In this podcast episode, Matt Coffy, PracticeBloom's CEO, interviews Jamil Velji about steps business owners can take to set up high converting sales funnels to get more new leads and grow their businesses faster.
Matt Coffy: Welcome aboard to another podcast where we talk about business growth strategies. I have a very special guest, Jamil Velji, who’s on today. We’re going to talk about, or actually say in Toronto aboot, we’re going to talk about sales funnels. We’re going to talk about automating your sales prospects and strategy. I really dig this because it’s a huge thing for all of us in this industry to consider as part of the most prominent way to streamline profit because that’s the big key, right, Jamil?
Jamil Velji: Exactly, exactly. Thanks for having me. That’s exactly the goal of what we try and do is streamline and make more profit more achievable.
Matt Coffy: Yeah. And there’s so many different ways to do this. But I want to ask you today what have you found as maybe one of the most effective strategies for a small to mid-size business to really get into the process of driving leads? Because that’s all of our customers. They all want to know, “How can I get more leads, right?”
Jamil Velji: Exactly, exactly. The best way to approach it is keep it simple. Think about if you were the customer what would you want. The first thing that always comes to mind is I want something for free, and I want something, not just anything, I want something valuable for free. Probably one of the most popular funnels that we will roll out for any small business is really very simple. It’s offer something free of value, not just a free coupon or anything like that. It’s here are some really awesome information. Here are some really awesome content. For a plumber, here’s how to unclog your drains and how to keep them running. And we offer that as the free attractor. From there, it’s basically awesome. You like that content? Well, why don’t you opt in to our email list? We’ll send you a lot more of that. From there, that’s basically what brings them in and then it qualifies them. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that can happen on the back end. But keeping it simple to that extent lets you just get as many people in your email as you need. From there, you just have to send them the right type of information. That’s just “Hey, here’s our company. Here’s what we do. If you have a need for our services, here’s all our contact info and just contact us at any time.” We take that simple approach with a lot of the companies that we work with and it does work as long as you build that relationship in a really valuable way.
[clickToTweet tweet="'People want the proof that the company is going to be around for another couple of years.' @JamilVelji" quote="'People want more proof. People want the proof that the company is going to be around for another couple of years.' -Jamil Velji"]
Matt Coffy: I understand that. I had a conversation yesterday about someone who does social selling. I found that that was interesting. But this sort of true and tried methodology of getting an email list and getting it engaged, getting a good direct copy and getting it through the wickets. Let’s say we start with a company like LimeLeads where you can go and buy a list, an email list. Let’s say I want to buy a list of all the spine surgeons in the 100 mile radius of my office. Now we put together an email with those people in there. We send out the email with an offer that might be like “Hey, we’ll take a free look at your site and tell you how we could get you more patients by doing some very simple things.” And then it converts over to like an automatic tracker for putting people on our schedule so that they could literally click a button and schedule a time to talk to us. Is this something that you guys are involved in in creating the funnel strategy to do that? Because I know that’s one of the things that I always thought like “Man, we take so much inbound traffic. We’re just found.” If we have an outbound process, we could really segment our customer, get that. Just those guys are really… We could help them so much if we got the right message. I just want to see what your thoughts were.
Jamil Velji: Yeah, definitely. A lot of the people that we do work with, they typically don’t have the benefit of inbound traffic, or if they do, it’s very minimal. We’ll help them with that strategy basically by just saying, “Hey, here’s a bunch of really awesome ways you can get people into your email list.” But what we’re really focused on is the idea of going outbound whether it’s by email or advertising or whatever the case and going after that target instead of people. So when we do something exactly like what you described where we’ll get a list of certain people that we want to get in touch with, we’ll leverage all the different ways that you can actually get in touch with them through advertising and everything else in order to pull them into that funnel. So it’s not just email outbound. Google has customer match now. You can upload that email list and run advertising either through search or display ads. You can do Facebook’s customer match. I think they call it custom audience, so exact same thing. Just upload an email list and you can run Facebook ads. You can do the same thing on Twitter. Upload another email list. Basically, you’re just getting in front of them everywhere they go. If you really want to, you can be a bit creepy and put that list into LinkedIn and try and connect with them on LinkedIn as well.
