Search Interviews:

Steve Whittington 15:59

Yeah. Well, it’s really interesting. We’ve positioned ourselves in a certain way as an organization that helps people with a go-to-market function. The truth of it is, is most people don’t have a clue what the heck that means. So, maybe we have to get our marketing speak a little better, but that’s the challenge, is that they come to us looking for a 10-word answer. I need a new website. So can you give me a quote, and what does that look like? And you’re like, yeah, okay, that’s one of the pieces in your toolbox that you’re going to need.

And so when we start to ask, what is your expectations around that? What are you trying to achieve? What are some of the supports that you have in place? Do you have a sales process? This is supporting what a sales need. Is your brand in place? Do you know what your unique value prop is for your clients to have pricing on here? There’s just a ton of stuff, right? And it keeps going in different layers. And so what they quite understand is they come to us with this single need or problem or challenge.

Jeremy Weisz 15:59

Like, they know their website is not good, or it’s not like helping them accomplish their goals.

Steve Whittington 16:11

Yeah. And so we call it like, it’s like category entry points, right? They come to us in a certain thing, right and then it just opens up all the other needs that they have. The others, sometimes, though, they come to us and they just say, listen, I need leads. What do I need to do to get leads? And it’s like, well, geez, that’s pretty open-ended. Like, there’s many different ways. Like, what are we doing here? Do we have an outbound function? Do you have a sales team? Like, maybe you don’t need marketing, maybe you just need a better sales team and we do approach things strategy first, but it’s not unique, but it’s like, we are a very sales-focused agency supporting the sales process.

So we implement HubSpot, as the CRM we implement, but we do the CRM first, the sales hub first, as opposed to the marketing hub or the service hub, because I’m like, I need to get your sales team tidied up and delivering, make sure that’s tight. If you already got leads coming in and you’re pouring them into a bucket full of holes, what are we doing? Let’s get that tight first. Let’s get a hold of the band you already go and clean it up and optimize it.

Jeremy Weisz 18:18

It’s like, if someone’s going on, like a journey or something. Hey, we just need to go over. Let’s hop in the boat and go like you’re looking at. Let’s optimize this boat that we have and patch any holes so that actually we can get on course first.

Steve Whittington 18:32

Yeah, and you get that size of organization, which is incredible, in the private sector. It’s like, depending on the developed economy you’re in, but in Canada anyway, it’s like 98% or 99% of businesses are small to medium enterprises, and that’s where the large enterprises eventually come from. You got to support that group. And they’re just, they’re struggling. They got a great idea, but they’re not, they’re either not sales professionals, they’re not marketing professionals, or they don’t have the organizational ability to, like, the capacity to organize their organization with a whole client journey, and all the way through delivery. But that’s what they need. And so we form this group to do that, to put them through that entire process so they come to us with an immediate pain point, and we immediately start to build out all the different needs that they need.

Jeremy Weisz 19:27

Steve, what size clients do you typically work with?

Steve Whittington 19:32

Well, generally, we find the clients that we have the most success with are their revenues. And again, it depends on sector. But like, if you’re a professional service organization, $2 million in revenue is larger than a somebody that sells goods with a margin, right? So? But yeah, it’s about $2.5 to $25 million tends to be the group that most of our clients fall into that size, although we do have one’s bigger, and we have one smaller.

Jeremy Weisz 20:02

You talk about, there’s a lot of things that have to happen. Someone’s like, oh, I want leads. I want a website. You even go back to thinking about product market fit for that, and maybe talk about BoomBright Media journey, because you eat your own dog food, and start there and how that was incubated.

Steve Whittington 20:23

Yeah, years ago, now, people in my network had a business idea, and I said, okay, well, if we’re going to be a startup, what we need to do is we, we have to follow this process. So first we need to determine if we have product market fit. And so to do that, we needed to get the product, get the pricing, get the service requirements, and go to market and get some trials and get some stuff into the marketplace. So over the course of 24 months, we did a few projects without really any marketing, just off the side of our desk, determining if there is product market fit for what we see in the marketplace, and a ton of research as well looking at that kind of stuff.

