Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz 16:59 

You may die in a month based on what you smoke and drink and do drugs every day, you should probably get insurance or you’re gonna live for two your 150.

Riaz Sidi 17:10 

Yeah, I’m not gonna recommend that for any mortgage, or any insurance companies out there, because that might be a liability. Although you probably know that before I do. So.

Jeremy Weisz 17:19 

Yeah. And so talk about Beechwood Cemetery for a second. It sounds like they even implement quizzes.

Riaz Sidi 17:27 

Ah, yeah, like, I mean, on a smaller scale. Yes. But I would say and that’s, that’s probably another opportunity for them. I would say, for them, in a cemetery business, you wouldn’t think of digital marketing being like, you wouldn’t even think of a cemetery using digital marketing, right? Because obviously, the natural instinct is like, funeral, and then you go to Google, and whatever’s there, you kind of click on right. So that could be one like use case of like using Google ads on a reactive basis. But Beachwood wanted to move more towards a proactive model where they’re more focused on selling pre-planning of funerals, right? Because the last thing you want to do is burden your family members and children when you pass away with now a $10,000 $20,000 bill, whatever that is, right.

So using Facebook ads and other platforms, we’ve been able to create a new pipeline and new channel for them to really explode. And I would say the majority of their business is now coming through pre planning. Whereas I don’t believe it was 10 years ago. So I’d say for those types of industries, definitely moving away from reactive and proactive solving, which is great, because it’s good for cash flow, it’s good for stability. So there’s a lot of benefits from doing it that way.

Jeremy Weisz 18:38 

Talk a little bit more about the Beechwood Cemetery, though, because super interesting that they’re doing digital marketing, to attract customers. Right. So what are some of the things and how do you think about that customer journey from their standpoint?

Riaz Sidi 18:57 

Yeah, for sure. So I think like part of the methodology there is really understanding the type of person that is an ideal candidate for wanting to do pre-planning of funerals, right? Usually that someone who’s close to retirement or in retirement, and they’re thinking about their next of kin, and the burden that they don’t want to pass on to their loved ones when they pass away. And so I think, there’s a lot of really, of course, with many of these platforms, there’s demographic interest and behavioral targeting, that can be leveraged, you can use data. So essentially creating what we call custom audiences so, these might be certain leads or people that they’ve met at events and uploading those into the back end the Facebook matching those people when they’re actual profile and then serving ads to those people as they’re usually aware of the brand and qualified to some extent, and then creating look-alikes of their website visitors of that customer. list, because what that will do will look like essentially what it will do is analyze the demographics, interests and behaviors of that list or that sample audience.

And then we can extract that targeting and target net new people, new people who look and think and act exactly like the sample audience. And, of course, instead of us, we will kind of joke about this, instead of us sitting around a boardroom table, guessing who your audience is, let’s leverage the algorithms. And that’s not to pass on the burden of actually doing the strategy or on the audience perspective. But these algorithms are very intelligent, and as evidenced by many of the well-performing campaigns and things that we’ve seen over the last 10 years, as it relates to algorithms, and so for us we kind of joke this is, we have an opportunity to do Cambridge analytical light here, every time we got a client, right. So, we should maximize that. And then, of course, use our own ingenuity as well, right? Because if you were to rely strictly on the algorithms alone, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot.

Jeremy Weisz 21:03 

How did you get them as a client in the first place?

Riaz Sidi 21:07 

Good question. So I think one of the salespeople on our team had them as a client, and then I had worked with them in the past as well. But I mean, a lot of credit is due to their director of marketing, that works there, because he’s a young guy, very progressive, he understands that that industry is ripe for disruption, right? Like, it’s very unclear, unusual to do this type of marketing in that industry. Right. So the fact that he’s been able to penetrate that has the knowledge and know-how and understanding and then can appreciate what we’re bringing to the table, I think that certainly helps, right. Because, you know, part of it, there’s a will and a skill issue, in any of these things, right? So, you know, if you have the skills, but not the will, then it’s not going to happen, right? So I think a lot. It’s a testament to the team there. And our contract there.

