Lessons learned from launching the workshop

Liston has twice launched a workshop (https://servedontsell.com/workshop/) and it's sold reasonably well both times.

In today's episode we discuss what Liston learrned. We cover the different sales approaches he considered, the marketing experiments he tried, and lots else.

Full Transcript


This transcript was made by robots, so it's far from perfect.

Liston Witherill
Welcome to offline, a podcast about building a 100% online and remote expertise driven business without the bullshit, posted remotely by me, Liston Witherill. And me,

Philip Morgan
Philip Morgan. You'll learn how we're building our businesses, what scares the shit out of it, and hear from our friends and experts who are building their own businesses to welcome to offline. Phil Morgan Liston Witherill how are you my man?

Liston Witherill
I am good. Welcome back to the offline podcast, my friend. It's been a while since we've been here.

Unknown Speaker
It has been

Philip Morgan
this is we did a two week gap where I took a writing retreat and didn't go anywhere I didn't ever just retreated from really from you is what I was retreating from,

Liston Witherill
obviously. Yeah.

Philip Morgan
And then I got this lyric stuck in my head from Action Bronson. You take steps to get to the sex. I just flex Come up with that.

Liston Witherill
I mean, it's a little nursery school, isn't it?

Philip Morgan
Exactly. It's like a pretty great way to start out a song. You know, it's like it's nice, it's nice on ramp to the song.

Liston Witherill
You feel taken care of when you hear that

Philip Morgan
I did not make that much progress on my book list. And but I wrote an 11,000 word article that was two things, three things it was trying to rescue what looked like a writing retreat that was going down the tubes, that it was a sort of beachhead of thinking to try to organize my thinking and in a return to writing the book and it was a thing that I did to make my thinking more available on the internet. And so I did accomplish that in our in the two weeks since we spoken pretty proud of that. It's called the articles called specializing in positioning an independent consulting business. It's about a 45 minute read and you can find it on the new start here page on Philip Morgan consulting. Oh, look

Liston Witherill
at that. You

Philip Morgan
also made a start here paid. Yeah, that was part of the four days that I spent on that project was putting that start here page together.

Liston Witherill
That actually sounds fairly productive.

Philip Morgan
That doesn't sound too bad. You know, you can do a lot worse. A lot worse ways to spend two weeks then right. Then doing that. It reminded me of one of my favorite onion articles, which may be you remember, Clinton calls for national week off to get national shit together. You remember that one?

Liston Witherill
No, but it sounds like we could use another one of those indeed. How are you doing? I'm good, man. So while you were off doing your writing retreat, I was planning this conference. It's called client con and I'm Now up to 30 committed speakers. And that I think is going really well. I'm excited about it.

Philip Morgan
Aggressive to pull that together pretty quickly, right?

Liston Witherill
Yeah, I'll, I should probably like, gather some of my thoughts on this. Maybe we can use the podcast partially to document how this has worked. But yeah, I think it's been maybe four weeks since I first approached a project manager who I work with and asked her like, would you be willing to help out with this? Because I knew there's no way I could do it on my own. Yeah. And yeah, I think. Yeah, I'm pretty sure three weeks ago is when I started reaching out to speakers. Wow. And I now have 30 commitments, and I'm going to launch the marketing site on a week from today, which is August 31st. We're recording on Monday, August 24. So um,

Philip Morgan
yeah, let me play devil's advocate. I mean, I can't totally. I'm one of your speakers. So no, you can do anything, I believe in the idea. But I remember a few years ago, it just seemed like the internet was littered with these online summits. You know what I'm talking about, right? Yep, of course, what makes what you're doing? Was client con different than those?

Liston Witherill
Well, I think the first thing is the quality of the speaker and the amount of involvement I have in sort of guiding the content. So I've been very clear with the speakers about what the format is, I also didn't want to do like, hey, all of this will be available for one week only, and you have to spend the next 40 hours of your life on this right. I wanted to do an hour a day. So I think the format is quite different and people can kind of drop in drop out. It's also specific to service based businesses, people who sell their expertise for a living, and so that that was kind of another angle that I wanted to take where it wasn't focused on a job title. And it wasn't focused on mid market and enterprise companies, and it wasn't on the lower end, just like a bunch of snake oil salespeople who are telling you, you know, buy this or that to solve all of your problems and be sexier and lose weight in the process. Yeah. So I think that that's what's different about client con is is the quality of the speakers. The overall format, one hour a day for six weeks, I think gives people a lot of opportunity to see a lot of great people talking.

