Fernando Vitti Talks About Inbound, CRM & Automation Tools

September 15, 2023 | Interview

Welcome to the Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today, we will speak with Fernando Vitti, Founder and CEO of Nexforce, about his journey and how he came up with his marketing consultancy firm. We will also discuss valuable insights on inbound methodology, CRM, automation tools and more.

 

Hey everyone, and welcome to today’s Marketing Lego’s Thought Leader interview. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliances of two amazing marketing SaaS tools, RankWatch and WebSignals. Today’s guest is the founder of a Brazilian-based growth consultancy firm called Nexforce, and he’s also the founder of an e-learning platform, scale-up, Fernando Vitti. Welcome so much, and it’s so good to have you on the show today.


Thanks for having me. I’m excited to share a little bit about what I have been doing and how we have been impacting companies around the globe with our methodology.

Cool. Let’s talk about your journey, Fernando. How were you as a kid, and how did you get to where you are today?


That’s a funny question because I remember dreaming about being an inventor when I was a kid. And I like to create games. I would dream about creating stuff. Later on, I figured out that I was choosing the wrong work because what I would like to be when I grew up was an entrepreneur. I did when I was about 18. I had my tipping point upside down because I started my career by founding this company called My Center, which was an all-to-all company that connected the online environment and brought it to do transactions and consume the offline space. So, basically, for retail, it was software that would connect stock management, ERP, and everything you need in the back of the operation and connect these to a selling point. It was Amazon for finding offline products. It was awesome. It started to grow like crazy. But what happened? I switched to 90, and I got my first investor. My father, let’s say, was not an easy man. He was complicated, let’s say that way. And my mother decided to end the marriage, so she filed a divorce.
When she did that, he didn’t react well. And to return to my mother, he created that for me and my brother, the number one. And out of the blue, I was fully lowered with that. And my father disappeared for six years. And I was forced to sell the company to rescue my family. So in ’21, I lost everything, my dream. And I remember seeing this company as something divine that appeared in my life to help my family. And that was the first time I realized that life is not easy. Life is not like in the movies. Life will punch you in the face, knock you down, and force you to stay there. Because when I saw the company, I was like the dream was over. I cannot save my family. I cannot, at this point, even save myself. And what happens next is interesting because I lost everything. I lived in a small town near Sao Paulo, so let’s move to Sao Paulo. I started a new university. I’m a dropper of law.
I started a business administration and needed money, so I went for internship positions. This is my first fun fact because I was refused in all the internship processes in my career. I never did an internship. I have never been an intern in my life. I was refused over and over. Not school. But what was going on was that I could find an intern position. I was getting rejected. Money was getting over. Then, I met the founder of a now multi-billion dollar company called Ifoot. They were just a startup back then, and he invited me to work with him. I convinced the guy that I was a super senior entrepreneur, so he should hire me as an analyst, not an intern. And this was my first position. I worked my ass out, like 15 hours per day plus university, and started growing. One year later, I became the head of marketing and did the expansion through Latin America. Then I moved it to a company, which was called Vita, which was a medical device software. So, basically, it is for a process manager for medical clinics and hospitals. And the company would have ten people when I joined it.
It was completely a joke. I remembered the first day I was like, fuck what I did with my life. Can I go back? Can I go back? And then I figured, no, you can’t go back. You decided to get down here, and I’ll fix the problem. And this is what I did. One year later, we went from 30,000 monthly revenue to 700,000, from 30,000 to 700,000, and from 10 people to 200 people.

Wow. Amazing.


So we came like… Yeah, it’s interesting. Became quite cool. It became a huge case. I started being invited to help executives like Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce. I met those executives to share what I have been doing, starting with lectures and speaking at conferences. Then, I moved to a company and acquired Bay Mercado Libre, a large marketplace in Latin America. Then, I was the head of marketing from the B2B business unit. Then, I went to Intuit, the world’s third-largest software, as the head of growth. I created much trouble there, turning around all processes from marketing to sales, becoming a global bank, and then consulting entered my life. Many companies and executives started looking for me to help with growth. And then, I found Nexforce, one of the largest partners of HubSpot in Latin America. We are starting with Salesforce. What we do is help to create processes that are scalable, predictable, and replicable to generate exponential growth. In my framework, work growth is a formula. If it’s a formula, you need control over the variables. To have control over the variables, you need process, tech knowledge, and data. This is what we do.

Got you. Got you.


Long story short.

I’m just curious about your process now. When any client or business approaches you, how do you go about that? How do you figure out what problems, which are the areas where they need help, and then jump either to a solution or formulate a process for them? How do you go about that?


