Disclaimer: This is not a get rich quick feel-good story. We are not newbies. We have invested over 20k in courses, books, tools, and more than two years of failure that amounted to “nothing” before a huge step up.
I am grateful for the setbacks and failures because it gave us perspective and knowledge. The tools give us the bandwidth to scale and hop on to new opportunities.
- Why we failed for years
- Our Strategy for the launch
- Our next steps to growing the agency
Why we failed for years
Before all of these happened, my partner and I were serving the military. For the past two years, we embarked on many dead-end projects. That had us wondering why we were not making as much as we want to.
My partner was an SEO expert. He ran an adult fetish site pulling 30,000k monthly view but could not monetize it. On the other hand, I was somewhat decent at generating business leads and doing sales calls. I ran a b2b lead generation company that could not scale.
It was not a skill issue.
Things were also pretty rough then, with the army taking up most of our time and mental space. We spent all of our time working on our “side-hustles”, skipping out on parties, gathering, and all the stuff.
I had this constant fear of not succeeding because it only meant two options. I had to either find a job or go back to school once my service ends.
Neither option was appealing to me.
Things continued to be a complete train wreck. The Covid-19 locked down happened nearing to the end of my service. It gave me time to focus and move as we were under stay home orders.
However, we were not moving in the right direction. It felt as though we were still banging our heads against the wall, this time harder and faster.
Before I knew it, I was out of the army. The direction was still murky, but with every failure and reflection, things started to click. Things were difficult and glim because we did them backward. We were solving problems before they even happen, such as information retention, tracking … etc. You can read my other post here.
I took the risk and canceled my university admission. I wanted to focus on making this business work.
It dawned on us that we were not out there at all. We were so focused on building the right service or product that we did not put it to test in front of the market. We had the skills, tools, and knowledge to scale but we could not because we have not gotten past step one.
What is step 1?
You need two things to make sales.
- Having an offer that your market wants
- And getting your market to see your offer
As stupid and generic as it sounds, there are no secrets. If you want to validate your idea, create a landing page with a sales copy and put it in front of your target audience.
Our Strategy for the launch
- Find an ideal traffic source
- See what the are our competitors were offering, then make it better
- Compete based on price point to get the volume
We found a local listing site where people list their services or items. We researched all our competitors and decided that we could offer a simple web design service. There was not much competition as our competitors were not copywriters and their listing creatives were terrible(Funny how they are designers LOL).
Next, we created a customer avatar based on the listed services, Reddit threads, local Facebook pages, and so on. This process helps us craft a sales copy that speaks directly to the market.
We built a landing page, put in the copy, and threw in some illustrations from our tool stacks, and we have a minimum viable landing page ready to go.
Branding and positioning matters, as your ideal customers buy based on the impression and general vibes you give them. So you have to stick out like a sore thumb.
Lastly, we priced ourselves just below our competitors. Pretty sure this is counter-intuitive to what most Gurus preaching to charge your worth.
Word of advice is to drop your ego, get the cash in hand, and prove your worth later. Leaving the table with money in your bank account is better than going home empty-handed. Moreover, you never know who this client can refer you too. Relationship building is of the utmost importance when it comes to the agency, so do not burn bridges.
The service was up and live shortly after that. Duplicated our listings a couple of times to maximize exposure and also understand how the platform algorithm works.
It was around the mid of the second week where we noticed a spike in leads. I was getting incoming calls almost every day.
The leads were all over the place. Most were enquiring about services we do not offer but had the skills and knowledge to fulfill them.
Out of the 25 total discovery conversations we had, we filtered down to 5 serious candidates. We closed all 5 of them over a 30-45 minutes video conversation with prices ranging from $399 to $6,000.
Having a sales process is extremely important. Most consultants would spend hours talking to clients that would not pay for their service and products.
I would structure the sales process with a 10-minute discovery conversation at the start. The initial call helps me gauge the prospect’s level of commitment, budget range, and decision-making process. I would then schedule a strategy session. However, if they sound fishy or the deal did not felt right, I would disqualify them. (Always stick to your principles.)
The strategy session is a 20-40 mins video conference where we find out if the prospect is a good fit. During the session, we understanding their pains, agree on the price and handling objections.
One tip here is to collect a deposit instead of asking for the full price. We would then schedule a kick-off (onboarding) call where we meet them and get into the details and collect the whole sum.
Why? Because this lowers the resistance and prevents a buyer’s remorse. If the prospect is willing to pay you a deposit, they are committed and would pay you the full amount after onboarding.
The other reason is that you are leaving your cash flow to factors of the unknown.
For example, a client might commit to paying you after the onboarding session seven days away. Something might happen during the week and cancels the engagement. It always happens, so always secure a deposit and remember cash on hand is king.
The onboarding process makes or breaks your relationship with your prospect. I have seen too many gurus talk about closing sales in one phone call and all that BS. Having a great sales process and a shitty onboarding process is like getting catfished on a dating app. It would not do good for your reputation and affects your future businesses.
A well thought out onboarding process instills confidence in your client. One scenario that happened during the kick-off session was that the client was not exactly sure about engaging us because we were young (22-year-olds)in Asian culture. But after the onboarding session, he was extremely impressed with it. He told us that we knew our craft and felt confident in our capabilities that reflected in his firm handshake as compared to before.
During the onboarding process, set the right expectation by understanding your client’s goals, address their concerns, and formulate an action plan of deliverables to achieve the set goals. Do not make promises out of thin air and results, show transparency by helping your client visualize how the actionable deliverables would lead to the outcome they envision.
What is our next step?
… And we just rented an office last week.
We are on track to hit the goal to hit 10-15k MRR within the next four months. After that, it would be just scaling, funding other ventures, and ultimately build an agency that can run without us.
Here are our key movers:
Optimize our presence (offline and online) to exist in multiple places to receive opportunities.
Hiring and building an internal team.
Improve our lead generation through strategic partnerships (networking)
Building out internal structure to scale(Financials systems, Work tracking, Goal setting)
I hope you enjoyed this post. Do follow me if you are interested in more business insights.