Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  13:33  

clients first. Yeah. And we’ll walk through the steps of the agent acquisition system. I know you mentioned a couple of the overarching points here. And what’s interesting is, you know, you’re kind of at the whim, if you have a hosting company or email company at the users, and if they do something they shouldn’t do. You know, same thing with shared hosting on a website, one person does something it’s flagged, and it ruins it for everyone else. So I totally get that. And, you know, you know, joining it from you, I know your CTO, the technical person, you guys have kind of, you know, if you’re an agency agency owners, like, we just need a software, right? And then you started with the software. And you’re like, well, we couldn’t meet the full needs of the clients. You almost felt like you can play the picture with the agency. But the grass is always greener, I guess, because when I talk to agency owners, like if we just had a soft a SaaS business, you know, and you guys started with that. So Joe told me about just the creation and the beginning of this of the

Joe Solano  14:43  

software. Sure, yeah. So we had kind of back in this was early or late 99, early 2000s. And we had developed kind of a piecemeal system for email marketing. And then we took that and we started to try and sell that early stage of the campaign Pro to small businesses, and it was very much Oh, literally walk up to someone’s door, knock on the door walk inside, and trying to sell them face to face. And this is before the constant contacts and MailChimp were really popular and email marketing was really a thing. And so it was a real difficult challenge for us to do that. And so, at the time, one of the other individuals that was involved with us was in real estate. And so he thought that this would be a great fit for the real estate solution. And so we took it, and then we just verticalized it specifically for real estate and kind of changed the technology focus. So that we were just focused on email marketing for real estate, and specifically agent agent, real estate marketing. So brokers, open houses, recruiting real estate agents, those sorts of things. And then as we started to manage those relationships with that task product, and those those individuals, you know, we saw a lot of things that those particular brokerage clients were doing well and not doing well. And that’s what allowed us to then take that domain knowledge, and basically grow it into where we are today with the agency side of Excel technologies. And at the same time, we are in the process of taking the domain knowledge from the agency side and putting it back into a separate SAS product, that will be an agent higher solution that provides a more exhaustive set of capabilities than just e campaign Pro provides. So basically systematizing and providing a SaaS solution for the agent recruiting lifecycle.

Jeremy Weisz  16:35  

Do people come in and just use the campaign Pro? Do you allow unique people or users to just use the software? Or is that only bundled if they are using the agency?

Joe Solano  16:50  

No, we still have 1000s of clients on IE campaign Pro. And, you know, it’s been a bit of a feeder mechanism from a campaign pro into the agency side of the business, as they kind of hit a wall sometimes with what their growth objectives are. So when they want to scale at a faster clip, or reach a broader segment of the audience, then they can come to us on the agency side. And then we can tackle it from a multi platform approach like Rob was describing where they’re not only getting email, they’re getting Facebook ads, they’re getting Instagram ads are seeing YouTube videos they’re seeing on Tik Tok, LinkedIn, sponsored in mail messages, LinkedIn, feed ads, etc. All of these different platforms and delivery mechanisms to basically push their brand out there.

Jeremy Weisz  17:36  

Tell me about the agency right now listening and thinking, I want to create a software or I have something internal, what are the biggest mistakes that you would say or advice you’d give to them? Maybe they don’t create a software? I don’t know. But what’s, what advice would

Joe Solano  17:53  

you have? I think the biggest thing is don’t underestimate the amount of time energy and effort and development resources that you really need to throw with the problem. Now, that’s gotten significantly easier in the last 10 years or so, where you can stand on the shoulders of giants and leverage various toolkits and systematize things in such a way as well as you know, the communication vehicles like we are with Zoom today, you can have development teams scattered all over the world, we’re completely remote team right now. So we have people in different countries all over the place. And so you can leverage different skill sets and a much easier way. But it’s still an unbelievable undertaking. And it will, I will guarantee you that no matter how good your estimation skills, it will take longer than you think.

Jeremy Weisz  18:36  

Unless you have a Joe CTS with a gel with you know, mentioned Robert, the right approach for cold email, I imagine, you know, people are just using a tool. It’s just a tool. But when they hire you at xL tack, you have the strategies, and you help them get to the next level on a variety of things. But let’s just talk email for a second since we’re on the software. What are some mistakes? You mentioned the right approach for cold email outreach. What are some mistakes you see people making now because you know, any business uses cold email. So what are some of those mistakes?

