Lead Generation- Scaling your business starts with consistent, quality lead generation because, at the end of the day, those leads are the gasoline that makes the engine of your business capable of running. This is the part of my strategy where we figure out how to spend money without it costing anything- a MAJOR pro to digital transformation in a business. To explain lead generation further, my client Robbin immediately comes to mind. I walked Robbin through my process of how to create her very own (now best-selling) book without her having to spend 3 months writing it.
Rick Valentine is a client acquisition expert with over 20+ years experience in High-Ticket Sales, Online Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing Automation, Strategic Planning, and more. Known for building million-dollar businesses from scratch for coaches, consultants and service providers, Valentine leverages his proven system to find and acquire customers online using self-funding, immediate ROI ad campaigns that provide the cash flow for quick and aggressive scaling. As a lifelong entrepreneur having built two multi-million-dollar businesses of his own, he has learned from his failures and grew with each success story.
Rick applies the same thoughtfulness and expertise as he would to his own business to assist each one of his clients in competing against massive organizations and monster advertising budgets. Valentine believes that cash flow is key, and at the end of the day, marketing is worthless if it’s not generating sales. In his book, Get Paid to Get Paid Rick shares his life lessons from spending millions of dollars on advertising and generating tens of millions of dollars in sales to those looking to do the same.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My story starts in the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles where I grew up in a middle-class family with massive savers as parents. They maxed out their 401Ks every single month, never splurged on anything as a treat, and did everything they could to save every single penny. I will never forget when my dad sat me down at age seven or eight and explained to me that, if I wanted to be truly wealthy one day, there were only two ways to do it: I either needed to own a bunch of real estate, or I needed to own my own business- so that’s what I did.
I started my first business in my senior year of college, and it very quickly went absolutely nowhere. It was my first of two business failures. The next one was my first foray into real estate.
In the early 2000s, I was working in the mortgage industry just as the real estate market was beginning to take off again. I was exposed to people who were doing “condo-conversions” in Southern California, which is where you buy an apartment building and then change the legal paperwork on it so that you can sell each unit individually instead of the apartment building as a whole. In many cases, these converted condominiums could sell for a 200% — 400% return on investment in a six-to-nine-month period of time, which sounded like a great deal to me. I started out raising money for people, reaching out to people that I knew — friends, family, acquaintances, etc. — and asking them if they’d be interested in investing money into these deals. I was always pretty good at sales. Within a year or so, I was raising money for myself and doing my own deals from start to finish.
In the mid-2000s as the North American market as a whole was beginning to slow down, I decided to go down to Costa Rica and take a home run swing on a 150 million dollars resort real estate project. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was hungry and aggressive and willing to work my butt off to try to figure it out.
There’s a more accurate way to describe what I was doing: reckless. Not just with my own money, but with my investors’ money, because I’d raised over a million dollars to do that deal. I was clearly in way over my head (and knew it), so I did what I saw other developers doing. I hired a big, expensive branding agency out of New York City, and paid them over 100,000 dollars to develop a brand and marketing strategy, build a website, create brochures, etc. I spent a bunch of money on additional consultants hoping that it would all work out in the end, but it never did. I spent the entire million dollars selling real estate we were never able to build. Our building permits were two weeks away…for two years. Every single month, it was “Just two more weeks, just two more weeks, just two more weeks, and we’ll have them.” And they never came.
It was this poorly conceived plan that fueled the approach to advertising and business I now take. I made many mistakes while doing this and making a name for myself, but it led me to how I run my business today. Thankfully, I have since evolved in my thinking about business, sales, and risk. Now, I am always looking to reduce risk in every situation and to prove on smaller levels that an idea can work before I throw a ton of money behind it. Most importantly, I am far more interested in cash flow than a giant carrot I may or may not be able to catch at the tail end of a massive “opportunity.”
After it all came crashing down, I bounced around for a few years and ended up working for a neuroscience company in San Diego, which was where I started to learn the power of online marketing. This company was doing about eight million dollars a year through one single webinar that ran every Saturday. All week, they would advertise on Facebook to get registrants for the webinar, and then, on the weekend, and through a follow-up sequence that happened that next week, they would sell about 150,000 dollars worth of one particular training. Then they would just repeat the process.
After leaving, I ended up doing some sales for a coaching certification company, where I realized that while these coaches were very passionate about helping people, they truly had no idea how to actually find people who wanted and needed their help — and were willing to pay for it. And so, the foundation of my business was born.
