Meet Host, Mary Grothe
Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions and breaking multiple records, formed House of Revenue®, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders who currently lead the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 10 companies nationwide. In the past year, they've helped multiple 2nd stage growth companies between $5M - $20M, on average, double their MRR within 10 months, resulting in an average ROI of 1,454% and an average annual revenue growth eclipsing $3.2 million.
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Welcome to the House of Revenue®. I'm Mary Grothe, Founder, and CEO. I love scaling companies to their first 5 million, then 10, 15, and 20. If you've reached a revenue plateau, and aren't sure how to get past it, you're in the right place. Listen in as we interview CEOs and solve their most pressing revenue challenges. If you want to be on our show or want to learn more, connect with us at houseofrevenue.com.
[Expresses excitement and disbelief.]
Man, here we are. I can't believe this. I'm back on the radio. This is something that I used to do a few years back in my former life. I was doing my 2021 goal setting and said what's missing from my life that I love so much, and I realized that one of my favorite times in my life was when I was on-air and had a radio show back in 2012. I said, what's keeping me from doing this again. I love talking. In fact, I like to make jokes that I can't believe people get paid in this world, especially me, to speak and build a profession from it. I'm honored to be here with all of you, and it's my commitment that I will give you the best advice week over week over week over week on how to scale your company.
You're probably wondering who I am. So let me give you a bit of that background. I started at age 22 without a degree or any professional experience with a Fortune 1000 company called Paychex, a payroll and HR company. I joined the mid-market team, the sales team, as a district sales assistant, meaning I was glorified admin for eight people. I quickly learned the profession of sales. I remember about 30 days into the job. One of my responsibilities was to help the sales manager file commission reports. I saw what salespeople made and thought, "oh my gosh," some of these reps are making in a month what I make in an entire year. I went to my sales manager. He happened to be the number one sales manager in the country. I said, "What do I do? How do I get into this profession?" He helped me create a development plan and also paid for me to take some Dale Carnegie classes. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Brian Tracy's psychology of selling cassette tapes, series 11 cassette tapes to be exact, over and over and over again in my Dodge Durango while I was driving into the office each day, and that built a foundation for me.
I accepted a mid-market B2B SaaS and service sales role with the company at 24 years old. This was in 2008. The economy was starting to shift, and that's when I started my sales career. I'm so thankful. I actually started a sales career when everything was taken. I learned in a difficult era, which set the stage for me and my career moving forward. But I did well in the first 30 days. I became the top rep, and that year, I finished number one. My quota was 150,000, and I sold 758,000, more than numbers two and three combined. They cut my territory in half, doubled my quota. They asked me to train reps and managers across the country. In my second year, I sold 850,000. I had the time of my life training, mentoring, and coaching sales reps and managers. I got to work with the VP of sales of a then $300 million division. He said, how do we replicate this success? I want other salespeople selling at this level. That was my first opportunity to build a playbook, to think strategically on how to scale a sales organization. I thoroughly enjoyed the work. I left that company in 2011 and took an equity position in one of my client's companies. They were doing a $125,000 in annual revenue. I went in as VP of Sales and Marketing. I was able to help quadruple the size of the company in just seven months. At that time, I realized, all right, I have a new passion for scaling companies.
I had a thrill working with a small company as a startup and that entrepreneurial mindset. So, I started my first consulting firm, Butterfly Creative. In three years, I helped 36 entrepreneurs and startups scale their companies. Many of them were beginning just envision stage. Some had been operating for a year or two but were just not able to turn a profit. It was exciting. I loved the work. It was also exhausting. I went back to the payroll company for three more years, sold millions, met my now-husband, bought a house, had a baby, took a six-figure commission check, and started my second company. We just celebrated three years. I named the company Sales BQ®, BQ being the Behavioral Quotient. When we started out, I wanted to solve this sales challenge for businesses that had reached their first million in revenue but were struggling a lot of times at a million. You see a CEO who is still doing sales and wants to get out of doing sales. Also, historically that company has typically grown through word of mouth and referrals. At some point, if you want to scale past a million or even past that 2 million or three, you've got to get the executive out of a business development role. I was passionate about the work.
