In this fascinating episode we chat with Jason Swenk, who built up a service agency and sold it for 7-figures just a few short years ago. I DRILL him with question after question on exactly how he scaled it, why most service-providers have such a hard time getting past the “solopreneur” stage, and a million other questions that any service provider will LOVE to hear.
As usual, I bring back his major points so they’re applicable to ANY business, not just service businesses, so listen in and enjoy!
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Can I Help Grow Your Business?
Jeremy Reeves: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the sales funnel mastery podcast. This is Jeremy Reeves here your host and today I have on the line with me, Jason Swenk, and he is a very, very impressive dude. I think we are gonna have a really, really fun interview and we are going to bring it back and there is gonna be a lot of really good lessons for everybody to learn here.
So quick intro on Jason, he basically built up a digital agency, he run it for about 12 years and then he sold it 2011 and for 7 figures and he did that and then he wrote a book, he developed a smartphone nutrition app and now he is basically media company for service-based entrepreneurs and he does a lot of other very fun things which I’m a little bit jealous actually by the way.
He is an avid off-roader, a race car driver, which is kind of awesome, an Iron Man competitor and he has been known to crash remote-controlled planes which is funny because right behind my house I actually have about an acre of woods behind my mouse and then back end there, there is actually like a little track that the guys go and they have remote-controlled planes and so we see them flying all around and I can hear them from the house and that kind of thing.
So anyway, welcome to the show Jason, tell us how you are.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, doing good man. I need to come over your house and crash some planes in your house I guess.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, right. I don’t know how I’ve never gone back there like hang out with them while they’re doing that.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, it’s addictive so don’t go do it.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, that’s probably a good point and I have 2 little boys so they probably, you know, I get it and then they get and then they break it like the first 16 seconds it was in here, so it wouldn’t be good.
So I kind of gave it a little bit of an overview of what you’ve done, what you’re doing now, you’re kind of superman powers. So tell everybody, going a little bit more detail about who you are.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, I mean, I’m a husband, I’m a father first and after that I’m really a media company for — where I put out useful information where I wish I had this information when I was running my agency, running my business because I struggled for so many years, I mean, I remember my first client asking me to send him an invoice, I don’t even know what an invoice was.
So there’s a lot of learning curves and so obviously I have put out a little bit more information than what’s an invoice, but you know, I have the coolest job in the world where I worked with mostly digital agency owners all over the world and I really helped them scale and get off that kind of — help them go through that glass ceiling which everybody is trying to go through.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, nice. That’s actually kind of the situation that I’m in right now and scaling the business that kind of thing.
So I’m actually gonna have a lot of fun on this interview.
Jason Swenk: Cool.
Jeremy Reeves: So my first question now — I’ve kind of — looking through everything that you have been doing, and just learning about you over the past couple days and that kind of thing. I have been stalking you a little bit for the interview, nothing weird going on.
Jason Swenk: Right, right.
Jeremy Reeves: So I remember reading that you had — when you had your digital agency, you got a whole bunch of really big clients, there is Aflac, Lotus like the cars, AT&T and Coke some really big companies, is there anything like — how do you land those types of clients?
Jason Swenk: Well, you have to kind of build up to it right and it also takes having a specialization. Since so many people think — they look at somewhere or a company that they want to be like so let’s say you wanna build the next Facebook right.
So you are literally gonna go out and you’re gonna model what Facebook did and you’re gonna fail because you are looking at where they at now versus how they actually got there and they started out with a specialization versus serve everybody. I mean literally Facebook serves everybody.
So that’s one of the biggest mistakes that people make is they go well I’m just gonna be a generalist because I don’t want to scare people away, but if you’re a generalist, you are going to scare a lot more people away I mean that’s how we got Lotus cars and Hitachi and AT&T and all those guys coming to us because we have a specialization that we could do better than anybody else.
Like for example, when we were just doing web design way back a long time ago, we would only win business that was local because that was our competitive advantage, right, but then when we started getting a specialization, then we started winning business all over the place and it really started eliminating our competition and it’s kind of like what my buddy Frank says is, your only competition is procrastination and porn.
Jeremy Reeves: I like that, that’s funny. It make sense and it’s applicable really to anybody, I mean it doesn’t even matter if you’re service business, if you — whatever you sell it’s just, the more you specialize, the more you attract people and it’s kind of like, the whole thing even if you have personality in your business, it’s you’re gonna repel some people but buy repelling people, you also attracting the like your perfect ideal audience even more it’s kind of — like a magnet. You attract one thing, you repel the other thing on the other side. That’s really a good point.
