Michael D. Wilson on Smart Digital processes that would increase efficiency of Business Operations

July 20, 2023 | Interview

Welcome to Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today we will have a word with Mr. Michael D. Wilson, founder of Processology, about his journey of creating a smart agency that helps organisations to improve their digital processes. We will also talk about how improving processes in your agencies can help you in smoothening operations.

Hi, everyone. My name is Harshit and I am the director of the Business Alliance of two brilliant marketing SAAS tools, Rankwatch and Web Signals. Welcome to today’s Marketing Lego’s thought Leader interview. We have Michael D. Wilson, the CEO of a leading operations strategy consulting firm, Processology. Michael, welcome and I am so happy to have you.

Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m excited.

Okay, brother. So, Michael, you started at a very young age. When you were 17, you joined your family business. How’s your journey so far and how did you get to where you are today?

Yeah, so started off, like you said, in the family business, around 17 years old. And we actually had a tax practice back then, a few locations, and kind of got into that with the family. And then eventually I got to the point of starting my own business and it was in the tax industry as well. And what I really started to discover is, over time, I had started multiple businesses within a few years after that in my early realising what I love most is solving problems. And that was the thing that intrigued me about business, is that there’s always something to solve. You want to go into business. They know that, right? They’ve been through that. And I started having people come to me asking me like, oh, how are you doing this, how did you solve that? And I started having more fun and enjoying giving that advice more than I was actually running my business at the time. So I decided, why not really lean forward into that.
And what I saw is that a lot of that really led to the process, which is what Processology is all about. A lot of people were starting businesses, including myself in the beginning, ju][st because I had a great idea, but not really any plan on how I was going to do it.
Right. So that’s really how I got to that point and it’s just kind of taken off from there. So it’s been exciting.

That’s good. Michael, please tell us a bit more about Processology and your service offering. It’s a very interesting niche altogether. So there’s a bit more about your service offering in the methods and some of your frameworks.

Yeah. So, when it comes to processors, really, the company, I started this company to focus 100% on the process, and I always tell people that process is not a sexy topic. So we’re trying to make it fun. We’re trying to make it something that you enjoy actually doing because it is something that is a continual improvement. I’ve seen people that work with the process professional, they’ll create the process and they think it’s going to work forever. So what I sent you was your business is constantly changing and evolving and your industry is changing and your processes have to do the same thing. So that’s what we do with our clients. We focus on helping them give their teams and their people clear direction. It’s kind of on some levels. So when we talk about our framework, we have what we call the core improvement roadmap. But basically, the way that works is we really try to help our clients get their processes out of their heads, right? So if you have a process in your head and you know how to do the job, but if you were to hire out for that, could you explain it in a way that the next person is going to understand it to be able to take over that position?
Not only that, if you have team members, people on your team that have a process in their head, if they leave, guess what your process leaves with them, right? So if that team member has a process that’s bringing in leads for your business and then they leave and now all of a sudden you don’t know how they were collecting leads. That is very harmful. So we try to help our clients protect their processes and the way they operate their business by getting those processes out of their heads and documenting them on paper so that they have something to refer to. That’s like stage one. Stage two is looking for that improvement opportunity. Where can we improve, where can we scale? And part of that is understanding. Where can we measure this to understand if it’s working or not working, right? And then from there, we go into platforms. So this is where we try to help you find a CRM system, HR system, or film system. This can be pretty much anything that supports the process. I think a lot of people go the other way when they go and buy a system and then they try to tweak their business to match the platform. And the way that I look at that logically is that I don’t want to limit my business to the capabilities of the platform. I would rather design my process and find a platform that can fit me, and that can support me in what I’m trying to do.
So we go through that phase and help that client actually develop all that out. Then we go into the last phase, which is management. And this is going into more detailed and structural documentation and process enablement training so you can have the best process in the world, but if your team doesn’t know how to use it, it’s very pointless. So we go through those four stages with our clients and really try to help them see the bigger picture, right? Like I always say, design your business, not where you are today before you want to be tomorrow. So how do you take that next step? So you have somewhere to walk, right? So that’s what it’s all about.

Got you. Even when you introduce a new process within a team, it also causes some chaos, right? How do you cope with it? That I mean, that must be one of the big hurdles that you must be facing.

