Beth Trejo, CEO, and Co-Founder of Chatterkick, discusses how to stop losing to a competitor we call “Do Nothing.” Boutique professional services firms lose more deals to “Do Nothing” than any other competitor. If you want to bring on new clients, you will need to defeat this competitor to grow your professional services firm.
Sean Magennis [00:00:17]: Welcome to the Boutique with Collective 54, a podcast for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. Our goal with this show is to help you grow, scale, and exit your firm bigger and faster. I’m Sean Magennis, Collective 54 Advisory Board Member, and your host.
I will make the case that boutiques lose more deals to a competitor, we call “Do Nothing” than any other competitor. I’ll try to prove this theory by interviewing Beth Trejo, the CEO, and co-founder of Chatterkick. Beth educates business leaders on social media tools and gets their digital recruitment, social media, and digital customer service efforts working. You can find Beth at chatterkick.com. Beth, great to see you, and welcome.
Beth Trejo [00:01:14]: Thank you, I’m excited to be here today.
Sean Magennis [00:01:16]: Likewise, we’re so excited to have you. So, Beth, our description of the competitor we called “Do Nothing” refers to the project that went away. The prospect did not hire a firm, any firm. They just decided not to move forward with the project. In other words, they decided to do nothing. Has this problem occurred for you in your line of business?
Beth Trejo [00:01:40]: Yes, and we actually see this a lot. We focus on the social media platforms, and many times these are the first things that people set aside when they’re busy, or they hand their social media keys to an intern, and then the intern goes away. And so it’s one of the most overlooked opportunities that I think a lot of businesses have in multiple categories, not just direct retail.
Sean Magennis [00:02:03]: Yeah, you know, that’s what we find, too. And so, just following up from there, do you feel that this is a top competitor that boutiques must defeat to grow? And why do you feel that way?
Beth Trejo [00:02:16]: Yes, I do, and I think the “Do Nothing” competitor really does demonstrate a core value that a lot of the professional services firms have, which is expertise and their advice. And let me give you an example.
Sean Magennis [00:02:30]: Yes, please.
Beth Trejo [00:02:31]: One time that we had a particular customer and they were looking to recruit a salesperson, and this “Do Nothing” approach actually cost them millions of dollars. So, what happened was they were in this business. They were a manufacturing company, and their lifetime customer value is really high. So, they were looking to recruit a sales individual that, you know, they were super excited about when they found a candidate.
This candidate had expertise in the industry, and they were going to take this new product line and really get it off the ground. He’s super excited about this candidate, the business buzz. And they got to the final stage of the interview process, and they offered the candidate position, and the candidate declined. And they were just completely perplexed. They couldn’t figure out what happened.
And they asked the candidate, and the candidate said that they had multiple offers from this business and their competitor, and they felt like their competitor, the offer they accepted, felt more “modern” than this business. And this business was innovative. It was high technology-driven. It was all of the things.
Sean Magennis [00:03:51]: Yes.
Beth Trejo [00:03:51]: But online, they had a website that was old school.
Sean Magennis [00:03:56]: Yes.
Beth Trejo [00:03:57]: They had a social media presence that was pretty much nonexistent. And maybe a couple of tweets that were left from Happy Memorial Day a few years ago. And so it really was. They didn’t have a presence, so they didn’t get to tell their story, and their story was formed for them, which was that they weren’t a modern company, and they lost the candidate.
Sean Magennis [00:04:22]: That is such an extraordinarily good example, and it just showcases the nuances and the importance of having all of these elements defined. And then, you know, there’s this concept of mystery shopping where, you know, I think it’s so critically important for people to mystery shop themselves so they know what candidates you know, think, and feel. Is that something you guys do?
Beth Trejo [00:04:45]: Yes, we definitely just kind of take a customer journey approach. Can people find basic information about you? Do you have a presence online that is an authentic reflection of who you are? I don’t think that people are looking for perfection, whether it’s candidates or it is customers. But, they want to feel like they have good information and they want that authenticity. So, stock photos – throw them away. I would rather have a candid picture of your team over lunch than a stock photo of people that don’t look like those who work at the business.
Sean Magennis [00:05:18]: Yeah, that makes total sense. So, OK, defeating this “Do Nothing” competitor. It sounds like it will save founders a ton of time and boost revenue. I’d like to get your thoughts on some of the best practices that we recommend in this area.