Is there anything with — when you are going out and you’re kind of in the process of scaling, do you think with the whole specialization thing, is there anything — what other benefits are there to you know just doing like one — either one marketer, one thing or whatever it is.
Besides attracting people and saying like, “Hey, we do this for this type of person” In terms of your kind of like the organization how you run the business, are there any benefits in there?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, well I mean, what you have to do is you have to really start off with one specialization and then as you model that you build systems around that, you can create other ones but you add on to the team, right, because you can’t be an expert on everything, and the most important thing about picking a specialty is — now that you understand the biggest challenges that your prospects are having.
So you can actually, you know, what’s the best way to demonstrate how you can help them, is actually help them, alright? And if you put out stuff like, we were always really good at attracting these big clients or the perfect prospect to us because we put out helpful information, right, and we talked their language.
So if you’re a generalist, you’re gonna talk very broad and you’re not gonna appeal to someone like whenever we would write headlines of if you look at my site now it’s very specific on the result and it’s specific on who it’s for.
So now people start looking at you in authority and you start kind of eliminating a lot of your competition.
Jeremy Reeves: That makes sense.
Jason Swenk: Over time, you start adding on, so like as our business kept growing, we just kept adding on other divisions and other department heads that lit up that particular practice area.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, that makes sense. So let’s just say — let’s just say that you’re personal trainer, maybe first you start with just women over 40 dealing with hormonal issues and that’s what causing the weight problems and then so you get that and you get — you kind of get that perfected and then you move on to maybe younger women is that what are you saying?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, so you just do things in stages and then what you can do is as you do that then you’re going to have a really good process, and a really good system that makes it easier to deliver, easier to market and streamlines which increases profit over time, right.
So, why keep learning new stuff, new stuff, new stuff, new stuff all over? It’s just gonna eat in to your profit. That’s why there are so many business centers out there that say, “Man, we have a terrific year but I’m still busy and oh, yeah my profit wasn’t that good” I was like, “Well, that’s awful” right?
Jeremy Reeves: You worked more and made less. That’s always a big accomplishment.
With that, do you there are any other besides like not specializing, are there are any other like kind of big huge things that most people do that they really shouldn’t do like giant mistakes like that?
Jason Swenk: Well, the other one is they don’t have clarity, right. They don’t know where they wanna go. It’s kind of like, you know, I got into the agency business on accident, right. I designed a website making fun of the band ‘NSYNC, created this website called ‘NSHIT and it got wildly popular and then people started pay me the design websites like that, and so for a couple of years I had no direction of where we are going. So I didn’t know what to say no to, I didn’t know what to say yes to and I was just kind of floating around, right, but then when I got that clarity of going, alright, this is what we wanna build, this is how we wanna do it and then when you actually started hiring people, you can communicate that.
And so now they can start making decisions based on where the company needs to go rather than just coming to you to ask you questions over and over again.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, that makes sense. So how do you — when you are in that kind of stage where you’re growing, you have that one specialty and then you move out of that to kind of expand, how do you — is there a certain point that you make up decision or is it kind of just, you know, does it just hit you one day and it’s like, “Hey, you know, we’ve got to tapped out this, you know, this section of the market” or is it more of like this boredom, you need something — you need like another challenge or you know, what are your thoughts on that?
Jason Swenk: It could be a number different things, but I always tell people it’s all about focus. Finish 1 commitment until success.
So until you have success on it and you basically have modeled that so you can systemize it like, I have a model that I always tell people that systems outperform talent or systems outperform talent all day long, right?
Jeremy Reeves: Yep, I agree.
Jason Swenk: You could be the smartest person, you could be the most talented person, you have the best team, but you have a crappy system, you’re not gonna go anywhere.
Jeremy Reeves: Yep. You know, I actually have a personal experience with what you just said, and I absolutely agree and now like I’m starting to build the team now and it’s — the reason that I was afraid to start scaling because what I do is so — it’s kind of like designing, it’s like so — you just have to have the skill, like you know if you’re a bad copywriter or a good one. Same thing with designing or whatever it is that you do. If it’s a service-based business, it’s not — you’re not just like packing boxes and that’s why I was so kind of hesitant to start growing but then I realized that when I was able to take my skill and systematized it and give it to other people that’s like — their talent instantly like quadruples.
Yeah, so I completely agree with you on that point.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, when you hire — because, look — for number of different years I was the lead designer, right. You should never have the owner as the designer and I was like, well no one can design better than me, but when I started hiring people they actually blew me out of the water.