Yeah. So the way that we get over that is by making it fun for everybody, right? So we actually get the team involved. So in business, you have all kinds of people that are stakeholders in the process. You have the people that are actually doing the work, you have the management team that’s overseeing, you have the operational team that’s seeing everything over the business, and then you have your executive level that is on top of that. So we really look at who’s involved and who cares about the process and let’s get them involved. And with our clients, we make an agreement with them, we have a deal with them. We say, we’re going to talk to your team that’s actually doing this, and we’re not going to tell you who’s saying what, we’re just going to tell you what they’re saying. And the reason that is because, a lot of times what will happen is you will have some of the employees will be afraid to speak up about challenges because they might put their job online or anything like that. So because we’re able to talk to that team and get out the information to really find out what’s going wrong, why do they think it’s going wrong?
We’re able to just collect the level of information that companies are not able to collect internally. And that gives us the full picture to be able to improve the process. And then we are also, like, we do process mapping. We live by process mapping. So if you guys haven’t heard of process mapping, go Google it. It’s definitely worth investing into because it just allows you to see things that you can’t see. So when we are able to say something to a team and say, oh, well, we see a gap here, we always get these. I have been trying to explain that for six months now, and they just don’t know how to articulate it.
And so we help them figure out what that stuff is. So it really becomes a fun process for everybody. So once the process is done, the team’s excited to actually do that because they had an input, they felt like they were listened to. And that’s what we get from our clients all the time, whether it’s the management team or the employees, is that they felt heard or the management team was like, I didn’t even know that they felt that way, or I didn’t know that that was something they were struggling with. And that just makes it to where enabling that process is that much easier.

I’m sure this is all possible because you can basically make a really good connection with the team members also because a lot of members open up about their own challenges.

Yeah, absolutely. You have to do that repeatedly. You have to show that you understand. And a lot of times that’s hard for companies because they’re trying to maintain some type of hierarchy internally. So we don’t work for the company in that sense. So we don’t mind asking the hard questions. Whether they are executives or not, we’ll ask the question. So we go into meetings all the time and we’re like, why are we doing this? Why does this process exist in the first place? And we ask those hard questions and sometimes people are like, oh, well, we needed it two years ago because of this. I’m like, what is that need still here? And sometimes instead of improving a process, we will delete an entire process because it’s just pointless, it doesn’t need to be there.

So what does a typical client journey in your agency look like?

For us, it really starts with a discovery call. Once you do a discovery call, we understand the client. And for us, it’s really qualifying if it is an actual process problem. I tell people all the time, they see, oh, you guys talk about marketing, you talk about sales, but we don’t actually do sell to the market. So we’re all about the opposite side of it. The software is using the processes you’re following. If you’re doing social posts, how are you actually going through that approval process for those social posts? We help with things like that. So it’s really qualifying if that is where the problem lies. And then once we have identified that and we get the person the company is on as a client, then we go into a discovery phase and that’s that first part of the roadmap where we go through and we ask clients like a million questions, but every question is strategically asked for a reason. So we ask all the questions to really get out all the information and we record those sessions and our team goes back after analysing all those recordings, and then we come to the client in the improvement phase with improvement opportunities for their business and suggestions that we actually help them categorise those.
Like what’s going to have the biggest effect the soonest and let’s start working there first. And then from there, we move on into the platform phase where we help them find a platform or we help them align the current platform with those processes. And then from there, we move into the management stage, which is all about documentation and training.

Michael, one of the biggest challenges, like I mentioned before, is how exactly your agency integrates with your clients processes and their teams, is there office for that too or how exactly works?

