Week one and I have realised that I should have done this a long time ago. I hired a head of Sales; someone with competence, experience and capability to build our US operations. It's an investment that many small business hold off on, just like myself, but once I made that decision, it is all guns blazing.
Justin Hackney has used his military experience to sell ice to eskimos

We have had inside sales for some time. A young woman by the name of Maddison approached us a few years back to do that in our Melbourne office. She was American, and was incredibly capable of converting our inbound leads to clients. Her accent worked wonders in the Australian market - but funnily didn't translate when she moved back home. We now have an inside sales person in most offices.

Very good at taking orders

Marketing Eye, being a marketing company, is very good at taking orders. That means, our inbound sales capabilities are second to none. People read this blog, connect on social media and end up being influenced in one way or another by our brand. They literally ring up to sign contracts. It's been a remarkable journey and for those who are not natural sales people, it is the only way to operate.

However, the US market is very different and while we receive 40 or 50 leads per week inbound, we want to increase that to 500. To achieve this, we need to build out a sales team. We tried it once when we just started the business, hiring an ex Microsoft sales person and over 6 months, they sold not a single contract. It was disheartening and in many ways, I was very reluctant to have someone on a $100k base plus commission ever again. 

US market is our biggest opportunity

The US market is our biggest opportunity. We have 52 States in which we can have licensees and we are hoping over the next 12 months that there is at least one licensee in each State, and 10 or so in New York. 

Additional to that we need over 100 more clients for our existing business in the US over 12 months. We have magazines which we need to get out more frequently and we have education and technology. There are many sales opportunities that need to be leveraged, and the only way we can do that, is to build out a sales force.

Salesforce is our preferred CRM

We use salesforce as our preferred CRM and have a number of platforms in which we can use. I am particularly interested in what Justin Hackney is able to achieve, and so far, so good. 

This man works 100 hours a week (I'm afraid of burnout - but he assures me that this is normal), and he has the enthusiasm and communications skills that I can see working incredibly well. Besides that, he loves our product and believes in it. He can see how licensing can change the lives of marketers ready to take the next step, and how having a 'Marketing Eye' in your business, will help it grow. So, I asked him a few questions:

What attracted you to Marketing Eye?

I saw a lot of companies failing in their marketing efforts during my time at the Atlanta Tech Village. And a misstep in marketing for a startup can prove deadly. I’ve seen plenty of companies come and go here in Atlanta and I began to ask myself why. Sometimes, not all of the time, but sometimes it’s because these organizations just don’t understand how to build out a system that works for them.  I also saw plenty of “marketing” agencies offering these grandiose services and promising the world to entrepreneurs and CEOs that put their hand out for help. Those same “marketing” agencies churned through customers because they simply couldn’t produce. The Marketing Eye has become this global company after 13 years in the business because they execute. And what was impressive to me is that they walk the walk. That’s why it’s critical that we have a major social media following. Unlike our competition, that preaches about growing social media, we have proof of concept.

What do you think the biggest challenges will be for Sales Managers in the next 12 months?

Understanding that we are now living in a time where the individual matters the most. I think in the past it’s been all about trying to hit quota (which is still important). But just look at what happened to Wells Fargo. Those sales managers at Wells Fargo were driven by their quota so much that they forgot about their customer. And in return, Wells Fargo will pay dearly for it. We are living in a day and age where the individual has the loudest voice in human history. This means that word of mouth means more to a sales manager than ever before.

What is the ratio of inbound and outbound sales in your previous roles?

I was at a Fortune 100 company where I gave all my time to inbound because the phone was always ringing off the hook. Those large companies have the capabilities of producing that kind of volume. But since I made the jump into the startup world, Outbound is what I focus on. It’s required when a company is strapped for cash. However, I’ve always dedicated time to producing content and distribution that will lead to greater influence online, which is me playing the long game and understanding that I have to invest now for the calls to come in a year from now. This is why I work nights and weekends and holidays, because the ratio of inbound and outbound is one to one. They both matter.

Why is inbound leads important?

It accomplishes a couple of things for the individual and the organization. First, it switches the role of the salesman when someone is calling them asking for help. You’ll find your salespeople more confident because they know their product or service has a demand. Secondly, it produces a steady flow of predictable cash flow. Inbound has a higher conversion rate, which makes building out an effective inbound system becomes critical to the success of a company needing to grow.

What is it about the Marketing Eye brand that makes you passionate about selling it?

The fact that it works. The fact that it can help people accomplish everything they set out to accomplish. We don’t work with companies that have awful products or services because a marketing team won’t be able to fix that. We work with great companies that are doing amazing things in their space, but they also have a problem. And we provide a solution for that. That’s exciting to me.

What is your biggest sales inspiration?

I always look for ways that I can add value to anything in my life. But with that said I have to be able to see something that tells me I’m adding value. For me, watching the dial move because I made a sale is such an easy way for me to know I’m contributing. Sales is the backbone of a company. I like taking on that role.

How is sales changing in professional services?

Social media and mobile is changing everything about sales because it allows for people to scale the un-scalable. Old school sales techniques are going to make a huge comeback in the next 5-10 years before the dust settles. We should remember that this whole internet thing is still fairly new. I can remember a time when I had to call my girlfriend’s dad just to get a hold of her… The phone was physically attached to the house back then! I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 16! Now they have apps that allow you to talk to your dog while you’re at work. It’s crazy how far we’ve come in the internet of things just in the past 5 years. It’s interesting to me to see people use dating apps for instance. It wasn’t that long ago that 99% of the population thought dating sites were for losers who lived in their parent’s basement. Now it’s a social norm. So the modern day salesman is going to have to stay ahead of this curve and figure out where attention is being held and how their customers are behaving. Right now, that attention is on Instagram and Snapchat. But in 5 years it will be somewhere else. Sales teams will have to be smarter and more agile than ever before. But their ability to scale the un-scalable is already amazing to witness. 

For more information on how to connect with Justin Hackney, go to www.marketingeye.com 
Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

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