Interview with Adam Bensman from Referral Storm

Adam Bensman with Referral Storm (who wrote a blog for SPOTIO which you can find HERE) and I spend 30 minutes talking about some of the things that made him, the companies he managed and consulted with successful and how he has taken that experienced and now made Referral Storm which automates the process of getting new leads from existing customers.

What You’ll Hear About on This Interview:

  • Getting the highest converting leads from existing customers
  • The importance of open ended questions and how to use them in your pitch
  • How to craft your script using open ended questions to build better rapport with your prospect
  • How to properly set a follow up appointment and what to say
  • Other great takeaways

Although Adam has most of his experience in the home improvement and restoration industry if you do door to door, field or face to face sales and marketing there’s something for you.

Transcription from my talk with Adam from Referral Storm:

Trey: Hi everybody, it’s Trey Gibson with Spotio. And today we’re talking with Adam Bensman from Referral Storm.

Hi Adam. How’s it going?

Adam: Doing well, Trey. How are you doing?

Trey: Can’t complain at all. Appreciate it. So real quick, let’s get in. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself, your background and your experience?

Adam: Sure, absolutely. So I cut my teeth in sales in the storm restoration industry with zero experience whatsoever, knocking doors, doing sales. And worked my way up to be the chief operating officer of a company, running the sales team of about 17, operating in multiple states.

And after that, I went into the consulting and coaching. And I’ve worked with companies ranging from around 3 million to 11 million, helped multiple companies double in revenue, and have developed a lot of unique marketing strategies that we’ve done in house. Because I’m all about bringing companies more control over the sales process and the sales cycle. And in doing so, was producing 75 leads a day for four bucks a lead in house. As well as, developing a referral strategy that’s helping multiple companies go pretty viral pretty quick. So that’s a quick snapshot of my background and how I’ve gotten to the place I am now.

Trey: That’s exciting and I’m looking forward to swinging back around and talking about those revenue numbers, doubling the revenue, and maybe some more specifics on what you did with those companies. But first, I wanted to make sure our audience knows that I invited Adam to come speak with us because I knew our storm restoration customers would get benefit out of what he’s going to say. But I think all of our customers need to hear what you’re going to talk about in terms of what you’re doing now because I think it can help any business. So, get into a little bit what you’re doing now and Referral Storm in general.

Adam: Super. And just to touch on what you were saying Trey, the beauty of this entire concept and the blog article that I wrote, and it’s going to be up there as well, is anybody across any platform can find value and benefit in applying these concepts and tools. So, I just wanted to add that in quick.

My company Referral Storm, what we’ve done is automated referral revenue for roofing companies. And we found that through running…when I was running a sales team of, no matter who you are, how good you are life gets busy and it gets chaotic. Sales guys forget to do things like ask for referrals. And what I want to do is provide a tool that both harnesses control for owners while also freeing up salespeople’s time and helping them generate more revenue. So we’ve automated everything a salesperson should be doing. But sometimes they get busy enough where they’re not.

And they’re these four things; referral generation, collecting online reviews, handling all key customer communications, and lead management follow-up in order to capture missed sales. And we just created a simple way, with four clicks of a button to automate that whole process for companies.

Trey: Nice, that’s exciting. And so, when you were talking about some of the customers you worked with in the past, doubling their revenue, was it based on those four key principles or was it a combination of this and some more? Would you mind shedding some light on that?

Adam: Absolutely. And I think Trey, you and I both see things very similarly in our psychological approach to driving sales. And my goal of this, I manage big teams. And managing people is hard, it’s exhausting. It’s also really rewarding. But most people make the mistake that they say, “Hey, I want to grow. I want to grow my sales.” And what’s the first thing people think to do? Hire new people. I need to hire more people to make more sales. And unfortunately, hiring more people means usually an increase in overhead, increase in time in terms of management, and an increase in headaches, right. Because we got to train these guys, and get them up, and there might be some turnover.

So my objective in the companies that I’ve helped double, we focus on one thing first. How do we improve our operations and increase profitability per rep? So I always look at everything in terms of profitability per individual. And calculating that number down, and if you can get, let’s say, a 10% increase. And you’re a $3 million company. That’s 300,000 in sales. That’s almost equal to what a rep should produce annually. And again, that number in storm restoration on average is about a half million. I know there’s plenty of guys that do more. But that’s an industry average.

