Interview with Eric Keiles
Square 2 Marketing
Profile Of A Top Sales Producer
Welcome to this issue of The Sales Producers, a profile of the top sales producers in our area.
I am Mike Hilbert of Sales Solutions and I have the pleasure of speaking with Eric Keiles of Square 2 Marketing in Doylestown.
Welcome Eric, thank you for being with us today.
Thank you so much for having me.
Eric, I understand that you are a partner in the firm and the marketing genius that helps your client increase their sales and take their business to the next level. I also understand that you are instrumental in obtaining new clients for Square 2 Marketing. Tell me a little about your duties.
Well thank you, thank you for that nice introduction. I would be careful about that genius thing. If you ask my wife I don't know if she'll call me a genius but everyone else seems to think so. Really the whole thing is about that we've developed a system here at Square 2 Marketing that I just follow. The hardest part was developing the system and understanding exactly what people want. It's a little bit strange in that we're a marketing company always helping our clients get new clients or new customers, but yet we have to sell for our own company, so I fulfill a dual roll here as the chief marketing officer to help market not only our own company and give marketing ideas to our own clients, but also I'm the primary sales person. When someone comes to our firm and they're interested in starting an engagement I'm the person they talk to so I do wear both hats, both sales and marketing. So it's a little bit weird and I'm a little bit obsessed in the whole sales and immersed in the marketing arena so that's where I come from.
That's great. I'm sure many of our clients are wearing many hats especially in the marketing and sales area, so I'm expecting some good information .
I'll give you everything I can.
Eric, tell me a little about your educational background and some of your sales experiences.
Well what's interesting is that my educational background is an undergraduate degree in finance. I really thought I would be a Wall Street kind of person and I graduated from George Washington University with that degree and I went to work for a commercial bank in New York City. During that time I was also pursuing my MBA. The bank had a wonderful educational reimbursement program and I took advantage of it. As I started my MBA I didn't know which discipline I wanted. I had already done finance and it was okay but it really didn't light my fire and I started taking some extra marketing classes and really enjoyed that. Circumstances came one thing to another, I'm born and raised in Philadelphia and so is my wife so when we decided to get engaged we decided we would live in Philadelphia. So I left New York and came back to Philadelphia and only had a few classes left to finish my marketing MBA. During that time I knew a nice gentleman and he owned a screen printing and embroidery factory for custom apparel such as tee shirts, embroidered golf shirts, whatever it might be and he asked me while I was getting my MBA to help him on the side a little bit with some marketing to help grow his business. Let me tell you Mike, I was there for two weeks and I got the small business bug bad. I thought oh my goodness, this is so much more exciting than my job working at the bank so when I graduated with my marketing MBA I immediately started working in the marketing field so my education maybe didn't match up to what I do now. Later in life I've been obsessed with learning as much as I can about marketing and sales so I've been self taught in some of the sales area which most of our sales people have been. I've been to many workshops to glean different nuggets from all the different sales gurus out there so I could formulate my own opinion and also I'm a voracious reader. If there's a new book on sales I'm reading it just to find out exactly what angle the author has taken so they could be successful. So when it came down to it my educational and sales experience don't exactly match up but I've done as much as I can to correct that by taking additional courses, information, sitting in workshops and also talking and working with sales people. Sometimes my clients are the best teachers.
Well also you've just joined the Sales and Marketing Executives of Philadelphia, a professional development and educational association for the development of sales representatives and sales executives so I look forward to having you come to our meetings so that will be great.
It's a great experience. The first meeting I went to was a great example on how to further your education without having the traditional classroom setting. The few ideas that I got from just that one morning breakfast session were invaluable to me because I thought of a good example of the reverse time line. We're talking about sales issues here and that I've actually instituted that myself saying okay if we're going to get going on your project in 2007 and this being December 2006 and we know the end game, let's work backwards and see what we have to do. I've tried it a couple of times and low and behold it actually works. That's the kind of education I would recommend for the sales people out there too. Get as much as you can from other people and formulate your own thoughts.
Good. Going back to your own work at Square 2 Marketing, tell us your 30 second commercial. Your company's value proposition.