Most companies don’t actually have what we offer internally. They may even have an ops person, but the ops person doesn’t do what we do. And the reason why that is because we are very detail oriented. I always tell our clients we’re basically like, if you ever use Google Maps or Apple Maps or something like that, to get from point A to point B, we design that process. And we do that by reverse engineering the process. Once we help you get really clear on what the goal of the process is, that we can reverse engineer it and we can account for the roadblocks you’re going to hit and things like that ahead of time, right. So with that being said, it gives us that unique ability to see what that is. So when we come into a client. The way that we position ourselves with the client is that we become more as your opposite operations controller and auditor more than anything. Because we’re going to come and help you see things that you may not be seeing because a lot of that will you see a lot of problems that are hidden is in the hand offs of processes.
Between departments. Between teams. Right? And that’s where you see a lot of that. So because we’re able to come from a high level view and work our way through the company, we’re just able to see more than most can see. But yeah, I will say that and it’s funny because we’ve been talking about this internally, where do we fit on a work chart, right? As a company, how do we fit into a company? And in most cases, there’s not really any work for us to fit because we’re doing something that most companies are not actually doing and it’s getting to the point where they’re starting to because as technology is evolving, it’s becoming more and more complex to integrate and set up and they’re trying to figure out how does all this work together. But, yeah, it’s a very interesting question and that’s something we’re trying to really put a name on internally as well, so that when we talk to potential clients, you can say, this is where we fit in.

My appreciation, you help your clients marketing and sales team making their productivity and their efficiency.

Absolutely. So the biggest thing that I will say for me is it’s really important for a client to know who they’re talking to, who’s the audience, because believe it or not, the process can be different for different audiences, right? So for example, if you’re B to C, then you’re probably going to have a really fast sales process in most cases. Whereas if you’re a B to B, it’s mostly going to be a longer sales process because there’s so many people that need to sign off on it. So it’s really understanding who’s the client, who are we talking to and then where are they at? Right? So when it comes to the lead generation parts of it, is this a person that you need to get, let’s say, from ads to fill out an ad and then from the ad they go straight into some kind of marketing campaign? Or is this a person that’s going to go to a landing page and fill out a landing page because they want to learn more? So it’s really understanding who the client is and who the audience is. So that we can really tailor the process to the audience.
And if the client doesn’t know who the audience is, then I will tell them very quickly, you need to go talk to a marketing person to figure that piece out and then come back to us and we’ll help you build up the infrastructure to get that person. But I would say that is really understanding who the audience is going after. And then once you understand who the audience is going after, what is the path you want to lead them down? Like, what is the end goal for them? That needs to be extremely clear because like I said before, we reverse engineer so we don’t know who they are, where they’re starting and where we’re trying to take them. There’s no way for you to reverse engineer it. Right. So once we help them and that’s the part that we help them do, is really dial in on that goal and then we reverse engineer that process to help them get to want to go. So that is one big one. I would say those two big ones. The next thing I will say is really aligning the marketing and sales side because they’re really becoming one department today.
It feels separate, but the worst thing that can happen is your marketing. One message itself seems to be something totally different, right? So it’s making sure that those hand offs are very smooth and aligned as you pass your blog there. But I will just ask a lot of questions. We actually have a blog post, I believe. It’s like asking why. And it’s like asking the question why a lot. Why are we going after this audience? Why are we taking them down the string? Why do we want this goal? Ask those why is a lot that’s really going to help you dig into the reason behind what you’re doing. Got you.

Michael, in your experience, we share a few mistakes, process related, that you’ve seen in marketing teams mainly, and how they can basically avoid this.

Yeah. So I would say the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen are no effective way of collecting marketing data. And that’s important because if you can’t measure what you’re doing, you don’t know if it’s why it’s working, if it’s working or if it’s not working. And a lot of times you may be doing something that feels like it’s working, but it’s really not. Right. So I would definitely say the data side is getting very clear, reporting on what’s happening, how are you collecting leads, where are they coming from, what are they doing after they come into your platform, things like that. So that is one big one. The other one I will say is halfway during processes and they have the idea they’ve written it out, but they haven’t gone through the full process. Right. And I see people do this a lot where it’s like, oh, we’re going to try to do this ourselves, but they don’t have the experience with know how and so they’ll build something, then turn on marketing ads and then waste a ton of money or they’ll be two years later trying to do the exact same thing because they didn’t do it correctly from the start.
So I would say really get with someone that knows what they’re doing. And I always tell people you need a marketing person that’s great at marketing and you need a process person that’s great at process. And that is one thing I will say to let me throw this last thing in there as I do think that people who try to like businesses specifically put the responsibility of processing operations on the marketing team. When your marketing person may be an expert in content creation, maybe they’re an expert in social, they are expert in design, but they’re not operation ops like they’re not ops individuals, they are not processing developers and engineers. And so when they put them into that role, they can only do it to the best of their ability. So you can have the best copy, you can have the best design and it still doesn’t work.