I mean that’s kind of why I just launched the new site for the Jasonswenk.com literally yesterday, right, I hired a company that go do it. They did an amazing job.
Jeremy Reeves: Nice. Okay, so in your — when you’re looking at hiring new people you’re in that mode where you’re going from — just kind of like solopreneurs who, you know, agency or you just expanding whether you wanna go to 10, 20, 30, 50 people or whether you’re just trying to go from just you to maybe 5 or maybe 10, smaller team.
Is there any — I’m trying to think of how to word this — is there any kind of — like organizational structure to look at, like you know, there is you and then — what do you think is the best way, in general, because I know it’s probably a little bit different for everybody but do you hire a clone of you first or do you hire a project manager or a person basically to take over the initial like kind of doing up the business or sales man, you know, do you have any thoughts on like, kind of when to hire who?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, definitely, you don’t hire your clone. That would be a complete nightmare, right?
Jeremy Reeves: Okay.
Jason Swenk: So, you really — and it’s different like there is no set formula because everybody is different. Everybody has unique skill sets. Most entrepreneurs they are visionaries, right.
So they love coming up with ideas like we could chat for years and years and have all these amazing ideas but ideas aren’t worth the crap, right. You have to have executions so you have to hire someone who executes or sometimes the visionaries’ traits, they’re very bad at project management and attention to detail.
So like one of my first hires was a project manager just because I do not like doing stuff. I just like coming up with ideas telling people go do it.
And so it really depends on your strengths and where you wanna go, so like if you have this clarity of going, alright, I wanna be a 10-million dollar company and we wanna be doing this and you have kind of like — before you hire people to, you really go and come up with your company core values, right.
If you look at kind of like Tony at Zappos and some other companies that have an amazing culture. They really start there and they — and a lot of times as a business it really kind of stems down to the entrepreneur, the core values of the entrepreneur so like or is it solar velocity was, you know, people are number one asset. Do more with less, right. Have fun, be energetic, right?
So we made sure that — as we determine if that person could do that job they had to match all those core beliefs because it’s kind of like — we want to be around people that believe certain things that we do, not that identical to us but just common beliefs and when you can align that, then you can have a really amazing team.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, let me ask you this. If you had to pick and this might be a hard question, I don’t know. If you had to pick and you’re looking at someone new to add in your team and on your right hand you have somebody who had amazing talent but they didn’t really fall into the, you know, the core values of the company and then on the left hand, you have someone who was, you know, they love you, they were exactly on par with you in terms of like the values of the company but the talent wasn’t really there. Which one would you pick?
Jason Swenk: Neither.
Jeremy Reeves: That’s a good answer.
Jason Swenk: It’s easy, easy question. You know, there is the perfect people out there for you, and either one of those could be a perfect fit for someone else, but if they didn’t match up both we don’t hire them.
We are not gonna put someone in the role that can do the job that just gonna look bad on us. We are not gonna put someone on the role that doesn’t match up with our core values because that’s gonna be the person that’s the pain in the ass that is kind of get screw up everything within the company.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, okay. That makes sense. When you were — actually, here’s a question, in the company that you have, what was your main role like when you went to work every day, how did you structure your days and like, were you the one that — that came up with, you know, the overall vision and let’s just say that you are going into a new market. Were you the one that basically said, “Okay, here is what I’m thinking, here’s why we gonna do it, here’s how it’s gonna help the company” and then kind of give it to your team to figure out the details?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, so when we were really humming and we were really growing at a fast pace, we only did before the 5 things, and so here they are:
I set the vision and direction of the company. I was the figure head of the company or the front man. I supported sales, I didn’t do all of sales, I supported sales. I looked at the financials and I coach and mentor the people directly under my VPs and then the VPs coach the mentor and the people under them. Like so many entrepreneurs and business owners they have everybody report to them especially when there are like 10 people, I’m like wow, that’s not scalable, like change that.
And when you start doing that and say no to everything else things started getting really clear and when you start working yourself into that role that’s what makes you very marketable to be sold, because the business only needs a leader rather than you doing the actual work.
Like you should not be doing the day-to-day work. Like if you’re doing copywriting or sales funnels or design or whatever it is. Dude, you got to hire people to do that depending on where you wanna go.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, okay, nice. I like what you said, I actually remember this was probably 6 or 7 years ago, something like that. I was actually at a quarterly meeting with a client and since then I think client’s either doubled or tripled but they were at a roughly like 7 or 8 million and I remember he actually hired a business coach and we were in the room, we were talking about that and I remember he drew out kind of like the organizational structure of the company and he drew all the different place, I think there was like 12 or 15 employees and that include people that he outsource. They weren’t full-time employees but they were like at least part-time.
