From Always Be Closing To Always Be Helping With Collin Mitchell

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Colin Mitchell. Colin, welcome.

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?

Yeah, I’d love to. Thanks. So I am the co-founder over at Salescast. We’re a managed podcast agency and I’m also the host of Sales Transformation, which is the sales focus podcast where we drop five episodes per week. And I live in Los Angeles with my beautiful wife. Three kids, little puppy and kid number four, coming soon. Congratulations. Yeah, yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot. Yeah, we’re excited and nervous but experienced at the same time. Yeah, well, I’ve got lots of stuff that I want to ask you about. But one of the topics that was sent over to me was a high school dropout to self-made founder, and I thought we could cover a little bit about your story today. So in terms of where you were and your first business, what was the first business and why did you decide to go into it?

Yeah, yeah. So I’ll take it back just, like, a little further, right? So, I was raised by a single mom with, with three brothers. We grew up really poor food stamps, you know, government cheese, like, you know, my mom had to work a lot obviously to, to keep food on the table and she did the best she could. And you know, sometimes we came up short, so I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was a bit of a troubled kid, you know, to be honest. I always kind of joke around if any of my kids give me half as much trouble as I gave my mom. I’m in big trouble. You know, and so, and I didn’t have a lot of positive male role models in my life. Nobody was really telling me like, hey, school’s important, education is important. It was like I barely made it through high school, you know, at this, by the skin of my teeth, you know, stopped going, got my credits called it a day. My first real job, I was lugging around furniture and you know, you know, 20 years old, it’s not too bad, you know, getting some, some sun and staying in shape. But I knew that, you know, that was gonna probably lead me to a very similar lifestyle that I had growing up, which I clearly didn’t want, like I didn’t really know what I want to do.

I just knew I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to live poor and check to check. And so I had to beg and plead for my first sales job, literally with my stepdad, you know, because I wasn’t very responsible young adult and he, you know, for a long time, I don’t think he was really willing to stick his neck out there for me. And so eventually I got my shot, and I made the most out of it. I was the first one in the office, last one to leave every day and I worked my tail off, worked my way up to the top of that company. I wanted a leadership role. They weren’t willing to give it to me. So I left like any, you know, humble salesperson would do and got a VP of sales position, drove millions of dollars of revenue there for some time built, the team learned a little more business acumen, made a lot of mistakes and then eventually started the first company with my wife In 2010 and we grew that company to five million in annual revenue in 26 months, there’s a couple of bits that are really merit a follow up there.

The last one is obvious in terms of going from, at such a startup to such a success in a small amount of time, but I’m actually really interested in where you started from the bottom in your first sales job, and just say worked, worked your way close to the top or at least tell me about kind of like what the lessons learned for your perspective there because it sounds like very valuable experience. Yeah, yeah, great questions. So, you know, there was not a great training program, the training, you know, I think my first week, it was like, hey, here’s a list of names, there’s the phone, here’s how you use it. and here’s a script and good luck, don’t use the CRM because it doesn’t work. And I’m like, mm, okay. And I just kind of started saying what other people were saying on the sales floor.

You know, it was your typical call centre, you know, smaller version of maybe what you might be thinking of. And there was just some people that I learned some things, you know, my, my stepdad worked there and, and, uh, you know, he told me one thing that I think really stuck with me and I was like, is he said just how to work your competition and you’ll be fine. And that’s what I did. And, you know, that will take you so far, but it’s, you know, not sustainable forever, obviously. You know, working long hours coming in on the weekend and I just did what it took because I really felt like I had something to prove. And I’m naturally a bit of a stubborn person. So, you know, even if I had maybe a, say, a more formal training process, You know, I think I still would have had to learn a lot of things through experience and a lot of times it was like, you know, saying something stupid on a call and then realising like, Oh, that doesn’t work. So I’m not going to say that anymore.And then I had some experiences where I would say things on the phone on these calls, right? Because we’re making, you know, 100 plus 250 dials a day. And I would say something on a call that I heard somebody on the sales floor saying, and I’m like, oh, that works, you know, I’m closing deals, you know, getting proposals out, you name it.

And then somebody came along and was like, hey, you really shouldn’t be saying that. I’m like, what are you talking about? You know, I’m here. So, and so saying it all the time. And have you seen his numbers on the board? Have you seen my numbers on the board? And he’s like, yeah, but it’s not true. You’re lying to people. And I’m like, oh, that doesn’t feel great. so, you know, there’s a certain element of, like, you can, you can take what’s working for others, but you also got to find your own path and do what feels right as well. It’s an interesting balance actually in relation to sales and ethics actually because I would put it in that ballpark. Did you wrestle with that for conclusion to that particular? Yeah, yeah. I mean, I was, I was your typical salesperson that everybody hates, you know, and that’s because I just didn’t know any better, you know? And eventually that starts to wear on you a bit and you’re like, okay, maybe being honest is going to feel better, right?

