Start by Asking, “How Can I Help?” with Lisa Seal

About This Episode

Like so many businesses, Belay Solutions had some big problems to solve when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March. Fortunately, Lisa Seal and her sales team were prepared. As a company with a wealth of experience working together remotely, Belay made a quick transition in their sales approach. And it all began with asking, “How can we help?”

Lisa is the Vice President of Revenue at Belay, the leading Virtual Staffing Solutions company. Belay’s unique “servant sales” approach allowed them to craft helpful resources for companies that were scrambling to transition to a remote working environment, and opened new doors for conversations with their prospects and customers. On this episode of Decision Point, learn how Belay’s pivot impacted their business and how your sales team can learn to look for ways to help before they start to sell. Take a listen!

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Decision Point: Start by Asking, “How Can I Help?” with Lisa Seal

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Lisa: [00:00:00] We pivoted very quickly and realize that because everybody was basically sent home, that we had this knowledge that we could share with them. So we quickly pivoted and said, okay, we’re going to call all of our prospects. All of the people that have signed and have left to just say, “How can we help?”

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point, a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity in sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:30] All right. Excited today to have Lisa Seal, the Vice President of Revenue at Belay. Belay is the leading virtual staffing solutions company established in 2010. They provide virtual assistants, bookkeepers, web specialists, social media strategists. Everything you need to grow your business. They’re also endorsed by Daymond John from the Shark Tank as his primary virtual staffing solution.

[00:00:56] So I’m excited to have Lisa Seal on today. Take a listen.

[00:01:03] You know, tell us a little bit about the way about the company, how you got started there and, um, and kind of how, just tell us about yourself.

[00:01:13] Lisa: [00:01:13] Yeah, sure. So Belay is a virtual staffing company. Uh, we provide executive level assistance, bookkeeping, website specialists, and social media strategists, all remotely.

[00:01:26] Um, we have been in business for about 10 years. I, um, stumbled upon belay back in 2014 as a stay at home mom who wanted to get back into a career. Um, and. Really was hoping to find something that was legit work from home. And even 10 years ago, um, I, they started this awesome company and it actually was legit.

[00:01:51] Um, back then, um, there weren’t very many legit work from jobs.

[00:01:55] Brad: [00:01:55] What’s a legit work from home job?

[00:01:58] Lisa: [00:01:58] No, I just, I just [00:02:00] think like the, when I first started, I’m looking, um, there were all these, you know, you want to be a cold caller from home or a customer service rep from home. There was nothing. That I felt like I could sink my teeth into.

[00:02:11] Um, and I, I was just networking and somebody told me about this amazing company and, um, I I’ve just never looked back. It’s been, it’s been the pinnacle of my career, I would say, is this company, um, so I’m, I’m really honored to be a part of it.

[00:02:29] Brad: [00:02:29] That’s awesome. I know that it’s, um, it can be difficult to be culture focused while you have a virtual business, but can you tell me a little bit about the cultural, the culture and what makes it special?

[00:02:41] Because I know there’s a, there’s a, there’s a real hint of specialness, um, at Belay.

[00:02:46] Lisa: [00:02:46] Yes. Yeah. So we’ve, we’ve been just honored with many, many cultural cultural awards, um, each year, and truly believe that that is, that is lends itself to our success. [00:03:00] Um, so at Belay we’re super intentional about relationship because we’re remote.

[00:03:06] So being that the whole corporate staff. We don’t sit in a building together. Um, we were really intentional about time together, um, and make sure that we have, uh, fills the gaps, um, of communication that happened naturally in an in-office setting. There’s no water cooler. There’s no coffee break. Um, so we’re really intentional about replacing those gaps.

[00:03:27] Uh, things from having a, um, a community. And we started off with a Facebook page. Now we do it all within our CRM, but a community chatter, if you will. Um, so that people can share their, their highs and lows each week. Um, we have quarter, uh, quarterly meetings where the whole company comes together and the company, um, corporate.