Philip Morgan
So yeah, awesome. Well, I'm looking forward to both participate participating on both ends of the screen so to speak. Our topic today you launched a workshop recently called the sales sprint and people bought it. Yes, people showed up, people got results. So there's a lot of ways in which we could call this a success. And you learn some things, which is another form of success. So that's our topic today is what you learned from launching this workshop. Why don't we start with just the raw physical details? What was it? How many seats were available? How many did you sell stuff like that?

Liston Witherill
Okay, so it's called the sales sprint. It's four weeks. And the idea is, in four weeks, you can learn just the absolute sales fundamentals and in particular behaviors that will make you substantially better at sales so that you can close the clients you know, you should. The format is there are pre recorded videos that you watch, which is sort of the lecture component, and then you show up to a library workshop where I recap the video because I know not everybody watches them. Yeah. And then we do live sort of live activities together where we're going through the material applying it to people situations. Yeah. And then, at the end of every week, there's an assignment, they turn the assignment into me and I give them personalized feedback on the assignment. So that's how the whole thing works. Did you have a follow up question to that?

Philip Morgan
No, I was, this is the second time you've mentioned the recap of the video. Yeah. And this time I wrote it down because I need to, I need to incorporate that that's such a great idea to spend three minutes, you know, at the top of the meeting, saying Okay, let's just get all on the same page here. Anyway, no follow up questions. But I want to hear more details on like, how much this thing costs, how many seats were available, etc.

Liston Witherill
So first time out. I told everybody that The first time I'm selling this exact thing, like it's based on training that I've done many, many times, and, you know, way over 100 people have seen versions of my training before and gone through it and paid for it. But the difference here was the more condensed format, the kind of core challenge I was trying to figure out is, how do I do this? How do I do less faster, more impact kind of thing? So first time out. I told people, this is the first time I'm doing it. I'm selling it at $500. You'll never see a price this low again. Right. And I had 12 sales at that price. And I had kept it at 20. So, you know, it was about I don't know how the exact size of my email list at this point. 1600 or something. So it's about a 1% conversion rate. Not bad actually shot felt like a success. Okay, and then I did it. Next month, I sold it again. And this will maybe I'll come back to this during my learnings. But I sold five seats the second time, but I had raised the price to $700. So raising the price didn't compensate for less sales, but it did close some of the gap. Yeah. So so those are the hard numbers, which, you know, you can do the math. Yeah. That's not a standalone business yet. Sure. But it does feel like in two months, I had something that didn't exist. And now 17 people have gone through it start to finish. Yeah. And that feels like a real when I was looking here for a quote. Okay, so, here here's an example of what the outcome was for one of the sprinters in the first cohort. He says I started sts sprint with a very strong lead word of mouth referral. I fumbled and bumbled. The lead didn't ask good questions no meeting agenda didn't even know about pgbs. And how could he honestly that stands for pain goals value solution. He says it was incredibly uncomfortable. But I derailed the inflight sales process and returned to step zero. While I was in the middle of writing the proposal. I just finished the offer call with the client, they accepted the most expensive option. They told me quote, I wasn't planning on spending this much. But it's very clear to me that you understand what my school needs and he sells to schools. Okay, so that's the kind of outcome I'd be hoping for. Yeah, not that everybody will get that. But that's certainly what I'm targeting. So that feels great.

Philip Morgan
That's awesome. That is really cool. So that's good context. How did you market and sell this thing? Wait, don't answer all the people just showed up and handed you money. You didn't have to market it.

Liston Witherill
No, that didn't happen. So primarily through email, so I emailed my list a lot. And, you know, I had some free content. I have a course my, it's funny because like a few months ago, I had just redone my funnel. And now I got to redo it again. What do you mean by that? What's that?

Philip Morgan
You redid your funnel and now you have to redo it again. You lost me there what what do you

Liston Witherill
owe just for better alignment because the sprint didn't exist, right. And so the funnel is pointing to something that's not the sprint.

Philip Morgan
Oh, it's in selling something else.

