Today, we’re going to be talking content marketing and sales with Shannon DeSouza. She has a very wide background; I really like her whole idea behind subliminal selling.
So, we’re going to be talking about her story today. And then she’s going to have some advice for you guys on content marketing and sales. She’s a sales coach with over 16 years of sales experience. So, she’s not a newbie. 16 years is a long time – but 16 years on the internet is even longer. It’s like an epic time. She’s also been in the software industry for 10 years. So, she’s also good with tech, she’s also worked with a lot of startups, she’s worked as a sales rep. She has a lot of information that she brings to the table.
Follow us on…
I’m super excited to dive into how you got started with content marketing and sales, how you market and sell yourself, and what advice you have for us. So with all that said, I’m going to let you introduce yourself maybe a little bit more thoroughly. And then I’m going to ask you one million questions. and then we’ll go from there.
Thank you so much for having me, Alison. I’m super excited to be here.
So, content is the foundation of the internet.
And unfortunately, a lot of small businesses don’t really realize how to use content marketing and sales to their influence and power. It’s great that this is what your audience is all about, but what I find with content marketers, or just content in general, sometimes we’re a little bit too afraid to use it to sell because we feel like we should just be giving value all the time.
But when we don’t actually create the offer, make the ask, that’s where the conversion rate in our marketing funnel just completely drops off.
Getting into Working with Startups
I started my career by going to the University of Waterloo, which is the technical school of Canada. It’s like going to MIT.
And I actually got, I guess, pushed into or nudged into the software industry because that’s where all the software companies would come and recruit. I was in a co-op program. So I got over two years of experience doing that.
And then, I realized I wasn’t done with school. So I went on to do a master’s of business, entrepreneurship, and technology. And that’s where I felt like I really came alive. I focused on sales and marketing in that program, and it really focused on entrepreneurship and how to build a business from concept to execution.
After that, I went on to work with startups specifically because that’s what really set my soul on fire, I would say.
I really loved the ability to wear multiple hats. That’s where I think I learned so much because I was able to work directly for the CEOs. I was able to really get my hands dirty and build.
And that’s where I was able to really try my hand at both sales and marketing. Now, if you’re in this space, you know that those two are no longer silos. They have to work very, very well together in order to get to the goal. And the goal, obviously as a small business or any business, is to make sales, right? And to help people.
That’s a really interesting point you bring up, because when you’re working in corporate at a company, there’s the sales department and there’s the marketing department. And often the sales department is kind of overvalued. The marketing department is a little undervalued. They have a hard time speaking to each other.
When you’re starting an online business, even if you eventually want to outsource a lot of things, you don’t really have the option to silo sales and marketing.
You have to market consistently and you also have to sell. I often think, one thing that you said, as content creators, like the irony of being a content creator, the irony of selling courses or coaching using content marketing is like a lot of content creators, especially bloggers, tend to be, like you said, not great at sales.
The gap between content marketing and sales is really the noticeable in a business, but then like, “Oh, now I’m the CEO of a one person company.” There is no silo. You have to do all of it concurrently.
Switching to Entrepreneurship
And what made you go from helping startups? What made you go from helping others to doing your own thing?
So I always felt like I was being called to something greater.
I’ve always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I remember back being eight years old and taking my cousins’ items and trying to have a garage sale and then wanting to profit on that. You know what I mean? So, it’s always been in my brain. When I moved from Toronto to Vancouver, my husband got headhunted to move. He asked me, “What do you think?” And I was like, “Hell yes. Like I’m so done with this. I need a new city. I love adventure.”
And so that was when I took the opportunity to be a consultant in software. In the software industry, they hire tons and tons of consultants. I’m coming into this new city. I have this fresh perspective, all this experience.
And that’s where I really pitched myself. I landed my first consultancy as director of sales and marketing.
I ended up going to another company being the VP of sales and marketing. And that’s where you have to be able to sell yourself. My job was actually to get these companies on the map, on the radar, get the leads flowing, but also it had to do with marketing too. I had to do some content marketing. I had to do some influencer marketing. You have to get yourself really dirty. We built a website, all the things.
That’s where I really realized that I love both sides of it, but where could I see myself now starting a business? Well, I started attracting a lot of people who wanted help with marketing. So, it originally started with web design, then it got into social media marketing, then it got into lead generation. And because of my background in startup-
Well welcome to marketing at startup companies where you are all of the things. Content creator, website designer, branding expert. Yeah. I love it.
Well, and for me, I love my brain to keep busy. Because I had all these different experiences, I never wanted to really niche down, and I was getting leads. And I was closing business.
