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Using Video Testimonials To Win New Business With Adam O’Leary

How powerful are customer video testimonials in helping win new clients?

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. We talked about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

Adam shares some of his experiences and key learnings as he has grown his agencies, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction!

We also talked about video testimonials: how to get video testimonials from your customer, when you should ask your customer and why video testimonials are such a powerful way to quickly build trust and credibility.

Here’s a glance at this episode…


Adam’s journey in the entrepreneurial world


The importance of testimonials videos in the buyer’s journey


The difference between written testimonials and video testimonials


The best time to ask your client for a video testimonial


Tips on what kind of questions to ask in video testimonials


How to maximise the use of video testimonials in your marketing


How to make video testimonials authentic


How you can use TrustScout software in your agency


The good and bad of running an agency


How Adam finds the balance in running two businesses


The importance of fully automating as much of your business processes as possible


Tips in running an agency


Adam O'Leary’s advice to his younger self


“ I think what puts people off is they think they have to create highly produced videos. But sometimes the rawer, the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.” - Rob Da Costa

“ There are really only two things in your business that you should focus on:  traffic or sales.” - Adam O'Leary

“..try fast and fail fast” - Adam O'Leary

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 Full Episode Transcription

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. Now we are talking about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

We talk about some of the experiences that he has had as he has grown his agencies and some of those key learnings, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction. 

Then we talk about video testimonials and how to get those video testimonials from your customer when you should ask your customer for that testimonial and why video testimonials can be such a powerful way to build trust and credibility really quickly with that prospect. So another action-packed episode and let's get on with today's show.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DaCosta. 

Before we jump into the phase episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled “How to Easily Fill Your Sales Pipeline With High Quality Leads in The Next 90-Days or Less!” Now, this is a 60-minute training where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about teaching that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacosta.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show. 

So welcome to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to have with me today, Adam O'Leary, who is the co-founder of the software company TrustScout that helps agencies capture video testimonials. And we're going to talk a little bit more about that later on. He is also the founder of his own agency, UpsideBuilders helping SaaS companies convert more leads and it was interesting when I was preparing for this that I saw that you said that SaaS companies typically only convert 5% of their leads. Adams companies helping convert more of that 95% that are, I guess, just being left by the wayside. 

So thanks so much for joining us today, and is there anything else you wanted to add to my garbled introduction? No, that's perfect. I'm really excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on. Fantastic. 

So today we're going to talk about two areas. I was really interested to explore Adams Journey as an entrepreneur and talk about what that road map has looked like. And some of the kind of tips that you can share with our listeners and some of the good, bad and ugly of how you have grown over the years. We're also going to spend some time talking about how important it is to get really good video testimonials for you to help you win and convert more clients. So, why don't you just kick off by telling us a bit about your journey in the entrepreneurial world? 

Yeah, sure thing. So I run an agency for multiple years. I was going ahead and working with different types of software clients and working even with local businesses as well, really, Just trying to go out and figure out where my niche was in the world. And the more that we started working with different clients, we started to realise that as we were writing copy for those clients, that a lot of the time that you had to have, some sort of proof to go along with it in order for us to convert more of that traffic. Unfortunately, most of our clients didn't have a lot of proof, or they would have customers coming in, but they would never actually get anybody to say good things about them in public. So once we started kind of understanding that we started diving really deeply into getting video testimonials to improve for our clients right off the bat like the first time that was the first chance that we could. And once we started doing that, we started saying, Okay, is there a way to actually automate this process for our clients?

So we're not manually going out and chasing down each of these video testimonials one by one. Once we went ahead and we made the kind of that that reach into the video world. We created software that allowed us to do it and completely manage the entire process for our clients on autopilots, which was a fun little experience. Fantastic. 

So while we're talking about the video testimonials tell, why do you think that's so important in the kind of like the buyer's journey for agencies when they're looking at growing their customer base?

Yeah, absolutely. For agencies. I mean, it's really mission-critical, because I think the easiest way to put it is there's 10,000 SEO agencies out there. There are 10,000 design studios or agencies and stuff like that. There's 10,000 of every possible agency that's out there. And when potential clients coming to you and looking and saying is this actually a good fit for me. They're going to compare you normally with 10-20 other agencies to try to figure out who is the best, and it's really creating that trust factor right upfront. That's really critical for agencies to grow in scale. 

How do you compare, say, like a written testimonial versus a video testimonial? That's a good question when it comes to writing. I think one thing that we've seen a lot of in the news and stuff like this is, for example, in Amazon, there were tonnes of cases of fake written testimonials. You see people throw stuff up on websites and you look next to it. It looks like a stock image almost of a person. There's really that lack of trust or that lack of understanding when it comes for, written and then with video, it's almost impossible to fake, you know because you're truly seeing the person there you're seeing. If they're being honest, you see where they're at their location. Are they in even a pizza restaurant, for example? You know, like, what's their background like, And that right there is one of the cool parts when it comes to video. 