Liston Witherill
Yeah, okay, exactly. Got it. So I sold through email to my email list and posted on Twitter. I did a couple webinars. So webinars seemed to be a an important conversion channel. Because basically the format of the webinars like here are the four sales fundamental. So it's like, what you're not doing now and what you should be doing and why but it doesn't get into any of the how, right and then it says, you know, so those are the four fundamentals. If you want help implement These, here's how I can help you and it basically pitches the sprint. Okay. And I did have several people who I'd never had contact with before, sign up for the webinar and then sign up for the sprint. Okay, so that seemed to be an important conversion channel. I think that that could be probably a standalone thing, where I just give it in a pre recorded format, and send more people through the funnel. But yeah, that's I think that that was pretty important because it sort of demonstrates to people, my teaching style, what exactly is this? What do I have to say? What would it be like to be in the spring I think is one of the core questions a lot of people have. So the webinar was important. I also posted about it on my podcast. So I have dynamic advertising on my podcast meaning with a click of a button. I can push an ad to every episode ever recorded. Yeah. And so I did that. Yeah. And I know the podcast continues to be around reliable source of not mountains of traffic, but, you know, very qualified traffic to my offers into my email list. And that was it. Those were the main places. I think maybe I posted to Twitter a couple times.

Philip Morgan
Didn't you run some Twitter ads? Am I remembering that right? I did want to hear the like the final assessment of that.

Liston Witherill
So yeah, final assessment of the Twitter ads is I think I need better tracking on it. There seems to be a lot of ad fraud on Twitter, meaning, for whatever reason, I don't know the exact reasons but bots seem to be interacting with my ads, which drive up the ad costs. But then when I look at the analytics on the landing pages, they're not getting nearly the visits that Twitter says it's sending. That traffic also seems to not convert very well, which could be a flaw in my ad and it could be a flaw in the landing page. Page. But, you know, I'm not a newbie at this, again, which isn't to say that the answer isn't that the the pages just weren't very well optimized. But there was complete congruency between the ad that they were clicking and the landing page, like, you know, sign up for this webinar to learn XYZ and then it's, they get to the landing page. And it's like, here's the webinar, you'll learn XYZ it's exactly the same messaging, and it's just not converting very well. Okay, so there seems to be a problem there. So yeah, I don't know that Twitter is the place as much as I despise Facebook and Instagram. It does feel to me, like in order to really scale this until I get enough organic traffic, which is a process but I'm working on and seems to be going but it's it's not going to be a replacement for Hey, let's spend three to $5,000 on Facebook ads, and yeah, you know, acquire some buyers that way. Yeah. Okay.

Philip Morgan
Okay. So what else about marketing and selling it? Did you do sales calls? or How did the sales transaction go?

Liston Witherill
So I decided not to do any sales calls. So I think kind of this a lot of advice. And it's funny, right? Because I'm like the sales guy selling sales advice. And then I'm like not doing any sales calls. Yeah. But for the price, like what I wanted to do, and I was very conscious of is test a model to see if I could get people to buy without ever talking to me. Right. And, you know, still, quite a few people will email less than half. But you know, people will email me with a question or two, and I'm sure part of it is just like, is there actually a person there who's going to respond and like that? Probably just the fact that I read it and give a thoughtful response is helpful. But yeah, I'm fine with that. What I didn't want to do is get bogged down in, you know, I know people who, who sell like this, where they're trying to get 30 sales calls in order to close 10 or 20. And I was just like, I don't want to do 20 to 30 hours of sales calls a month, in order to make this work I really want. What I want to figure out is how do I make this in? make this work in a lower touch format for me? Yeah. Plus, I was sort of operating from the assumption that pretty much everybody I'd be reaching has some familiarity with me already. So you know, I'm pretty active and present and share a lot of content and ideas. So that it didn't seem like it would require as much heavy lifting, so no sales call. Totally DIY checkout. It's like click this button, put in your credit card. Yeah, that's how it worked. Yeah, yeah. And by How I got people into the sprint to let you learn. Wow. Okay, so we'll start right. Let's start with the launch. Okay, so I think the first thing I learned is, so I launched I started marketing the first one in June for a July workshop. And then in July last week or two, I started marketing in August workshop. And what I learned is that it's very difficult to give your entire list the same offer two months in a row, because it it totally undermines the perceived urgency of it. Gotcha. Okay. Right. So, in other words, the message becomes, I could sign up for this again next month, right? I think I also, it seems to me now I haven't asked anybody and of course, they'd have no basis of comparison but it's Seems to me the first group was generally more motivated than the second group is. And my guess is, most everybody had seen the offer already. Okay, and they passed on it the first time, and then they decided to go for it the second time.

