Category Archives: Sales

Weekly Snip Report, April 1st, 2015

Yesterday was the deadline for my goal of reaching $1000/mo in revenue by 3/31/2015, which I missed bigtime. My current revenue is about $380/mo. It made me think that for my next goals I should choose something closer to the beginning of the funnel where I have more direct influence.

So here are my new goals. These are all conversion rate goals.

AdWords CTR 1% Already previously achieved
Trial sign-up 5% 4/13/2015
Activation: provide stylist names 50% 4/27/2015
Activation: provide service names 25% 5/11/2015
Activation: schedule at least one appointment 10% 5/25/2015
Paying customer 5% 6/8/2015

So let’s talk math for a second. Let’s say I buy 1000 AdWords clicks for $1000. If I have a 5% visitor-to-trial conversion rate and 5% trial-to-customer conversion rate, then 5% of 5% of 1000 is 2.5. So under that scenario a paying customer would cost $1000/2.5 = $400, which would almost certainly be profitable. I realize the cost of 1000 clicks would probably be more than $1000, but even at $3/click the cost of acquisition would still only be $1200, which I think would probably still be profitable.

As of March my trial sign-up rate was about 11/900 = 1.2%. (That’s 11 trial sign-ups and 900 unique visitors in March.) I’m meeting with my designer later today to kick off a so-badly-needed website redesign. I expect a more professional-looking site to convert a little better even without much in the way of copy/content improvements. I’ll be much more motivated to put effort into content improvements once I’m no longer ashamed of the site, once I “believe” in it.

The next coarse-grained conversion that happens is trial to customerhood, but that’s kind of a big gap inside of which a lot needs to happen. You could put another conversion between trial and customerhood called activation. Many prospects sign up for a free trial but then never even log in once. They really need to put in some stylists, some services, and some appointments. I think I could help grease the chute on that process by creating some sort of multi-step “setup wizard” where the first step is to enter some stylist names, then services, etc. Such a wizard would also make it super super easy to pinpoint the exact step where people fall off the wagon. The only information I have now is that they never logged in after signing up, and that doesn’t tell me much. If I could just get 10% of trial signer-uppers to put in some stylist names, services names, and schedule at least one appointment, that would be a big improvement over where I am now.

So those are my new goals. I think they’re within more realistic reach than many of my old ones. Wish me luck.

Weekly Snip Report, August 28th, 2014

Last week I said I was at a point of unusual clarity with Snip. I still am. Here’s kind of my plan:

  1. Fix all of the products “critical” defects to the point where I’m not too ashamed of the product to recommend it (not a ton of work)
  2. Make the in-app onboarding process not embarassingly terrible
  3. Fuse the marketing site opt-in(s) together with the in-app onboarding process
  4. Pay a professional designer to help make my marketing site not embarrassingly terrible
  5. Get more traffic, optimize funnel, get more traffic, optimize funnel…

Basically the idea is to turn the event of getting a new free trial signer-upper from, “Oh, fuck! Somebody signed up for a free trial! They’re not going to be able to figure out the product and they’re probably going to accidentally archive themselves like everybody does in the beginning. Let me real quick email them and have them never respond, because no one ever does. I won’t call them because I know from trying that a billion times that that doesn’t work. Some day I really gotta fix this goddamn onboarding process. Goddamn it.” I want to change the feeling from that to, “Yes! Somebody signed up for a free trial! Let me check the logs to see how far into the 8 onboarding steps they made it. Maybe the lifecycle emails I have set up will prompt then to get unstuck.” I want to feel good when somebody signs up for a trial, not feel like I just got pantsed in public.

And of course I’ve changed plans a billion times over the course of getting Snip off the ground, but I would actually be surprised if I fundamentally deviate from this plan. I don’t think I’ll ever go back and wish my onboarding process sucked again, or that those bugs would come back. I’m getting engagement on my site now even with the little traffic I have, so I think I have enough to roughly measure the effectiveness of the funnel. When I want more traffic, I know that in addition to SEO I can do AdWords, trade magazine ads, etc. and I would LIKE to have a strong funnel behind all that traffic when I spend the money to get it.

I expect 1-4 up there to take a number of months, so unfortunately the time between now and then might be kind of boring. It feels weird since I’m not trying for or even hoping for new customers until #4 is done. What would actually be great is if at some point I can afford, financially, to just take a month and knock out all that shit at once. Worst case scenario, it takes a long time, but that’s okay.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 8 of 8

Today was day 8 of 8 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

I almost didn’t do any selling today. I was up with my 5 month-old son last night from about 3am to 5am, so today I’m tired. I also had some errands I needed to run or else it would bite me in the ass later, so that left me short on time. Also, I think I misplaced my balls somewhere and my courage level as of this morning was somewhere between “baby” and “little girl.” So I decided to just stay home and cross off many of the long-overdue items on my around-the-house to-do list. For this I am ashamed of myself.