Robert Dodd  19:14  

Yeah, I think the biggest mistake that I see people make is they. One is the frequency and the cadence is too aggressive. For the cold audience. It’s one thing if you have subscribers, and people have asked you for that information, but when you’re doing b2b marketing, and you’re just trying to feel out individuals who may or may not be interested in what you’re doing, the tendency that I see all the time. And I think the biggest mistake people make is they get too aggressive with the amount of emails that they’re sending, and they get too, they throw up on the page. It’s too much information too soon, right? You really have to have the right balance of cadence and messaging, so that it actually gets you the result that you’re looking for. Because if you come at the problem and just say, Well, you know A lot of people take it and they just do simple math, they go, Well, you know, there’s 20,000 People in the market. And if I send 20,000 messages, and I get, you know, 5% of those people to actually buy my thing or do what I want them to do. And again, that never really works out properly, because A, there’s no way to get 100% of anything, I don’t care if you have 100%, opt in list delivered to somebody’s inbox, the way that algorithms work today, especially with Google, everything is uniquely monitored based on your preferences, how you interact, how other people have received that same message and interacted. So the Google algorithm doesn’t just look at the way you consume a message, it looks and says, Oh, this message has been delivered to 1000s of Google subscribers. How did they consume the message? How engaged were they with the message that they open it? Did they stay on the message for a while that they immediately deleted? Did they market spam, and all those signals come back in and determine how effective you are going to be reaching that audience, even though these people may have, you know, been completely interested in what you were sending. But Google algorithms took over and said, Well, we’re going to stick it in the promotions folder, or we’re going to stick it in spam this time. So the way that you prevent that is to be more tactful and strategic with the approach and realize that if I’ve never communicated with you, before, me trying to send you every bit of information on my offer, or my company is too much too soon. And chances are, it’s going to have a negative impact overall on future messages, potentially getting through. So one of the things that we look at when we strategically work with a customer is we work out email sequences, using, you know, pain point agitation, where we don’t try to say everything at once. Sometimes it’s just a simple introduction. And then from there, we wait to see what happens with that message. How, how engaged are they with that message, and then we hit the next message. And we do it in a strategic way. So that it’s the cadence of the messages is spaced out appropriately. So you’re not overwhelming people. And also the time of that time of day matters. And also, that the day of the week matters with people, depending on what you’re sending. So you know, if you’re thinking about yourself, you know, you come in first thing in the morning, you triage your inbox, you’re going through all the stuff that came in overnight, a lot of it is junk, a lot of it is just like, I don’t have time for this right now. Push it off to the side. Well, you know, that’s pretty much how everybody triage is their inbox, right? So if you send emails, 765 o’clock in the morning, you’re just going to basically be lumped into a sea of junk that is in everybody’s inboxes. And they’re just starting their day. So they’re trying to figure out what do I have to do my day, what’s my calendar look like? I’ll look at this later. But what happens is later doesn’t come because you get distracted, and you completely forget. So even something that gets filed away, doesn’t necessarily get consumed or read. So making sure that you have the right cadence, the right subject line, you’re testing things appropriately. And you’re utilizing, you know, time of day and time and day of week, to the best ability that you can, based on you know, some of the data that we see coming in, we’re very data driven. So we look at everything very precisely to make sure that what we assume is actually occurring, because assumptions are great, but they don’t really provide you with any real concrete evidence. It’s not until the data comes back and we see the engagement rate, we see the click through rates of the emails to determine exactly what’s happening. Because now with a lot of the Apple iOS changes, read rates are becoming less and less, you know, have a real indicator as to whether someone’s engaged with your message. So you know, you can see read rates are going up and you’re like, wow, my messages are really being received well, but you realize it’s just a false number, because it’s going up simply because of the iOS changes that were made. And a lot of these messages are being pre fetched and open, so to speak prior to them ever getting to the actual individuals inbox, which skews your results. So we really look at engagement based on the click through rates of the emails, the call to actions. And then if we’re driving them to specific landing pages, what’s the conversion rate of that landing page? How effective is that page itself? Are we seeing, you know, some sort of impediments or delays in people actually taking the action that we want them to take? And then we can make some strategic adjustments there.