Jeremy Weisz 22:00 

I think about the funnel, obviously, we’re talking about a cemetery here, but the funnel really applies to any business. And just walk me through for a second. So obviously, you’re reverse engineering the customer or client journey experience, you’re really identifying who is that ideal client target? And maybe it’s in the form of like, an ad somewhere that has like an image and it’s got words on it compelling copy. From there, is it typically opting into, give an example of like, what that funnel looks like? Are they opting into an email or they sign up for a quiz? I want to get to the end, which is the offer because I’m because I know, I’m sure you’re working with these businesses and helping them construct the best offer, because they have a lot of services and things that they could do. And for this example, and maybe, I don’t want anyone to take it for granted, like we’re talking about pre-planning offer, but they probably have a million offers, and you probably chose that one on purpose for this particular campaign. Maybe it’s the best one. So if you start me at the ad, and then what happens next in the journey of the person?

Riaz Sidi 23:21 

Yeah, so I mean, like, this can depend on a lot of factors, right. So, if there’s a big appetite within this audience set, you may not need a two or three-stage funnel to get someone because the pain point is so high. And people at this stage of their life might have a little bit more time to actually do that. People my age, I’m part of this, I’m in the sandwich generation right now, where I have two young kids, I have my mom and business and a lot of things going on, it’s hard might be a little bit harder to get my time. Right. So you really, I think there’s a correlation between how hard it is to convert someone.

And a few things, the price point course the buying journey, the effort that’s required to get someone across the finish line, the information that they might need to make a decision. So I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the value equation, have you heard of the value equation at all? It’s from this book called SPIN Selling. So I used to be a corporate trainer and SPIN Selling is a book by a company called Hatheway that was put out many years ago. And essentially the philosophy around SPIN Selling is I’m assuming you’re familiar with Xerox. So Xerox in the 70s was like, the crème de la crème of photo copiers, right? And so much so that they called it a Xerox didn’t even call it a photocopy just like you call it a tissue Kleenex. Right? It was like synonymous with the brand. But what happened in the 70s is HP and IBM and other companies were coming in and trying to take a piece of the market share on the photocopiers right so, of course, Xerox was feeling a bit overwhelmed by this faction.

So what they did is they basically did a invested heavily in r&d, right. And by the end of this r&d stint, they created all of these new photocopiers with double-sided color three, pre-hole three-hole-punched, pre-stapled, right, every bell and whistle unite out there. Right They had it. And so what they did is they brought their sales team off the field and they brought them into a training, they did six weeks of training, right? Six weeks of training, and it was on product knowledge. And everyone that was in that training knew, okay, this photocopier does double-sided, this photocopier does pre-staples, and so on and so forth. So after a six week period, they had a little kick-off, and they went out onto the road. And they went out, tried to sell these new photocopiers and they fell flat on their face. Right?

So of course, they’re thinking, hey, why did this happen? Right? We invested all this time and effort into r&d and all this energy into rebuilding our products. And so what’s happened here? And so what they did this time is they brought in a company called Hatheway and Hatheway, it was a research company. And what Hatheway did is they would go on four-legged sales calls with the reps at Xerox. Okay. So over a period of a few years, they did 50,000 four-legged sales calls where the salesperson would go and this person Hatheway, the researcher would sit there and you know, take their notes and just observe, right? And so this book SPIN Selling, which probably have Yeah, it’s right there. So, this book SPIN Selling, if you’ll indulge me for a second. Right. So this is the foundation of this research.

And this book is what has changed my life personally. I’d say it’s a where I went from being a charming sales guy to like truly being a sales professional. Right. And essentially, the research ultimately indicates that, this book talks about the differences between the average and excellent salespeople, according to our research, right? So the one big one, for example, is that average salespeople use a lot of statements. Excellent. Salespeople use a lot of questions, right. And the acronym SPIN is situation problem implication and need payoff questions. So it’s a questioning strategy. And I’m sure, you know, every sales methodology these days has some kind of like, what’s your pain point? I mean, pain point come from this, right. So the reason I bring this up is one of the key philosophies or the key findings is this idea of the value equation, right. And the value equation is essentially like imagine, like a seesaw. And on one side, you have the pain points, right.

And on the other side, you have the value or the cost, the cost to alleviate the pain, right. So the reason I bring this up is because when we’re thinking about customer offers, and that journey, the buying journey, and how engaged someone needs to be in order to go from a cold prospect all the way to a paying customer is it really comes down to how big is the pain that they’re suffering from? Right. And when I say pain, I mean, do they need to pre-plan a funeral because they are terminal? Right? Because that’s probably a higher pain point than if they’re, oh, I just retired and I want to make sure my kids are taken care of, there’s no urgency there. Right. So I know, this is a morbid example. So maybe I’ll tie it to something else. Right.