So, and the original company was a placeholder name called Votech Media, so we had that in place. We determined product market fit, built out a business plan, then determined the funding requirements that we needed. So how much capital do we need to get this? Need to get this thing going right? So then went, got some investment dollars, partly through self-funding and outside investors and then taking our own medicine. Well, what do you do? Well, first you get your brand in place. So that’s where the name BoomBright comes. So we created a brand. We created all the go to market tools, CRM, website, demand generation campaigns, and again, firing bullets instead of cannonballs, we captured intent in the market, and then started to specialize with different types of demand generation campaigns, and then continue to build out the sales process to the point now where full time, salesperson, all that kind of stuff is occurring.

And we launched this just recently, June of 2023, so it’s a brand-new launch. The company’s been around for a while, but we took a lot of time to get to that point so we could have a successful launch, and gosh darn it, in six months with $1.6 million in pipeline volume. So pretty happy with where we got in such a short time. But we didn’t get lucky. We were prepared for luck. And there is, we are lucky in the fact that the market is responding, as per our research, as per our initial probes in the marketplace with product market fit. So it’s nice that it’s being proven out after you did, there’s always some risk, right? But we went about it in a step process, instead of having to go back and now develop a brand. So we had a strategy session before we launched the brand, and we have all that in place.

So we’re executing upon a plan, which includes creating your foundations, first, having your brand foundation in place, having all your different strategic narrative in place, knowing what your unique value proposition is, having a website that converts and demand generation campaign, sales, talking, track, CRM, all that stuff ready to go. So when you hit the marketplace, you are showing up as an organization that is not scrambling, but very sophisticated and is able to meet the needs of the marketplace.

Jeremy Weisz 23:27

Steve, I know a lot of times with startups, what they start doing is not always what they end up doing, because the market is asking things or giving changes. Talk about BoomBright. It maybe is the same, but what the initial idea versus what’s it doing now?

Steve Whittington 23:45

Yeah, so there’s been pivots, for sure. That’s why we trialed some products into the marketplace, and it was kind of a flip. We felt like one product line would be much, much more better received, and it’d be a bigger portion of our revenues than another product line. And it’s been a complete flip. So, we had both product lines available, it just, we totally read it wrong, and we got out. That’s what you get in the market. Let the market decide, right?

So we were prepared for both, but we had totally didn’t anticipate it to go that way. And some things have been harder than we thought, like way harder than we thought. And that’s fine. Some things we thought would be easy have been hard. Some things we thought would be hard have been easy. So there’s been a bit of that, but yeah, that’s why you did that initial phase…

Jeremy Weisz 24:45

What was the flip? You said there was initially…

Steve Whittington 24:49

We felt that projection would be far more of our business than basically the physical, hard LED wall. Walls. So that was something that we…

Jeremy Weisz 25:06

As you can see here, right? So, like, if you’re there is the audio version, but there is a video version, we’re actually looking at this. So this is the LED version that you’re talking about here. That’s an LED wall. Yep, LED wall. Gotcha. Yeah, it’s cool looking.

Steve Whittington 25:22

Yeah. So the other thing is that we didn’t realize that we’d be getting into design thinking as fast as it happens. So we did anticipate that need in the marketplace, but we didn’t realize how much it was needed and how much clients are asking for it. So, yeah, there’s been a number of pivots, but I mean, at the end of the day, we had everything on the bullseye, just certain things moved closer to the center and outside and that kind of stuff. So, but there was a ton of research that went into it. So, yeah.

Jeremy Weisz 25:59

Talk about the mistakes in the sales process. A lot of times you are going in and really, you and your team are dissecting and looking at the sales process for these companies that you’re helping because if something’s leaking, well, you want to pour more stuff into it. So what are some major mistakes that you find that are common, that people are making in their sales process?

