Peter Reitano is an agency side marketing veteran with 10 years in the industry. He built and sold Spark Marketing, teaches digital marketing at Bitmaker Labs, mentors at Futurpreneur and regularly speaks at conferences and industry panels around the world. Now CEO of Abacus, a company specializing in Facebook Advertising.
- Double down on your success
- Make a plan and don’t stick with it
- Don’t drink your own kool-aid
- Develop a killer sales process and stick with it
- Relationships build strong sales
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:36
I'm privileged today to have Peter retana, the CEO of Abacus Peter, welcome to the program.
Peter Reitano 0:41
Thanks very much for having me on.
Umar Hameed 0:42
So Peter, in 90 seconds, tell us who you are, who Abacus is and what you guys do.
Peter Reitano 0:48
So I'm an entrepreneur based out of Toronto, Canada, I run a company called Abacus, which is an ad tech agency hybrid that specializes in Facebook and Instagram advertising, mainly for large corporate brands, but also for tech companies that are looking to scale. And Facebook obviously, is one of the most powerful advertising platforms on the market. So we we really wanted to specialize in an area that had high growth and, you know, very powerful platform. So we started the company two years ago with VC backed and like I said, we're kind of an ad tech agency hybrid. So we've got some technology that helps us run campaigns more effectively than I also also do a lot of investing in early stage companies and advising companies on growth in my career trajectories, been kind of started off in sales and kind of move more towards a business operator, entrepreneur kind of setup. Brilliant. And you also do keynote speaking. So what are you talking about things? So first one would be any digital marketing. So if you want to accelerate your digital marketing skills, anything from SEO, PPC, Facebook advertising, I can help with that growth hacking. And then the other side would be more kind of business and leadership. You know, I've had I've run a few businesses now. So I've got some scars, made some mistakes, done some things well, and so I some of my talks revolve around some of those lessons learned that I've picked up along the way. So it's either kind of corporate kind of conferences or university. Universities looking to get someone into kind of towards their business classes.
Umar Hameed 2:31
Peter, you sound like a Brit. Do.
Peter Reitano 2:34
You do have that? Right? I was actually born in Australia, raised in England, and now I live in Canada, so all of the Commonwealth.
Umar Hameed 2:43
So I went almost there. I went from Pakistan, which was like, Well, why the British to England, to Canada, Canadians, and then ended up at you know, one of the wayward states America, they got their freedom from the Brits A long
Peter Reitano 2:55
time ago, you finally escaped 1776 style.
Umar Hameed 3:02
So tell me who's your favorite superhero? And what attribute Do they have that appeal favorite superhero is probably
Peter Reitano 3:10
Batman, just because I just like him because he is a flawed superhero. You know, I think it makes for a more interesting kind of character development when you've got somebody who doesn't always do the right things and has good intentions, but gets there in less than ideal ways. So I like the fact that he's kind of like a flawed, flawed superhero. If somebody asked Michael Caine, why a British person was able to create the best kind of Batman films with the new Batman series there were there were released, and he thinks is because, you know, Americans, when they make the Batman films, they see themselves as Superman. But the rest of the world kind of sees them as Batman a little bit more nuanced kind of a hero that we need. But you know it if they made it into a more kind of interesting and deep kind of character. So I like that.
Umar Hameed 4:07
It kind of goes back to what you talked about on keynotes, you were mentioning that, you know, it was a times you fell down, it's where you learn those lessons that add value to people moving forward, and Batman's the same thing. It's like those hardships, create ingenuity. And
Peter Reitano 4:23
you got to you got to, I mean, you can obviously model off people and learn from other people's mistakes, but you need to make your own mistakes to grow and kind of go through that hardship to build to build character.
Umar Hameed 4:37
What gets you out of bed every morning, what motivates you to help other companies to grow your company?
Peter Reitano 4:43
A couple of things. So I mean, I just genuinely love building things building business, whether that's my own, you know, whether that's investing in companies or whether that's kind of advising founders and helping them grow. So just just going through the process, I love the game. I love the game of racing. Raising money and building companies and hiring staff and kind of putting the chess pieces together and, and building out and trying to grow. And then the second thing I think that really motivates me, one of my kind of core ideals is just freedom, you know, having having control over my own destiny through my own companies, or even before when I was in sales, the thing that I really liked about sales was having flexibility and autonomy and being able to put in as much or as little work as I as I wanted to. And obviously, the more work you put in, the more results, you can have a direct result, direct impact on your own salary and compensation. So I really liked I really liked that aspect about sales and businesses, the kind of the freedom to there's no ceiling, when you can, you can apply yourself and you can hustle and do what you need to do. And really the sky's the limit.