I was just like, “I’m having the time of my life,” right? So that’s what I was doing for six years.
And then I felt called to do something greater again. And so I was seeing the revolution that’s happening right before our eyes right now of the coaching industry really emerge. I had actually a lot of resistance around it, to tell you the truth, because I felt like there was no barrier to entry to being a coach. And so a lot of people were creating programs too fast.
Maybe there was no program promise. There was no transformation. And that was giving people a bad reputation.
For a long time, I was really standing on my own. I was calling myself a digital marketing strategist.
That’s truly what I felt like I was doing. And then what I realized is as I created a program, people didn’t understand what I did until I said the word coach.
So that’s where it really clicked in. I just had to step into my sparkle. And so now my title is a sales attraction coach.
I am creating sales teams for coaches specifically who are scaling to seven figures. And it is a done-for-you offer, it’s a bulletproof offer that has a guarantee. So it’s kind of coming from a different perspective because in the last two years, I’ve watched what has happened online around where are the holes, what are the needs? And you eventually build your business up to a place where you’re doing 200, 300 at least a year, but now if you’re ready to put the pedal to the metal, now you need to build a team.
So, because I had done this in software, I was like, “Oh my goodness, I know exactly how to do. Now I’m just putting it into this industry.” So that’s really the story of how this all come about.
Content Marketing and Sales – Setters, Closers, and Nurture Marketing
Did you ever need or hire a sales team?
I have a sales team right now. I’ve had a sales team for ages. And so primarily where I put my sales team was on cold, because I have tons of organic, I have lots of warm, I have tons of relationship, partnerships. All of that stuff, I have no problem with. It’s really mastering cold. And that was exactly the same skillset I had to have when I was in software is we need at least eight different types of lead generation strategies in order to be creating that pipeline to hit our goal.
And so the salespeople you have are actually generating leads.
They are actually generating leads. Yeah. That’s their job.
Every day we have a huddle, we have a standup. I look at the KPIs, key performance indicators. I see where the blockers are. We talk about it, and then we’ll actually do an audit of where the blockers are. We’ll do some role playing if we need to do that. And this is exactly the same thing that I’m offering my clients because I am recruiting, training, and managing their sales team for six months, that’s what the container is, so that they are getting up and running and it’s not disrupting the CEO.
Ooh. I love this. Oh, I have so many questions.
I tried to hire a setter last year and it didn’t work out for various reasons. It wasn’t an aligned fit in the first place, but I also realized that it was a struggle because my lead flow wasn’t really consistent and she wasn’t generating leads.
And so it’s interesting, I guess, there are sales people who are doing their own lead generation, but my first question is, at what point would you say a coach is ready? Like, we talk about making $200,000 a year, $300,000 a year, but what kind of profit would you expect that coach to need to have in order to be in a place to hire a sales team?
I wouldn’t look at it from a revenue perspective. It’s a mindset conversation, to tell you the truth.
And it’s when you are ready to invest into the business to build it out even bigger. When you trust yourself. So my offer is a $10,000 bulletproof offer. I only take clients that I know I can actually generate leads for. So, if you are ready to invest $10,000 in yourself, that’s when it’s time for you to build your business, right? And so a lot of people can’t even get to that point, because they’ve never invested high ticket in themselves.
So it’s a six month offer for $10,000 and you are literally recruiting sales people and then training them to do lead generation and sales?
Yeah, that’s exactly it.
So they come in as a setter, and I train them. It has to go hand in hand with organic; half of the sales strategy has to do with all this engagement you’re getting on your content. Well, now we have to have conversations with those people. So there is absolutely no point of creating this outstanding content and then we never talk to them.
This is so interesting to me.
So I worked with a recruiting firm to help me with a setter. Part of the barrier that I had was, “Okay, I’ve got someone who has solid sales skills and they do not know anything about organic nurture marketing.” So there was this huge disjointedness in creating the relationship because they could understand my avatar all day, but didn’t understand that organic nurture marketing.
It sounds like the nurture marketing is probably pretty similar to social selling, where you’re leveraging really great copy and storytelling on your social media to generate sales calls and then you’re generating sales. When you’re doing high ticket, that’s a really good way to get sales.
That’s actually one of the strategies.
And the sales reps that we bring on, they could solve one of three problems.
The first is creating inbound or outbound lead generation for you.
The second is social selling. And so for me, social selling is all about if you’re doing a live launch, if you’re doing a campaign.
