Oct 18th, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 11 – Progress & Growth Through Advice Of Others,m with Susan MacConnell
Today’s guest is Susan MacConnell. Susan is a LinkedIn and sales performance coach. She’s also the president of Diversified Sales Solutions and Smarketing Connect. She’s the go-to expert for professionals who are looking for an efficient and customized way to acquire more premium clients and referral partners without being spammy, gross, or plain salesy. In this episode, we’re going to dig into Susan’s growth as a consultant and a performance expert and why hiring coaches is a great move. Are you ready? Let’s go!!
Resources mentioned in this episode –
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If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on our show please visit us on Facebook or at our Website –
Matt Ward 00:01
Welcome back to the next episode of the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward and I am your host today I’ve got a great guest for you. Her name is Susan McConnell, Susan is at LinkedIn and sales performance coach. She’s also the president of diversified sales solutions and smarketing Connect. She’s the go to expert for professionals who are looking for an efficient and customized way to acquire more premium clients and referral partners without being spammy, gross, or plain salesy. In this episode, we’re going to dig into Susan’s growth as a consultant and a performance expert in the growth of her business. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Matt Ward 00:56
Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast where small business owners, also known as risk takers, share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews, and our content is focused on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know where your next referral will come from.
Matt Ward 01:27
All right, welcome to the show. Susan. Happy to have you on.
Susan MacConnell 01:31
Thanks, Matt. Happy to have you on and you can mail that Hershey bar to my house
Matt Ward 01:35
You bet. you know, that’s a five pound Hershey bar. I give it away. On stage when I speak in person as a total surprise to an audience member. That thing is 40 bucks. That doesn’t include shipping.
Susan MacConnell 01:48
I know my father would love it. I was telling somebody yesterday I make up these sayings. Any day without chocolate is a bad day.
Matt Ward 02:01
Growing up in Hershey and from Hershey. Yeah, so that’s the connection to the Hershey bar. And I tell a lot of stories about Hershey. So speaking of telling stories, why don’t you tell everybody in under 30 seconds what it is you do in simple terms?
Susan MacConnell 02:14
Yeah, sure. I help my clients predictably find a process and a way to use LinkedIn as a lead generation tool. What that means is I get them out of their comfort zone to do the processes and things they need to do on LinkedIn to acquire clients. Simple.
Matt Ward 02:37
And how long have you been in business?
Susan MacConnell 02:42
So I’ve been in sales for well over 25 years, I started our sales consulting company, we were in about nine years, myself and my partner.
Matt Ward 02:51
Okay. Go back to that nine years ago. Oh, okay. What was it like just starting out?
Susan MacConnell 02:58
It’s awesome. You know that thrill. That’s that thrill of, we can do this, we can do something that no one else has ever done.
Matt Ward 03:07
As I wrote my book, we can make more money more, get more time and get more freedom. It’s exciting. Within six months, you realize you’re not getting those three things, right.
Susan MacConnell 03:17
Well, yeah, maybe. Yeah, it’s the truth of what that adrenaline and the brain power. And that creativity that you come up with when you’re that excited in your beginning is amazing.
Matt Ward 03:27
Yeah. We just talked to somebody on the podcast recently who, who said that she got laid off from her job. And it took her five years to get back to the same run rate. But she was so happy that she got there. She remembered that that day was five years, pretty much to the day that she was making the same amount of money she was making making before she got laid off. But the journey is so great as a solopreneur. Right? I mean, it’s different because you get to control your own destiny. What were some of the challenges you ran into when you first started your business nine years ago,
Susan MacConnell 04:04
um, one lack of capital. So we had to do everything ourselves. I mean, we came and as we were meeting with clients, we say, you know, do what you do best and outsource the rest. Yet, we weren’t doing what we were saying because we couldn’t so it was, it’s the hours and it’s the time and it’s the details that you if you get stuck in the details, and you’re not out meeting and talking with people, you’re you’re not gonna grow your business, you’re gonna have a lot of stuff. tactics. Yeah.
Matt Ward 04:35
Yelike youah. And I think it’s so interesting that you talk about that because I think so many times the business owners are there. The cobblers kids shoes scenario, right when I had my web agency, the last thing we were doing was our own website. And I think marketing people don’t do their own marketing as good as they should be. They don’t put the time and the effort into that type of thing. It’s consistently an issue for sure. When, you know, I know that when I had my web agency, I tried many, many things over time to grow it. And I was just, I just failed so many so many times. It’s probably too many to count, I’m gonna guess in the nine years. But, you know, when you fail in your business, when you fail with a strategy, when you fail with a tactic, when you fail with a day’s worth of work, or you fail to get a bid for a client, or when a client over, what do you do to bounce back from that?