Matt Coffy: Please, don’t do that anymore. I’m just kidding. You guys can do that who are out there who are listening. Go ahead and contact us on LinkedIn. I’m laughing because this is exactly what I had. I literally had this parallel discussion yesterday, and I said, “This social selling is…” Let me explain like peel it back a little bit and maybe you can help me. We get a lot of inbound leads because we have traditionally been known as an SEO company, so we get a lot of people finding. They’ll search SEO in New Jersey. We come up number one in the maps. But to me, it’s a random caller. We’ll get a person who’s a roofing guy and then we get a manufacturing company. Then we’ll get a foreign company. Then we’ll get a doctor. So we’ll be more interesting if we said, “Okay, let’s take 100,000 contacts that are in LimeLeads or wherever you get your email database. Let’s map as many as we can into their social profiles. Let’s go map up like in Facebook exact match or whatever and Twitter just like you just said. Now let’s say our list is maybe down to like 50,000. Of those 50,000 that are all matched up, now let’s quadre it down to a geo targeted search, and then let’s run a geo-targeted strategy that’s based off of the criteria that matches our lead profile in the social channels and then build them back into a touch campaign and then run them back into our funnel which would be an offer plus a potential to have an appointment through an online calendar type of thing. Is this something that you see as the more common thing to do?
[clickToTweet tweet="'Everything is moving towards mass personalization and behavioral-based personalization.' @JamilVelji" quote="'Everything is moving towards mass personalization and behavioral-based personalization.' -Jamil Velji"]
Jamil Velji: It’s definitely not common but it’s much more effective. There’s a lot of companies out there that kind of just look at lead volume as a number and they’re just we want to hit that lead volume. We want to get above this threshold. But what they don’t look at is the whole picture of you may get 1000 leads every single month, but maybe you’re only converting 100 of them. It’s not a great conversion rate. It’s not super bad. But if you can generate 500 leads and get the same number of people converted, doesn’t that make a lot more sense?
Matt Coffy: It does. This is why I’m very interested in talking to you because we’ve done very little in this space for our company to make. We do a lot for our customers. Sorry for being selfish about this.
Jamil Velji: I totally understand that. That’s exactly where we’re kind of in that place too. We just made an initial. It really was just a test. Yesterday, I had a bit of free time. Yeah, free time. And I kind of just thought I want to do something really odd ball because I read all these awesome things about people that will try doing LinkedIn ads. They get hired and they target every single person in a company. So I said, “I want to talk to all the CEOs and founders of tech companies here in Toronto.” I don’t just want to talk to them. I want to grab a beer with them. So what I did was I basically grabbed that list from LinkedIn. There’s a bunch I was connected to and then I scraped a couple through some other tools that we have. I just build that custom audience on Facebook and I uploaded it to Twitter. The same thing on Google. I just had this ad running which is a picture of me with kind of like pointing out to them and the text is just “I want to grab a beer with you. Click here to get more info.” The click-through rate has been staying consistent at over 40 percent for the last four or five hours. It’s been running full throttle. We have like 100 clicks and we’ve actually booked six calls where we’re going to go and grab a beer with these guys and just brainstorm and connect. Absolutely awesome is the lead generation model because these are our exact customers. We’re going to get in front of them in a medium where it’s not all about business. It’s a bit more about creating that relationship and the value with these targets is not unreal because these are much larger companies where they’re kind of just interested in the way that you did it much more so than what you have to offer. But it’s a great end.
Matt Coffy: A couple of different things. I always wonder how people get my email address. Like randomly all of a sudden, someone will show up in my email box. It will be like a blog guy or a funnel guy or applications guy or whatever. Someone random shows up in my mailbox every day and I’m thinking I must be on a list some place. You know what I mean? That didn’t really bother me, but 98 percent of the time I just don’t even look at it. But the other 2 percent of the time that people get through. I just assume like this is the business. That 2 percent of the people who get through somehow are my Twitter follower and they’re also in my Facebook lead gen and they’re also in my LinkedIn. I’m like what is this? Who is this? I keep seeing this guy about this mobile application thing. Where is this? What does he want? All of a sudden, we have a conversation with a company in Manhattan about doing a mobile application. It’s that guy and he probably did the same funnel model. I’m thinking, man we got to do this. It’s a good thing to consider. The funny thing is we do this for our clients all the time. I mean, literally doing Facebook targeting, LinkedIn stuff. We just don’t do it for ourselves because we’re so pounded with inbound.
Jamil Velji: Yeah.
Matt Coffy: I guess you’re right. We’re blessed for now. I had this conversation yesterday about social selling, and I think this is really worth ending up being.