So for example, we have a client who is a Facebook ads master. And so she creates these challenges and she fills it with leads. But her hole was that she didn’t have enough help after the challenge to even get them on the call. So we just finished her campaign and she just came on like two weeks ago and we got her 20 book calls and she’s already converted like 90% of those. So can you imagine the revenue, right? Like she was only able to do a little bit herself first because she just doesn’t have time.
And now we put a team in place and boom, it’s just already skyrocketing. She’s already made her investment back. And so that’s social selling.
The third is like saying “the yellow bus” and now all of a sudden you’re seeing yellow buses everywhere.
The biggest problem I’m seeing in the coaching industry is retention. Everyone is so focused on, “Let’s get the new client in, let’s get their money.” And then who gives a damn what happens to them in the program and even outside of the program.
Now, that is exactly the most expensive way to get leads and to convert your customer because you want to have a very, very large lifetime customer value, right?
I don’t want my clients to come to me for $10,000. I want them to see so much value with me that they’re like, “Shannon, it makes no sense to not have you on retainer because I’m making so much money here.”
For example, that’s not even my backend offer, but it doesn’t matter. Some coaches don’t even have a backend offer, right? So they don’t even know how to structure. And so regardless, so you can come to me with, you have all these customers, you have the lead gen in place, but now your customers aren’t staying with you.
So I have a few really seasoned coaches who have come to me just to solve that specific problem because they’re seeing a hole in the boat and we’re like, “Okay, we can plug the boat and this is how we’re going to do that.”
After you get someone’s money, that’s not the end of their journey.
I think a lot of people get the money and they’re like, “All right, I got the sale. Now it’s time for the next sale.”
Now you have to deliver to them and be present for them and make sure they get results and they’re supported. That backend offer took me a long time to figure out like, “What is my backend offer?” But having somewhere for them to stay with you. So, so important. And so the three areas, again, just to review:
- Inbound and outbound lead generation. So that’s like you need to increase your lead flow.
- Social selling. Specifically, those are the people who have campaigns, and we need to put bodies on those campaigns to make sure that we’re giving the prospects a really good customer journey through that campaign.
- Customer retention strategy. Keeping them and making them feel loved and valued. And that’s how they actually stay with you.
And are the sales people getting paid commission, or what’s that starting commission usually look like? A range.
There are options where you can go 100% commission. Right now what I’m seeing in the industry, the best people to get, you need to have a little bit of a training stipend. Right now, I’m recommending for the first two months, $1,000 per month for the first two months, get them up and going, and then the commission is going to take over. If they’re doing their job and they’ve been trained properly and all is well, there’s no issues.
Let’s talk about the content. I’m going to use the word content marketing, but really what I’m referring to is getting sales through your content. I know you have a new freebie. So tell us about that. And I’d love to talk about kind of those tenets that you have in that freebie.
Because you guys are all marketers, you know all about the marketing funnel.
It’s really about focusing more on the consideration and the conversion stage.
What my freebie actually is, is examples of content for those two stages that are reels. If we will want to play on Instagram, the only thing we can do really right now is reels. Which can be super annoying, especially if you want to produce something a little bit faster.
But I’ve created some examples.
I’m calling it subliminally selling because people don’t actually identify this as sales.
People are only identifying it as sales content when you’re putting out an offer post, right? Buy my thing. There are so many different ways to buy my thing without actually saying, “Buy my thing.”
1. Testimonials or reviews
In this document I’m giving out, it actually has reels examples. Like you can click on it and watch the reel and you see the creator there.
So you can see exactly how they’ve done it.
You can borrow that idea and then implement it yourself, right? So that’s one of them.
2. Client transformations.
We forget how the story of our client transformation of what they’ve come in at and what we’ve done for them can sell somebody, right? That is such a powerful way to do it. A lot of us just forget about it. We’re really in that like teaching zone or mindset, and so this is just a great way to do that. And then if you coupled it with a testimonial at the end, boom.
The other one is your portfolio. Just showing our work. I know being a digital marketer, I have tons and tons and tons of work and I always forget to actually physically show it, right?
So that’s that point.
3. Behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes as a coach you have:
- your phone calls
- your zooms
- you actually creating your content,
- your course.
4. Frequently asked questions.
Those can be sales, right? Who is this for? Why should I invest? How much is it? Right? Just asking questions like that. Make it very simple.
Yep. So much content. It’s so funny you say that, because I just did another interview this week with Erin Urban, who has a best selling book about her career coaching. She said for her launch, “I just felt like I was bombarding people,” but it was a best seller, best selling Amazon book. That repetition, that urgency, is so important to have a successful launch.
