Wes Schaeffer Talks About CRM, Sales & Marketing Automation

August 24, 2023 | Interview

Welcome to Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today we will have a word with Wes Schaeffer, Founder & Chief Revenue Officer of The Sales Whisperer, about his journey and how he came up with his marketing consulting agency. We will also talk about the valuable insights on CRM, sales, marketing automation and more.


Hi, everyone. My name is Harshit Gupta, I’m the Director of Business Alliances of two amazing marketing SaaS tools, RankWatch and WebSignals. I’m so excited to welcome you all to today’s marketing legos thought leader interview because we have a brilliant marketer, sales and CRM guru, best Founder and Owner of The Sales Whisperer. Wes, welcome aboard and so happy to have you.

Hey, thanks for having me.

Okay. Wes, I’ll really, so will our viewers would love to know your journey before The Sales Whisperer. You carry so many years of experience with you. I would love to know how you got to where you are today?

It was a lot of work, no shortcuts, a lot of hard lessons. I was in the Air Force and I was married. We had a kid, another one on the way, and I jumped into commission sales. I left the Air Force to plot my own course and have always been in sales since 1997. I was in several different industries, spent a long time in the technology space in sales, selling all over America, times with territories as big as 18 states. A lot of it was during the downturn of the early 2000s after the dot com implosion. So, it was some lean times, constant layoffs and reorganizations in the companies I worked for, that drove me to continue studying, improving myself. If I was going to make it in that crazy environment, I had to be as good as I could be. And that laid the foundation for a training company, you know, starting The Sales Whisperer in 2006. And I’ve been on my own since starting that. And that has evolved over the years. I do a lot with software, with marketing automation for small businesses, but at the end of the day, my focus on sales is what has always helped me.
We need to remember that everything we do is a sale. The menu at a restaurant, they’re selling you. How they set it up, they’re selling you. Everything is a sale. You want to go on a date with somebody, it’s a sale. So, understanding that sales is the name of the game and embracing that has made all the difference for me and it makes all the difference for my clients. And it’s funny how many small business owners say that they hate sales and marketing, but that’s the job.

Depends on both of these pillars.

Yeah, that’s the job. There’s plenty of great people out there. Musicians, coders, chiropractors, doesn’t matter. Some of the best in the world. They’re not good at marketing, so you don’t know who they are.

Makes sense.

And so you better get good at sales and marketing if you want to grow.

Yup. Let’s talk Wes a little bit more about The Sales Whisperer and its service offering,you know, you’re one of the early adopters of the CRM as well. So, let’s talk about that thing in depth and what all as a company the sales expert offers?

Yeah, I’ve always embraced technology, got an engineering background. But early on in sales, I was working in retail. And if we entered the prospect’s name into the database. So, this was 98, 99. So, this was before social media and this was before big hosted CRMs. But we had a database plugged in back to the home office. And if you met with a prospect and entered them into the database, if they came back later and bought and you weren’t there, you still got 50% of the commission.


So, I was motivated and diligent in entering their contact info. So, as a result, I’ve always seen these big databases as a way to help me make more money instead of being afraid of it or fighting it. This is Big Brother, which a lot of salespeople tend to do. They’re silly for doing that. So, fast forward into high tech, and I’m using platforms like Siebel and Onyx and eventually Salesforce.com. But I was still fine with using them. You know, I remember one time I had a heated exchange with one of my sales managers who was asking for an excel spreadsheet of our pipeline. And we’d already had Salesforce training and it was mandated. Right? But he was having us create spreadsheets, which I hated. Wasted time. I wanted to go sell.


And I said, I’m not doing it. He said, are you telling me your Salesforce is up to date? Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. And it was. And so he got off my butt and then as I started my own business and looked around and I had to be efficient. And so finding marketing automation tools for small business, I just embraced it because it made sense, it made me money.


And so, it’s been a big part of my life ever since.

