Digging In with Bill Blaine | PipelineDeals

Grow University Digging In with Bill Blaine

 

JP Werlin: Hi, and welcome to the next episode of Digging In. My name is JP Werlin. I am CEO of Pipeline Deals, and today I am joined by Bill Blaine, who is a partner at Bassman Blaine, down in Costa Mesa, California. Welcome, Bill.

Bill Blaine: Thanks for having me.

JP: Sure. Here, at Digging In, our goal is to talk to sales leaders like yourself, folks who have been in the field, who manage sales teams and have built businesses in order to provide take home value to our viewers. Our goal today is to talk with people who are actually practitioners of their craft and are looking to improve and grow their businesses, and our goal today in talking with Bill is to leave our viewers with at least a couple tactical take home things they can do in their businesses with their sales teams tomorrow that will have material, accretive impact to their business.

So, Bill, again, welcome to Digging In, and why don't you tell me a little bit about Bassman Blaine and what you guys are up to down there.

Bill: Great. Well, we are a wholesale home furnishing supplier, a representative organization. We represent 11 different brands in the home furnishing space, selling predominantly these days to interior designers as well as retail stores. The retail business as everybody knows is hurting, but the interior design business is just getting bigger and bigger, and that is kind of core customer base. We service four states with 14 reps on the road. California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada.

We have a little bit of a bigger reach for one of our vendors and we cover the whole United States and run 70 reps through our office and process orders for them as well, do customer service, etc.

JP: Got it. So, it sounds like 14 and 70. If my new math checks out, it sounds like about 84 reps. Maybe some of them rep multiple lines though.

Bill: Yeah, I mean the 14 are part of that 70, so really there would be I guess 70 unique reps that we kind of touch.

JP: Wow, and I assume they are all distributed. They are all geographically spread across the country and around the West Coast.

Bill: Yeah, we have got pretty much the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico. We have got Canada. Just starting to work into a little bit International, but based upon how this line ships it is a little bit more difficult to do a lot of International business.

JP: Got it. Got it. And so, I work in a distributed company. Obviously your company is highly geographically distributed. And how long have you been in business again?

Bill: We have been in business 30 years.

JP: Right, 30 years. And so, as the business has evolved over 30 years, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen from your seat in the home furnishings and interior design industries.

Bill: Well, there has been consolidation at the retail level and the Internet has obviously come about in the last ten years. When I first started in this business, an interior designer would walk into a trade show and nobody would pay attention to them. It was you are a designer. We only do retail. Flash foward to today. Those are the coveted clients. Those are the people that are making the decisions. We are in upper level brands. Our price points are higher. It is not something you are going to get at Ikea, Walmart, or your average store, so those buying decisions are really helped along by an interior designer.

So, where ten years ago, 15 years ago, people would not pay attention to them, they are now really respected and looked to for business, and much the same when the Internet first started and people would come in and they would say I have got a website. Everybody said great. Well, it is a website, and how do we deal with that? And they were ignored and shunned, and to a certain extent some of those still are, but you cannot get away from the fact that that is a huge percentage of our business now.

So, we have seen that evolution happen. Really in the last 15 years, there has been a tremendous amount of change.

JP: Right. And so, the shift from retail to these interior designers, are these interior designers individuals or are they big firms, or are they a mix?

Bill: It is kind of a mixed bag. There are certain areas of the country where that has always been what are known as model home designers, and they are working with the big builders. Whenever you go to a development, they have got two or three model homes. They have always been respected and they make tremendous buying decisions and account for a lot of business. Now, the residential designer is kind of the new important person that all of a sudden people have to take notice of, and really we make a joke.

We have a rep here in Southern California. She covers what we call the Gold Coast. She has got about 14 miles of Southern California from (Unclear 4:59.2) Beach to Newport Beach and down south to Laguna. And she probably does in excess of two million dollars of her overall book of business in people's homes at their kitchen tables, working with designers that just have one, two, or three projects per year, but they control a tremendous amount of buying power. And then there are also bigger firms that have multiple designers within them. Big staffs. Big projects. And those are super important also.

But we always talk about gravy and your meat and potatoes, so we like the large breadth of customers, where it is a real wide swath so that no one can kill us if they go away tomorrow.

