They Said I Would Probably Be A Bus Driver – I Had Other Plans
Growing up, I knew I didn’t quite fit in. Living on a small farm in the economically depressed area of rural northern Michigan meant extra-special fun. Some mornings I got to sling sh!t. Other mornings it was splitting wood, milking cows or other thankless chores. While I have tremendous respect for the hard work farmers endure (and I really love a good steak), I realized early on that this manure-slinging life just wasn’t for me.
Sure, we had our setbacks. Our family didn’t have much money, and I was diagnosed at an early age with dyslexia. My guidance counselor actually told my mom I’d probably only amount to being a bus driver. I’m sure thankful my mom was my advocate and champion and encouraged me to find my passion – computers.
By the second grade, I was able to easily tear apart and put back together an Apple IIe. At that point, I knew I’d rather be doing this computer stuff than driving a bus. My passion for computers carried me to college, where students would line up outside my dorm so I could fix their viruses or networking issues. During the summer months, I helped local businesses with their computer problems.
I opened Dynamic Edge, Inc., and for nearly 10 years I fixed computers for Ann Arbor businesses. Eventually moving to a real office, I thought things were going good…
Until We Lost HALF Of Our Annual Revenue And $500,000+ In Receivables With ONE Phone Call
Our biggest client by far was Borders Books. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the smartest plan to lock up nearly half our annual revenue with a dying business model. Well, they stopped paying their bills and eventually closed their doors. In addition to losing that massive chunk of revenue, we would never see the half a million dollars they had owed us.
Even though Borders refused to change THEIR business model (and died as a result), we knew we had to change OURS. And FAST! Our entire business model was break-fix and hourly work. None of our revenue was predictable. Plus, I had no way of consistently generating new business. For three months, we had been paying techs who couldn’t even pay for themselves!
Because I was worrying about every aspect of the business I could no longer afford, my passion for computers was drowning. Stress consumed me. I was stressed about keeping the lights on, stressed about paying my team and stressed about having something – ANYTHING – left over to pay myself! I was so worried about keeping my business afloat that I was losing focus on the reason I had started Dynamic Edge in the first place.
What I needed was something to provide consistent business and more predictable income to help grow Dynamic Edge beyond the limits of breaking, fixing and failing.
Robin Helped Me To Find What I Had Lost For So Long – My Passion
Ten years ago, I received a mailer insisting I was doing my sales and marketing all wrong. I related to the pains in the postcard and thought maybe this Robin Robins lady knew me better than I knew myself. After all, sales were very hard to close. I knew I had a great team, and I thought we had a strong message, but for some reason we really couldn’t get through to people.
At first, I was skeptical this type of marketing would work. It sounded hokey. Reading through the WANTED campaign, I frankly didn’t believe anyone would even take a glance at it. I was hearing “I told you so” running around in my mind.
Then the results started rolling in. Within the first month of running our first Robin Robins campaign, my fax machine (yes, fax machine) came to life. One business I had been trying to get in front of for YEARS faxed us asking for a free network assessment! After running probably every single campaign in Robin’s Toolkit over the past 10 years, we are now almost famous in our area. Folks recognize us – and even APPRECIATE getting the mailers!
From Being The Sales Guy, The Follow-Up Guy And The Account Manager To Being Bruce McCully: Owner Extraordinaire
Starting nearly 10 years ago, we have come a long way using Robin’s materials, strategies and advice. One of our company’s core values is learning from our mistakes, and we certainly take that seriously in sales-and-marketing land. We’re dissecting and evaluating how our investments in marketing dollars pays off and are continually trying to invest in the most effective tools.
Among the most important lessons I learned was that I was wearing far too many hats that constantly pulled me away from effectively managing my team and my business.
First Hat Removal: Sales – Motivated after attending Jack Daly’s presentation at one of Robin’s events, we followed his playbook and figured out how to create an effective sales team. I am no longer the guy doing all the selling. Today, I am proud to say we have a professional sales team that has hit the pavement running!
Second Hat Removal: Sales Manager – Before, I was the one who followed the opportunities, removed barriers and pushed prospects through the pipelines. Today, we have an awesome sales manager who keeps all of our salespeople on target.
Third Hat Removal: Account Manager – Yes, along with marketing to prospects and turning those prospects into clients, I was also the guy fielding all the client calls. Today, we have four account managers who actively check in on clients and identify and communicate opportunities to improve their computer systems.
It Worked! This Was Our Best Year Ever!
