Chris Mechanic is the CEO and Co-Founder at @WebMechanix. Chris was recently selected as a finalist by Ernst & Young for their Entrepreneur of the Year award.
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Chris and and his partner (Arsham Mirshah) started WebMechanix in the basement of the family home in 2009. They have grown Webmechanix into a prominent digital agency in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Highlights from the podcast:
1. Add a zero to your price. People will pay more than you think.
2. Serve people instead of selling to them.
3. Making guarantees, When you take a risk the rewards are huge
4. Focus on what distinguishes you from others.
5. Speaking the same language, use the same metrics for sales to the marketing.
6. Focus. Limit the number of initiatives that you take on to one or two at a time.
Connect with Chris
Here’s a transcription to the podcast:
Umar: Are you ready to become awesomer?. Hi everyone this is Umar Hamid and welcome to the No Limits Selling podcast where sales leaders share their insights and ideas on how to make us better stronger faster and today I’m privileged to have Chris mechanic here the C.E.O. of Web Mechanics Chris welcome to the program.
Chris: Thank you Umar really excited to be here.
Umar: So Chris in ninety seconds tell us who you are and what you do.
Chris: Sure! Yes I’m co-founder and C.E.O. Web Mechanics. Web Mechanics is a performance based marketing and advertising firm. I like to say we basically help our clients get the phones ringing and the cash registers dinging. So, we do online advertising on Facebook, Google ads, we do a lot of analytics a lot of testing of different landing pages and things like that. In a prior world, I was self-employed as an Internet entrepreneur.
Chris: And I was recruited into the agency space and once I saw you know things were being done I say hey let’s give it a shot let’s (00:57inaudible)
Umar: I can do a better!
Chris: I can do a better. Exactly!
Umar: That is awesome.
Chris: Classic story right?
Umar: So we’re going to dig deeper into what you guys did because at… from one point of view it looks pretty, pretty easy and the reality is its frickin hard. It’s like voodoo to figure out what people are thinking out there, on the other side of the ad, to get them to take action.
Umar:..that you want other than ignore.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. I mean the messaging pieces like you know can be voodoo, but also just the technicalities of the platforms themselves these days.
Umar: Yes !
Chris: Like the Facebook advertising platform has fast become pretty much the world’s most complex self-service advertising system. There are so many bells and whistles and little pitfalls. Same with Google Ad Words. Same Google Analytics really, but of course they’re doing they’re made by Google and Facebook and an army of the smartest engineers that you’ve ever met and it’s literally just designed to make you spend money.
Chris: So, if you don’t know what you’re doing on the technical side of the bag end…It’s just like… that’s sort of the Ying and Yang thing that I like which is like you know the ad copy in the messaging as the Yang and then the…
Umar: So then the art and the science.
Chris: Exactly, exactly.
Umar: Brilliant! So Chris, who is your favorite superhero and why?
Chris: Favorite superhero. You know ,I got to go Superman and I got to go Superman I know it’s a boring answer but Superman is… he’s a Superman he’s got his girl, you’ve got Lois Lane, he’s got his day job and then he just …he’s got his suit under there and he just goes flying and he can cut through stuff…
Umar: But just remember he does not have a girl. Well, unrequited love (02:33inaudible) at its worst. So what motivates you? What gets you up in the morning? What gets you to execute? Like today is a holiday and you came in to promote your business and have a conversation with me. So what motivates you?
Chris: It’s… I mean I’m just going to be honest everybody always talks about these things. It’s the dollar baby. I need that dollar just like you and everybody else. No, but seriously umm so I am obviously motivated by money. I think most sales people are umm, but what’s really gratifying, surprisingly gratifying and growing Web Mechanics is seeing people come into the organization very green very new employees
Umar: So employees
Chris: Employees. Yea, not knowing anything and oftentimes having difficulty getting any jobs. They graduated with marketing or business degree or whatever, but within a year, two years, three years recruiters are banging down their door and they’re all of a sudden very, very good umm just you know having learned through here. So, seeing people grow and progress, and you know, you know go from kind of zero to hero almost is very gratifying to me.