It's amazing when I see quotes on people's websites that say, You know, you're fantastic, says leading an SEO of a large financial institution. And you think to yourself There's absolutely no value in that whatsoever. And it's worse almost than not having it there at all. 

Tell me what part of the journey in the relationship with a customer would you ask for a video? Because I think sometimes people are too afraid of asking too soon. So when would you advise clients to actually go to their customers and ask for this testimony? Really? That's a great question. I always recommend the first ah-ha moment. So the first moment that somebody has experienced your product or your service is okay for your agency.

So the first time, if you're going out and you're doing Social Media Post, for example, your social media agency, then the first time that you want to ask that person to give you and like a video testimony or any testimony whatsoever is like literally that first time that they see the social media post, and they see the first results. I always recommend to people in your agency or in any business, really, you need to trying to get a customer a quick wind within that first, like literally as fast as you can. So, for an agency, is there a way that you can get an ah-ha moment down to 24 hours? You know, Is there a way to do it so quickly that the person is excited because you're starting off that relationship? That's one of the most likely to give you a good video testimonial or any testimonial because they're the most excited at that moment. Then from there, you're able to keep that relationship and help with scale and grow. 

Yeah, so much good advice. I think a lot of time I see my clients too afraid to ask that early on need to think they need to feel like they need to wait to the end of the project,  and that's often too late. Then, if the clients kind of starting to disengage from the agency and think about the next party, it might be too difficult. 

Tell me about the kind of questions that you should ask when you're doing a video testimonial. Because I guess that's another thing people aren't really sure what to ask. And therefore they avoid doing it. 

Yeah, absolutely. I guess the favourite the best way that I like to explain it is like a hero's journey. So if you can visualise even like, in the US, they have, like, the medical commercials, like for pills and things like that. There's always at the very beginning. There's, like, this sad person who's struggling. And then all of a sudden, they found the magic pill, which is, of course, your service. And then after that, it's happiness, sunshine and rainbows and things like that. I like to follow that pattern when we ask any sort of, questions. So we'll usually start off by, “What is your business about?” For example, like, “Are you a pizza shop? What was the struggle that you're facing initially?” And then bringing them in and then saying “How were you able to find such agency? Was it by referral? Where was it from? How is the experience working with this? And then would you recommend other people working?” 

Brilliant. Good advice that the hero's journey is a great one to use in all the aspects of marketing, isn't it? So okay, so we've done that. We've now got this video testament of this 30 minute, 30 seconds or two minutes. Whatever it is, video testimony, how can we use that? I mean, the obvious places to stick it on your website. But how else could we be using that to help maximise our marketing?

Yeah, my favourite way to use it is to put it into via cells or to create, like, clip montages at the very beginning of something. So even in like the beginning of your via cell or a sales video that you're making for your agency, you can even stitch in at the very beginning, like John is the best. Like this was the best experience that we've ever had. Click that in the beginning, and then you can start that mood off. Right? When that person is watching because now there it's not there. Now, in their mind, they're more engaged because now they're going to see the kind of already have some understanding of how good you do. So there, watch your videos even further and things like this. 

Then also, I love to use it and follow up situations. So, if you're trying to land, say, a $2000 a month deal, the perfect place to stick that in and be able to send it over to a potential client is to follow up with them, send over, say, “Hey, here's all of the happy customers that we've had before.” And that gives you that trust and credibility for that person to make that decision.

Yeah, I'm glad you said that because I have a page with about 12 video testimonials on it, and I always use that page with my prospects and I'm following up some doing exactly that, which is good to know. So I guess one of the other things that put people off doing this is that they worry that the client might not have the equipment or, you know, they don't know how to set it all up. So I guess your software is helping sort of automating some of this process.

Is that is that right? Yeah, absolutely. And one other thing, too. Is that we personally, for me when I see video testimonials, I never liked, I guess one great example like this. Like when speakers are on stage, and they afterwards they go and they pull people aside and like, everybody's in the same situation, the same background. It looks very staged, you know, and one of my favourite things when it comes to video testimonials is that authenticity, people actually being in a different setting, people clearly being at the place that they're giving the review. Seeing all the moving parts in the backgrounds, to me is one of the most important parts. So when somebody actually does pull out their phone, or if they pull out their computer, it gives you that, like, OK, clearly, they didn't script this testimonial out. 

That's such good advice. And I think again that sort of puts people off because they think they have to have this highly produced video. But you're absolutely right. Sometimes the rawer, it looks the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.