JP: Right, so it is definitely a B2B sale then, and then the designer is the B2C.

Bill: Correct. We do not like C. We want that layer of protection, headache to be passed along through the designer. We only sell wholesale. You have got to have a business license. You have got to have a resale license to buy from us.

JP: Got it. And so, in the B2B sales world, your customer is this individual, right? Controls a lot of wallet share. Controls a lot of decision on where they are going to go, obviously the esthetic. And do your reps cultivate those relationships? Do people call you inbound? Is there an outbound component? How does that work?

Bill: It is a little bit of everything. We are very fortunate to have a really good set of lines. There are many rep groups, as we are known in the industry, that carry 25 lines. My partner, Ken Bassman, and myself made a decision a long time ago to lower our line list and be important to everyone and have them important to us.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: So, it makes it a little bit easier, and we have really powerful lines. So, people that know our company, we can be a one-stop shop. They can do a whole project with us should they desire. We get leads from the vendors. We get leads from trade shows. We get leads from outbound marketing that we do via constant contact or CRM. We get leads from magazines the old fashioned way. We do not use the Yellow Pages, which we did when I started and I would just go into the furniture section and start calling up people with my Thomas Guide. I think we have kind of evolved from that, but leads are everywhere. You can drive around and see a truck that has got the proper picture on the side of it and take down the name.

JP: Wow. And so, are each of your reps responsible for building their own book of business and generating lead flow or do you help them? Sounds like from the manufacturers and all these different sources. If I am working for you as a line level rep, how am I thinking about my day of servicing existing customers and growing new to business customers?

Bill: Yeah, and well, that is the interesting part. It is really easy to demand that the reps get very proactive in discovering new opportunities when business is tough, but right now - knock on something here - is pretty good and we are finding that they are becoming a little bit reactionary, which is kind of a nice place to be. They are kind of dodging bullets and trying to keep up with the opportunities. One of our vendors said hey, right now we are swimming in opportunity. Well, we are, but it is also understanding which opportunities deserve the most time, the most effort, and not wasting time on opportunities that are taking away from the good stuff.

JP: Right.

Bill: So, it is a really a balancing act and we have always tried to hire well and get it out of the way and leave it to them. We do not micro manage and we hire really good independent 1099 salespeople that we always say their paycheck is their report card. And if the paycheck is not going in the right direction, then there is probably a discussion that needs to be had.

JP: Got it, and the right direction obviously is up.

Bill: Up is good.

JP: Up is good. Okay. Interesting. So, let's talk about hiring good salespeople for a minute. Let's dig into, pun intended, how do you evaluate talent. How do you know? 30 years, I feel still relatively new at hiring. What are your tips or tactics you use when evaluating whether somebody is going to be successful at sales?

Bill: That is our biggest challenge, and we are also fortunate we do not have a lot of turnover. I mean the positions are pretty coveted. They pay well. They are a lot of work. Many of our reps have their own two or three assistants that they pay out of their chunk of their commission to support them. That being said, I would tell you that what the criteria is today is vastly different than what it was 15 years ago. I think 15 years ago, we wanted a sales superstar that had Dale Carnegie books in their library, and How to Close the Sale, and had read every book. I think those that have the time management skills and the technology skills are almost as important as the sales skills because we do so much follow-up and customer service as opposed to having to grind and ask for the order.

When I started in my sales career in college, I was selling policemen's benefit show tickets on the phone and smiling and dialing, and getting hung up, and yeah, that is helpful at some point in your career maybe. These days, if you are not a wiz on Excel, if you do not know how to properly folder your Outlook, if you do not have the ability to learn new technology well, you are unemployable as a salesperson.

JP: Right.

Bill: For us, because there are so many moving parts and you have to be organized and you have to keep track. You have still got to be bold and not afraid to walk in and get no, but not as much as you used to. Our best salesperson is not a people person by her very nature. She is not one of those folks that is going to be the life of the party, but she is going to get back to you in 15 minutes with the right answer and she is going to help you grow your business and partner with you and manage it for you and with you, and that is more important and that is where she has been successful, and that is what we are trying to emulate throughout the rest of our staff.