To put it simply, today I build million-dollar businesses from scratch for coaches, consultants, and service providers, but it was a long road getting here, to say the least.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
When I first launched my business, I had approached a woman who I had worked with previously that ran a coaching certification company for coaches looking to help parents who struggled with anger and yelling at their kids. I had never done a webinar in my life, but I proposed to her that I could host one to teach these women how to do the basics of lead generation on Facebook, an indoctrination email sequences to educate them, build authority and credibility, and then conduct an effective sales call.
I was very unprepared for this webinar, still finishing it 10 minutes before we went live, and having never done anything like this before, I was also still trying to figure out what should I charge. 500 dollars a month? 10,000 dollars a month? Somewhere in-between? I finally just said, “Screw it. Let’s go with 2,500 dollars a month and see what happens.”
I completely winged it. I went into the first webinar of my life at 9 AM unemployed.
I came out of the webinar at 10:30 AM with five new clients, making basically 150,000 dollars a year in recurring revenue due to essentially a complete and utter guess.
We’ve all been there at some point, not knowing what to do. I didn’t know what people would be willing to pay me for what I can do, but you never know unless you try. Until you have experience in the market, you’re always guessing upfront, and that’s OKAY! Also, I can proudly say that I’m a bit more prepared for any webinars I host today.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are?
My wife has been extraordinarily supportive of me starting my own business, and beyond support, she is the one who pushed me to do this in the first place. Coming out of my past failures, I was hesitant and fearful of feeling that level of pain again. She really believed in me and encouraged me to get back out there.
I also have to shout out Frank Kern. I learned a lot from his training, but more specifically, he is the one who told me that the reason my business wasn’t growing was because of me and that I didn’t know how to sell. This challenged me, and within 60 days I tripled my business.
I was, all of a sudden, held accountable. I knew that I knew how to sell, but it was really more of a lack of confidence in myself and feeling a bit of imposter syndrome like many of us feel early on in our careers.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Although it’s not technically a book, podcast, or film, Tony Robbins’ seminars and business events have had the most significant impact on me. He is what ultimately convinced me that to be happy in my life, I needed to be running my own business. I went to his “Unleash the Power Within” seminar about five years ago, and it’s what gave me the confidence and the commitment to go out and actually make my business work without fear of failure.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Our client-centric vision has always been as follows:
“We help coaches who are ready to change the world. Whose unique gift can, and with our help, will shift mankind for the better. We are the rocket fuel for their growth and impact, and by helping them, we, too, can contribute to positive human evolution. We help coaches by exponentially amplifying their message to the masses. We are the counterbalance to the status quo… to the gurus… to the old guard. Where we operate, new and nimble can SMASH the established and elite. We turn little-known leaders into legends, genuine giants, and honest idols. Our skill is the pebble in the ocean that initiates the ripple, that becomes the wave, that forms the tsunami of success our clients deserve.”
Our company’s ability to impact the masses is through our clients, because we serve coaches and consultants who are primarily purpose-driven entrepreneurs whose gift is creating positive change in the world. Their area of weakness is the client-acquisition scaling side of the business. So, our supporting them creates this massive ripple effect, impacting people everywhere.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We’re currently exploring a new, expedited way to condense a sales cycle. Sales cycles used to take two to four weeks, and we are now fitting the same cycle into about 45 minutes.
We’re doing that by supplying a near-irrefutable amount of proof that we can help the reader get the result they want. Along with that, we are also showing the logical structure of how this works, why it’s so effective, and why it will work for them.
I think that’s the critical piece of my business. It’s condensing the timeline, meeting the basic psychological triggers that all people have, and then presenting them with an offer.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level, what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation has been happening for years, originally with many companies leaving print ads in the dust and turning to online advertising, and especially now in the time of the pandemic with remote work. We’ve been way beyond running ads in a newspaper for years, and my business has capitalized on this new era of digital advertising to reach the best customer possible regardless of geographical location.
This sort of proliferation of the digital world has allowed us to have clients in three different continents and employees all over the world too. I was able to double the size of my US-based business while travelling Europe for a year. Without digital transformation, I never could have done this.