[00:03:47] Staff, if you will, together, the company invests in us with, um, professional development together in person, even though we’re all going to go back to our remote setting. So it’s just very intentional [00:04:00] about the relationships that we carry with one another. Um, I’ve told. Friends and family that, you know, at my point in my career, I’ve worked for a lot of companies and I have never felt closer to my coworkers than I have at this company, which is crazy being that we do not work together, um, in person.

[00:04:19] Um, so it’s, it’s just an amazing place. Not only that the vision, the vision and mission of our company is not, um, Unfortunately, a lot of companies, it’s not just a saying on a wall or a, you know, a, a statement in a book that sits on a bookshelf. We truly live it out every day. Um, and we make sure that all the decisions that we make and the team time that we have, we are honoring, um, those, those, like I said, that mission and our core values.

[00:04:49] Brad: [00:04:49] That’s awesome. And then do you have, like from a company makeup. Is what’s the average? Like what, what are the deals look like? Are they small [00:05:00] businesses? They’re large businesses.

[00:05:02] Lisa: [00:05:02] Our target audience is that small to midsize business. So I would say from the solar preneur successful. So solar preneur up to, I would say about a hundred person employee type business, where they don’t have departments for administrative staff.

[00:05:24] Um, And, and truly since COVID, we’re getting more and more calls from larger businesses that are rethinking how they staff.

[00:05:33] Brad: [00:05:33] Oh, I, Oh, I bet. Are you finding yourself or does your, is your company since you are so involved in the admin portion of the business and your virtual, are you finding yourselves, being almost a consultant to how you do virtual business?

[00:05:49] Lisa: [00:05:49] Yes. Um, it’s funny that you say that. So because of COVID, obviously it’d be, we’ve done this for 10 years. We, um, not only work remotely, but we. [00:06:00] Lead people who are new at working remotely. So, you know, obviously these clients come to us and we give them a virtual executive assistant. Um, and they’ve most likely, never worked remotely before.

[00:06:11] So we have to teach them how to do that with their VA. So we took all of those resources. Um, that we have internally that we share with our client base and actually created a course, um, called the remote leadership masterclass. And then we also created a, uh, another course called the virtual assistant masterclass because we realized that so many people, especially now with having to be homeschool parents, um, are trying to, to find a new career working from home.

[00:06:39] Um, so we created a class. Or a course, if you will, of how to be a successful virtual assistant

[00:06:48] Brad: [00:06:48] Now, has that been, um, do you find it that it’s hard for people that go from working in a bricks and mortar place to working virtually. Like, what do you think some of those transition points?

[00:07:00] [00:07:00] Lisa: [00:07:00] I think, well, for me, I mean, I know that I always say if I didn’t work remotely, I wouldn’t work.

[00:07:06] Um, but at the same time, it’s the, my biggest complaint about my job is that I don’t see my teams every day. Right. That’s really hard. So I’m an extrovert. I love people. Um, and so it can. Get lonely. If you’re not super intentional about spending time, I don’t have a one-on-one with somebody on the phone.

[00:07:24] We don’t do conference calls. We do video calls and we always have, um, so we were very early adapters of zoom. Um, and we, um, We have to replace that human interaction with at least face-to-face interaction. Um, so that’s difficult. And the other part that I think is hard is not hearing your coworkers work.

[00:07:47] So when you’ve got a sales team, it’s, it helps you to hear somebody else have a conversation and you learn from them. Um, but. So w w we record all of our calls. So we’re really intentional [00:08:00] again, about replacing that gap. Um, so that, that you don’t feel it when you start working from home.

[00:08:06] Yeah. You’re making me laugh.

[00:08:07] Brad: [00:08:07] Cause I’m thinking about like, as a sales leader, you know, you want to kick your door open and go walk out and hear everybody talking at the baseball games that are piping in the fans. It’s almost like you need to pipe in your sales team. Into your office. So you could, so you could hear the here they’re here, they’re working.

[00:08:24] Lisa: [00:08:24] And I do, I have the coolest, um, software that I can actually see when they’re on a call and I can just join the call and it keeps me on mute. They don’t even know I’m there. Um, so it’s pretty cool. There’s it’s just getting smart with software

[00:08:38] Brad: [00:08:38] That’s awesome. So, uh, you know, kind of transitioning to, to sales and how COVID has impacted the sales team and the sales environment. I know you mentioned this focus on relationships. How has that impacted your sales team this year? How have those relationships that you’ve built with your [00:09:00] prospects? How’s that impacted your sales team?