There are four specific things I’ll walk you through, and I’ll have you share your thoughts on each? The first is to be sure you can state the problem you solve for your clients clearly. I often ask a professional services firm founder what problem they solve for clients. And they typically tell me about their solution. So, what are your thoughts about this?
Beth Trejo [00:05:56]: Yeah, and I really think from our angle, the power of social media really lets you cross multiple operational areas of your business. Yes. The first is it does give you a competitive advantage because if you have a microphone, you can tell your own story. And it’s not just the story that your employees that maybe left in an unfavorable way could tell about you. It’s not the story that your history necessarily defines you.
But, if you have these channels, they really are a communication channel. And so it can build loyalty, gain a competitive advantage, and help you build real connections. Yes, because I do think that that is the currency of our future. It’s how deep can you connect with your audience?
Sean Magennis [00:06:41]: You’ve hit the nail on the head. The second thing to do is to determine if the problem you’re solving is pervasive. So to grow your professional services firm, we need lots of sales opportunities. What are your thoughts on this concept?
Beth Trejo [00:06:55]: So, I think for as it relates to social media, I think and even just creating a digital presence, we really are living in a world of you need that existence online, and you need to make sure that you have proof or validation.
It’s funny. Testimonials are not as important in terms of the word testimonials. People like the word review because review feels less forced than testimonial. And we want as consumers, again across all categories, to feel like we have control to source information about our businesses and the people that we work with, and we don’t want it dictated to us in, you know, a non-authentic way.
Sean Magennis [00:07:39]: I like that. So the concept of reviews rather than testimonials that’s very powerful. Number three that we recommend is it’s a problem proving the problem is urgent. So when a founder pitches a prospect, a prospect of determining what he or she, you know, is hearing is worthy of making it on the priority list, what do you think of this idea?
Beth Trejo [00:08:03]: I think, especially as it relates to the “Do Nothing” competitor, urgency is really important because what can happen is if you’re complacent and you just let your presence exist online, or you’re not actually trying to make it better, your story gets told for you. And people are really busy picking up little pieces of breadcrumbs.
We see this all the time with reviews and again, especially in professional services industries. They don’t collect and capture reviews as much as maybe retail businesses may. But what happens then is if you get two bad ones and you had zero, now you have two two-star reviews. And you start making that times ten, and all of a sudden, you’re not ahead of that, and it’s a really difficult thing to fix..
So, my recommendation from an urgency perspective is you have to get ahead of it because this is our world of people leaving reviews and talking about your business. And so, if you’re not getting ahead of the curve and it is urgent, you’re going to be missing out.
Sean Magennis [00:09:10]: And it’s a 24-7 all on environment. So having the discipline to look at those to respond, to capture them, to learn from them, I guess, is equally important.
Beth Trejo [00:09:22]: Hundred percent.
Sean Magennis [00:09:22]: Yeah. So the fourth recommendation to defeat “Do Nothing” is to confirm that a prospect is willing to pay for the solution. Often founders make the pitch, the prospect says yes, and then they see the price, and then that yes, becomes a no. What are your thoughts on this?
Beth Trejo [00:09:39]: Yeah, I think there’s a little bit again, especially in the professional services category of the what is the cost of “Do Nothing” right? And this is a pure cost of losing a critical employee or losing your current employees because, you know, the grass looks greener on the other side.
Yes, the cost of PR mitigation strategies, I can tell you that’s very expensive, very expensive. And we see this example all the time. And I mentioned this on the review side of things. But if there was something said about you, and there was a swarm of people that just really hurt your reputation, you’re going to need not only just an outside person to help navigate that, but your employees are also going to have to spend a lot of time.
So there are definitely resources internally that you’re probably going to have to put on that. And I’m sure that those all could be calculated into a total cost analysis.
Sean Magennis [00:10:34]: Yeah, I think that’s an excellent answer and unpacking of that. Beth, this has been fantastic. There are four ideas: state the problem clearly, pursue only pervasive problems, prove the problem is urgent and use a cost justification to increase the prospect’s willingness to pay. These will defeat “Do Nothing”, and they’ll help our audience members grow.
OK, so this takes us to the end of the episode. Beth, let’s try to help listeners apply this. We end each show with the tool. We do so because this allows the listener to apply the lessons to his or her firm. Our preferred tool is a checklist, and our style of checklist is a yes or no questionnaire. We aim to keep it simple by only asking 10 of these.