[clickToTweet tweet="'If it works and if you can make it simple, you can make it work just as well as the big guys.' @JamilVelji" quote="'If it works and if you can make it simple, you can make it work just as well as the big guys.' -Jamil Velji"]
Jamil Velji: Definitely.
Matt Coffy: It’s really kind of trying to overleverage on these networks as much as you can, branding and familiarity. Inevitably, that 2 percent converts at some level. You’ve done this for a while. What’s your typical customer look like? Are they a larger tech company, small business? Who’s your audience and what’s the first thing you look at implementing?
Jamil Velji: Yeah. So we have a bit of an audience there because tech companies it really comes down to their funding more so than anything else. So we get companies where on the low end it’s probably about five employee company but they have millions of dollars in funding up to companies that have 100 employees and they don’t really have funding or they’re running out of funding but they have the revenue taking hold and bringing in some profit.
So it’s kind of funny that in the larger scale of things, we get to do a lot less partially because they have systems set up but it’s also just because they don’t have the same type of budgets. But in the smaller sense, it’s all about automation for them where they only want to hire one marketing person for the first almost year and a half of running. But they want to achieve the same result as if they have a five or six-person team. So what we generally look at is how are you currently bringing in leads, what are you doing to those leads because most of these guys don’t have a sales team or anything. It’s just they’re trying to convert them all by emails and everything else. It’s really just looking at okay, so how can we leverage anything that you have whether it’s content or information or people and try and leverage this like crazy.
In a lot of cases, we focus on sales funnels and it’s a funnel where they don’t have to have human interaction unless it’s really necessary. So unless someone really has questions, that’s when a support person or something will stand in or at least take holes, but for the most part, we try and help them convert that customer without ever having touched anyone in the company because that’s the only way that a lot of these guys can scale. Their budgets just don’t account for anything other than tech people or customer support persons. It’s kind of an interesting space to be in, but it allows us to do a lot of interesting things because they need more automation and tons and tons of it, but they’re also moving to that realm where social selling is necessary. People want more proof. People want the proof that the company is going to be around for another couple of years because there are a lot of tech companies that fold. It really just comes down to trying to be in front of them everywhere you can once they come in. So when someone comes in and they hit that landing page, it triggers a whole sequence of things and it could be everything from them getting retargeted on Facebook to seeing an ad on Twitter to getting a connection message from the CEO of the company on LinkedIn. It’s just you have to trigger all of these things so that they continuously see that person and hopefully they’ll convert in a sooner case. But in the case that it takes them months to get to that conclusion, we have them everywhere, so at some point they’re going to start thinking about that whatever it was that they were trying to fix in their business with software and they’re going to come to the conclusion, “Hey, I should get in touch with these guys that I see absolutely everywhere, or at least I should investigate it.”
Matt Coffy: I don’t know if you have specific dollar values but do you have a range of what people should be prepared to spend to get this strategy set up and have you guys run it?
Jamil Velji: If it’s through us, we’ll typically look at it as you’re going to put aside about the salary of a junior to mid-level marketing person. Our aim is actually kind of to replace that junior to mid-level person that would otherwise just be running campaigns. But in the sense of the business where it’s kind of they’re boot-strapped. They just need to get something done and they want to do it themselves or at least take the approach of doing it themselves.
There are a lot of tools out there which relatively recently a lot of things like Active Campaign which is an email automation tool that’s significantly cheaper than the competitors out there like Infusionsoft. I think it works at almost 30 times cheaper. Basically what these tools do that makes it a lot easier for a business in order to come in and say, “Okay, I know what I want to do. I want a customer to come in or a prospect to come in. I want to give him some information on the company then I kind of want to sell them.” With Active Campaign it makes it really easy. You basically have them come I through whatever they come in whether it’s a website or a landing page or maybe you get them on Facebook.
Once you get their email address, they enter into this it looks like a mind map on active campaign, a mind map of emails and action items. It’s all kind of drag and drop and everything as well, so it makes it really, really easy. It is actually the tool that we use for the most part for email activation as well because when it comes down to it in the tech space, eventually they hire in and they eventually remove the agency no matter how great the engagement is. So we try and make it really easy for them so that we’re using tools that their marketers can easily learn. We’re using tools that are really easy for them to understand the flow of things and really easy for us to diagnose.