[00:09:02] Lisa: [00:09:02] Um, I would say it’s impacted us, um, very positively, uh, because when.

[00:09:09] You know, everything’s shut down whatever that date was for you. For me, it was March 13th when everything really shut down and we saw our, um, leads essentially stop rolling in because we are an inside sales team. So, uh, literally, you know, nobody was filling out our web form. Nobody was going to our website and all of the clients that had signed within the last six weeks, I would say, maybe not all, most of the clients that had signed within the last six weeks of up to that date canceled.

[00:09:38] So we, you know, of course the salespeople, that’s scary, um, financially that’s scary. And also you want to serve these people well. Um, but nobody knew if they’d have a business to serve. So we pivoted very quickly and realize that because everybody was basically sent home, that we had this knowledge, um, that we could share with them.

[00:09:59] So we [00:10:00] quickly pivoted and said, okay, we’re going to call. All of our prospects, all of the people that have signed and I’ve left to just say, how can we help? We know you’re, we’ve, you’ve found yourself at home. Here’s a list of tools we use. Um, we created a landing page on our website that was tips for how to work from home.

[00:10:21] Um, our CEO and COO created a webinar, how to lead from home. Um, our, our VP of HR and our CEO created up how to lead from home when you have children doing school next to you. Um, so we quickly decided that we needed to be a wealth of information. For all of our prospects and, um, in clients, in contractors, um, so that we could share that with them to make their world a little less scary.

[00:10:49] Um, and we left it at that. We didn’t try to sell anything at that point. It really was how can we help? Um, how can we make this better for you? Um, [00:11:00] After things started getting a little bit better and we started to see a rise coming out of the COVID, uh, pit, if you will. Um, in may June, we started noticing that those same people that we reached out to were reaching back out to us, thanking us for our time, and then asking us more about our services and July.

[00:11:23] We had our largest month ever.

[00:11:25] Brad: [00:11:25] That’s awesome. Now, do you contribute, do you think that would have been a different outcome? Had you guys not taken that, that kind of servant sales approach first?

[00:11:36] Lisa: [00:11:36] You know, I don’t know. Cause we’ve always been that servant sales. We are, my philosophy on sales is, is so, um, based in the, in the approach of we have a solution to your need and let’s make sure we’re a good match for each other.

[00:11:54] Not just can I sell you something? And so I think when you really, um, focus [00:12:00] on that, You naturally have a relationship. So I think they already felt that with us in their initial sales call in, regardless of whether they just didn’t sign up because of COVID or they signed up and canceled because of COVID, they just felt that being reinforced from their initial contact, if you will.

[00:12:19] Um, and when things started coming out of the fear factor and people started realizing their businesses were going to survive, uh, it was just natural that they reached out to us.

[00:12:30] Brad: [00:12:30] Now did you, how are you guys set, set up? Like, is the team you got, do you have an inbound and outbound team or has there been a.

[00:12:39] Lisa: [00:12:39] Yeah. So it’s interesting. This, this was the big year we were going to go outbound great year, huh? To go. So we have always been an inbound sales team. So our team relies on incoming leads that come from our partners and from our, um, affiliates and from our amazing marketing department that just does an incredible [00:13:00] job with digital marketing.

[00:13:01] Um, And so we’ve always just been on the receiving end of that. We do some prospecting from old leads, um, but really orient past clients, but really it’s always been inbound sales this year. So we’re super excited. Um, this time, last year, we’re planning for 2020, and we started out in the church world. And so we decided to create a role that was specific just to the church world so that we could have somebody out feed on the street.

[00:13:30] Going to all the big events in the church industry, making sure they know who belay was and, um, making sure we could serve them well, well then COVID happened. So the, all the events that were, they were my, my BDR, my outside sales person was planning to go to obviously got canceled. And so she had to pivot as well.