Jeremy Weisz 23:30 

No, literally, it’s more but like, I had on, keep going on this. This is really interesting. Perry Marshall. I don’t know if you heard his book 80/20 Sales and Marketing. And he talks about this exact thing, just he calls the bleeding neck problem, which, obviously the visual of like a bleeding neck, how much you’re gonna pay, like, you’re not like negotiating on price. You’re like, dude, like, my neck is bleed, like, patch it. Like, you’re just kind of what you’re saying, right? You’re looking at pain point, and cost. So anyways, keep going with whatever morbid example is.

Riaz Sidi 29:04 

I think, ultimately, at the end of it like, one of the big mistakes that comes from the book is that people often once they uncover a problem, they go straight to a solution. And that’s a big mistake. That’s one of the things that excellent salespeople didn’t do. What they did instead, is they went from problem and then they would ask implication questions. So an implication question would be something to the effect of, what is the consequence of that pain point on your business?

Personal life health, what have you, what happens? If so what they call a turning the knife and sales, right, and it’s making that pain point even bigger? Right? So excellent salespeople make that pain point bigger. So, we’re not all about fear-based marketing. That’s not like what I’m suggesting here. But people either take action from gaining pleasure or reducing pain and it’s usually reducing pain, right? So all that being said, is when we’re thinking about this customer journey, we want to think about what is their pain threshold and pain points that are going to take them to that next stage, right? Because what takes you to the First Age or the from the first stage, the second stage may not be as strong enough to get you from the third stage to the fourth stage. Right? So, really understanding that doing deep research, I think is another really big thing that we make sure to do, like understanding exactly what people who are in that target persona are searching for themselves.

And using tools, AI tools, and what have you to really dig deep into that. And then creative brainstorming creative brainstorming is a huge part of it. Like, I think for, I’d say, from the years of 2015 to 2020. In digital marketing, I think creative was a bit underappreciated. Right? And I think it was, like kind of the golden era, if you will, right. So I think people were just putting in $1, and getting a five, right doesn’t work anymore like that, you have to have a strong brand, you need to, have case studies, and you need to understand that full journey. So as it relates to the cemetery.

I don’t have it offhand. But I would, you know, say something to the effect of some kind of checklist or guide at the top of the funnel, and then maybe some kind of consultation call, or something a little bit deeper, lower in the funnel, right. But no two funnels are the same, even within the same industry, and they can change and evolve, right, which I think is what is scary, and also exciting about my industry, because you always have to stay on the cutting edge. And sometimes, there’s not a lack of clarity around what that cutting edge actually is. And sometimes you’re having to find something that works and follow the lead. And sometimes you’re having to pave the way, right?

Jeremy Weisz 31:42 

At what point did you discover SPIN selling?

Riaz Sidi 31:46 

So for me, I was trained when I worked like, I’m very unusual in the sense that I love cold calling, which I would say like 99.9% of people don’t like, I used to work at a company called OnPath. And it was a b2b call center. And we used to sell Yellow Pages, and Google ads over the phone, actually. So we were cold call businesses and kind of we were trained on this right and asked about, hey, we’re having any challenges, generating new business, right, getting right into the pain points and what have you. This is a bit of a non-relevant story, but I will share it because I just told my team this the other day, and it’s all about limiting beliefs.

So I think it’s kind of might be kind of good for rising up together, if you will. So when I was working at that call center, the reps that were there was a pilot program, this yellow pages, this call center, Yellow Pages program that we were doing, and there was four or five reps that had just started a brand new program. I came in two weeks later, and I get there and these reps are pretty like senior intermediate to senior. And so I said, first thing you ask when you go to a new campaign, hey, how hard is this? Like, is this? Are the goals realistic? The goal was one sale a day, Jeremy? Right. They said, that’s kind of hard actually.

Jeremy Weisz 31:50 

If you make 1000 calls a day that may be.

Riaz Sidi 32:32 

Right, if you get 100 calls a day, right? You’re gonna get zero, you might get one, right. And so I sit down there and I make a sale on the first day. They’re like, oh, that’s great. Good for you. You know, pat on the back. Next year, make two sales. Awesome. Good for you. Next day, another two sales next day for sales. Next day three sales. So by two or three weeks in, there’s a little bit of a crowd around my cubicle. People are looking at me say hey, like, what is this guy doing? How’s he making so many sales? We’re struggling here just to get one, right. So of course, I felt like the king. I want to use the exploitive, I felt like King s. And then fast forward a couple of weeks.