Square 2 Marketing is very easy. My 30 second commercial is I help small and medium size business owners build marketing machines to obtain their revenue goals.
Great. Would you be kind enough to share a recent success story?
Oh absolutely. Every client that comes through has a success story for the most part I should say. I think one of the greatest success stories that I can say in 2006 was helping a client, it was actually two partners, in a construction firm. They do renovations on your home, and they're the kind of guys that would put a beautiful $200,000 addition on to your $1,000,000 home so they do really nice work and these guys were the most fantastic craftsmen. They were making a good living but they could not figure out from a marketing and sales perspective how to get their business to the next level. Well we instituted a marketing program for them which worked like a charm and they ended up doubling their sales in the 18 months from the engagement and actually they graduated from our program in 2006. Okay, that's what we're supposed to do for our clients. Just by chance I saw one of the partners at a social engagement about two months ago. He pulled me aside, he looked very serious and he said I must talk to you. I'm like what can I do for you. He said I just want to tell you how much you've changed my life. Now that we have our business going in the right direction and we have the additional revenue that we needed to put some key people in place my life has been so much easier and I get to do during the course of the day the things I like to do not the stuff I used to have to do and I just wanted to let you know how much you impacted me life. Well, I don't get any money for that, being a salesperson, but the psychic income I get or the personal satisfaction is tremendous knowing that I touched someone and knowing that I helped them change their life.
And knowing you I'm sure you captured that into a testimonial.
A testimonial. Anything I can use to parlay it into more business.
That's terrific. Great, great story. Tell me a little bit about your challenges in 2007 and a couple years beyond. What are you looking at?
Well, there's two things that are facing our company right now. Our growth has been tremendous because our message is hey Mr. Business owner or Mrs. Business owner we'll be glad to help you get you to your goals, and a lot of times small or medium size business owners, they don't have the resources they need or the expertise to get there so the growth and amount of opportunities has been tremendous. So in one area having the correct infrastructure to handle all the people has been very challenging because we want our team to go to the Super Bowl. We want the best possible team and finding the right people has certainly been a challenge. I think the second challenge is we're also trying to swim upstream a little bit. It's that we really try to help business owners at all levels. In order to do some of things we want to do we want to raise our prices a little bit and offer some more services, which kind of cuts out the little guy who can't afford it. So in order to make sure we're upholding our tag line or our mantra of "We help business owners" we've developed a new package called "My Marketing Machine" which is a do it yourself marketing kit for about $300 that any small business owner can buy, go through the steps with the workbook and the CD's and when we're done we'll critique that and make sure they're on the right path so they can have their own help. So while we've tried to swim upstream we've also had to fill the vacuum of some of the smaller clients we can't help and that's been a struggle for 2006 and 2007 getting that system just right.
Well that sounds like a great idea. I'm sure more information about that is available on your website.
Well no, it's December of 2006 now and we're hoping to roll it out by January 2007 with a website called mymarketingmachine.biz so we're also breaking it out to make it a little more available for the world.
Great could you also included some of your goals and aspirations.
Our goals are we really want to help people and from a selfish point of view we want to get paid along the way. I think if we give people the help like the example that I gave you, that our services are worth quite a bit of money. That's why our goals are to obviously grow our firm, make more money, but also first and foremost to help people. We really believe that good karma will say if you help people it will come back to you some day so that's kind of the way we look at it.
That's terrific. On the professional level, speaking of mentors, do you have a mentor, or are you currently mentoring someone?
There's a couple of different answers to that. Number one, all of our clients I think are the people that we mentor because we're supposedly the experts in marketing and sales and when the people come to us we do mentor them. So I get a lot of mentoring other people. A lot of times we mentor them for free also, if it's a small business person and they came to one of our free workshops, I'll work with that person even afterwards to get them going in the right direction. So I think through my business that I do enough mentoring to really spread the word on how can help people to change their lives. As far as having a mentor, I have quite a few. I'm a very active member of the Entrepreneurs Association, the Philadelphia chapter, but it's a worldwide organization made up of just entrepreneurs. In that group, the Philly chapter as an example, there's 100 of the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. So even though they're my peers in some aspects, they are my mentors in so many other ways because everybody is involved in a different business, everybody has different challenges and struggles and by working with them and hearing what's going on I think that they mentor me beyond my expectations.