And he drew them in a circle and then he put the clients name in the middle and then he drew lines all going to the client who is the CEO and he said, “Does this look right to you?”
And instantly got the plan across and then he said, “It should look something like this” and he had — I think it was like he did it in a groups of 4 I think it was, so there was like 4 employees and then the project manager, 4 employees, project manager and then — I think there was 4 project managers, they reported to somebody and then that 1 person reported to the CEO.
Was that — I don’t know if you could visualize that as I kind of lay that up, is that more of what you’re talking about?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, exactly. I mean, so we have a number of different divisions so we had practice directors, so we literally had like, me at the top or at the bottom whatever you want to call it and I’m cleaning the toilet and then we had the VPs, right. So we had VP of sales, marketing, you know, VP of operations and then under them, we had practice directors and those were kind of the figure heads that understood that one specialty or that specialization and then under there, they were kind of associated to another different clients kind of like your circle example and then they had project managers, designers, developers, marketers, copywriters, all that kind of stuff to support their clients in those little pods.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, nice I like that, I like that. Just had a question, I was just gonna ask something that it kind of fell on my head I’m gonna come back to hopefully it comes up before –.
How did you — a lot of people when they’re thinking about scaling, they kind of, they kind of get nervous because most entrepreneurs when you talk to them, they like, “Oh, I don’t want employees, you know, they are just a giant pain in the ass and they’re gonna cause nothing but problems”.
Why do you think that is, is it because they are not — either they’re hiring the wrong people or they’re not structuring it properly or they’re just not a good leader or — What do you think, and I’m sure you agree with that, probably 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs that I know, at least like in the smaller stages, not guys that are in like 7 figure or 8 range because they pretty much figured it out.
People under 7 figures typically say that they don’t want to scale and this part of my problem honestly before I made the decision to switch.
They do it because they kind of like — everybody else in that kind of circle says that all employees do is cause problems and that kind of thing.
So what are your thoughts on that?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, so I have motto that, there’s no such thing as a bad employee. And so let me explain, you’re like what! There is —
Jeremy Reeves: I know that because I’ve learned this, I know pretty much exactly what you’re gonna say because I’ve learned this lesson, actually fairly recently.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, I mean, there is only a bad kind of interviewee that you let in or bad process. You don’t have the right system.
So if you start — there is a model out there I can’t remember what it’s called, like life cycle of business, but I really like how they outlined it and basically it went this. It said, if you look at like a curve or like a half a circle, right and on the very beginning as you’re going up that half a circle on the left — this is the fun stage right, you’re like getting cool clients, you’re making some money, you’re having a good time and it’s just fun, but the whole business depends on you.
And then after you start saying, “Well, I wanna take it up a little notch” You’re gonna go through what they call white water and you have to go through it. Everybody has to go through it and people make a decision whether they wanna move forward through white water and get to kind of predictable success, I think it’s called the Predictable Success Model.
When they hit white water what they’ll say to themselves, “Man, I would just wish I could back to the way it was when it was fun” which is perfectly fine, but the businesses totally dependent on you, so you need to kind of figure out if that matches up with your clarity of where you wanna go.
And the way to get through white water depends on how quickly you get through it is having the right systems.
So then you get to — on the top of the circle or the curve to predictable success where as fast as you put your foot on the throttle, you’re gonna accelerate really, really fast and it’s fun, it’s predictable all that, but then what happens is you start going down the curve and people stop innovating and so you go to kind of like, I wonder what they called it, like a ditch on the road or something, kind of like Netflix went through that.
Blockbuster went through the death throttle which is after that. They just want it completely under rank, they didn’t predict.
When you think of that you gonna figure out where you’re at and then you can make really good decisions. Does that help?
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I like that.
So how about in terms of doing actual marketing in the company, was there anything that you figured it out to market yourself whether it was a certain channel or a certain maybe type of copy or like basically lay out what you were doing that helped you, because you can — you can want to grow when you can want to scale everything and get all the systems in place, but if you don’t have the clients to support that, you’re not gonna go anywhere.
What did you figure out about marketing and maybe even sales funnels in general and that kind of thing?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, so everybody they love to focus on themselves. You go to a website, this is what I did, this is who I am, all that kind of BS. Even if you go to about page, like if you guys went to my about page you wouldn’t see anything about me until you scroll maybe 50% down the page, alright.