Umar: Ah, that’s nice. And that’s a good sign of leadership because ultimately it’s how do we get people to go beyond their limitations…
Umar:..and reach their potential
Chris: That’s right.
Umar: So who’s your mentor?
Chris: You know I’ve been fortunate enough to have many mentors over the years. My very first mentor was a guy name Andy Waller this was… So I sold insurance basically
Chris: At Aflac when I was like sixteen seventeen years old that was my first real sales job. And he just you know he took me under his wing he bought me my first suit and he taught me basically about cold you know cold calling and full cycle selling right there via insurance
Chris: That was cool.
Umar: So, if you could have lunch with anybody, living or from history, a character from a book like who would that one person be and what question would you ask them?
Chris: You know who it would be honestly? I don’t know if you know this person, but it would be Paramhansana Yogananda. This guy he wrote the auto biography of a yogi…
Umar: Yes, I know who he is and there’s a great documentary on Netflix if you not seen it you must see.
Chris: I have seen that, but I would love to meet him. Actually you know I would really love to meet Jesus. If I could just you know i could just choose anybody…
Umar: But Yoganada, there’s a quote from him that I really like. It was like when he first came to America to kind of bring yoga and meditation to the west, he came to an airport that was carpeted and he said “These people live in paradise, but they’re too busy with their lives to notice because this is bigger than my village and it’s carpeted and heated” He’s like pretty amazing.
Umar: So, you already mentioned your first real sales job was Aflac so you know what did you learn there that still serves you today?
Chris: You know I learned about Hustle. I learned about rejection because it was a full cycle sales job so you would start by basically building pipes. So, I would have to make thirty, forty, fifty sometimes even more calls, just to get people on the phone let alone convince them…
Umar: To get an appointment.
Chris:… to look at the some young kid come in and talk to their you know probably elderly employee base about like hospitalization and cancer insurance. People would look at me like I’m crazy like what the hell do you know about cancer man like you’re…can’t even grow a mustache.
Umar: I was talking to this young lady and she was saying well her first cold call, it was at Aflac, and her manager was there and it was the first one she was doing herself and the guy she called said “You are the eighth Aflac person that’s called me this week and you keep on calling me” and then he started swearing in her and it was the worst call ever and she’s just deer in the headlights,
Chris: That happened all the time.
Umar: and she gets over it and so the guy says “Congratulations, that’ll be the worst call you’ll ever do. Everything is up from here baby.
Chris: Yeah, but then you know I’ve always been fascinated…So prior to Aflac I’ve always been drawn to sales.
Chris: To the tune of like an eighth grade for instance .It was jewelry it was all popular like men would wear these chains it was kind of inspired by the hip hop
Umar: Very Italian.
Chris: Or the Italians
Umar: Different generation. Sorry, it was a hip hop for yours,
Chris: Yea, so I was all into it and I found the source of gold plated jewelry which looked and felt exactly like you know
Umar: The real thing
Chris: … fourteen or eighteen carat gold and it held up really well. So, I would wear it and people started asking me about it so I began selling that. You know I would just go and buy it for very cheap and I would double or triple the price and it was still much cheaper than real gold. But I was selling that in eighth grade and so, I think, one of the key learning lessons that I had there was basically if you can find something, and procure it for a certain amount of money, and then sell it for more that’s like the easiest way to make money.
Umar: That’s business way
Chris: So umm… So that and also to pay attention to demands that people were asking me “Hey, where did you get that chain?” and then I’d just “Hey, you want one?”
Umar: So basic business stuff that sometimes people lose sight of…
Umar:…by getting too fancy, So what’s the best deal you ever had?