Just talk us through how they would use your software in this process. So when it comes to TrustScout, redesigned it to be as easy as humanly possible. For any sort of business to go out and collect these video testimonials. So when a user or when a business owner such as yourself, when you go and you use a telescope, what will happen is once you send it over the link to a person or you could put it on a QR code or whatever it is that you want to send it over or Linkedln an email. Once they click on that, it'll prompt up and ask them like it will tell them like, these are the guiding questions that we have. So if you can tell us about this situation, in this situation and then once they start recording, they recorded the video testimonial comes right into the dashboard after they leave their name and their review. And then from there, you access it inside of your dashboard, where you're able to download it and upload it to YouTube or anywhere else that you would need. 

Fantastic. I'm going to go and check this out afterwards then tell a lot of my clients that they should start using it. I think the easier we make this for ourselves and our clients, the more likely we are to do it. And it's such an important part of, like you say, building trust and credibility with your potential clients that it's something we should all be doing. 

So let's just take a few steps back here and talk about your journey as an entrepreneur and how you what you were doing before you start TrustScout, what led you to do that and what your aspirations are sort of moving into the future. Lots of questions in one there. 

Absolutely. Yeah, when it came to TrustScout, I mean, for us, it was just so important. We were initially using it for ourselves, just to be able to help out our clients. It was literally just to save time because we were spending I mean hours to go out and get video testimonials because half the time we would need to go and call up somebody and then be able to say, Okay, this is how to set it up. This is how to actually go and record. And then this is how to send the video testimonials to us. And it was not fun because half the time it would get stuck, in the email or the file was too big or they just couldn't even figure out how to send it. So we're like, okay, this isn't really an efficient way to do it. So, we had people like trying to drag and drop it into files and stuff like this, we just kept it just we had no control over any of the situations.

So when we actually designed trust, that was completely for ourselves to be able to help us and systematise the process and one of my friends, actually asked if we could or if we could share the software with them and go out and even use it for themselves and from there, That's actually when it started going into a larger scale situation where we had a lot more people than we were initially expecting. Yes. How long ago was that that you started to trust? We started TrustScout last June. So a little over a year or a little over a year now.

And then just talk us through your journey of like when you started out in business and how you got this and what your aspirations are Beyond that. Yeah, absolutely. So when I first started off, I knew I wanted to get into sales or if I wanted to get into business. I wanted something that I had control over how much I made. I remember this was back when I was young. It was with Pokemon cards. I love Pokemon cards. Once I found out that people desired one card more than other cards and that you could trade one card for two cards or one card for four cards or whatever it may have been, I fell in love with that idea of being able to have something of value in being able to help people in whichever way it was. So I started really trying to do a lot of projects. And when I was probably 15, 16 years old, I was trying to start up, like, food stands. I was trying to start up everything I could possibly try to do. And some days I would make some money and then other projects. I would make absolutely no money, and a lot of the time in a lot of my projects, very early on, they were not profitable. We would have all these ideas. We had all this type of, like, I guess, passions to try to go in and follow. But we didn't know how to go ahead and make any money like we just didn't know what to do. And from there I went, and I just said, “You know what? I think the best way for me to be able to learn how to do something, whether it's online or if it's just in a local area, is to tack onto what somebody's already doing and kind of see what somebody else is doing.” So I ended up working with a person who ran an online company, and I started working with him, and I started seeing the way that he was generating sales and the way that he was being able to bring clients and bring customers.

And from there I was able to tack on two very specific areas that I found that I was good at the inside of his business, and it allowed me to learn. And once I was able to learn those skill sets, then from there I was able to go out, and I was able to help other businesses be able to do the same thing. And I created an agency for myself, and but I wouldn't have been able to do that unless I actually was a. But unless I actually worked with that person from that initial stage.

I think a lot of people will relate to that story of having worked in an agency, having seen the good and the bad of running that agency and then deciding that they can do it better themselves. In probably as only my story I used to be a million years ago, I was the marketing manager for a software company, and we really struggled to hire a good agency that understood what we did. So I thought at the age of 23-24 I thought, I know I can go and start my own agency And, you know, that naive kind of arrogant youth was stood me in good stead because I don't think I do that now. 

So, how do you juggle running these two businesses? That's always an interesting question to ask people who have got multiple, you know, balls in the air. Yeah, absolutely. It was definitely challenging at first because when you start something, you put everything that you have into it, you know? So when I first was kind of making the switch and working with a scout, what happened is I started focusing all of my attention on that other business, which then, of course, my agency started going down, which was not fun. And it took me a couple of months to start realising like, “Oh, OK, I need to kind of figure out a balance.”

So what we ended up doing is it was actually, I guess, good, because it started to change my perspective of running a business in the first place because you kind of thing that you're supposed to put all your attention on the business. You're supposed to work eight hours a day on the business, at least. Or if you listen to some motivational people out there, they tell you to work 18 hours a day. But what happens is a lot of the time you're just working for the sake of work, you know?