And so my tactic has always been is to focus on the visitor, focus on the prospect and the easiest way to do that and change the conversation is ask questions. Ask questions to them where it focuses on them and makes them the star and then provide them information that actually helps them.
You got to demonstrate by helping them before you ask them for any month like if you went to my site, you’re not gonna see anything for sale other than like this $199 or this $99 proposal template.
All my other programs are kind of behind the line and you have to go through the campaigns and engage with them in order to be set up for that and that’s what really separates kind of the — a really good business and what we did versus like an average kind of just getting by.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, so basically, if you break that down it’s really — if you kind of take that to its core essence it’s really leading with value, would that be right?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, helping them. I mean, your helping you’re not selling.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah, yeah and I agree, I agree. If anybody ever goes through any of my stuff it’s always — even if I have stories or talking about a case study I always bring it back to okay — here is what I did for somebody but here’s how you can apply that and it’s really all — it’s all value-based, really. I’m a huge believer on that.
So how about — what kinds of different channels did you use, was it all referrals, was it like — referrals word-of-mouth, was it direct mail, was it things like paid advertising like Adwords and things like that or what did you find that worked well for you?
Jason Swenk: You have to have a multi kind of development approach to it. Too many people just rely on 1 channel, so like let’s say you just relied on Facebook and then Facebook blocked you. Wow, your business goes bye, bye. Goodbye, right?
So we had an outbound strategy. We had an inbound strategy. We had a strategic partnerships strategy. We never wanted to rely on referrals because referrals aren’t scalable and the funny thing is especially in the service-based business, the number one thing that people tell me how they get their businesses is through word-of-mouth, I’m like, “Oh my God” I was like, “How do you — do you put all of the responsibility on other people to do your job?” I mean that’s basically what it is.
And so you need to create other channels so — yeah we use the Adwords but you know what I found with Adwords. It was going after a small part of the market, right? So if you look at 100% of the pie there is only about 3% to maybe 10% of people actually looking for what to do right now and that’s very busy, that’s very crowded and then there is another like I think like 30% that will never ever do work with you so that’s 40% and that’s the most of time — that’s the 40% of the people that you are going after, right, you’re marketing too, where I like to go after kind of the 60% where not many people were — now more and more people are starting to do that with like disrupting people’s, you know, going where your prospects are and putting out useful information or asking the right questions like Facebook market. Facebook advertising is brilliant roughly right now but to us marketers, screw it up, may not be in a couple years.
We had people calling on the phones to strategic accounts. We established partnerships with people that were going after our prospects that we’re going after. So we had all kinds of things going on.
Jeremy Reeves: Nice, okay. So you guys get a whole bunch fishing poles in the water.
Jason Swenk: Yes, and we knew the fish we are going after. We were going after a blue marlin versus fishing in a pond, that’s right [inaudible 00:28:10] trout.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, you know what, let’s kind of pivot into that point because that is something that — that a lot of people just don’t — it just doesn’t click for them until it does and then once it clicks and I’ll clarify this, but once it clicks, the whole game changes.
So tell us about the blue marlin versus the trout because everybody in just the way that they positioned themselves and the way that they write their copy to attract new clients and the customers. If they’re going after everybody versus the hyper responsive customer or clients in there market.
It’s a lesson I learned probably a solid 2 years ago, actually more than that probably.
That is something that I learned that — it does not matter how many clients that you have, it matters essentially which ones are your — the big fish, the ones that are the easiest to deal with, the ones that gave you the least problems, the ones that help you become the most profitable in the shortest amount of time, the ones that you get the most — the most results for the shortest amount of time and usually those two kind of correlate with each other.
So talk to us about that — about how you found out exactly who your perfect client was and then kind of what you did to really hone in on that particular client?
Jason Swenk: You just gonna think about what different kind of group do you know more information than most, so that’s why I targeted digital agency [inaudible 00:29:25] I lived and breathed it for 12 years and sold it, so I understood all the challenges that they’re going through and I knew I could put out the helpful information for that, so that’s kind of how I picked that audience and I mean, I kind of fell into this, I had people kind of reach back out to me and pulled me into this market so it was a little different, like I didn’t have to find it but at the agency and what I see with a lot of clients is it’s the perfect fishing analogy right.
You can know you’re going after a blue marlin but if you don’t know where the blue marlin is and you go to the pond you’re never gonna catch one because they don’t live in the ponds or if you wanna catch a blue marlin and you go to the place with that little bamboo pole, it’s gonna break the bamboo pole, right? Or if you have the wrong bait, so there is so many different things that have to line up, but the first thing is knowing who you’re going after that goes back to that specialization, knowing what their biggest challenges are, that’s the bait and then having the right systems of the processes is really about the right tackle or the fishing pole in order to pull them in.