[00:13:51] Um, she has. It’s done very well this year, in spite of the situation of not being able to go to any of the events. And we have seen an [00:14:00] increase in our, um, our branding, if you will, in the church industry. But yeah, I’m looking forward to next year for her.

[00:14:07] Brad: [00:14:07] Now. What’s that look like? So it sounded like that role was, you know, heavily event based.

[00:14:12] Has she then made the transition to the phone then? Is she using phone and email to.

[00:14:18] Lisa: [00:14:18] Yes. So she has done a couple of those virtual events. Um, she is really, uh, using the phone and zoom really more than naming things. So video calls to, um, connect with not only the churches, but the, um, the, the organizations that serve churches.

[00:14:37] So that she’s a part of having a seat at the table of those organizations that globally serve, serve the church world.

[00:14:45] Brad: [00:14:45] That’s awesome. Are you guys using, we just had last week or maybe two weeks ago, we had, um, Margaret Henny from Covideo, which is a video email platform. Um, do you guys use video email at all in your, [00:15:00] uh, in your sales process?

[00:15:02] Lisa: [00:15:02] We do. Yes. We, we use a lot of videos. Um, we’ve been using BombBomb, um, and we have a software system called outreach that connects to Salesforce that also does some video, but yes, we send videos in email quite often.

[00:15:16] Brad: [00:15:16] Yeah. I think that the one thing that it’s fascinating, if you ever read the Gong, so Gong, which is a recording application, um, for conversations, they put out a lot of statistics.

[00:15:29] And it’s really fascinating. The impact that that seeing somebodies face has on the say on the sales cycle, they claim it’s as much as three times more likely that somebody will close with you. If they can see your face during the process.

[00:15:46] Lisa: [00:15:46] Yes. I have heard the same statistic and I don’t know that I can measure that.

[00:15:52] Um, but I will, I will say that we have, um, definitely gotten a lot of good feedback on it, [00:16:00] where we hear people say, Know, I loved this video. Thank you for letting me see your face. Um, and the sales team. The other thing that they’ve done to pivot a little bit, um, this year is they never did zoom calls with clients because we felt like it was too big of an ask for the, for the price and say prospects.

[00:16:17] It was too big of an ask. For a prospect, but we’re finding they love it. They want to connect face to face rather than just on a phone call.

[00:16:26] Brad: [00:16:26] Well, video is weird to me whether it’s Zoom or a BombBomb or a Covideo or any kind of applicants there, there’s a natural kind of pushback that I think you have personally to like wanting to be on video.

[00:16:40] And some people, obviously personalities are geared towards, um, being on video, but other people have this. Kind of natural, um, kind of push push on not wanting to be video well, COVID comes rolling through. Everybody’s so comfortable being on video, you know, having crazy stuff, cats, dogs, [00:17:00] that’s all been thrown out the window and, um, it’s really laid the groundwork for people to sorta to bring down the, um, maybe business facade.

[00:17:10] I think that’s ultimately what it, bio weighted initially was like, Hey, I have this, I have this kind of business persona that I want to keep that I don’t feel like transcribes on video all that. Well, and covert just tore that all down. So everybody everybody’s all up on the video.

[00:17:26] Lisa: [00:17:26] Yeah, I agree. And it’s funny.

[00:17:28] We actually have resources to teach our contractors on how to show up. Professionally on video because you know, you don’t want people forget, right. That they’re actually on video. You don’t want somebody working from, you know, an area in their home. We’ve got kids walking behind you and you know, we still believe that you still have to show up with a level of professionalism, a level of decorum if you will.

[00:17:51] Um, so yes, we, we are very mindful of that, but again, we’ve been doing this for a long time. So for us, this wasn’t new, right.

[00:17:58] Brad: [00:17:58] Um, you know, kind of [00:18:00] transitioning back to the sales process. Um, what, what is the, um, you know, talk to me a little bit about how you got maybe more in detail, kind of how you guys think about your inbound versus your outbound.

[00:18:12] And then what’s that look like in the future for you guys as you grow that team?