At the end of 2017, I started Sales BQ®, and we started scaling sales departments. Actually, some of them we weren't even scaling. We're just building them from the ground up and establishing them. We did that for 18 months. My team grew, and we had about seven or eight people, 18 months in, and I wasn't happy with the results we were getting. I just felt like the sales teams could do so much more. But let me explain to you what was happening. This is a common challenge for CEOs who are plateaued in their revenue growth and can't figure out how to scale. They kept trying to hire the sales unicorn. The problem is, the sales unicorn doesn't exist. I like to refer to the sales unicorn as the salesperson of yesteryear. This salesperson started selling without much help from the internet, computers, technology, automation, social media. They had a notebook and a call list written down on paper. Maybe they even had just a phone book, or they were walking door to door. Regardless. This person had to build their own prospect database, their own lead list. They had to network. They had to create every opportunity the company was not investing in marketing, automation technology, or just didn't exist yet.
The salesperson of yesteryear had to figure it out and be highly resourceful. Those salespeople have aged out of the workforce. They've adapted to what many organizations now supply: a tremendous inbound lead funnel, technology, and automation to take manual work that should be automated off their plate. But why are there still so many CEOs out there? Thank you. It's job security for us. Truly we love that their hiring strategy and their strategy to solve their revenue problems. I mean, we see this at 1 million in revenue. We see it at 5 million in revenue. In January 2020, we took on a client at 15 million in revenue and had no established marketing at all. They're employing salespeople with a base salary of six figures and above. The biggest challenge they had was net new business. They were asking a team of salespeople, very talented, wonderful salespeople, hardworking, articulate, knowledgeable, professional masterful in the sales conversation, deplorable, and prospecting.
Prospecting is the Achilles heel of the majority of sales organizations being full. There's this thing called inbound marketing and BDRs and SDRs and wait. That's a business development rep and a sales development rep ways to automate your top-of-funnel strategy to create opportunities, qualified, warm sales conversations so that your expensive, talented sales team can just show up to a calendar full of qualified sales meetings. How much greater would your success be if you had that on a lot of companies do the ones we work with don't it's sharp gain to me, or it was shocking to me, 18 months in, I felt like our team poured everything into a bill of these sales organizations, the best infrastructure, the best sales playbook process methodology. We were managing training them. I'm not a huge fan of Bootcamp-type training. I don't think people learn when you cram them in a classroom for two days. Well, there's no cramming in any classrooms right now with COVID, even virtually. You can't sit somebody down and expect them to learn more than three hours. Yet so many sales training programs out there. Join us for two days and all intensive Bootcamp for $2,500. It's cool. I'm going to spend that, times ten for my sales team to retain 7% and then not do anything different.
It sounds like a great investment, but CEOs' second most common mistake when getting past a revenue plateau is investing in sales training. Then, some people come back, and it's cool for a minute. They say, "Oh, I learned this. Oh, I'm going to do this differently." Then they realized that it's actually uncomfortable and difficult to do something new. And they just revert back to what they've always done. Your sales don't grow except for maybe one special salesperson on your team that is completely invested and an advocate for learning and leveling up. You might see an improvement there, but that's probably one out of 10. If not one out of a hundred. In some sales organizations, that doesn't work. So here we are, 18 months ago, we're investing, alongside our CEOs and the talent, developing their sales teams. We're doing immersion-style training, which is you learn a little bit. Then you practice, practice, practice, practice until it's showing improvement.
Then, you learn the next piece - practice, practice what we were doing in sales coaching. Meaning in their sales meetings, like what better, you know, a salesperson that does well in the classroom. Then they go to execute what you taught them, and they either don't do it, they do it terribly, and then they don't want to do it anymore. We were there or alongside them in the field in sales meetings, working, pre-call planning in the meeting with them, and helping them in the meeting debriefing afterward. We saw a significant increase in sales performance. It was absolutely beautiful and just confidence in the salespeople. I'm passionate about that work. That's my background, right? Unfortunately, we weren't getting the companies to the level that I knew they were capable of a year and a half ago. We decided to do something about it. We doubled the size of our company, and I brought on extremely talented marketers. The piece of marketing, SEO, content specialist, graphic design, social media, paid media content, writing blogs, everything website, people who can do branding, revitalize Brian's refresh rebrand completely. We realized that is the key to success for scaling a company.