JP: Right, and that is what you look for and screen for when those coveted positions do come open. That is what you are screening for, is that sort of mentality.

Bill: Yeah, I mean, JP, to tell you the truth, if I could have that crystal ball that said this is the right person. We make mistakes. We do not have turnover. We have not had to hire a lot. Most of our hires these days are when we are slicing and dicing territories a little bit, when we feel like they are not able to really service the territory because they are so busy. And as a manager, you know and I am sure many people that will watch this video know that nobody likes their territory cut, but every time you do it, it works out better for everyone.

JP: Yeah, everyone ends up making more money.

Bill: Everyone. And it hurts and salespeople are possessive and they do not like to get rid of anything. We did a sales training several years ago and the guy talked about head trash, and when you have head trash, it is just stuff that is just getting in your way. It is not making you any money, but it is clogging up so much space that you are not free to really grow your business, and so we are always trying to get rid of that head trash, get rid of those bottom two hundred customers that you are not calling on anyway. Yeah, they are generating income for you, but maybe if you could focus on the top and somebody else could make those topic counts, because you are never going to do it, that is kind of where our new growth is coming from, from a head count perspective.

JP: Right, and it sounds like there is always making sure opportunities do not fall through the cracks, right? I think that is every business owner's thing that keeps us up at night, or any really director or VP of sales is like hey, we have got to hit goal or target. What opportunities are we not servicing, are we not missing, are we not prioritized so correctly? How do you guys prioritize opportunities inside Bassman Blaine?

Bill: Well, we just did initiate a CRM tool that we are starting to use because I felt that we get a lot of leads. Like I said, people are very reactive and business is good.

JP: And so, for our viewers, just full disclosure. Bassman Blaine is a Pipeline Deals customer, but we are not going to talk wholeheartedly about Pipeline Deals, but it is an important part of your business.

Bill: Yeah, well, we try to add a new technology every couple years. We are kind of leaders in our furniture world as a rep within technology. We have always kind of been leaders. And we get all these leads that come in and I know that nobody has got a good way of tracking them after the first touch. And every sales manager, VP has read it all. It takes four touches at least to close a deal. Well, my concern is that the first touch is happening really well because I know it is. We demand that.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: Leads are followed up immediately, but then it is like well, now what. So, you are putting it in your Outlook and you are saying call back in two weeks, and then the Outlook goes away and you have forgotten about it and that is the end of that lead. They did not get with it the first time and kind of set an appointment and do what we call a lunch and learn and show them our lines. There is a good chance that yeah, we have done our job. We followed up on the lead, but did we really maximize the opportunity? And my answer is no. There is no way.

So, again, whether it is Pipeline or any other CRM, for me, I felt like we could integrate this system so that we could properly setup a cadence, where we would make sure to follow up on leads four times and hold people accountable. So, that is what we are going to try and do. Again, we are in the infancy.

JP: Yeah. No, I hear you.

Bill: It cannot not work. It has to.

JP: No, I hear you. I think that is interesting. That is interesting. It is great you have the muscle memory inside the organization on that first touch, right, when a lead comes in the door. How long did it take you to get that right, where you were like okay, I know we are following up to one hundred percent of new leads?

Bill: I guess that goes hiring, and I am not going to tell you that I am the best manager. We have a sales staff that is very seasoned. They have been with us a long time and they have been in the industry a long time. Our vendors hold us accountable to making sure we follow up on leads.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: We hold ourselves accountable. We have an acronym. We have a lot of acronyms in this company, but our famous acronym that you ask any of our reps is MRS, and MRS stands for most reps suck and we do not. And so, in order to live up to that, it is just a demand, and when we go through our annual meetings, there are timelines of response that are just expected. And my team knows very well that if I get an email from anyone saying well, I never heard from, it is a huge red flag.

So, again, hire well. I mean you have got to hire people that are going to do their job. If they are not doing their job, they are not going to last.

JP: So, MRS. Most reps suck.

