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A Special Message to the CEO Community

Mary Grothe December 14 2022

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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Hey, Revenue Radio®. I'm Mary Grothe, and today I have a very special message for our CEO community as we sign off for the year. As you know, every year, we take a little break around the holidays. We close here at House of Revenue®, giving everybody a nice time off with our families, snuggling under the blankets, sleeping, and doing things we don't usually do throughout the year.

So, we're very excited about the time off and hope you are as well. We'll take a few weeks off from Revenue Radio® and pick it back up in the New Year. The message I want to leave you with is a message of encouragement. I'm going to talk to you CEO to CEO today. If you're not a CEO and you're listening to this, but you have a CEO friend, go ahead, and send them this message.

I have had a hard year. I'm not the only one. One of the biggest realizations for me is that in the last 30 days, the number of CEOs I've spoken to have also expressed that this may have been the hardest year they have faced since 2008 or 2009. What's so surprising to me is we all thought we had it hard in 2020. What's interesting about 2020 is that pivots happened very quickly.

Now, some industries hear me out. Some industries got completely shut down as restaurants and retail. I mean, that's totally different. Everybody in the supply chain. I mean, the worlds were turned upside down with that health care really, really hurt. I get that. But for the most part, I'm talking about most commercial businesses where we spend our time. So, professional services companies, technology companies.

There was a very short panic in 2020. Then, I think a lot of smart people got around the table, figured things out, and were able to pivot. Something special happened in 2020, right after the pandemic shut down. I remember sitting with a lot of our CEO clients. For those of you who don't remember the story, we had, about 60% of our clients made the decision to cancel their contract at that time. They were choosing, “Hey, we can't have this expense. Not even sure if we are going to stay in business.” 

Okay, fine. I get it. But we had nine clients that stayed, and what was so impressive about those nine is they did something that I know helped them stand apart from the competition where everyone else was pulling out for marketing spending, where everybody else was looking at laying off salespeople.

They doubled down. Not every company is able to do that when times get hard. I get it. That's one of the reasons why you should be financially responsible and have a little cushion in the bank account, not withdraw or spend all of it. Build a nice little reserve there, and have great access to capital, line of credit, or whatnot.

When COVID hit, and everybody shut down, the nine companies we had left that we served, the one commonality all had that every single one of them doubled down and increased their investments in sales and marketing. They won. They won by millions of dollars. The market share they were able to take was unbelievable. We had one of the most fun years in the history of this company.

My team is tired of listening to me talk about 2020. I'm not surprised if I show up and someone's printing me a shirt, and it's 2020, as it was my absolute favorite year for so many reasons. When I look at what happened with the pivots that our nine clients made and how open they were to our go-to-market strategies and our ideas, they really trusted us, and they just said, “What do we need to do?”

We had a phenomenal, phenomenal year. Well, it's interesting because things got good again in 2021 and early 2022. Then, inflation, war heading into midterms, interest rates, housing, and people suddenly saw this looming recession and started to panic. It hit our business, too. It was such a weird series of events because it was still coupled with this demand, war for talent, and employee resignations at an incredibly high level. Can somebody explain this to me?

We're paying more for talent than we ever have. We increased this summer by over 25% across the entire company to attract new talent. We had to go to war to compete, to attract the right talent. We also had the state bonuses, if you will.

I refuse, as a CEO, to bring someone on if they need to make more than a current team member. I immediately raise the rate of the current team member. I think that's ridiculous that you have someone on your staff today doing the work who's proven it to you, and they're loyal.

Then, you bring in somebody new, and you pay them more. No, no, no. I will never do that. I've never done that in the history of this company. I always increase the existing employees’ rate to match the person coming on board to honor them in their work. We're doing that. We're increasing, going to market at a super high level.

We're also getting people plucked because the work for Tesla is still on. Even though we're doing those things now, we're experiencing turnover. “Oh, my goodness sake. I'm getting hit from both ends.” You have inflation rising and everything going on with fears of a recession. Businesses stop spending. They slow spending across every one of our clients.

We see sales cycles elongate. We see closed rates lower. We're seeing reasons for indecision or not changing anything. They're not even choosing a competitor. They're just choosing to stay the same and not make a change. Very interesting. It all hit at the same time. I am a part of a couple of peer groups.

I'm friends with a lot of CEOs. I also get to do business development for House of Revenue®, so I'm speaking with CEOs every week and all my issues. My challenge was that everyone else I was talking to validated what was going on inside my own company. This was a hard year, a hard year.

We're in a society today where we need to put our best foot forward, go out there, and be like, “Look at me. Look at me. We're so perfect. We're so crazy. We have this great brand. We have the best people, and everyone is so happy.” You can play whatever you want on social media, but I took a different path.

I opened up on this podcast on my LinkedIn. I've just been telling people how it is. It's a risk because my prospective clients are also on LinkedIn. They're reading this and are also listening to the podcast. That's creepy. Why would I say or admit anything other than “we are amazing” to somebody who's about to invest half a million dollars for us to scale their company?

The reality is it's better to earn the relationship and be honest that we see you and get you. By the way, we just navigated this, and we were able to do a complete rebuild and turnaround in five months. Let us help you. We just earned that badge. We're better.

We're stronger. We're battle-tested. Let us help you, during this difficult economic climate, scale your company. We just figured it out, and we're growing again. Our profit is back up. This is such an incredible turnaround. My encouragement to you, CEO, do not to be discouraged going into the end of the year. Yeah, sure. A recession may happen. Things are happening right now in the market, and who knows?