Jeremy Weisz  24:25  

I know you, you know, a specific domain, knowledge and niche and now the niche seems totally obvious. Was there in you know, you mentioned Joe, one of those original customers of the software within that niche? Was there ever a point where you it wasn’t so obvious, or was it always you know, just from the beginning were brokerages? Yeah, I

Joe Solano  24:49  

mean, we were always, you know, at least from those early stages focused on real estate. Now the specific niche of recruiting for brokerages for real estate is, I would say more recent because there’s lots of different aspects of technology and marketing that real estate needs in order to effectively run their business. And so you know, there’s different companies out there, whether they be CRM vendors or lead generation companies, training companies or other toolkit vendors, etc. To help support the real estate industry, the recruiting part of it, we saw something that was really unfulfilled in any meaningful way, especially from a marketing standpoint, people always in brokerages always look at recruiting as I’m just going to do cold calling, right, or I’m just going to do email blasts. And cold calling is really the kind of like, baseline that that everybody uses. But nowadays, with less and less individuals really answering the phone from numbers that they know, no, even real estate agents who do interactions with all sorts of different people, a lot less of them are taking those inbound calls, it’s a lot more difficult to get to them in that way. And so those vehicles are a lot less effective. And so it’s a kind of confluence of a change in technology usage, you know, from individuals, as well, as you know, are seeing the need in the marketplace.

Jeremy Weisz  26:11  

Or can you walk me through a little bit just high level? What when you say, Agent acquisition system, just walk me through what that means a little bit?