And when you start having that and all of those, all 3 of those things align that’s when you start having success.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, yeah, nice. I can’t even begin to describe how powerful what you just said is — it’s one of those things that you listen to and you’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea” but then when you actually implement it in your business and you see that — your average client value triples within 2 months that’s like how powerful that can be when you find that.
A lot of times like when you said, that you kind of fell into it. I actually think that happens more often than not. I think a lot of times the more you search for it — it’s kind of one of those things that if you search for it, you never gonna find it but then if you just stay open to the possibility and just kind of let it come to you it eventually does. I know that has happened in my life and most of the people that I’ve talked to about this — it’s kind of the same thing that happened for them. Someone reached out to them and said, “Hey, why aren’t you doing this” and when they said it, then the light bulb clicks
So a lot of it really is about just listening to what other people are telling you because it’s so hard to see into yourself versus — that’s even like I’m in a program called strategic culture right now and one of the things that were focusing on is unique ability basically that kind of like super human ability that you have.
They said that you’re probably not gonna know what it is. You might have like an idea but one of the ways to really pull it out is to ask people, our homework for the quarter is to basically ask 10 people what’s unique about us, when they have to rely on us to do X like what is it, what’s that kind of x-factor.
Jason Swenk: So that’s why my friends have been emailing me, asking me what their superpowers are. I was trying to figure out, I was like, man there is 2 or 3 people that did that. I guess they’re in [inaudible 00:33:07] programs.
Jeremy Reeves: Ask them if they are in strategic coach I guarantee you they are — or they’ve at least heard the strategy of doing that that’s funny though.
So tell us about when — in terms of like — so you did all that to reach out to the people. You had your inbound marketing, outbound marketing, referrals all that kind of stuff, joint venture partners, another big tip, by the way.
When people got in touch with you — essentially, from the moment that they found out you where alive. To the moment that they became a client and then throughout the process of the on boarding and then after the first project is over.
Tell us kind of what happens and I know that’s kind of a loaded question there, but kind of break it down and what was your sales process like and well, not just sales process, but like what was your whole process of when they first get in touch with you, how did you sell them, how did you onboard them, was there anything kind of special that you did to like enhancer relationship, give them a cool experience through working with them and then after.
Jason Swenk: So it’s very different from what I used to do to what I do now. So let me tell you what we used to do and either of them are good of an approach. So of course because I came up with it, no, I’m just kidding. I’m laughing, making fun at myself so don’t think I’m cocky.
When people would call us, the first thing that I’m trying to do is qualify them, too many people when they wanna work with you or they start talking to you they may not be the perfect prospect it’s kind of the same thing like I said there is no such thing as a bad employee. There is no such thing as a bad client. There is only a bad prospect or a bad system.
So you gotta kind of qualify them and so I came up with this — an acronym I don’t know how you say but it’s called NBAT, and it’s called Need, Budget, Authority, and Timing. So if it was me or my sales guys we would say, alright, what’s their need, does it match up with what we deliver in our core service. If not, punt because you don’t wanna take on the wrong project or client and yes you’re laughing because you’ve done this right, all agencies do.
Jeremy Reeves: I like the word ‘punt’.
Jason Swenk: Yeah, okay. And then the next one is budget, what’s their budget? You know, it’s about 50% of service-based businesses ask what the budget is and then the 50% that do ask they don’t get it because the client says well you tell me and then they give up. I’m like no you just — literally just go, I just needed to know some kind of range that you try to stay around and then you’re at the reverse auctioneer saying you try to stay around $1,000,000, $800,000, $500,000, $10,000, $5,000 what is it, just give me a range and you get the budget 100% of time. I call that my budget buster.
And then you go into timing. Is there timing that they want the stuff? Unrealistic? If it is, punt. Get rid of it and then hopefully they don’t return that night like bad Florida state game, but it’s all another story.
So that’s what we were doing and then after we qualify them it’s all about asking the right questions and figuring it out what’s their challenge, what are they want with the impact on their business because that’s gonna be your kind of your follow-up strategy and your leverage.
What I do now is I use technology to really kind of make it hard and kind of weed out a lot of people that are trying to work with me. So, I’ll do something like, if someone goes into my website, I’ll say hey I’ll design this, free blueprint for you that shows you how to do X, Y and Z, and they’ll be like, “Yeah, hell yeah that’s awesome” and then I say, “Alright, here’s the catch” you have to meet this criteria and this is what we’re gonna do and I even threw an added level to it. I actually charge $100 real person refundable deposit and I was like — I was wondering how that would work. I actually get more request now and I tell them I care less about the $100. I just do it to weed people out.