So, what I’ve done is help companies create unique sales and marketing strategies to drive revenue using their current assets and current personnel. Largely, using this viral marketing referral strategy that I’ve developed, it’s kind of the backbone of Referral Storms’ success.

Trey: I love it. And heard a stat, I think it was last week, I actually at a conference with one of our large customers and they were preaching about referrals. And their stat was something like 80% of referrals from existing customers closed. It was like alarming compared to if you go out and I’m kind of stepping on my own feet here, but compared to knocking on a door and getting a lead. It’s going to be a lower close rate. So, I’m all for referrals. It’s easy business, you might as well.

Adam: Absolutely. And here’s the thing. I’m actually in the middle of onboarding a company as we speak with Referral Storm. And they said, “Do we still need our canvassers?” And I said, “Of course you do. It’s the bread and butter of what we do.” But the point is this, knocking doors is hard work. Anyone that tells you otherwise is full of it. And if we can extract the most value out of every person we get in front of, the better off we are. And again, having the right incentive structure allows you to drive those referrals right to you.

Trey: Yeah, you mentioned calculating the profitability per rep and that’s kind of why I made Spotio, was really to get down to the nitty-gritty. If it takes me 50 door-knocks to get a lead and it takes you 15, you’re going to be more profitable that I am. But why is that? What are you saying at the door? Are you going at a different time of the day, different territory?

That’s kind of what the whole basis of Spotio was built around and I love the fact that you look at it on your side as that way too. Because if you can do more with less, I think that everybody is happy. The reps are happier because they’re making more money, the company has less overhead, and less people to juggle. It’s just an all-around good thing.

Adam: It is. And we both approach it very similarly. Know you’re numbers. Know your KPI’s, as you put it, right key performance indicators. And it’s huge. My raving testimonial right now I just got from a company in Illinois, they’re on their way to quadrupling their company size. I’m not exaggerating, in 12 months. And they are on Spotio. They’re a company you know. Steve is one of the gentlemen and David is the rep. I’ll leave their company name for them to disclose at their own excitement.

And I got an email from Dave that was about three pages long. It’s January in Illinois and he’s on track to do 50 inspections on homes. By the way, he started a month ago. He’s done 36 to date and they’re all verified using Spotio. So you can pull those stats. And I don’t know, maybe they’re interested in letting you post them.That’s what viral marketing does; January brand new reps, 50 inspections. So, pretty impressive. Again, maximizing that revenue per rep.

Trey: That is fantastic. But they’re out there and I don’t know if it’s snowing there yet, but I’m sure it’s hard to knock doors with mittens on. But I’m sure they’re figuring it out.

Adam: Yep. Well that’s the joys of the referral program. You had to knock so many doors. He said he knocked about 60 to make this happen. And he got a lot of rejection. And once he built that credibility in the neighborhood, and he used the right script, like the one we set out in the article I wrote to peak the interest and leave that open-ended question. He was able to get in the door, built some credibility, and stake a yard sign.

And once people saw that, now he’s got an easier time to canvas the next to it. Because he’s got a warm experience, to reference Sally the neighbor who they’re doing, and how they struggled getting the claim approved. And they didn’t know they had damage. And now they’re getting a new roof and new siding. And they didn’t even know it. And now she’s a brand ambassador. And it goes from there with the right incentive structure, the right body language techniques, the right strategy in terms of referral rewards system, and the right daily plan.

Trey: Perfect. So, you had mentioned the blog post, let’s jump into that. When we talked last year, I had asked if you’d be interested in doing a guest blog post for the Spotio blog and you said for sure. And I thought what you came back with was awesome. And the title of it was Set The Hook with Your Pitch at The Door. So I don’t want to steal all of your thunder. Would you mind going into what that is and why you feel it’s important?

Adam: Absolutely, absolutely. Here’s what I found, is there’s a resistance in our industry. And this actually goes across industries. The guys don’t want to follow, or gals, don’t want to follow a script. Because they’re afraid…and Jim Johnson put it well in a recent article I read of his, that people are afraid of being robots. And no one wants to be a robot. And then the idea of throwing scripts is out the door.

