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Unlocking the Secrets of Honest Relationship Building in Sales and Marketing

In Conversation with Ron Greenfield

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Ron Greenfield, CMO at Partner’s Edge. The discussion delves into the intricate art of marketing and sales, unveiling the profound significance of cultivating enduring relationships founded on trust and transparency. The esteemed speaker underscores the pivotal role of discerning and satisfying customer needs while ardently advocating the art of forthrightly asking for the deal. Networking, both internally and externally, is lauded as an indispensable strategy for engendering prosperous collaborations.

Watch the episode now for more insights!

Marketing success hinges on staying honest, proactive, and always focused on the customer’s journey.

Ron Greenfield
CMO at Partner’s Edge

Hey, hi, everyone. Welcome to the show, E-coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay, here, your host for today’s episode. Today, we have Ron Greenfield, who is Chief Marketing Officer at Partner’s Edge with us. Welcome, Ron, to our show.

Thank you. Good morning.

Great. Good morning, Ron. Ron, before we move any forward, why don’t you let us know more about your journey this far and how Partner’s edge was formed? What is your agency all about? What Are offerings and we’ll take it forward from there.

Partner’s Edge is a lead generation company that has been in existence for approximately 20 years. Very active in Webleach via PinkPost for auto insurance, MVA or auto accidents; solar; health for U-65, final expense, plus workers come. Last but not least, as we discussed, solar. And we’ve been doing this now with internal and external, so it’s organic and aggregate traffic. We have our own owned and operated sites that we can drive our traffic to, through social media. Plus, we have numerous business associates that then send us traffic, whether it’s buy and/or sell on those Web leads. We feel like we’re pretty much setting a standard in lead generation. Our philosophy is long-term relationships that are built on trust and that lead to a mutually profitable relationship. We’re very big on quality and we’re very big on making sure that people feel very comfortable in dealing with us that if we say we’re going to be doing something, we end up doing it. That’s pretty much our philosophy.

Brilliant, Ron. In your extensive career so far, you have won multiple hats from being a Vice President of Marketing in the healthcare industry to earning and operating a fitness facility specializing in sports performance. How have these diversified experiences in your journey so far has shaped your approach to marketing and business development and bringing fresh business at Partner’s Edge?

What I found with marketing is that, basically whether you’re marketing fitness and health goals, or whether you’re marketing the availability to work with us to have a profitable relationship, is finding out what the need is, what the need is of that customer, what the need is of that individual, identifying the need, and then talking about how I can address that need. Once again, formulating an honest relationship. If I don’t have the availability to be able to handle it, at that point, we let them know so that there’s never any controversy or I thought you could do it. Identify the need, talk about how you can respond to the need and then go ahead and make sure that whatever you said you do, you would do. Marketing for me has crystallized into that. Trying to sell people if they don’t need something is not my specialty. My specialty is to find out what you need, and then once I can deliver it, make sure I’m very service-oriented as well.

Very valid point. Identification of needs is crucial at the beginning of a partnership to ensure those are being met during the journey. Brilliant point there. We have been in the world of marketing and sales for so long now. I cannot resist myself from asking you this. In the world of sales, closing techniques are more often seen as the magic that turns prospects into clients. I just wanted to understand from your perspective, how these effective closing techniques are so important, and what are the ones that you’ve found to be particularly successful in your career this far?

The number one issue that I would recommend to anybody in marketing and sales is to ask for the deal. That’s number one. If you don’t ask for it, don’t expect them to say, Oh, I’d like to work. You need to ask to be able to establish a business relationship. If you don’t ask for it, it’s not going to happen. There are multiple closing techniques. There’s the Colombo one where at the very end you say, Oh, by the way, and then talk about how you can fulfil that need, as if it was a last thought versus identifying the need and then having the customer ask if you can fulfil the need. There are various closes, but it all comes down to asking for the business. Can I work with you? Do you feel comfortable working with you? And then establishing a timeline. So the various closes, but it all comes down and crystallizes to asking for the business and then being quiet and letting the customer or the potential client, answer it. What we feel they need to do sometimes is overtalk and fill the silence, which means I’m not listening. What I’m doing is just talking and the customer and the client are going to figure that out.

My rule of thought is to probably do less than 30% talking and the rest should be listening and taking my time and hearing what they’re asking for and then asking for the business.

Good learning, this particular point for all the pitchers out there, all marketing and sales folks who reach out for fresh businesses. A lot of folks are so much Into their pitch, talking about their own service offerings or product offerings that at times they really do not put enough stress or importance or focus on what the client actually needs, and then match up their offerings to the client’s requirement. Rather, it is just talking about your own services and how it has benefited a lot of our industry or particular businesses from the same niche or domain without even understanding that even if that particular prospect of yours is in the same niche or the same domain as you’re earlier client but every business has their own difficulties or their specific requirements. It is so important to listen, which you raised as a point, and then probably put in your product offerings or service offerings to their requirements to see if that is a match and then create or stitch together a story to make that impact. A very valid point there, I must say, and a good learning point for all the listeners out there.