[00:18:17] Lisa: [00:18:17] Yeah. So our, we have found that our, of course, best lead is a referral, right? Word of mouth. Somebody is experiencing our service, who’s telling all their friends. Um, and so our. And, and we have a wonderful referral program. We play, we pay well for those referral, uh, referral clients or prospects.

[00:18:39] Um, and so from word of mouth and our digital marketing that we do, um, our partnerships are extremely important. I was just in Nashville last week, um, with one of our larger partners at one of their conferences. And it is, um, It grows our business, uh, greatly when we really spend a lot of time with our partners.

[00:19:00] [00:19:00] So inbound leads will always be the core of our sales team, our outbound sales. We have to be really strategic about it because our staffing model is not like. Really any other that’s out there prior pre COVID, people didn’t know what a virtual assistant was. They hear it and they think, Oh, off shore. Um, you know, uh, maybe not US-based type.

[00:19:26] Inexpensive support. Well, billing is not that we are, we are truly a executive level virtual assistant firm, uh, with US-based VA. So we, I feel like there’s a lot of education that has to go into the sale prior to being able to, um, even get in front of them. So we have to prove to ourself to accompany that we are a solution they haven’t considered yet.

[00:19:53] Um, And hope that they’ll hear us out because again, they hear virtual assistant and think it’s something different than [00:20:00] what we actually offer. Um, since COVID, I think that’s gotten. Easier because they hear virtual or remote and go, yes, no. Right.

[00:20:11] Brad: [00:20:11] The stigmatism is off of the virtual. Yeah.

[00:20:18] Lisa: [00:20:18] So yeah. So the outbound piece of what we do, um, that is certainly my focus of growth.

[00:20:25] Um, and it’s just being strategic in what that looks like. Do we, do we put it in verticals of industry? So that there’s a sales person going towards a specific industry, or is it, um, key accounts? There’s a couple of different ideas that I’m considering for the next two years, three years, if you will, of what I see that the growth of the outbound team looking like, and I do see that it will grow too.

[00:20:56] Match my inbound team. Um, so it would be [00:21:00] almost essentially doubling the sales team, but I, it can’t just be the old school, um, uh, door knocking. Like it was 10 years ago before everything became digital, if you will.

[00:21:13] Brad: [00:21:13] Yeah, yeah, no, that totally makes sense. Now. How have you, you know, the partnerships because it came up internally, so I was curious, um, H w what’s that model?

[00:21:23] I know that’s been pretty. So from my observation, um, You know, it looks like you guys have done a really good job on partnerships. I think I saw on Good Morning America, Daymond John had mentioned, um, Belay as his go-to virtual assistant. I know that you guys early on got involved with Michael Michael Hyatt and his and his team.

[00:21:43] Um, what are those partnerships look like and how have you guys like, tell me a little bit about the partnership strategy?

[00:21:49] Lisa: [00:21:49] Yeah, so the partnership we just in my, the conference I did last week was with entree leadership and Dave  and that was amazing. Um, And the, the strategy [00:22:00] behind it is the people that follow these people.

[00:22:04] These folks are they, our target audience? Are they the people that truly need. Have this need that we have a solution too. Um, and so Michael Hyatt is a perfect example. Um, most, uh, most of his followers are small to mid-sized businesses. Um, people who are trying to grow their business, same thing with the Dave Ramsey group.

[00:22:26] It’s it’s the, um, Successful small businesses that are trying to grow, um, and don’t necessarily need a department of administrative staff or bookkeeper full time, um, because our model is scalable. Um, those folks are our perfect target audience. Um, so building relationships with those strategic partners, um, allows us an audience to their audience if you will.

[00:22:56] Um, and we. Nurture that, [00:23:00] um, With all the sincerity that we can, uh, because we feel we have something to bring to their client base that will really truly help them succeed. Um, and it’s in line with their mission for their own client. Um, so we have found that there, um, Their advisors or coaches are out there talking to these small businesses and oftentimes it’s, you need help and we have the right company to help you.

[00:23:31] Um, and so it’s just making sure that when we partner with somebody. The vision and mission are similar. There’s a, there’s an alignment in our belief. Um, and then often obviously a need for, um, the service.