There’s a right way to do a script. And it’s having a template or a format to follow. And the way that you have to format this, I’ve called it “The Who and Do What Statement.” The target market, so who you serve, the problem you solve, what is it that you do, and then, your desires that you fulfill. When you get that right format down, who and do what, so who do you serve, what do you do, how do you fill those desires, you can set the hook very well and have a dynamic backbone per script.

So if you look at that script, that example there, the idea at the door is you got to end with two things. One, intrigue them, intrigue them to want to learn more. Two, end with an open-ended question.

Too many people when I’ve been out training canvassers or salespeople at the door, in neighborhoods, in real time, they set themselves up for failure by ending with a close-ended question. And for those of you that may not know, close-ended means theirs one of two answers, yes or no. “So, Hey Trey it looks like you have some sun damage. We’re working with Sally’s neighborhood. Can I offer you a free inspection?”

Trey: Nope.

Adam: Boom, rejection. I cannot stay back in front of the door, right? So I approach that by saying, “Hey Trey, I help homeowners who have insufficiently made claims, get there roof approved. Now, I might ask you, how did the process go when your insurance adjuster was out?”

Trey: Yeah, well great, I have to answer that. Well, we either haven’t had him out yet, or I have. And here’s what happened. It’s great. It leads to the next question.

Adam: Exactly and I like how you put that first. We want to intrigue. So, people say, “Hey, I can’t use that script because what if their adjuster hasn’t been out?” “I love it. That’s perfect. Well, your adjuster hasn’t been out. It’s a good thing that I’m here because I actually specialize in working directly with homeowners on their behalf with the adjuster. Now my objective here today is to hop up on your roof and do a quick inspection, see if I find any damage. It will take about 10 minutes. And I’m going to take some photos for you when I get down. We’ll walk through everything together, whatever’s most comfortable for you. So, is it better that I do my inspection now, or would you prefer me to set a time to come back tomorrow?

Trey: Nice. Yeah. Good.

Adam: So again, even if they don’t have, that’s why the beauty of open ended questions. It really doesn’t matter what it is, because if you ask something they don’t know the answer to, you’re starting a dialogue. So you can stay in front of them longer than a close-ended question.

Trey: Yeah. I think it makes sense, that’s what you need to go in scripted with is that open-ended question. Otherwise, I think if I just started popping off questions here, 8 out of 10 would probably be yes or no answers. So I think naturally you got to have that, whatever that’s going to be. I guess my theory on script is people are just freaking lazy and don’t want to memorize a script so they use the robot as an excuse. But that’s just my theory.

Adam: Yeah. I’d agree with that. I’d agree with that. I know in our emails…and I apologize if I’m jumping ahead here, but when you and I were talking you said, “Maybe some dialogue about what open-ended question are and how to facilitate them.” And I started thinking, what is the easiest way to explain this? And the easiest way that I can explain this is open-ended questions…you can read online, Google open-ended versus close-ended. I’ve done it before and there’s some good information. But the biggest thing is that an open-ended question should keep someone on their heels and force them to think. How are you doing today, is not an open-ended question. Some might argue it is because it’s not yes or no. But what’s the answer everyone gives you. “Hey, Trey how you doing today?”

Trey: It’s either, “I’m busy,” or “good.”

Adam: I’m busy or I’m good. Exactly. Right. So, we want them to think. Two, if you can start questions with one of three words…or three phrases, when something, something, something. “When the insurance adjuster came out, what happened?” So we start out with “when.” The other idea is to start with “what” or “what was.” “What was the outcome of your experience working with the last contractor that worked on your home?” So, “when” or “what.” The other one is “Can you show me.” This is my favorite one. You can’t bring this one out too early in the game.

But I love, I love to get customers engaged because it makes it more fun for them. And everyone like to have fun. People buy from people that they like. And I want to get them to like me. So, when I’m at the door, and let’s say I have that script, “So, how was the process for you with your insurance company?” And then they give me something. And they either have or got approved or not. And all be like, “I’ll tell you what, can I take steps back. I’ll walk five steps. If there’s a big overhang, I’ll walk off the porch, and look up,” and engage with their house. And now they’re curious, “What’s this guy looking at?” “So do you mind showing me what you found or anything you think might be storm damage?”

