Entrepreneur Earns $4.7M in Revenue with Vendasta [Case Study]

Social Ordeals is a full-service digital agency that helps North American businesses maintain an online web presence, manage reviews and social presence, and improve search ranking. The company was founded in 2012 by career entrepreneur Chris Montgomery who sought a new business opportunity to dive into.

“I sold [my] company, thought I was semi-retired for a bit, got bored, made some bad investments, and had to get back into the marketplace. I came across Vendasta [while sitting on] my couch one night,” Montgomery says.

Chris failed at starting up a different business where he sold products through social media. He then went looking for a more complete solution with which he could hit the ground running. After researching the Vendasta ecommerce platform, he recognized it was exactly what he had been searching for.

“I became a partner. Once I signed the contracts and went through the demo with Vendasta, I sold to my first 30 clients from that exact couch.”

 

Objectives

Montgomery needed a way to recoup his investment quickly. With Vendasta, Social Ordeals hoped to:

 

  • Hit the ground running and make a quick first sale
  • Manage its sales pipeline
  • Provide products and support to local business clients with a marketplace of digital solutions
  • Offer clients a way to review and manage their online presence through a Social Ordeals-branded dashboard
  • Create a scalable business model that could easily expand into new markets
  • By positioning himself as an industry expert, Montgomery looks to help his local business clients achieve success and guide them through unknown territory

 

“Local businesses need experts like us to navigate the waters of the internet and really understand what’s important in the eyes of search engines,” he says. “We also provide great perspective on what’s important to that customer who’s out there searching for the local business.”

Approach

After completing his initial onboarding sessions to learn the Vendasta platform, Montgomery threw himself into becoming an expert. He kept in close contact with his Vendasta Business Development Representative and was able to get quickly up to speed. He developed a deep understanding of the tools and features that would help him find success.

Tools for Sellers

Montgomery uses a number of tools to help his digital agency succeed. All of the tools used by Social Ordeals are included in the Vendasta ecosystem, from task management software to an online marketplace full of various products. He relies on reporting software that pulls information into a neat package as well as sales CRM and pipeline management software. Everything is pulled into one dashboard in Business App where his team can manage their clients.

Snapshot Report

For local business prospects that have reached the bottom of the sales funnel, the team at Social Ordeals relies heavily on the Snapshot Report. This report diagnoses the status of a business’s online reputation and helps the Social Ordeals sales reps discover detailed information they need to close that deal.

“I don’t look at a snapshot until I have that client ready to go. I want to discover what’s in the snapshot in real time with the client because it’s more organic. I really want the client to understand that I’m here to help them by working together.”

Montgomery uses Snapshot Report to zero in on the issues a client faces. Then he prescribes a set of product/service solutions to solve those problems. This face to face interaction and discovery of a clients online health in real time is how Social Ordeals makes a sale. The Snapshot Report is a marketing needs assessment that uncovers a prospect’s online performance in six categories, including: business listings, reviews, social media, website, advertising, SEO, and ecommerce. This was an important prospecting tool that helped to quickly drive business results. By leveraging this powerful and award-winning Vendasta solution, Montgomery was able to provide an automated marketing needs assessment to each local business prospect.

“It’s the essential tool we sell off of. Without that there isn’t a strong starting point to initiative conversations with the client,” Montgomery says.

Vendasta partners who use more than 100 percent of their monthly allotment of snapshot reports achieve 18 times more pipeline revenue than those who use less than 50 percent of their allotment. These high performing partners also close 2.9 times more business opportunities than partners who are running less than 50 percent of their monthly snapshot reports.

“It’s the essential tool we sell off of. Without that there isn’t a strong starting point to initiative conversations with the client,” Montgomery says.

Sales CRM & Pipeline Management Software

The platform’s built-in customer relationship management or CRM gave Montgomery and his growing sales team the ability to save time and money by working out of one connected place.