Bill: You can say MVS. Most vendors suck. We have gone as far as MPS. Most people suck. I mean I have got a 17-year-old kid who is about to go off to college, and I know he is going to get into sales, and I tell him just call people back. Most people do not even call people back. Respond to an email. Be on time and know your stuff.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: It does not take much. You do not have to be the best sales guy in the world. If you happen to have that as well, you are going to kill it.

JP: Yeah, it is all about follow-up, right?

Bill: Follow up and follow through and do not get in the furniture business. There is way better. Get in technology.

JP: Well, I am coaching my kids to go to the furniture business, so maybe we can switch. Wow, so I like the acronyms. It is a nice, memorable, funny, but serious way to remind people that we have higher expectations of ourselves.

Bill: Exactly.

JP: Yeah, it is awesome. So, you mentioned you have some folks who have been with you a while. You have a 30-year-old business. Technology is important. How has the journey been evolving from the Yellow Pages to a CRM in the cloud, like Pipeline Deals, or any software in the cloud? You adopt a lot of tools, not just CRM, and so as you have evolved the business, how has that journey been? Talk to us about that journey. What has worked, what has not, and where do you go from here?

Bill: At times it has been super easy. At time it has been brutal. Our average age rep is probably 52, 53, predominantly female.

JP: Years young we prefer to say.

Bill: Years young. And I am good at technology. I had no training. I have no advanced degrees. It just works for me. My brain understands it. I can pick up things very easily. Other people cannot. So, another acronym that we all know is KISS, keep it simple stupid. So, whenever we adopt a new technology, that is one of the things that I look for before we decide to integrate it. It has got to be pretty simple, and I think the more white space, the better. We are a very visual company. Our product lines are very we work with pretty. That is what we do.

So, I need as pretty as possible. Make it easy. And whenever we enter into a new technology, we layer in the processes. We start out with something very basic and layer on more and just teach more aspects of it as we go, but we try to really understand what is most important upfront and then bring more into it later.

JP: Right. So, if the average age is 52.

Bill: That might be generous.

JP: Yeah, I hear you, and so you have a mature workforce, which is awesome, right? They are serious about their careers. They have maybe some commitments that the 20-somethings do not have or financial obligations.

Bill: There is a stickiness there, yeah, and it is a different generation. We have not hired millennials yet. We have in the office as customer service, and we have got some great ones and they are fantastic at that job. We do not have them out in the field yet.

JP: Interesting. And so, the mature workforce. We started. I will loop myself in at the bottom of that. Before the Internet and in a lot of cases before Excel, and so Excel and before that. Lotus 1, 2, 3. But as Excel has taken over the industry, I am sure you get from both sides, vendors and interior designers or furniture stores, lists upon lists through Excel of product and SKUs. How has the Internet come around since 1994? Obviously it is where we spend our 90 percent of our work hours now. How has the introducing new technology to a mature workforce gone?

Bill: It has to go well. You have no choice. And if you cannot do it yourself, you better hire someone that can. We have got a gal that is one of our reps and she just does not have it. She is not good at the technology part, and there was a time a couple years ago where the conversations were coming down, like hey, this is not working. You are great at some parts of this business, but you have got to have this other part down or this is not going to work. And to her credit, she hired an assistant who gets it. Her numbers have gone through the roof. Her stress level has come down. The money that she is paying the assistant has been more than made up for by her recent sales.

So, if you cannot do it yourself, you better find someone to assist you that can. And everybody else does enough. The Internet poses its own set of challenges, and that happens to be one of my groups that I call, and I call on a lot of the eCom. So, I call on One Kings Lane, Overstock.com, Wayfair, all those. Gilt. All those accounts, and it is all spreadsheet driven. It is one hundred percent Excel driven. And you look at those buyers, when they come into a meeting and I say do not worry, I understand vLookup, and their eyes just light up, like oh my God, you know vLookup.

Now, I am sure you know it, but most people have no clue what it is. It is a function of Excel that when you are merging spreadsheets, it is the most incredible thing ever known to man.

JP: It is pretty much magical.

Bill: It is, and I showed a gal yesterday, a new person here, how to do it, and she just looked at me like if I had known that at my last job, that would have saved me months. Literally months. I said I get it. You do not know what you do not know.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: So, it is a challenge, but it is a challenge that our folks by and large embraced and understood that either they are going to get passed on and passed by if they do not figure it out.