And now, we’ve drawn them out of the house with the open-ended question. And there’s a lot that happens with [inaudible 00:15:07] in psychology, is we start to walk around the house together. It’s like walking down the street with a friend. You’re shoulder to shoulder. And all of a sudden the tone of the conversation turns casual, casual and friendly. So, again to recap, when dot, dot, dot, what was, or can you show me are three really great tools to use to get people engaged at the door by saying that hook effectively.

Trey: Greatness. Man, that’s awesome. So, all the listeners out there, go and write down three open-ended questions for each of those. That’s your homework. And then put them into play in you next pitch.

I think it’s great because it just opens that dialogue, and at least when I do the sales I think that’s what I like to do. You just make friends with somebody. And you have to talk to do that. If I’m talking the whole time and there’s no dialogue back and forth, then it’s boring. It’s not going to work. We’ve got to get that dialogue and feel comfortable with each other. Like you said, they’re buying from you. They could care less what product you have. If they like you, then they’re probably going to buy.

Adam: Exactly, exactly. Because people buy from people. They don’t buy from companies. And that’s something people overlook. And by people I mean salespeople, not homeowners. Homeowner’s never overlook that.

Trey: Yeah, right. Yeah, so I think what you wrote for Spotio is awesome. I’m looking forward to publishing it, along with our talk here. And I think everybody’s going to get something from it.

I want to swing back to, you mentioned lead follow-up. This is one of my pet peeves. And really when I was doing outside sales, I made my money on follow-up. It’s in all my blog posts. I’m not a hardcore closer. I’ll ask for the business. But I’m not going to be like overcome objections and stare you down for 35 minutes until I just beat, dominate the deal, you just have to buy. That’s not my style. I’m more of a mutually beneficial, let’s build a relationship. And if you like, we’re solving you’re problems then you’ll buy from me. That often requires a lot of follow-up. But I’ve noticed in my personal career of hiring and training a ton of salespeople, was that follow up just doesn’t happen. It’s like salespeople get that hunter mentality. I don’t want to move onto the next one. I want to get next one, next one, next one. And I love that you’re working on solving this problem. So is that kind of the same experience that you had is just salespeople just aren’t following up and we need to take it in-house?

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. And theirs two reasons. One, and I’m sure one of my salesman will probably listen to this that I’ve worked with over the time, they get spoiled. They get spoiled with leads. And whether it’s inbound leads, whether it’s canvassers they’re setting lead, there’s complacency. Jeb Blount wrote a book called Fanatical Prospecting, which I think everyone who’s listening to this call, if you do door-to-door sales listen to that book or read that book. It’s a great read.

So, one, people get lazy. And two, they get busy. And three, most people aren’t organized enough to do it. And that’s where Spotio really comes in with the ability to take notes and document what is going on so you can stay organized and on top of your follow-ups. Can I share? This strategy is how I sold 40% of my business when I got into sales.

Trey: Let’s hear it.

Adam: And what’s funny is my background was in psychology and natural medicine. I knew nothing about roofs. I knew nothing about sales. I had zero training. And I’m guessing every listener on this call heard this. Trey, have you ever heard this one? “Why don’t you leave your information with me, I’ll review it with my husband? And if I’m interested we’ll call you.”

Trey: Absolutely, heard it a thousand times, I’m sure.

Adam: How did you handle that?

Trey: Back in the day I probably said, “Okay. Cool, when should I follow back up with you?” Then they would probably say, “Oh, no, no, we’ll follow back up with you.”

Adam: Exactly, right. And I just got off the phone with another company this morning teaching this exact technique.

Now what most guys do is they hand their card and say great. And they go back to the office and they’re like, “Man, I got one almost. They’re going to call me.” Sorry fellas, they’re not going to call you. There’s two reasons, one they rejected you the kindest way possible. And two, you didn’t build credibility.

So, without sales experience and no idea of a pitch, I didn’t know how to set the hook. I heard this a lot. And then I started to use this script. And actually I can email it to you after we’re done with our call if you’d like. And it goes like this, “Sure Mr. Homeowner, here’s my card. Do you have any objection if I give you a friendly follow-up call in a few days?” Boom, okay. So, and I’m even going to break this down. “Here’s my card, do you have any objection if I take your name and number for a friendly follow-up call in a few days?” You have to use it verbatim.