Umar Hameed 5:57
Brilliant. So Peter, who's a mentor for you,
Peter Reitano 6:01
a couple of people, I would say my old boss, back in the UK really helped to shape my career, I was a bit of a mystery. And when I joined my first agency a little bit rough around the edges wasn't necessarily the hardest work, it didn't really have a career trajectory. And he sat me down and illuminated me to the potential options. And he was he was a great sales guy, really, really good at sales had a great process, great energy. And he helped point me in the direction or illuminate kind of what what what was possible in my career. I didn't have to do that as well. Like, obviously, he managed me but he also helped build out a career plan for me. So he had a big impact on me and then probably my ex business partner, my previous business spark as well. He had a bit of a big impact on me. He was another great sales guy. He was a bit older than me, he was 40. I was 30. At the time, he had a he was always very much into relationship sales. He was a master networker that had a bit big impact on me as well. And then I got another person who runs a podcast called Mitch Joel six pixels of separation. He sold his agency three years ago to WP P is kind of a huge exit. Really cool guy, really cool podcast. And you know, I have dinners with him. And he just kind of gives me some great insights. He's almost like a unofficial mentor. I consider him.
Umar Hameed 7:27
Brilliant. So if you could have lunch with anybody past present fictional person who would be and what question would you ask?
Peter Reitano 7:34
I'm a massive fan of Christopher Hitchens, who sadly passed away a few years ago. Love his talks. I love his books, big inspiration on my kind of contrarian attitude. So I would love to have a lunch with him. In terms of what I'd ask, I don't know. I'd be super curious as to who he would have voted for between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He was a huge he wrote several books on the Clintons he was definitely wasn't a fan of kind of ripped Bill Clinton's presidency, and in his articles in his books, but I doubt he would have liked the the opposing side as well. So I'd be keen to hear what he thinks of the current political climate who he would have voted for.
Umar Hameed 8:19
Tell me about your first sales job. How old were you? And what were you selling?
Peter Reitano 8:23
So I, when I first graduated, I went into sound engineering and was horrible at it was a terrible time. I did that for a couple of years. And I eventually ended up at an agency doing more of a project manager role on the kind of technical side and building websites and just through dumb luck, people leaving the company, I kind of moved into more of an account manager role in a sales role. And just loved it. That was the first taste of sales, we were selling, web design, digital marketing, and then we had a piece of software called e days, which was a absence management system of SaaS product. And so I was selling all of that and then I slowly moved over to just SAS sales, selling EDS, which was which is also an actually sell it was selling it in England, it was doing really well in Europe. And then I, I took it out to Australia, and set them up out there on a kind of I proposed the idea to them because they weren't doing any business in Australia or Asia. And I proposed the idea that I could take it out to Australia and sell it on 100% Commission. So I do well if I did you know if I sold No, I wouldn't get anything if I didn't sell and there was really wasn't that much risk for me because I have family out there. And then I wanted to go back and live out in Australia for a little bit. And it did really well. That was my first taste of sales and to kind of in an agency environment, but then a software environment and just taking it out taking out a product somewhere else and starting from scratch and building out referral networks and hitting people up cold via email and LinkedIn. So it was kind of baptism of fire but it was really cool.
Umar Hameed 10:00
That's the way you learn. So tell me about the best deal you ever landed.
Peter Reitano 10:04
Okay, so the best deal I ever landed after my immediate boss left in that, in that agency who I loved, I kind of started to move into this into this sales role. There was a few other sales people in the organization know somebody a little bit more senior than me. And it was kind of unofficially decided that leads would be passed off to him, which was a little bit frustrating. But one of the guys who answered the phone took took more of a liking to me. And a big lead came through once a bank and he put the call through to me without saying who it is. And then as he was putting the call through, he said, oh, by the way, is XYZ bank, hung up the phone, the other sales guy heard, but by that time, I was on the call, and I closed it. And it was an enormous sale. A huge bang for this software. commission check was obviously great. But it was it was it was cool for me as well, just proving out to the team and myself that, hey, I can close these and massive enterprise deals as well.
Umar Hameed 11:03
Who was your best sales manager ever? And what was the one thing they taught you that you still value today?
Peter Reitano 11:10
So my first sales manager at the agency I was referring to, he just had a killer regimented process that we'll work through. And it was just really illustrated to me early on that sales is a numbers game, and you need to kind of be there's all these building blocks that you need to do. And if you do them consistently, over time, you will hit your numbers, you know, stop, you work backwards from a sales goal. How many meetings Do I need to get? How many calls do I need to do to get those meetings? How much prospect list Do I need to build up how many leads and then just work backwards from there. And that was that was awesome. For me, it kind of completely demystify the process, like build out that process. And then my other business partner, and my last agency, he was just he was just a relationship sales guy. And he really instilled in me the value of building out a network that pays dividends over time, kind of value based sales, you know, giving people something, but without the expectation of asking back, and then eventually kind of harvesting those, those results over time. And I think you need both in sales, obviously, you need to kind of be hitting your month by month, week to week numbers and kind of pushing people through your sales pipeline. But you should also be planting seeds and building out networks that you can kind of harvest over time.