Got you. Michael, since your agency has been helping tons of companies with the automation tools as well as basically increasing efficiency of their operations altogether, how do you basically come up to a conclusion on which particular platform your client should invest in, hubspot or any of them and what exactly that process looks like? How do you goabout that?

Yeah, I’ll say there are a lot of factors that come into play there, but the main ones for me are going to be the goal as companies all the time because we actually work with companies that are from solo entrepreneurs to companies that have 500 plus employees and more and it really depends on the goal. So if you’re looking to, let’s say I have someone come to me and they say oh, I just want to be able to send out emails for this campaign for two weeks. OK, well, there’s a lot of platforms that there’s a lot of cheap platforms that will do that. But if a company comes to me and says we want to build a system to where we can take contacts, let’s say down a journey and then understand what they’re doing in that journey, then that’s a lot more pieces that need to connect. Right? Because I need to be able to know who the person is, what pages they’re lined up with, and forms are filling out, I need to be able to paint a picture of this person. And I always tell people to get your idea and then how do you paint a picture to know if that person matches the data?
It really depends on their needs. So we try to help them get real clear on what their needs are and what the long term thing is. If you have a company that’s like oh, I just want to make $100,000 a year versus a company that wants to make 100 million a year, then it’s going to be very different platforms. So it depends on the goal, it depends on budget and then it depends on expertise like who’s on the team because you can put in the best system but if no one’s going to use it then there’s going to be spending money for no reason.

Otherwise, can you share a few useful hacks? That can be something that every business can use when it comes to marketing automation.

Yeah. So I will go back to some of the things I said earlier. It’s just been really clear on what the goal of automation is, right? So if the goal is to get someone, let’s say to convert from, let’s say not knowing who you are, anonymous visitor to actually being a lead and you have automation that’s going to assist do that, then it’s really understanding, OK, who is this anonymous person that I’m trying to attract and really focusing on them. And I think that’s important to really focus on the person you want because you’re going to have a lot of visitors, you have a lot of clicks, but it might not be the person you want. So how do we filter out individuals through our content and through our automation so that when we get them to, let’s say, the goal of maybe booking a discovery call with us, that we’re booking a discovery call with someone that is 70% to 80% match for our ideal customer. And so for me I would say get really clear the goal and then like I said before, reverse engineer it. What do they need to hear? A lot of times clients have one thing in their head of what they think they want and you know that your service is what they actually need.
But don’t try to change their mind through that content. To me, relate to them. And then once they’re a client you can really say this is how we get to what you want. Right? So I don’t even really focus on so much of what clients think they need to focus on what they want and that is more so I would say, I would say focus there and just make sure that you keep it simple as possible. I always say simply complicated is what I tell my team is that it may be complicated but we want it as simple as possible if that makes sense. So really focus on and remember to ask this question: Do we need this piece? Is it necessary? Is there an easier way to do it? And that will help you get to the best automation that you can possibly get to where you can use automation in so many places in the company to move people along and really understand where automation is best and where an actual physical person is best. That’s important, right? That’s extremely important because if you’re in a doctor’s office and you have to give, let’s say, bad news to a patient, you probably don’t want an automated robot saying you’re delivering that news.
You may want somebody that can actually relate to a personality communicating that message.

A lot of your clients must be relying on improving their sales team efficiency. So please share a few proven strategies that you have actually practised to basically convert the leads that they’re getting to a qualified sale.

Yeah, so I would say one of the biggest ones is just really getting the sales team to communicate with the marketing team. That’s important to make sure they have the same message so that when they have that hand off from marketing, whether even if that’s from automation, those messages that are happening when they go to sales, sales need to be like a parent. They need to be repeating the same stuff, right, doing the same things because that’s what got the clients to become a lead in the first place. And so in order to get them to be a customer, you want to make sure you’re keeping the same thing. So that’s important. That’s one, two is I would say make sure that you have some type of automated sales process so that when your sales team is busy that those other leads are still being followed up with. They’re still getting email, they’re still getting those things. And what I found with our clients is I really try to get them to use things like tools that allow them to schedule messages or use sequences or something like that because it’s really easy for me today while I’m thinking about it.
To create a compelling message on what I’m going to follow up with you about if you don’t reach back out to me. But if I wait seven days later I have talked to 30 other people. It’s extremely important. And then I also take great notes. The thing about it is that as a sales team, you’re going to be talking to a lot of people. And so it is extremely important to make every customer feel like they’re the only customer. Right. It’s extremely important to make them feel like you’re 100% committed to what they want. And that’s really hard to do if you’re not giving yourself. I am going to say if you’re not helping yourself by creating good notes and creating tasks and doing each step of emails because you’ve got to forget. And when the client feels like you’re forgetting about them, it doesn’t always go well. Got you.