“My account managers are in the platform on a daily basis, the fact that we have all of the different tools, not just for our customer but for our staff to be able to manage their sales funnels, their tasks, to be able to keep all of your account managers on task with the platform, has been unbelievable for us.”

The Vendasta CRM comes with built-in meeting scheduling software that’s integrated with the platform. Just by using a tool that’s dedicated to schedule meetings, local business experts can save ten hours per week.

Vendasta Marketplace

According to Mirakl, 87 percent of business buyers, across all age ranges, are making business purchases on marketplaces. Marketplaces are now the top buyer channel exceeding RFPs, digital channels, procurement channels, and person-to-person.

Featuring more than 200 products and services, Marketplace served as the go-to destination for Social Ordeals, as they created packages of digital solutions that matched some of the most common local business needs their team was encountering in the field. The Vendasta Marketplace allows partners to find new white-label products to sell from across 20 varying categories. This includes anything from financial products to marketing, human resources, and websites to name a few.

Because Marketplace has a large number and variety of products available, Social Ordeals can search for just about anything a client could need. “Having the ability to get any type of digital product that I want and have that at my fingertips for my clients is really helpful,” Montgomery says. This allows Montgomery to add to each client’s tech stack of products and services, tailoring their experience to fit their needs.

Task Manager

Task Manager, Vendasta’s in-house task management software, gives Social Ordeals the ability to manage all of their client’s requested work. This includes social media and review management services, all within one dashboard.

“We have about 15 account managers working out of task manager right now, it helps us to improve efficiency and make sure that we don’t miss critical to-do’s for our clients,” Montgomery says.

Task Manager gives the partner the ability to integrate local business clients into their system. Social Ordeals can then fulfill their clients digital marketing needs from the task manager dashboard. This is where all reviews will be brought in, all social media can be managed, and any other requested tasks will show up. Monthly automated reporting is emailed directly to the client, showcasing complete and pending tasks.

Growth Recommendation: Vendasta also offers white-label fulfillment services giving partners the ability to outsource website development, social media, review and listings management. A key to the scalability of many Vendasta Partners.

Passion for Expansion

Montgomery makes a point of choosing strategic partnerships to grow his customer base, contributing in a big way to his bottom line.

“What I’ve realized is that there are a lot of businesses out there like web hosting companies that aren’t offering upsales. Website companies want to upsell but don’t have the manpower to do the work on the back end. There are also membership groups that want to add value.”

This realization has helped Montgomery in choosing his client partnerships more strategically, because he knows that he’ll get referrals from them.

“Once you strategically partner with them and give them a piece of the action as you’re going along, you’re going to get a consistent lead source coming from them. I think it’s the future, it’s basically a paid referral coming through,” Montgomery says.

Execution

Cold Calling

According to Montgomery, cold calling is Social Ordeal’s greatest challenge. However, with his approach of choosing strategic client partnerships, his team is able to get a direct introduction to the potential SMB client through these partnerships. By leveraging his existing client partnerships to warm up the potential clients, Montgomery skips the cold call step because the potential client is already familiar with his work. He can also lean on his company’s excellent online reputation when working with new prospective clients.

Building Trust

Another challenge faced by the team at Social Ordeals, is building trust with clients. Montgomery says prospects are often jaded by the number of digital products and sales people approaching them, but Montgomery approaches this situation head on.

“I only hire seasoned sales representatives now, and I spend the extra money for it. I want the person that’s going to bring me results. I don’t have to train them how to sell, I just give them a good product that they can stand behind.”

marketing agency case study in-line blog image

By spending the extra money on hiring professionals instead of rookies, Montgomery can put more effort and time into understanding his customers. He can trust that his team has sales experience and are able to jump in without extensive training.

“I love seeing a problem and knowing that the products I have are the tools that can solve that problem.”

Overcoming Roadblocks to Grow

“Once I had 30 customers, and I was doing all of the fulfillment myself, handling all of those back-end tasks, I realized my company stopped growing and new sales weren’t coming in as frequently.”

Montgomery began to get bogged down with posting on social media for his clients, correcting and claiming Google My Business (GMB) accounts, and claiming business listings on other popular sites.