Got it. Alright, so, Wes, I’m just curious about marketing automation and CRM. I still consider that as a middle step, the top of the funnel is something which is again very critical and crucial for the company, right? Generating the traffic that eventually leads to a potential client. They fill the lead form or stuff and then go back to your automation and stuff. Do you help people on top of the funnel activities as well? Or is it like just after the lead generation where your expertise comes into play?

Yeah, I can help them at every step along the way. Okay. At its core, though, what I help people figure out is kind of to find their voice and find their message. I think that’s where most people really struggle. So, they try to master the nuances of all of these platforms: snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter, you know, email marketing, SEO. And they’re running themselves.


But they don’t have a core message. So, if I can help them refine that, then it’s like you get this sense of calm when you know what you’re really doing and who you’re serving. You know where to go. Right? If I just gave you a fishing rod and some bait, you’d be a little bit excited. But it’s like, what is this bait for? What type of fish? Is it freshwater? Is it saltwater? Right? Or marlin or catfish? But when you know exactly, yeah, it’s more exciting and more fun. Go catch a big tuna. But you need a big boat. You gotta go way offshore. It’s very expensive, it’s time consuming, you know. Yes, you can make some good money, eat well, but you may not catch anything and I don’t know, you may die in the ocean. Right?
But with the right lure and everything, some worms, you can go catch some catfish in a muddy lake, in maybe 20 minutes. And now your family eats today. You can go about it with confidence. So, what are you going after? Right? Who’s the prospect? What’s their pain? Where do they congregate? If you’re selling to senior citizens and you’re focusing on Snapchat and TikTok, you’re going to go hungry. They’re not there. So, you got to know who you’re going after, what it is they buy. But, yes, I can help them around all of those other tools, but I’m more focused on the message and what are you going to say, how are you going to say it? And what’s the call to action that you want to have happen as a result of this? And then everything else tends to fall into place if you get those things right.

Makes sense. I think in marketing, the marketing communication is the biggest pillar and the most important thing that needs to be addressed, has to be consistent and multiple dynamics to it. But, yeah, that’s good to know. Apart from running the Salesforce, you’re also part of two really good podcasts and then you’re the author of a few books. You are also into building communities on Facebook for your sales coaching and stuff. Please tell us a bit about that as well so that any of our viewers, if interested, can reach out to you and be part of it.

Well, I started the sales podcast back in 2013. I’d started another one with a friend of mine in 2009, but we didn’t stick with it. So, I’ve been creating podcasts since then. It’s been a long time. With the sales podcast, it’s a lot of interviews, although I do some monologues of salespeople, entrepreneurs, or just interesting people. I’ve had folks on this one lady who was captured in Somalia by terrorists and was rescued by Seal Team Six. So, her journey, how she was following her passion, how it impacted her, how she survived, I like to get interesting people that have overcome something. So, it’s not just sales and marketing, it’s mindset, mental toughness, so, a lot of things like that. But yeah, over 500 episodes now.


Going back to 2013 and then on the technology side. So, I’ve interviewed a lot of founders, and so, I created the CRM Sushi podcast. And that’s where founders and executives of technology companies just basically demo their software while I ask them to kind of dig in, so we can get an honest look at the strengths and the weaknesses of their platforms. And then you can make an informed decision if it’s a good fit for you or not.

Nice. Are SaaS companies also part of it or just the CRM? I would love to be part of it.

Cool. We can showcase what you got.

Perfect. Wes, apart from this, let’s switch to The Sales Whisperer, how your typical client journey looks like in your organization?

You know, after all these years, it’s pretty simple. I get to say no to a lot of people, but it depends on what they’re coming to me for. I’ve got a book. I’ve got tons of free resources, newsletter. So, people can dabble, right? They can get a nibble taste of what I’m working on. They can take my free quiz at bestcrmforme.com, so that helps them find the right tools. If I’m there, they can make their own decision, if they want to work with me, if they have additional questions. I have kind of a low cost, affordable, kind of pick my brain for sort of first step that I bring a lot of people through. I also have what I call my IPA, my initial process assessment, because people will come in with very complex needs and they think in a 15 minutes, 20 minutes call, I can make a recommendation. And it’s like it just doesn’t work that way. Just like when you go see a doctor or get your car diagnosed, they’re going to charge a diagnostic fee.