What business material do you read in terms of say a local or daily publication to help you increase your business or industry publication or professional development publication. What is it that you're looking at in order to help you stay on top of your game?
Sure, I think I'm actually somewhat one dimensional to a fault because I really like to read a lot of information on business. The local and daily publications - I'm reading the Philadelphia Business Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer business section every day which is also a source of new leads and finding out what's going on from a sales prospectus which is also good. Industry publications - every morning in my in box I get a minimum of ten different e-zines but those online newsletters that I receive are invaluable to me sometimes I don't read them and I delete them but sometimes I take a few moments and just look at them and get one or two good ideas and that's what is important for me because I want to know exactly what's going on in my industry. If someone's saying hey look, this is a case study on a sales success well I want to know about that so I can parlay that into my own success. As far as professional development publications - I read Ink Magazine, I read Selling Power, I read Fortune Small Business and all the other things that go along with those periodicals that would help me along lines. Remember, I'm immersed in small and medium size business so sometimes reading the Harvard Business Revue or some I guess bigger company oriented periodicals are maybe not a good match for me. I really wish I had more time to read stuff like that to get a more well rounded world view, but like everyone else I'm strapped for time as well.
So it shows that you do need to read some of these publications, the local publications to know what's going on. The industry publications and also professional development so that you can be a success in your own
Well I think if you're going to be a top sales producer, which is the point of our conversation today, you've got to be involved in continuing education - whether that be reading or attending workshops like that. The reason being is that there's always new things being innovated and if you could grab a concept and introduce it to your client, A. You're different than the competition who may be a little stale and B. You sound well read because you're involved in day to day activities. A great example was I was using there for awhile the example of the Buick Lucerne, which Buick, being a Fortune 500 company, obviously has very traditional advertising and marketing methods. But when they use a very cute little tool to show the car under cover before it was introduced saying go to our web site to register for some VIP tickets to see it in your local area I was very impressed on how they were using a reality marketing - what we call our kind of marketing strategy - to use the internet to pre-qualify people. If someone's not interested in a Buick they're obviously not going there and then using that prospect database to market to those people. So they had 200,000 people who saw the TV advertising, went to their website and registered; now they have a beautiful prospect database with 200,000 people that they could sell the Buick Lucerne to. And I really think that by reading about that story currently and then using it in some of my sales prospecting activities and then the client or prospect seeing it on TV that night just shows that I'm up-to-the-minute with what's going on in the marketing community.
Well, that's terrific. I want to thank you for introducing the idea of this pod cast so that at Sales Solutions can promote our newsletter and the Top Sales Producers Profile.
Well, pod casting is actually really interesting. Just as a little sidebar, talking about how to be state of the art, if 25% of the people know what we're talking about but the other 75% really have never listened to a pod cast so this is something new. So when I go into a client with a CD that I burned with a few select issues or installments of our radio show and I hand it to them they might say what's this and I tell them you may be interested in listening to this in your car on the way home to get some interesting help on how you can help your marketing in your business. Well they look at me sometimes like I have two heads like the Internet, Radio Show, but yet it's really positioning that we're the marketing firm that does things progressively. And that's why I think it goes back to I never would have known what a pod cast was unless I was out and about in the community listening and finding out what's new.
Well rest assured I'm going to be copying success. So thank you. What professional organizations do you belong to?
Well, we talked about the Entrepreneurs Organization which I'm actually outgoing President of so that's was a very time consuming year that I had last year. But that's the number one organization that I feel helps me grow in my business, not just from a sales and marketing prospective but all the disciplines that come from running a business. I'm also a sponsor of the Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia which is a 3,000 member group of all the business owners in Philadelphia who want to improve their business. The SMEI I recently joined, Sales and Marketing Executives, which is also a little bit different for me because usually I'll join an association to be involved from a prospecting point of view but here I was actually involved with peers in my industry to learn more and also help them if I can to be better people so that was interesting. Also the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group, which is another group of key level executives that I'm involved with. There must be one or two that I'm missing here but - oh, I'm also getting involved with some work with the Venture Capital and Private Equity groups, the reason there being is that those fast growing businesses usually don't have marketing expertise to focus on their products or service so I'd like to get a little more involved their network. The Executive Leadership forum, I almost forgot about that one, which is a group of complimentary consultants that we can trade each others clients and see how we can help each others clients. So with that and having two kids and running my own business I have enough on my plate for 2007.