“I was putting all of my energy into the back end to make sure that my customers were satisfied and that I was living up to what I promised them.”

At that point he decided to hire two account managers to take on the fulfillment work so he could refocus his efforts on client acquisition. As soon as sales hit a plateau, it’s a good indication you should consider expanding and adding more resources to your team, Montgomery recommends.

The Vendasta Platform

The use of a white-label platform with a large product marketplace has given Montgomery the leg-up he needs to evolve with his clients.

“When my clients log into the Vendasta platform, they’re logging into Social Ordeals. My clients don’t even know Vendasta exists. It’s completely white-labeled to me, so as Vendasta grows with new technologies, it appears to all of my clients that I’m growing with new technology, so it’s phenomenal.”

Platform tools like the built-in CRM have also helped the Social Ordeals sales team manage their work.

“As our sales reps become more and more confident in the product and they see those successes for their clients, it just propels them to be more confident on the next call they get onto now they’re able to show off different clients that are successful in their industry, so it makes the sales process very easy for my reps.”

Results

Social Ordeals closed its first sale after only one week with Vendasta and today is one of the largest platform partners in the United States.

“They gave me an all-in-one business... That’s what’s propelled us to the point we’re at today. Without Vendasta we wouldn’t be in the agency business,” Montgomery says.

marketing agency case study results graph
Top Sellers

With an average basket size of 3.75 products per client, Social Ordeals makes a point of packaging the right solutions together, creating a holistic approach to manage the
digital marketing strategies of their local business clients.

Top Five Best Selling Products* in the Social Ordeals Marketplace

  • Listing Distribution | 178 products sold
    Up-to-date, accurate business information in online directories is essential to improve search ranking. Manage, submit, update, and monitor with Listing Distribution. Find inconsistencies and provide automated proof-of-performance reports to your clients.
  • Reputation Management | Pro - 177 products sold
    Monitor, manage, and improve your online reputation all in one place. Reputation Management | Pro tracks business mentions across the internet, helps your clients be found wherever consumers are searching, and pulls in all reviews into a single dashboard.
  • Yext Listing Sync Pro | 146 products sold
    Yext specializes in digital knowledge management and offers a listing solution that syncs automatically with more than 100 local directories, search engines, and social networks. This solution also includes website and SEO services.
  • Social Marketing Pro | 122 products sold
    Schedule and post to multiple locations and social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google are all integrated with this product, saving you time and effort.
  • Listing Sync Pro | 26 products sold
    Instant listing updates give your clients the ability to instantly update all of their business information from a single dashboard. This tool also helps to manage duplicate listings, and identifies business listings that have missing or inaccurate information.

*in 2020

 

“I don’t have to think about what’s next or new on the internet. I’ve got a team of unbelievable developers at Vendasta that are constantly bringing that next wave of whatever is happening on the internet to my fingertips, to be able to sell to my clients,” Montgomery says.

 

Conclusion

Montgomery offers his recommendations for other entrepreneurs looking to successfully serve a local business community:

“You’ve got to be able to roll up your sleeves, dive in, and care about your client first. Utilize the platform products to help you and your client grow. You’ve got to be dedicated.”

The team at Social Ordeals plans to continue growing its client base, using resources like the Conquer Local Academy to stay up to date on new-to-market products and industry trends.

“Vendasta has scaled our business by completely evolving everything we do on a daily basis,” Montgomery says. “As the internet evolves, Vendasta evolves, and our clients evolve. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

About the Author

Nicole Lauzon is a Content Marketing Manager at Vendasta and has spent the last decade of her career helping local businesses tell their stories. Kickstarting her professional journey as a writer and producer for a major Canadian television network, Nicole would later spend five years as a PR Agency Creative Director, managing brand journalism, social media, blog and video content for corporate, non-profit and local business clients. Whether Nicole is marinating over her next piece of writing or enjoying some down time with her family, she likes doing it in floral print.

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