And there’s different types of buyers. Some buyers know. They make a decision. Some need time to think about it. Some are the last minute buyers. So cart is even closed and then they’re coming into your DMs, right? So we have to remember the people are different and they’re not all like us. And they’re not all like hawks on our crap in the first place.
These are things like the unboxing. Everyone loves the unboxing or the shipping, right?
Or also, product in action. So if you do have something physical, don’t feel shy to be using it, right? There’s way more ways to sell than just be like, “Here it is, buy my thing,” right?
6. Business milestones and successes.
And then we have a couple more, which are more behind the scenes. which is like where I started versus where I am now. We have working in the business and business milestones. People love, love, love when you announce business milestones, as well as showcasing your success. So a year in review, right? How ’22 went. Or how ’21 went.
I think the examples you gave can really apply to any niche, to a course creator or a blogger.
I had another prospect who has physical products that deal with cleansing your chakras. She started getting really popular on TikTok. People loved seeing her make the products and talk about if you’re feeling anxiety, then you’re this chakra. If you’re feeling this, you’re this chakra.
So I’m curious, the way that you get clients I’m sure is very similar to the way that you are helping coaches get clients.
I am doing my exact same program. Like there are no secrets.
You created what you needed, basically. You did it for you and then you do it for other people.
Well, I honestly, I didn’t even necessarily create it.
This is a proven formula from software. I’ve been trained with over $100,000 of sales training. So, intuitively, leaving the software industry, I put it in my own business. And then when I started seeing that these are the big problems online, specifically with women, I was like, “Okay, let me just adapt this to this Facebook land.”
And we generally focus on Facebook land, and why that is is people are more willing to have conversations in the DMs. People love the community aspect of groups. Some clients are playing on LinkedIn and we have some clients who are playing with cold email, but cold is not dead. Cold exists. Like I close customers from cold all the time because they have the exact need of what I’m selling.
One of the hurdles that coaches feel in like having a sales team is that they won’t work with a recruiter.
They’ll post in a group asking for a salesperson and hire someone. And they’re like, “It was a failed experiment. It didn’t work out.” And one of the things that I know about the mastermind that I was in is like mindset is such a huge part of selling. Is psychology and processes, which it sounds like is really your strong suit because of the software background.
But also you have to address your confidence, not just in the product, but also in yourself and your abilities. And when you are a salesperson, especially when you’re dealing with 100% commission, a lot of people who have contract positions or a full-time job, your money is coming from somewhere else.
Whereas when you are a CEO or a salesperson, it feels like winging it sometimes. You’re responsible for your own income. Is that something you deal with when you’re training sales people?
Coaching a Struggling Sales Rep
When you see a salesperson starting to struggle with mindset or struggle with their sales, what’s your process for turning it around?
That’s an excellent, excellent question.
Basically, I’m a sales manager, so my job is to be in touch with them all the time.
I can see it in their numbers. I can see it in our interactions when they are disengaging. So I have to find ways to intrinsically and extrinsically motivate them, because it’s not just all about the money. There is a learning curve. There’s a very steep learning curve when you go into this in a new job. It’s basically the first two to three months.
A lot of people don’t realize when you bring on an external sales member, there is that piece. Often they quit right before or in the middle of it, and you can’t ever really get over that hump. And you’re never going to until you realize the money that you’re paying this person or whatever it is, that’s an investment for that time. Your energy and your training that you’re putting into them, that’s an investment.
So what do I do? I do a lot of auditing on their work.
Today, for example, one of the sales reps I was on a call with, I realized they were having trouble finding people on Facebook to have conversations with because they didn’t know how to you use the search function of the group. Such a tiny, tiny thing, which I know intuitively they didn’t know, and that was taking them so much time, and then the frustration begins.
Often if I can just see what they’re doing, I can fine tune that process and I can get there so much faster. Now, when hiring you’re hiring your own sales rep, first of all, you don’t even know the parameters of what you should be looking for, what to ask them, how to interview them, how to get them motivated, what kind of bonus structure to have, and you sure as hell don’t have the time to like sit with them as much as I’m sitting with them, right?
And that’s exactly the value of it. Can you find your own sales team?
Absolutely, you can. But then so many people have these experiences where they want a setter or they want a closer, they can’t find those people.
We have to understand the nature of these people too. Because I was a sales rep, and then I grew to VP of sales and marketing, I get it. I understand it. I know how to motivate them to move forward. That’s why a part of when they come on, they’re not just a setter. They will grow to be a closer because that’s ultimately what these people want. So let’s get them to what they, right?
