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The beginning of 2009, Brandt Page brought to market a business that people actually needed and wanted: a way to get more leads and sales opportunities and Launch Leads was born. He bootstrapped from day one working from his living room. Even with five employees they were still in his house: two people on the couch, one at the kitchen table, another on his card table and he found himself with a cheap Ikea desk. He didn’t buy expensive business cards or spend money on a website or a cool car — he focused his time, energy, and money on growing the business. He also did not take a single paycheck for 14 months. Yes, that sounds crazy, but that is just what a bootstrapping entrepreneur does.
Launch Leads, fills its clients’ sales pipelines with qualified leads and scheduled sales appointments. Launch generates targeted lead lists, qualifies each lead, and schedules sales opportunities on behalf of its clients. Basically, Launch does all of the heavy lifting of cold calling, prospecting, and lead qualification, so their clients can focus on closing more sales. Launch primarily works with companies in the software/technology space and gets paid on a “pay for performance” basis, (pay per appointment) so the risk is on them, not you.
Besides the outbound calling approach to B2B lead generation, Launch also provides immediate lead response and qualification to companies who are receiving 100 or more inbound leads per month. Simply put, as soon as someone inputs their data into the form on your site, Launch responds on your behalf within minutes, typically catching that person still in front of their computer and on your site. Launch then asks them some key qualifying questions and schedules an appointment for your company, if and only if that lead meets the criteria you and your company are looking for.
MO: How did you manage to stay motivated and inspired while working with 5 employees from your living room?
Brandt: I actually loved those days. Seriously, it is a lot easier to manage just 5 rather than 50. The energy between us was powerful; we were always sharing the exciting new thing that just happened to one of us as we created our own success stories. There is something about being in close proximity to your team members and keeping an open platform so that everyone can hear and see and feel your energy as you are building the company together. The only downside was when clients wanted to come and visit our “facilities”, haha. That’s when my response came back with a, “Hey, I will actually be in your area next week, I will stop by.” It was a fun challenge to overcome, but overcome we did. I think it was also easier for us because we knew it was a temporary situation, we were having so much success early on, that we knew we would be in an office soon.
MO: Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit? Did you have any early influences or mentors that inspired you become a serial entrepreneur?
Brandt: Great question. I grew up in a family with ZERO entrepreneurs. As a kid, I was always selling something to someone. My parents remind me of a story where I would trade a “shiny nickel” for my friends dirty quarter, not a bad margin for a 6 year old. So selling has always been a part of my life. My first real job as a 15 year old was at an athletic club in Northern California, (Bay Area) where I grew up. They asked me to open the phone book, cold call down one by one and set appointments for our salesmen. I would get an hourly rate and an extra $1 for each appointment. Man, I rocked that job…it probably sounds familiar to what my company Launch Leads does for our B2B companies
One of the most memorable moments in my entrepreneurial career was when I returned from a 2 year volunteer mission for my church. I am a Mormon and I guess we are getting a lot of press recently with Mitt Romney and the Broadway Musical the Book of Mormon etc. I was 21 years old, attending BYU (Brigham Young University) and a friend of a friend heard that I was a rock star sales guy and wanted to introduce me to some of his friends who were starting a company. I was introduced to the guys and they “tested” my selling skills by asking me to sell this chair they were importing from Taiwan. In that same meeting, they asked me to be one of their founding partners and head up all sales for the company. It was a blast. We competed at BYU and took 4th and 3rd place two years in a row for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award competition and I traveled the country doing tradeshows and hiring our 40 manufactures reps. That is where I got my real entrepreneurial start. I was able to sell my ownership about 2 years later back to my partners, get some cash and a bunch of chairs, and move on to my next ventures. Launch is my 3rd.
MO: How is Launch Leads better or different than the models already out there?
Brandt: Here are some of the key differentiators of Launch vs. our competition:
1. Our entire team is All-American and In-House. No one is working from home or in a third world country.
2. We work on a Pay for Performance basis: To be specific, our clients pay per appointment for our B2B outbound cold calling and appointment setting services.
3. We guarantee the quality of the sales appointments we set and our clients don’t pay if we don’t do our job.
4. We have customized our technology for years and will continue to innovate through our technology to enable our team to call more targeted contacts and qualify more leads.
5. We verify all of the prospects and decision makers that we set the appointments with.
6. We are sales people at heart and in training, functioning in a marketing role. It is a powerful combination.
7. We have dedicated teams for our clients.
8. We are a hands on customized shop, that does not have to squeeze our clients into a box. We are able to truly customize our approach for each individual client we have and their needs.