Philip Morgan
Interesting,

Liston Witherill
right? Whereas some of the people in the first group may have, like, rearrange their calendar or, you know, taken on some sort of sacrifice or hardship in order to be there. And so they just generally seemed a little bit more motivated. Again, I'm speculating here, but

Philip Morgan
it seems so plausible, though. So what's the most frequent you think you could offer something like this? It's a one month, four week experience that people are participating in quarterly every three months, every six months, what would you think might be a more a cadence that makes it seem like it's not just a utility that you can plug into whenever you feel like it?

Liston Witherill
Well, I think that depends on a couple things. Right. So one thing I could do is repackage this, and take out all of the sort of hand holding on the feedback loops. And basically my live presence. Yeah, right. If I remove that and turn this into a DIY experience, I think that could be a purely evergreen funnel, and then maybe do a quarterly or six month sort of launch campaign, where it's like, Hey, you know, it's like, the the marketing thing that I talked about, yeah, for two weeks. And maybe again, there's like an early bird discount, which we haven't talked about yet. Yeah. Or maybe some other incentive Sign up now to get a free bonus, this or that, right. free access to my upcoming book. I don't know. Yeah, but some sort of incentive. And then, you know, ultimately, my goal would be to have an evergreen version of this, that people could buy at any time and then I had another program that they could take if they wanted to go way, way deeper and more in depth in into building out, you know, better client attraction and client closing capabilities in their business. So, I do think the maximum though, and I've had this conversation with several of our friends whom, you know, they didn't give me permission to mention their name, so I won't, but pretty much everybody has said quarterly or every six months is about as often as you can do a launch campaign to your list for for a single product, right. So some people say, Well, I'll solve for that by having a different product every month, and I'll have six products and then I you know, once every six months I launch each one of them, but then that gives them a launch every month. That could be one version of it. I don't know. I don't know exactly where I'm gonna land. I was thinking more of Like a quarterly format, like here are the three core products. And then I launched them quarterly plus the Evergreen funnel plus a, you know, a larger program on the on the back end.

Philip Morgan
So, yeah, I got I have four workshops that I two exists now and two are sort of in the development pipeline. I make it sound so formal, but meaning I'll get to them someday. And it'll be built in.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Available an app on your hard drive. Exactly. Right. Yeah.

Philip Morgan
So the sense that I have is that sort of as Shawn D'Souza would call himself, study versions, you know, like DIY versions, or basically, you know, it's a package course that you can take asynchronously, there's no live component to it. There would be a version of that for each of these workshops, and then there would be the live workshop. And there would be, of course, be a corresponding price difference between the two So and the DIY versions will be available anytime they're just a product in a in a very small storefront of products. That's feels like the right fit for me. But it's really interesting to think about how often you can put an offer in front of a group of people. How often does Galloway do his strategy? sprints are those quarterly or

Liston Witherill
monthly monthly and now he's starting to ramp up the price Actually, I got an email yesterday, I think where I think the the first time I saw the offer was maybe around 302nd. Time was five. Now it's up to 700 or 750. Okay, you know, one thing that he he has is pretty good scale. Yeah, and lots of organic traffic. I So to your point, though, about making the workshops, DIY versus live, I mean, my feeling for five definitely for 100 certainly also for 700, I'm way over delivering, you know, I didn't ask people do you do you feel I really over delivered for the price you paid. But, you know, if people like the one, the slack message I read from the guy who had a big success story, you know, he's gonna be able to apply the principles he learned for the rest of his career. Yeah. And so the value of the course isn't just how do I behave differently in during this next four weeks? It's like, how can you be better at sales for the rest of your career? Yeah. And so it strikes me that a DIY version for you know, somewhere between three and $500 with no live interaction from me is a steal. Yeah. And also, it doesn't seem a stretch for me to charge 1020 even $25,000 for Something that includes much more feedback and support. Because again, that's going to be something that you can apply to your business over and over and over and over again. Yeah. So I don't know, you know, I've been I personally, I've thought about like, what if I did a DIY version of the sprint, and sort of live more feedback, more support? I think there's a branding problem. Like, I think it's just confusing to the purchaser. About that, like there, it's not going to be clear to them what the real differences, and also where I land on this is. I think a lot of people think the value is in the content, even though you and I know, it's the feedback. It's the support. It's them turning in their assignment in me saying, that's a good start, but you should consider this and they're like, Oh, I hadn't thought about that. This totally clicks for me now. Yeah, right. But they don't know. It's hard to communicate that coming in.