And ultimately, like, you know, yeah, you can do things to get the sale and pressure people and try to persuade them, and it will take you so far, but one you’re going to feel like crap and two, you’re gonna hit a bit of a ceiling where, you know, it’s only going to take you so far and you realise that there’s actually a much easier way to do things, and it should just be yourself, to be honest, you know, to treat people well, and do all of these things that unfortunately, uh, aren’t really part of a lot of, older, uh, sales training processes. Yeah. I heard a quote from Warren Buffett, which is take the high road because there’s not much competition. There. Something like that kind of like that one. Yeah. Do you think you took a lot of your energy and drive over to your first business? Oh, absolutely. You know, I had, sort of, proved it, like, okay, I can do sales and, you know, do well at it, and uh, but even then, you know, I think the first time I was making six figures. I was like, oh, this is awesome.

I’m never going to have to live the way that I, you know, lived growing up, I feel, you know, pretty accomplished at that point, but six figures isn’t as much as it used to be, you know and I definitely wanted more and it’s like okay that’s good I can be comfortable but buying a house maybe having a family you know doesn’t quite get you know get those things done. And so I felt you know, felt like you know starting a business was the next best move and you know even that you’re sort of starting back at zero, taking another risk and you know have a whole lot of other things to prove. I think that you know anybody who is thinking about going down the entrepreneur route, anybody who’s maybe you know kicking around the idea of like a side hustle or something like that like sales is the number one skill that you need to have because even if you have the best product the best service, if you’re the best marketer, if you’re the best you know creative person like if you can’t articulate that to people and you don’t know how to sell then nobody cares. And it kind of reminds me of a conversation that I had previously and it was someone in a similar position in the sense that doesn’t have any skills basically to start with.

And owed the success to sales completely in terms of the fact that they got good at it and then it was incredibly powerful in terms of their success. Remind me again about the first company. What was it in? Yeah, so we were a bit of an IT Bar. So we sold office equipment, supplies, hardware, all kinds of different IT products. Printing supplies was kind of our main bread and butter. And we mostly worked with education and government. And how did you get into that? So that was my first sales job doing the same thing and then when I left that sales job and got the VP. Of sales position was doing the same thing, just a different you know different company. And then the first company that my wife and I started together doing the same thing, but was our own shop. Did you meet your wife at work then? No funny enough I met my wife in a running group and we used to run marathons and things like that together And run every Saturday together and every Tuesday together in these groups.

And then she was in sales actually and she was doing recruiting and just really wasn’t loving her job too much and I was like why don’t you come over here, we’re building this team you know making some pretty good money you know maybe you can learn a thing or two I think you’d be good at it. And so she did, and she came and worked there for a little over a year and then from there we ended up starting our own business and getting married, you know, having all these kids. When did you decide to go out on your own? And what did that look like? Yeah, so it was around 2010 and it was like you know our first office was our living room in our one-bedroom apartment, right? So it’s like you know going all in on entrepreneurship, keeping those expenses low you know trying to minimise the risk and you know we just moved some furniture around, plopped two desks in our living room and you know really grinded it out for a while. And then from there we got our first office, got our first employee. Eventually my stepdad came and sort of, you know, worked with us as well and he you know, sort of helped us build out the team and recruit more people.

And we then got another office and outgrew that and then it was like hey, can we knock the wall down? We need more space. And eventually, you know, we had about over 20 sales people and you know grew to five million in just a little bit over two years, it’s a conscious decision or did you, did you have to go into entrepreneurship? Ah, to be honest, I don’t think I’m a great employee, just keeping it real like it sounds like you were in your in your first sales job. Sounds like you’re an ideal salesperson? Yes, and no. Yes, and no. Yeah, can I drive a lot of revenue? Yeah. Do I want to kind of do things my own way? Yes. Am I a little bit stubborn? Yes. Do I like to test experiment and take risks? Absolutely. Do I like you know having sort of barriers that hold me back from doing those sort of things? No. Absolutely not. So I would say yes, I know how to drive revenue, which you would think okay. That’s an ideal you know sales higher for a manager.

