Today’s interview is with Marcus Sheridan, also known as The Sales Lion – a sales, marketing and personal development blog. Marcus walks us through how he posted a profitable year even through the market crash in 2008.
Through inbound marketing, Marcus was able to transform his pool company into the most visited pool site in the world. This is the perfect interview for you if you’re in an industry that is crying for someone to deliver as much free value as possible.
- Started River Pools and Spas in 2001, grew to roughly $4 million in sales in 2007 before the 2008 market crash.
- During February 2009, had a period where business and personal bank accounts were overdrawn for three weeks straight.
- Had to figure out a better way of doing things, which led to the “They ask, you answer approach.”
- Since then, company has grown from getting roughly 1,500 visitors/month (half from PPC) to 170k-180k visitors/month (~5% from PPC). Advertising spend has also dropped from $250k/year to $20k/year (split between PPC and Hubspot marketing software).
- Formed “The Sales Lion” speaking and consulting business to share content and inbound marketing sales strategies.
General inbound marketing strategy – “Let’s take every question we’ve ever been asked and answer it with brutal transparency through a website article.” The “Big 5” question areas that move the needle for most businesses (focus on these at least 70% of the time):
- “Best of” questions
- “How to” questions (unofficial #6 on the list)
Reasons this strategy works:
- People want answers – they’ll get them from you or your competitors, but there are no secrets anymore
- Helps move potential customers from just finding you to falling in love with you
- Very cheap to do effectively
- Allows you to use “assignment selling” (detailed below)
- Provides the kind of content that Google wants to reward and that creates natural backlinks
- “Pays the bills” – social media marketing might not generate leads, but building this type of content will
“Assignment selling” – Making sure prospects are educated on your products and competitive advantages before taking a sales call in order to minimize sales time, ensure the likelihood of a conversion and avoid “bad fit” customers. For example, if Marcus was planning a meeting with a swimming pool prospect, he might say something like:
“Eric, I’d love to come to your house to discuss pools, but you’re getting ready to spend a lot of money. Before we chat more, I want to send you a few resources to be sure you’re educated, including a free 30-page ebook. It’s a little long, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile. I’ll check in with you before our appointment to be sure you’ve read it. If you don’t have time to read it, that’s fine, but it might mean we aren’t a good fit right now.”
Productivity hack – If you have a time where you normally feel tired, try to get a workout in during this time. Marcus naturally feels tired around 9:00pm, so using this time to catch up on TV from his elliptical gives him the energy needed to get 2-3 more hours of work done at night.
- The Sales Lion
- Marcus’s Hubspot presentation on the “Big 5”
- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Dale Carnegie
Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.