Once a month or so, we’d have one of our manufacturers that we represented, and we represented 30 or so different manufacturers. They would fly in and I’d take them around, a dog and pony show to every single one of my customers and give them the presentation. Hopefully somebody calls us back and most of the time, it didn’t happen. These presentations were awful. I would see these engineers just fall asleep as we were giving these presentations. As I’m flying around and learning about these different products, I made a commitment. Every time I hit a layover, I would buy a book on how to give an effective sales presentation. After three or four or five books, I can’t remember how many, I started to see a pattern of what all these books we’re talking about. Then I saw the gap that we had in our own presentations.
I took over the presentations and I rewrote them. I gave them myself and that’s when everything changed. We went from $500,000 a year to $2 million a year because we changed the art of the presentation. That was my first exposure to effective sales presentations. Fast forward a few years, we’re having a lot of great success, but I was burned out at my old job. Then I ultimately caught the Itch to become an entrepreneur. I left my job and started to go out on my own. I failed a couple of times before I discovered that the people in the digital world, they also need help with their sales presentations. What’s unique about the digital world is that you can see much quicker results than the sale cycle that I had in the construction world, which was good for me because that gave me a bigger opportunity for my services.
Sometimes it would take us six months to two or three years to even see a whole project through and collect the commissions. It was very frustrating. In the digital world, you can do direct selling webinars and so there’s a big opportunity. In 2015, I started consulting on sales presentations on webinars. My first client that I took over, he was doing a direct selling webinar that was selling how to build a business on Amazon course for $4,000. He was running it live once a week. I helped him revise this presentation in two weeks and I delivered it on his behalf, the first client that ever tested. We went from doing one sale a week to doing fourteen sales that first week that I took it over. He went from making $1,000 a week to $14,000 a week, and the rest is history. I saw those as a huge opportunity and I stayed in my lane and I went from there.
It’s interesting how many people in marketing that come from an engineering background. That’s where I’ve come from. One of the guests that I had on, he’s up in upstate New York as well, Mitch Russo. He also has an engineering background. They’re quite a few of us former engineers who are in marketing. It’s interesting to see people make that transition. Every time I tell somebody that that’s my background and they go, “What are you doing now? How does that relate?” It’s funny, but the two disciplines are very complimentary because in marketing, it’s all about looking at a system. You’re selling system in this case and breaking it down into component parts and then optimizing each one, which is essentially what you’re doing in almost every engineering exercise. I find it very interesting to come across so many people.
I’ve thought the exact same thing, Steve. It’s very fascinating. It’s one of those things, ideas in the back of my mind. I want to dive into that, more like figure out what is that common thread? I’ve seen something very similar. I meet a lot of former engineers who go into sales and marketing or digital marketing and I’m like, “What’s the connection here? I don’t see a lot of liberal arts majors that are playing in this role, but I see a ton of engineers. Why?”
I used to always joke to people like, “How did you get into sales? You’re an engineer. Most engineers don’t want to do that.” I said, “Yes, I was the one that could talk to the humans.” I got volunteered. It’s a fascinating story and it resonates with me because I built my first firm, which was an engineering consulting firm on the back of doing presentations, but this was all, for the most part, pre-internet. We did a few webinars before I ended my involvement with the firm, but mostly we had the dog and we had the pony. I’m not sure which one I was, but we take them in and be in front of people. It’s such a powerful way to sell. I’m excited to dive into more about that. You mentioned that it took a couple of tries before you got a business that worked. What was it like going through that and what were some of the things that drew onto push past those challenges?
I love talking about this because for anyone who’s just starting out or exploring if they want to do this, I love telling this story. Looking back at it now, hindsight is 20/20. You can tell what you did right, you can tell what you did wrong. This transitions well into where we are right now in terms of the company, in terms of the business and what we’re focusing on right now. Number one, and I don’t recommend this for anybody, absolutely don’t do what I did, I left my previous job. It was a six-figure per year gig. I’m doing very well, but I was completely overworked. That was the tipping point.
As a 100% commission only sales person, normally your bosses are saying, “You need to keep working and working and working. Sky’s the limit. Unlimited income.” It’s always the selling point for commission only sales. I was completely burned out. They kept giving me more. As I started growing and as sales presentations were affected, they kept giving me more and more territory. I went from just Buffalo only, so at Buffalo, Rochester. Then Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse. Then Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and the southern tier. “Every so often, you’re going to go to Albany too.” They still wanted me to do cold-calling door-to-door sales, like knocking on our customers’ doors.
Nobody wanted that. I got rejection every time. That’s when I got introduced to the world of email marketing. I created a free MailChimp account. When I had this massive territory, I put all my customers into this email database, which is 120 people. It wasn’t huge. I started doing twice a week email newsletters talking about my products. The content was great. I would get email responses saying, “You should come in and give a presentation.” That a huge light bulb moment versus me going to them and just saying, “Here’s some content if you’re interested, reach back out.” That alone was a game-changer. I digressed because it’s not that all that relevant.
My journey was I got burned out and I said, “I like this idea. I can do this on my own,” so I just quit. I put in my notice and I didn’t have any other income coming in. That’s what I don’t recommend it. It’s very risky. I had some savings, but I burned through that pretty quickly too. I had left my job and I took a week off to do nothing because I was in a very poor health state. When I was working for my previous job, I was sleep walking. I was not getting a whole lot of sleep. I didn’t look overweight or anything, but I knew internally my mind needed to reset. I took a week off and I did nothing. I didn’t focus on business even though it was always in the back of my mind. I made a commitment not to do anything. I want to walk every day, just like my own personal mini vacation. My wife is awesome. Thank God for her because she took her a while to support me, but she was like, “If this is something you want to do, then let’s do it.” I started reading books and I’m like, “I’m an engineer,” so I started to figure out what I like good at. I’m an engineer. I did pretty well my own career, so I’m going to teach other people how to level up in their career. My first idea was to help people pass the fundamentals of engineering exam.