A new guy comes in. When he comes in. He says oh, like and of course I’m the big guy at this point. Because it says oh, how hard is this campaign? I said, oh, like the expectations like zero to one a day. I mean, I’m getting three or four orders because I’m great, right. And but you know, if you get one you’ll be fine. Right? So, first day goes by he gets one Oh, good for you. Next day, two. Okay, the after that three? Oh, okay. Like on Friday rolls around. He’s getting six. I said, okay, that’s interesting. Few weeks goes by Jeremy, he 10 sales on one day, then he’s getting 37 sales on one day, then he’s getting 82 sales on one day. And then I look at the board 140 sales I go what the hell like How is this even possible? Because now I’m like, what’s going on here? Right?

So I got to my manager, I’m like, what’s going on here? And they’re like, well, I mean, to just kind of break it to you. When he would sell one industry, he would sell multiple geographies. And he would sell multiple verticals like direct places in the phone book where he could be. So that’s how he was taking one sale and turning it into like dozens, right? And so the reason I shared this with you and the reason I shared this with my team the other week is because I thought six was good. I thought getting seven was good, right? And I think often in business, we don’t see the light of like this guy came in was making 40 sales. And he’s probably looking at me being like this guy. So thought six was good, like, what is he talking about? Right? So I think perspective is very important.

Perception is very important. And I think in marketing too, like, we’ve taken over some client campaigns where they’re like, yeah, we’re getting like, three leads a day, and we’re happy with it, and then all sudden, we’re getting 10 leads a day. They’re like, how did that happen? And it’s because maybe you were thinking too small, right? Or maybe the leads aren’t qualified. Who knows? Right? So, but I think that limiting belief is the number one thing that I see entrepreneurs deal with, and I sometimes deal with it myself. And I think it’s an important thing to highlight. Because as a business owner, you’re always looking at yourself in the mirror being like, how do we get to the next level? And sometimes you feel like you’re at the bottom of the next mountain, right? So anyhow, I know it’s a lot.

Jeremy Weisz 35:52 

No, I love that story. And thanks for sharing it. I want to hear about why you started. What made you start the agency in the first place, but I want to mention, because I don’t know if you’ve seen it. There’s a documentary Telemarketers. And I think I’ve only I’ve only watched two or three episodes, but I need to finish the whole thing. It’s fascinating, fascinating stuff. And you would probably appreciate even more. This wasn’t the environment that you were in. I’ll just preface that sounds like, sounds like you are in a much more professional environment. But that documentary, I watched a few episodes. I just happened to stumble on it on an airplane travel. And it was fascinating. I think you’ll love it.

Riaz Sidi 36:34 

It’s interesting, just did a Google here’s the Telemarketers is an American True Crime documentary. So clearly, there’s some crime involved.

Jeremy Weisz 36:42 

Yeah, check it out. It’s, it’s fascinating. But what made you could probably have you were very successful in your other roles. And you probably could have kept climbing up. And what made you decide to start your own agency?

Riaz Sidi 36:58 

It’s funny because my parents were business owners growing up. So my parent, my dad, he owned a radio and television shop. When we lived in England. I was born in England. And when we moved to Canada, he owned a lotto center, like a, one of these, like, I guess in the US, he called Powerball or what have you, right? Where you kind of do the we call it 649. Right. So he was selling scratch tickets and that type of thing. And we got to Ticketmaster, we had like one of the only ticket master locations in Ottawa, so there’d be like a huge line for any concert. And then my mom had a Belgian chocolate shop, which was conveniently located right next door, like they were kind of almost attached. So not sure if that was really a good idea.

Jeremy Weisz 37:40 

They had a lotto ticket and like a chocolate, I don’t know.

Riaz Sidi 37:42 

That’s it. Exactly. It’s like, let’s say, I grew up indulged in that. So. But yeah, so I will say that my parents struggled quite a bit, actually. So, you know, my parents struggled in business. And it’s tough, you know, like, especially working retail, nine to nine. And then, I don’t know, if you remember, like, back in the 90s, there was like, midnight madness, where like, malls would be open till like midnight. In the US still, but after COVID We definitely don’t, malls aren’t even open till like nine o’clock here anymore. So, but yeah, so watching that grind and watching them go through that I always thought I don’t want that, like I want something a little bit more secure, a little bit more stable, not in government secure, because, but like, something in the middle, let’s just say right.