Philip Morgan
So I think we should explore that more at a later time. In the light of, you know, COVID, and universities, doing a lot of stuff online, there's this feeling of like, wait, what am I paying all this money for? If I'm just getting, you know, some zoom calls. But that's, that's like a different view of that question of, is it the content because the content could be the same, but you're not getting the university experience. There's more to talk about there. We've got a hard stop and a few minutes. Other learnings. I got a few more questions, sort of a lightning round, but anything

Liston Witherill
else going for, you know, five or 10 minutes if we need

Philip Morgan
it? Well, we'll see. Okay, there are other learnings.

Liston Witherill
So you asked about early bird pricing. I didn't do any early price incentives. So one thing that that does is it adds urgency. Truthfully, the first time I launched I just didn't think about it. I forgot The second time I launched, I thought about it and felt like I wanted to see how many people would sign up. I think, you know, one of the core takeaways here is, you know, of course, it's a very small data point. But if I could sell something, and get, what is it, eight to nine people to buy it every month that's starting to look like, you know, a pretty good floor of income.

Philip Morgan
Yeah, it's a nice contribution to your revenue.

Liston Witherill
Right? And, of course, you know, let's say just for even numbers, the DIY version of the sprint becomes $500. You know, 40 of those a month is 200 grand or 20 grand a month. And that's, you know, that's some real money right there. And so, you know, my goal with it coming in was to figure out like, how well is this going to work? Who's it for What's gonna do for them? What are the things that click? What are the things that don't? Yeah. And overall, it feels like the content is there. Like, it's, it's pretty much there. And again, this is I've done this many times. So that was another learning. I think something else that I knew already that became clear is just like the community element is hard. And I don't really like it. Like, I gave people slack access. But I think one of the mistakes I made is to make slack active. I think a it always benefits to have more people there, right, because just based on percentages, yeah, you know, only a certain people a percent, certain percentage of people will participate. Right. But secondly, I think if I had made people publish their assignments in slack or some other public place that would have inspired more, more conversation. I don't know but I just don't really like it. Yeah. So, you know, we, I think you've mentioned on this podcast before, there's a lot of people saying, community is the next content channel. And I'm just like, Yeah, but again until there's there's enough communities that people are like, yeah, I'm over communities.

Philip Morgan
Yeah, I feel like that's sort of the next subscription email list. You know, sort of, it's just, or the next like, check out my SoundCloud sort of thing, like where everybody's doing it. There's so much value if it's done well, but it's so hard to do. Well, I know that's a gloomy assessment, but there's not. That's really just me pushing back against that being the one big next thing. It's like, that's a part of a healthy ecosystem of people connecting and, you know, creating value. Yes, but not everybody should do a community. Not everybody should do a subscription. business, not everybody should do. You know, you name it. So was this profitable for you? This workshop?

Liston Witherill
Yeah, it is. And, you know, again, this is sort of a longer term orientation. I think maybe this podcast is more about product development than how my, my workshop went by. I think the core thing for me was about learning and, you know, how easy was the stuff to understand and how well organized was it and what sort of change or transformation were people getting? So that that all feels like it's on track? Yeah, it's profitable. Yeah. Again, the profitability will come as I sell more volume of this, whether it's in a live format with a lot of feedback and a lot of live help for me, or if it's in kind of a DIY version, where it's like, just sign up. Get thing, extra templates, probably some more videos that would anticipate more questions and sort of issues that people might have. But yeah, yeah, it does feel very profitable. And all the heavy lifting is done at this point now. Now it's just a matter of optimization.

Philip Morgan
zero marginal cost from here on out. Yeah, it's never quite that. But yeah, I know what you're saying.

Liston Witherill
It's pretty close, though. I mean, if this turned into a DIY version, I think the marginal cost would be maybe me answering emails. Yeah. You know, coming from people going through an evergreen funnel, which I could definitely write canned answers to and get my assistant to do yeah.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, for sure.

Philip Morgan
Well, thank you for this view inside. What you saw what you learn what happened. It was really interesting to me, and I think our listeners as well.

Liston Witherill
At least one other person thought that was Interesting. So yeah, You're quite welcome Phillip is good to talk to you. Good talking to you, buddy. Bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Philip Morgan