I’ll admit it, my goal for this year was a bit aggressive: to grow our top line to $7.6 million. But we ended last year just barely surpassing the $6 million mark. Could we really create $1.5 million in NEW sales all in one year?
Thanks to guidance from Robin, her marketing and the inspiration and instruction we gained from speakers at her events, we sold the most we had EVER sold this year! Beyond sales, we actually exceeded EVERY goal we set. Our business follows the Traction model. Every year we set a sales target (top-line revenue). And every year since using Robin’s products, we’ve increased our revenue and moved up and to the right on the graph!
So, how did we do it? How did we add more revenue in one year than I ever thought was possible? Since we are a family, I’m willing to share our successes. (Just don’t tell anyone.)
Winning Sales And Marketing Campaigns That Added $1.5 Million to Our Coffers (AKA The Secret Sauce)
There Was Only An “I” In Our Sales Team
Sales and marketing must work hand in hand. Without effective marketing, sales suffer. Without a proven sales and follow-up system, your marketing will fall short.
This year we made a substantial change to our sales team and sales system. We went from Bruce McCully (me) as the one and only sales guy to an entire sales team! I’m proud of this team as they closed 81% of the $119,228 in MRR and 100% of the $736,976 in NRR. We used a playbook based on the techniques, stories and scripts that worked best for us.
“Time To Upgrade” Campaign
We doubled our hardware sales this year by focusing on warranty reports and disk errors, and meeting with our clients each month. We put ourselves in their shoes by helping them buy when it was time to upgrade. We also piggybacked on events like Labor Day and Section 179 to keep the conversation moving.
$107,744 From One Book Mailing
Need a reason to call and qualify your cold leads? We used a book-mailing script and campaign to reduce 3,800 cold leads down to 399 targets. We then physically mailed a copy of our book to the interested prospects directly from Amazon and followed up with a phone call.
Of the 399 targets, we were able to convert 1%, which accounted for $6,312 in new MRR ($75,744 annually) and $32,000 in new project work.
Sitting Duck On Steroids
We used the Sitting Duck mailer with a modified $100 campaign to target the 378 interested prospects from our book-mailing campaign. We converted nine of these prospects into qualified leads interested in assessments. From those assessments, we generated $33,473 in new MRR and $111,398 in project work.
Goal Of 15 Speaking Engagements: DONE!
We based our 15 presentations this year on material from Robin’s Cyber Security Roadshow. Educating those interested audiences resulted in 46 leads who requested assessments. From these speaking engagements, we closed $18,888 in new MRR and $96,847 in project work.
Robin’s clients are discovering the value of drip marketing a printed newsletter each month. Beyond mailing out a single newsletter each month, we started mailing multiple newsletters specifically targeting our vertical audiences.
Referral Campaigns To Stay Top Of Mind
Every IT owner asks and begs for referrals. The key is to do something unique and valuable that will keep you top of mind. The following campaigns delivered $22,311 in MRR:
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Survey – We started a survey that asks just one simple question: “Would you give us a thumbs up or thumbs down based on our service?” We are currently at a 95% positive response rate and have a team goal of making it five days with 100% responses, which earns quarterly team bonuses.
“S’more Clients Like You” Campaign – Every time a client provides a thumbs up, we deliver a chocolate bar and thank-you card asking for “S’more clients like you.” This campaign also introduces our referral program.
Beyond Tech Connects – Our team is constantly looking for creative ways to connect with our clients beyond simple thank-you notes. Based on each client’s interests, we have created an entire system around sending out treats, toys and other oddities. Clients love their gifts!
Internal Recognition And Rewards
We implemented a bonus system for our team based on client satisfaction, net profitability and gross margin. The team earned $475 in Amazon gift cards and a hundred bucks in cash, and everyone on the team got three extra WEEKS of pay! Yes, incentives drive results! I know we would have never hit the $7.6 million mark if it were not for this program.
This Former Sh!t-Slinger Is Surpassing $9 Million This Next Year!
I attribute a lot of my success to keeping an open mind. Had I not given Robin’s team a chance 10 years ago and had an open mind to actually craft a marketing and sales strategy, Dynamic Edge would not be featured in this article. We would not have been a Better Your Best finalist. We would not have hit our revenue and profit goals this year.
At this point, I know we have great things in the future. Whether the economy is sky-high or recovering from another recession, with consistent accountability from my Producers Club group, consistent messaging from Robin’s campaigns and motivational refreshes from our quarterly meetings, the sky’s the limit. Our goal next year is to hit $9.1 million in revenue, which would be ANOTHER $1.5 million increase. Aggressive? Yes. Confident? Absolutely!