Matt Coffy: Yeah. We moved from Infusionsoft to Active Campaign over the last six months even though our email list is substantially smaller than most probably companies that we don’t. Again, we’re more inbound. But you’re right and I think the simplicity of Active Campaign has been really helpful for us to at least not have to think about the sophisticated funnels that are part of Infusionsoft and some of the larger where it’s just too much.
Jamil Velji: Exactly.
Matt Coffy: I think the concept of trying to bring home, and this is our big quandary as an agency. When do we turn around and go to our client deck and say, “Okay, we’re going to start your automated program and start running a monthly recurring strategy in that.” We’ve had these discussions. We are excellent at SEO. We do pay per click and we do all the rest of the social media marketing and paid advertising. But we very rarely turn to this industry and said can we bring this in and say, as you said, a junior level marketing guy sort of spent where we can go to a client and say you could hire us instead of bringing somebody to the board. That means we as an agency we need to bring ourselves to a next level of sophistication with not necessarily the tools because I know the tools. But it’s more of a sophistication of the discussion. Let’s say you’re dealing with like a $20 million company who has some sort of basic understanding and might have like a simple rudimentary email system. Oh yeah, we send out a newsletter every month, right?
Jamil Velji: Yeah.
Matt Coffy: Really? What would be your approach to getting that mind share with that customer?
Jamil Velji: Yeah. We really take the approach of trying to map it out ad really add value to them as well. We really kind of eat our own dog food in that realm. Nice little tech turn there. But basically we’d approach it and say, “You’re already doing this. Here’s kind of the realm of where business is in your industry you’re moving. What I want to give to you is let’s take an hour. Let’s map out what it could look like if we were to help you with an automated funnel and if we were just to look at what other people in the industry.” I’ll literally spend an hour on the phone with them on screen share and map it out. I just use a tool called X Diagram for Mac. I think it’s $9. I use that to map out exactly what it would look like. So from when a customer comes in or when a lead comes in, what you want to do in an ideal sense and what the bigger guys in the industry are usually doing if they’re more tech-savvy and I’ll literally just walk them through that. At the end of that they’ll usually have a really good understanding of why we call it a funnel for the first part. A lot of companies, you say funnel and they don’t know what it is. But then they’ll also understand why it’s in place. So a lot of times, they’ll look at it and say, “Okay, yeah you know our sales guys don’t do that” or “Yeah, we are dropping a lot of leads there that probably could be improved.” I’ll get those comments like 50 to 60 times during a one-hour session easily. At the end of it, it’s basically “Here’s your plan. I can send you a PDF of it. But if you actually want us to help you with it, let me know. I’m happy to have a discussion on how that can work and how we’d come in and be able to build out this process for you.”
That’s really the way that I like to approach it. For the most part, we’re in the space where it’s very technical. I mean sales funnels and automation and everything like that, it’s relatively technical. So what it really comes down to is you have to build in that knowledge and education piece on the front end so that the business owner can actually understand like “Okay, this is what I’m paying for. This is why and here’s how it will impact the business.” In a lot of cases in those initial calls, we’re walking through some revenue numbers and numbers of leads and things like that, and we identify that just by implementing a nurturing sequence, or just by implementing a better way to keep track of leads, they’re usually saving about 40 or 50 percent of the leads that they otherwise have dropped which could mean two times the revenue just by implementing the system.
Matt Coffy: Yeah. I think that that’s the visibility into that space. Man.
Jamil Velji: Exactly. It’s very, very harsh.
Matt Coffy: Again, every day I go see a client or talk to a client. The unsophistication that the small to mid-size market level is just… I was talking to somebody about this today. I said, “You know, we’re so far advanced.” It’s like literally we’re at the very beginning of this whole entire industry if you look at it from the sales funnels strategy and the combing out of the social profile. When you talk to your average Joe business who’s $1 - $5 million or $5 million, they’re just “What?”
Jamil Velji: Yeah. It’s all TV ads, banner.
Matt Coffy: Well, I don’t care what you talk about. I need phone calls and leads. I’m like alright. I think as a general rule, when I tell this to everybody, I’m like the industry is going to be based off of dealing with paying these entities because Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, whatever the next social profile or whatever will be out there, these are the channels in your phone, right? Most people are starting to recognize that look, you’ve got design from mobile because it’s just moving to a whole world where we’re just application or channel-driven as opposed to web-driven and because it’s just easier. The easier things are, the more push button things are. So you got to think like channels. Earned media, purchased media. There was another one in there. I don’t remember the last one but there’s like three different types of media now to go after as sort of the new marketing world. It’s how you co-mingle that to the lead funnel process that you’re working with in your case on how effective you are today as opposed to just trying to be found. Even though it’s our business in this case in our world that we do that today, we’re naturally found because we’re an SEO company. So obviously we should be found. But for most companies, it’s sort of like you’re going to be fighting a battle that’s already been won by people who are way far ahead of you. So what do you do tomorrow? Well, you’re going to do this.