Steve Whittington 26:22

Yeah, so first, not having one, let’s be clear, most companies think they have a sales process and they don’t. And then, at best, they might have stages, but they haven’t thought through all the different requirements in those stages. Like, how do you enter it? What’s the description of it, what are the requirements, and how do you get out of it? So they haven’t thought through that stuff, then they haven’t created automation to create accountability for their sales process.

So that’s a big thing, so things just don’t get followed up with, things don’t get responded to, and they don’t have all the requirements that needed. They’ve undervalued the impact of playbooks, making sure that consistent questions, consistent process, happens in every single stage. And then forecasting is the next big thing. They don’t have the effective tools to forecasting because they haven’t done the work. They haven’t asked the right questions.

They don’t have that type of ability in their sales process, to provide them with information to forecast, like when a deal is going to close and that sort of thing they’re not doing, like account-based forecasting with their team, like how much they’re going to get for annual revenues from this account and that stuff. So, yeah, those are some big things. So lack of process, not having automation in the process, not having depth in the process, different supports in it, like playbooks, and just not utilizing standardization, right?

And then having this whole process that you look at and then you continually optimize and improve, right. And the last thing I got to say is that, man, if you’re not infusing AI into your sales process now you’re behind, like, it saves me five to 10 hours a week in our personal selling for my businesses, because it’s just, it’s like another salesperson for me.

Jeremy Weisz 26:43

How are you using AI?

Steve Whittington 28:12

So I do a lot of discovery meetings, so one of the big savers for me is, obviously AI is recording the meetings, and so it takes notes for me, and then with the follow-ups. So then automation, that way, I’m using AI to profile people so I understand what’s important to them. I’m using it to analyze the outcome of the call, so I can see some of the influencers on the call. So I can call somebody back, like a VP, and I say, well, geez, how did your sales team do on that call when I say demo CRM? They’re like, Yeah, some of us were interested. I’m like, well, Bob was really interested.

He’s like, yeah, no, Bob was really interested. And I’m like, Look, do you know how I know that? Like, no, I’m like, well, I have it all profiled. I can see who had the highest engagement. And they’re like, Well, that makes sense, because he really wants a CRM. I’m like, okay, well, let’s, let’s talk with Bob. Let’s get him to be a supporter, a star, to help make this project, happen. Because you get him on side, and then you can bring others on side, right? So, like you, you think, Well, geez, that’s a little thing, just a little thing, having that insight. But, man, it makes a big difference having those, like, just, it’s like that 1% equals, like, 15% closer to the close.

Jeremy Weisz 29:35

Well, it’s also kind of, I mean, to someone, I guess the analogy I use is like magic, right? Conceals, like a magic trick sometimes for people, and it’s impressive, like, oh, how’d you know that? Right? Even though, obviously the magician knows how they did the trick, but other people don’t.

Steve Whittington 29:54

Yeah, and I mean, I talk to chatGPT at night all the time, like, I have her own spun-up GPT. And I take my sales plan, I run my sales plan through it, let ChatGPT tell me what I should be focusing on. I can take conversations say, hey, this is what I think is important. What do you think is important? I use it in a number of ways to help extract insights. And again, what I will say is that this isn’t just saving me time. This has given me stuff that I either overlooked, so like, my focus when I know the notes are being taken. Now I can focus on the conversation, and then I get extractions from that that I would have potentially overlooked, but I’m more engaged in the sales process as a result the fact that I’m not taking notes for the follow-up conversations.

Jeremy Weisz 30:39

What are some from a tech stack perspective, some of your favorite tools. I know you mentioned HubSpot. What are some other ones that you like?

Steve Whittington 30:49

So from the sales for a sales tech stack, Zoom, HubSpot, obviously your email provider, which could be Gmail, Outlook, whatever, right? Sybil for note taking HumanIK AI for profiling, ChatGPT is in there. And then, of course, Sales Navigator or LinkedIn.