I mean, it's just a mess. People are offended at an all-time high. Poor Elon. He buys Twitter, and everybody's telling him how to run his company. All these people have never run a company. We don't know. We don't know. We can agree. We can disagree. But outright slamming somebody you've never met on social media, in a situation you don't know, “Come on, people. Let's cut each other a break.”

Why are we tearing each other down? Why are we being so mean, so hateful? Why are we quick to judge, correct people, and be righteous? What happened to loving your neighbor and loving your brother? What happened to extending a hand and being kind? It doesn't cost anything to be kind. Why do we have to be so mean, and hateful and pretend we're perfect and know better because we don't?

We're broken sinners. We make mistakes, too. We wouldn't like it if someone had a magnifying glass into our lives and poked holes in the wounds. It's just so difficult season that we're in. My encouragement to you is you keep your head up. Use this time off. Use the holidays. Please rest. Unplug. I promise you the work will be there when you get back.

Take the time to shed the stress, weight of the business, unknowns, and uncertainty. Get rid of it. Create some clear space in your mind. Find yourself inside of you in your heart. Forgive yourself for your transgressions this year, for all the things you're replaying the tapes and thinking, “I could have done that better. I really screwed up. I forgive yourself.”

Find a way to love yourself for the fact that you grew this year because you dealt with adversity and challenges. Find a way to create some space so that you can recharge. Reconnect with your kids, significant other, friends, and family.

Be present. Shut down the electronics. They're also going to be there when you get back, pick up a book, and shut off Netflix. I say that, chuckling because I don't watch TV anymore. I can't get out of my smartphone most days or my laptop. Whatever the device is, whatever is pulling your distraction, whatever is numbing you, maybe it's alcohol, that used to be me. Whatever it is. Go outside to get your family. Get your kid, and go for a walk. Do something. Clear your head and create the space.

Then, remember who you are. Remember why you started in the first place. Remember how lucky you are to have that team working for you that's aligned with your vision and your mission. Maybe part of the problem is if you have stress, strife, and challenge in your business right now. Maybe you need a realignment when you come back in the new year.

Maybe you need to recast the vision and help people understand the why. My encouragement to you is to hit the reset button. Take that time. Just breathe. Forgive yourself, do some research, and do some reading. Come up with some new innovative ideas going into recession and a tough economic climate. This isn't the time to pull back and stop.

If I saw anything, it was time to double down. You know what happened with our company. I'm going to tell you, not that long ago, a few months ago, I thought I would lose it all. I looked at the cash left in the bank, and it was the lowest it's ever been in the history of this company. I don't have access to financial resources. I have a line of credit, but it wouldn't be enough to cover a month of expenses. After the shame and guilt of feeling that I made a lot of financial mistakes, I would never be in that position. I started to think tactically about what do I need to do?

I was in a reactive, stressed-out rut, trying to make a financial decision. It is a bad place to make a financial decision, don't do it.

Something miraculous happened. I got on a phone call with a strategic partner of ours. She's a strategic partner, so she can provide deal flow to us. She committed and said, “Hey, we can bring you three deals before the end of the year. We'll prepay for the year's worth of retainer, so that would inject about a million, 750 to $1,000,000 of cash into the bank account. Just like that. The funk and the weight lifted off of me.

Suddenly, I could clear up mentally and get out of that stress and emotion that anxiety triggered. Will I have enough? Will we be okay? I was able to remove that funk. Then, suddenly, I'm like, “Wait. Mary Grothe used to be the number one salesperson for a Fortune 1000 payroll and HR company.”

If anybody knows how to sell, it's you. Whether those deals come through or not. By the way, we're at the close of the year. They haven't come through, and that's okay. There's no shade to the partners. She's actively working and sourcing these deals. She's an unbelievable strategic partner for us. She's running into her own challenges for deal flow because of what's going on in the economy.

Just the thought of having that cash woke me up. I realized who I was. I'm a fantastic relationship-builder and salesperson. I know how to sell. I'm going to sell my way through this problem with good clients. The only way I can do that is to have a good product. I immediately went to staff up my team and spent just about every available dollar that we had in the bank account.

I remain prayerful and hopeful. I prayed to God and surrendered this company to Him. I told Him my heart. He knew my heart, but I explained the plans. I want to rebuild this the right way. I don't want to take on debt. I want to put my faith and hope in you that I'm going to honor you through this process. I want you to bring me the right people, the best of the best, the absolute best of the best, who will align their hearts and passion with this mission. I'm going to figure out how to get them on board. I'm going to do what I do best in that inbound funnel work, in the strategic partnerships. We're going to create deal flow.

That is exactly what happened. It happened because I took the time to reach out to somebody to ask for help. That’s how that strategic partner conversation started. I was brave enough to ask her, CEO to CEO, you help me, I need help. That's okay to say, and she did. What's so interesting is the help that I needed at the moment wasn't a cheque. It wasn't a deal.

It was to remind myself who I was and why I started. I want to give you that encouragement that if you're having a tough season and a tough go right now, remind yourself who you are and why you got started. You are a cut above if you're a CEO, entrepreneur, founder, or a guarantee. You're a risk taker. You're smart, you've identified a problem, the market you can solve, and there are few like you.

Take this as encouragement as we go into the end of the year. We were able to turn it around. We were able to pull through. It's only because I got right with myself, and I got clear. I encourage you to do the same. If you need help this season, please ask for help. For goodness sake, reach out to me.

We take a lot of time off. Reach out. I'll have a conversation with you. You send me a message on LinkedIn, or you can email info@houseofrevenue.com. If you're CEO or founder and you're in this rant, it would be an honor and privilege to share my experience with you and see if I can help you.

Enjoy unplugging. You'll have a few weeks off from Revenue Radio®, and we'll see you in the New Year. 

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