Chris: The best deal I ever had. You know I’ve struck a lot of good deals and honestly… So, I have this deal right now, and it’s funny because I’m not getting paid anything for it- zero dollars So there’s this client, they’re a startup, you know SAS company out of the Northern Virginia area and so. They call me in for an appointment and we’re talking and we’re getting along well and both of us are getting all excited and the buyer goes “The only thing is, I don’t have any money right now. I’m raising money” and I was like “What the heck?” So, I spoke with one of my business partners about it and it turns out that this guy’s like the most connected..
Umar: Human being on the planet. I know who this is by the way.
Chris: Yea.But, so I said “OK fine”, we’ll we’ll do a deal, but let us use your software and let us… and once we kill it you know and once you’re enjoying the service
Umar: Be an evangelist
Chris: Be an evangelist. But even more specifically, I was like send us five good referrals a month.
Chris: And they were like tracking it and so you know within just a couple months, we did indeed start killing it. The charts started singing, the phone started ringing and they’re starting to sing our praises and now two of the hottest deals in my pipeline right…
Umar: Are from that
Chris: Are from that.
Chris: And I expect both of them to close. And it’s largely on the strength of the endorsement from this person. So deals like that I like that and performance based deals.
Chris: So, straight out cash deals are kind of boring these days
Umar: Nice. So tell me about.. you mentioned you want to meet Jesus, but tell me about a come to Jesus moment in your business career uhh where it was like oh my God, I need to change what I’m doing this is not working tell me about one of those.
Chris: So you know, In the earlier days there was a period where I was kind of I kind of thought of myself as this hotshot sales guy. You know, I would use sales tactics, I would use some pressure tactics. Sometimes, I would use like bait and switch, takeaways like all these kind of sales tactics. And it was working when we were selling to very, very small businesses, but then as we started selling into larger businesses those types of techniques would turn them off and it took me a while to realize this. But you know, one day I just looked at my pipeline was dry. I didn’t have a lot of people calling. We had some clients, and they were happy, but it was almost as if any time I had a meeting like I never would get follow ups. And then one of my prospects that I was pitching to was kind enough to pull me aside and say
‘Hey man like tone it down a little bit like. You know what you’re doing like you don’t have to rely on these sleazy sales tactics..
Chris: Like I really learned a lot…
Umar: They’re transparent to us.
Chris: Yea. So, I read this blog post called From Selling to Serving and and that’s just basically about adjusting the mindset from like closing a prospect.
Chris: Doesn’t that sound so like you know war like
Umar: Oh, yea.
Chris:It’s like, it’s like a fight “acquiring a prospect”. Like what? You don’t acquire people-you attract them. Right?
Umar: Or you kidnap them
Chris: Or yeah. Or that.
Umar: That’s another story.
Chris: So that really caused a jolt for me and I was like depressed you know for a little while about it. I was all sad, but then it changed my perspective and I’ve since closed you know tens of millions of dollars in business.
Umar: So, if you can find that article, and we’ll put the link on this podcast.
Umar: So other people can read it too
Chris: Yeah, I know exactly where it is.
Umar: So tell me about a deal that you saved from the jaws of death?
Chris: A deal. I mean it’s pretty much..
Umar: Every day?
Chris: Every deal is saved from the jaws of death. I mean over the nine years since we started, or eight years, since we started Web Mechanics, it has gotten so super competitive.
Chris: Like the previously it was just what we would call the six hundred a monthers or so who would yell and say “We’ll do everything for five ninety nine”, but like they’re pretty easy to sell against or the bigger agencies. So we had this nice little sweet spot, but these days I’m telling you man it’s fiercely competitive. Yeah and and I don’t know that there’s a deal that I have… I feel like every deal you have to save it.
Umar: So kind of goes back to what you said earlier like that deal you did with the person who shall not be named. That was a strategic move like I need somebody with lots of notoriety, high trust level to do those introductions and there are deals that no one else can take because they don’t have that endorsement.
Chris: Yeah. And you know if I’ve ever saved a deal from the jaws of death otherwise. The way that I’ve done it is by essentially making guarantees. Put your money where your mouth is.