Susan MacConnell 05:39
Hmm, I think it’s different today than it was nine years ago, because when we failed the nine years ago, we didn’t take that failure, and learn and grow from it. And I think that’s what I do now that I didn’t do back then we lose a client, and it was like, scrambling and like what you know, not we didn’t say, Well, what did we do wrong? What can we do better? And how can we make take with this and go forward, we just sort of jumped into trying to find the next client and continually sort of kind of went down that same road today, failures that you make, or that what I do wrong, I sit there go, Well, why did this not work? Was it what I said? Was it what I did? Was it the strategy, anything behind what it is? And how do I change that so that the results are different going forward? Or should I change the entire thing? And I think, and maybe we get into this a little bit later, is that we used to fail, and then we just kind of rely on each other to figure out how we move forward. Whereas today, I hire coaches. Mm hmm. Sometimes you can’t see what you’re failing at.
Matt Ward 06:46
Yeah, you can’t. As I like to say, you can’t see the label from inside the jar.
Susan MacConnell 06:51
No, exactly. Right. And it’s like we’re relying on each other. But yet, others are seeing things that we’re not seeing. And I did gymnastics in college, I had a coach my whole life, why I never realized that I should do that up until the last few years is beyond me. But it’s been great.
Matt Ward 07:07
It’s because you didn’t pay for that coach. I mean, you paid in a different way. Right? It was a conduit through the college fees or the scholarship. That’s how they got paid, you didn’t have to write a check every month for this coach. And so when we have to write a check for a coach to help us better, we tend to hesitate to write that check. My coach told me years ago, in the web design business, he said, whenever you do anything, analyze it this way with four questions, what did I do, right? What did I do wrong? Would I do it again? And if so, what would I do differently? And I analyze so much of my life that way. Now, I analyze my vacations that way. Because I wanted to say, Okay, did I maximize my opportunities? Did I minimize my risks and exposures? Yeah. And I just think that there’s so much to learn, and glean from ourselves. We talked to another podcast guest recently. And she was talking about really just sort of inter inter internal perspective, and just kind of, you know, thinking about things yourself and sort of dialing in on yourself a little bit more, to kind of help make better decisions moving forward. Do you find yourself actually doing that, like the corrective actions consistently now? I mean, later in the nine year journey, right? You’ve learned so much in the first four or five years that you’re starting to figure out the better path to take when it comes to challenges and even successes. What did I you know, how did I win this job? How did I win this client? You know, it kind of revisiting that in your head almost right?
Susan MacConnell 08:50
Yeah. Oh, definitely. And I realized that one of my more recent coaches said to me, he’s when you finish a meeting, you have to take 10 seconds. How’d it go? Was it good? Was it bad? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? So that if you did something wrong, that the next time, you won’t do something wrong.
Matt Ward 09:05
As you’ve gone through 9 years of business ownership now what do you think the biggest lesson you’ve learned is throughout that nine years?
Susan MacConnell 09:25
I think I’m gonna go with the hire coaches along the way. Yeah. If you’re stuck, hire coaches and i and i know this is, you know, kind of like, back I don’t even eight, nine years ago, when you thought of a coach, it was, I think, not a great sort of feeling for me. But the way everything has, you know, sort of transgressed over the years. There are so many people in coaching isn’t just coaching, it’s their specialties, of coaching and people do different things. So if you find the thing or the person that you need to help you get there, hire them because they can get you there. And you may not be able to do it by yourself. That’s the unfortunate thing of being, you know, solopreneurs you’re you’re, you think you’re alone, but you don’t have to be.
Matt Ward 10:16
Yeah, it’s so interesting I I wrote in my new book about this idea about imposter syndrome, right, that we often think that we don’t know what we don’t know. And yet we know so much. And then, in this idea that we don’t know a lot, we tend to break that idea. When we start to talk to other business owners and start to understand that they actually had the exact same problems and challenges that we have, we just think we’re the only ones that have them because we haven’t voiced them to someone else. And so whether you voice it to a business coach or whether you voice it in a mastermind group to a colleague, it doesn’t matter who you voice it to, you’re going to start to realize that these problems exist. In every business, it’s a sales problem, it’s a staffing problem, it’s a time management problem, it’s a finance money problem. Right? Right, it’s they all fall into the same categories.
Susan MacConnell 11:15
Yeah, it’s the truth and find where you can find those people to help you it could be like I facilitate a networking group every week and it’s just marketing and sales professionals and I used to sort of bring them around to learn how to refer to each other because they don’t know how which is interesting. And but I also found that they all have a lot of like problems that they want to discuss and so we started to change the meaning a little bit and re entertain that and they’re like it’s super helpful for them it’s super valuable and it’s kind of a great way to have a well rounded meeting.