Digital Transformation allows us to not only deliver results to people everywhere but also to find the best talent that’s not geographically restricted to wherever we’re based. I think embracing this digital world opens up performance opportunities in terms of better personnel.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
I don’t think there is a specific type of company that can benefit most from a digital transformation. I think that every company could benefit, and one of the most powerful transformations that’s come about is the ability to generate immediate cash flow.
Leveraging online advertising allows us to not only generate real-time cash flow but also allows us to learn exponentially faster in terms of what’s working, what’s not, and optimizing in real-time. Digital transformation has allowed us to optimize a campaign in a 24-to-48-hour period instead of 30-to-60-day periods. This builds efficiency, drives better margins, creates better results, and allows us to spend more money.
In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes, and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
For many small businesses who are first starting out, networking events, meetups, or even leveraging their connections on Facebook or LinkedIn are the only resources they have to reach potential customers. All of those scenarios, however, whether it’s in-person or digital, still restricts the business to their immediate sphere of influence. By leveraging online advertising, it allows us to expand to literally millions of people in real-time. Using technology is the best way to find your perfect prospects in a sea of non-ideal prospects, rather than having one-on-one conversations with everyone you meet.
For me, a great example of this is a woman named Beth. Prior to joining my group coaching program, Beth had never built a landing page or funnel, spent a dime on Facebook Ads, or even coached anyone. She is a former nurse who started freelance writing to bring in enough money so she could quit her brutal, full-time nursing job.
In late 2020, she decided she wanted to coach other nurses on how to do the same thing and joined my coaching program. With zero technical ability (her words, not mine), she was able to get her self-liquidating book funnel set up in a matter of weeks. In fairness, she’s very intelligent and hardworking, just not technically savvy. Those first two characteristics will always trump the latter, especially when you combine them with the step-by-step instructions I provide.
Following my system, templates, and proven flow, Beth built her ad campaign. She wrote her ad copy. She recorded a few sales videos, and she launched her new business at the start of December 2020.
In the first month she was live, running online ads, she spent 13,698.50 dollars, and generated 36,163.40 dollars in sales through her book funnel, giving her a profit of 22,464.90 dollars. She had sold 1,236 books to nurses who were apparently pretty interested in finding an alternative career too. After 60 days of being live, Beth had netted 46,000 dollars in profit, and now had an audience of 4,469 nurses that were willing to pay to learn about how to build an alternative revenue stream into their lives.
So, she launched a webinar selling her writing course and brought in another 88,476 dollars in less than 3 months. Because she’s making money on her book funnel/lead generation system to the tune of 23k dollars/month or so, this is all pure profit. And she’s only now beginning to offer private coaching, having already signed four people at 3k dollars each in the first month of offering it.
I love seeing this sort of success from my students and the system I lay out for them. Without digital transformation, I can’t say for sure we couldn’t find another way to make this work, but it’d be A LOT harder to operate through print ads.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
A lot of people think that they can’t afford to go online- that they need to grow their business to a certain point before they engage in online advertising, and that stuff like that is only for big companies, the Coca-Cola’s of the world. This doesn’t have to be the case. The system I teach creates immediate cash flow which businesses can reinvest in marketing, generating even more cash flow and high-caliber leads along with it. It allows them to begin leveraging what the most successful companies in the world leverage right now, even as a small business.
Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
My company perfectly exemplifies how to use digital transformation to take your business to the next level- and we get it done in four simple steps. In my mind, less is often more. These four ways cover all of the bases to leverage digital transformation and take your business to the next level.
- Lead Generation- Scaling your business starts with consistent, quality lead generation because, at the end of the day, those leads are the gasoline that makes the engine of your business capable of running. This is the part of my strategy where we figure out how to spend money without it costing anything- a MAJOR pro to digital transformation in a business. To explain lead generation further, my client Robbin immediately comes to mind. I walked Robbin through my process of how to create her very own (now best-selling) book without her having to spend 3 months writing it. It took a grand total of six hours, and then we began selling it, along with a couple of other small courses she developed. At the beginning, we’d spend 100 dollars on some ads and sell enough 6 dollars books to make about 120 dollars back in the same day. While turning a 20 dollars profit is nice, it’s not life-changing. What is life-changing, though, is the highly qualified 20 new leads you’re also left with. These aren’t just any leads…these are BUYERS! These are people who have just proven they are willing to pay for the kind of results Robbin can deliver by having just bought a book that covers the same challenges her coaching addresses.