But there are some other things I think about me just as a person that you know I don’t think I would make a great employee. So you have what I think most people would consider a successful business at that point. Why not just stay with your one business, keep it simple. You know you’ve got a successful business. What happens then? Yeah. Yeah, because I mean, yeah, sure, why not? Well I guess maybe because that would be boring. um Yeah so it’s a it’s an interesting story. So you know with that business that we’re building from you know in two less a little over two years we built it to five million all sales. You know nothing fancy didn’t spend any money on marketing really was just you know sales, right? And the most powerful tool that we had in our company was the phone and we used it a lot and we had lots of problems and when you’ve got a very successful salespeople you know making you know good, you know six figure plus income and it’s dependent on them using that one very important tool and you have problems like the phones being out or you know the quality of the calls being horrible you know right mid pitch and calls drop, you know these sort of the sort of the things that we were dealing with, like VoIP was not a new technology but there was still a lot of issues with it with quality and things like that.

And so we switched phone providers like five times in that, you know two year period and I was pretty frustrated right because I’d walk in the office, we, you know live here with our offices here in Los Angeles on the west coast. We did a lot of business on the East coast. So what that meant is a lot of our sales reps are getting up at four in the morning, getting to the office by five a.m. So that they can call people, you know at eight a.m. On the east coast and the phones aren’t working. I mean they’re pretty piste off so we had to deal with that a lot. And there was a tech a guy named Luiz in our building who was kind of our neighbour and he’s like I think I can put something together that’ll work better for you and I’m like, I will literally try anything. I don’t even care whatever it is, just set it up, I’ll test it, It’s got to work better than, you know, all this other garbage that we’ve been doing. and it worked well extremely well. We had no more problems, no more complaints. you know, everybody’s phone time was up, everybody’s happy, profits were up. and I was like, well I think there might be other people that have this problem.

So we started selling that solution to people, but what we realised is we sort of looked like this product slash service company that does a little bit of everything. And that was also because we had also tried to launch some other services that essentially failed. So we realised we really need a different brand different company for this to be successful. And that’s when I launched the unified communications company and scaled that to 6000 users on that platform. So, and it’s predominantly a phone provider, Yep. And then I recently just exited that company and now I am 100% all in on the newest business that I started with my partner Chris called Sales Cast. and what we do is we work with podcasters, helping them drive revenue through their show. So we handle production promotion strategy. But we’re really obsessed with helping folks drive revenue through there show. That can mean a lot of different things. And then we also helped book people on high-quality shows.

And then we also have a podcast community for folks that, you know, can’t necessarily work with us but want to, you know, get take advantage of, you know, you know, being connected with other peers over 230 people in there, getting tools, resources, being able to ask questions to really, you know, help with them with growing their show and things like that. So I should be particularly listening out for this next one. How do people drive revenue from their podcast? Yeah, so it’s a bit of a tricky question. And it highly depends on what people do and what their goals are. Right? So, a couple of examples. All right. The most common one is grow the show, get sponsors, okay, takes time. Most people give up before that happens. Grow the show, promote your own stuff, your own program, courses, books, you know, webinars, whatever it is, write your listeners, you know, that come and listen. There’s a certain level of trust and report that’s built if they’re coming back and listening every week.

So they’re more than happy to support, you know, anything else that you can provide them or you’re adding value. So that’s, you know, one way another way is more of a direct sales motion. And it’s personally my favourite right where you basically use your podcast to still bring on interesting people, still provide education to your listeners, but also to build relationship capital and do that, you know, through getting access to people that would maybe be a little bit harder to otherwise and building, you know, business relationships, whether that means doing business together, doing you know, maybe some sort of partnership together, or maybe a mix of both or even a referral source. there’s lots of ways to do this. Also, a really easy way to get started is you can actually charge for guests to come on your show. Not everybody is a fan of this. the biggest concern is usually, well is that gonna diminish the quality of my guests and it’s not you actually get better quality people in a lot of cases because the people that are willing to pay to see the value are typically doing it on a pretty consistent basis and know how to bring a really good message in an episode and so there’s a lot of different ways that you can do that.

One of the things is with this new platform called Castillo which is pretty awesome and we have a bit of a partnership with them where our community members get, get an upgraded account for like six months and I can tell you, you know personally for my show, The first week I spent on guests. Yeah, I made like $2500 through people. You know that I would naturally have on my show anyway. But we’re willing to pay to come on so I’ll send you my invoice after this then. Yeah, sure as long as I send you mine because I charged to go on to. So it made me think about one thing which was is it possible you’re still using your sales experience from your first sort of your first job or not? Not your first job, but your first kind of the real job. Really keen right now. You’re still using those skills right now in your in your businesses. Absolutely, absolutely.