Robert Dodd  26:20  

Yeah, so it’s a phased approach that we take to the challenge that a brokerage faces, the first thing is understanding exactly what makes them unique. So the first phase of our acquisition system is we have to understand what makes that brokerage unique? How do we position them against the competition in the market, because what I always tell brokers that I speak to is you have to remember, you’re not recruiting in a bubble, you’re not the only person out there trying to reach the same cohort of agents. And when you look at a marketplace, there is a finite number of agents in that marketplace. It’s not like you know, in traditional marketing where you could take, okay, give me another, you know, give me a 3% look alike audience of everybody who seems to look just like my customer, like that doesn’t exist from this perspective. Because if I look in a market, if I say, Palm Beach, Florida, there’s 20,000 agents in that market, roughly, you know what I mean? Like, it’s not going to grow, you’re not going to find 40,000, somewhere else, there’s only 20. And in that 20, there’s a number of brokerages that obviously are associated with those 20,000 agents, each one of those brokerages are trying to attract those same agents, get them to move to from point A to point B, etc, etc, etc. So you have to understand exactly what your competition is doing, what their messaging is, and what the how they’re communicating their value to those agents, so that you can position yourself effectively against that messaging. So the first step of our agent acquisition process is to essentially go in and do a deep dive into the brokerage clients that we work with. We spend about an hour an hour and a half and a kickoff discovery call with them, we transcribe that call. And then we give them back that transcription and we say, Look, this is what we heard from you. And this is what we’re going to base our approach on. So let’s make sure that you know, everybody’s on the same page, that we heard it correctly, that you didn’t forget to give us any information that it’s all there. So that’s where we start with and that becomes sort of our blueprint. And from there, we spend a week’s worth of research into their brand into the competition. We dig through all their social media, we dig through all their previous marketing materials. We look at their website, we look at how they’ve accomplished, you know, getting the agents that currently have today. What is what’s the gap look like between where they are now and where they want to be? How big is that gap? What is the best way to approach this based on what they currently have available to them. And then once we’ve got that, then we have our team come together, and we build out a strategy board. And that strategy board basically takes all the notes, all the research and everything we’ve done. And then from there, we start to construct an outline for what we think the messaging needs to be. We have a bunch of copywriters that we work with that are all conversion focused copywriters, so we get with them. And we start hashing out all the different assets we’re going to need based on the platforms that we’re going to be, you know, basically leveraging, so Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories, you know, LinkedIn, LinkedIn, in feed, ads in mail, etc. So we figure out what those communication channels are going to be. And that’s driven based on what we think is the best approach for the client as well as their budget because obviously, each one of these platforms requires an additional ad spend. So it has to work within their budget. From there, we build out all the messaging, and all the brand congruency. So everything, all the messaging, all the brand, everything that we’re doing is very congruent, and it all fits with one piece into another because our ultimate goal is to get this message out in such a way say that every agent in the marketplace offense essentially sees it on one of these platforms in one way, shape, or form or another. Either they visit the website, they receive an email, they see an ad. And all of that has to be congruent, it all has to work together as one big unit, as opposed to a bunch of just disconnected things that you’re just throw it out into the marketplace. From there, once we’ve got approval of everything that we’ve put together for the brokerage. And this usually includes constructing a fully functional recruiting website for them. Because a lot of times, what we find is, you look at their brand, and you look at what they’ve got, and they spend all this time energy and effort on the consumer side of things. But then they don’t really put much effort into communicating their value to the agents themselves. So there’s no destination for an agent to go to a lot of times, that has enough information for them to make an informed decision as to whether I want to come work with you or not. So we put together an entire recruiting website for them. And then that helps us drive traffic to that site so that we have control over that asset. And we can make adjustments as we see fit based on the data that comes in. Once we’ve got all the assets in place, the site is ready to go. We sit down with the client, we take them through the entire process and why we did what we did and explain the methodology and why we use the messaging that we did and why we highlighted certain features over others, etc. Once they approved that, then we loaded into all the platforms. And we begin to run the ads. And then we assign a team member who’s fully trained by us in the appointment setting scenario. So we take a person, we train them, we let them know what the objections are probably going to be how to handle those objections, what the client is comfortable with us communicating and not communicating. Sometimes they don’t want to talk about compensation, sometimes they do. So we get all that information from them upfront. And then once the leads come in, we begin to prequalify those leads, once those leads are qualified, we booked them on a calendar. And then we onboard them into this agent higher platform that we’re developing that allows them to see the all the communication that is happening with all the prospects where they are in the pipeline stages of consideration. How many people are you know, ready to move today? How many people are weeks out two weeks out three weeks out, all the messaging, all the reporting, everything is done there. And then at the end of every 30 days, we sit down with the client, we take them through all the numbers, we collect feedback from them understand exactly what’s happening with the people that they are and what are our onboarding? You know, how effective has it been? For them? Are they running into bottlenecks, we’ve had situations where we brought in so many leads to a brokerage where we kind of broke them. They were like, can’t analysts we can’t do, we can’t do this. For this, we didn’t expect this. We’ve never seen this before. So you know, we try to make sure that we have everything in place for them to be as successful as they can be working with us. And it all depends on their objectives. You know, some brokerages, they want anybody, they’ll take a license in a heartbeat, and they’re good to go. Others are very selective. They want specific production numbers, they want specific length of time in the business, etc. So one of the other real values that we bring is be creating create custom audiences off of their data that they have through proprietary systems that they’re using, as well as data that we’ve been managing and maintaining of real estate agents across the country for the better parents of you know, 17 plus years. So we take those datasets and we combine them into custom audiences. And then that’s how we’re able to effectively target the chord of the agents, specifically the way that they want to target them. Because a lot of times if you use, for instance, Facebook interest categories to target for recruiting, what you end up in a situation is is your targeting interests and interests overlap very broadly in real estate. So someone who’s interested in real estate or real estate, Zillow, or NAR or one of those interest level categories could also be a home inspector, it could be a marketing person, it could be a roofer, it could be anybody. So you end up showing your ads to a lot of the audience that don’t really have any need for what you’re selling, which drives your cost up. By creating custom audiences, we can be much more precise with the messaging and know exactly who we’re communicating with. Because we know that these are known quantities, we know that these people fit these criterias and therefore are a good fit for this brokerage, which allows us to tailor the messaging effectively based on the type of audience that we’re trying to communicate with. And then finally, at the end of all that, like I said, we set up a series of custom reports that allows them to see all the key performance indicators on the campaigns, how well they’re performing, the cost per lead cost per 1000, cost per acquisition, everything that they’re going to need to make an informed decision. And then we sit down with them and we try to collect any additional feedback from them. And sometimes from that point, they’ll Say, Hey, I want to scale this out, I want to go into another state or another county or another area, or I want to put more money into the budget. And then we can guide them effectively based on what we’re seeing with data that’s coming in. So the entire system is not only the strategic approach to it, but the execution side. And then the software platform that allows them to manage their, their entire ecosystem of ads that we’re running, and all the reporting, and all the conversations that we’re having with the agents so they can see a complete holistic view of everything that’s happening.