Yep, that’s true.

It costs money to find out what the heck is going on, right? And so sometimes it’s a simple fix that we can discuss from that diagnostic and they’re good to go.
But at a minimum, they’ll know at the end what the real issues are. A lot of times customers don’t know the true issue and the impact. Like I tell people, with your health, maybe for a few months, yeah, I’ve been kind of tired and I’m falling asleep after work. I’m kind of sore, kind of stiff, and I don’t know. You don’t think anything of it. You think maybe it’s stress or whatever, you blow it off. But once a problem has persisted long enough and you can’t find an answer, right? Because you don’t just run to the doctor one day you wake up and you’re tired, right? You’re like, well, let me try going to bed a little earlier. Oh, maybe I was drinking too much. Let me cut out alcohol for a week or two. Maybe let me change my diet. Yeah, I have been eating bad and nothing improves it. Then you’re like, oh, when the customer can’t find their own answer, then they reach out. Now the doctor can diagnose. They listen to your heart, your x-rays, whatever. Oh, hey, you got some blockage. You might need surgery. Oh, no, but at least you now know the answer.
But if you as the patient, just call the doctor and say, hey, I need you to prescribe surgery for me. What are you talking about? I’m not doing that. I don’t even know you. But that’s what we do as consultants, right? We let the customer call us. Hey, yeah, I need more visits to my website. How much are you going to charge me? How do you know that’s what you need? And really, literally nobody needs more eyeballs on their website. What they want and need is more customers. Because the reality is very few people are converting even to leads, let alone customers. So I’ll ask them, I’ll say, let me ask you something. If I reduced the number of visitors to your website by 50%, but I grew your sales 100%, would you be mad? No, that’d be awesome. So, you don’t really need or want more eyeballs. You want more customers. So, let’s figure out how to do that. Maybe it is, you need more traffic, but I’m not going to let you prescribe to me what to diagnose and prescribe? No, you’re calling me. So, I’m in charge.

Usually, how long is the diagnostic call? Is it like just one call where you kind of understand their problem, look into the analytics, and figure out the problem, the tools, whatever they’re already using? Or does it evolve and take multiple steps?

Yeah, it’s multiple steps. I actually have them fill out a pretty detailed questionnaire. A lot of times they haven’t even done their own reflection, right. Like, we’re recording this beginning of the year. The mere process of sitting down and writing out your wins and your losses and your goals, just the clarity you get just from doing that is beneficial. Right? So by me diving in with them and asking some detailed questions, making them look up some things, what is your best performing offer? What is the lifetime value of a customer? Walk me through your funnel and your sales cycle. Just by doing that, a lot of times they’ve avoided looking inside. But no, it’s usually a couple of calls along with that questionnaire and review, and I’ll have them give me access to their different platforms, their Google Analytics, their email marketing, their website, and I’ll look at anything they’re willing to share to start helping them find the highs and the lows and come up with some ideas and plans for addressing it.

I’m curious now, what is the nature of the agency revenue cycle mainly? Is it more of one time or is it a recurring revenue model altogether primarily for you?

Are you saying that the customer is like a repeat?

Yeah, consultation. Is it recurring in nature, primarily, or is it a one time thing, where you fix the problem and then the client takes it from there?

Yeah, it’s a little bit of both. If they’re buying software. The nice thing for me is that when they buy the software, then I’m paid as long as they are using the software. So, that’s nice. And it doesn’t cost them anything extra, right? Because they pay the same price when they buy it from me or buy it directly from the company I recommend. So, that’s a win. And then a lot of times they’ll come back for some reviews, some tune ups. They’ll retain me to help them get started and optimize it. Sometimes it’s a short term consultation. I’ve had some clients for years.

Got it. I think let’s talk a bit more about let’s discuss one of the case studies on how you scaled a business with the help of CRM or automation or via your sales training. And what were the key matrices that basically helped you conclude that this was a successful campaign or venture altogether?