And that right there it was. That's what you start to realise is because you have to start finding time and kind of start figuring out, OK, ‘where is my time best valued in a specific area?’ So what we ended up doing is we kind of said okay, you know what kind of structure? The time where it was like, OK, half a day of work on this project, and then the next day of work, 100% on this one. and I kind of had to think of it as I had to get the maximum of time for the least amount. I agree with you.

I mean, you know, I run this programme the self-running agency, and I wrote my book of the same name for all those reasons is like, you know, we want to grow our businesses, but we don't want to be completely tied into that business, working for a really difficult boss ourselves. So how do we grow it without losing control? But get that flexibility and freedom. And I always talk to people about the concept of working out what their hourly rate is.

It's like what is an hour of their time worth? And if they are doing tasks that are worth less than that, why are they doing them? Why can't they need to delegate them or to make them or do something to stop doing them and focus on tasks that are worth their hourly rate or more? And those are the usually the things that move your agency for. Those are the strategy things that you know, the things that only you can do and what's your sort of future aspirations. You're not grey and, like, I am your young So what's your sort of your translations for your businesses?

For me, I guess the biggest school in the next 4 to 5 years. That type of outlook is to be able to fully automate most of the business processes that are there. I almost kind of want to view myself as the chairman, as opposed to physically going into the business and working on it. So a lot of what I'm even doing now is I'm constantly out looking at okay, “What did somebody just do twice?” You know, somebody on my team. What does somebody just do twice? And how can I systematise that? Actually, even last year, I hired somebody to come in and basically just follow me around, you know, and be able to document everything that I was doing. And you start to realise, “How much of that stuff is something that you don't even remotely have to do?” You kind of thing that you have to do, But then you realise if you can just document processes, then you can have somebody else go out and do it for $5 an hour. And then you're able to focus on the money, how going out and getting new clients, like focusing on the things that actually increase that hourly net worth that you have. That would be my biggest thing is like trying to focus on getting all the systems up all the processes, and then being able to have both businesses running on autopilot. 

Such good advice. Personally, I've failed quite a few times in the last few years of hiring, a really good via and hiring social media person, a content person. And this time around, I got it right, because I did exactly what you just said. I spent. It was a very tedious process. But I spent a good few days documenting all of my standard operating procedures on how to do everything that I have been doing. And then when I hired the new team that I have now, they can follow the SOPS and you know, they can deliver it to the sort of level that I would hope with my minimum about my input.

Any other tips that you could share about running your business? I'm putting you on the spot here a bit, but any tips on running your business that you can share with anybody else, any things that you've seen good or bad? You know, when you've been running your business or when you've seen other people running. Absolutely, I would say this was probably one of the better pieces of advice that somebody told me, and it was that there are really only two things in your business that you can never focus on and its traffic or its sales.

Those are really the only two things that happen in your business. And I asked I said, like, “Why is that?” You know, and if you start thinking about it, if you're doing the delivery, if you personally are going out and doing the delivery, and then what ends up happening is you're basically just working a job at that point because you're just doing the service that somebody else who actually has benefits, who gets dental, you know, like that they could be paying you if you were just working like for them in the company.

So if you're doing the delivery, especially as an agency owner, you really have to check yourself and say, “OK, wait a minute. How can I step out of the delivery 100% and only focus on traffic and sales?” Because those are the two things that will actually put money in your pocket? 

Yeah, such good advice. I've not heard it like that before. I think my experience with a lot of entrepreneurial business owners is that they have to change their mindset as well because they do believe that clients, want them. And if I don't work on the client account, the client will haters and levers. And of course, that's not true. And they get stuck on what I call the client service hamster Wheel of Doom. So they're just constantly servicing clients. They've got no time to focus on traffic or sales. They've got no time to focus on the future direction of their agency. And there's a big iceberg up ahead that they aren't seeing because they're so entrenched in client delivery. So sometimes you've got to change your mindset, first of all, to think no, there are other people that can deliver as well or better than me, and I need to hire those people, and I need to train my clients so that they don't want to expect me on the account because I need to do the thing only I can do. And the thing that a lot of business owners do very well is traffic or sales. 

It's also interesting that I see some agencies trying to outsource that problem. So trying to outsource that, like hiring a new business agency or hiring a business development manager and almost nine times out of 10 that fails because sometimes people say it's a difficult problem, but they don't realise that they're the best person to solve it.

100% So if people wanted to find out more about you, Adam and more about TrustScout, where would they go? Yeah, they can go to trustscout.io. And then they'll be able to, really see how you can collect video testimonials for your agency or if you want even doing it for your clients as well. We can walk you through all that. 

Fantastic, Okay, so I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And if people wanted to reach you directly, should they don't have a LinkedIn or via the website or your email? Yeah, You can reach me on LinkedIn. Definitely. Okay, if you just reach out and malaria, we'll put you in conjunction as well. 

