're in their early 20s. And they're using the same marriage alignment process that we teach relationships with the two of them. It's like Alex. I can't remember his name.
Jeremy B: It's Kyle, Kyle and Alex.
Alex Charfen: Kyle and Alex. There you go, Kyle and Alex. They're so awesome. And on Instagram they'll post that they're doing their alignment. Here's what's so fascinating about that. Here's two entrepreneurs who are not in a relationship, but they're sitting down and doing a relationship alignment every morning. And I love their Instagram posts, because they'll post, we aligned together, we're unstoppable, we know where we're going, we're aligned around our plan. And I just look at those two. They are so hardwired together now and supporting each other, and they've got each other's back and they're each other's fan. And to watch that develop, and I don't certainly don't want to name names, but we've had more than one couple come in and say, "Hey, we're on the verge of divorce.
We are having serious conflict, we're having serious issues. I'm mad at him, she's mad at me." Or in another case, "She's mad at me and I'm mad at her." And so we've had all kinds of marriages that come in with challenges. And here's what we've seen is, within 90 days of having a strategic plan in place, suddenly the ambiguity has gone. And there's a lot less to argue about. And here's the thing that we see all the time is when there's a strategic plan in place, it actually moves to the point where now you have something to align around. You have something to attack, you have something to go out and make happen, and it just brings everybody together.
Jeremy B: Absolutely. That's why I love the time tested principles that we teach entrepreneurs. As you know, Alex, we have folks literally all over the world. Germany, New Zealand, Australia, India, US, Canada, Europe. We've got folks that come to us all over. They're all different. Some of them are family businesses, some of them are not. But the beautiful thing about our time tested principles is they work across all industries, and it's one of the most beautiful things. No matter what the challenge really is, let's get back to, do you know where you're going? Do you know what you're going to do next? So what we do is we just empower these businesses to systematically have so much more clarity and make better decisions, because of that plan. And we throw that word around a lot, but that plan really is like the space holder, the placeholder, for everything else in the business.
Alex Charfen: I love the range that you just expressed Jeremy. Just to wrap up, I think of a couple of clients, right? I remember when Molly Kaiser started with us, she was in the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollar range. And in going through the strategic planning process, putting the cadence in her business, last time I had lunch with Molly, she's at a $1.8 million run rate. And we're less than two years later. That is explosive growth. So putting a plan in place completely changed Molly's company at that level. But then I think of Brent Pohlman with the dirt testing company, with the soil testing firm. Brent came to us at $30 million. And in the last six months of creating the plan, he's in a larger company, takes a long time to create a plan. I was on a call with him and he said, "Creating the plan's been really hard. We've gotten it in place. We feel like we're moving forward. It's added $3 million to our bottom line."
I'm like, what? At the Molly Kaiser level, we see a tripling of the business in under two years, more than tripling. And then at the Brent Pohlman level, just by going through the planning process, he slaps $3 million, 10% growth, on a bottom line in a company that wasn't previously growing at that rate. It sounds cliche, but when you have a plan, there is such a higher percentage of chance you are going to actually make something happen.
Jeremy B: Absolutely, dude. I love it. This has been super awesome.
Alex Charfen: Yeah. Thanks, Jeremy. I think we should do this again soon. You have a lot of insight from talking to the hundreds of entrepreneurs that you do every month, every week, people who are growing businesses and making things happen, so I think you should continue to catalog the questions. Let's come back and do this. And you can help me share exactly what people need to hear.
Jeremy B: Let's do it. Thanks Alex.
Alex Charfen: Yeah, you got it, Jeremy. And if you're listening and you want to understand how to install a plan, if you want to pressure test, is it your sales and marketing that you need or is it something else that you need? Or if you just want some solid advice on your business, I have a suggestion for you. Go to predictablebusinesssolutions.com right now, predictablebusinesssolutions.com. Answer a few questions for Jeremy and I, and then set up a call with Jeremy. He knows his stuff. He's been around. Jeremy has worked in Facebook, he's worked in Google. He's got a ridiculous amount of understanding of business, and he's talked to hundreds of entrepreneurs exactly where you are right now. And here's what I guarantee you, you will not be sold on our call. You will get off the call knowing more than you know when you get there. And the most common response that we get to our sales calls is, thank you so much. I can't believe how much this helped. So go to predictablebusinesssolutions.com and hook up with Jeremy. It's worth the call.
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