That's quite a lot. I know we had talked about some of the business material, some of the local publications, but what is the latest professional or personal development book that you've read and would recommend to the listeners and also to our sales producers.
Sure, there's actually two books I just finished. One is Seth Goden, who's a popular small business marketing author, he just put out Small is the New Big, which is very interesting how it says how small companies are really much more progressive and dynamic than large companies and it's a wonderful collection of little brief case studies on individual businesses and how they position themselves to be more nimble to dodge around big competitors, that's a great book. And all of Seth Goden's material, specifically the, I guess the Purple Cow being one of my favorites, is a great source of information for small business marketing, so that's something I would recommend. I also just read Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Red Bible of Selling. The Little Red One was fantastic because it was such an easy read and it was half about improving your sales skills, but the other half was about self motivating yourself and sometimes on a dreary cold morning you don't feel like getting up and hitting your prospect list and really getting out there grinding it to get what you need to get to your sales quotas, it gave me a little motivation myself and I keep it in my car figuring if I had some time between appointments I could use it to get a little bit motivated. So there's the two books that I just finished that were fantastic.
You had mentioned the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the publications that you read weekly, and Jeffrey Gitomer also has a sales column every week.
Exactly, and he also has a wonderful newsletter which is called Sales Caffeine which is good for sales people also. On the subject of newsletters I think that one of the things I do as a company and one of our best practices of prospecting is that we put out our own weekly e-newsletter. We also run about 300 programs for our different clients about how they can do marketing more effectively and email marketing has become one of the best things that we do. Every time I meet somebody I ask for their contact information and I say let me grab your business card and I'm going to put you on our email campaign. Every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. we send it out and it just has a few articles and nuggets about how you can improve the sales and marketing in your own company. Well the interesting thing about that is I might meet someone in January and then have a nice conversation with him, maybe it's not time for them to get started with my company but by putting them on my email campaign I know that I'm touching them every Tuesday. They might delete it most of the time but the few that they read keeps me front of mind as opposed to the competition. So I would think that's probably one of the best ongoing marketing machine techniques that not only we use but everybody can use because it's so affordable to really stay in front of their clients on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
I do receive your weekly email every Tuesday and its jam packed with good information. When you exchange business cards like that you're doing an opt in permission marketing, asking them if you could email them.
That's really the key. We're not out to spam anybody or force information down their throat, but if you indicate to them hey I'll start sending you some information - it's up to them. If I'm bringing them good content and good value in my efforts then they won't want to opt out. But if I'm selling to them or pitching to them or jamming special 10% off down their throat it becomes obvious that it's kind of a thinly veiled sales vehicle and we try to stay away from that by really providing good content. Back to our good karma conversation in the beginning of this, by putting it out there and giving people tips on how they can be better it comes back to you because we're all too busy to do every discipline of our business so it will come back to me when they're ready to get some help with their marketing. So that's probably one of the best things I would recommend to our sales and marketing listeners.
So also with the associations you belong to and the volunteer work that you do that is also a good source of prospecting for you.
Absolutely! I think that if you have your act together and you know what you're doing and can really eloquently describe how you can help someone using your product to serve as a salesperson then being face to face is invaluable. I know a lot of people hit the phones for cold calls and they'll do other prospecting activities, but that personal introduction, that's been great for our company. Don't get me wrong, we advertise and market just as we say our client should do but I don't think there's ever a place to get rid of networking. It's such a powerful tool to be in front of someone and explain your story.
And you never know who you'll be volunteering next to.
You never know. I did a brief panel discussion once, maybe my part of the conversation was five minutes and I got two very good clients, one of which is still with me today and this was about two years ago. So you never know and if I would have said I couldn't be on that panel, I never would have gotten that piece of business. I didn't speak very long but I did just enough to peak someone's interest.
