Belinda MJ Brown is an executive coach and women’s success expert. Focused on the experience she creates for her customers, she joins the podcast to explain why business owners should fall in love not with their product, but with their customers and prospects, and shows us how she uses ActiveCampaign to execute her integrated marketing and sales processes.
Find Belinda online at belindamjbrown.com or on LinkedIn.
- Episode 61: Customer-Centric Conversion Optimization with Talia Wolf
- Episode 53: Building a Strong Sales Funnel with Darren Hesselink
- How to Use Internal Notifications to Automate Administrative Tasks
Chris Davis: 00:24 Welcome to the ActiveCampaign podcast, I’m your host, Chris Davis and in this episode I have Belinda M.J. Brown who is an executive coach and woman success expert and she’s going to take us behind the scenes of her business to show us how she’s using the Deal CRM to operate more efficiently. We also talked about how a… what a lean team looks like. If you’re one of those business owners who knows that you are wearing far too many hats or have been wearing far too many hats for far too long, this podcast episode is going to be instrumental for you to understand a sample, right, at least get an example of someone who’s taken those hats off and what that team looks like. So, we talk about all of that in this episode, enjoy.
Belinda, welcome to the podcast, so glad to have you on, how are you doing?
Belinda Brown: 01:21 I am doing fantastic, thank you, Chris, for having me today, I’m really excited to connect with you and with your audience.
Chris Davis: 01:29 Yes, yes, so, in the light of connecting with the audience, tell us a little bit about your background and your business.
Belinda Brown: 01:37 So, as you can hear it, I am French, so, I have been living in the United States for 11 years and I am an executive coach by trade after working for over 15 years for global corporations in Europe and in United States. Seven years ago I decided that I wanted to help organizations to connect business, you know, profit and business objective with human experience because more and more what we have been seeing in the corporate world is that it’s difficult to attract and hire and retain top talents. So, I am helping organizations to create employee experience so that they can not only retain the talent that they have but also attract the best ones that are available. I use as a mean, coaching and corporate trainings and leadership seminars to help people connect what a human level then on the other business level.
Chris Davis: 02:37 Yeah, which I have to admit is so important nowadays because I feel like the workforce has been shifting for quite a while and I know in America, just historically it’s been ‘be glad you have a job’. Yeah, just go to work and be glad you have one.
Belinda Brown: 02:57 Yeah. Not only in America because in Europe we are 10 years behind so, finally unemployment rate is dropping a little bit and since I work on both continents and most of the continents actually, I see the difference and the shift happening globally. So, what is happening in the States with organizations having challenges to retain and to engage and motivate people is changing because like you said, people want to have something more. They want to belong, they want to make a difference and this is actually what I’m helping leaders and future talents to understand and how they can engage and motivate people from a place of heart instead of through a place of fear and focusing as well on helping and growing their community impact by supporting causes and helping employees to really feel engaged and that like I said, that they belong to the organization and that it’s not only for a paycheck.
Chris Davis: 03:59 Yeah, and it’s important too, especially for the listeners, if you’re a small business owner, I know we’re talking about businesses and corporations but the exact same thing applies to all businesses. It’s one… Step one is identifying talent, finding the right talent. Step two is retaining that good talent and that’s, Belinda, honestly, that’s where I see a lot of businesses struggle is identifying who’s on their team, placing them in the proper position to prosper and then ensuring that they are continually challenged because if you’ve got an A-player, you have to know that they’re going to need that continual challenge.
Belinda Brown: 04:42 Exactly.
Chris Davis: 04:43 Right? They’re not just going to sit in the back and say, “Well, I’ve got a job, I’m happy.”
Belinda Brown: 04:47 Yeah, not anymore. I think that before having a reward and compensation in terms of money was really helping, I mean the organization but society has changed and today people want to be challenged. Not only getting more rewards but they want also to feel that they are making an impact and that they will leave a legacy, not only for their children but for the organization, the community and that has been a [inaudible 00:05:13] focus and it’s really refreshing to see more and more large corporations.
I work with all type of corporations but I have also large corporate clients, global companies with three or four hundred thousand employees and to see that they are joining the movement, realizing that even if they are the leader on a market they are not attracting any more new talents and they have a hard time retaining them and engaging them. So, they decided that it was time to shift their way of leading people and inspiring people and to also create more entrepreneurial skill set within organization to continue to innovate and to be a lot more agile and flexible.
So, not only they have the best talents but those talents are feeling so well and empowered within the organization that they are not even thinking about leaving because they are continuing to grow. They get challenged every day, they rotate every 18-24 months to new position based on the new skills that they want to develop or their strengths or the cause that they want to serve, even within one organization. So, this is a really interesting time for me and I’m so glad that I jumped into this industry even if it was a tough time when I launched my business just after the economical crisis.