I suppose that creates the synergy. If I’m talking about products that you have no interest in, I’m just wasting your time. By hearing what you need, I can identify your needs, target what your needs, and then you don’t feel like, Oh, he’s wasting my time. He really understands what I am, versus, He’s just here to sell me. I want that we can work and grow together versus me just trying to sell you a product.

Yeah, like I said, just to not be another vendor on the list. Try to become a partner of their ecosystem and that would make an impact on them. I have to say, we all talk about retention. Once the client has been onboarded, they’ve spent let’s say six months to one year with you. But to be honest, what I believe in is retention starts with your sales in the first place. How you have sold your service offering to that particular client, whether it is a push sale or you have shown what exactly in terms of value you bring to the table and how you’re going to help them succeed rather than looking at your invoicing. Retention starts with the first pitch that you make, because if you have put in the right service or product offering of yours into their ecosystem, then you’re more or less there to stay for the longer game versus those short-term ones.

which is key because either you’re looking at it as a sale or as a relationship. We look at everything as a relationship so that it’s not just getting you to do business with you, it’s keeping the business, optimizing that account, and maximizing the potential of that account, and a lot of the sales then translate back into service. Are you keeping that customer happy? Are you doing what you said? And can it be an ongoing relationship versus a hit-and-run, which is something we try to avoid and look for the long long-term relationships?

Absolutely. And talking about relationships on networking, which is again an important aspect, and is often cited as a key factor in successful sales and marketing. And networking again, as we always do, is all about relationship building. What strategies have you found most effective for building and nurturing professional relationships in the context of marketing and sales in particular?

I want to bifurcate that question and break it into two, from internal to external. Internal for networking, when we make a sale versus that marketer or sales rep getting the credit for that sale, we understand that it’s a team approach. If we’re not involving the admin department to get the necessary paperwork out there to keep the customer abreast of what we’re doing, if we don’t have our financial team making sure that we’re doing the billing and the invoicing, if we don’t make sure that the technical team is there, so we see it as a whole approach of networking to create the sale. If that team is not networked and functioning, it is then going to jeopardize the relationship that we have with that particular client. That’s the internal. To me, that’s the key to success. If it’s just, Oh, I pulled in 15 accounts today. I got an extra $100,000 worth of profit. It’s not going to work if you don’t include the entire team of finance, admin, tech, and administration, external. Even if I don’t do business with you today doesn’t preclude the fact that I might do business with you in six months. What I do is try to build these relationships.

If I don’t particularly have that vertical that you’re working on, but one of my business associates does, I like to do a warm transfer and introduce them to each other. Even though I will not take a referral fee for that. Those are, Let me get you X percentage of no. I would rather build the relationship because that helps my associate who I’m currently working with, and it helps me with the potential relationship if they can continue to grow. Because we’ve found no one stagnant. Everyone’s looking for which vertical, is going to be the next hot thing, and which is going to be the next profitable venture. We try to maintain those relationships. I’ve got a couple of very close business relationships that I do no business with. But I’ll refer to them. I’ll make sure that they refer to me. I’ll make sure on their social media posts, I’ll always say something positive, same thing with me. Those relationships to me are worth as much as an actual sale because they generate sales. How people talk about your relationship with people is key because people are going to ask, do you work with Partner’s Edge?

What’s your experience been? If it’s a positive experience, that’s going to entice you to work with me. If they have nothing but negative experiences, that’s going to have just the opposite effect. I’m probably not going to take your calls or answer your emails, or I’ll come up with some excuse for why I can’t work with you right now. But those are the ones you want to avoid. And once again, in the closing procedures and networking, asking, Is there a reason that we’re not working together? Why are we having difficulty creating this relationship? If you don’t ask, you don’t know. They might say, It’s because I hear that you don’t pay your bills, or it’s because you don’t pay your customers, or that you have do not call leads and stuff like that. They can put you in jeopardy as far as compliance issues. With all that in mind, I feel like networking is the key even before asking for the sale. It’s the relationships you develop in the field, and it’s the relationships that people will then refer to you and say, Oh, you need to talk to Ron or you need to talk to who am.

Does that make sense?

Absolutely. This is so relevant to one of my learnings on one of my first assignments in life when I was trying to make a mark in sales and marketing, my first boss did tell me this thing, which is quite similar to what you just mentioned. In sales, nothing goes waste, Ranmay. Don’t think about it as a one-off conversation wherein the lead converts, it converts. If it doesn’t, it is a waste of your time and energy. Never think of it that way that a lead is going to convert.