We have a methodology. If you start to think you need to do inbound methodology. When you have your eyes, GP or Geo customer profile well within Fiat, it’s simple because the segment I’m good at, B2B, especially tech, all have the same issues. It would be best if you generate more leads from inbound and outbound. It would be best if you tracked the leads over the journey so you can optimize your investment towards what is providing the better ROI. It would be best if you improved your sales operation. You need to track who qualifies the leads and how the qualification process is doing with SDRs and BDRs, and you need to close the deal. After doing that, you need to do the onboarding in your software or service and connect it with your ERP so you can have your revenues trained and connected. So, from online to revenue, the pinpoints are similar; usually, the process is similar. So, what we do is we have this framework, and we do the discovery to understand what needs to be adjusted. But most of the time, it’s like minor adjustments in the framework to personalize and make it accurate in the customer’s operation. But this is the way we do it.

I got you. Coming to your inbound methodology, how do you go about that? What are the channels that you leverage for your clients?


That depends. Because what’s happening in the market is the following. SEO is changing. If you go to your mobile phone right now, the spots in Google change it. Five years ago, you would open your mobile device and have a few slots in the first part of the page with paid links, and then you would have the organic links. Now you have paid links. You’ll probably see Google Maps with paid results if you are doing local. Then, you’ll see a few more paid results than organic. It’s not at the top anymore; it’s at the bottom. Even worse, when it’s unrelated to the local, the first result paid, second, YouTube, third, a few more paid, then organic.

Yeah, some Google snippets will be there. Yeah, that’s true.


So, when I approach inbound, it is with the following rationale. The competition increased over time, but the number of available slots in the SERP reduced, which created more complexity. So, it’s even more brutal and more complex than ever to rank on the first page, but you can skip the first page. You can go for other SEO strategies. For example, local SEO, YouTube SEO, social media SEO, and this is how we approach organic. But where we are powerful, to be honest, is mixing inbound and outbound. Because it’s all about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. So, I don’t care. Oh, I need to do SEO, on-page or whatever. It’s just where your customer is and what is the easiest way to get your customer.

I got you. That’s clever. It will always depend on the client. It’s business on what channel would be an ideal fit to leverage to get him the most benefit. A mix of both makes better sense. Inbound takes more time compared to all your paid ads and everything. So, that’s much better and gives you quick results. What exactly does the first 30 days in your agency look like? How exactly do you take care of the onboarding, and what are the next few steps you take forward?


It’s pretty simple. And since we are not an agency, it makes it even simpler. We are consulting from. So, in the first 30 days, we align the process with how it will be, bring all the stakeholders aboard, communicate everything, the communication process, and then start assessing. So, here’s the roadmap. This is what we have planned. We have our discovery phase to understand more about each area. What are your pain points in marketing? What’s your pain point in sales customer success? General pain points from end-users, for your SDR, for your marketing analysts, for your managers, middle-level, and executives level. So, we made this discovery. We understand clearly what’s happening and connect this with your roadmap. So, is our roadmap aligned? Then, we set expectations. Hey, this is what we want. This is what we have planned. This is what we’re going to do. The 30 days ensures everyone is on the same page and executing the foundations of the process.

Got you.


That’s the whole idea.

I got you. What’s the average life cycle of clients in your agency? What’s the churn rate right now?


Life Cycle, in terms of time, is around one year. It’s all customers. And why one year? Because of all our customers, the company was founded one year ago.

So, 0% churn rate, right?


We didn’t have churn. Initially, we worked project-based, delivering the project and closing the contract. And now that we have become a Revenue Ops BPO, business process outsourcing, lifetime is increasing, lifetime value as well. We changed it a little bit. We went for this path because that’s where we are powerful, and we found that we can deliver more value to the customers. Other than just giving advice, we can implement our advice and have control over it.

I got you. And let’s talk about one of the most important things. This thing is basically like the most skilled client that you have. Some very, this thing, what do you call it? A successful case study where you had any of your client’s businesses grow radically. So, I understand your business isn’t that whole, but still, can you share some of the successful case studies yours?


Sure, there is. I can’t disclose the name, but I can discuss the case. There is one of the largest companies in the world, which is a tech company. We are doing a consulting service for them in Latin America. One-on-one situations? They would generate leads, which would go to one software and manually extracted and uploaded to another because they were not connected. They were investing a lot of money, but they would need to find out what was happening with those leads.
So, where they are in the journey, how marketing can help more than just giving leads to sales. What information we can use to break the silos and make the team work together. That was the situation. So, a disconnected team, data was disconnected. Nobody trusts the numbers. Marketing generated leads without knowing what was a good lead, creating bottlenecks in the operation. They would need more clarity. Even if they were a large company, they would not perform well, and the efficiency could have been higher. We eliminated the different software, built one single process from marketing to revenue, and connected everything. So, what happened is easy. They started doubling the numbers and going from an under-performing country in this enterprise company to one of the top performers in the world.