Jamil Velji: Yeah. Exactly. When we try and do the education piece with our customers, it ends up being a lot of pulling them towards that conclusion of why do I need a responsive website. Well, how do you search on Google? How do you do your research when you need to get in touch with a plumber? The first thing that always comes to mind is “Well I pull up my phone and I look it up.” There you go. That’s exactly why you need a responsive website is most people in North America do exactly what you just did. It’s very experience-based education that you kind of have to go out there with, but it really is. Everything is moving towards mass personalization and behavioral-based personalization. The guys who are already doing it are definitely way ahead of the pack. But it only gets more complex as you go. I mean that’s definitely some of the things that Google and Facebook are working on with a lot of the roll-outs that they’re after. But they are just making things more and more complex because advertisers and businesses in the space are trying to make things more personal, less mass mail spammy. It’s becoming a very technical and complex age which is kind of right where we’re in which is it’s interesting. Definitely the day-to-day in terms of new innovation in the way that you can do things. There’s always something new. But sometimes when you think back and you look at it, it boggles the mind just how complex things can get. We’ve been looking at some consulting businesses in a way because a lot of them use Infusionsoft. The sheer campaign that these guys have gotten into over the years as they just keep adding things on and adding things on and adding things on becaus. I mean that’s definitely some of the things that Google and Facebook are working on with a lot of the roll-outs that they’re after. But they are just making things more and more complex because advertisers and businesses in the space are trying to make things more personal, less mass mail spammy. It’s becoming a very technical and complex age which is kind of right where we’re in which is it’s interesting. Definitely the day-to-day in terms of new innovation in the way that you can do things. There’s always something new. But sometimes when you think back and you look at it, it boggles the mind just how complex things can get. We’ve been looking at some consulting businesses in a way because a lot of them use Infusionsoft. The sheer campaign that these guys have gotten into over the years as they just keep adding things on and adding things on and adding things on because they’ll deal with conferences and clients from expos and clients from events and then clients that actually come in through advertising, and they just have this mass of wires almost as if someone just kind of did an electrical line but they just went from building to building in a random fashion and connected it all up. That’s exactly what their systems look like. If it works and if you can make it simple, which is what we really try and do, you can still make it work just as well as the big guys. You just have to make it work well for you and the way that your business needs to run.
Matt Coffy: Yeah, 100 percent. What are you up to? Is there anything you’d like to talk about where people can find you or where you’ll be? I know you’ve got a book out and there’s other things that are obviously part of your world. Can you give us a little…?
Jamil Velji: Yeah, definitely. I’m not sure the book’s really going to help anybody. But what I have done in the realm of social selling we really drove into it quite a bit. What I did is I put together a training video on how to leverage LinkedIn for social selling and it’s a free training video. If you go to the rainmakermethod.co, you can get that for free there. It’s about a 45 minute training video. Dives right into exactly how businesses especially businesses in the B2B space can leverage LinkedIn as an absolutely awesome selling tool. Works wonders for us. But actually to get in touch with me, you can connect with me on Twitter, jamilvelji. And for my business, if you want to get in touch, it’s easyautomatedsales.com. We have a lot of really awesome content there around behavioral marketing and Facebook automation and some of the things like that, just the random thoughts and tidbits. As we build out campaigns and as we do things, we like to note some of the findings there.
Matt Coffy: Great. Awesome, man. It was awesome to talk to you. I’m just so fascinated with this world and we’re just beginning our engagement with our clients and with ourselves as well. I’ll probably circle back with you anyway. I’m just excited about this space as a place for everyone to sort of look at the next level of their marketing strategy.
Jamil Velji: Definitely. I absolutely appreciate you having me. It’s been really fun having a chat. Very few people I get to talk about the complexities of automation and funnels.
Matt Coffy: Good, man. Awesome. We’ll see you on our Facebook feed at some point maybe, right?
Jamil Velji: Definitely, definitely.
Matt Coffy: Take care, Jamil.
Jamil Velji: Have a great one.