And so then when someone talks to you they’re just more likely you’ve already converted them from a prospect to a pain customer. They’re not a client but they’re pain customer.
And then you just go down the road of like, alright what’s your biggest challenge, help them out what’s the impact on their business and then at the very end I basically say, “Do you think this is a good plan?” and they’ll go, “yeah, it’s cool” I’m like, “You want my help?” and I’m like, “okay” and I’m like, sign here. That’s really it. Pretty easy.
Jeremy Reeves: Nice, okay. How do you — when you’re looking at even like things like pricing and when you’re talking to a client making — I’m a big believer and I just had a conversation about — actually one of my clients that I’m working with now — just a quick story to kind of explain the point.
One of the clients that I’m working with now — we are at a stage where — it’s really, really big funnel. She is a real estate coach and we’re at the end of the project. We’re at like kind of the 5-yard line and it’s gotten held up for like the last 3 or 4 weeks.
So I’ve been like kind of pushing her, like “Hey, you know I need this” because it’s mostly like stuff that I need from her like I have to have her do the webinar that kind of thing. So we kind of have like a frank discussion about it this morning, she’s like honestly if I’m being truthful, she’s like, I’m scared. She just like I’m very scared of putting this forward like what’s gonna happen and like I’m nervous about it and that kind of thing and she said last night I was talking to a friend and they just — they basically just kicked the hell out of me and I said, “Listen, you’re completely changing this industry, there’s so many scammers in the industry and you’re coming into this with full authenticity and genuineness and you’re really trying to help people and they’re not gonna get that if you’re not there, they’re not finding you and they go find someone else, they’re gonna get scammed. And every single day that you are delaying this your basically — you have disservice to the people that you’re supposedly trying to help and I think that is so true.
A lot of people are so afraid of charging high prices and being kind of like authoritative in getting clients to move forward and from my perspective, I mean they’re doing themselves a disservice if they don’t go for something that’s gonna help them.
So when you’re talking to people, is there anything — and I guess this is kind of like in your “closing script” are there any like questions you ask people or anything to really make people see the value that you’re gonna bring them so you could therefore charge higher prices and deliver better service that kind of thing?
Jason Swenk: Oh, I hit my mute button, sorry about that. I was talking.
Jeremy Reeves: Sorry about that.
Jason Swenk: That’s alright.
Jeremy Reeves: I’ll let it out.
Jason Swenk: Or you can leave it in, that’s even better right?
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, we will leave it in. [inaudible 00:40:26] transparency.
Jason Swenk: I have this microphone that if you briefly touch the mute button and it doesn’t like — it just like I happened to touch it and it literally goes mute.
So what I do is basically ask a lot of questions were like, alright if we do this what’s the result going to be, what’s the impact on your business. You have to ask questions to have them come up with the impact and you kind of leading the witness, like you know the impact. And you should really do your pricing on like 10x pricing model going like, you know, if you know you deliver $100,000 worth of value for doing this funnel then you should charge $10,000 for it. It’s kind of like 10x pricing model or depending on their expectations.
So like one time I went into a [inaudible 00:41:20] I didn’t know who they were when I first started selling and pitch them like a $5,000 website or $10,000 I can’t remember but they were anticipating like $200,000 of the website, it left me out of the building.
You just got to ask questions to have them come up with the results that they’re going to get not have you tell them.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, exactly. And that’s something that I do and I’ve had people like when you ask about budget and stuff, they kind of like, “Oh well, you’re just gonna charge me more” and that kind of thing and it’s like no, I need to know information about your business and even like getting them to kind of tell me like sensitive information, how many leads they’re getting, how many — what their conversion rates, how many of those leads converting the sales, that kind of thing.
And it really is because if I have 2 businesses, one is doing $200,000 a year and one is doing $15,000,000 a year, the funnel, the service that you’re gonna give them is completely different anyway because — I’m not gonna go out and build a really, really basic funnel for a $15,000,000 company because that’s probably already in place and they need something to take it to the next level versus someone who is doing $200,000 they just need like kind of something to get up and running, get the results, improve — get some more cash flow coming in and then they go to level 2.
That’s kind of how — how I do and I completely agree that it’s just — I was actually gonna ask you about the — what you try to do like in terms of 10x or 5x or 50x or whatever and I usually try to do 10x too I think that’s just — it’s a nice kind of even number it’s easy to handle and it also allows a little bit of room for like fluctuations like a little buffer zone essentially.