Matt Ward 11:51
Yeah. Now when it comes to business growth tactics for yourself and your partner, what do you guys focused on these days to drive more business for your for your organization?
Susan MacConnell 12:05
You know, it’s interesting The more I think about this, the more I used to tell people like I’m a jack of all trades and master of none and so what I had to do is internally say what do I do best and take what I do best and go for it. And my partner and I used to do a lot of things together and so we sort of separated because together we’re the perfect salesperson, but he has his strength and I have mine so we had sort of split what we do we have you know clients and so I focused on LinkedIn because LinkedIn is what I do best and it’s sort of happened you know, just before the whole COVID thing so it was kind of interesting that it sort of came to me and so everything I do is steered on doing one thing and doing it well
Matt Ward 13:00
and so your your strategy moving forward even through the back half of COVID if this is the back half of COVID is his LinkedIn strategy LinkedIn building and LinkedIn lead generation What’s his strategy?
Susan MacConnell 13:18
So Tom is that dangerous person between marketing and sales and we all know that marketing and sales do not get along or they don’t they don’t have the same rain marketing is information sales is is close is you know bringing people into the company and sometimes you have that disconnect and especially in a smaller company where you don’t have as many people in those roles he’s a person that can take that marketing idea and get it to work through sales projects done in managed on time and that’s what he does and he’s also a sales manager and in a sales sales coach where I’m like I said I’m more of the lead gen I’m a hunter and I you know, I don’t tell people that I’m a hunter because I’m a very I don’t teach it that way. But that’s what I do I get appointments, I’m an appointment setter, I can get appointments like no other. Hmm. So that’s where the two the two ends of the coin.
Matt Ward 14:14
Susan, where did that skill come from?
Susan MacConnell 14:17
networking is just like you, you teach and preach. I’m a networker. I meet a lot of people I refer a lot of people and it’s always just been a skill that’s in my head and I do well.
Matt Ward 14:33
But so so is that where the hunting part came from the sales part.
Susan MacConnell 14:40
The hunting part is more came from my previous sales positions. I mean, I’ve gone in and out of doors face to face walked in and out of doors cold calling. I used to sit in a phone booth when phone booths before cell phones and shut the phone booth door and my thing was had to make a call until I got an appointment and I couldn’t get out of this booth until I did it. And so you’re making phone call phone call phone call phone call phone call. And so it’s that it’s using sort of your personality to get someone to actually talk to you. And finding ways to, to, you know, get them to talk to you and to you know, pick the phone up. So yeah, yeah. And but I don’t do it in a I don’t know, I even call it a traditional I don’t think of myself as a very in your face sales person. Um, you know, a little bit more not that I’m laid back. It’s just that it’s not as salesy, I guess. Yeah. You know,
Matt Ward 15:40
you were knocking on doors years ago. Oh, yes. Pre COVID. Pre 2000? Probably. Oh, yeah. Do you get a few doors slammed in your face? Um, tell us about that time you got kicked out of a place? Oh, yeah. Here, we don’t want you in here. Cool.
Susan MacConnell 15:55
So it’s so cool. It’s so cool, cuz it didn’t happen a lot. And I hate to you know, I don’t actually want to go on that reason, because we’ll bring up a whole nother can of worms. But, so I was selling electric contracts door to door. So I walk in and out of convenience stores, pizza, shops, restaurants, other big electric users liquor stores. So I was somewhere south of where I live, and I walked into a liquor store. And you know, I had a bag. And I hadn’t said one word. So it wasn’t about me. That’s the thing you have to kind of think about. And I walked in and he was the owner looked up and said, You’re a salesperson, you need to leave. And I said, oh, wow, you’re pretty astute. No problem. Have a great day. And I like walked out. And then sometimes sometimes you
Matt Ward 16:43
should have turned around and tried to buy some liquor or something.
Susan MacConnell 16:47
Like a sushi I didn’t it didn’t dawn on me because I was so shocked because I’d never had that happen. And just like, like, so I always say kill him with kindness. Yeah. Oh, wow. No problem. You have a great day. Like I want him to think you know, because because it wasn’t about me.
Matt Ward 17:02
Yeah. And that is the hardest, probably just the eighth one that day that walked in?