JP: Yeah. And so, I think there are a lot of businesses struggling with technology adoption, right? And regardless, we deal with this here at Pipeline Deals, right? I want companies to be successful. That is why we exist. We want to see our customers grow and succeed, and if they use our app, great. We love it, but most importantly, I am just an advocate of use something. Use something that gives you the ability to improve your business and keep track of what is going on in your business. And like I said, whatever that tool set is, awesome. Use it.

But that is the key word, right? Use it. How do we change habits and behaviors, whether it is my tool, my competitor's tool, the 800-pound gorilla's tool in Redman, in San Francisco peninsula? How do you think about getting folks to use the tool? Use it or it does not count? I have heard a lot of different ways people, both bottoms up and top down, get folks to use technology to track their sales pipeline.

Bill: Yeah, so there are two parts to that as far as my interpretation, and let me address something before I go back to the kind of pipeline aspect of it. What we have found is that our vendors are now asking us to do much more of the work that they always used to do. We are now responsible for our main vendors of actually order entry on our side.

JP: Into their systems.

Bill: Into their systems. So, whether it is an API or setting flat file up or whatever we have to do, or go into their system and physically do it, that is our responsibility. And it was not a do you want to do this. It was this is what you are doing. So, I guess it is kind of a similar situation with our team on the road. This is not if. This is yes, you have to do it and figure it out, and so we have had no choice. I mean they really said, and it makes it harder. On the one hand, it creates barriers to entry into our business because you have got to be setup to do it.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: You cannot just be somebody off the street and all of a sudden expect to do a good job with these bigger vendors. Little ones still do not have the muscle to make you do it. So, then it forwards to the next question of how do you keep track of your stuff, the CRM or a pipeline of some sort. If you do not, it is going to be obvious. We are adopting this process so that we are all better and more efficient, and I think we are going to know pretty quickly by sheer productive and quality of life that those that have adopted are better.

I have got a hard working sales force. These girls, most of them are women again, must work 75 to 80 hours per week. They make a really good living, but they are working their tails off. And every time we have adopted a new technology, my goal, and I have said to them, I want you to have a glass of wine at 6:30, seven 'o clock. I do not want you working till eleven 'o clock every night, hammering away at this stuff because you are not going to be any good. You are going to get burned out and that is not good for any of us.

So, that is what I have tried to do and that is what I am hoping the CRM does for our reps, is that it gives them the ability to put their head down on the pillow and not wake up saying oh crap, I have to write down. I forgot to call and I have got to call. I have got to do. This is going to be in one place for them.

JP: Right. No, that is a good way to think about it. I mean fundamentally, you would not give your team a tool that would not help them sell more, right? Isn't that the prime objective of any tool set?

Bill: Yeah, but there are a lot of people guilty of doing just that. Hey, we have all been asked to do a lot of things that we thought were a waste of time and it turned out to be just that. So, you have got to vet it a little bit and have a little BETA test with a crew that you think gets it and go forward, but yeah, we all do stupid stuff and we are guilty here of doing some things wrong over the years.

JP: Yeah, so that is interesting. So, one idea of introducing a new technology is you start with a small group and get some internal buy-in for three or four users before rolling it out to 30 or 40.

Bill: Exactly what I did and I am in the process of doing. So, I looked at my 14 core reps that I am managing on a daily basis and I thought of their skill sets, and their different skill sets, and I said okay, if this new technology is going to be adopted, I picked a group of three and I knew they were three starkly different people where they work in their organization and in their technology bent. I knew one was going to just adopt the heck out of it, one was going to do it really well, and one was going to be clueless, but she has got some pressure on her, so she is going to have to figure something out.

It did not work out exactly as I thought and I got great feedback from all three the way they learn so that when I roll it out to the other 11, I kind of can control the process a little bit better so that they are all kind of covered to bring into the fold.

JP: Right. Yeah. No, that makes a ton of sense, and it is good. A lot of people just choose all the top performers or the three who get it, but it sounds like you mixed it up a little bit.