Please share a few KPIs that you can improve when it comes to efficiency. Any data that you can share with us?


They went from a full-funnel conversion rate from lead to sales, from 0.5% to almost 10%.

Wow. Sales?


Yeah. From the sales cycle, they went from a sales cycle that would take, on average, two weeks to a single week and sometimes a few days. And in the four months, they went from an average of 300, I think what we did the maths, it was 30 per week, 120 closed deals per month to almost 1,000.

That’s amazing, man. What did you do? When it comes to improving the sales cycle, I’ve always seen that when you consult a business or make a process change, it constantly needs to improve with the adaptability of the team members in a specific organization. They used to have a certain mindset and a different working structure altogether. And then with the consultation, you change that, make it better. The objective is always good. However, adapting to new changes always causes chaos. How do you deal with such situations?


Training? Easy. Chaos is a consequence. When change is needed, chaos is good. We don’t position ourselves as an agency because we don’t do what the customer wants. Because I like this Steve Jobs phrase, sometimes the customer doesn’t know what he wants. And it’s true. If you ask me to create a self-destruction button in the CRM, I would say No, we won’t. But I want to. I don’t care. We won’t do that. Why? Because we don’t deliver what you want, we deliver what you need. This is what we do. If the change is needed, we will present to you, Hey, this is what needs to change. We have data to back us up because we don’t work with the Hypothesis out of the blue. We dig into the data, create Hypotheses from a deep analysis process, and present. Hey, this is why you need to change.
Are you onboarded with us? Great. You are not? Sorry, I cannot help you because we can replicate what you do. But what you do needs to be fixed. At least we need to try and test it differently. This is usually how we convince managers and executives to change. And then it’s all about training, training the operation to change. And when they see the value, they become the change advisors. They started to advocate, Hey, guys, this is great. It would be best if you did that because my performance is improving. What in the beginning is chaos and fear. Because our change creates chaos and fear, then becomes comfort and excitement. We call this the honeymoon phase. First, you are going to hate us. Then, you are in the honeymoon phase.

Since you’ve been involved way into training and with the sales consultations as well a lot, we share a few tips of something that every business can use to convert the leads to the actual business and the big clients. How do you go about that?


For my company or my customers?

For your customers, mainly tech companies.


What we do is to create a formula. We break down the full buyer journey into variables. The formula would be the following. First, you have a session to conversion rate, session conversion rate. It doesn’t matter if it’s from outbound or inbound. If it’s outbound, you send the emails and get a reply. That’s the logic. But you have the conversion rate of bringing someone. Then you have the second variable, it’s the work rate. I need to make sure all leads are being worked and all leads and prospects are being worked. Then, you have the connect rate. Out of the leads I’m working on, what percentage am I getting a reply from? Then you have the qualification rate. Of those, how many were able to book a meeting and qualify? Then, you have the conversion rate. Okay, now I have the meeting. How many meetings do I turn into customers? And lastly, you have your average deal size. What’s the average ticket for every transaction that I’m doing? If you analyze this formula and you combine it, this is the engine that you generate revenue. Revenue is a simple formula.
What we do to help our customers grow and generate more revenue is simple, with essential, basically created this way of mapping the formula and identifying a bottleneck. For example, in this customer that I told you we generated those outstanding numbers, we made them reach a tough and painful conclusion: more leads do not necessarily mean more sales. Why? With the formula, we created a way of showing them that every time the demand goes up since they were not adding new reps to treat the demand, the efficiency decreases, and the number of sales would remain the same. So, if you analyze all the graphs in a logarithmic scale, every time demand would reach a point that would suppress the operation capacity, the efficiency would go down, and the number of sales would remain the same. The way is simple. You can easily find where the bottleneck is when you have these numbers. And then, you came up with an action to address the bottleneck and get it sorted out. Then, it would probably create another bottleneck in the formula, and then you fix the other bottleneck.
Over time, the numbers started increasing like crazy because the unstable system became predictable and replicable. And finally, this is scalability. That’s clever. This is exponential growth.

Yeah, that’s clever. Also, because you deal with CRMs and automation, and you’ve been doing it for so long now, what are the common mistakes you see in businesses regarding these tools, and how do you avoid them?