Hopefully volunteering for this Profile of the Top Sales Producer will help you on your way.
What is a little known fact about you, what can you share with us that we wouldn't commonly know?
I am a gigantic lover of premium Tequila. I have a collection at home of all sorts of microbatch and hand made Tequila that I have accumulated over the years and that's one of my passions. I try not to hit the Tequila before work, only after work, but it's certainly one of my passions. In fact my wife wants to send me on a trip to the one county in Mexico where Tequila is legally allowed to be made so I can go and sample just like you take a wine tour through the Wine Country, I'm going to go down to Mexico and take the Tequila tour.
That's terrific. Bring us back some. The last question that we're going to cover today is what other top sales producers can do to convince you to buy from them?
That's actually a fantastic question and being a business owner you know how my phone rings and its like hello this is Frank and I would like to sell you something - a cold caller or telemarketing effort - and I take all those calls because I'm very interested to hear what's going on and how people are pitching. The first thing I say is tell me what's remarkable about your company. Tell me how you can help me in such a way that I really need your help. They all freeze for a second then they stumble because they don't have that answer ready to go. I think one of the biggest downfalls of marketing efforts and sales efforts combined is the fact that they don't think about their strategy first. They don't say hey here are six ways that ABC company is completely different than our competition and here's six ways that ABC company can solve your or cure your problems or pains when purchasing a product or service like mine. There are too many times where people are down right unremarkable. I have a great situation for you - a quick story. A client comes to us and they are opening up a new hamburger place in town. In that hamburger place they say to me how should we market ourselves? I say what's going to make you different or remarkable with your clients. So they go well I don't know - we're going to use fresh beef not frozen. So I said to be honest that's not remarkable enough to have someone come in. I said how about we do something like this. Let's offer a five pound hamburger. If someone eats that five pound hamburger you will send them and a friend to Miami for the weekend. It's certainly remarkable. The end result is not that they're going to sell all these burgers because no one is going to eat a five pound burger, but offering it is remarkable, it starts a little bit of a buzz, certainly I told them, when the person tries to eat one they must sit in the window so that all the passersby can see and the end result is it starts a whole human interest story because they might get a little public relations out of it, there's certainly going to be a lot of referrals if someone's in there and someone's eating that, it's just a simple way instead of making a one pound burger make a five pound burger and when it's available it will make that place so different with relatively little effort. And that's what really think is key. When people try to sell me I'm not looking for the lowest price I'm looking for the most creative and value oriented solution. And I think that people just don't take the time to get their pitch ready with some of the material they need to be effective.
One more question if I could. As a good salesperson I sit here and I look around the room and I see multiple jars of marshmallow fluff. Could you tell us about that?
Sure. Fluff is kind of our mascot here and what happened is when my partner Mike Lieberman and I started the business many years ago we were kind of (can I say) pissed off about the way that traditional advertising agencies handled small or medium size clients. They usually gave them a lot of fluffy advice. For example, you should design a new logo for $25,000 so that everybody feels better about your company when in reality nobody really cares about your logo they care can you solve my problems at a good price. And that's really how we kept promising our clients and prospects that we are not a fluffy kind of agency and that everything we do will give you a return on marketing investment that exceeds your initial expectations. So because we believe in this no fluff attitude, when we're doing some sales prospecting we actually send people jars of marshmallow fluff with a little note that says I promise you this is the last fluff you'll ever get from us. And it's a wonderful tool, it's creative, it costs $.99 at the supermarket, we buy them by the case and it has really become our mascot. I'm sure people at the manufacturer, Durkee M____, don't like us saying no fluff, but the point is that it's really very very strong. If you are a small or medium size business person you don't really need a logo for $25,000, you need programs to drive revenue so that you can get enough money to live the life you want to and that's really the essence of it.
Eric, I want to thank you. I'm sure that our readers and listeners will come away with one or two great things that they can add to their sales experience and go out and have a great day and increase their sales and work the prospects and take their business to the next level. So Eric of Square 2 Marketing thank you very much, I appreciate your time.
Thank you Mike, I really appreciate the time as well.