Jeremy Weisz 31:09

Love it. Thanks for sharing that super helpful. And I could see how see if one of those pieces of the sales process is missing. It doesn’t work sometimes, like you mentioned follow up, for instance, like, it’s probably very rare where someone’s like, yeah, let’s do this after the first conversation. It takes time to for people to do that. So I love how you kind of broke those things down, because if one of them’s missing, the rest sometimes doesn’t work.

I’d love to talk through an example, and maybe eco. I’m not sure if ecopoxy or CLS is better, but I’ll let you choose. You mentioned something before we hit record, which I thought was a great quotable moment, so I’m just going to repeat it. You said, we drive initiatives, not projects, right? That’s a great quote. I love that. So which one just share the journey and what you did with I don’t know either sky and table or CLS.

Steve Whittington 32:13

I’ll pick sky and table. Great, great organization. Great, great folks. So sky and table has continued to evolve. Their business has continued to evolve. They’re very successful entrepreneurial leadership team and they got into different types of businesses over the years, and what they needed to do was consolidate their businesses under a new brand, which is sky and table, and get clarity on that, and get clarity on where they needed to play. So what businesses lines that they started to expand into that they needed to sort of maybe come back to the center.

So they worked with Roadmap in a business coaching engagement, in helping them with their go to market and helping them with website brand development. CRM implementation is essentially the full gambit of services, SEO, SEM all that stuff and it’s been a wonderful journey that we’ve been driving the initiative of developing this business in such a way that it’s a more well, it’s got an umbrella brand now, which is sky and table. It’s got clarity on its business lines. It’s got strategic plans in place. And I can’t say everything, but, I mean, we’ve got this plan the CEO and us about where we’re going with the executive team, and we’re driving all these different initiatives are leaning to that master plan, which is literally, five to 10 years off in the future. We’re thinking that far ahead.

And these are all pieces of the puzzle to get there. So, for instance, three years ago, it was identified that we needed to do the rebrand, but we waited for the proper time to be ready as an organization to do that. So we’ve been working with them, driving these different strategic initiatives, but we had a bunch of other things that were higher priority to tidy up first. So like, hey, the sales team did not have a CRM. Let’s get that in place. We don’t have control over the different ads that we’re running. Our agency of record is moving away. We need to get that tidied up. What should we do with this business line? It’s losing money, so let’s dump that. Let’s get that cleaned up, right?

So, then it came around to, now it’s time to look at the brand and so then it was rebranded, and legacy brands were protected and connected. And, yeah, they just keep moving up into the right great, great organization. But they’re taking the time to put the foundations in place and march it out right, and we’re here beside them.

Jeremy Weisz 34:51

How did you get into this agency world?

Steve Whittington 34:57

Well, it goes back. Back to the 90s. So I was kid in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and got a bunch of venture capital money. So before Dragon’s Den, there’s a show on CBC called Venture. And interesting stat is that anybody who’s on venture without a business, and was different.

Jeremy Weisz 35:21

That was pre-Dragons Den.

Steve Whittington 35:24

Yeah, there wasn’t a panel back then, but, yeah, that show doesn’t exist anymore, but that was, I think, the incubator for Dragons Den. They needed a more successful reality TV format. I was more of a journalistic format, journalism format back then, anyway. So being a dotcom kid, and crash and burn, I got picked up by a web development agency and basically went around selling websites in 2000 and anybody would buy a website from somebody that was a dotcom kid. So it was easy, easy peasy, right?

Jeremy Weisz 35:58

I would think they’d be like, Steve, what do I need a website for at that time, right? I don’t know if you were getting,,,

Steve Whittington 36:03

There was a lot of that, but at the same time, I had cachet from being a dotcom kid, right? So it worked out, you must be right. He knows what he’s talking about. Yeah, even though I didn’t have a hot clue, so I didn’t know what their business needed. I figured it out on the fly, right? But yeah, so I was in the agency world then, but I had known that my path was such that I was either going to be an entrepreneur again or become a corporate executive. So I got picked up by one of the clients to move into a corporate executive, and then did that for 25 years, but kept investing in businesses and some small agencies along the way, and just wanted to get back into this lifestyle, because I saw a need, and I ironically feel like owning your own business is a better Work life balance than being an executive.