But then I noticed there was a new episode of Bootstrapped with Kids, “The podcast journey of two dads bootstrapping a SaaS business (or two) to achieve financial freedom.” Since I’ve been ravenously consuming this podcast for the last couple weeks I know that the hosts, Brecht and Scott, tend to read their iTunes reviews aloud in their podcast, and I recently left a review, so I thought maybe they read it. Not only did they read my review but they talked about me for an amazingly long time and Brecht mentioned me having gone “balls out” and having “put my big boy pants on” with this Operation Get Profitable thing. So basically Brecht said I was out there being kicking ass but in reality I was at home being a pansy. So I decided to stop being a pansy and put my big boy pants back on. So Brecht and Scott depansified and repantsed me. Thanks, guys. I owe you one.

For certain reasons I decided that it would be a good idea today to do 100% cold calling instead of canvassing. (Maybe my big boy pants weren’t all the way on?) I started by calling back all the warm leads I have right now who I hadn’t called in the previous 24 hours. I was 0 for 3 on that but I’ll pick back up next week with those. Then I just started googling hair salons and trying to talk to the owner. I believe I called a total of 11 salons today and I got through to one salon owner. I decided to try my How to Open a Hair Salon article idea and the person I talked to did give me some material for my article. None of the other owners were available. It really is difficult to talk to the salon owner over the phone.

I kind of want to explain my reasoning for trying the calling instead of visiting thing. I seem to be running out of salons to visit in my area. There are plenty I still haven’t visited, but at this point they’re so geographically scattered that it will be woefully inefficient for me to drive around to all of them – I’d be able to get to like 4 a day. I suppose that’s not too terrible. I guess I’m just having a hard time facing the fact that in order to get one solid lead it takes a ton of driving and a ton of visiting duds, and then it takes a lot of solid leads just to get one sale. I guess I might as well admit to this reality and stop looking for alternative ways to sell until I get profitable (which was kind of the whole point of this OGP thing, YOU IDIOT!). (Idiot = me)

So this week I believe I visited 11 salons. That combined with last week’s 24 is a total of 35, which is quite a ways short of the target of 80. That’s lame of me, but just because this arbitrary little burst of activity has reached its end doesn’t mean I have to stop selling. I intend to continue in the coming weeks.

So was Operation Get Profitable successful? Did I actually Get Profitable? Anti-climatically, I won’t know until a while from now. I got one customer but I don’t know whether or not the next customer I get will have been a result of OGP. If any one of the five strong leads I got out of the deal becomes a customer, then yes. Otherwise, no. Whatever happens, I’ll be writing about it here.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 7 of 8

Today was day 7 of 8 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

I’ve learned a lot over the last several days, which is interesting because I didn’t set out on OGP with the intention or expectation of learning anything. For one, I learned what makes a good prospect for me: a medium-sized commission-based salon. I had kind of a fuzzy intuition that this was the case but the 35 salon visits I’ve done since last Tuesday have really helped sharpen my perception in this area. I also learned that between doing a salon visit, putting the salon’s contact info and notes into my CRM and hand-writing a thank-you card to that salon, 10+ salons a day is probably not a realistic target. I don’t know what the reasonable ceiling is, but it seems to be below 10.

I decided to take a slightly different approach today. In the past I would visit as many salons as I could all day, then deal with thank-you cards, etc. the next day. This was fine when I used to do one day of sales in a week, but when I’m doing sales for multiple consecutive days, any card-writing I put off a day bites into the next day’s sales time, so there’s really no time saved. So today I visited just 6 salons, and then I went home and wrote all the thank-you cards and did all the CRM administrivia I needed to do. I like this approach better, since at the end of the day my work is 100% done and I don’t have any loose ends nagging at me from the back of my mind. I can start tomorrow with a clear head.