You know everything that I’ve done, you know throughout my, you know professional career if we want to call it that have moulded me into you know who and what I do today, right? So even the losses and the challenges and the failures like all of that stuff and if we want to take it back even further, I would say even the challenging childhood that I had as a kid growing up poor with a dad who spent most of his time in prison and struggled with addiction and seeing my mom get shot and you know, never you know, being evicted from places and being embarrassed to be in the grocery store with food stamps because I didn’t want my friends to see and not being having money to get new shoes for basketball and all of those things like those, all sucked really bad. But they still, our experience is that moulded me into, you know, the person I am today, would I be able to be as successful in business?

I don’t know, maybe not. There’s not a lot of things that scare me in business where a lot of people get. You know, fear can really hold them back and they’re not willing to take certain risks. And for me it’s like if whatever this is worst-case scenario is still way better than what I’ve had to deal with in my past. I’m sorry you had to go through all those things, but it does make me think we’ve got a bit of a sales superstar here on the show. So in terms of, let’s say, your most valuable nuggets from what you’ve learned about sales, what would you share? Yeah, most important thing. Alright. If you’re just getting started in sales, yeah, you need some scripts, you need some guidance. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel totally makes sense. But at some point you got to pick a path that feels right to you. Sales is going to be a lot of hard work if you’re trying to be somebody else or you’re trying to do it in a way that doesn’t feel right, genuine on an authentic to you.

So master, you know, whatever you have in front of you and then start to create a process or a way of doing things and it’s just maybe the way you speak in your script or the way you use social or the way you use email, all of these things, be yourself and you will have more success in sales. And then the second thing I’ll give you a bonus one is everybody thinks to get better in sales. I need to master, you know, cold calling, I need to be a expert FBI negotiator or whatever the case is, I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but what’s more important is investing in yourself personally, the better you take care of yourself personally, the more you will crush your girls professionally. I really like the, the first part of your answer as well because I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of stuff on sales or it’s like you have to do it this way, this is the right way. Whereas if you’re spending a lot of time in the example that you gave on the phone, if you’re spending loads of time doing something which is not you, or it doesn’t feel like you, it’s going to be awfully hard work, right?

Oh yeah, and you know, that stuff drives me insane when there’s all these gurus and people, you have to do it this way, or this is the only way you open a cold call and if you’re not doing it this way you’re doing it wrong. It’s like I call BS on all of that because honestly Thomas, what works for me may not work for you and that’s totally fine. There’s 100 different ways you can make a cold call. There’s, you know, there’s some basic principles and frameworks and stages that you need to go through in the sales process. Yes. But there’s also 100 different ways that you can still do it and do it right as long as you’re doing it in a way that feels genuine and authentic to you and it, it takes me on nicely to one of your bullet points which is from always be closing to always be helping. Is that something that you learn which relates to what we just talked about? Yeah, it’s just kind of been like the trajectory of my own sort of like sales transformation, right? Is like in the beginning like I was very, you know boiler room typical salesperson that everybody hates high pressure, very transactional.

I didn’t really care about much except for the profit and the deal in my commission check. And that was just the way I was brought up and you know, eventually I got to a point where it’s like didn’t feel good. I was sort of capped. and I started to sort of like follow other people on social media and read books and podcasts and got to a place where it’s like, I don’t really care whether, you know, we do business together. My only goal is to make sure you have a good experience, whether we work together, whether we don’t work together or whether we work together and at some point maybe we even stop working together, but the goal is always to just you know, always be helping and make sure that the other person in the interaction has a good experience and that’s what I try to teach everybody that I work with today. Do you find that actually you end up doing better as a result of that philosophy? One 100%. Absolutely, because you never know. I mean, you know sometimes you might spend 45 minutes with somebody who, you know, in the first five minutes doesn’t have the budget to hire you, but you know what if you give them some knowledge and some resources and you give them an experience where like the experience is so good, they feel like they would have paid for that call, you know, next time they’re somewhere else and they do have the budget and they can hire you or the next time they come across somebody in their network that needs what you do, you better believe they’re sending them your way.

Yeah, a good way to get referrals, no doubt your current business around podcasting. What’s a typical, shall we say inquiry look like for you and how do you help people? Yeah. So in the very beginning of the business, it was a lot of people wanting to start a brand new show. You know, hey, I don’t have a podcast. I want a podcast because of these reasons and we still do some of that. but I would say the majority of what we do today is, Hey, I have a podcast. I’m 30 episodes in 50 episodes and I’m 100 episodes in. I’ve made no money. I’m tired of doing this, but I love it. Can you help me? And that is the majority of what we do today. we still do launch new shows as well. But the clear differentiator of somebody who maybe is a good fit to work with us versus maybe somebody who’s not, is they have a clear the goal of wanting to make revenue through the show?

