We know the past 20 years have dramatically changed how you sell. Some say it’s easier now. Others say it’s harder now. We just like to celebrate your successes. Come learn from others while helping us celebrate with those who have found great successes in sales.
Join Yip Yip CEO Brandon Lee, the guy who loves to celebrate sales wins, as he talks with Steve Gasser President and founder of Vivid Image. Even after 22 years in business, Steve says he continues to be as passionate about inspiring possibilities for those around him as the day Vivid Image first opened its doors. As President of Vivid Image, he can often be found strategizing with business colleagues, experimenting with new technologies, or assisting his team with initiatives that will have a profound impact on how he will provide value to clients and his community.
Brandon Lee: Hey, everybody, it’s Brandon Lee and welcome to Celebrate the Wins. I have my good friend Mr. Steve Gasser here with us today. Steve is the founder/CEO/big man in charge at Vivid Image in Minnesota, and Steve, you and I go back, gosh, we go back about six, seven years now, maybe more?
Steve Gasser: I think at least six or seven years, yeah.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, yeah. Well, hey, welcome to Celebrate the Wins and I can’t wait to hear and celebrate with you your amazing sales successes because I think you have a great company. You’ve been doing wonderful work over the years, and it’s just fun to watch you from a distance and now I get to celebrate with you, so welcome. How’s your day going?
Steve Gasser: Thank you. It’s been going great.
Brandon Lee: Excellent. All right. Well, hey, as you know our format, we do five questions to lead the conversation. We do it in 18 minutes or less, so we are on a time crunch, so why don’t we just get started? Ready?
Steve Gasser: I’m ready.
Brandon Lee: Okay, I love this question as a kickoff and as everybody watching knows, this is a question we lead with all the time, so Steve, as the founder/CEO of a digital marketing agency, and by the way, how long have you had Vivid Image? I can’t remember.
Steve Gasser: 22 years. We started in 1995.
Brandon Lee: 22 years. That’s amazing. Okay, so you are highly, highly, highly qualified to answer this question. Have sales gotten easier or harder in the last 17 years?
Steve Gasser: For 22 years, that’s primarily been my role has been bringing in new sales and I would say they are getting easier.
Brandon Lee: All right.
Steve Gasser: Absolutely easier.
Brandon Lee: Absolutely easier. Can you tell me why? Give me two, three things that make sales easier now than they were in, say, the year 2000.
Steve Gasser: Well, so a couple things. Just from a non-technical standpoint is having a good referral program. Majority of our new clients, our best clients, really come referrals, but beyond that, it’s much easier to target our message to the right people.
Brandon Lee: Wow, yeah.
Steve Gasser: When I first started, it was mass marketing. It was marketing our message to everybody, and now, it’s really looking at who is our ideal client and how do we get our message in front of them which could be with Google AdWords or Facebook or content marketing. It’s much easier.
Brandon Lee: Excellent. Okay. Well, I’m sure a lot of those pieces that you’re talking about, a lot of those functions that you do whether it’s Google or Facebook, we’re gonna talk about that as we move into celebrating your wins, so I wanted to ask you and I’m excited to hear about this one because we hear this a lot in the agency world, I would image, or I hear this a lot from agencies all the time, not that I’m an agency. Tell us about the win that you want to celebrate today and why it’s such a significant victory for you and your team.
Steve Gasser: Our win really just kind of solidified here the last few weeks has been a … A client that had a horrible, horrible experience with a branding agency out of the twin cities, charged way too much, just wasn’t responsive to their needs, and when we started working with them, they were a little gun shy. We wanted to work with them on taking this new brand and building a web presence. They were a little gun shy.
Brandon Lee: Wait, wait. I want to make sure I understand it. They were gun shy because they paid way too much and had horrible service? Why would that make anybody gun shy?
Steve Gasser: Yeah, of course.
Brandon Lee: Doesn’t make any sense.
Steve Gasser: You’ve dealt with agencies. It’s a common story that we hear. I would say our ideal client is the company that’s worked with another agency in the past, and they’ve just had terrible service.
Brandon Lee: Wow, so your best prospect is somebody that’s coming out of a bad experience? Is that what I heard?