Umar Hameed 12:34
Have you ever had one of these come to Jesus moments where what you're doing or a particular thing isn't working well, and you have to do a pivot or get some kind of spark to solve the problem?
Peter Reitano 12:46
Yeah, I mean, so I always knew relationships. and building a network was critical, especially with my last business partner. But being new to Toronto, I came over here seven years ago, I had to start completely from scratch. And I hated a lot of the networking events I'd go to, in organic people just wanting something from you, transients, business cards flying everywhere. So I started to try other things and tried to hack the the net building and network process, I started advising or mentoring and helping people sitting on boards. But I also created an organization called bellwether. And bellwether is a networking group created, it's invite only we get together once a month. It's super informal, we have breakfast, it's a load of kind of founders and media, people and salespeople. And basically, I just created a group around me, it was kind of a valuable group for people where we'd collaborate and share ideas, but no real selling. And it evolved over time to the point where now it's it's 250 person, group and a huge depth of relationship, each one of those 250 people act as a node and refer people in. But it was always done with the intention of just kind of organic quality relationships. And over those few years that I've been doing it it's just grown and grown and grown to the point where now you know, I've got a big network and being an immigrant to the to the country, you know, I know a lot of people and I can rely on a lot of people to help out. And it's been great from a kind of business development perspective, but also just from a advice and consultative kind of perspective. So that was a huge for me just just hacking and networking process and just taking control and building out a system myself to build out a network.
Umar Hameed 14:35
Have you ever had an opportunity where you needed to save a deal from the jaws of death?
Peter Reitano 14:40
Yes. Have we
Unknown Speaker 14:42
Peter Reitano 14:44
I mean, I'm still in one right now. So recently we we messed up massively we had a great prospect huge spend on on advertising, great meeting with them. They have the budget timing was right. The need was right. We were right. Great. couple of meetings. After the second meeting, our outbound sales person didn't know we were talking to them. And we didn't scrub the list properly for them. And they've been hitting out, they're hitting up. Our, their CEO, and the CEO of the company got totally turned off, she thought it was aggressive. And she thought we were kind of confused, because we were already talking to him, and now we're hitting them up in a kind of outbound cold approach, we should have checked the prospect list, we should have scrubbed it, we didn't. So now we're in the process of working our way back in slowly, and we kind of proving ourselves. So I'll let you know how it goes hope watch this space.
Umar Hameed 15:41
As we look out into the sales landscape today, selling is a lot different than it was even five years ago, what do you think is the biggest challenge in sales today, I
Peter Reitano 15:50
think there's a lot of noise, I think that we you know, we're bombarded with messaging everywhere we go offline online, especially in the space time and kind of marketing technology. You know, there's a lot of players out there, there's a lot of outbound sales is a lot of advertising, we see 360 ads a day. So there's a lot of messaging being pushed at us, as consumers now we love buying products, but we hate being sold to, we increasingly prefer self directed paths to purchase. So I think the key is having a well structured, inbound funnel, coupled with effective sales process, and you really have to focus on adding value to prospects lives throughout that, throughout that funnel, you know, interruptive, sales works, less and less, we've got less patience for it, we've, we're in an attention economy where our attention is really in demand. And we've got the same amount of hours in our day. So you need to work out as a, as a salesperson, or as a business person, you know, how do I interact with this person actually add value and not kind of steal their time because we've got no patience for it. So little things like, you know, sending out emails, like just following up to see if you're ready to buy my stuff yet, you know, it just never works. It's annoying. We're always trying to add value and incrementally move people down that funnel. So rather than just setting up, hey, just following up up, check the proposal yet, you know, sending them some kind of article or some kind of valuable bit of information, or, hey, I saw you with a news check this kind of staying on their radar, but not being a pain.