Chris Davis: 06:39 Yeah, yeah and I guess the biggest piece for me in this podcast is to provide insight but you know what, actually it just hit me what you said. I think I’m going to detour just a little bit, Belinda. I want to talk about that, about starting your business in turbulent times. Right? What… Where did you find the… What’s the word? I’ll just say the boldness, to look at the time and say, “Wait a minute, this is not good, I’ve got this against me, I’ve got that against me. Oh, no, I can’t do it right now, I’ll just wait.” Where did you get that boldness to just do it anyway because I meet so many people that have so many convenient excuses to not do something. So, where did you find that boldness to just say, “You know what, now is my time, I’m going to do it regardless.”?
Belinda Brown: 07:40 Yeah, I think that what gave me this drive to do it is that I was living in corporation at a time that was really difficult for employees because when you have crisis what is happening is that you have less and less and you are offered less opportunities to grow within an organization, to prosper. Training is getting scarce and don’t even talk about coaching and I say, “I want to work with organizations that will actually take this opportunity at this time to keep growing their people,” because those are the companies that I want to work with and since I could not find this within the organization that I was working with I decided that I would offer that to organizations that were willing to do so.
I did not choose to open a business. I went to coaching school and I thought that I would be hired by another big coaching firm and I got my first client while I was in training and so, this is how I opened my business. So, I think that it was really about the drive to take the opportunity to really meet the perfect clients for me was the one that would invest in their people and still trust that their best assets were their people in rough times. This is what drove me to get into the business and a time to struggle, of course, but I was able to meet amazing business owners, leaders in large corporations that were still believing that the only thing that was mattering for them is the people because the people are the ones that will meet with their clients and help to grow the business.
Chris Davis: 09:21 Wow. Wow, that’s good. You saw a need. You saw a need and you weren’t afraid to answer the call and sometimes that’s all, I shouldn’t say sometimes, that’s really the… if you distill marketing down, it is identifying and meeting a need with value.
Belinda Brown: 09:37 Exactly and at the time I know it was certainly something that feel that was a risky move but it was the best move and most of the big corporations and big leaders today have actually started in difficult times. Most of the business wanted to solve a problem that happened during a crisis moment, either in an organization, either it was economical, either it was political, but most of the organizations usually are created out of this drive and desire to solve a problem that is happening during crisis.
Chris Davis: 10:18 Yes, yes and let’s shift for a little bit and talk about the marketing piece and get behind the scenes a bit on how you’re operating your business with ActiveCampaign. How are you… You use our Deal CRM…
Belinda Brown: 10:35 Yes.
Chris Davis: 10:36 Are you… Well let me just put, let me ask this question, how are you identifying new prospects and qualifying them and walking them through that marketing process?
Belinda Brown: 10:47 Okay, so, when I started I wanted to do it all and I realized very quickly that I needed to have a system and so I used a few of your competitors in the past and I started with something that was totally free and it went well for up to 500 contacts and then I realized that I did need something more. Then I went to one of the top of the line, that was too confusing and so expensive to run that I say, “Maybe I went too high and raised the bar too high,” and I decided to make a shift and to try your services because I found it really convenient and easy to have the same capabilities that the best on the marketplace but in plain English and really easy to use and easy to train people on in my team so, that’s why I chose your product. I tried it up for a few weeks and I transferred everything that I had, so, funnels and everything else really easily.
What I loved the most about ActiveCampaign, it’s not only helping you with your marketing but it’s helping you as well with your cells, it’s integrating all your e-mails in this one spot when you have one contact and you have your deals that give you an overview of everything that you have connected. When it comes to the prospects and what has been done, who has been connecting with this person so, it’s one place where I can have everything connected and I can connect and integrate with other tools that I have been using to schedule appointments for example and I use a scheduler that integrates natively in your system.
I use also Zapier for other things and learning pages that I have on my website that I have for example that funnels in, Leads using Quizzes and then it comes into your system, create a deal and then it goes to a sequence of e-mails that will be sent to the person and Tia, my assistant, is picking up the phone and connecting with them when we get enough information about them.
So, it’s really streamlined my business because I was a one operation business for quite some time and now that I have a team it’s also easy to relate to your product because it’s really intuitive. It looks like an app, any app that you could have on your phone and you have also the support of Tia that has been a real added value helping us go even deeper in our integration and our automations of sequence and follow up with clients and prospects.
Chris Davis: 13:39 Yeah, that’s been huge for us, Tia’s one of the most requested success team members because she really does go beyond the basics…
Belinda Brown: 13:50 She is adding value. She is adding value and is so relatable and humble so, there is nothing that is not possible, she is looking really to support us in any way she can and really add value to your product, I think that if I had to continue to work with your company without having Tia I think that it will be a big loss for you and she’s really bringing top value.