I started with one exercise that I think a lot of CEO's maybe did one time a while ago when they started their company is to figure, Ooh, we'll buy their product or service, why they will buy their product or service and how much are they willing to invest or spend on that product and service. And lastly, what problem does it solve for them? Then lastly, how does it compare with what else is available in the market? We realized by starting with this exercise and getting the CEOs back to what they do, what they sell, and what problem it solves. Many of them had plateaued because of a lack of innovation. They were selling a product or service that solved a problem in the market five years ago. Look around what has changed if you're not sitting down with your executive team right now, you've missed the mark completely.
The buying landscape had completely changed in 2020. The way people work has completely changed the mindset of your buyer based on the industry that they're in. The role within that industry so much has changed. If you're not iterating, innovating, and aligning your product or service with the problems of today's buyer, not using the same statement you had five years ago, even last year, it's probably outdated. You have to start there. Who is your buyer? We use the term ICP, ideal client profile. Who's the buyer? That's the buyer persona of the ideal client profile. So bear with me here, high level, ideal client profiles. Let's say it's a manufacturing company that does dry goods in the Midwest, and they employ 250 people. That's a great high-level ICP. You can dig up a little bit further into that ideal client profile.
Let's say they have a proprietary homegrown ERP system. That's a good one. Maybe cell technology or service could be about the labor force. It could be about systems, processes, infrastructure, but move on. Look at the buyers of that. We've noticed that companies make buying decisions now, not like they used to. They used to be executive-level driven. You'd have to search for that decision-maker. A lot of sales coaching would be, "Well, did you meet with the decision-maker?" or "Were you meeting with the end-user? Well, that's why you didn't get the deal." Now we see that people buy in teams, especially in the mid-market, upmarket, and enterprise. They have influencers, they have end-users, they have power users. They have passive users. They have department heads, managers, the executive buyer who's making, who's actually signing. You have a financial buyer. There are so many people on the buying team. You need to identify each of those as a buyer persona. What's their role? What do they care about? What is their day in life? What are the pains and problems they're currently experiencing? Because they don't yet have you, CEOs need to redo their messaging to align with today's buyers.
One of the biggest gaps we see when we work with a company is that their messaging is about features, benefits, and advantages. It's products, it's bells, whistles, it's whatever, but it's not a series of problems statements. You have to emotionally connect with your buyer. Here's how the buyer has changed in 2020. It is a little more difficult. You can't cold call. You're not dropping in the door to door. A lot of people are working from home. They may be CRO, but they're also a parent and have to homeschool their kids right now. Who knows what's happening in people's lives? Maybe a family member's ill they're quarantining. The landscape's changed. Today's buyer is not well. Also, in the certainty in the economy, we're noticing a shift that people are hoarding cash and being conservative. They don't know what's going to happen here in the next few months. They're not readily taking sales meetings like they were in 2019 when everything was amazing, everyone had a ton of cash, and they were performing well. They're like, "Hey, little risk. You know, we did well this year. Let's go make an investment. Let's buy this." It's not the landscape right now.
Today's buyer is when they identify it in the awareness stage, the buyer has three stages of their buying process. That's awareness, consideration, and decision. As a CEO, it is your responsibility to build a revenue ecosystem that can intersect your brand message, what you do, and the pains problems that you solve with your ideal buyer when they enter the awareness stage. What does that mean? When they enter the awareness stage, they're asking their peers, getting referrals, talking to friends, being on the internet, searching in Google for not necessarily your product or service by name. They might be searching by a long-tail key phrase, searching in a long question about how to solve a problem. How do I update my HR policies for 2021? What's a template I can use? They're looking from a do-it-yourself, a DIY perspective. You have to update the website. You have to update your content strategy, your lead magnets, your calls to action. What you're putting out on the internet and your nurture strategy to show Google that you're an expert in this area and can assist today's buyers with their problems. That's how you start capturing and awareness.