Please share one of your most successful consultation case studies with us and why you consider it like any business where you have done wonders, any numbers may.

Significantly yeah, so I will say one of the ones that I’ll talk about, this one specifically because what we thought we were solved. It wasn’t what we solved. And so we work with the It departments of the company that was trying to solve a problem in fulfilment. They were having problems on boarding and your clients, and basically what was happening is that the clients are falling through the cracks. They would sign a contract, sign a proposal, and they’re signing 100,000 million dollar contracts. And then the onboarding team would never get never onboard them, right? So then here comes the client calling like, hey, we signed this contract. What happened? So after we went through we actually went through a three month process of helping them analyse the process and understand why these things are happening and find the gaps. And we really found out what was happening was that the problem wasn’t on the film. He was on the sales team. And so the sales team was not they didn’t know what to send to film it. They didn’t even know they needed to really do that. So they would kind of do this through verbal or a text message, I’m sorry, email or something of that sort.
And we all know how fast an email can drop to the bottom of your inbox, right? So they didn’t have a clear hand-off process in place on how to take something from one to the other. So what we did with them is we met with them, we helped them clean that up. We help them put a process in place. We helped them align their platforms so that sales knew exactly what the onboarding team needed. In order to do successful onboarding, we have to put all that stuff in place and we put some boundaries in place. Like we could not move forward if this was not in place. And that kind of forced the team to take over that process from there. The results that came out of that are that they actually ended up closing. I want to say they ended up closing a deal with their local city that was worth over like $1.5 million that they related directly to improving the onboarding process. Because they were able to actually show the city a documented onboarding process of how it works, the city felt more confident in working with them. So that happened.
But also we took their onboarding process from a 90 day onboarding to down to 30 days. So they were able to onboard a new client in less than a month or less. And so that really improved that onboarding process. And I had a lot of really also getting the customer involved in the onboarding process of knowing ahead of time what to expect and communicating, hey, when we come to this meeting, this is what we need. We automate a lot of that stuff so they don’t have to think about it.

Really impressive, any follow story, because you carry years of experience. If you’re sure there must be something where maybe the consultation section or anything didn’t really work well for the client. And would you like to share something?

I would say earlier on in the business, I was not like, what we do is very complex, even though we explain it in a simple way. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of designing in order to get these processes right. And early on, I didn’t do a great job at communicating exactly what was going to happen. And so it was becoming overwhelming for the customer because once we got into the process, they didn’t understand what was happening. And at the end of that project, they were really excited because they actually got to see it all. But throughout the project, they felt misunderstood, misheard. Even though they were heard and understood, it’s not easy to communicate. Does that make sense? What I learned is that I had to take some time to really think about the customer in that process and not just say, because I’m a very analytical type person, so I’m very much like, you have a problem, I can fix it while we talk about stuff. Right? So I had to realise that that’s not how business works and that I needed to really dial in an onboarding process for our own clients that was more collaborative, whereas before it was not as collaborative as it is now.

Got you, I think, Michael, we are coming to an end today’s session to an end and are there any final thoughts that you would like to share with us, please?

Yeah, get on your processes, invest in your processes. That’s extremely important. It’s going to save you a lot of time and a lot of headache, especially in marketing themselves. It’s so imperative in today’s world where we are all constantly doing emails and email marketing, text message marketing, social marketing, all these things. How do they all connect? How does a person move from one to the other? All of these things have to be addressed. And if we’re not mapping them out, how do we know where the intersections are and what the breakdowns are?

Thank you, Michael, thank you so much for your time today. And I really appreciate all the valuable tips and things that you shared with us.

Thank you so much. Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was definitely fun.

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