Steve Gasser: Yeah, and that makes it challenging, too. There’s a level of trust that you have to bring, so part of our process is helping the clients take small, consistent steps which for us does a few things. It helps build quick wins.
Brandon Lee: There you go. Cool. Let’s just transition that. Just summarize for me real quick: the win was a client that was beat up. I think when we were talking before we started recording and I call it a hurt puppy that you guys kind of befriended and they started to trust you, started sniffing, got a little close, and then ended up wagging their tail and being real happy. Is that a good summary?
Steve Gasser: Wow, that’s an interesting visual, but yeah, that’s a good summary.
Brandon Lee: We’re in puppy mode at the house.
Steve Gasser: It’s showing pictures of puppies now.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, there you go. Lots of puppies. We’ll have puppies all over the place. Good editors. Exactly. Okay, so that’s a case. Get us into some of the detail. What are some of things you did well in nurturing that relationship along?
Steve Gasser: Well, I think what we did well is sitting down and really listening to what their needs are. I think a lot of companies, when they sit down with an organization, they sell them this grand vision of everything that you could possibly do for them, when really, all they need is what is our next step we need to take and help us take that step and build a success. The work process, we got lots of quick wins and they looked at us as this is a company that’s proving that they can deliver for us.
Brandon Lee: Right, I’m gonna back up because I think something you said there I found really important and really fascinating. I think a lot of people would be like, “Okay, how?” You said you sit down and you really listen and then you kind of move really quickly over and I’m thinking what does that look like? How do you listen because all of us have been in those boardrooms and you’ve got a client and as you’re saying, they’re frustrated. They just had a bad experience. They’ve probably got three, four, five people in a room, and they’re all gonna start telling you their problems, their needs, their goals, their challenges, and you just said what we need to do is really listen. How do you do that?
Steve Gasser: 22 years of experience.
Brandon Lee: Well, share. Share with the rest of us.
Steve Gasser: Yep. Any client we work with, we actually require a strategy. We need to do a strategy and we call it a re-thinking process. We need to rethink your entire marketing, so we want to hear more about what’s worked for you with your marketing, with your sales system, what hasn’t worked for you. What are some your short term goals, your long term goals? Where are we going? I don’t want to build something that isn’t scalable. I also want to build something that’s not sustainable, so building trust is figuring what is the budget that we have to work with? That’s when we know we’ve really established eye level trust is when we know how the budget is.
Brandon Lee: Oh, wow. Okay.
Steve Gasser: Our intake process is, sometimes it’s individual. It’s getting people individually to talk about their desires. Sometimes, it’s as a group in getting people to share.
Brandon Lee: Okay, so [crosstalk 00:07:34]. In the name of time, I’m gonna let you off the hook with you listened well. Good job. You listened well. What else did you do well in that process that helped you close this deal and celebrate the win?
Steve Gasser: For us, it’s been building trust, building that high level of trust, the quick wins, and not trying to oversell it. Being very real with expectations.
Brandon Lee: Okay, cool.
Steve Gasser: I think that’s where some agencies get caught up is you oversell these grand expectations of what’s gonna happen when we launch this new website. It’s being realistic, and we’ve found that our clients love when we come to them and be very authentic with who we are and how we approach them, and that’s kind of the ideal client that we want to work with, too, is they’re very authentic. They’re not trying to be somebody else, and we’re not trying to be something that we’re not. That really helped build that high level of trust and go from small project to lots of bigger projects.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, tell me about that. I know that’s part of your win, and you said what are some of the things, so give us the first project you started with and take us through what you’re doing today and what’s that time period?
Steve Gasser: This is kind of all progressed over the last six months. We started with the website development project, and for us, a website project is anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks from start to finish. We find anything longer than that, it becomes a project and it’s not fun and you lose a lot of momentum. We started with the website project, but from there, we got into developing internal signs for their company. We got into direct mail pieces buying mailing lists for them, managing Facebook, AdWords. We even designed their latest parade float, so this is our first parade float we’ve designed and it was a hoot.
Brandon Lee: Do you have a picture of their parade float?