Chris Davis: 14:22 Yeah. This is great feedback. Great to hear, especially with the success team because that’s one of the things that really sets ActiveCampaign apart from the competition, is that we do have a team that is ready and willing to go to the next level to help you get to that next level. Now, when you… you said you were using Quizzes and in my mind I envisioned someone’s coming to your website, you’re collecting the information that’s creating a deal, your e-mail follow up, is the purpose of your e-mail follow up to get more information about them? Like, see what e-mails they’re opening and clicking to qualify them more or are you using your e-mail follow up for a different function?
Belinda Brown: 15:02 So we have it for two functions. First of all it’s to connect more, collect more information about them and their level of engagement so, saying… seeing if they are a good lead or not so, Lead Scoring has been used because this is the capability that you are offering as well, which is amazing. This gives us the sense of urgency or a level of commitment from this prospect and at the same time it gives us the opportunity to engage with all those people that are going on our website that today we could not always follow up by phone for different reasons, just because the volume sometimes can get big. But really have the opportunity to follow up with them with one e-mail that is really personalized and customized based on their response on the quiz.
We have, in this sequence for example, we have three different outcomes when it comes to this quiz and for each outcome we have created a different sequence providing the value that they need for the outcome that they got on this quiz. So, it’s personalizing the follow up, giving us the opportunity to collect information about their level of engagement and then keep growing because what I have noticed since I have been using Deals, I was not really good at following up before and my team neither but since we have Deals we have noticed that even at the seven steps or eight steps of our process today we have people converting. People before, I was spending two or three times following up and then I say, “People wouldn’t be bothered,” or, “I don’t want to become a spam,” or, “I don’t want to be pushy,” but I realized with the funnel that we have created that today actually at the seventh or eighth contact or touchpoint this is when people are actually signing up and converting. So, it was a big a-ha moment and it changed the face of my business.
Chris Davis: 17:00 That’s what’s nice about the Deal CRM is the visualization piece. It allows you, like you said, if you’ve got those seven, eight steps or even more to quickly go in there and see exactly where people are at and sometimes that’s the difference maker, right? Just being able to quickly see the data and quickly make a decision off of it.
Belinda Brown: 17:21 Definitely, and for me that was really not good at following up, not because I don’t want to follow up but I want to meet new people all the time, it was a game changer for myself and for my team and now we have big visibility of what is happening, what is the amount of deals that we have. Yeah, so, I’m really excited about this. Looking forward to keep using it and hopefully at some point we can have great reporting [inaudible 00:17:50] about the deals that have would be amazing.
Chris Davis: 17:52 Yes, yes. It is on the way. You also mentioned using Lead Scoring so, I’d imagine too, based on particular actions they take on your website and in the e-mail engagement, you’re giving them a particular score to get… to let them rise to the top, the hot leads?
Belinda Brown: 18:14 Yes. Exactly and this also was something that I set in place three years ago when I joined ActiveCampaign and then became part of the community. I realized that it was important for me to know, out of the 3000 people that I had on my list at the time, who was the really hot lead, who was opening the e-mails and were they visiting our website and were they going on some of the links. Since you have this capability to really connect as well your website and different websites as well so, it tracks everything people do when they are connected to ActiveCampaign so, it’s really useful.
Chris Davis: 18:54 Yeah, I’ve got to… I know you’re probably doing this just second nature because just the business that you’re in it’s really personalized, right, making sure that you understand the person and their value and all of that. You see it in your marketing. Everything that you’re saying, the foundation of it is so you can get to learn more and get to know more about the people who are coming into your business. I think that’s worth highlighting because that… I say it all the time, the purpose of automation is to scale personalization. If you cannot personalize that journey, well, first off, you can’t personalize the journey if you don’t truly have a desire to get personal. Right? We can’t be phony and automate because it does, it shows through, it really does show through. So, one thing that’s glaring to me as you continue to talk and I’m just thinking is, your natural longing and desire to connect with people shows through your marketing because you are, you’re leveraging all of these features that allow you to know who’s who.
Belinda Brown: 20:09 Yeah, but I have learned that the hard way because even I am a people person and this is part of my business, it’s not because you are the cobbler that you have the best shoes. I learned actually recently from Tony Robbins, I attended one of his business seminars and he was sharing: It’s time for you to love to fall in love with your clients and not with your product.
I was spending so much time on my products, making sure that I was delivering the top products but I started really to understand that it was extremely important for me to know every single client and every single prospect and to really fall in love with what they are bringing, what they are looking for and really focusing on them instead of just focus on my product. The product that can be customized and be brought back to my clients but really understanding and with your tools today we have really the capabilities to see their behavior to understand what they think, to see what keywords will work better for them. You have A/B testing, you have so many opportunities to use the tool today.
