Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
When it comes to making decisions about how to approach marketing, Ross Brouse and Jason Silverglate, co-owners of Continuous Networks, can attest to its accuracy.
Their “do nothing” approach to marketing caused their commodity cloud and server company to “bleed money,” losing nearly half of their $8 million in revenue and 60% of their 50-person team within two years. Not wanting to repeat the experience, they knew they needed to make a different decision about their marketing approach for their IT services business.
In 2015, they purchased the Technology Marketing Toolkit and attended the IT Sales and Marketing Bootcamp. “Bootcamp was big, overwhelming, and jam-packed with ideas and opportunities,” Ross said. “Above all else, it was motivating.” The two co-owners returned home and implemented their first-ever marketing initiatives.
Landing a monster client worth $30K in MRR, their marketing was working extremely well. But when the client quickly grew to $57K in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), Ross and his team were overwhelmed. “Everybody was overworked, and it showed,” Ross recalled. “I was often working 18-hour days, seven days a week.” With frustration at an all-time high, Ross approached his business partner, Jason, and told him, “We must SHUT DOWN all marketing and sales.” Reluctantly, Jason agreed, and all marketing stopped.
By the end of 2017, the relationship with their $57K MRR client was failing, and the relationship was negatively affecting their entire team and company. Plus, Ross says his personal life was “a mess” too. “I worked myself into exhaustion every day,” Ross said. “I barely saw my wife and kids. I struggled with money, with over $50,000 in credit card debt. I could never take my business to the next level and had no idea why.” With no marketing to generate leads to replace the revenue, they were in serious trouble.
Attending another IT Sales and Marketing Bootcamp, they reengaged their marketing. While it was much harder to get momentum again than if they’d never stopped, Continuous Networks has recovered. Their team is functioning better, achieving their quarterly goals 80% of the time. Plus, they are less reactive, and more proactive. Ross now spends 90% of his time working “ON” the business whereas previously he spent 100% of his time working “IN” the business. He’s paid off all his credit card debt, and the company has built a $3M reserve to ensure future growth. Plus, Ross says the transformation has affected him personally. “Since joining the Producers Club, I have lost 60 pounds and reduced my body fat from 35% to 12%,” Ross said. “I’m in the best physical shape of my life!”
How Ross Brouse transformed his business and life…
Take Personal Responsibility
After hearing motivational speaker, bestselling author, television personality, and social commentator Larry Winget at the IT Sales and Marketing Bootcamp, Ross received a wake-up call. Trademarked as the “Pitbull of Personal Development,” Winget inspired Ross to make the changes he needed to get where he wanted to be. Winget’s message “Wherever you are, it’s exactly where you want to be,” resonated with Ross. The message brought him back to a message his dad said to him growing up. “My dad would say, ‘Ross, are the decisions you are making working for you? If they aren’t, make a change.’”
Now Ross incorporates three tenets with every decision he makes. These are discipline, consistency, and accountability. This resulted in a remarkable transformation within only months. For example, response and resolution SLAs of 30 and 60 minutes are now met 100% of the time. Their centralized services team has reduced unpatched servers and workstations from more than 30% down to 2%. And he sold a technology asset that cost $50,000 for $2.4 million.
To create the foundation for success for his professional and personal life, he became the captain of his “Big Guns” accountability group. He read the book Traction by Gino Wickman and hired an entrepreneurial operating system implementer to help put things into action. He now runs weekly leadership meetings as well as meeting with his team every Monday to review sales fundamentals and activity goals. He tracks everything and is doing ROCK-setting with his team and setting quarterly goals. (ROCK-setting is breaking down goals into bite-size chucks, or rocks, allowing you to set clear goals for all team members. Each team member gets their own ROCKS that they are accountable for with a 90-day deadline.)
Follow the Proven Recipe Exactly
When Ross and Jason launched their first ever marketing initiatives, they got high-probability leads coming through the door because they followed proven strategies exactly as laid out in the Technology Marketing Toolkit. In other words, they did not modify these recipes or start from a blank slate. “We sent out Robin’s Bad Date sales letters to Chamber of Commerce members,” Ross said. “Plus, we honed our Google AdWords presence, which led prospects to our newly improved “Robinized” website.”
Their first three initiatives brought in $50K in new MRR and won them a Flaming Grenade Award at a Producers Club meeting. (Producer’s Club is an IMPLEMENTATION program for Technology Marketing Toolkit clients who want more help, more accountability, and more direct support from Robin Robins and her team.)
Fix The Holes In Your Leaky Bucket
Attending the Rapid Implementation Workshop helped provide a critical marketing foundation for their IT services business. Not only that, it also helped shine a light on the leaky holes in their marketing.
“A few hours into this workshop, I thought to myself, ‘How have we been in Producers Club this long and missed ALL of these marketing strategies?’” Ross said.
By expanding their focus beyond customer acquisition, they created a better foundation for growth and expansion of their existing customers’ lifetime value.