9. We have the capability to respond to our clients inbound web leads within minutes to then qualify and set appointments with our clients’ closers.
10. We have video testimonials and our competitors don’t. Seems simple, but when you can have a real client, give you a real report on how we did, and they were not compensated to do so, is powerful. Especially in the lead generation industry.
MO: How are you managing to experience continued growth and possibly even surpass your original five-year projection? What have been the key elements of your success?
Brandt: Sell, sell, sell. We are a very sales oriented company, which is why we are so good at what we do. But for our own growth, we “drink our own kool-aid”; we actually are cold calling and setting up appointments for ourselves, just as we are for our clients. We reprove our model every single day and this is how we are seeing triple digit growth year after year. We are always coming up with better efficiencies, faster technology, and more quality control to help us scale. We know there is a need in the market place for what we do and we have built a complex system of people and processes to provide those results for our clients, which is why we have so many video testimonials: http://www.launchleads.com/video-testimonials/
Some of the Key Elements of our success:
1. Sell Always
2. Extreme Integrity
3. Positive Attitude
4. Be Hiring Always
5. Nail it, then scale it
MO: What advice would you give to people looking to start their own business?
Brandt: Wow, I could write a novel on that. First off, I would ask the person if that is what they really want to do with their life. Not everyone has to or should be an entrepreneur. My management team and employees would not exist if they all wanted to be an entrepreneur. Like the E-Myth book written by Michael Gerber, you need to have technicians, managers, and entrepreneurs in the world or it just doesn’t work. But if that person is absolutely set on becoming an entrepreneur and they have some idea they think will be wildly successful, they need to follow these steps: Sell, Design, Build
1. Sell your idea or concept to a potential buyer, actually collect money from them and explain that they are your first customers and you will get them the product or service in x time frame.
2. Only AFTER you sell it, you will design exactly what that person wanted. This way you will never design your product after what you think is correct, only after what your customers will actually buy.
3. Then you can build it.
Seems simple enough right? Well, those words of wisdom came from a mentor of mine and I have never found something to be truer than that simple 3 step process. If you think about the problem today with businesses, so many fail within the first year and a bunch more before their 5th anniversary. In my opinion, a lot of it is because they go and want to “play house”. They get a loan or investment from a friend, they buy a nice office and business cards, hire an assistant, BEFORE they have any revenue coming in the door. So very soon, that investment or loan is burned up and they have no paying customers. Along with that, they don’t actually have a service or product that people actually want. They created something that in their mind would be “cool”, but that doesn’t mean people will be willing to pay for it. So if you follow the rules of selling first, then design, and build, you will not have to worry about not having cash in the door to pay for your expenses, because before you spent it…you earned it!
MO: 2012 is going to be a big year for Launch Leads, can you tell our readers why you’re so excited?
Brandt: Absolutely. If you haven’t yet read the book, Nail it then scale it, by Paul Ahlstrom, you should go and get it. This concept is why we are so excited for 2012. Here is a chronological chart of what our company has focused on in our 3 years of business so far:
1. Year one – Figure out what the heck we were going to do. Therefore we started by selling the concept of B2B cold calling and appointment setting to companies and the best part, people actually paid us to do it We had to make a few pivots in our model, but we were able to do what our clients wanted. We filled a need in their organization; we delivered more qualified leads and scheduled sales appointments for them, so they could focus on closing more sales.
2. Year two – We were able to prove our model through our client successes. We love having video testimonials of clients because that shows us that we have proof of the value we provide to them. We focused on getting exactly what our clients needed and provided it to them within a reasonable cost.
3. Year three – Systems and processes were the focus of 2011. We transitioned to Salesforce.com to increase our scalability and have locked down a lot of our systems and exact processes of how we do what we do. As a startup company, everyone is usually wearing multiple hats all the time, just getting things done. Unfortunately, in that scenario, you forget to write down what you do, or how you do it, so when the next person comes in that needs to take over that certain responsibility, you don’t have anything to go off of. So we focused a lot of time and effort on creating and writing down our current processes and systems to “nail” what we do. Because of our rapid growth, this has been critical for our newest team members to catch on and pick up where the other person left off so we can all continue to grow and progress. Nail it, then scale it.
4. Year Four – As we complete our processes and tighten them down even further and review and perfect them, 2012 and moving forward will be scaling years. We will be focusing on our growth of our current systems and processes and gain more market share. We are confident that there is a large market of companies that need and want our service. We are confident in our current successes with our clients and we are confident that as we grow, we will be able to, along with our own, help more and more companies thrive in our economy. It has been a wild ride so far and it seems like it has just begun. The opportunities are wide open to where we will be able to go.