Jeremy Weisz  35:32  

And Robin, that’s why agencies want to just have a software company. So a lot of work, but it is, it’s very comprehensive. I know we only have a little bit of time left, but I did want to touch on so people can understand and kind of grab on to exactly what you do. You had What did you do with North

Robert Dodd  35:51  

group? Yeah, so North group was an interesting case study. So he came in through E campaign pro years ago. And he built an entire brokerage, an era brokerage using email alone, and this is probably back in 2006 2007, maybe was very successful with it. And back then, you know, email was just a different animal, there wasn’t quite as much competition, there wasn’t quite as much noise in the agent’s inboxes. So the deliverability was easier, you know, spam algorithms and things like that hadn’t really kicked into hard yet. So he was able to build a brokerage very effectively. And then he sold that brokerage and kind of retired for a little bit and, you know, just decided that he was going to come back and you know, start something new again. And he started this group called North group. So he originally came to us and said, Hey, I want to do email. And we said, Scott, love, do an email with you be great, but it’s just not the same as it was 10 years ago. Here are the limitations that you’re going to face this time around versus the last time around? No, no, no, no, I still want to do it. Like Scott and telling you there’s a better way, we’ve got this great new approach, you know, let us work. He’s like, No, I want to do email. So he did email for one or two months, we kept working him. And he really didn’t see the results that he was looking for. And he said, man, you’re right, it really didn’t work the way that I expected it to, like it did last time. What is this other approach? So we explained, you know, the agent acquisition system and what we do with it, and he’s like, Alright, let’s try it. And he was completely blown away. I mean, he started with, I don’t know, Joe, was it maybe 40, or 50 agents are in the 40 to 50, Agent range. And a lot of those people came in just because of his name recognition in the marketplace, because they knew him from his previous broker. But he was having trouble scaling that out. Right. And he was just in North Carolina. So we basically put together an entire framework for him, did all the strategy, launch the campaign, and the results were phenomenal for him, that he just kept getting more and more leads, is growing month over month over month, to the point where, you know, we started at 50, I think he’s close to settler about 700 agents. Now. He’s expanded into multiple markets in the South and North Carolina Market, and also expanded into South Carolina and Georgia, and potentially going into Florida next, because he realizes that with the way that we’ve put everything together, that it’s kind of like a predictable result that we can get into different markets, because now we know we have the messaging dialed in, we have his offer dialed in. So it’s really working well for

Jeremy Weisz  38:20  

him. Do you ever get offered or take equity? Because essentially, you’re, you know, someone’s starting with a small harm. And then you’re like, wait, we just grew this brokerage to 1000 brokers from almost scratch?

Robert Dodd  38:39  

Yeah, we don’t we don’t get equity. You know, it’s, it’s an interesting concept. We haven’t, you know, we haven’t really explored that at all. But it’s very gratifying, honestly, for us, because, you know, it’s it, it’s sort of like with you, right? You’re, you’re you’re helping, you’re helping businesses grow, you’re helping them get the word out, and you’re helping them kind of build their dream. And I feel like that’s a lot of what we’re doing. Because a lot of the brokers that we work with, this is something that they’ve either created, you know, it’s a new endeavor for them. Or maybe they’ve just been stuck for a number of years and haven’t been able to really get past the hump. And then we can come in and really help them grow their business. And that’s very gratifying. So I take great pride in our ability to get results for our clients, we take it personally, when we don’t, there’s a lot of situations where, you know, we’ve got great success stories, but there’s a few where, you know, sometimes just can’t help people. And, you know, we do our best to help, you know, help everybody, but it’s very gratifying to help someone grow their business, because if we’re helping them grow, and they’re successful than were, you know, inherently successful as a result of that as well, because they’re gonna continue with us. And you know, a lot of our clients, you know, we take great pride in the fact that they stay with us greater than 12 months in almost every case, and the average agency client lasts about three months. So you know, that’s very, very satisfying to us knowing that we’re creating true value to our brokerage clients, and that’s why they’re sticking around

Jeremy Weisz  40:05  

with us. Well, I want to be the first one to thank you. Thanks, Robert. Thanks Joe for sharing your journey sharing what you do I want to point people to To learn more, and they have some amazing resources on there you can check out especially if you’re a brokerage but if not, still, there’s a lot to learn with what you guys do, and check out more episodes of and Rise25 and want to be the first one. Thanks, guys.