Well, it’s always a combination of things. Rarely is it just more money, right? The smart business owners are looking at the ease, the reduction in stress, the increase in predictability and repeatable income generation. I had a client years ago that owned it as a family daycare, and they had room. They could have 96 students, and they only had 74 students.


So, they could add those extra 22 kids at basically no extra cost because they already had the facilities and the teachers. So, that was just unused capacity. It was like an airplane taking off with empty seats. So, we worked on their website, we worked on their lead generation, tuned all that up. But sales didn’t increase. And I finally discovered their internal process. They were letting anybody and everybody, do tours at any time. Anybody could discuss the price. And they were literally the most expensive daycare in the city. And when you have just a teacher talking about money, it just wasn’t a natural fit. So, they were uncomfortable, and that uncertainty carried through to the customer. So, they weren’t confident buying. When we streamlined that process to where only the owners or the school director gave the tours and they were the only ones that discussed money. Literally immediately we filled all the seats and had a waiting list.


I look at the more comprehensive way of producing something that’s sustainable. Right? And so with that process now, over time, your marketing might change a little bit and how you generate the leads. But that process of streamlining the school tours and funnelling them back into the director’s office and that verbiage. We actually role played the actual sale discussion and how to ask for money, how to handle the objections, how to get a retainer up front, or they could lock in their place to reserve it for 72 hours to think about it. I mean, all of that is what we created.

Got you.

And that’s repeatable. I’m kind of an efficiency nut, right? I hate doing things, wasting time. I want to do what works. So, you got to look at the big picture of that sales scenario and that’s what I do.

Got you. Because you’re talking about repeatable processes and all and one of the very good ways is introduction of marketing automation. That’s the core value of marketing automation. Do you have any useful tips or hacks that kind of fits for all the businesses and there’s a core reason why they should opt-in for marketing automation altogether?

Well it goes back to that repeatability, more and more. We don’t want to talk to one another, at least not till the very end. And many things can be solved without getting on the phone. And the market now is global. I’ve got customers in 28 countries and so, if you’re going to have a life and serve the market, you’ve got to be able to give access to information to prospects around the world, which means 24/7 and it’s got to be multimedia and it’s got to be multistep. People ask me to write, to do copywriting for them like email sequences and drip sequences and I tell them I’m happy to do it. It’s one of the most expensive things that I do. But I tell them straight up it’s not all that hard. There’s no one magical email I’m going to create that’s going to make them a lot of money. But it’s the preponderance of the evidence. It’s consistently showing up. Just like dating, right? When you want to show a girl that you like her, yeah, maybe you write some wonderful poem and etch it in granite and it makes this big impact.
But the reality is it’s the consistency. You call, you text, you mail a letter, you buy flowers, you take her to dinner, take her to coffee, find out her favourite flower and you bring that. The consistent little things of constantly showing up proves your interest. Okay? And so by showing up in a timely manner, the right message at the right time, the right moment, okay? That’s what eventually wins them over. So, offering some information like I’ll do my podcast, I’ll offer the video, I offer the audio, I’ll offer the transcript, I’ll offer a synopsis. Okay? So, everybody is going to consume the data differently. So, I want to give them whatever they want as long as it’s practical and then from there they can opt-in for maybe a free report. I give a lot of free resources. You don’t even have to opt-in. It’s just there. So, by proving my, you know, I prove my competence by my body of work and that’s what wins them over to say, Alright, this guy’s for real.

Got you.

And so you need some type of sales and marketing automation to make that happen. Otherwise you’re limited to either how long you can be on the phone or at your desk or how many people you can hire to be at that service 24/7.

Got you. Wes any horror story that you have experienced when it comes to, like, CRM or automation in your journey so far?

Um, what was it? Any struggles?

Yeah, basically the system kind of stumbled and had negative results basically.