Chris Davis: 21:21 Yeah, so, in closing, Belinda, give our listeners a little bit of insight on what your team structure looks like. A lot of listeners are where you were right now and they want to get to where you are, to where you’re not doing everything. For some people it’s just so overwhelming, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t know how to get help because I need to do all of this.” Talk a little bit about your transition and what your team structure looks like now.
Belinda Brown: 21:50 So, my team structure, still really lean today so, I have a client success specialist she’s in charge of connecting with prospects and clients so, she does a lot of the work in ActiveCampaign and she became really proficient with the help of Tia. I have also a podcast producer that is helping me to produce my own podcast, ‘Planting the Seeds of Change’ and helping me to connect some of the dots because I knew how to do it but it takes so much time to edit and process send these to the right platforms so, I have someone in my team taking care of this.
I am currently hiring a salesperson so, if somebody’s interested, feel free to reach out. Really somebody that is willing to fall in love with our customers and our clients and prospects and really helping to spread the word about what an employee experience could be, the same way that it was about customer experience today, I think that it’s critical.
Other people in my team are, of course, I have a website developer and designer helping me to organize and to integrate those different tools together because creating all the API’s when necessary or connecting the dots is really, really critical. I am lucky enough to have somebody like this in my team, not full time but this is someone that is really involved and knows my business inside out and what I do.
Of course, I have also a copywriter helping me to publish the blog post and helping us as well to create good content and moving forward to create programs that we’ll be selling, using actually ActiveCampaign. We have a sequence for our former clients that is 52 weeks of programs that are delivered to their inbox every Monday and they pay a high price for this to be delivered. We have scheduled already 41 of those e-mails and getting clients to sign up to get inspiration but also get tools that they can use and re-use for a year and those are corporate clients.
Chris Davis: 24:07 Beautiful. I love it. Belinda, thank you so much. Man, this was a really good one. Where can people connect with you? That salesperson… Or just connect with you and find out more about you, where can they do that?
Belinda Brown: 24:22 Yeah. I think that the best way to do so is either to connect on one of my websites so, the one that is the most simple is: belindamjbrown.com, so this would be the best way to connect with me but I have also a LinkedIn profile so, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the best tools that I have used along with ActiveCampaign because I get so many leads from LinkedIn that are entered in ActiveCampaign and our deals today. This is what i have been using the most and spending the most energy on. Feel free to reach out, I will post a job description for the salesperson and you can also subscribe to our podcast, ‘Planting the Seeds of Change’ and connect with us if you have any need and want to create a culture where employees are having a great experience and will stay with you for a long time.
Chris Davis: 25:27 Great, great. Belinda, thank you again for being on the podcast, sharing your experience, sharing your business and just sharing your approach to marketing innovation.
Belinda Brown: 25:38 Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, it’s been a pleasure and I look forward to keep growing my knowledge and understanding about ActiveCampaign because I know that every day you work to develop new functionalities and new features which is also what I do with my own business so, I keep going and thank you so much for the opportunity be here with you.
Chris Davis: 26:00 Yes, great. I’ll see you online, Belinda.
Belinda Brown: 26:03 Okay. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon.
Chris Davis: 26:08 Thank you for listening to this episode of ActiveCampaign podcast. I hope that in listening to Belinda’s story, her approach, that you have a new found appreciation for really focusing on your customers, focusing on your leads, your prospects and really how can you use ActiveCampaign to truly personalize their experience because it really is all about them. What we’ve seen is that when you do, when you do achieve that level of personalization, marketing and running your business becomes so much more natural and, again, you can’t do it alone.
So, take some time, if you have to, listen to this again, when Belinda says she has a lean team, take note of exactly who is on this lean team because you may be in the position to where you’re just tired of doing it all but you may not know what a team looks like for you and your business. Hopefully this helps.
If this is your first time listening to the ActiveCampaign podcast, this is my time to extend to you a special invitation to join us, to join a seat amongst many viewers and listeners of the ActiveCampaign podcast, we’re in Stitcher Radio, Google Play, iTunes, SoundCloud, anywhere where you can subscribe to a podcast, we are there. While you’re at it, if you could leave a five star rating and a review to help us get the word out and validate the value of this podcast it will be greatly appreciated and as Belinda mentioned in this podcast, there’s help, we have help, our success team is here ready and willing to go beyond just what’s asked of them to ensure that you get the value and you get the forward progression that you need in ActiveCampaign. So, don’t stay stuck, if you want to take a more self-guided approach, if you want to learn it on your own, perfectly fine, that’s what we have the education center for filled with guides, manuals, courses, webinars, videos, everything that you need to learn at the pace in which you need to learn for your business to grow. This is ActiveCampaign podcast, a small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation, I’ll see you on the next episode.