Umar: Performance. Another word the you’ve used a lot.
Chris: Because the thing is everybody says…Everybody that does search engine marketing is that they all talk the same game everybody sounds the same.
Umar: So, how do you distinguish yourself?
Chris: Well I feel for the buyers honestly because they can’t distinguish it either. They’re just like “Whoa!” Well these guys sound the same. This guy wants ten grand a month. This guy is talking about five.. five hundred nine bucks a month like.
Umar: What’s the disconnect?
Chris: Let’s give this guy thousand but right yeah. So I do that in a couple of ways. I take a very educational approach I literally will open up my laptop. I’ll say “Hey let’s look at your website”, “Let’s get into your Google Analytics and let me show you some things”. And and I will show them things and sometimes get the comment “Oh my God, like I’ve been working with this agency for two years and they haven’t showed me anything like this”. So I think to differentiate really I tried to take an educational approach to demonstrate my you know my savviness
Chris: To tell stories
Chris: And you know things like that. But at the end of the day sometimes it comes down to two things and I say “Look if it’s price that’s that’s the issue don’t let it be” because I will you know if this isn’t a win for you it’s not a win for us and we don’t want you as a client. So, I have been known to make guarantees, which some people think is crazy, but hey I’m confident. We’ve got an excellent team and like ninety percent plus of our clients are happy. So, if it takes a little bit of risk to get the reward I’ll do it.
Umar: Makes perfect sense. So looking at the sales profession as a whole now cuz this is a different landscape than it was ten years ago.
Umar: So what’s the biggest challenge facing companies today as it comes to acquiring new clients selling?
Chris: So I think a couple of things. Most companies suck at marketing.
Umar: Me included.
Chris: So they have these gifted sales people who spend most of their time prospecting and setting appointments or running earlier points in qualifying so I think that that really is the biggest challenge for a lot of them and that’s really what we do in our businesses like providing a steady lead of imbalance or steady flow of leads.
Umar: Flow of leads.
Chris: Yes. So your sales people can sell. Instead of whatever they’re doing. Digging through the C.R.M. or the phone book and just…
Umar: Makes perfect sense
Chris: and making fifty calls a day.
Umar: Because on the flip side, consumers are doing all their research upfront before they even talk to a sales person so if you can be in that flow then you actually align with the customer’s buying process.
Chris: Yeah and you know related challenge is that the sales and marketing conundrum.
Chris: So, in order for the sales people to be free they need their marketers to perform right and in order for the marketers to post good returns they need the salesperson, but there’s a silo.
Umar: Always. So, here’s a question for you that I’ve not asked anybody yet on these podcass. So what is the superset and what is a subset? Is sales the subset of marketing or vice versa?
Chris: That’s a tough question you know. I think both of them are subsets of something called creating a customer.
Chris: So, I don’t know that you can say one or the other because it’s like the beginning of the process versus the end, but I think both of them are subsets on the same level of a different thing that’s bigger.
Chris: If that makes sense.
Umar: Cool. From my point of view I always saw it as marketing was a superset because they help identify what customer’s want, where the customers are, sometime. They suck at it- sorry marketers. And then the sales people do the execution. As soon as they do the execution it’s back to marketing again to how do we keep that customer as part of our family and what we need to know and but yeah there’s way too many companies where there’s silos and bitter enemies
Umar: If only leads you gave me were better and it’s like we give you all these leads and you guys suck at closing.
Umar: So, you have to set expectations for your salespeople when you’ve been in organizations we’ve got people that you answer to. So how would you advise someone that has a C suite that they need to answer to and they’ve got a bunch of sales people that need to execute. How do you set expectations for both groups in order that you get your job done?