Jeremy Weisz 37:03

So what did you learn about leadership being a corporate executive? Because it feels like maybe there’s more formal training there than just launching into your own company.

Steve Whittington 37:16

Yeah. I mean, I was with bigger, mid-sized, family-owned businesses. So there’s a ton of emotional intelligence that comes with leadership. And you do a lot like that, servant leadership style things, which is nothing new, right? But that concept of being 100% responsible. So, as a leader, you’re responsible for driving results, but you have to be responsible for how you’re impacting the team that you’re leading. So it’s not just about getting the result. It’s about how you make other people feel along the way to get the results. So, yeah, it really was that concept of 100% responsibility really sat home with me, because at the beginning of my career, I just was hard driving to get the results.

Didn’t care about the toes I stepped on, or noses I broke along the way. And I was lucky. I got coached by a lot of people. And like some of the senior leaders said, we love your drive, we love what you do, but man, you’re making no friends. And so they took the time to put me aside, to help me focus on relationships. And so that’s one of the biggest things I got out of the corporate leadership world was, ironically, was at least the organizations I was part of really, really made it an emphasis to focus on relationships, and then together as a team, you’ll get the results you’re looking for.

Jeremy Weisz 38:54

Are you like a hockey defenseman, enforcer? Is that how you play?

Steve Whittington 38:58

I play defense in hockey.

Jeremy Weisz 38:59

Okay, yeah, got it. First of all, Steve, thanks for sharing. I have one last question. Thanks for sharing your journey, your lessons. I want to encourage people to check out to learn more. My last question is just some of your favorite resources. It could be favorite business books. It could be mentors that you’ve had, what are some of your favorite when you think of business resources over the years?

Steve Whittington 39:29

Oh, if we’re at my home, you’d see there’d be a two story bookshelf behind me with a catwalk. So I love reading. So I have a lot, and I even have some in my office here behind me. I’ve written a book called Thriving InThe Customer Age. I did that. It was a kind of a prescriptive one-on-one for marketing metrics back in 2019, I guess, nice. Any rate, the business books that have the biggest impact on me. And I’ll go with books Good to Great, Jim Collins classic lessons there constantly, extract, like HubSpot uses the flywheel concept, Scaling Up and Traction, you’ve got Scaling Up.

And then you go to us, from Traction, fantastic, fantastic books, from strategy, Playing To Win. These are all just frameworks that I feel that we utilize and we implement for our clients, and Scaling Up is like drinking from a fire hose. They reference so many other business philosophies and books in that that you really have to be fairly well-read to extract good value out of Scaling Up. And therefore Traction actually is a little bit references Scaling Up, but is perhaps an easier read and a little bit more of an easier system. But either those two ones are very impactful.

My book Scaling Up, I pick it up and it falls apart, and these are all required reading for people in agency, you have to read Playing To Win. You have to read Traction so that we’re all talking the same language. And I got to say, the other thing that’s been impactful for me is just engaging with other thought leaders on LinkedIn. You can learn so much if you actually interact and engage and ask questions and just be out there and be open to new ideas.

Jeremy Weisz 41:29

Love it. And if you’re looking at the video right now, you can see here is Thriving In The Customer Age: Eight Key Metrics To Transform Your Business Results. And this is Steve’s book here, I encourage people, they can check out the interview I did with Gino Wickman, who’s the author of Traction, also with Vern Harnish, who’s the author of Scaling Up. So check those episodes out, and many, many more. And check out and I’m gonna be the first one, Steve to thank you. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and we’ll save our next time. Thanks, Steve.

Steve Whittington 42:03

Bye for now.