Mistake number one: doing things without planning. It’s like a rookie mistake. You go to hire, for example, HubSpot or Salesforce, and decide to do it yourself. And I’m not saying this because you are selling your fish, man? You’re just saying that because you’re a consulting firm that does that? No. Unfortunately, that’s not true because my company was born out of the mistakes of all companies that do it by themselves without thinking. I hire an analyst here, a junior guy, and give him the mission and things like exciting, and hey, you need to implement Salesforce or HubSpot. It’s a million-dollar software that is the baseline and foundation of your company’s bottom line, and if you’re giving a task to implement this to an analyst or someone who needs to learn the correct way of doing it, then this is an incredible mess. I had a company who is going to do an IPO in Brazil, and they would have almost 1,000 automations. Like 1,000. Five hundred custom properties, thousands and thousands of females. And guess what? Nobody knows for what every single automation was built. There was one colliding with each other because everyone would put their hands in the CRM.
And what they are doing is about having an operational call. So, we’re doing this: Okay, let’s queue this account, queue this CRM, and nearly implement the same CRM aside. So, right now, they are running with two HubSpot accounts. One that we’re going to queue because it’s impossible to save, and the other one is the new process. So, this mistake for me is the most frequent and the one that has the most impact because every time you make the right the wrong decision in terms of how to implement and how to do this in the future, in the long run, is where you’re going to regret of not having someone by your side telling you how the right thing should be done.

Absolutely. You have because you have stepped into multiple issues throughout your professional career. Are there any horror stories you want to share with us today?


Oh, I do have one. There was one time at the beginning of the company, a guy who would work for my team implemented our framework, but he never actually checked everything in terms of quality. He did the workflows and the properties but only tried some things to see if he did the right thing and if it worked. Because it’s a framework, sometimes you must check if the logic is adjusted to the client. What he did was a nightmare because he did this in three accounts simultaneously. He may send the accounts to production, in other words. He said, Guys, the process is clear. We are ready to receive leads from the users. And when he did that for three customers, it was great—complete chaos. We started receiving, Hey, this needs to be fixed. And when we checked it, that’s why it was working, because it was wrong. In three days, I paused. Stop what you are doing, and the entire operation came to the rescue of those robots.
This is where we learned, one, the importance of a quality process, and two, my team this week learned the importance that you can have in an operation because those mistakes could be seen as small because it was partially correct. Some details went through without checking and paralyzed three operations with hundreds and thousands of salespeople. That’s when you learn, Hey, great power is a great responsibility.

Yeah, that’s true.


Completely our story. I never want to be in this position. Only put something in the chair after checking. You don’t want your customer in your neck.

In your business, you have a reasonable retention rate for your clients. Here are a few helpful tips so that other marketing agencies can benefit.


Okay. First, it’s about delivering. If you’re saying that you’re going to deliver A, it’s about setting expectations and, of course, delivering what is expected, what the quality is expected. This is what’s going to, first and foremost, make sure the relationship will be good and create locking and a reasonable retention rate. Beyond that, this is critical; this is the baseline. Beyond that, you need to have a communication process.
What’s the frequency that you are going to meet? What are the communications channels? How do you receive the man? And especially how you make clear what is being done and what will be done for everyone. So I can check the status of my requests. And this is for me; the only way to create a successful service company is to manage to do it when you become an extension of the team. You’re not anymore a service provider. You become an extension of the company. And they cannot live without you because you’re part of the team. You deliver outstanding results; you have a communication process that makes them feel you belong to the company. You don’t talk about you guys; you talk about us. You don’t say you and me; you say us. When you change the mindset to not see your customer as someone who is just your customer, but yourselves as a team, and you put yourself in the position of being part of your customer, your team, things start to happen, and things start to change.

That’s very genuine. Setting the right expectations, doing your job right, and building relationships are like pillars for marketing agencies and almost every business. That should be the core principle and followed by every team member when it comes to their job. It takes you places, right? It helps you grow as a human being and the business overall. Yeah. So, Fernando, we’re ending here, and I would like to have a quick rapid-fire with you. Are you ready for that?


Just bring it on.

What motivates you the most?


Creating impact and changing people’s lives.

At what age were you the happiest, and why?


The happiest is when I can deliver change to people. When I see someone grow, I can see that the problem is solved; this makes me happy. It’s here that I’m getting to the next level.

Got you. Then, one word that describes you the best?


Persistent guy with a big brain.

What is your next big goal in life?


Change people’s lives through education. For me, transformation is the opportunity for people born without choices. The only way of doing this is through education. This is my next move.

Got you. Coming to my last question, what scares you the most?


I was being stuck at. Feeling that life, you only live once. My only scary life is getting old and looking back and saying, Hey, I have regrets. I want to live a life entirely away from regrets. I don’t want to regret anything. The only thing that I want you to regret is what we didn’t do. I want to avoid getting into this position. I want to look back and say, Hey, I lived a good life. I don’t have any regrets.

That’s very nice, Fernando. Thank you so much for all your time and all the valuable text that you shared with us. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.


It’s a pleasure to be here. You can reach me on LinkedIn if anyone wants to know more about the next course. Just type Fernando Vitti and sometimes even on Instagram. If you have any questions or want to discuss them later, I may have a free consultant to reach out.

Thank you, thank you so much.

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