Umar Hameed 17:26
So how do you set expectations for your team and help them achieve those expectations, obviously, we have quotas
Peter Reitano 17:33
that we can expect people to hit and we base them on expectations we have of ourselves. So myself and my business partner, Jeff, we still do a lot of selling, and especially the relationship type selling. So we look at what we can achieve. And then kind of parlay that down into somebody that's doing it full time. And then we you know, build goals that we think are the minimum, and then stretch goals that people can be striving for and do here. And obviously we can refine those over time. I mean, I've definitely set goals before that have been way too aggressive, and, you know, optimistic and we have to kind of refine them, I give a lot of rope to flexibility to the to the salespeople really to try and work with them on what they think they can hit. And obviously, we've got business expectations as well. So the best sales
Umar Hameed 18:25
advice you've ever gotten,
Peter Reitano 18:26
okay, so one would be, don't try to convert the uncomfortable. There's so many customers out there are businesses that you do on your product, stop wasting time on ones that don't you know, you I've seen so many people, I've done it before, where you kind of, you know, beating a dead horse, you know, really trying to push prospects who have signaled that they're not interested. And obviously you need to, you know, explore those, explore those and try and try and convert people moving through the process. But oftentimes, we get signals that we just choose to ignore. I mean, I think, I think quite a lot, getting a no, and pushing for that no, fast is a win in and of itself, you can move on to another prospect, right. So getting a qualifying getting those moving on, look for areas of traction, and then double down on them. So for us, we get a lot of business from agencies, other agencies. And so we just put a ton of effort into that. And obviously, you might exhaust that at some point unlikely, but you might, and then you start moving on to areas that are less easy and less effective. So I just really look for like, you know, areas that I see that attraction, I can add rocket fuel to it,
Umar Hameed 19:43
what's something you know, now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
Peter Reitano 19:48
Something that I know now that I wish I knew 10 years ago?
Peter Reitano 19:52
That's a good question. I mean, that particular thing, stop trying to convert the uncomfortable would be would definitely be what I mean, I've wasted so much time chasing down prospects that, you know, just aren't ever going to close. So I would honestly say that from a sales perspective, just moving through efficiently through a pipeline is probably the thing that I wish I knew. And also, just going back to the relationship thing, just, I wish I knew earlier that, you know, relationships, you know, nurturing those relationships, they pay out over the long term, I think when anyone starts in sales, obviously, they're looking for quick, quick traction, which is, which is great, you need to hit your numbers, but you might the, if I'd have started building out a network earlier, and just adding value, without expecting anything in return, I think I could have had, you know, an exponentially big bigger network that I can harvest, you know,
Umar Hameed 20:49
you mentor, young leaders and startups and you invest, can you tell me about a particular startup, and some advice you gave them that helped them turn things around? Hmm,
Peter Reitano 21:01
I think it depends on what stage of the company I, I tend to invest in, in companies that have some kind of product market fit. And they're looking to scale, I do invest in kind of very seed stage, sometimes as well. If you're in the early stage, the key is finding that product market fit product market fit, meaning you found something that the market actually wants. So we come into it, when you start a business with a hypotheses you could that could it could be a hypothesis, but backed on, backed by research and kind of data. But most of time, it's assumption. And then what you need to do is, when you're building the business, test those assumptions rapidly as fast as you can, as cheaply as you can, to work out what assumptions are right and what assumptions are wrong. And then move towards areas be willing to pivot towards areas where you see traction, and you see product market fit. So don't hold on to your you know, your cherished idea, too much be willing to be flexible and move towards where you are actually seeing where you're seeing fit. And that's the same in marketing as well, I think a big problem people have is that they create plans, and they force themselves to stick to them, regardless of the data coming back in. When the truth is you should be you should create a plan and don't stick to it. You know, with marketing in 2018, we have so much data that's being fed back in that we can quickly pivot a move towards different areas, but you can't have an ego about it. You can't hold on to ideas because you had them early on. And you think it's right when the data says otherwise. Brilliant. Is there a must read book you'd recommend to the audience. So a must read book I really like. I mean, I think classic that fits with my sales philosophy or kind of relationship sales is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I think that's a classic. It's just like a rulebook for how to get people to like you how to handle different personalities, and the important interpersonal aspects that all sales people should learn to should learn from us. So if you haven't read that, I highly recommend that. And then another book I've just read is called waking up. I really like it. It's called it's spirituality without religion. It's all about kind of meditation and mindfulness. And I think, given the roller coaster that sales is, we all need a little bit of help with kind of stress management and staying present and not getting caught up too much with a roller coaster. So that's been a great book for me to read.
Umar Hameed 23:37
Peter, before we part company, how can people get a hold of you?
Peter Reitano 23:40
So you can look about a website, Abacus dot agency or feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn it says Peter retardo, or I'm on Twitter at the handle Digi dharma.
Umar Hameed 23:54
Brilliant, and we'll put those in the show notes. Peter, thanks so much for sitting down with me and I'm looking forward to our next conversation.
Peter Reitano 24:01
It's been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Umar Hameed 24:06
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at no limit selling calm. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming. And that is the fastest way to get better results.