Well, none of them are perfect. Right? People will come to me and it’s like buying a home. You find the perfect house, but it’s too far from work. You find the perfect house, but the kitchen is too small. It’s a perfect house, but it doesn’t have the number of garage spaces you want. So, it’s like it’s almost perfect. So, then you gotta compromise. What can you live without? Right. Or what do you not mind spending money on? Maybe it’s easier to add another garage. It’s more affordable and easier than redoing the kitchen. Okay, let’s get the house with a nice kitchen and we’ll add onto the garage. So, that’s why I have a free report called Process Before Login and walks people through, helping them map out your processes before you log into some free trial, some free demo. Because HubSpot is very good at everything, pretty much, but it’s more expensive. It doesn’t really have e-commerce. It’s not a shopping cart. Without all that, right? Maybe, maybe not. Those are the things you got to start running. Maybe you’ve got an accounting software that you cannot switch from. Alright, so now you gotta look at a tool that either works with that or has a good API that can connect to it.
Because yeah, there’s always been… people come to me. Either they’ve outgrown their current platform or their current platform has let them down. I had one lady not too long ago, and I actually had her stay with her platform. They were supposed to be locked in for life on their price, and the guy decided to raise prices. I don’t think he should have done it, but whatever. The world’s crazy. He wanted to raise prices. So, they came to me because they were mad and they wanted to switch. And as we went through things, these were folks that paid for my assessment. And we talked it through and had a couple of calls, several emails, and I helped them negotiate the new terms and they were fine. Things are going to happen infusionsoft over the years, they raised prices for the first time. I think back in 2014, people kind of freaked out. And starting right now in January, they’re raising prices on a handful of older accounts. Again, I don’t think they should, but they are. So, some people are going to get mad and look to switch. I don’t know. I don’t think that’s worth switching. Changing platforms, once you’re really embedded, it’s hard.

Yeah, it definitely is.

So you can’t take it lightly.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why the churn rate on SaaS companies and all of these CRMs is pretty low compared to the general services per se, for the fact that adaptability to the new system altogether is a different ballgame. You have to train yourself, your team, and that is something which is again, really painful for people. So, they stick to whatever they have for the time their core purpose is getting sold. Let’s talk a bit more about what are the common mistakes that you feel businesses make when they’re finalizing a CRM and automation?

Well, when it comes to technology, well, they think technology is going to fix something that’s broken in their business. And it’s not. Garbage in, garbage out. Get clear on what it is you offer. I think too many companies undercharge. They don’t understand their own value, so they undercharge. I think they try to be too many things to too many people. They have too many offerings. You should be more like Apple back in the day than Microsoft. Apple offers a lot more things now but Ray Crock took them and made them big because he just streamlined the delivery of a hamburger, fries, coke, and a shake. Right? He got that dialled in. Then 20-30 years later, they started offering salads and breakfast and yogurt and whatever else. So, until you really dominate the market in one or two things, I think you should narrow your focus. But I think people are afraid of success. So, they have all these irons in the fire and oh, I’m so busy. And they wear that as a badge of honour, but it keeps them from performing at their best or losing at their best. That can be a bit humbling to say that you tried your best and came up short, but it’s better to go that route.
It’s better to know where you’re great, where you’re not and excel in those areas. But technology is not going to save you. I always tell people if you’re mediocre at what you do and if you have a mediocre message, then getting great at marketing and paying for great tools to deliver all this is just going to accelerate your death. You don’t want to be great at telling the world how average you are. So, get great at what you do. And really, if you get great at what you do, the world will talk about you. They really will. But I think people, instead of spending that money internally, they try to patch things over. Like an unhealthy person. They go to the doctor and they want blood pressure medication, instead of joining the gym. They’re going to continue eating fried foods and then pay for medications with all the side effects rather than just changing their diet, you know. So, work on yourself. That’s the magic.

That’s true. Wes since you’re way too involved in sales, coaching and training, please share some of the proven strategies with our viewers for converting leads to actual clients. Some of the common things that you can share, strategies that will be building.