So, as you know, the one question I ask all my guests before I let them go is if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business, one piece of advice. What would it be? Yeah, what I would definitely say is try fast and fail fast for me. That that has become one of the I guess main building blocks of my business is because if I go ahead and when I first started off in business, I would work on projects for six months at a time or nine months, even if it wasn't profitable. Thinking that like, oh, it takes so much effort to go out and start a business that it makes sense to kind of work for free for six months or 12 months. The reality behind it is that if you can just get it in front of enough people, and then see what the conversion rates are and how much you're making from it, in 24 hours, you're gonna be way better off because you're going to have all those misses, and then you'll be able to find those couple of winners. That will allow you to scale at that kind of exponential rate. 

Yeah, great advice. Of course, the danger of sitting there working on something for six months that you think your market wants is that you might find out that no one is actually interested in. I always talk about companies that sell vitamin pills instead of painkillers. You know, a customer in pain and they want their pain solving. And what they want is a painkiller bit of where if we are producing a product that's a vitamin pill that we know would be really good for our clients. But they've got a splitting headache. They don't want the vitamin pills. So, you know, I really like that. I haven't heard that term Try fast, fail fast. But that is a good piece of advice. 

And as I always say too, I guess we haven't had anybody say anything like that before. So that is where nearly 100 episodes now, and with no one's ever said that before. So I'm and one day I may be for Episode 100 I'm going to go back and collect all of the advice and put them into one episode. I think that would be a really good one. 

Adam, I really appreciate your time, especially since it's really early in the morning for you in the U.S. But I really appreciate your time and sharing your experience and your wisdom with our listeners. And thanks so much for joining me today. Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was awesome being on.

How To Increase Your Prices

Why do so many agency owners struggle to increase their prices? 

Every January, I get a letter in the post from my utility companies telling me that their prices are increasing. We are used to receiving this kind of increase.  In fact, we expect it, so we don't question it and we just move on. 

What can agencies learn from this?

In this latest episode of The Agency Accelerated Podcast, I explore strategies to increase your prices in a way that you feel comfortable with and the client is more than happy to pay for (because they continue to see the value in what you're delivering). This applies to both existing clients and new clients. 

I explore the different pricing models agencies use as well as some tips and strategies to ensure your clients value what you do.

Finally I discuss why mindset is the key to increasing your prices and charging a fair fee for the work you deliver.

Here’s a glance at this episode…


Why should agencies increase their price every year? 


The importance of having the right mindset in pricing  


Different pricing models


Reasons why you shouldn’t sell your time to clients


Understanding transformation of pricing from being in pain to not being in pain


An overview of value-based pricing 


Difference between value-based and time-based pricing


Tips in positioning yourself with clients 


The importance of having a niche


“You need to focus on the thing that the client really cares about - which is the outcome and the transformation from being in pain to not being in pain.” - Rob Da Costa

“..you all know that a niched agency is always gonna be able to charge more than a generalist. So having a clear niche will also help you increase your prices because you will be seen as a specialist, not a generalist.” - Rob Da Costa

“50% of getting your pricing right is getting your mindset right.” - Rob Da Costa

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode.” If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency.

Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the podcast. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed and, if you’re not subscribed, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out. Subscribe now!

 Full Episode Transcription

Every January, I get a letter in the post from my utility companies telling me that their prices are increasing that year and the price increases almost always above inflation rates. Now we are really used to receiving this kind of correspondence, and we just assume that it's the norm. So we don't question it and we just move on. 

So why do we struggle so much in our agency to do the same thing? That's what I want to talk about in this episode of The Agency Accelerated Podcast and explore ways to increase your prices in a way that you feel comfortable with and the client is more than happy to pay the price because they really see the value in what you're delivering.

Now, this applies to both existing clients and new clients. So if you struggled with increasing your prices or indeed you have increased your prices for a number of years, then this episode is one that you won't want to miss.  So grab a pen and paper and let's get going. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa.

So based on my introduction, you'll understand that. I believe all agencies should be increasing their prices on an annual basis. This is something that they need to sow the seed with new clients, that they understand how it works and then have the courage to implement this with existing clients as well. 

Why? Well, firstly, your costs are constantly going up, and secondly, you'll also be investing in people, systems and software to continually improve the service that you provide your clients. So, just like utility companies, you should be implementing a price increase every year. Now I can feel some of your heckles raising as I say this, and it's worth stating that yes, you can increase your prices to half. The battle of getting your pricing right is having the right mindset. So for some of us, that means changing our mindset and focusing on the value that we deliver to our clients and really believing that we do a great job rather than believing the stories that we tell ourselves, such as ‘The climb will never agree to this,’ or ‘if I increase my prices, they’ll probably fire us.’

This just isn't true, and you need to recognise that these are stories that you're just telling yourself and they're not facts. You know, ask yourself what evidence do I have to support this belief? Usually, you'll find you don't have any. 