Susan MacConnell 17:07
Oh, yeah. He like I, you know, maybe I could have been the eighth one. I couldn’t, you know, he could just be having a bad day. And it was interesting. And then I used to teach my people and it’s kind of interesting, because you know, you when used to walk in and out of doors, there was always a no soliciting sign. Yeah. Yeah. So I’d be like, yeah, so and so like, what one who’s gonna call you on it? Because people like to talk to people and then to if they do just, I’m so sorry. And say the same? You know, they did you see the nurse listening sign. I’m like, Oh, I’m not soliciting anything. I was just dropping off my card. It says, but it’s like getting rejected over and over and over again, just realize that it’s not about you. And that’s the hardest thing to learn.
Matt Ward 17:49
How do you get that mindset? Like, especially for the people who are listening in on their podcasts out now or viewing on YouTube? How did they get to the mindset where it’s not personal?
Susan MacConnell 18:00
Well, you know, what I Alright, so this is, I don’t know if this helps, but it’s it, this was a revelation for me. And it wasn’t happening when I just was, by having it happen over and over, you sort of kind of get used to it, and you learn that it’s not about you. But if you think about this, it’s if you you know, do you, you know, think about what people think about you. So if you think about what people think about you one, one, they’re not thinking about you and to what you think they think about you is not really what they’re thinking. So do you, if they kick you out, it’s, it’s not a reflection of you and your personality. So you just kind of, you got to make light of it and say, Well, if that happened once, and I talked to four other great people, it’s just part of the what has to happen, and you have to realize that not everybody is going to be attracted to you, and not everybody’s going to be your customer. And so you just want to just do your job to find those people. Because then when you do, it’s awesome.
Matt Ward 18:56
Yeah. And I think it comes down to mindset, right? It’s a lot of mental working out. Even with a coach, theoretically, to get to the mindset place where you understand that this is just part of the process. It’s not you, it’s them, it’s the way they reacted versus you. I mean, a lot of people have that fear of rejection, they want that need for approval. And so when they don’t get it, they take it the wrong way, you know, and at the end of the day, if we’re not doing enough activity, right, we’re not going to produce the results we need to produce and we’re going to be one of those SBA statistics to talk about in the first five years.
Susan MacConnell 19:37
Yeah, you know what to and then another thing, the way to look at that too, is what if you stayed and convinced that person to meet with you and they became a client? Hmm, probably your worst nightmare client. Yeah, you think about this because of the way that whole relationship started. Because you want to be like this. When you teach college Do you want to be on the same level you want? In the same mindset, you want to have the same values. And so it’s I just feel like it’s like a karma thing to you just kind of karma that wasn’t supposed to wasn’t meant to be.
Matt Ward 20:09
Yeah, yeah.Yeah. And I think repeating that in your head constantly is going to be helpful as these solopreneurs. and small business owners really start thinking about this fear of rejection, this concept is just constantly telling yourself, you know, they’re not my ideal client. Remember, we’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast, not everybody is your client, you don’t need all these clients, you don’t need 1000s and 1000s of clients, you need, you know, a few dozen, or maybe 100, depending on your business model, and who you are and what you do and who you serve. So don’t always think that you need every single client out there. That’s, that’s always a big challenge. I always love to dig into a couple questions that I like to have the audience, you know, sort of, sort of hear from business owners, as suggestions, things that can help them grow their business. So the first one is, what software would you recommend to help a small business owner grow? Whether it be anything from accounting to marketing software, whatever it might be? What software do you use that somebody could try out? to help them grow their business?
Susan MacConnell 21:19
Oh, interesting. Um, I use quite a few. One is, I mean, this is basically a calendar. Yeah, that’s reminders. Because if you’re spending your time setting up appointments, and then sending out the reminders, you how much time you’re wasting. So there’s a huge shot, and I fought it for the longest time. But calendly is my friend, and I love him. And I, I can’t believe that I didn’t, I fought it for so long, because it saves me so much time to have all those reminders going on and don’t have to think about it. And people come to my meetings prepared with what they need. You did the same thing with me. I mean, I got reminders, and I’m sure you automated
Matt Ward 21:58
Yeah, I use I use book like a boss, right? So many calendly, there’s acuity, there’s many of them out there. So a calendar scheduling tool is is a great tool to systemize and optimize your business and save you a lot of time for sure. I hand the back and forth, I have a mentor who just doesn’t believe in using those he finds them in personal. And I find I find not using them is impersonal. So a huge time waste back and forth. Because I have people making suggestions to me for times, and they just literally have no idea how booked my calendar is. And every time they’re picking is blocked.
Susan MacConnell 22:35
There’s two ways to handle that one. Yeah, 90% of the time you do that. And I do find that it’s based on the messaging you see from somebody you can kind of tell they’re not like used to it. And I say, you know, if that’s not going to work with you, here are two times that I’m open, let me know. And then I put them into the calendly, Jerry saying so kinda like, you know, yeah, it’s impersonal. And some people are finding it, but more people are not so you kind of get it, you know? Yeah. Well, you can use little finesse with it.