Jason Swenk: Exactly.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I mean, have you ever — so let’s just say that you had 1 person and they had a just say $5,000,000 business and they wanted to redo their website. And then the next person comes in and they have a $100,000,000 business they wanna do to redo their website.
Do you — would you change the service or change the price based on what they need?
Jason Swenk: Change the price. I mean, you’re just moving up a level and then you start to say no to the people at $10,000. I learned this lesson — I had this one kind of pain in the ass person come to me, I knew I didn’t want to work with. At that time, I had a hard time saying no and so literally like at that time we are charging like $10,000 websites and I was like I just wanna make him go away and literally I said it’s gonna be $80,000 and he said yes. I’m like, crap, but then I was like, “Oh wow I could sell an $80,000 website not doing anything else” and so then I started getting more and more $80,000 websites and we stop doing the lower ones and then we started doing that with $100,000 and so on.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay, so kind of had like break through that glass ceiling to be able to go up to the next level?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, it’s the crap between your ears that gets in the way of everything.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I completely agree. If someone is listening to this and they only have –they’re like at the very beginning stages of business it really is — it seems almost like scary, but once it actually happens to you, I mean I remember way, way back in the day charging $2000 or $3000 for like a full sales funnel, that kind of thing and it’s just like, compared to now and it’s just — I’m coming out with a program for a $120,000 a year and it’s just completely different and — that kind of level of business that I’m working with has gone dramatically up since then, but it’s — it always happened once you do it at first time and I always tell people like, look whatever you have, I called it a freedom offer. Whatever you have, think of something that’s 5 or 10 times the price, whether it’s the exact same thing but for a client in a much better position like somebody a $50,000,000 company versus a 5 or delivering 10 times the value but like just do it and once that first person takes you up in that offer it’s a complete game changer and then you do it once and all of a sudden you’re doing one a month and then your whole business shifts and you’re just doing that like you said.
Jason Swenk: Yep, exactly.
Jeremy Reeves: Okay. So is there — I know were coming up on time I think you had a hard deadline today, so let’s just say — is there — we’ve covered all kinds of different things and there is so many actionable takeaways from this that’s kind of ridiculous almost. I think I’m gonna actually listen to it again and go back for it.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you think people should know, if they’re in a position and regardless if they own an agency or not, because probably 90% of this stuff is directly applicable to really any business doesn’t matter.
Is there anything that I should have ask or anything that, that people should definitely know before you get off the phone that would like change the way that they look at their business?
Jason Swenk: I mean the biggest thing is, 2 ways. You have to have focus so it really comes back to finishing that one commitment until success. Everybody has that shiny red object syndrome. You see this someone doing this, you were like, “Oh I gonna go do this” and then the other thing is just be yourself, just be unique. So many people copy other people and it’s a form of flattery great, but you never gonna breakthrough it to the next level until you’re truly unique and just don’t come up with — I mean at the end of the day it all is about action. That’s what separates the most successful people to the people that are just struggling.
So action really leads to transaction if you think about it.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I love it, I love it. Well, we had a lot of wisdom on the line today, there is a lot of stuff that everybody should be taking action on and if you don’t, I’m gonna personally come and smack you in the face.
Jason Swenk: Me too, me too. I’m gonna fly an airplane into your face.
Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, there you go. If we ever meet in person I definitely wanna fly some airplanes and get a beer together because I think that we have a lot to talk about and have in common but before we get off the line today, if there is anybody that has a service-based business and they’re looking to kind of get out of that, you know, the little tiny box that you’re in and go out to the bigger box essentially. If you’re looking to scale. Where can they find out about you to have you help them with that?
Jason Swenk: Yeah, definitely. Just go to my website, jasonswenk.com it’s spelled S-W-E-N-K so just jasonswenk.com. I put out probably about 60% of my knowledge for absolutely nothing and then you’ll see a couple goofy videos, cat videos and stuff like that which everybody loves.
Jeremy Reeves: That’s funny. Again, as always those — that website will be in the show notes whether you’re on your phone or listening to this on your computer whatever it is and yeah, go to jasonswenk.com I’ve been through the site. He does, he gives away a lot of really, really solid information and then if you are taking the value first approach which I completely love. I really enjoyed the call and thanks again for coming on showing us how to increase our — I guess scalability.
Jason Swenk: No problem, thanks for having me on.
Jeremy Reeves: Sure, thanks.