[00:23:45] Brad: [00:23:45] Yeah. I, you know, it can be really difficult, you know, typically when I talk to people about partnerships, um, there’s usually an express discontent, you know, cause they’re hopeful that a partnership would work, but uh, there seems to be a consistent [00:24:00] struggle in terms of yeah.

[00:24:01] Growing your business that way. And there’s obviously companies like Belay that have done a phenomenal job. What kind of tips would you give? Like what’s a, how do you arrange a good partnership relationship? Is that a, is that a paid interaction? Is that a free interaction? How do you guys think, how do you think and how do you guys do that successfully?

[00:24:20] Lisa: [00:24:20] Yeah. So it, it definitely is a paid interaction, right? I mean, we have to, we have to have a win-win um, for each organization for belay and whoever the partner is. So there has to be something that, um, we’re each getting out of it, if you will. Um, so yes, we, we definitely believe in paid. We also have a partnership.

[00:24:39] Role here at Belay on the corporate team, that is, this person’s job is to identify future partners and to nurture our current partners, to make sure that again, both sides feel that this is an equally satisfying relationship if you will, but yeah, certainly dollars come into play.

[00:24:57] And is there

[00:24:58] Brad: [00:24:58] anything, you know, I [00:25:00] think the two big takeaways that I took from there is like strategically aligning your, your vision and your in your mission.

[00:25:06] It’s probably a whole lot easier to get those two gears to work when the mission and vision are really, um, you know, kind of greasing the relationship.

[00:25:18] Lisa: [00:25:18] No question about it. We, yeah, we need the partner to feel confident when they’re referring folks to us. Um, they’ve built a level of trust with their own client.

[00:25:30] And so when they refer somebody to us, they want to make sure that they’re going to be. Well taken care of, um, it wouldn’t behoove them to refer to Belay if, if they didn’t have that, you know, so I think, yes, it is, is super important that, um, our, our values align and a level of trust.

[00:25:56] Brad: [00:25:56] All right. Well, what an interview with Lisa. Lisa, thank [00:26:00] you so much for being on the podcast. Here were some of my takeaways or kind of the primary takeaway that I had, um, from our conversation with Lisa, the take away really had to do with the fact that they’d been working as a remote and work from home business for the last decade.

[00:26:19] And the, as the pain of dynamics, the pandemic sort of set in, they started thinking about what was happening and how they could impact that. And they decided that they could take this kind of work from home environment that they created. They could package it up, uh, in some material and then get that out to their clients as a way to help and serve them.

[00:26:41] And then ultimately I think the big takeaway. Um, from my conversation with Lisa is at the core of the way. And what they’re doing is a real servant, a servant heart to serve their clients, uh, and the world around them. And then also there’s just a refreshing sense of [00:27:00] authenticity, which I think over the last couple of weeks has worked itself in, in the podcast, like the real importance of just being authentic.

[00:27:07] And I think you could feel that in. Her interview, you definitely could feel authenticity in the interview with Todd. And then I know that Margaret in the Covideo interview a couple of weeks ago really talked about the power of that. And I think you could see that sort of lived out as we were having a conversation with her.

[00:27:24] Personally, and then about the Belay culture. So, um, again, Lisa, thank you so much for being on the podcast. And if you want to reach out to Lisa, you can go to belaysolutions.com and as always, if you want to get more on the podcast, you want to get more material. You want to listen to more content, go to monsterconnect.com/podcast. Until next time don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can [00:28:00]

[00:00:00] Lisa: [00:00:00] We pivoted very quickly and realize that because everybody was basically sent home, that we had this knowledge that we could share with them. So we quickly pivoted and said, okay, we’re going to call all of our prospects. All of the people that have signed and have left to just say, “How can we help?”

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point, a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity in sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:30] All right. Excited today to have Lisa Seal, the Vice President of Revenue at Belay. Belay is the leading virtual staffing solutions company established in 2010. They provide virtual assistants, bookkeepers, web specialists, social media strategists. Everything you need to grow your business. They’re also endorsed by Daymond John from the Shark Tank as his primary virtual staffing solution.

[00:00:56] So I’m excited to have Lisa Seal on today. Take a listen.

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