Bill: Yeah, I mean hey, it is still 80-20 and we have still got the top performers who really drive the bus, and these are all top performers, but the low performers can bring their numbers up and depending on what you are paying for the technology in these days. It is probably tough in your business, but the prices of everything have come down.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: There is deflation and so much based on competition, which is great for guys like me. They want to try to adopt something and it does not have to be a gazillion dollars.

JP: Right. Right. Yeah.

Bill: We looked at the gazillion-dollar stuff and it did not seem to add that much more except for time and effort.

JP: Yeah, there is that too. So, as you are dealing with a mature workforce and you are either getting it or you are not when it comes to technology, and hopefully over time their sales numbers are going up, what is an example that you have seen where in the new tool set kind of the 'aha' moment? What has been that 'aha' moment, or share with us an 'aha' moment. What got the person over the edge, where maybe at the beginning they were a naysayer or let's just say circumspect or critical of the change, and then something happened, there was a pivot or a fulcrum that got them to be a believer? Do you have any examples of that?

Bill: I think two things. One, if you can save them time. If you can do something that is going to save them time and make their life easier, even if it does not make them more money.

JP: Right.

Bill: Just is more efficient. We had this one technology called RepZO. It is what we use to represent our products to our vendors and to our customers, and you can do a presentation in minutes. It is really quick. You can send out what we call tear sheets, which is a product sheet, to someone. And as soon as I showed them that they can do that in seven seconds as opposed to having to go and cut and paste and do everything, it was like wow, this is amazing.

And again, I am not trying to plug Pipeline, but the value for us with a CRM is going to come from the marketing perspective. We use Constant Contact at a corporate level to market to our entire customer base. Five, seven, eight thousand, ten, 12 thousand names.

JP: Okay.

Bill: It does a great job. Our opt-out rate is not great. We get people who are opting out every time we send one out. That is their prerogative.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: What we are trying to do now is market from the rep perspective because the client cannot opt out at the rep. The client is getting too much valuable information. They are getting pricing. They have correspondence on whether something shipped. They cannot opt out of that email address.

JP: Got it.

Bill: So, if we can do a corporate message at the rep level, we know the open rate is going to be much higher.

JP: So, it does not come from [email protected] It comes from [email protected]

Bill: Exactly, and Liz is not getting opted out. They just cannot do it. There is no way they can hit that unsubscribe button.

JP: Yeah, because she is their rep, right?

Bill: Exactly, but Bassman Blaine, I do not need to see anymore of their stuff. I get it. You guys are having a showroom sale. Wonderful. Bye bye.

JP: Yeah. Yeah.

Bill: And we look at the analysis and the analytics show us that the open rates are far higher. So, if you can start marketing at the rep level and there is a relationship there bigger than the corporate level, I think it is really valuable.

JP: Yeah, got it. So, let's put your business on the table really quick and walk me through your tech stack. So, you mentioned Constant Contact. You mentioned Pipeline Deals.

Bill: Yeah.

JP: Obviously Excel with vLookups and some maybe light macros are good. What else is in your tech stack there at Bassman Blaine? What do you use for email?

Bill: Outlook. We switched the whole company. Two years ago, we had Yahoo. MSN. We had email addresses from everybody. They had an alias with Bassman Blaine, and then it was going out and they did not realize it was coming from Gmail.com. It was driving us at the corporate level crazy from a branding perspective and from a professional perspective. We made a huge switch over to Microsoft365. It was not an easy integration in the fact that we had gigabytes of files. We are very JPEG heavy.

JP: Oh, right, yeah.

Bill: So, we had archives and we could not bring everything over. We did it over Christmas when things were slower. We had a bunch of resistance from the reps, but we said sorry, this is what is going to happen. We hired a guy that spent four days really remotely going into everybody's computer and converting them over to Outlook365. It has been amazing. So, now we have complete control of all our email addresses, so that has been huge and that has been almost a year.

JP: And are you using Outlook365 on the cloud?

Bill: We are.

JP: Okay.

Bill: Well, I take that back. There are a couple reps that use it on the cloud. There are a couple people that have Exchange. It is Exchange on their desktops. We have Office Suite here.

JP: Okay. And so, I would assume that is what you are using for calendaring as well.

