Crying in a basement:
I’ve been an entrepreneur, one way or another, for my entire life. I washed neighborhood cars in my parent’s driveway, I ran more than one landscaping company, incorporated 6 different businesses, and I’ve written more business plans than you can imagine.
In my latest book – Social Selling Mastery – I give a quick recount of my struggles as an entrepreneur. Yet, most people haven’t heard about how George and I became business partners, and the utter basement (literally and metaphorically) we had a pull Sales for Life from.
In the summer of 2011, as I began experimenting with Social Selling in my basement spare bedroom (where my office was). I struck up a LinkedIn conversation with a sales leader at Acklands-Grainger, and proceeded to book a discovery call at Acklands Toronto office, to meet the Director of Inside Sales.
In our meeting at 11 am, I laid all my cards on the table, and let the sales leader know I wanted to help with more than inside sales consulting. To be effective, I would also seek to help recruit and hire the sales talent. Consider it serendipity, but the meeting before mine at 10 am that day was with George Albert, who had a rehabilitating sales recruiting company called Sales for Life.
George, like myself, had seen his company crash and burn through hard times, and was trying to rebuild the business. He had been a 12 person recruiting team at Sales for Life’s peak, now falling to a 1 man army. George saw an opportunity to offer his customers more than just sales recruiting services.
The sales leader at Acklands interrupted my meeting on inside sales consulting and said, “I’ve heard this story before, and I mean… 1 hour ago. I just met a company called Sales for Life, and I think you should meet the CEO George Albert.”
One week later, George and I were brought together on a lunch “date” near Acklands office. The sales leader said very quickly into the lunch meeting, “George, your business is worth nothing; Jamie, your business is worth nothing… you should merge your businesses to offer more services.” Well…… that’s exactly what we did.
How this helped shape Social Selling best practices:
George and I fell into Social Selling, trust me, we didn’t seek it out. Social Selling became a survival mechanism I used to conduct business development on LinkedIn for our business. What became very obvious, very quickly… LinkedIn and our newly developed blog site was generating more new discovery calls for our business than the telephone.
As we recognized the market opportunity for Social Selling (highlighted in great detail in the Preface of Social Selling Mastery), I put together V1 of our curriculum. I gave that curriculum to 10 companies for FREE, in exchange for feedback and testimonials. What I didn’t realize I had created at the time was a simple crowdsourcing model. This crowdsourcing is exactly how Sales for Life continues to evolve it’s Social Selling Mastery program, which is now at Version 3.3. Eventually, 65,000 sales & marketing professionals around the world had become certified on our curriculum, adding critical methodology pieces such as:
F.E.E.D. = Find, Educate, Engage, Develop. These are the 4 critical elements of a Social Selling routine, accomplished by a sales professional in 30-to-60 minutes per day.
Cracking the Canadian Business – Profit Hot 50:
Over the last 4 years, we grew from 2 founders, -$50,000 in corporate debt, and $5,000 - $10,000 a month in recurring revenue, to 20 employees, channel partners around the world, 300 customers and a multi-million dollar business.
In Canada, the Canadian Business/Profit lists are highly noteworthy and major achievements. We are blessed to make No. 34 on the Profit Hot 50 list for 2016. One thing that’s been great about our team at Sales for Life, we never forget that we were once -$50,000 in the hole with little prospects of survival.