If you're constantly promoting the value of what you deliver to your clients, that they won't have any kind of issue with the price increase now, talking of value, it's worth reminding ourselves of some of the pricing models that agencies currently use. And to be honest, this stat really drives me crazy. According to a recent benchmark report, 60% of agencies still are pricing on time and materials. If you listen to this podcast before or you read any of my content, you'll know that I am not a fan of this approach, and it really makes it way harder to increase your prices. So let's just take a moment to dig into that. 

The issue about selling time to clients, i.e. hours or daily rates is that a client isn't really buying your time and you’re encouraging them to focus on the wrong thing, i.e your hourly or daily rate, rather than the thing that they're buying, which is the outcome of what you do for them now. The problem about selling hourly or daily rate is it really commoditise is your service and encourages your client to compare one hourly rate, for example, to another. So there might be two agencies pitching for this piece of work. It wants you and one other, and the other agencies charging £20 an hour less than you. But of course, the reality is that the quality of their work is nowhere near as good as yours.

Now the client is comparing your hourly rate against the cheaper hourly rates. So they either go with a cheaper rate or they ask you for a discount before you've even started. And this is a fundamental reason why selling time is the wrong thing. Clients are buying a transformation now that transformation is from being in pain to not being in pain. So, for example, if you go to the dentist and you've got a toothache, then you were literally in pain and you want them to get rid of your pain and you don't care how long it takes. In fact, you want them to do as quickly as possible because you're not buying their time. You're buying the value of getting the outcome, which is not being in pain. 

But if you're buying a bottle of water, then the transformation you are buying is from being thirsty to not being thirsty or being dehydrated to being hydrated. So if you are pricing against the transformation, then it becomes much harder for the client to ask you for a discount, and you've certainly no longer look commoditised. You're focusing on the thing that the client really cares about, which is the outcome and the transformation from being in pain to not being in pain.

So, what you need to do is really dig into this in your prospecting conversations or with an existing client when you're setting the next cycle of objectives, you need to dig into understanding what that transformation is and understanding how much it's worth that clients not being in pain anymore. That's kind of a quick overview of value pricing, and I believe everybody should be using that. I think a lot of people don't use it because they get confused. In fact, the benchmark report states that only 23% of agencies are taking this approach and using a value-based pricing approach.

So obviously this episode isn't just about value-based pricing, but I wanted to give you the context of value-based pricing versus time-based pricing and also explain why it's much harder to increase your prices when you are selling time. Because if you say to a client we want to increase our hourly rate from X to Y or a day rate from A to B. Then immediately the client's gonna start comparing you to other people and asking you not to do that because someone else is charging a cheaper rate. But as I say, they're not comparing the right thing when you do that. So that's why you shouldn't take that approach, and it makes it much harder to increase your prices. 

So the first summary from this part of the conversation is you can increase your prices by taking a value-based pricing approach, and when you are talking to your prospects and you're writing proposals focused on the outcome you're delivering for the client and therefore charge the higher fee. Now, of course, internally, you're still going to want to work on ours because you need to make sure that your team is profitable, that people are not over-servicing clients and so on. The only way you can really do that is by doing time recording. But that's a whole different conversation compared to what you're selling the client.

Now, another way to think about this and ensure that you're getting your pricing right is to consider the things that the client is buying from you. Fundamentally, they're buying three things. They're buying your technical skill to deliver your product or service. So if your web developer, then it's your skill to develop the website or graphic designer or your copyrighting skills or your SEO, PPC skills, that is kind of a given and that's kind of commoditised because that's what everybody in your market will be doing. But you are also selling, and the client is also buying your strategic advice and your years of experience to make that transformation is pain-free and as fast as possible. And in my experience, too many agencies undervalue those second two points that your strategic advice and your creativity and years of experience to fish effectively get rid of the client's pain. So when you're talking to clients and you're quoting, make sure that you focus on those second two areas, and not just the commodities kind of delivery of your service, because that's where the value is to the client.

That's what starts to make you look different and more importantly, in the context of this conversation, that's what enables you to increase your prices. And, of course, you all know that a niche agency is always gonna be able to charge more than a generalist. So having a clear niche will also help you increase your prices in the market because you will be seen as a specialist, not a generalist. If you needed knee surgery, you would go to a knee surgeon specialist. You wouldn't go to your GP. And if you had to pay, guess which of those two would be charging more.

So a niche agency is always going to be able to charge more than a generalist. So that's some tips and ideas on how to position what you do with your clients in a way that they will really value it. So when you're talking to a new customer, you can get your pricing right from the start. And, of course, when they are signing a contract, you want to make sure in that contract that you state that you will be reviewing you're pricing with clients every single year. 

Now I totally appreciate that. That's the easier way to get your pricing right. And the harder way is, well, if I'm underpricing with current clients or if I'm pricing on time and I can see now that I'm undervaluing what I do, how do I go about changing it? And I appreciate that's the much harder thing to do. So, first of all, I do think you need to get into the rhythm of increasing your prices every year. I think when you write to your clients while you discuss it with them, you need to focus on the value that you're giving to them, which is why you're increasing your prices rather than leaving it to them. To think that you're increasing your prices because you've got fancy new offices or you want to pay yourself more money, which, of course, we all know it's not true. 