Matt Ward 23:04
Sure. And then the next question is always love this question. business books that you will recommend to our listening audience. What what business books would be key for them to read or listen to?
Susan MacConnell 23:18
Okay, so the one thing I forgot the name of the author, I have an older I have my, my iPad up here. The one thing? Yeah, me. That’s fine.
Matt Ward 23:27
That’s by Gary Keller.
Susan MacConnell 23:29
Yeah, yeah. And then I have two emotional intelligence books by Colleen Stanley. And I think it’s emotional intelligence for leaders. And it’s the second one. I teach emotional intelligence through LinkedIn. So for me, becoming a little bit more versed in emotional intelligence is how I help my clients.
Matt Ward 23:50
Mm hmm. So what how does how does emotional intelligence play in to the business owner strategy, not so much the sales side, but actually from a business owners perspective? Why Why would a business owner listening to this podcast today want to read an emotional intelligence book?
Susan MacConnell 24:09
You know why? Because if you yourself are emotionally intelligent, and understanding when you’re discussing with somebody how they’re going to react, you’re going to have better skills to deal with that person the way they want to be deal dealt with, not how you want to deal with them. It’s not about you, it’s about them. So if you’re emotionally intelligent, and you’re using what I call emotionally intelligent skills, you will know how to get them to do or be or talk about the things they need to talk about so that you can work together and that’s, it’s, I mean, it’s a big buzzword, but it’s really, and I you know, I want to take it down to like, it’s not about you.
Matt Ward 24:50
Right? Yeah. It’s really about understanding another person so you can have better forms of communication then.
Susan MacConnell 24:57
Yeah, and asking good questions. And like I said, it’s it’s that whole like thinking in their shoes, which is so hard to do, I think,
Matt Ward 25:07
yeah, there’s so many people out in the business world where they come across as being all about themselves. And it’s just I mean, that’s why I wrote a whole book on caring in businesses, how you getting referrals, do you care about other people? And that is really focusing on other people.
Susan MacConnell 25:22
It’s how I have people set up their LinkedIn profiles, I do. profiles, the first thing I attack with somebody when I work with them, because their profile setup is, I have this degree, I have that degree. I have 14,000 titles with 14,000 letters after that. I don’t know anyone understands and cares. Yeah, we’re gonna attract people, you don’t want them to go away, and you can’t attract them if it’s all about you.
Matt Ward 25:45
Yeah, there you go. You heard it right here, folks, Susan said you can’t attract them. If it’s all about you, if you want. If you want to reach out to Susan, she’s about to give you all her contact information right here. She’s gonna drop that knowledge right here. We’re gonna put it all on the show notes. Susan, how can people get in touch with you if they want to hire you talk about LinkedIn, or even just want to network with you. How can they get in touch with you?
Susan MacConnell 26:06
Yeah, absolutely. And and if you hear me on this, and you mentioned this podcast, I’m happy to do a quick 15 minute profile analysis forum review.
Matt Ward 26:15
There you go.
Susan MacConnell 26:16
Yeah, so you can reach me obviously on LinkedIn, it’s Susan McConnell. And then you can reach me by email, it’s very long, so it’ll be in the show notes. So go there, it’s s. MacConnell at diversified sales solutions.com we couldn’t get dssi and then we have a phone number as well. And that’s 857-314-0868
Matt Ward 26:46
awesome, there you go. We’re gonna make sure we put all that in the show notes and link to her website and all of that fun stuff. So you can reach out to Susan McConnell and learn more about what dssi does and how they can help you and even just to network I mean, she’s local she’s, she’s in the Boston area. So make sure you reach out to her and, and and do some networking. And we’ll also link to the books in the show notes. So you guys can check those out on the emotional intelligence stuff. And, and, and the one thing so we’ll check it out. Susan, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. If you’re listening on your favorite podcast app on your phone, make sure you smash that subscribe button. And that way, you’re going to get all the episodes every single week that come out, including the one that comes out tomorrow and the next day and the next day because we are in every business day podcast. And we thank you very much for listening. If you’re watching on YouTube, make sure you smash that subscribe button and then the notification bell so that you get notified when all of our videos come up on the channel. And until next time, don’t forget to live happy smile a lot. And high five. everyone around you. Take care everybody
Matt Ward 28:08
Thank you for listening to the Mass Business Podcast where we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather Grant music by Cailte Kelley. All rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author and word of mouth referral consultant, Matt Ward. Don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot., And high-five everyone around you.