- Lead Nurture- From lead generation, the next phase is to effectively nurture and indoctrinate the leads you’ve produced so they view you as an expert. An effective nurture sequence will install a series of beliefs in the mind of your prospect that confidently led them down a path to you, or your solution. This can be done with an email sequence, webinars, video series or any combination thereof. And the objective of this nurturing is to transition the prospect from curious to committed. A “committed prospect” is willing to work to speak to you, and this can happen entirely online. They’ll scour your website looking for a booking link. They’ll fill out an application, impatiently wait for a response and send an email follow-up just to make sure you saw the app. They’ll test the Zoom link you send them 30 minutes before the call just to make sure they don’t miss you! All of this happens because the prospect views you as THE missing piece or most direct route to achieving what they want.
- Application- Once you’ve nurtured your leads to the point where they view you as the solution that’s been missing, it’s time to present the application to phone call process. And while it feels great to see a calendar fill up with booked sales calls, it all means nothing if the prospect doesn’t actually show up. The only way to ensure a near 100% show up rate is turn “curious” prospects, who kick the tires and are “thinking” about doing something…into “committed prospects” who are willing to jump through a series of hoops just to speak with you. A few months into Sharon’s launch with us, her calendar was, literally, full. Looking out seven days, the maximum amount of time into the future a prospect could book, there were ZERO available spots for a prospective client to book a discovery call. But we knew there was no way all the people who had booked were fully qualified. Which meant we were running full-speed into a high “no show” rate, or an “I can’t afford it” disaster. Furthermore, the truly qualified people who wanted to book, wouldn’t be able to find a spot! The major change we made to protect Sharon’s calendar was to move her application from behind her booking system to IN FRONT of her booking system, creating an additional obstacle for the prospect to jump through and further establish their “commitment”. Then we automated her application process so that ONLY the fully qualified applicants would get access to her booking link. The total number of appointments she was receiving decreased by 85%…but her closing rate on the calls she was conducting increased by 500%! That efficiency is crucial when looking to scale.
- Fulfillment- The last way to utilize digital transformation to take your brand to the next level is to consistently deliver the kind of results your clients expect, something technology has made it a lot easier to achieve. When you meet or exceed your clients’ expectations, they will always want more from you. They want more time, more access, more help, more guidance, more of everything because what you’re delivering feels so good. This is why having a front-end AND a back-end program can add massive profit to your business. If your front-end program works and you don’t have a back-end, you’re leaving money on the table and unrealized results with your clients.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
Innovation is nurtured in environments where trust exists and team members feel comfortable sharing ideas. Innovation thrives in the workplace when team members are genuine and open, and honest communication is not only allowed but encouraged and supported. If that does not exist, it creates a more formidable challenge and often limits the potential contributions of some of your smartest team members. I think it’s more about empowering people to take chances and make mistakes to become the best version of themselves and therefore deliver the best work for the company.
Oftentimes, our teams ARE our competitive advantage. Rejecting their ideas because they’re not “in-charge” depletes a company’s resources at the outset. In my experience, I’ve found that egos often get in the way of innovation. It’s not about my idea or your idea. It’s about the collaborative and free-flowing process that leads to the best idea — an idea that’s worth pursuing.
I encourage everyone on my team to bring every idea to the table. I have my whole team go through my application sequence, and many times, because I’m the owner, they’re hesitant to give feedback or tell me they don’t like something. I remind them all the time that honest, constructive feedback is exactly what I want! It’s what we need to win as a team. It’s what builds an innovative and winning culture.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? How have you utilized this lesson in your own life?
My favorite quote is, “At the end of the day, you will have everything you ever wanted, or all of the reasons why not,” meaning, if you’re willing to put in the work, everything is attainable. We all have the choice to do the things necessary to achieve what we desire, or tell ourselves all of the stories as to why it isn’t possible.
Through the courage my wife instilled in me and the life lessons I learned the hard way, this quote perfectly describes my leap of faith to return to entrepreneurship and launch my current business after experiencing a very public and embarrassing failure. I was never destined to have the same job for 30 years and max out my 401k hoping it’d be enough in retirement. If having everything you’ve ever wanted is the only option in your mind, it becomes much easier to dismiss the excuses and stories that come up as to why you aren’t going to make it.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can learn more about exactly what I do and the results I produce for coaches, consultants, and service providers worldwide at www.structureforscale.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!