In the show notes, I am going to give you a link to grab a free download of a price increase letter. So if you want a template you can use, then head over to the show notes. Click on the link and grab a copy of the free price Increase letter. 

Now with existing clients, you want to do it in more stealth-like ways. All that means is just changing the tone of your conversations to start focusing on the value and the outcomes more. And then when you are pricing up new projects or you are pricing up additional work on top of your retainer, then you can start pricing based on value and having that conversation with your clients, where you're asking them about the outcomes and understanding the wider impact that the work you're doing for the client will have on their business and price based on this. 

As I said earlier if you're sitting here thinking, well, Rob, that just won't work for me, then I really want to challenge you and to challenge you to start changing your mindset because you don't know that is the case. Then, if a client is really arguing with you about a minor price increase, then, first of all, you've got to ask yourself, ‘Are they the right client?’ and second of all, you need to be asking yourself, “Have I got the way we position? What we do wrong?’ And, ‘Is the client perceiving my product or service in a very commoditised way, rather than seeing it as a strategic part of their marketing that will really help their business move forward?’ If it's the latter, it becomes much easier to increase your prices.

So you really want to challenge your mindset around this because, as I said, 50% of getting your pricing right is getting your mindset right. 

Okay, so that's what I wanted to talk about in this episode of the podcast, short and sweet. It's a big topic, and I actually have a webinar that I run on this. So do look out on my homepage when I'll be running that webinar again and we dig into the whole pricing models and the way to understand what your clients buying and then strategies on increasing your pricing, getting your pricing right and some techniques that you can use that will make this much easier.

But I hope that the outcome of today's podcast is to get you thinking a little bit differently about your pricing to challenge you if you haven't increased your prices for a long time, and to start changing the conversation with your clients to focus on outcomes and impact rather than the time that you spend providing your product or service. 

As I said, if you jump into the show notes, there is a link to a free download of a price increase letter that so please grab that and use that as a template for contacting your clients. But that hope you found it useful. Please hit the subscribe button. Share this with your colleagues and please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts because it helps me reach a wider audience. But other than that, have a brilliant weekend and I'll be back with you next Thursday with our next guest episode.

How to train your customers

train your customers

Yes that’s right. Not only do you need to train your staff but you also need to train your customers. Sounds like a strange thing to say? Well read on because it isn’t strange at all!

Most customers expect a good level of service from us and hopefully we are charging a ‘good’ fee for this service level. “Good’ means being responsive but doesn’t always mean responding instantly. Of course customers should come first but that doesn’t mean you should be at their beck and call, and this is where training them becomes important.

Let’s take an example (which I’m sure will be familiar to many readers). You are sitting at your desk working on an important document or writing your next blog post and you see your Outlook dialogue box ping in the corner of your screen. You see it’s from a customer so stop what you are doing and open the email – it’s a quick question so you respond instantly. 5 minutes later another dialogue box pings and again, it’s from the same customer asking a further question. Again you respond instantly. The next day you are away from you desk and the same customer sends a further email, this time you don’t respond instantly – how does the customer feel?

In this scenario two things have happened: Firstly, you have set the expectation with the client that you will always be available and respond instantly and secondly, by disrupting work on that important document you were writing, it will take you considerably longer to complete the document because of the interruptions and broken trains of thought.

It’s important we set and manage the expectation of clients so they receive an appropriate level of service for the fee paid. If you differentiate yourselves by saying you provide exceptional levels of service then you had better be charging an appropriate fee. In most cases, differentiating yourself by service level is a recipe for a non-profitable business.

So train your clients by ensuring you are responsive but not too responsive. Next time the Outlook dialogue box pings in the corner of your screen finish work on the document first before being tempted to look (and respond) to the email. After all, if it were really urgent, the client would call you rather than send an email.

Empathy v sympathy

customer service

I have been delivering quite a bit of customer service training over the past 6 months and have just finished filming my next online Udemy Course on Customer Service (to be released next month). One conversation that makes for an interesting discussion is the difference between being sympathetic with a client and showing empathy. Some people believe we should be sympathetic – to show understanding. Yet when we are sympathetic, we join them in the same emotional space so there is a danger of there becoming two victims instead of one. A great customer manager will see the clear difference between what happened and who it happened to—and work on the former to bring things back to normal.

What’s the Difference?

The Oxford English Dictionary states that sympathy is “feeling pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune” and empathy is “understanding the feelings someone else is having.” Empathy means you can objectively ‘stand in someone elses shoes’ whereas sympathy means you can acknowledge another person’s emotional state without necessarily understanding it.

So what has that got to do with customer service?