And so that’s why I was always really drawn to Sales and Telemarketing and what have you. And I want to become a journalist when I was growing up. But fast forward a little bit after that call center experience, I started working at Post Media, which is the parent company of the National Post in Ottawa Citizen, essentially, it’s think of, you’re in Chicago, you mentioned the Chicago Tribune, think of like the parent company of that. That’s like the National conglomerate here. And so I had the good fortune of rising up the ranks on the advertising side there. And in my most recent stint, as you mentioned, at the top, I was a national training manager there. And so what that entailed was designing and developing courses around SPIN Selling digital marketing, and rolling that out across the country coast to coast.

And while I was doing that, I had a client approached me on LinkedIn about running some Facebook ads for them. And Postmedia wasn’t offering Facebook ads at the time. So I thought this shouldn’t be a problem, right? And so I set up a very simple funnel like a landing page, Facebook ads, and hit the button in my hotel, and I said, Okay, well, let me do this. And they went from like, five to 50 to 500 leads a month, like overnight, and I thought, well, this is better than the stuff I’m teaching like, this is amazing. What’s going on here, right? And it was just it was flying through. So I thought let me add some Google ads. Let me create another lead magnet and other and so that went really well and of course when you do well in business as you and your listeners would tell, you got referred. So I got referred to a few other people.

And same thing happened again, knocks it out of the park with them and it kind of snow bought from there, and then in 2016 in the summer, so basically in the last six months to 2016, I got married, bought a house, quit my job, and started the business, found out we’re having a baby, like pretty much in like, a six month period followed by a, like a couple years of panic attacks, basically. So it was quite intense, especially because I never wanted to really start a business. That was never the intention. But you know, when, when you get results like that, and I’m thinking, yeah, I’m getting three-quarters of my salary, why am I traveling around the country training when I could be like, at home with my wife, who I would like to stay married to? Right?

So that’s a good idea. Right? Like, I mean, if you’re traveling 200 days a year, like, it’s not really good for the relationship, right? So yeah, so it kind of snowballed from there. And it’s gone, like, peaks and valleys. And, you know, I’m sure you’ve seen those memes on LinkedIn, where it’s like, you know, this whole success thing.

Jeremy Weisz 40:56 

Right, it’s not a straight line, it basically takes like, is windy path. Exactly.

Riaz Sidi 41:01 

Exactly. So that’s basically where I am now. I’m somewhere in that windy path.

Jeremy Weisz 41:06 

We’re all somewhere in that windy path. First of all, thank you, Riaz, for sharing your journey. I have one last question. If you have time, I just want love. I know we’re right at the time here. I don’t know if you have a minute or two just to share some of your favorite resources. If you have to go, no worries. But you mentioned SPIN Selling I’m sure there’s other ones that you like and recommend. So I’d love that. And I also want to point out one thing, you kind of casually mentioned, panic attacks.

But you, you know, it’s stressful. And I know that you recently did, you’re really in a work-life balance for you and your team. And you did a mental health day where you actually had someone come in and present. So that’s really cool. And so I just want to encourage people to check out just to learn more what they’re doing. They’ve got some great resources there as well. But maybe some resources that you love.

Riaz Sidi 42:08 

Yeah, sure thing. Yeah. So Well, first, thank you so much for having me. This has been amazing and got a chance to share some stories. So it’s been great in terms of resources, certainly SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. That’s a big one. The other one which is coincidentally sitting here as well, is Traction. I’m a huge we operate with Traction EOS here at

Jeremy Weisz 42:33 

I had Gino Wickman on the podcast below, check that out.

Riaz Sidi 42:36 

Yeah, so this is unbelievable. I would also recommend Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David, who I talked about earlier. So those are like my three go-to’s. I would also say like we have a book of the quarter in our company that everyone reads the book and the most recent one, which I love is $100 Million Leads by Alex Hormozi. Obviously being in marketing, but even if you’re not marketing, I would highly recommend checking it out. So I’d say those are like the four go-to’s right now but if you ask me in six months, I probably have 40 wants.

Jeremy Weisz 43:09 

Absolutely love it. Everyone check out more episodes of the podcast and I just want to be the first one to thank you Riaz and we’ll see everyone next time.

Riaz Sidi 43:21 

Thank you so much Jeremy.