In this instance, if you answered yes to eight or more of these questions, your strategy to defeat “Do Nothing” is working for you. If you want to know too many times, not identifying the problem is likely getting in the way of your attempts to grow. So, Beth has graciously agreed to be our peer example today. Beth, I’ll ask you the yes, no question so we can learn from this example.
Sean Magennis [00:11:47]: So, number one, can you explain the problem to your family? Do they understand it?
Beth Trejo [00:11:55]: Yes, social media is relevant in multiple categories and industries.
Sean Magennis [00:11:59]: Outstanding. Number two, when you explain the problem to your friends, do they understand it?
Beth Trejo [00:12:06]: Same answer, I don’t think that anybody would argue that social media isn’t baked into all of our lives.
Sean Magennis [00:12:11]: Number three, does the problem exist in more than one industry?
Beth Trejo [00:12:17]: It’s a human-to-human world these days, and we need to make sure that we’re not just living in a B2B or B2C space.
Sean Magennis [00:12:23]: I love that answer. Number four, does the problem exist in companies of all sizes?
Beth Trejo [00:12:30]: Absolutely, from a small little retailer to a large manufacturer.
Sean Magennis [00:12:35]: Yeah, to a one-man band up to, you know, a global multinational. Does the problem exist in many geographies?
Beth Trejo [00:12:43]: Yes, and I would argue that it connects us to more geographies than we don’t even probably realize we’re connected to.
Sean Magennis [00:12:49]: Again, completely agree with that. Number six, are clients paying to solve the problem today?
Beth Trejo [00:12:57]: Yes, they’re either paying with their time, or they’re hiring someone to help them.
Sean Magennis [00:13:01]: Number seven, have clients been paying to solve the problem for years?
Beth Trejo [00:13:07]: As long as social media has existed, they realized that it takes a lot of work, and the trickiest part about it is it doesn’t shut off.
Sean Magennis [00:13:14]: Yep, that’s 100 percent. Number eight, if the client does not solve the problem, are the consequences severe?
Beth Trejo [00:13:22]: Very much so, we gave that example with that PR crisis or just losing a key candidate.
Sean Magennis [00:13:26]: Yep. Number nine, is there a trigger event that puts the client into the market for your solution?
Beth Trejo [00:13:34]: I think if you start a business, you need to have a presence online.
Sean Magennis [00:13:37]: Yeah, I think that’s a baseline. That’s table stakes today, right?
Beth Trejo [00:13:41]: Exactly.
Sean Magennis [00:13:42]: And number ten, when clients have the problem, do they work to get it solved by a certain deadline?
Beth Trejo [00:13:49]: Yes, and I think from a deadline perspective, it really does kind of come in waves. But, the consistency is half the battle of social media, and it’s more than just posting on the holidays.
Sean Magennis [00:13:59]: You know, I love that, and that’s such an important lesson for listeners to understand and then to model. I’m assuming that there are great examples out there that people can, you know, fast follow. What are your thoughts on that?
Beth Trejo [00:14:12]: Oh, there are so many businesses that are doing it right, and they’re upending different categories. These smaller companies are really competing against large behemoth brands just by connection. And that’s the thing that I would encourage your listeners to do. Social media isn’t just about pushing information. It’s about really listening and building true relationships with your audiences and developing a community.
Sean Magennis [00:14:37]: Beth, thank you. I mean, this has been extraordinary. And again, I would encourage our listeners to reach out to you if they have any needs in this particular area. So, in summary, “Do Nothing” is defeating you at least 50 percent of the time, whether you know it or not.
To beat this competitor, be sure to pick a problem to solve that is pervasive, it’s urgent, it’s one that prospects are willing to pay to solve and be sure you can explain it simply. In other words, start with the problem, not the solution. And in the context of social media, make sure that you are very prepared and that you are literally following it 24-7. Big thank you to Beth for sharing these great examples for us today.
Sean Magennis [00:15:23]: If you enjoyed the show and want to learn more. Pick up a copy of the book “The Boutique: How to Start, Scale and Sell the Professional Services Firm”, written by Collective 54 founder Greg Alexander.
And for more expert support, check out Collective 54, the first mastermind community for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. Collective 54 will help you grow, scale and exit your professional services firm bigger and faster. Go to our website to learn more. Thank you for listening.