Steve Gasser: I’m sure we do on Facebook.
Brandon Lee: I need a picture of the parade float.
Steve Gasser: I’ll get you a picture.
Brandon Lee: Because the parade float’s gonna go right there. We’ll get the picture of the parade float. That’s awesome. All right, cool. Steve, when you look back on that and this is a great success and I know you’re proud of it and your team worked hard and you’re growing that client and moving them forward and therefore moving your company forward, what are some of things that you learn? What are one or two things that you want to improve upon from this?
Steve Gasser: Improve upon from this? For me, it’s bringing in the right clients and matching them up with the right account exec. Some of our clients, they have this paralysis and they don’t know where to go, and at that point, I need account directors that can walk them through a very systematic process. Other clients, they just need a larger vision. They need to see the possibilities, so my biggest learning that I have every day is looking at how can I align the client up with the right team?
Brandon Lee: Got it. How do improve in that? How do you get better at that? You’re gonna say 22 years of experience. Yeah.
Steve Gasser: Yeah. It’s been a lot of just good conversations with our team. We get together once a month and we talk as a team about projects that have worked and projects that haven’t worked, clients that seem to fit really well and clients that we’re having a challenge with that we don’t seem to be able to figure out exactly what they’re looking for. My passions come from helping our existing clients continue to move forward. For us, what I love to do is inspire ideas as possibilities, but growth really comes from working with our clients and helping them take consistent steps forward.
Brandon Lee: Very cool. Good. In this whole process, you found a prospect that was wounded. You befriended them. You put your hand out for the puppy and it sniffed your hand a little bit and its tail started to wag and then it jumped up in your lap at some point. Now, it’s saying, “Build my parade float.” What are a couple things that you’ve learned or a couple things that you’ll do differently next time?
Steve Gasser: I gotta be careful because I love ideas. I need to be careful to be selective on some of the projects that I bring in. There may be a project I bring in that I bring in because I want to see what happens. With that, though, I need to be more selective on what those projects are that they’re gonna make a measurable impact for our business and for our clients, but also set very clear expectations when I bring those in. I love trying new things and seeing what happens, but I’m not always intentional with communicating what my expectations are with that project.
Brandon Lee: You sound to me like a confused pioneer guardian all in one body.
Steve Gasser: That’s true. I got a little bit of a personality disorder there and-
Brandon Lee: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Never experienced that.
Steve Gasser: I love connecting people. I love connecting ideas together. I love looking at possibilities and then handing those off to others that can really drive those clients forward.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, very cool. All right. Okay, well, Steve, I am grateful. I appreciate that you took your time. You got to share your winning with us. We got to celebrate that win with you and it tells you about your client that was wounded and timid and nervous and how you nurtured them along, and now you’re building parade floats. I mean, come on, what kind of agency gets to build a parade float? That’s pretty awesome, so I want to thank you for that, but I have one last question for you because I always like to throw a surprise question out there.
Steve Gasser: You did say there would be a surprise here.
Brandon Lee: This one’s gonna be an easy one for you because you’re from Minnesota, okay, so what is the number one way that you survive those long, frickin’ winters? How do survive that because I look at your weather in December and Jan and February, especially March and April when spring’s happening everywhere else in the world and you’re still under 10,000 feet of snow and 150 below zero. How do you survive that stuff?
Steve Gasser: It’s a lot of winter. It’s all about layers, Brandon.
Brandon Lee: All about layers, alrighty.
Steve Gasser: All about layers.
Brandon Lee: All about layers. That’s a great answer. All right, Steve, thank you so much. For everybody again, this is Steve Gasser. His company is called Vivid Image. As he said, he’s been in business for 22 years. He looks like he’s about 25 years old. I don’t know how he did it, but he was our guest today. We got to celebrate his win. I hope it added value to you. We would love to get your comments and again, if you’re interested, you have a great win, you had a hard challenge you overcame, you figured it out, you kicked it in the butt, and you won and you want to celebrate with us, just reach out and let us now and we will get you on the show and celebrate your win. All right, everybody, I’m Brandon Lee from Yip Yip. Thanks a lot. We’ll see you next time.