In a 10-day time, 15 days, one month. Do not put a tat on it. Think of it as a conversation, add value to it in terms of what you feel is that actual requirement. And if you feel that your product or service is not a right fit, take a step back. Honesty is what matters. Do not push forward because you have your numbers on your head. Take a step back and give them the right understanding or consultation as to what is the requirement, even if it means that you are not in their scheme of things, which is fine. But let’s say there comes a requirement six months down the line, one year down the line, or if they meet someone who has a similar requirement in their network wherein your services can fit in. They will always remember this guy who came into this picture but took a step back, feeling that their product or service was not the right fit for them at that point. They would keep that in mind and push leads in your ways. It’s about relationships in the long run. It’s not about closing that one particular lead, one particular deal in that particular month.

Trust me, I have been on this philosophy for the last decade or so, and it has worked in my Favor when I have had clients or not only clients, people with whom I have had conversations, the deal has not closed. They have come back after, let’s say, one year, two years thinking about it. I’ve switched organizations, this is what I need now. But yeah, it’s all about relationships. Let’s not look at it as a one-off conversation if the lead actually goes to the funnel at that point. Then only it matters if it doesn’t then it does not work that way in the industry.

Jumping back to what I hear a key point that you made is being honest. Because the first time I catch you not honest, that ruins the relationship from that moment on, whether it’s right or wrong. I’ll always be questioning anything anyone says if you could catch them not being honest. Make a mistake, come back, say I made a mistake, but be honest with it, and then people will feel comfortable working with you. If you try to not be honest, to me, there is nothing that will ruin a relationship quicker. Even if that person doesn’t tell you that’s why it ruined the relationship, in the back of their mind, they will never trust you. To be in business with somebody, you need to trust them. You need to have a baseline of honesty. Without that, it could be a relationship and it might even be a profitable relationship. It will never be a long-term relationship, and you’ll never maximize and optimize the account without the honesty factor being number one.

Yeah, absolutely. What is very important is to have the right mentors at the beginning of your career or at whatever stage. It is very important in sales and marketing to have the guts to say no to business if you feel like you’re not the right fit. It is not everyone’s cup of tea because you have to keep your lights on. So it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to say no to business, but if you are able to do that, then you are probably in the right frame of mindset looking at it from a long-term perspective. And also, as we discussed about retention, it starts with the seal. It starts with your pitch. People look at it once the deal is in, once the client is in, look at retention and those customer success specialists through six months, one year down the line. But it starts With the very first conversation that you have with Ranmay or whosoever has come to your table with that pitch deck. That’s how it is probably. Great. Ron, before we wrap it up, I would like to hear from you in terms of any particular advice that you would want to give to the budding entrepreneurs in the digital space and also to those digital marketers out there who are trying to make a mark.

Any advice from your end for all those folks out there?

Absolutely. I’ve been doing this for pretty much almost 40 years. The one thing that has been a constant for me is that hard work matters. It’s almost like mining for gold. You might go through hundreds of potential candidates before you find that candidate that’s going to be perfect and create an ongoing business relationship to this profit. I think it’s every day is an opportunity. And if you don’t wake up looking like that and looking at the world like that, it puts you one step behind. Every day you have an opportunity to grow. Every day you have an opportunity to increase your profit margin. Every day you have the opportunity to create a relationship that even if that relationship doesn’t create a profitable venture at that point, they can lead you, hopefully, to someone else. My advice, constantly keep out there, reach out, constantly be a people person, constantly wanting to create relationships. I look at my business associates as basically almost a friend whom I can ask and know that they’re married or know that they have kids or that they went on a vacation on holidays, reaching out to them. It’s not just, do you have any business for me today?

I like to reach out and not ask for business. Happy Labor Day. What are you doing for Labor Day? Happy Columbus Day. Happy Indigenous People Day and not talk business. What are you doing for the holidays? Establishing that relationship. Then when you do ask for business, it’s a constant, never feeling embarrassed because if you’re meeting someone’s needs, if someone’s hungry and you’re offering them food, you never have to feel guilty. You’re giving them something that they. But the key is hard work every day, especially starting out. Don’t count your hours. If you’re counting your hours, you’re not counting your profit. Count your profit by what you do, not by the hours that you put in and the hours that you put in. Make them productive, make them truthful, because then you’ll be sitting there bored out of your skull. But I know if I’ve got 15 phone calls to the bank, I’m banking out those phone calls. I know that I put those phone calls to 15 minutes, and then I’ve got my whole day planned, and I’m working that day. From when I wake up to when I go home, I tell all my clients I’m 24 accessible.

If you need me at one o’clock in the morning because you have a major problem, you call me up. That’s my job. That’s my way of trying to solve the problem. Even if I can’t solve it at 1:00 AM, when we get to the office the next day at 7:00 AM, we should have a fix and a solution in process. Hard work matters.

Lovely, Ron Brilliant conversation. Yeah, as expected. Thank you so much, Ron, for taking the time and doing this with us. I appreciate it, man. Thank you so much.

My pleasure. Have a great day.

You too, Ron.



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