Get Rid of Bad Clients
Although they were making $57K in MRR from one client, the client was taking too much time and negatively affecting their team. After hearing Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan speak at the IT Sales and Marketing Bootcamp in 2017, Ross was able to see that this high-paying client was not worth it. Ross used the Pumpkin Plan to create a plan for how to grow the business with good clients going forward. The co-owners got rid of their “sick pumpkin client” and made $500,000 as a result.
“Take a weekend and list out all of your clients,” Ross said. “Next, grade every client. Which clients make you cringe and keep you up nights? Which clients deliver the most profits to your bottom line? This list becomes your roadmap for which clients you grow to more MRR and which clients you shrink (or fire) to save you time and headaches.”
Always Follow Up And Track Everything
They aggressively follow up campaigns and log activity to hold their marketing and sales team accountable.
For example, they follow up on their direct response marketing efforts from their Bad Date sales letter and Poker Chip campaign by having their Inside Sales Rep do 500 dials every week. Every day, their Inside Sales Rep (ISR) logs his Key Performance Indicator (KPI) activity of dials, decision-maker conversations, and first-time appointments booked in their Activity Tracker. Logging every action keeps their sales rep accountable and has increased their average to between three to five first-time appointments per week.
The Activity Tracker also records completed first-time appointments, prospects added to their TruMethods Prospective Business Review (PBR), closed deals, and closed MRR.
Review Your Campaign Metrics And Hold Your Marketing Accountable
“Our continuous Campaign Tracker allows our reps to effortlessly provide the critical metrics we need to continuously improve,” Ross said.
“To better understand campaign costs and ensure campaign success, we are able to automatically populate our TruMethods PBR along with the baseline metrics from our Campaign Tracker. Additional key data points are brought in, including the total number of days to make the dials and the cost of our ISR. At a glance, we can see which campaigns are wins and which need improvements.”
Learn How To Sell
Ross dedicated considerable time learning how to effectively sell. “I’ve learned that you need to sell prospects what they want, not what you think they need,” Ross said. “With this philosophy as my foundation, I am selling at a 70% gross margin. We currently have $10,000 of MRR on our 30-day prospect list and $18,000 MRR on our 31-60-day prospect list.”
Position Yourself As The Only Choice
Each new prospect they meet is sent a Shock-and-Awe box. The box is filled with multiple marketing materials including their co-authored books:Hack Proof Your Business and Sitting Duck: Why YOUR business is a Cybercriminal’s ideal target. This makes them stand out and positions Continuous Networks as the clear choice for the client’s IT services.
Use A Technology Scorecard To Add MRR from Existing Clients
To maximize his client relationships, Ross created a “Technology Success Scorecard” for his client and prospect meetings after being issued a challenge by Robin Robins. The scorecard helps put a framework around “what great IT should look like” in a client’s business and enables a client or prospect to perform a self-assessment of their overall technology health. While the scorecard is designed to be conducted by a highly qualified sales professional, this sales tool easily guides his clients to make smart decisions during their meeting. “Our Technology Success Scorecard has been responsible for most of our existing client new MRR and is now an integral part of our sales and vCIO processes,” Ross said. “While a first-time appointment can be cold, we often use the scorecard during second-time appointments prior to a proposal. If the deal is closed, their scorecard becomes a baseline for improvement and is tracked using our Continuous Track process. We have also conducted the scorecard during the quarterly business review (QBR) process.” The scorecard process has added MRR from existing clients, project work, and hardware sales, and increased MRR by $278,925. (Find The Technology Success Scorecard templates and training here.)
Build A Foundation For Future Success
Other key strategies that helped them build a strong foundation are:
1) Nailing down their Core Focus, Target Market and 10-Year Target
2) Rebuilding their Unique Selling Proposition to make it even stronger
3) Creating a One-Year Plan and a Three-Year Plan with specific goals that include annual revenue, net profit, number of Technology Success Clients, Endpoints, and Number of marketing campaigns they will send out.
“Robin Robins and Technology Marketing Toolkit have given me and Continuous Networks a marketing, sales, and processes foundation we truly needed.” Ross said. “We will continue to harness what Robin gave us to build our own foundation for success.”
Learn From Ross’ Greatest Mistake
“I look back on the decision to stop marketing as one of the greatest mistakes we ever made,” Ross said. “However, it remains one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned. Once you get a plane to fly, if you want to keep it flying, DO NOT LAND IT. In our case, we CRASHED it! Lesson Learned: It takes 3X LONGER to ramp up your marketing again than if you never stopped marketing in the first place. No matter how busy you THINK you are, NEVER stop marketing. You can always hire the techs or build the operations around the new clients and new revenue.”
Learn from Ross and Continuous Networks. Hitting the pause button on your marketing or doing no marketing at all is the worst decision and something you absolutely should NOT do—ever—but especially right now. While it may seem like a good idea and a way to conserve your cash flow, it is the single fastest way to kill your business.
If you aren’t sure what next steps, you should take with your marketing right now, visit https://www.toolkitlive.com/help/.