Bill: Yeah, we use that for calendaring, and we just had a big tech conversation yesterday. And I am in the furniture business. These tech conversations are making me crazy. I am our IT guy by default. When you are a small company, that is what happens. And we use Carbonite for our backup, and so I was learning about PSTs versus OSTs and what archives happen. So, if you are archiving your stuff, if you have a person in your office that likes to archive and you are using 365, that is not going to the cloud. The archives are staying local as a PST file that then need to be backed up.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: That was yesterday's 'aha'. What else do we use? Dropbox. We use Dropbox a lot.

JP: What about for big files? Do you use anything like Airdrop or anything like that?

Bill: No.

JP: Dropbox for big files.

Bill: Yeah, we use Dropbox. We Zip. We finally got written out of T1, but we have really good Internet speed here, so that works out well. It took a while and I know there are probably people out there that are still struggling in their areas to get good.

JP: Yeah, fiber or better.

Bill: Then we have a proprietary system that is kind of industry specific called Brandwise, which kind of runs our whole order tracking and commission.

JP: Got it.

Bill: And then we use Skype.

JP: That is a magical thing, this Skype.

Bill: I am looking down at my system tray and trying to see what else we use.

JP: Right. You mentioned RepZO, which sounds like it is industry specific.

Bill: It is. Well, it is consumer product specific I would say, so anybody that is selling a product. It is a phenomenal tool. I mean amazing. They are doing it in apparel, jewelry, sportswear, shoes. They introduced it. We were the first rep group ever to use the product. It was six years ago that they developed it. A couple old rep (Unclear 36:46.5) and a technology guy. It was two brothers.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: They developed this program and we BETA-d it and really kind of fine-tuned it, and now they are doing great.

JP: Awesome.

Bill: You will probably hear that they got bought for 20 billion dollars and I will get nothing, but thank you. Just like the razor company that got bought for one billion dollars today.

JP: Oh, I missed it. Amazing. And then you mentioned Constant Contact, right? That is for your email marketing communications.

Bill: Yeah.

JP: Okay. Anything else in marketing automation?

Bill: WordPress for our website. We do that ourselves. These days, some of these younger folks are so talented.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: And we used GoDaddy to host. I am not going to say anything bad about GoDaddy, but we were happy to get away from them. We have our own WordPress site that we host, so we have complete control over that. It is all about control.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: Ten, 15 years ago, when we had our first website, there was some guy in Canada, and I was just afraid that one day he was just going to be gone and then we were going to have no control over anything. It just did not feel good.

JP: Right. So, closing up on the hour here, I was thinking about your comment about most vendors suck, right, or maybe just parlay that to most businesses suck. And we talked about follow up and follow through.

Bill: I did not say vendors. I said most reps suck. That is our go-to.

JP: Yeah.

Bill: Our vendors are wonderful. Anybody happens to see this, we have the best vendors.

JP: I love our vendors too. But why do businesses suck? Let's not say most of them, but let's say some do. Look, you have run a successful business for 30 years. What has been your staying power? Why do competitors come and go? So, we can attack the question two ways. We can either ask what is kind of your secret to staying power or what are you doing that the other people are not doing that are causing them to fail.

Bill: This is not a pad answer, but my belief is that every organization has taught them. And my partner and I return every email. Return every phone call. We treat everybody with kindness, dignity, respect, and anybody that works with us would be a fool to think that they could treat anybody different than the guy they are working for. So, you will never see anybody running around here yelling and screaming. We do not let our customers yell and scream at us. It is not okay.

JP: Right.

Bill: And for me, I just believe that you treat people how to treat you and if you act the way you want everybody else around you that works with you to act, then you are going to have a better chance of success. And most people just are lazy. They do not work hard. They do not do the normal, basic things that it takes to be successful.

JP: Right. Most people are lazy. It is true.

Bill: They are, which is great. It is opportunity.

JP: It is opportunity for the rest of us. That is exactly right. Well, cool. Well, on that, Bill, this has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you for your time.

Bill: Absolutely. Well, I am glad to be here and I am sure we will talk again.

JP: Yeah, really appreciate the time. Bill Blaine, Bassman Blaine, Costa Mesa, California. Thank you very, very much.

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