Chris: See I think the key to that is common metrics. So if everybody is speaking the same language in terms of the metrics, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of metrics, or a very fancy dashboard, but if everybody speaks the same in terms of metrics, Which in sales of might sound like appointments, opportunities, deals and pie, deals close why, deals close loss you know things like that. If everybody from the C level on down to the new sales guy and in between speaks the same language then it helps tremendously. And what you can do to really, to set expectations on both sides, is for the C suite have a simple report that’s not long or not difficult to read, that just has your main numbers really front and center right so that you can create an understanding hey this is how we track success and then take those same exact numbers and stick them on the sales floor you know like if you’re so inclined to have some kind of a dynamic dashboard where when people log stuff in C.R.M.it populates that’s great. If you want to do an old school style just grab a whiteboard and start a tally, but that way everybody knows what the primary goals are and everybody knows where they’re at at any given time
Umar: Right. So, the same landscape. We’re looking at say metrics. Makes perfect sense.
Chris: It’s simple man. I like to keep things really simple.
Umar: So what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Chris: Keep it simple. No, I’m just kidding man. Best advice I’ve ever gotten. That’s really tough. I’d have to say. Oh that’s it. When going into business, get a partner to do with you who has who’s the Ying to your Yang. Who has the complimentary skill sets.
Umar: And you found that person.
Chris: I absolutely did I grew up with that person actually. So, my partner Arsham, I’ve known him since literally birth. I’m like six months old roughly and we’ve embarked on various entrepreneurial adventures over the years, but when I was getting ready to make an exit from agency life and start my own he happened to be graduating from college at that same time,
Chris: And he was with a start-up at the time, but he was ready to leave so we said hey let’s do it. And that Umar was probably the best advice I’ve ever gotten and the best decision that I’ve ever made.
Chris: Because there’s no way… I don’t think… I mean maybe there’s some businesses that can be run with a single partner, but in this business like I would have been dead in the water within a year if it weren’t for that.
Umar: So nobody can be the visionary and the detail person for example.
Chris: Right. There’s so much that goes into running a marketing shop.
Umar: A business? Especially when you’ve got like a bunch of folks. So how do you motivate your sales team?
Chris; You know honestly, we use a lot of your material. We use like visualizations. We use objects and like any time an appointment is set for instance
Umar: You ring a bell?
Chris: Back in the day we’d ring a bell. Now we only ring it when there’s a sale and the operations team always gets like nervous because the bell rings. So we do a lot of motivation or a lot of you know visualization, a lot of kind a pep talks in the morning. And then we bring speakers in too.
Chris: Like we did with you.
Umar: And you’ve got a
Chris: We read.
Umar:.. having spoken here, it was like a really hungry group of people want to learn stuff which is really cool. Like how do we do better and that’s kind of the culture here which is nice.
Chris: Yes, absolutely. One of the… one of our core values that’s held up the best over the years is learnaholic because in our business you either learn or or you die.
Umar: You’re toast.
Chris: So, people that are attracted to work here are often times like learnaholics- true to form.
Umar: So, how important is the right mindset to selling?
Chris: Extremely important. Extremely, extremely important. It’s probably the most important thing and this is something that as I grow I get much better at.
Chris: Because when we were first starting like I didn’t… we didn’t have a lot of customers we really didn’t have a lot of case studies so we kind of had to fake it till we make it.
Chris: and and there are times where all go into a big deal to pitch and I’m a little nervous honestly like I’m slightly
Chris:…intimidated. Like this is a five hundred million dollar company or a billion dollar company, but it’s critically important to remember your value and to not underestimate or undersell yourself. I used to… we have this thing we call a newb syndrome. Which is when somebody is really new they automatically assume that everybody else knows more than they do but then as you grow you realize that nobody knows what they’re doing.
Umar: Like in making soap they’ll kick our butts, but in getting customers and marketing that’s.. we dominate. Yeah absolutely.
Chris: Right right . So mindset is incredibly important. And it’s important also to, this a part of mindset, but to not be overly needy or desperate like you have to be willing to walk away from any deal at any point.
Chris: And be fine with it and you know if that ruins your day then…
Umar: So be it. So that’s just like being in or potential romantic relationships. If you’re too needy and clingy people run away from you.