The guys that I’ve been out in the field with, they get rejected. And they say, “Adam, it didn’t work.” And we break it down and it’s because they didn’t use it verbatim. And here’s why it works. When we say, “Do you have any objection?” We’re using a psychological tool to get a negative agreement. If I say, “Hey, Trey we just met. Can you give me your number?”

Trey: No, creep. Get out of here.

Adam: Exactly, no. So now I’m going to leverage the instinct to say no by using a negative agreement. So that’s step one. Step two is I want full control. I want their name and number to follow up.

So, as I do this. And it’s hard to see in an audio call. I queue my language, I pull my pen, and I stand shoulder to shoulder so they can actually see my paper. I’m using body language to assume they are going to give it to me. It’s going to make them a little uncomfortable. If they were not wanting to, they’re going to give it to you anyway. Truthfully, I’ve never been rejected. The one time I was, it was a commercial property, he said, “Come back tomorrow.” So I figure that was a success.

So, the other reason that it works, we get control, and we also plant the psychological seed that says, “I’m going to call you in a few days. Do you have any objection if I give you a friendly follow-up call in a few days?” So we’re hinting in the fact that I’m going to call you in a few days. The other thing is we say, “friendly follow up.” Most salespeople want to follow up saying, “Hey, did you talk to your wife yet? Are you ready to buy?”

Trey: Yeah.

Adam: It doesn’t go over very well. I’ve sold 40…and I wish I had the actual stats, this is before CRM, and it was on paper. I’m guessing that it was around 40% of my business was sold on this technique.

So then I get the number. And I follow up my question with this, “You know, I’m sorry I didn’t get you name. My name is Adam.” “Oh, it’s Jenny.” “Jenny, great to meet you. So Jenny, and the best phone number to reach you is? Okay, great. I got it written down. So Jenny I know you’re busy, when’s the best time for me to give you a buzz about that friendly follow up so I don’t catch you in the middle of dinner or something? Wednesday? Perfect, what time on Wednesday?” “4 o’clock.” “Jenny I appreciate it. I’ll reach out here by 4 o’clock on Wednesday.”

So now we have recaptured complete control from rejection. We have some assets that are valuable. We have a follow-up set, with expectations set. And then when we make that follow-up call, whether it’s the canvassers or the sales guy, we open up the dialogue on the phone leading in with that script language. “Hey,”…oh I’m sorry what name did I use? Jenny? Was that my sample name?

Trey: Yeah, Jenny.

Adam: Yeah Jenny. So, “Hey Jenny, Adam calling with Referral Storm. Just a friendly follow-up call seeing if you’ve had some time to read that literature I left with you with your husband.” And then we can start our dialogue. That was probably four examples of a close-ended question but you get the idea.

Trey: Yeah. Yeah.

Adam: We lead with that friendly follow-up. So, that’s the best way that I found hands-on in the field to do the follow up. And I love it. If you guys put that to use, I guarantee it will make you some money.

Trey: Yeah, that’s great. I came on this call wanting to talk about a couple things and now I get a psychology lesson and got a script to use on my potential Spotio customers. So, you know what, I get that every now and then, “Well yeah, let me talk it over with them and get back to you.” So I got a script now. I’m loving it.

It’s funny, in terms of follow-up, one of our other Spotio customers is in the solar industry. And they do financing for solar. And he said that they went and followed up with customers that had been approved, but they hadn’t financed, just to see what had happened. And the resounding response was, “I’m interested. I wanted to move forward, but nobody followed up with me.” And it just blew his mind that that’s the world we live in. As a salesperson, your competition isn’t following up. You have to do that.

And that’s, again with Spotio, why we track even the not-homes is that’s a form of follow-up. If we go knock a door four times and they’re not home three. The chances are we’re going to get them that fourth time, as long as we use a different day. Our customers are killing it doing that method. And it’s no different than you as a salesperson, following up four or five times on a phone call.

And even if you do do one call close type situations, plenty of our Spotio customers it’s a one call close. If you don’t buy our internet package at the door, then I’m onto the next one. Well, in that case, I recommend the company figure out a way to bring that follow-up in-house, if they are interested. It’s just you got to collect the data. You got to do something with the data. People want to check you out online, or whatever, but if you follow up and have a method for the system, it’s going to pay dividends, huge dividends.