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I’ve heard in the past people say, “You shouldn’t really have, or even look at having a sales person until your income is X.”
But the reason I think why they’re saying that is because a lot of people are giving the salesperson the leads. Whereas if you’re hiring a salesperson to bringing in the leads, then you don’t have that problem of like, “Well, my income is only here, so I don’t have enough lead gen for this.” That’s a really empowering offer.
Absolutely. And a lot of sales reps only want inbound. So obviously inbound is super simple. Like who doesn’t want that?
That sounds great. I would love that. I want that for me as a sales person.
Right? And so you have to be able to even find those hunters, but if you don’t even know the questions to ask them, right, and how to motivate them, how are you finding those people?
Is their commission higher for being a hunter? I’m sure it is.
Yeah. So a setter is 5%. A closer is 10%. But honestly, with some of my clients, they’re giving even higher commissions because they just want to find the right person and they want to make sure they’re motivated, right?
Oh yeah. If someone was hunting for me, successfully, then I would be willing to pay.
I think another problem that a lot of coaches deal has to do with nurture marketing on Facebook; they have a group and it’s their community. This is another struggle I had in bringing someone on; I don’t want the conversations in the DMs to just be about sales. I have the people who are going to buy from me a year from now. And the culture of my group messenger got a little cold because it was just sales, sales, sales when I had a setter.
Content Marketing and Sales: Finding an Aligned Team
How do you make sure the salesperson is aligned with the culture of the coach’s business? Or is that an important consideration?
That is definitely an important consideration.
I deal with a lot of purposeful businesses; I’m a purposeful business.
1% of my entire program is going to go to women who are human trafficked in Canada. I attract a lot of people who are very purpose-oriented and driven. They’re not looking to be vultures. They’re not all about the money. It’s about communicating these cultural things to your sales rep.
So the problem that I see usually is that fear of being too salesy, but it’s how you are presenting the sale, too.
So for example, in my group, my sales call, it’s not called a sales call. It’s called a lead generation audit. When we’re getting them warmer, or we’re understanding where they are today, where do they want to get to? And can my program even bridge that gap for them, because I can’t help everybody. I can’t do everything for everybody. That’s one of the things why this program has become so successful – it’s highly targeted and niche.
Then I’ll say, or my setter will say, “Did you know, Shannon has a free lead generation audit?” And they’ll be like, “No, I didn’t know that.” “Did you want to take some time to connect with her on that?” That’s getting them on a sales call.
I love that. I love that so much. That’s really similar to a webinar that my coach is showing me where she’s a dating and relationship coach and she has the sales call.
The sales call is not really a sales call. It’s more like an interview. But at the end of the webinar, she doesn’t pitch, “Get on a sales call or discovery call.” She pitches, “Get on a call for the relationship audit.” So I love that. I love that whole concept. Because that’s really what it is, anyway. It’s not really a sales conversation. That’s the approach of a successful sales person is,
“I’m a doctor diagnosing a problem. I’m not going to prescribe the medicine before I even know what the problem is.”
How can you? And that’s exactly what solution selling is. And that originates from the software industry, because we need to know. You can sell towards that – the solution they need.
Yeah. I was a marketing manager of a web-based service company and helped to manage the dev team. So I’m not from a software company, but I do have very techy kind of data-driven background. And I love it so much. You’re taking me back. Awesome.
Well, this has been so interesting. I feel like I could have a whole other hour interview with you, because I just love your vibe. I’m getting so much out of this personally, but tell us where is the best place to find you. Tell us about this freebie people can get, and tell us anything else you want us to know.
Absolutely. You can hit me up on Instagram; my Instagram is the.shannon.desouza.
All of my best content is going to be on Facebook, just because that is now where I’m finding all of the coaches and everybody is playing over there right now.
I have a Facebook group called The Winner Circle.
So you can always find me, Shannon Desouza, on Facebook. On my profile, you’ll see The Winner Circle. And these women in this group, these are all heart-centered powerhouses who are doing amazing things in the world. It’s a really, really special place. So if you find me on either of these places and you tell me, “Hey, send me the subliminal sales reels,” or, “The reels freebie that sells,” whatever. Something with reels and selling, I’ll know what we are talking about and I’ll hit you up with that.
Awesome. Very cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us.
Shannon DeSouza is a sales coach with over 16 years of sales experience.
She spent 10 years in the software industry working with start ups, she started as a sales rep, and grew to VP, sales and marketing.
Today she works with coaches and service providers to build high performing sales teams selling high ticket offers.