Umar: And the people that don’t you should run away from them.
Chris: And people are smart. People are intuitive. They can sense that.
Umar: Big time. So what’s something you know now that you wish you knew ten years ago that would have helped you be a better leader better sales guy?
Chris: Add a zero. People will pay more than than what you typically think they will if you do a good job building the value behind something..
Chris:.. if you have a good job understanding their unique scenario and putting something custom together just for them like they value it a lot so whatever price tag you have in mind
Umar: Add a Zero. So we do highlights of this is what you can learn on the podcast and that’s going to be the number one piece of advice at a zero. So, is there. Part of your job is you know being a leader for this group of how many people in your company?
Umar: Thirty. So what’s a piece of advice you would give other leaders to get the most out of their employees?
Chris: So I would say, and this is something that I’m learning right now, I’m not an… I’m not an expert of this, but this is like my latest leadership kind of thing is- focus. Limit the number of initiatives to like one or two initiatives.
Chris: Maybe one or two sub initiatives. But multitasking is not a good thing. People say I’m a great multi-tasker, that means you’re wasting time. We had a consultant come in and we did this exercise where where we’re like ripping paper. It’s a long story.
Umar: But but it drove the point home.
Chris: But it demonstrated.. yes
Umar: I think there’s a bunch of research now that shows multitasking actually makes sure that you do mediocre in a bunch of things
Umar: Instead of just one
Chris: And as a leader, I think that most entrepreneur entrepreneurs have a tendency toward multitasking because when you’re starting something you have to switch gears a lot and do many things
Umar: Do many things.
Chris: So as you grow you know you have you have a tendency to maintain that habit, but it doesn’t work at a certain point you have to have focus because if you’re scatterbrained all over the place then how do you think everybody else is going to feel right?
Chris: So that’s really my big thing.
Umar: So focus
Chris: Yea. And I’ve been focusing on focus for like a few weeks and already seeing a huge improvement.
Chris: I don’t remember what the exact question was, but…
Umar: That’s close enough. What’s something you share with other leaders and you were saying hey focus on a few things rather than multitask and do a bunch of stuff.
Chris: Yeah absolutely.
Umar: So Chris, as we wind this thing down, what’s a must read book that salespeople or leaders should be reading?
Chris: Salespeople, my sales Bible is the new Conceptual Selling by Miller Hyman.
Chris: You know..Are you familiar with?
Umar: No, I’ll add it to my list.
Chris: It’s right there on the shelf. It’s the blue one with the red, but Robert Miller and I think Thomas Hyman.
Chris: These guys, they break it down to a science. They provide, that book provides all types of tactical advice and like little planning worksheets. They really take their sales seriously. And it’s written in you know nice succinct you know language that’s easy to understand. So, that’s my that’s my number one sales book. Number one leadership book like things such as Good to Great come to mind.
Chris: But there’s another one. Well a couple others there’s one called Make the Noise go Away and it’s all about for a second in command like what a second in command should do for the C.E.O. to basically help them to ..
Chris: ..have that focus. And then there’s there’s one other one that I really like which is applicable for both sales and marketing which is called The Ultimate Guide to mental toughness and that’s N.L.P. based.
Chris: Yea, well it doesn’t. Actually, maybe it does mention NLP a couple times
Umar: But you can see it throughout
Chris: Yea, it compares the brain to a computer and the subconscious to like the deep memory and then the local RAM
Chris:. You know to the conscious mind and it gives it provides tools, basically N.L.P. techniques. But I was introduced to that long, long time ago and I set up this one routine which I still do to this day in my head and I’d like anchored it you know.
Chris: So, yea that was an approachable… and your books are really good too.
Umar: Chris, thanks so much for taking time today to have this conversation I got a lot out of it and I’m going to focus from now on.
Chris: Good, good yada
Umar: Thanks so much.
Chris: Thank you Umar.