Understanding your customer’s experience as they engage with you is vital so that all staff can give customers a consistent experience. After all, we are all customers so can empathise with where the problems are and what we would want the process to look like if we were experiencing the journey ourselves.

Getting it right goes a long way to making the customer experience better for our customers but it misses the ability to show your customer that you’re listening and that you understand what they are experiencing. This is where empathy is so important (e.g. active listening and building rapport).

Responding to customers with sympathy—getting as upset as they are—puts you on an emotional roller coaster and can leave you worn out and frazzled at the end of the day. The trick is to be emotionally aware and sensitive without becoming too emotionally involved. When you respond with empathy, you stay calm and in control of yourself. Only then you become at your absolute best: ready, willing, and able to help your customer meet his needs or solve her problem.

Showing empathy for customers allows you to be professional and caring at the same time. It also makes customers feel that they are important and what they are saying matters.

Great customer service results in great client relationships, and both customer and staff retention – so is more important than ever.

Look out for my new course on customer service, meantime you can get 50% discount of my current courses by using this link.


over promise

Have you ever over promised and under delivered? Well like this blog post title, you may do it to get your customer’s attention but ultimately you will fail to live up to the promise and thus, disappoint your client.

OK I admit that this may not be the most important post you will ever read (so please forgive me) but it’s still worth a read!

I was recently contacted by a subscription organisation to potentially sign up and become a member. They seemed quite interesting so despite the heavy sell (and price tag) I asked to speak to a couple of other members to gauge their experience. The friendly chap said he would email straight over some case studies and get a couple of contacts phone number sent over too. Fast forward a week and nothing is received. However, I do get the next sales phone call and remind the chap of our previous conversation and what he had promised to do. He exclaimed “Haven’t you received them? I will send them over again”. Nothing received. Fast forward a few weeks and I receive another call from this organisation (this time a different chap) and outline the previous conversations. He agrees that it is pretty bad, doesn’t know what happened but will send over the case studies and contact numbers right away – and yes, you guessed it, I never received anything nor heard from him again (yet!).

This is a classic example of over promising and under delivering, and based on this poor behaviour I am sure you can imagine that I have no intention of subscribing to their service. I am a big advocate of ‘current behaviour dictates future behaviour’ so if they are over promising and under delivering before I have even become a customer, just imagine what it will be like if I did subscribe to their service?

Whilst this might be an extreme example of over promising, we have all been guilty of it at one time or another. Yet it sets us up to fail and damages our brand reputation.

I have just been working with a client on their customer engagement process and customer journey. At all stages we are endeavouring to under promise so that we can exceed client expectations and delight the customer. This is a good strategy for building long term relationships as opposed to over promising to win business and then failing to deliver – resulting in short lived relationships. In order to do this we need to have the conversation with the client about their expectations tempered against what is realistic, the fee and how we measure the outcomes. Sometimes this is a challenging conversation to have but one that is vital to ensure you and the client, your product and the client’s business strategy are all aligned.

So whilst I definitely over promised and under delivered with my blog title, I hope this article provides you with some food for thought?

If this is a challenge for you and you want some support in matching service levels, expectations and outcomes, then please get in touch and let’s have a chat.

Why customer service is great for staff retention

customer service

Customer service has been a popular topic for me in the last few months – I have been running customer service training for a few of my clients, writing a whitepaper on the subject (soon to be released) and also developing my next online training course focused on customer service (watch this space!).

Of course we all want to provide great customer service because we know it’s a sure fire way of retaining our clients (and we also know that it’s way more cost effective to retain existing clients than it is to acquire new ones). But another significant benefit of great customer service is staff retention.  Why? Quite simply because happy clients result in less stressed out staff.

So why should your staff care about great customer service?  Here is 3 compelling reasons for them (and for you as their employer):

  1. Less Job related stress – When you have great customer service skills you can easily deal with most issues and types of customers so you get less unpleasant interactions and can handle more difficult customers easier which ultimately leads to less job related stress (and higher staff retention).
  2. Career Advancement – If you enjoy helping others and can draw satisfaction from helping customers in a professional manner (backed up by a sound practice of customer service techniques) it will help advance your career. And customers giving you great feedback provides unquestionable evidence of your service delivery in appraisals.
  3. Your Job becomes a source of satisfaction – When you provide great customer service to a customer who needs help or has a complaint that you resolved, you feel that you are making a difference and take pride in your work. This is a great source of job satisfaction.

Well trained staff result in happy clients and that creates a lower level of stress in the work place. Yet how much time do businesses invest in training excellent customer service as opposed to assuming ‘everyone can handle that challenging client because I know I can!‘?  Instead we sit there and cringe when hearing colleagues on the phone either handling the client badly or promising the earth (which then sets us a huge task to deliver and that usually results in over servicing and unprofitable work). Sound familar?  If so, let’s have a chat.