Since I’ve already picked all the low-hanging fruit in the town I live in, Grand Rapids, Michigan, my work today was done in nearby Holland, Michigan. As seems to be the case eerily often, the first visit of the day was by far the most promising. In fact, I can’t remember a more promising first visit, ever. The owner happened to be free when I walked in, and the salon was still using pen and paper. Although they hadn’t gone so far as to pick out a software solution yet, they said that it was something that was on their minds. At what better point in time could I hope to catch a salon? The owner and the woman who I took to be the receptionist were both a little older (but if either of you are reading this, neither of you looked a day over 29), and they admitted to being a little afraid of technology and nervous about switching to a computerized system. Luckily for everyone involved, I’m an old hand by this point at assuaging the fears of technophobic salon operators, and I addressed their objections like the hardened sales professional that I am. The owner had to duck out just a few moments into the convo, but they’re definitely a strong prospect and I will be contacting them soon.

Holland is kind of a richer town and richer towns mean high-end salons and high-end salons seem to always already be using Millennium. I think 3 of the salons I visited today used Millennium, which is an unusually high number. I used to have a “go to where the money is” idea – visit the nicest salons – but now I know that it’s usually a waste of time. I did get one other decent prospect, though, so out of 6 visits I have 2 prospects. That’s actually a pretty good ratio.

I also have another new selling idea that’s been slowly congealing in my mind over the last few months. Things finally clicked sometime today and this afternoon I pulled the trigger. I’ll be writing about this separately.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 6 of 8

Yesterday was day 6 of 8 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

The report for day 6 will be pretty brief. My car was in the shop all day, so I wasn’t able to do any canvassing. I did use the day to move Snip forward, though: I did some follow-up calls, I fixed a bug that had been bugging me for a while, and I added a certain feature I told a couple customers I would add soon.

Today is day 7 and I’m about to hit the road.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 4 of 8

Friday was day 4 of 8 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.


Friday, for lack of a better way to put it, sucked. All week I had been pounding the pavement hard and “running the machine” at 100% capacity, and I had a backlog of “maintenance work” to do, like writing thank-you cards (I send hand-written thank-you cards to almost everyone I talk to when I do sales) and entering into my CRM all the salons I had visited. I also had to plan out the next salons I was going to hit, since I’ve already picked all the low-hanging fruit in my geographical area and it’s no longer practical to simply drive down a busy road and look for salons.

All this piled-up administrative work added up to several hours of work and I think it was about 3pm by the time I got done. Since at this point I’m having to drive to neighboring towns to find fresh salons, and since my wife had asked me to pick the kids up from daycare at 5:30 (I’m normally the dropper-offer, not picker-upper), this would have left me with maybe a one-hour or hour-and-a-half window to visit salons, which wouldn’t really have been worth the overhead of driving to another town. Even though I felt like a total loser about it, I decided to use my time more efficiently by staying home to do other crap I had been needing to do anyway (clean inbox, etc.). The day felt really irresponsible since I didn’t do any actual pitching to prospects in person, but I do realize that the work I did was 100% necessary and it would actually have been more irresponsible not to have spent my day the way I did. My fuckup wasn’t that I got lazy on Friday; my fuckup was that I ran the sales machine too hard earlier in the week. (By “the sales machine” I’m referring to “Jason Swett, Sales Machine”.)

So I guess even though it’s physically possible to visit 10+ salons in a day, I was kind of forgetting that every time I visit a prospect I’m also committing to writing a thank-you card, entering the info into my CRM, and potentially planning the visit beforehand. Taking those things into account, 10 is maybe the practical limit, and on those days when I did the “extra” one or two salons beyond 10, I was simply stealing time from myself. In the future I might shoot for a stricter and more regular schedule, even if that means scaling back initially and then throttling up until I find the “speed limit.” (Why all the quotey metaphors today?)

So the total number of salons visited in week 1 was 24. This is 16 short of my target of 40 but still a record high for a single week.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 3 of 8

Yesterday was day 3 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

The first salon I visited yesterday was kind of an interesting visit. I’ll call them Salon M. I had first visited Salon M two days ago, but they were busy at that time so they told me to come back the next day, which was yesterday. I talked for quite a while with the the owner who was using a product called StyleSeat, which basically does everything Snip does and more, except, strangely, it can only be used by one single stylist and not a whole salon, at least according to what this salon owner said. This was not ideal for this salon because they have two stylists. I usually don’t try to get salons that are already using software to try to switch from what they’re using to Snip, but in this case I asked them if the benefits of being able to have both stylists log into the same system would outweigh the inconvenience of switching, and they said probably yes. Unfortunately, as I talked to them more, I discovered that they’re pretty dependent on online booking (meaning the ability for clients to book their own appointments without the stylists’ involvement), and that’s not something Snip does yet. So I told them I’d come back when I had that feature.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I visited a total of 12 salons and the responses I got were that they were busy, they were already using something, or they weren’t interested. I don’t view this as a negative thing, though. By the middle of yesterday something clicked and I felt like I finally understood what made people interested or not interested, and I feel now like I know who I should be going after. Here are the reasons I think people who aren’t interested aren’t interested:

  • We’re already using something. Finding salon software is one of those “important but not urgent” things, and if a salon is already using a product they don’t absolutely hate, it’s exceedingly unlikely that they’re going to be motivated to switch to some unfamiliar product. (Salon M from earlier was a rare and surprising exception.)
  • We’re too small, and therefore pen and paper isn’t too painful. I’ve learned that pen and paper seems to be a pain in the ass in proportion to the number of stylists who work at the salon. Each additional stylist is more administrative overhead; it’s one more stylist’s unique handwriting and shorthand in the book, one more stylist crowding over the appointment book, and one more stylist calling the salon to check her schedule. If the salon is just one or two people, they don’t feel that pain so much. It is true that Snip is still useful for those smaller salons (one of my customers works solo) but those smaller salons are less likely to believe they have a problem, and so less inclined to pay for a solution.
  • We’re too big, and our needs are too sophisticated. Salons are surprisingly complicated businesses, and the bigger the salon, the more demands they have out of the software they use, I think mainly when it comes to payroll, inventory and things like that. Snip only has rudimentary inventory capabilities, and no payroll capabilities yet, so big salons are usually not a good fit.
  • All our stylists are independent, so sharing a booking system wouldn’t make sense. This is kind of a variation on “we’re too small.” Some salons are commission, which means the stylists are actual employees. Other salons are chair rental or booth rental, meaning the salon owner is basically just a landlord and all the stylists are self-employed, meaning they handle all their own product inventory, accounting and booking. So a chair rental salon with 6 stylists is often really just 6 separate salons that happen to share a physical space.
  • We’re too old and not willing to use technology. This can be a legitimate reason. I visited a salon two days ago that had stylists in their SEVENTIES. I would feel about as comfortable asking these women to switch to Snip as I would asking them to help me carry my barbells up to the attic.

If those are the reasons salons are not interested, all I have to do is take the opposite of those to get what kind of salons would be interested. So the salon would be:

  • Not using software already.
  • Medium-sized (between 3 and 15 stylists).
  • Be commission as opposed to chair rental.
  • Have younger employees.

Fortunately I think plenty of the 500,000ish salons in the US fit those criteria. Even if OGP doesn’t get me the 2 additional customers I hope and expect that it will, this knowledge is very valuable. I can imagine a section on my website called “How to determine if Snip is right for you” or something, with these things listed.

Operation Get Profitable: Day 2 of 8

Today was the second day of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

On the first day I only visited one salon, but that salon became a paying customer, and since my conversion rate is lower than 10%, one conversion is better than 10 visits. I would still like to get to 80 if possible, though, and today I very slightly made up for yesterday by visiting 11 salons.

Something very unusual happened on my first visit of the day, or I guess I should say there was an unusual combination of qualities that the first visit had: a) the person I talked to when I walked in happened to be the salon owner, b) she happened to be free, c) her salon didn’t already use software, and d) she seemed previously interested in the idea of switching from “the books” to software. These five things aren’t individually rare but it’s really uncommon for them all to be the case at once. So I was stoked about that. I’m meeting with this woman on October 30th to have a deeper discussion. (Which reminds me: I suppose I won’t necessarily know whether OGP was successful before OGP ends.)

The rest of the day was pretty normal. In addition to the appointment I made for 10/30, I also made another appointment with a stylist for tomorrow afternoon. Who knows what, if anything, will come of it.

One thing I forgot and then remembered today, since it’s been so long since I’ve done canvassing, is that it’s a good idea to kind of plan which part of town I’m going to try to hit, and not just plan the part of town but maybe a handful of specific salons there. Today I somehow managed to hit all the most economically destitute areas of town and I saw about as many out-of-business salons as in-business ones. It was stupid and inefficient, so tomorrow I’ll make an effort to be more efficient.

Just for fun, here are the categories in which I’d but the salons I visited as it pertains to strength of prospect:

  • Potentially interested, concrete plans to meet again: 2
  • Potentially interested, but wasn’t able to get specific time scheduled yet: 2
  • Already using software: 3
  • Not interested because some of the stylists are in their MID SEVENTIES: 1
  • Not interested because I mistook a nail salon for a hair salon: 1
  • Existing Snip customer: 1 (yes, I visited an old customer and I’m counting it, F off)
  • Batshit insane: 1 (long story)

So I guess I got 4 good leads out of 11 visits. That doesn’t seem too bad.