You need to make sure your social media is communicating with your ideal buyer in the language that will resonate with them. Talking about things that resonate with them. You need to get away from social media posts. Being all about "hi, we're welcoming a new team member. Hi, we wrote a blog. Here's some blogging amplification. Hi, we participated in the Alzheimer's walk." You need to put out very powerful, meaningful communication that you can intercept with your ideal buyer. Something that resonates with them. Like, "Hey, I have that problem. Hey, you know, I was just thinking about that. You know, my CFO actually just dropped this on my to-do list and asked me to investigate this." How are you intercepting with the buyer? Marketing has to come first, then through various methods.
We're a HubSpot agency partner through various methods. We started building inbound marketing funnels, heavy reliance on digital and SEO for our clients. When we built those, I just checked in with one of my VPs of Marketing yesterday in the morning. He said, "Hey, we may have created a problem." Like what? We've generated 34 MQLs, which stands for Marketing Qualified Leads for the sales team are 15 days into the month. Oh my gosh, this is unbelievable. [feeling of delight.] I mean, this company's never had inbound marketing. They've never had marketing leads. They're out in Minnesota, and they just never invested in a marketing department before. They've always relied on the sales unicorn to go hunt and figure out how to build their own lead lists and all their emails manually and go and do that. So, to see that come through is pretty remarkable. With that, we can take the inbound funnel, and then we focus on the sales team, perfecting their process, being pristine. This is mapping out every single step and behavior. That's what BQ stands for Behavioral Quotient and how they're aligning with that buyer through the funnel. Then when you close that deal, it doesn't end there. What are you doing from a client experience standpoint? How do you get this client onboarded seamlessly get them through implementation? What are you doing to be responsible for revenue, expansion, referrals, upsell, cross-sell, and, if you have to, offboarding?
The client experience is key, and we discovered that, too. Eighteen months ago, we doubled down. We grow on marketing. We start building these unbelievable inbound funnels and train the sales team to be remarkable in their engagement. Close rates, increasing substantially year over year sales, increasing substantially. Then, we didn't want our clients to experience that bottleneck because now we're loading up the new client onboarding team and implementing and customer success operations. We had to see it through all the way through the life cycle of this customer. And that is a revenue ecosystem that will get you past the initial revenue plateau. And my encouragement for you is if you are a CEO who has plateaued and you've put together your 2021 planning, this is common. We have arbitrary growth numbers. Sometimes we walk into companies. They say, well, we just want to grow year over year, 10%. Great. Okay. Where'd that number come from? Well, I don't know, 6% last year and we wanted to grow more. So, we said 10. I'm like, well, back into the number for me. What is that growth going to cost you? How do you set that up? They can't show anything. Well, that's not good. You can't grow on hope and a prayer. There has to be well, I mean, maybe you can, dear Lord, please help me. We need more sales.
Not saying that's a bad strategy, but if you want it to be more data-driven, you have to plan to get there. So ultimately, today's show is for you to get to know me. I hope you've enjoyed this time. This is the crazy thing about radio. I wish I was sitting down with you, having a coffee, and getting to know you. I encourage you to continue listening weekly here and connect with us and reach out to us. Something remarkable happened when the pandemic shutdown happened in March 2020, and we lost 60% of our revenue in three days. Boy, was it scary? I just felt like everything we had built over two and a half years came crashing down. We had clients just jumping ship. They had no idea what was going to happen in their own businesses. It was a very scary time for me. I realized at that moment that what we had built on a strong foundation, what we had built on the rock, was still left standing, and we rebuilt. From March to October, we had the most powerful six months where we were able to put our heads down, get focused, do something innovative, different, and remarkable for our clients. During that time, we 2Xed, half of our clients on their revenue, 2X in a pandemic year.
The innovation that came from my team, the creativity, the new way of complex problem solving were absolutely remarkable. I have never seen it before. We decided in October 2020 that we needed a new name. Sales BQ wasn't going to cut it anymore. We rebranded as House of Revenue®. Here's what we believe as a CEO, your revenue ecosystem should be built on an unshakable foundation, meaning you should be able to weather any storm.
Additionally, sales, marketing, and customer success should live in the same house, working together, aligned on one holistic revenue strategy, not silo, not sales. Go do this marketing. Go do this. No. Together holistic working in harmony.
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Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're interested in being on our show or want to learn more about how we can help you scale your company, connect with us at houseofrevenue.com or with me Mary Grothe spelled G-R-O-T-H-E on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.
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