Like that is their goal. If it’s, hey, this is fun, I enjoy it. It’s a hobby. The community is a great place that we’ve, you know, built for people to get support. But it’s really hard to justify working with us if there’s not a clear path of like, hey, I want this thing to make money and then we can dig into, Okay, how do we do that? What does it look like? This is the strategy. And then, you know, that’s basically, what we’re really focused on, There’s a lot of people that can edit podcast content, some of it’s good, some of it’s not, I’d like to think that we’re, you know, one of the better ones, but that is not why people work with us. People work with us because we grow their show like crazy and we figure out a strategy that can help them drive revenue and what do you see in terms of the future of the podcasting space? Have you got any thoughts there? There’s a lot of interesting things, a lot of interesting things. I mean, you know, not a big surprise, but you know, video is becoming a more important piece, right? Spotify with, you know, video, video podcasts, a lot of these like live, you know, audio room type things, right?

LinkedIn’s rolling it out. Clubhouse, you know, had its, you know, everybody’s, you know, getting into this audio space now. Netflix, getting into podcasts, you know, lots and lots and lots of money being poured into podcasts from big brands. Right? So I mean that’s always a good sign that it’s a good space to be in because you know, the attention of a podcaster is more valuable than somebody who’s clicking on your ad or reading a blog and people understand that, you know, they’re much, there’s a lot more trust established. You know, people are plugging you into their ears, giving you their undivided attention in most cases, you know, they have their favourite shows that become part of their routine and their habits, you know, maybe when they’re walking the dog in the morning, driving in the office, if that’s a thing, you know, on the treadmill, every time they travel, there may be catching up on all their favourite shows. so it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s an interesting space, It’s a lot of fun, It doesn’t feel like work and there’s still, there’s still, you know, I think the biggest question is a lot of people like, is it too late, is it too late to get into podcast?

And absolutely not the best time to get into podcasting is now, it’s not too late. And then the second thing is like, well, how am I gonna be different every other show? Well, because it’s your show because your show, that’s how it’s gonna be different. and so yeah, I mean, I think anybody who’s maybe kicking around the idea is like, should I, is it too late? Absolutely. And no, it’s not too late. There has been a, in addition to the brands that you’re referring to, there’s been a celebrity influx of podcast as well, have you noticed that? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean because they have, you know, it’s harder and harder. Let’s like, say celebrity people right? Or maybe people who have large social influence, it’s harder and harder, The reach is getting shorter on the platforms, you know, any platform, you want to talk about Facebook Instagram, Twitter, you know, TikTok, LinkedIn, whatever. it’s really hard to get, I mean only, you know, a single digit percentage of your followers or senior content on a regular, consistent basis unless you’re like, you know, a mega celebrity when the numbers are a little bigger with the podcast, that’s not the case.

There’s no algorithm change, there’s no pay to play. you know, you build a niche audience that you continuously add value to and there’s a bit more of a loyalty there and you’re not fighting for attention. What are your goals with the new business? Our short-term goal is to get to 100 shows that we manage in our network. We managed about 45 shows. We launched 65 last year to grow the community to 1000 members were at about 250 now, probably hit those goals this year. Big goal, big mission that drives us is connecting 100 million people to their story through podcasting and change the way that B2B sales is done through podcasting. Nice. I like it. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? Mm hmm wow. The only thing that I think is left at this point is to ask anybody who was crazy enough to stick around and listen to me this long where they might want to connect with me. I got one more for you because you seem, correct me if I’m wrong, you seem to have a philosophy around failing and how it’s the recipe to success.

Have you got anything that you can leave us with? Yeah. A lot of people are scared to fail. And a lot of times what happens, you don’t take any risks. And so if you don’t take any risks, then you’re never going to move forward, right? And you’re limiting yourself to success, whatever that means for you. So failure is the recipe to success. And if you want success, you will need to fail. And it’s hard for some people because they see social media and people sharing. It’s like they talked about all the good things and how great it is and all the things that they’re doing, what they don’t talk about most of the time is how freaking hard it was to get there and how many times they fell on their face and how many times they wanted to give up and how many times they made mistakes or built up debt that they had to pay off or whatever the case is. That’s the stuff they don’t talk about as much and that’s what it takes to get there in most cases, and if you want success, you better get comfortable failing great point to end in Colin Mitchell, where’s the best place for people to find you.

Yeah, very simple. If they want to check out my podcast, they can go to salestransformation.FM. We drop five episodes a week. And if anybody who’s interested in starting a podcast, growing a podcast, guesting on podcast, they can go to and join our free group of 250, roughly, members that we have in there.

Colin, thank you very much.

Thank you.