Adam: Trey, you said it perfectly. And what it boils down to, is control. On every level, a sales guy wants control using that “do you have any objections” script. He wants to be in the driver seat. I’ve done other trainings on control and how to play the different roles of control. Switch who’s driving, it really doesn’t matter who’s driving. It’s who’s steering. You can run the gas or the brake, but as long as I’m in charge of the wheel, we’re going to get there. That’s the analogy that I’ve used.

But when you said, “Hey bring it in house,” help companies do it. The more we have control both on the sales level fundamentally and the company level and we have consistency, that’s where massive success lies. Especially if I’m a cable company, large scale companies, down to the mom-and-pop contractor. They got 10 different reps out there doing 10 different things, good luck. Neighbors talk. We’ve got to have consistently in control.

And that follow-up, like you mentioned, when other people aren’t doing it, especially contractors. And the number one complaint I hear about contractors in general, across industry, They don’t return phone calls. They don’t communicate. They don’t deliver their estimates. They don’t show up on time. And how funny is it? Trey, you were a contractor, right?

Trey: Mm-hmm.

Adam: Did you ever win business by someone saying, “Hey, you were the only guy who showed up.” Or, “Hey you showed up on time.”

Trey: Of course. Absolutely.

Adam: That’s so fun. It’s like, “Wow, I didn’t even have to try.” All I did was follow-up or show up, and you win the business. So, if people can effectively follow up, you will inherently, even if you’re the worst sales person in the world, you will win business that way.

Trey: You know what’s funny, my dad was a home builder for like 30 years. And when I told him we were going to get into doing insulation, he said, “I’m going to give you the secret. This is the secret to being a contractor. And if you do these three things, you’re going to kill it. You’re going to be heads and shoulders over everybody else.”

And I’m thinking, “Hell yeah, bring it on. What have you got for me old man? I haven’t paid attention to you this far in my life. But this is the secret, I’m about to get the gold.” He goes, “Here it is, number one, do what you say you’re going to do.” I said, “Okay, I can do that. I’m a pretty responsible guy. Then he goes, “Number two, show up when you say you’re going to show up.” And I said, “All right. I’m prompt.” And then he goes, “Number three, if you can’t show up then just call and let us know.” And I said, “That’s it?” And he goes, “Believe it or not, if you do those three things you’re going to be way better than you’re completion. And I said, “Well, shit. This is easy. Let’s get this party started.”

Adam: That’s funny, man. You’re spot on. You’re spot on. The art of simplicity, right?

Trey: Yeah, yeah. This is good stuff Adam. Well, let’s see. Anything else that we want to talk about while we’re online here? We’ve covered a lot of good stuff and there’s several takeaways that I can takeaway personally, and I think everyone listening can too. Anything else that we wanted to go into?

Adam: Sure, I’m reviewing my notes here. I don’t think there’s anything. If it’s appropriate, I’d like to make an offer for anyone that’s listening.

Trey: Nice.

Adam: With your permission.

Trey: Yeah, sure.

Adam: Anyone, roofers, home restoration contractors the referral strategy that I talked about in the beginning of the call, the backbone to a lot of companies massive, massive success and massive growth is really simple. And I’m happy to give it away. Jump on a call with me and we’ll chat. And I’m happy to walk you through it personally. You can reach me at Adam@referalstorm.net. And you can also send me a text or call me on my cell phone, 608-287-4748. I’m happy to jump on a call one-on-one with you, and I’ll walk you through that program, and help you get it implemented in your company. Yes, free of charge. I’d be happy to tell you about Referral Storm if you’re interested. But there are no strings attached. Anything that I can do to help you guys grow your business, since that’s my specialty.

Trey: That’s awesome. Yeah, for everybody listening, Adam and I have that common belief that we want to share good content, make it available, and make you successful, and that the business will follow. And so, I know him and if you reach out, you’re going to get that value. So, I highly recommend that. And thanks everybody for your time. Adam, I appreciate you jumping on today. It’s been awesome. And we’ll talk to you later.

Adam: I appreciate it. Trey, thank you so much. It’s been an honor and a privilege to have chat with you here. And hopefully, we helped some people sell some more jobs today.

Trey: Let’s do it. All right, bye.

Adam: Take care.