Yeah, it kind of goes back to what we were talking about, like when you’re going fishing, right? You get to know who you’re going after and when you really understand your customer and what you offer. You can anticipate the objections that you’re going to get and address them before they even come up. Ideally you are answering the questions that they have, addressing their concerns and alleviating them. Because really ideally when somebody reaches out to me, I want to sort sift and separate. I don’t want to sell, right? I want them to come up 90% ready and they just want to have a final conversation, make sure I am who I am, you know. And they buy, even selling things like Keep and HubSpot. I have relatively short calls. Quite often one call closes because they’ve seen my body of work, they’ve taken my quiz, they’ve watched some podcasts. So, when they show up, I’m not selling them. I’m clarifying their issues and concerns. I’m making sure we understand one another. I’ve built the resources and I’ll tell people if they haven’t watched certain things, I’m like, look, let me send you a link, you watch it, then we’ll schedule another call.
I don’t want to spend hours with somebody that’s just curious. And so if I can get them really engaged, spend investing their own time and energy in answering the questions and they come back to me, then it’s an easy sale. I don’t want these hard closes. That era is gone and it’s going to bite you in the butt if you try to tackle things like that today. I want to treat them right. I want them to be happy and confident with moving forward. I want to be the obvious choice and you do that again through that body of work and that takes time. So, if you’re kind of new in sales, then you need to realize that the questions that you ask help you prove your competency. You don’t have to keep talking and selling, ask good questions, answer what you can, really help the prospect come to their own conclusion that it’s in their best interest to move forward with you. That’s when you know you’re doing it right.

Makes sense. Wes since most of our viewers are again like part of marketing agencies or marketing agency owners. Please, if you can share some of the best channels or must have tools that they can use to generate more business new leads and much more stable recurring revenue for them.

Well, it goes back to knowing who you’re going after. If you’re going after older people, don’t be on TikTok. I think video is obviously growing in importance. More people are listening to things like podcasts. Podcasts are great even if you don’t have this huge audience. If you can be in the ear of a prospect uninterrupted for 30 minutes to an hour, you’re going to be earning their trust. They’re going to know, like and trust you. So, we’re very much they call it edutainment. Can you educate and or entertain prospects today? How are you gonna do that? Video is important. Social media obviously is important. Social media is very much a pay to play space today. You’re not going to get very much organic reach. So, do you understand that? Right? Do you understand how to play that game? I want to keep reiterating the importance, though, of having your message, knowing who you serve, that’s ten times more important than the platform. And even with social media, like, where are you going to take them? If I watch your TikTok, where do I go after watching and laughing and clicking or whatever, what do you want me to do? You know.
Unless you’re going to get 100 million followers, whatever, 100 million views, and you can monetize TikTok in and of itself, you can’t predict that. If you could, everybody would do it, then it wouldn’t be unique. Then nobody can do it. You can’t intentionally create a viral video. I think 99% of the viral videos were lucky. Yeah, maybe they tried a little bit, but something resonated for a certain reason. But if you look at those, it was people doing what they love, right? They were good at it. They put their heart into it, and it caught on. So, figure out what that is. Figure out what you’re great at. Figure out a need and fill it. Don’t get too hung up on the platform until you’re clear on who you are and who you serve.

Well, I think it was a pretty interesting session, and we’re coming to an end, so I would like to have a very quick, rapid fire with you. Are you ready for that?


Perfect. So, since you’ve been working from home for a really long time now, 26 years, what do you miss most about working in an office?

There is a certain camaraderie that comes with working in an office, and sometimes you can get some better collaboration. Maybe those AHA moments hanging out in the kitchen over a cup of coffee or something. So, I missed that.

What is the funniest thing you have witnessed during a zoom meeting?

Hmm, I don’t know. Nothing too crazy, really. Some kids, some dogs, little interruptions like that. But I haven’t had anything too crazy on a zoom meeting.

What is most likely to distract you when you work from home?

For me, it’s probably my barking dog.

And the last question for today: what’s your favourite book?

Oh, it depends on the genre. And a guy named Roy Williams has written three books under the wizard of ads, and those were quite formative for me in the early 2000s.

Perfect. Thank you so much, Wes, for all the time. Really appreciate it, and I’m sure so will our viewers. Thank you so much.

Alright, thanks for having me.

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